Monthly Archives: March 2018

A Week In Film #489: Austin

The Dam Busters
Awkward dog name-related datedness aside, still a tense piece of war drama, with Richard Todd as an amiable airman coaxing a shy boffin out of his shell in their efforts to figure a way to more efficiently kill lots of civilians.

In The Line Of Fire
Clint Eastwood as a veteran Secret Service agent haunted by his failure to protect JFK, etc. Adequately churned out standard thriller nonsense from Wolfgang Petersen, solid supporting cast.

A Week In Film #488: Jenga

Alex Garland’s rather good second feature as writer-director; a near future SF tale about a military scientific expedition into a strange area called ‘The Shimmer’, where perception and the physical environment are distorted. Strong performances from a nearly all-female cast – Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, Tuva Novotny – and impressive effects work woven into a stimulating, thoughtful story.

Hangmen Also Die!
Early (1943) take on the Heydrich assassination, but one told with gusto if not a whole lot of historical accuracy. Long for its day (more than two hours), and directed by Fritz Lang from a Bertolt Brecht story.

Kiss Kiss The Girls
Another forgettable, silly thriller, with Morgan Freeman as suspiciously active forensic psychologist Alex Cross, and Ashley Judd as a serial killer’s escaped victim with whom he teams up. Can’t remember a single thing about it. Directed by Gary Fleder.

Secret In Their Eyes title screen
Secret In Their Eyes
Pointless remake by Billy Ray (who did the alright Breach) of Juan José Campanella’s El Secreto De Sus Ojos, itself an adaptation on Eduardo Sacheri’s novel La Pregunta De Sus Ojos. The source material was set against a backdrop of the ‘Dirty War’ in Argentina; this version hinges on post 9/11 anti-Muslim paranoia. Some decent enough performances (Chiwetel Ejiofor, Nicole Kidman, Alfred Molina, Dean Norris), but just nothing magical.

Joy title screen
Bewilderingly successful biopic about a blue collar working mom who invented a mop which became a home shopping TV channel sales sensation. Jennifer Russell fully commits as Joy Mangano, and director David O Russell certainly gives it some oomph, packing it with stars like Robert De Niro, Virginia Madsen, Isabella Rossellini, Bradley Cooper, Édgar Ramirez, Dianne Ladd etc, but why?

A Week In Film #487: Climb to crash

The Magnificent Seven (2016)
Somewhat pointless remake, which doesn’t managed to improve upon the original in any area. Still sort of watchable from Antoine Fuqua.

Kill The Irishman
Solid, workmanlike mid-Western Irish mob knock-off of Goodfellas and the rest, with Ray Stevenson as ex-longshoreman turned bomb-fond gangster Danny Green in 70s Ohio, taking on the Italian crime syndicate and for a long time winning. Directed with brio by Jonathan Hensleigh.

Page Eight
Playwright David Hare riffs on le Carré, and in Bill Nighy as veteran security officer Johnny Worricker has a domestically-oriented protagonist if not the equal of Smiley (of course not!) certainly not unworthy of interest.

Too much is taken up with setting up the universe, and letting us know that This Is Not The Circus, even though it really, really is, in a budget-buy kind of way. The plot’s a bit half-baked, but there’s a nice cast – Ralph Fiennes as a Blairish dick of a PM, Rachel Weisz as a mysterious neighbour, Ewen Bremner as an ex-spook put out to pasture as a journo, Saskia Reeves as an untrustworthy politician. Decent enough though.

Dunkirk (1958)
Leslie Norman’s 1958 version of Operation Dynamo, with much of the focus on the ‘little boats’ and the men who took them to the beaches and back – here stoic newspaperman and self-absorbed company owner Richard Attenborough. John Mills represents the Tommies trying to get home in one piece.

Turks & Caicos
Hare and Nighy take their Worricker world over to the Caribbean on Auntie’s shilling – the same sort of thinking that landed us with Miami Twice and White Ghost. It’s not bad, but the inclusion of the likes of Christopher Walker and Winona Ryder does rather piss on the chips of the more subtle work done in its predecessor – plus it’s streaked through with incredibly bourgeois liberal wankery.

Salting The Battlefield
The Worricker Trilogy rounds off with our silver-maned hero finally making it safely home… Or does it?

Memphis Belle
For the sake of a propaganda drive a B-17 crew has to make One Last Trip before its crew is rotated out – will they survive the hell of a daylight bombing run? Nice ensemble war movie stuff with Matthew Modine, Eric Stoltz, Sean Astin, Harry Connick Jnr et al, directed in an old fashioned style by Michael Caton-Jones.

Went The Day Well?
Quality wartime propaganda from Graham Greene and Cavalcanti, with a bunch of English villagers (including Thora Hird) routing the treacherous Boche, who have had the audacity to impersonate honest British soldiers in a dastardly invasion plot.

A Week In Film #486: Grundig

Despicable Me 2
A sequel which has grown on me – nice to get some more Gru, even though the pairing him up with Lucy Wilde of the Anti-Villain League thing did undermine some of the message of the previous one.

The Martian
One of the few Ridley Scott movies of recent years not ruined by it being a Ridley Scott movie. A pleasantly positive vibe throughout.

File alongside Welcome To The Punch, Cleanskin and Closed Circuit as another ‘almost’ British thriller from recent years. Here Noomi Rapace is an undercover CIA officer in London on the trail of a terrorist cell. Plenty of strong name talent (Orlando Bloom, Toni Collette, Michael Douglas, John Malkovich), and helmed by the experienced Michael Apted, but definitely no cigar.

Potty-mouthed pansexual masked mercenary shenanigans from Marvel.