Monthly Archives: November 2019

A Week In Film #576: Basically all new

The Interview (1998) title screen
The Interview (1998)
Took ages to actually knuckle down and watch it in full, but it was worth it. Starts off with some kind of a police raid on the modest flat of a quiet, shy man, Eddie Fleming (Hugo Weaving). He doesn’t know what’s going on, and nor do we, even as he is dragged to an interrogation cell in some imposing looking police building. That sense of unease and bewilderment is stretched out until there is a moment of exposition behind the curtain, with detectives Steele and Prior (Tony Martin and Aaron Jeffery) giving us a hint of what it is all about. And so the game is afoot, incrementally drip feeding us with information which makes us lean first one way then another.

Whilst the last act pulls together the threads in something more orthodox, the journey which gets us there is exhilarating. Directed and co-written by Craig Monahan, with Gordon Davie; memorable turns by Michael Caton as a serpentine, jovial journalist, and Paul Sonkkila as a battle-hardened senior police officer.

Crown Vic title screen
Crown Vic
A day-in-the-life, Training Day-type police thriller, with weary LAPD patrol officer Thomas Jane assigned rookie Luke Kleintank for a night on duty in Olympic Division. Josh Hopkins and David Krumholtz make a memorable pair of fuck-knuckle task force team members. Drifts well into the silly, but overall a decent enough effort from Joel Souza.

Name Of The Rose title screen
Name Of The Rose
Rather confusing mediaeval murder mystery, with Sean Connery as a worldly monk drawn into investigating murder at an Italian monastery, assisted by young novice Christian Slater. Adapted by Jean-Jacques Annaud from Umberto Eco’s postmodern novel, and it seems that all manner of nuance and layers of meaning were stripped away in order to make it a semi-functioning movie.

You Were Never Really Here title screen
You Were Never Really Here
Joaquin Phoenix as a majorly PTSDed up military veteran who ekes a living rescuing trafficked girls in as violent a fashion as possible. One such job does not go as originally planned. Dark, brutal, very well made, with Lynne Ramsay adapting from a novella by Jonathan Ames.

[Captain Marvel title screen]
Captain Marvel
Fun, 90s-set MCU effort, with a different vibe and pace to most of the Marvel movies. Total military propaganda, mind. With Brie Larson as USAF pilot-cum-superhero Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel, Lashana Lynch as her wing man, Ben Mendelsohn as the baddie, and Sam L Jackson and Clark Gregg as S.H.I.EL.D. agents Fury and Coulson. Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, who did Half Nelson.

A Week In Film #575: Two-one-one

Inside Man title screen
Inside Man
Spike Lee as a work-for-hire director is still a cut above most movie-makers. His New York heist-with-a-twist adds much meat to the bones of the somewhat convoluted script by Russell Gewirtz (also responsible for penning Righteous Kill, and keeps the audience on its toes with feints and dummies and time-hopping structure. As with The Usual Suspects, Getting’ Square and other such treats, the whole twist is revealed in the very first scene, but like any riddle the enjoyment is in the full reveal. Nice turns by Chiwetel Ejiofor, Denzel Washington, Jodie Foster, Willem Dafoe and Christopher Plummer, and even Clive Owen’s woeful American accent isn’t too annoying.

24 Hour Party People title screen
24 Hour Party People
Steve Coogan becomes Tony Wilson for Michael Winterbottom’s metabiopic more about a a certain place at a certain time – Manchester from the mid-70s to mid-90s – than just one person. We get the history of Factory, the Haçienda, Joy Division/New Order, Happy Mondays and hints of Gunchester all crammed in too. Not too shabby, with nice touches like Howard Devoto appearing onscreen to deny a Wilson claim about something the actor representing him has just done ever happened.

The King title screen
The King
David Michôd and Joel Edgerton put together a polished revisionist take on Shakespeare’s version of the Henrys; with a grubby, brutal Agincourt, and Timothée Chalamet as Hal impresses with his youthfully arrogant blend of petulance and a desire to step up to his duty.

