Monthly Archives: May 2019

A Week In Film #550: Tickling the trout

Michael Inside title screen
Michael Inside
Grim Irish crime/punishment business, with Dafhyd Flynn as an out-of-his-depth average teenager caught holding a package who ends up inside with no way out. You think it’s going to take an Un Prophète type turn, but no – straight down the line shit. Written and directed by Frank Berry.

Wine Country title screen
Wine Country
Moderately amusing comedy about a group of now all grown up women celebrating the fiftieth birthday of one of their number at a Californian vineyard; truths are said, hatchets buried, bonds redefined etc. Sort of a female World’s End, minus the apocalyptic bollocks. With Tina Fey, Maya Rudolph, Rachel Dratch, Ana Gasteyer and Paula Pell, as well as Amy Poehler, who also directs.

King Of Thieves title screen
King Of Thieves
Really not great take on the Hatton Garden heist, which takes the cheap shot and the low road every time. Not to say there’s not some good performances – the cast includes Jim Broadbent, Tom Courtenay, Paul Whitehouse, Michael Gambon, Ray Winstone and – blink or you’ll miss it – Francesca Annis – but it’s not even the best vault robbery movie Michael Caine has been in. Directed by James Marsh, who did that Northern Irish Troubles tout movie Shadow Dancer.

X-Men: Days Of Future Past title screen
X-Men: Days Of Future Past
Highly confusing but fairly enjoyable timetravelly spandex mutant romp from Bryan Singer, Jane Goldman, Simon Kinberg and Matthew Vaughn, with Jackman, McAvoy, Fassbender, Lawrence, Berry, Paquin, Page, Dinklage, McKellen, Stewart et al running around with serious expressions on their faces as they try to stop some bad stuff or other happening. Not a fucking clue.

Sleeping Dogs title screen
Sleeping Dogs
Excellent low budget 1977 New Zealand near future dystopian drama from future Hollywood star director Roger Donaldson, with pre-big time Sam Neill an ordinary joe out of his depth when a right-wing government declares a state of emergency and puts him in its sights as a resistance leader. Adapted from CK Stead’s novel by Arthur Baysting and cast member Ian Tune, and featuring a great little cameo by Warren Oates as the commander of a unit of bloodthirsty American mercenaries.

Hulk title screen
And Lee is a talented directed, Eric Bana can be a compelling actor, this is not a fun Marvel movie.

A Week In Film #549: War wah wore

The Spy Who Loved Me title screen
The Spy Who Loved Me
Pretty good Moore Bond adventure, with himself teaming up with Soviet agent Barbara Bach to take down megalomaniac Curd Jürgens – backed up by Richard Kiel (making his debut as Jaws) and Caroline Munro. YES THERE ARE WATERY SHENANIGANS. Directed by Lewis Gilbert – stalwart war flick helmer – on his second of three 007 missions.

Hannibal Brooks title screen
Hannibal Brooks
Shouldn’t work, but does. Oliver Reed as a British POW-turned-elephant keeper accidentally escapes captivity and attempts to take his pachyderm companion across the Alps into Swiss safety. Michael Winner directs the La Frenais/Clement script with aplomb – some great touches, crash zooms and the like – with a fine international cast, including Michael J Pollard, Wolfgang Preiss, Helmuth Lohner, John Anderson and Karin Baal. Plenty of dark shit too, and an interesting refusal to be gung ho. Reed is impeccable.

Vice title screen
Adam McKay steps even further away from his Frat pack comedy past than 2015’s The Big Short, with a zippy, cynical biopic about Dubya’s evil asshole of an organ grinder, Dick Cheney. Upmarket cast includes Christian Bale, Steve Carrell, Amy Adams, Sam Rockwell, Eddie Marwan, Jesse Plemons et al.

White Sands title screen
White Sands
New Mexico-set neo-noir, with Willem Defoe as a small town sheriff who happens upon a dead man and a briefcase full of money, precipitating a convoluted tale of cross and double cross. Decent enough minor mystery from Roger Donaldson, with great cast that includes Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Mickey Rourke, M Emmet Walsh and Samuel L Jackson.

