Monthly Archives: September 2019

A Week In Film #568: Boomerang

The Guilty title screen
Den Skyldige AKA The Guilty
Superb,super-charged little Danish thriller, virtually all contained within a small police call centre on a single evening, where cop-under-a-cloud Asger (Jakob Cedergren) is doing his last shift before facing a tribunal for a shooting death he was involved in. After countless normal calls, he fields one that for some reason hooks him in – and in it he sees the chance to be a real cop again, to redeem himself. But life doesn’t pan out like that… Written (with Emil Nygaard Albertsen) and directed by Gustav Möller with economy and tautness.

In The Shadow Of The Moon title screen
In The Shadow Of The Moon
Somewhat silly high concept SF action thriller from director Jim Mickle and writers Gregory Weidman and Geoff Tock, about Philly cop Lockhart (Boyd Holbrook) encountering a series of strange deaths connected to a mysterious young woman who keeps disappearing. Soon we are in 1997, then 2006, then 2015, each time with more deaths, and more appearances from the woman – and each time Lockhart is that much more obsessed. Eventually the truth is revealed, etc.

A potentially interesting and epic film which just didn’t do it for me. Can’t really blame the cast, which features Cleopatra Coleman, Bokeem Woodbine, Michael C Hall and Rudi Dharmalingam.

Avengers: Endgame title screen
Avengers: Endgame
More candy for the eyes – absolutely not a Scooby what is going on, but the kids enjoyed it. MCU stalwarts the Russo Brothers direct.

Spotlight title screen
Spotlight
A repeat viewing of the old fashioned drama about an old fashioned newspaper investigation – both long, plodding, methodical – into the Boston Catholic Church sexual abuse scandal. Tom McCarthy handles things respectfully, with a good cast.

The Year Of Living Dangerously title screen
The Year Of Living Dangerously
Peter Weir ‘does’ the troubles in Indonesia, when Sukarno was playing a balancing act between populism, nationalism, American-backed right-wing authoritarian elements in the military, and the Soviet bloc. Mel Gibson plays a young Australian journalist completely out of his depth, Linda Hunt is his local stringer Billy Kwan, Sigourney Weaver the British diplomat he falls for. Has its moments, though feels flat in places.

A Week In Film #567: Bang-Bang

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Arbitrage
Rather boring, enthralling ‘thriller’ about a rich dick (Richard Gere) doing some big-assed white collar crime against a bunch of other rich dicks, whilst simultaneously fucking Someone Who Isn’t His Wife. Really tedious. From Nicholas Jarecki, who co-wrote the script for the pretty decent Bret Easton Ellis adaptation The Informers. Got pretty good reviews, so maybe I’ll have to revisit it.

The Hollow Point title screen
The Hollow Point
Seemed like it would be better than it actually was – a small town lawman on the Mexican frontier happens upon a deadly cross-border ammunition smuggling ring. By no means the worst Patrick Wilson film I’ve seen recently, but somewhat pedestrian. With Ian McShane, John Leguizamo, Jim Belushi and Lynn Collins, directed by Gonzalo López-Gallego, and written by Nils Lyew.

The Thing title screen
The Thing
John Carpenter, Kurt Russell, aliens in Antarctica, a throbbing score, and the very best in physical effects.

The McKenzie Break title screen
The McKenzie Break
Turning the normal British POW escape movie on its head, here we have a camp in Scotland full of German prisoners under the control of zealot Helmut Griem, with commandant Ian Hendry powerless against the machinations of his charge. Brian Keith is the maverick Irishman sent in as an intelligence officer to figure out what Jerry is up to. Directed by Lamont Johnson.

[Red Sparrow title screen]
Red Sparrow
Silly accents aside, a pretty solid bit of Cold War espionage throwback bizniz, based on a novel by an ex-Agency spook (Jason Matthews), with Jennifer Lawrence a Russian ballerina forced by circumstance into becoming a honey trap operative for the SVR. A pleasantly convoluted plot, some solid performances (Joel Edgerton, Matthias Schoenaerts, Charlotte Rampling, Mary-Louise Parker, Jeremy Irons, Ciarán Hinds, Douglas Hodge), some nice photography (Jo Willems – Hard Candy, London, 30 Days Of Night plus some Hunger Games stuff). From director Francis Lawrence (again Hunger Games, plus I Am Legend).

