Monthly Archives: February 2018

A Week In Film #484: Being boiled

[Mr Bean’s Holiday title screen]
Mr Bean’s Holiday
Actually pretty watchable big screen outing for Rowan Atkinson’s largely inaudible buffoon, on a trip across Europe (thingshappen, plans change, innocents are drawn in, etc. Affectionately put together.

[The Silence Of The Lambs title screen]
The Silence Of The Lambs
Ham and liver, again.

[Fury title screen]
Fury
Grim, grimy war action from David Ayer, with dead-eyed Sherman commander Brad Pitt leading a battle-hardened tank crew (Jon Bernthal, Shia LaBeouf, Michael Peña) through Germany in the dying stages of WWII, supplemented by young replacement Logan Lerman. Not as meaningful as it seems to think, but not insignificant.

[High Crimes title screen]
High Crimes
Trashy thriller from Carl Franklin (Devil In A Blue Dress), with Ashley Judd as a high-flying attorney defending her carpenter husband (James Caviezel) who is accused of being a soldier who committed an atrocity in El Salvador. With Morgan Freeman as an alcoholic ex-JAG lawyer she brings in to assist, alongside an inexperienced young officer (Adam Scott) and her flaky younger sister (Amanda Peet). The odd little twist, but nothing amazing.

[Snake Eyes title screen]
Snake Eyes
Exhilarating little De Palma flick, with Nicolas Cage as a bent-but-likeable Atlantic City cop drawn into a shady assassination conspiracy at a championship boxing match. With Gary Sinise, Carla Gugino and Stan Shaw.

[Training Day title screen]
Training Day
Denzel Washington as a shark of a corrupt LAPD detective, constantly moving forwards in order to try and remain predator rather than prey; Ethan Hawke the straight arrow rookie partner forced to adapt or die, all during the course of a single day.

[The Hunt For Red October title screen]
The Hunt For Red October
Soviet submariner Sean Connery plays underwater chess with CIA analyst Alec Baldwin. Solidly helmed by John McTiernan.

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A Week In Film #483: Safely on the board

[Safe House title screen]
Safe House
Semi-retread of Three Days Of The Condor, with junior CIA dogsbody Ryan Reynolds dragged into a shady conspiracy. Inconsequential, watchable action fluff from Daniel Espinosa.

[Mindhorn title screen]
Mindhorn
Same ball park as Toast but not as wittily executed. Julian Barratt is a has-been actor best-known for playing the lead in a crappy 80s detective show who tries to relive his glory days by running around the Isle of Man hunting down an escaped madman. Written by Barratt and fellow cast member Simon Farnaby, directed by Sean Foley.

[Heat title screen]
Heat
Another outing for L.A. Takedown v2.0.

[The Spy Who Came In From The Cold title screen]
The Spy Who Came In From The Cold
Martin Ritt’s peerless le Carré adaptation, with Richard Burton as burned out ex-intelligence officer Alec Leamas our tethered goat.

[Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri title screen]
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Not as good as the hype seemed to suggest, but certainly very watchable. Definitely a black comedy rather than a drama. Written and directed by my second favourite filmmaking McDonagh. Good cast – Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Peter Dinklage.

[9 Rota title screen]
9 Rota AKA 9th Company
‘The Russian Platoon’ and all that – bunch of kids conscripted into the army are swiftly dehumanised by the brutality of war (here Afghanistan rather than Viet Nam). Of course, we have our grizzled veteran NCOs to help lick them into shape, etc. Flag-waving, bombastic guff from Fedor Bondarchuk, but not without a professional gleam.

[Battle Of Britain title screen]
Battle Of Britain
Rousing stuff from Guy Hamilton, with never-bettered aerial sequences.

[Freeway: Crack In The System title screen]
Freeway: Crack In The System
Fierce documentary from Marc Levin about Freeway Rick Ross, the man apocryphally said to have caused the crack epidemic in America.

[The Bone Collector title screen]
The Bone Collector
Silly hunt-the-serial-killer shenanigans, with paralysed forensics boffin teaming up with rookie beat cop Angelina Jolie to catch a trophy-keeping psycho in New York. Dreck rather than dross from Phillip Noyce.

A Week In Film #482: ALMOST All New

[Michael Collins title screen]
Michael Collins
Decent enough biopic from Neil Jordan, with pre-Full Neeson Liam doing a good job at bringing the Big Fella to tragic life. Alan Rickman is also ace as creepy old De Valera, Aidan Quinn as a wet-eyed Harry Boland, Stephen Rea as a nervous mole, plus Ian Hart and Brendan Gleeson, and Julia Roberts providing some Hollywood star power.

[London Heist title screen]
London Heist
Only the second feature from TV show dude Mark McQueen (previously he banged out better-than-many zombie flick Devil’s Playground), working on a story and script from middle-aged cockney geezer leading man Craig Fairbrass, who here is an ageing gangster pulling off one last job, discovering the truth about some personal trauma from way back, etc. It’s not a great film, it’s not very original, but there are some commendable performance moments, and it is at least somewhat ambitious. Cast also includes Roland Manookian, James Cosmo, Nick Moran, Steven Berkoff, and Nathalie Cox.

[Maze title screen]
Maze
Old fashioned POW escape film, but done about the 1983 Maze breakout. Best bits about writer-director Stephen Burke’s debut feature-length drama is its two leads – Tom Vaughan-Lawlor as brooding Provo planner Larry, and Barry Ward as PTSD-stricken Protestant screw Gordon – and the weaving into the story of their (dysfunctional, far-off) home lives.

[The November War title screen]
The November War
Long form fly-on-the-wall documentary about a USMC unit involved in the Second Battle of Fallujah at the end of 2004. Co-directors Garrett Anderson and Antonio de la Torre bring together a lot of sensitivity to their material.

[The Trust title screen]
The Trust
Enjoyable if ultimately rather slight dark comedy about a pair of unexceptional Las Vegas cops who plan and execute a heist to steal dirty money from crooks. Things rattle along nicely, with a viscerally satisfying dark turn towards the end. With Elijah Wood and Nicolas Cage. Directed by the Brewer brothers.

[Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy title screen]
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Tomas Alfredson’s high quality but still imperfect le Carré adaptation.