Monthly Archives: January 2019

A Week In Film #533: N00bian princes

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Female close protection officer Noomi Rapace bodyguards a bratty American teen, but is soon on the run from unknown assailants. Underwritten whilst also exposition-heavy, but not without its pleasures. Directed by Vicky Jewson.

Death Wish (2018)
Eli Roth and Joe Carnhan update the Michael Winner vigilante revenge classic, and it’s sleek if not outstanding. With Bruce Willis, Vincent D’Onofrio, Elisabeth Shue and Dean Norris.

The Gunman
Second spin for Pierre Banlieu 13 Morel’s actioner about an ex-special forces humper-turned-private sector black bag merchant (Sean Penn) facing assassination nearly a decade after a soured hit job persuaded him into quiet retirement.

Some decent chase and fight scenes, a decent cast (Jasmine Trinca, Javier Bardem, Mark Rylance, Ray Winstone, Idris Elba), but by no means watertight.

Not great live-action-and-CGI-carton business, grimly hitting its focus-grouped beats (slacker human, childish animated animals, striving to ‘grow up’, silly villains, etc). Just about watchable. With James Marsden and the voices of Russell Brand, Hugh Laurie and Hank Azaria, directed by Tim Hill (credits include a Muppet movie, a Garfield movie, an Alvin movie…)

In The Loop title screenIn The Loop
Armando Iannucci’s Stateside The Thick Of It reboot, with idiot minister Tom Hollander and spineless SPAd Chris Addison vainly trying not to precipitate an inevitable war. With Peter Capaldi, Gina McKee, David Rasche, Mimi Kennedy, Anna Chlumsky and James Gandolfini.

Pacific Rim
Goes on a bit. Well, a lot. Soldiers don massive robot suits to fight aliens attacking Earth through a rip in the space/time continuum or something. Much less enjoyable than it thinks it is. Idris Elba is pretty much the only thing going for it. Okay, well Burn Gorman and Charlie Day as feuding comic relief scientists are alright too. Not the best I’ve seen from Guillermo del Toro.

American Psycho title screenAmerican Psycho
Mary Harron has a fair crack at Bret Easton Ellis’s yuppie satire, with Christian Bale fully committing as unhinged rich asshole Patrick Bateman.

Unsuccessful attempt to make a Heat-like heist movie from Steven C Miller (one of those young unknown directors who pep up their unremarkable low budget genre flicks with small bit parts for big name stars like Nic Cage, John Cusack or – as here – Bruce Willis,; bit parts which are then chopped up and expeditiously edited throughout the whole movie). A convoluted plot with silly twists undermines the odd well-framed scene. The cast (Chris Meloni, Dave Bautista) do seem committed though.

A Week In Film #532: Classily revisited

Neil Marshall goes togatastic, with Roman officer Michael Fassbender trying to get home from behind Pict lines after his legion in massacred. Great, fun stuff, with Dominic West, Olga Kurylenko, Noel Clarke, Riz Ahmed, David Morrissey, Imogen Boots, Dimitri Leonidas, Liam Cunningham, JJ Feild and countless others.

Attack The Block
Joe Cornish’s feature directing debut, with a bunch of nawty boys on a south London estate doing battle with extra-terrestrial ne’erdowells. With John Boyega, Jodie Whittaker, Luke Treadaway and more.

Tali-Ihantala 1944
Finnish war movie about the bloody back and forth of the Continuation War. Co-directed by Åke Lindman and Sakari Kirjavainen.

Half-forgettable Warners animated comedy about storks…no longer delivering babies but now a courier company LOL…Some kid wants a sibling, orders one through storks, etc…

The World’s End
Closing out the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy, Wright, Pegg and Frost deliver a somewhat melancholy treatise on ageing and growing up (or not). With Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan.

A Week In Film #531: Keeping on top on admin

Sicario: Day Of The Soldado
Both very proficient, and utterly unnecessary. Seriously, it’s more like a remix than a sequel, just retreading the whole of the original, except without the strong emotional core represented by Emily Blunt.

So again we get Brolin and Del Toro (both excellent) back again – even Jeffrey Donovan returns as their speccy spec ops oppo Forsing – to take on the cartels on their own turf (again); a nerve-jangling run through the border and back again; some edgelord sociopathic violence POUR ENCOURAGER LES AUTRES; a (half-hearted this time, it must be said) sub-Traffik parallel worlds shifting narrative; a gut-rumbling score (this time Hildur Guðnadóttir stepping up into a solo spot following the death of her collaborator on the original’s soundtrack, Jóhann Jóhannsson); and, oh yeah, some near-the-knuckle (and by that I mean TOTALLY SLUGGING YOU IN THE MUG WITH DUSTERED-UP FISTS) borderline anti-Mexican racism. All that dished up with a very Trump-friendly NEED BIGGER WALL CUZ TURRISM premise (even if that premise is, in the most expositionally throwaway way possible, quietly jizzed into a sock and tossed out the bedroom window two-thirds the way through the film).

