Monthly Archives: January 2018

A Week In Film #481: ALMOST All-New!

I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore title screen
I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore
Quirky first feature as a writer-director from Macon Blair – best known as part of Jeremy Saulnier’s repertory – about an average woman (Melanie Lynskey) who feels compelled to right the wrong of being burgled. Tonally and thematically it sort of plays out like The Big Lebowski with fewer belly laughs. Elijah Wood is fun as her heavy metal-loving neighbour, whom she persuades to tag along, Gary Anthony Williams, Christine Woods, Robert Longstreet, Devon Graye, Jane Levy and David Yow all contribute watchable, endearing performances.

The Bleeder title screen
The Bleeder
Quite enjoyable take on the story of journeyman boxer and one-time contender Chuck Wepner, the purported inspiration behind Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa character. Live Schreiber gives a good central performance, and there are nice turns from Elisabeth Moss, Naomi Watts, Ron Perlman, Jim Gaffigan and Michael Rapaport. Directed by Philippe Falardeau.

Tracker title screen
Pedestrian period piece about an Afrikaner farmer-turned-guerilla (Ray Winstone) coming to New Zealand in search of – well, something – in the wake of defeat at the hands of the British in the Boer War. There he finds himself hired to hunt down a Maori whaler (Temuera Morrison) wrongly accused of murder by dastardly British soldiers. Nothing exceptional from veteran director Ian Sharp.

Killer Joe title screen
Killer Joe
Kind of absorbing, but not wholly – William Friedkin adapting a Tracy Letts play about an unlikable family of Texan buffoons (Emile Hirsch, Juno Temple, Thomas Haden Church and Gina Gershon) enmeshing themselves in a ridiculous murder-for-insurance plot, assisted by creepy cop Matthew McConaughey.

Bad Day For The Cut title screen
Bad Day For The Cut
An interesting stab at a Blue Ruin-style take on the revenge thriller, set in Ireland, with Nigel O’Neill as a mild-mannered farmer who goes on a mission of retribution after his elderly mother is murdered. With Susan Lynch, Stuart Graham, David Pearse, Ian McElhinney, Jósef Pawlowski and Anna Próchniak; directed by Chris Baugh from a script co-written by Brendan Mullin.

Red Rock West title screen
Red Rock West
John Dahl’s pre-Last Seduction neo-noir, with a dusty Western vibe to it. Nic Cage is a drifter drawn into a web of deceit and double cross when he ends up in a shithole town with no money after a job falls through. Mistaken identity, honour, betrayal, a femme fatale, shifting alliances, JT Walsh, Lara Flynn Boyle and Dennis Hopper.

A Week In Film #480: Kicking in

Green Zone
Paul Greengrass overextends his jitter-cam pseudo documentary style, with Matt Damon as a kind of super-soldier uncovering a conspiracy in post-occupation Iraq.

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers Of Benghazi
Like Zero Dark Thirty and Black Hawk Down something of a guilty, visceral pleasure – male-dominant, innately right wing, violence-fetishising, fearful of darkness, yet excellently staged and well acted. Strong performances from buffed up Office alums John Krasinski and David Denman, Pablo Schreiber from the second season of The Wire, Toby Camomile Lawn Stephens etc.

Command And Control
Interesting, old-style documentary about a catastrophic fubar at a nuclear missile silo in 1980.

A late period Nicolas Cage crime thriller that looked like it might be okay – an ex-Irish mob hardman-turned-legitimate-businessman gathers together his old pals when his teenage daughter goes missing after a home invasion. But this is no Full Neeson. The odd nice turn (Peter Stormare as a gangster in a wheelchair) and a sort of decent twist don’t go any way to salvaging what is a turgid piece of crap.

2 Guns
Starts off as a pleasingly old school sugar-and-spice buddy cop actioner in the vein of Busting, Freebie And The Bean, Running Scared, Lethal Weapon, 48 Hrs and the rest – overlaid onto the plot of Charley Varrick – but quickly tails off into forgettable Big Explosions territory. Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg have decent chemistry, but overall it feels like a late series A Team episode with a bigger budget.