A Bridge Too Far title screen
A Bridge Too Far
Dickie Attenborough faithfully adapts Cornelius Ryan’s popular history account of Operation Market Garden, padded out with a plethora of stars to the tune of a bulging three hour long epic – Dirk Bogarde, James Caan, Michael Caine, Sean Connery, Edward Fox, Elliott Gould, Anthony Hopkins, Gene Hackman, Hardy Krüger, Laurence Olivier, Ryan O’Neal, Robert Redford, Maximilian Schell, Liv Ullmann… Nothing really here to fault.

A Week In Film #548: Phew

Ant-Man title screenAnt-Man
OK, so what we really wanted to see was Edgar Wright’s take on the story, but the version that actually got made – directed by Peyton Reed and co-written by leading an Paul Rudd – is still pretty good. The MCU mumbo-jumbo is dialled down, and emphasis is on a straight forward villain-becomes-hero heist movie.Great cast, including Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, Michael Peña, Walton Goggins, Judy Greer and Bobby Cannavale.

Bad Teacher title screen
Bad Teacher
Selfish woman (Cameron Diaz) coasts as an entirely uncommitted teacher at an unremarkable school, but over time Comes To Learn Valuable Lessons About Herself And Life, etc. Quite amusing, with Justin Timberlake, Luy Punch, Jason Segel, Phyllis Smith, John Michael Higgins, Thomas Lennon and others showing their comedy chops off well. Written by Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky, directed by Jake Kasdan.

When Harry Met Sally title screen
When Harry Met Sally
Nora Ephron and Rob Reiner’s classic love-ripens-over-time romcom, with Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan perfect foils for each other, ably supported by Carrie Fisher and Bruno Kirby.

Charlie And The Chocolate Factory title screenCharlie And The Chocolate Factory
Can’t say that there was really much in Tim Burton/s Johnny Depp-starring remake of the Roald Dahl book that improved upon the Gene Wilder version. Certainly didn’t seem so much fun.

The Cat In The Hat title screen
The Cat In The Hat
Visually impressive screen adaptation of the Dr Seuss children’s book, with Mike Myers in the lead. Directed by Bo Welch.

The Silence Of The Lambs title screen
The Silence Of The Lambs
Nineties movie comfort food, from Jonathan Demme.

A Week In Film #547: One familiar

Posse title screen
Could have been great, turned out turgid. Mario Van Peebles gives us a Western where (most of) the protagonists are black – kicking back against racists all the way from Cuba back to the States. Some flash camera moves, nice cast – including Tiny Lister, BDK, Tone Lōc, Charles Lane, Billy Zane as a panto villain, and a Baldwin (Stephen) as token Nice White Guy – and interesting subject matter never quite elevates the movie. An inexorably long and tedious ‘climactic’ fight scene doesn’t help.

Agatha And The Truth Of Murder title screenAgatha And The Truth Of Murder
Somewhat pedestrian ‘what if?’ drama about the crime author’s brief (and well-publicised) disappearance in 1926, done up like one of her own murder mysteries. Ruth Bradley plays the writer, the cast of suspects includes Dean Andrews, Tim McInnerny and Blake Harrison, with Pippa Haywood and Ralph Ineson as allies. Interesting but not massively exciting.

The Fugitive title screen
The Fugitive
Strong energy here – Harrison Ford as the surgeon framed for his own wife’s murder who goes on the run to prove his innocence; Tommy Lee Jones is leading the manhunt. Andrew Davis directs. Zippy script from Jeb Stuart and David Twohy.

La Noche De 12 Años title screen
La Noche De 12 Años AKA A Twelve Year Night
Properly sapping drama about a trio of leftists who spent twelve years being ghosted around various gaols, dungeons and unofficial prisons – in between bouts of torture – after the Uruguayan military went all gloves-off in its war against the Tupamaros in 1973. Strong conception from director Álvaro Brechner, who avoids falling back on over-familiar ‘big house’ tropes, and performances from Antonio de la Torre, Chino Darín and Alfonso Tort.

Ghost In The Shell title screen
Ghost In The Shell
Okay, so I wan’t massively paying attention, but this American take on a Japanese manga zipped along nicely. Directed by Rupert Saunders, Scarlett Johansson the star. Not a scooby what the plot is.