Monthly Archives: July 2018

A Week In Film #507: Crime

American Assassin title screen
American Assassin
Silly thriller about some angry survivor of a terrorist outrage (Dylan O’Brien) who is recruited to a secret arms-length black ops team led by Michael Keaton. Has its moments. Directed by the dude who did L.I.E. and Kill The Messenger, Michael Cuesta.

Black Mass title screen
Black Mass
Johnny Depp as Boston mob boss and Fed informant Jimmy Bulger, in Scott Cooper’s ersatz Irish Goodfellas.

After Porn Ends 2 title screen
After Porn Ends 2
Follow up by Bryce Wagoner to his 2012 documentary, this time haring from skin flick industry survivors Ashley Adams, Brittany Andrews, Chasey Lain, Lisa Ann, Janine Lindemulder and others.

A Week In Film #506: Blimey

Wind River title screenWind River
Pretty good, bleak yet hopeful snow noir drama written and directed by ex-actor (Sons Of Anarchy) Taylor Sheridan, who also penned the similarly exposition-averse Sicario and Hell Or High Water. Jeremy Renner plays a wildlife marshal who becomes involved in an investigation into the violent death of a teenaged Indian girl in rugged Wyoming country. Elizabeth Olsen is an FBI agent assigned to the case, Graham Greene the weary older tribal cop. Some truly beautiful scenes.

Central Intelligence
So it’s not great – script needs tightening, set pieces are a bit flabby, there’s no jeopardy, a lot of the time it’s tone deaf – but Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart do have a rapport. Kind of funny.

A Week In Film #505: So tired

Stalin (1992)
Sort of okay HBO biopic with an unrecognisable Robert Duvall as Jughashvili, running through the greatest hits… Revolutionary bit-part player, the blagger nobody likes, wheedles his way into the inner sanctum by agreeing to do the shitty admin no one else will do, elbows out Lenin’s pals when the auld fella karks, does for the kulaks, secret police business, has a few more Old Bolshies knocked off, bit of Terror, purge the army, crap taste in art, show trials, quite big on anti-semitism, not a huge fan of doctors, Molotov-Ribbentrop, oh shit that didn’t go so well, war, hunger, destruction etc, win the war, few more put on trial, bit more purging, oh shit I’m having a stroke FIN. Directed by Czech New Wave dude Ivan Passer, whose big flick after coming West was Cutter’s Way.

Infuriating Oliver Stone conspirobollocks, but with many nice elements to it – the structure, despite it all, and many of the performance notes, and the confidence with which such a big bag of ‘maybe’ is shaken about and emptied over the screen.

Sleepers title screenSleepers
Barry Levinson’s indulgent (TWO AND A HALF HOURS) adaptation of Lorenzo Carcaterra’s period novel about who a group of New York kids in the sixties had their childhood stolen from them at a Borstal, and how they came to wreak revenge on those who tormented them. Silly, portentous, but very watchable, with son Patric, Brad Pitt, Ron Eldard, Billy Crudup, Minnie Driver, Bruno Kirby, Frank Medrano, De Niro, Hoffman etc.

The Thing (2011)
Terrible, misguided preboot, getting us to the start of the 1982 John Carpenter horror classic. Frankly completely redundant, unnecessary, unasked for, pointless. Too much of it rehashes bits from the earlier film, which doesn’t even make sense, and without the charm or wit of the in-camera, physical effects that gem of a movie put before our eyes.Decent enough cast – Mary Elizabeth Instead, Joel Edgerton, Adewale Akinnuouye-Agbalje etc – but truly AvP levels of script bodging. Never even heard of director Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. before. Probably won’t again.

They Who Dare title screenThey Who Dare
Somewhat tedious, non-action filled Lewis Milestone wartime sting, with Dirk Bogarde leading an SAS team into Occupied Greece (Crete) to fuck shit up at some Axis airfields. It all goes a bit tits, almost everyone dies.

Presumed Innocent title screenPresumed Innocent
Enjoyably silly court room thriller with straight arrow prosecutor Harrison Ford finding himself in the frame when an ambitious young colleague, with whom he had a brief affair, winds up murdered. Takes itself a bit serious, but not bad. Adapted by Alan J Pakula from a Scott Turrow novel.

A Week In Film #504: Astonishing

Jon Hamm is a burned out, alcoholic ex-fast stream US diplomat dragged out of crappy provincial arbitration consultancy to assist in a Civil War kidnapping fubar in 80s Lebanon. Directed by Brad Anderson from a Tony Gilroy script. Nice turns from Rosamund Pike, Dean Norris and Larry Pine, but never really seals the deal. It’s Green Zone meets Syriana by way of Die Falschung, though less exciting than that might suggest.

Manhunt: The Search For Bin Laden title screenManhunt: The Search For Bin Laden
Documentary from HBO on the CIA’s long running interest in OBL, from way before 9/11 through to his final assassination in 2011, with plenty of interesting talking heads.

The House Of War
Strong documentary about the November 2001 Gala I Jangi prison uprising in Afghanistan from photojournalist Paul Yule, pulling together eye witness accounts from journalists who were there as it happened. A lot of intense footage.

Good Morning, Afghanistan
Rookie war reporter Damien Degueldre’s take on the Qala I Jangi Taliban prison uprising – good to compare with The House Of War.

A Week In Film #503: Bloomin’ Eck

The Simpsons Movie
Feature length expansion of the Matt Groening cartoon sitcom, and it actually works as a self-contained narrative film.

The Death Of Stalin
Armando Iannucci’s third full length feature, and it’s certainly interesting – the jockeying for position by various Party hacks in the Kremlin in the wake of Stalin’s sudden death in 1953 – though not perfect. The Ray Cooney farce of the first half is sublimely tasteless black humour; but then the pace is dropped, and there’s a fuzzy transition in time that detracts from the zippiness initially promised. Can’t fault the cast – Steve Buscemi, Jason Isaacs, Michael Palin, Simon Russell Beale, Jeffrey Tambor, Paul Whitehouse, Paul Chahidi, Andrea Riseborough, Rupert Friend, Paddy Considine et al.

Asterix: The Mansions Of The Gods
Pretty damn good animated adaptation of one of the very best Asterix books, about a Roman plot to conquer the indomitable Gauls through lifestyle aspiration, cultural commodification and gentrification. Don’t know anything about the production, but it was written and directed by actor Alexandre Astier, an apparent Asterix fan.