A Week In Film #566: One in one out

Molly’s Game title screen
Molly’s Game
Slowish, classy drama about an ex-athlete-turned-high-stakes-poker host (Jessica Chastain) caught between a rock and a hard place when the Feds come a-knockin’. Idris Elba does his weary face a lot as the lawyer who reluctantly defends her; Michael Cera excels as the asshole Hollywood actor who quickly turns against her (definitely not based on Tobey Maguire). Aaron Sorkin directs from Aaron Sorkin’s script, so definitely not without its faults.

Psycho title screen
Psycho
Still a stone cold classic, particularly all the stuff up to, you know, that scene.

A Week In Film #565: Freezing cold open air

White Boy Rick title screen
White Boy Rick
So-so based-on-a-real-story drama about a young drug dealing gun runner in 80s Detroit. A case of director Yann (’71, Top Boy, Dead Set) Demange’s reach most certainly not exceeding his grasp. Strong cast includes Matthew McConaughey, Richie Merritt, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Bruce Dern, Piper Laurie, RJ Tyler and Jonathan Majors.

Charlie Wilson’s War title screen
Charlie Wilson’s War
Dislikably manipulative movie lauding dislikable and manipulative American policy hawks and cynical politicians using Afghanistan as their playground. Mike Nichols directing from Aaron Sorkin’s script, with Tom Hanks, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julia Roberts and Amy Adams.

White House Down title screen
White House Down
Fun modern remix of Die Hard, with Channing Tatum as a blue collar schlub taking on terrorists targeting the President’s ends; fun turns from Jamie Foxx, Jimmi Simpson and Kevin Rank are rounded out by more straight performances by James Woods, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Jason Clarke. Roland Emmerich directs from James Vanderbilt’s script.

Doomsday title screen
Doomsday
Where it went wrong for Neil Marshall – trying to mash together too many things without having a solid script in place, it would seem. Mad Max, Escape From New York, The Crazies, Assault On Precinct 13, Aliens, The Warriors… All thrown into the blender, but without a coherent vision or a tight enough narrative, it’s just scenes slid up to each other, plot points in search of characters to initiate them, and stunts seeking reason. A shame – a strong cast (Rhona Mistra, MyAnna During, Alexander Siding, Adrian Lester, David O’Hara etc) is wasted.

Bohemian Rhapsody title screen
Bohemian Rhapsody
Bryan Singer’s Freddie Mercury/Queen biopic (as completed by Dexter Fletcher) is certainly watchable, and listenable, but very definitely a PG, vanilla, sanitised, jumbled-about version of the truth. Still, Rami Malek is committed in the lead role, and Tom Hollander has a nice cameo as lawyer-turned-manager Jim ‘Miami’ Beach.

A Week In Film #564: 100% Rewinds

6 Days title screen
6 Days
Solid if stolid take on the Iranian embassy siege, with Billy Elliott as SAS hardnut Rusty Firmin.

Valkyrie title screen
Valkyrie
Bryan Singer’s pedestrian take on the Stauffenberg plot to assassinate Hitler.

The Hunt For Red October title screen
The Hunt For Red October
Muscular John McTiernan screening of Tom Clancy’s technothriller about a CIA analyst (Alec Baldwin as Jack Ryan) trying to determine just what a rogue Soviet sub commander (Sean Connery) is planning to do. Sort of compelling.

Klute title screen
Klute
Director Alan J Pakula and cinematographer Gordon Willis pull together a decent if not essential dry run for the superior paranoia thriller classics The Parallax View and All The President’s Men. Donald Sutherland is the private eye who becomes embroiled with call girl Jane Fonda in pursuit of a missing businessman, whilst shadowy forces swirl around them.

North West Frontier title screen
North West Frontier
I’d never noticed before quite how like Ice Cold In Alex this was before – both helmed by J Lee Thompson. This is definitely the runt of that particular litter, and with it a much less palatable imperial flavour. Still, some highly memorable scenes and performances.

Kenneth More is excellent as a stiff upper lipped British Army officer charged with protecting the young son of a Hindu maharajah, in the face of widespread Muslim rioting and massacres. A glorious cast – Lauren Bacall, Herbert Nom, Wilfrid Hyde-White, I S John, Ursula Jeans, Eugene Deckers, S M Asgaralli and Sam Chowdhary – make what is otherwise a rather mediocre picture sparkle somewhat.