A Week In Film #522: CAKE AND KAZOOS

The Rainmaker title screenThe Rainmaker
Coppola vs Grisham, with young working class lawyer Matt Damon teaming up with ambulance-chasing ex-insurance investigator Danny De Vito to take on The Man – a big, bad insurance company represented by a hotshot Memphis law firm led by Jon Voight. Solid, soapy court room stuff, with slightly distracting side-plot involving domestic violence survivor Claire Danes.

22 July title screen22 July
Paul Greengrass attempts to revisit the docudrama-like success of United 93 on the horrendous child-killing mass murder of right wing Norwegian fruit loop Anders Breivik. It’s a powerful story, but a less powerful film, one which doesn’t square the ‘realism’ with the standard movie tropes it employs. Plus the spell of ‘realism’ is somewhat undermined by a cast of Norwegian actors speaking in English.

Den Of Thieves title screenDen Of Thieves
Pretty darn good heist movie from first-timer Christian Gudegast. Whilst there’s little truly original here – plenty of familiar nuggets from Heat and The Usual Suspects, for instance – it is accomplished and polished. There are good performances from the likes of Gerard Butler as the leader of a team of bent LA Sheriff’s Department cops, and Pablo Schreiber as his criminal counterpart, the brains behind the ex-military crew taking down big scores, as well as O’Shea Jackson, Curtis Jackson and Cooper Andrews. Some excellent robbery scenes, and a nice satisfying (if pat) switcheroo twist.

We’re The Millers title screenWe’re The Millers
Watchable if insubstantial comedy from DodgeBall’s Rawson Marshall Thurber. Smalltime weed dealer Jason Sudeikis recruits virginal neighbour Will Poulter, cynical stripper Jennifer Aniston and sassy street kid Emma Roberts to pretend to be his suburban family so he can smuggle an RV full of cheeba back from Mexico. Hilarity, or something vaguely approximating that, ensues. With Ed Helms as the douchey white collar kingpin on whose behalf the ‘Millers’ are working, Nick Offerman and Kathryn Hahn as a whitebread couple they meet along the way.

Tarnished Heroes
Lo-fi, low budget British war movie about a small band of military convicts given the chance to atone for their crimes by going on a suicide mission behind enemy lines – sort of a less entertaining dry run for The Dirty Dozen. Never heard of director Ernest Morris before, and the only familiar face from the cast was Anton Rodgers.

Very little to recommend here – hackneyed characters (alcoholic Irish buffoon etc), terrible action, clichés all over the shop – other than prefiguring Aldrich’s classic.

Outlaw King
Easy-on-the-eye Robert the Bruce biopic from David Mackenzie, with his Hell Or High Water star Chris Pine in the lead. Aaron Taylor-Johnson has fun as ally James Douglas.

The Shallows
Impressive low budget shark attack horror/thriller, with Blake Lively as a surf-mad med school dropout chilling on her tod on a Mexican beach as she grieves her dead mother. Things swiftly go all Jaws. Some decent work from Lively, and director Jaume Collet-Serra, normally seen pointing cameras at an apeshit Liam Neeson.

Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa title screenAlan Partridge: Alpha Papa
Superb, world-expanding shizzle! Obvs best ever use of ‘Cuddly Toy’ in a motion picture.

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