Power Rangers
The Breakfast Club-meets-Goonies opening was great fun, with a likeable cast of young outsiders, but once we get into the actual save-the-Earth-from-Rita-Repulsa shenanigans it’s all rather meh.

The Open House
Dark little tale from Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote, taking a recently widowed woman and her teenage son and plonking them in a remote mountain lodge being put up for sale by her sister. Then a bunch of creepy shit happens. And more creepy shit. And then some really freaky shit. And then it ends. Excellent score by Joseph Shirley.

A Week In Film #479: Non-exceptional

Patriots Day title screenPatriots Day
So-so telling of the Boston bombing, switching between the viewpoints of beat cop Mark Wahlberg and fuckwit explosive enthusiasts Alex Wolff and Themo Melikidze. Decent enough from Chicago Hope alum Peter Berg.

Bridge Of Spies title screenBridge Of Spies
A film of two halves – the opening section, focusing on Abel and Donovan and their relationship, with occasional cutaways to Powers and his comrades’ induction into the U2 programme – is deftly pulled together, with plenty of visual treats, and Hanks and Rylance each providing meaty screen performances. But over the hump and it’s a rather leaden take on the Cold War spooky Berlin tropes. Which is a shame, but still, a mediocre Spielberg movie is still functionally far superior than most directors’ best efforts. Never before noticed that the Coen Brothers were responsible in large part for the script.

TITLEalongcameaspiderAlong Came A Spider
After a fairly diverting opening – rich kid kidnapped from private school under the nose of extensive security detail by master criminal in disguise (Michael Wincott) – takes a nosedive sharpish, despite Morgan Freeman as the driven cop on his trail, etc. Not a great thriller from Lee Tamahori, and not even the best of the uniformly no-more-than-mediocre Alex Cross adaptations.

A Week In Film #478: Old style

Midnight Run title screenMidnight Run
Good, fun, breezy comedy-drama from Martin Beverly Hills Cop Brest, setting thumb-up-the-ass bail bondsman De Niro on the trail of endearingly annoying white collar crime-cum-patsy Charles Grodin, followed in turn by a maelstrom of other interested parties.

John Wick title screenJohn Wick
Solid in-camera actioner with Keanu Reeves as a moody, bereaved hit man taking on entitled, coke-addled Russian mob kids. Strong work from stuntmen-turned-directors David Leitch and Chad Strahelski.

Waterworld title screenWaterworld
Interesting premise – waterborne Mad Max – but less than stellar execution.

A Week In Film #477: Sacré bleu

Back To The Future
Still great after all these years, though the racism/cultural imperialism angle definitely shows through more now.

The Foreigner
Could have been so great – Jackie Chan as a Chinese special forces dude out to avenge his daughter, murdered by dissident Irish republicans in London, Pierce Brosnan as a Gerry Adams type – but quickly becomes turgid. A couple of nice action sequences and that’s your lot.

Men In Black
Never seen it; now I’ve seen it, and that’s that, really. Decent enough interplay between Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, the odd amusing bit, Vincent D’Onofrio paying the mortgage as an alien villain.

Another Netflix Exclusive that coulda, shoulda, but misfired heavily. Will Smith as an LAPD cop paired up against his wishes with the department’s first and only orc cop (Joel Edgerton) in an alternate reality where humans uneasily coexist with various other magical series (including fairies and elves). There’s a bit of a quest element, chase scenes, a bit of odd couple bickering, and some nice performances – it’s just it does not add up to the sum of its parts, let alone an improvement on them. Directed by David Ayer, written by Max Landis.

The Man With The Iron Heart
The assassination of Heydrich gets yet another film iteration, closely on the tail of 2016’s Anthropoid. This one’s based on Laurent Binet’s non-fiction/novel mash-up HHhH, but sticks very much to the trad tropes. Jason Clarke plays Hitler’s brain, Jack O’Connell leads the son Czechs. Directed conventionally by Cédric Jimenez, who also gave us possibly the most pedestrian squandering of Dujardin and Lellouche in recent memory in La French.