The Addams Family (2019) title screen
The Addams Family (2019)
Pointless animated remake of the 90s live action movie reboot of the 60s kitsch comedy horror, wasting the vocal talents of Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, Chloë Grace Moretz, Finn Wolfhard and Allison Janney. Co-helmed by the director behind such unforgettable second string CGI classics as Shrek 2, Madagascar 3, Monsters Vs Aliens etc…

A Week In Film #574: Darkening

Body Of Lies title screen
Body Of Lies
Russell Crowe as a stateside-based CIA manager, Leonardo Di Caprio his field agent, on the hunt for a master terrorist in Jordan, Mark Strong the local intelligence chief. Better than it should have been, not as good as it could have been. Directed by Ridley Scott, which says all you need to know. Terrible attempt to depict Manchester in the prologue.

Live By Night title screen
Live By Night
Ben Affleck writes, directs, stars in this period gangster flick based on a Dennis Lehane novel, about a Prohibition-era gangster who relocates from Boston to Florida. Not terrible, but very middle of the road and with nothing to make it bona fide brilliant. With Brendan Gleeson, Chris Cooper, Sienna Miller and Zoe Saldana.

The Image Revolution title screen
The Image Revolution
Patrick Meaney’s pretty fascinating documentary on the creation of the big creator-owned indie comic publisher. Todd McFarlane is predictably angry throughout; Rob Liefeld comes across rather well with more self-reflection that I would have credited him with.

Fist Fight title screen
Fist Fight
Amusing silliness with Charlie Day and Ice Cube as a pair of very different high school teachers who end up in conflict. FGreat support from Tracy Morgan, Jillian Bell, Kumail Nanjiani  and Dean Norris. Directed by Richie Keen, written by Van Robichaux, Evan Susser and Max Greenfield.

Westerplatte title screen
Westerplatte AKA Westerplatte Resists
Polish war film from 1967, depicting fairly accurately the defence of a crucial location in ‘Danzig Free City’ sandwiched between the newly independent Poland and Nazi Germany’s East Prussia as Hitler orders invasion. From Stanisław Różewicz and Jan Józef Szczepanski.

Ghosts Of Sugar Land title screen
Ghosts Of Sugar Land
Short, personal documentary from Bassam Tariq in which he interviews old pals from his hometown suburb of Houston in regard of ‘Mark’, a rare black friend in their predominantly South Asian, Muslim neighbourhood. ‘Mark’ converted to Islam and became radicalised. He may have been an FBI agent.

A Week In Film #573: Summer lovin’

Thor title screen
Thor
I fairly enjoyed this, Ken Branagh’s MCU entry and a perfectly competent introduction to the whole Frost Giants vs Asgard thing, with Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Idris Elba, Anthony Hopkins and Rene Russo all well-cast.

Hotel Transylvania 3: A Monster Vacation title screen
Hotel Transylvania 3: A Monster Vacation
Watched at Butlin’s during an evening silent cinema event whilst sandwiched between an amusement arcade and fast food stalls, and as screaming over-sugared toddlers run riot everywhere, is probably not the best way to catch any movie. However, I’d hazard a guess in this case it didn’t really detract very much. Absolutely forgettable.

Our Godfather title screen
Our Godfather
Documentary about Tommaso Buscetta, the first major Mafia boss to become a prosecution witness against the Cosa Nostra, leading to 400+ convictions, and the effect it had on his young family, with whom he relocated to America. Rather glides over the early years, and obfuscates exactly how he got started, but interesting nonetheless. Directed by Mark Franchetti and Andrew Meier.

Avengement title screen
Avengement
Not great, but aspirational in its scope and execution from modern day British grind house auteur Jesse V Johnson and martial artist Scott Adkins, with the latter as a gangster’s younger brother inadvertently caught up in shenanigans and then banged up until all the niceness is knocked out of him. A solid cast – Leo Gregory, Nick Moran, Kierston Strange, Craig Fairbrass, Thomas Turgoose – helps keep energy levels up, and there’s impressively staged fight scenes. Script, plot and ultimately the pacing all could have done with a lot more hands and eyes to tighten things up, but enjoyable when set against similarly positioned genre contemporaries like Turbo Terry and Phillips/Tanter.

Jurassic Park title screen
Jurassic Park
Those CGI beasties have held up pretty darn well!