But still, sure looks purdy. Directed by the Italian fella Stefano Sollima (him of the suspected boner for the far right) not too unadjacent to the style of the original by Denis Villeneuve, and penned (as the previous one) by Taylor Sheridan, he of Hell And High Water and Wind River.

Boring and derivative, with bent (OR IS HE?!?!) Vegas cop Jamie Foxx running out of time after ripping off a coke deal. A halfway nice set-up right at the front of the movie is entirely squandered. Directed by Barab bo Odar (never heard of him before).

Castle Keep
Flawed, lacking in coherence or, you know, enjoyable moments, but still with stylistic flourishes; a slightly psychedelic Battle of the Bulge-set war drama directed by Sydney Pollack from a William Eastlake novel. Strong cast – Burt Lancaster, Peter Falk, Bruce Dern, Jean-Pierre Aumont, Patrick O’Neal, Astrid Heeren – but not a Scooby what the ‘message’ is.

M Night Shyamalan revisits the world of 2000’s Unbreakable, this time round with James McAvoy as a man with multiple personalities kidnapping young girls. Pretty good if a little plodding.

Brexit: The Uncivil War
Debut feature from Toby Haynes, and it’s a very watchable torn-from-the-headlines drama focusing on the 2015-2016 campaign leading up to the UK’s European referendum, and the efforts of right-wing conehead Dominic Cummings (Dominic Cumberbatch) to push the Brexit team over the line.

T2: Trainspotting
Warm, funny, very enjoyable sequel, with all the main players (Boyle, A Macdonald, Hodge, McGregor, Bremner, Miller, Carlyle, cameos from K Macdonald and Henderson) in place, and an excellent addition to the cast in Anjela Nedyalkova. 100% doesn’t piss on the memories of the original.

Powerful stuff from Patty Jenkins, with Charlize Theron as killer Aileen Wuornos and Christina Ricci as her girlfriend.

A Week In Film #530: Here we are again

The Revenant
Well built drama about the travails of fur trader Hugh Glass in the frozen expanses around the upper Missouri in early nineteenth century America. Excellent cast – DiCaprio, Hardy, Gleeson, Poulter, Forrest Goodluck, Paul Anderson – and excellent crew, led by director Alejandro G. Iñárritu.

My Cousin Vinny title screenMy Cousin Vinny
Fun-filled fish-out-of-water comedy from Jonathan Lynn (scripted by Dale Launer). New York goombah type Joe Pesci desperately trys to bring his community college law education up to speed with the wily ways of a small town Alabama court, where his cousin and his cousin’s friend (Ralph Macchio and Mitchell Whitfield) face a murder rap thanks to a perfect storm of circumstantial evidence and misunderstanding. Plenty of things going on, great supporting cast – Marisa Tomei as Pesci’s brash hairdresser/mechanic girlfriend, Fred Gwynee as a weary judge, Lane Smith a good ole boy prosecutor.

Free Fire
Another imaginative genre-stretcher from Ben Wheatley and Amy Jump, oozing with enthusiasm, even if it doesn’t quite land the perfect punch. A bunch of dodgy types meet up in a warehouse for a distinctly not-exactly-legal arms deal; then it all kicks off. The limitations of the form are obvious – once the shooting starts it is much of a muchness. But there’s a decent troupe of players (Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy, Armie Hammer, Sharlto Cooper, Michael Smiley, Babou Ceesay, Enzo Client, Noah Taylor), and everyone throws in their all.

Ghost Stories
Nice little old fashioned portmanteau horror from Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson (based on their stage show), with three interlinked spooky tales – a security guard trapped in a haunted old asylum, a teenager who runs over the Devil, and a soulless rich man beset by a poltergeist. Proficient chills and spills. With Paul Whitehouse, Nicholas Burns, Martin Freeman, and Nyman himself as the protagonist of the connecting narrative.

Home Alone title screenHome Alone

The Captive
Emotionally flat, frustratingly fractured potboiler about an abductor of children (Kevin Durand), the parents of one of his victims (Mireille Enos and Ryan Reynolds), and the pair of cops (Rosario Dawson and Scott Speedman) searching for him. Muddled and overblown from Atom Egoyan.

The Loft title screenThe Loft
One of those saucy Euro erotic thrillers where Hollywood took a sniff, liked the smell, and offered the director (Erik Van Rooy in this instance) the opportunity of remaking it for the American audience. Architect Karl Urban and three married pals (Wentworth Miller, James Marsden, Eric Stonestreet) secretly share an upscale shagpad in a newly built apartment block. All is going swimmingly until they find a dead woman in there chained to the bed. Silly, full of potholes and less than pleasant characters, but totally watchable.