Monthly Archives: January 2020

A Week In Film #585: Fuxxakes

Broadcast News title screen
Broadcast News
James L Brooks’ follow up to Terms Of Endearment is a pleasantly mature love triangle set in a network news office, with manic producer Holly Hunter falling for vacuous new anchor William Hurt, but herself the subject of a crush from her best friend, reporter Albert Brooks. There’s no really big moments, it just hums along nicely, and believably.

U Turn title screen
U Turn
Bemusing neonoir from Oliver Stone, with drifter Sean Penn trapped in a crappy little Arizonan town thanks to a blown radiator, with a loan shark’s goons on his tail, and various local characters conspiring to prevent his leaving. With Jennifer Lopez as the femme fatale, Powers Both the gruff sheriff, Jon Voight in redface as a gnomic Vietnam vet, Nick Nolte at his grimmest as a venal realtor, Joaquin Phoenix and Claire Danes as teen lovers, and Billy Bob Thornton giving his all as the town’s mechanic. For all the flashy cutting and visuals, it’s just a bit pants. Adapted from a novel by John Ridley, who later scripted 12 Years A Slave.

The Terminal title screen
The Terminal
Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks in inspired by a true story territory once again, here in a fairy tale about a mild-mannered traveller getting stuck in bureaucratic limbo in an American airport when political intrigues in his homeland leave him stateless. Moderately entertaining trifle, with Catherine Zeta-Jones as the love interest, and Stanley Tucci as the arch-nemesis.

A Week In Film #584: Dang

Catch Me If You Can title screen
Catch Me If You Can
Enjoyable inspired by a true story romp from Steven Spielberg, sourced from Frank Abagnale’s ghosted memoir about his globetrotting teenage exploits as a cheque forger and conman. Leonardo DiCaprio full commits in the lead, with Tom Hanks his dogged FBI pursuer.

Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi title screen
Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi
Rian Johnson takes the baton from JJ Abrams and delivers a credible Empire analogue. Some stiff scripting (and some less than lively performances), but Oscar Isaac is excellent as Poe Dameron, Kylo Ren is a great villain, and we get the return of Luke Skywalker.

Alien: Covenant title screen
Alien: Covenant
Ridley Scott’s third bite of the xenomorph cherry, and boy does a lot of the CGI creature work look a bit ropey on the small screen now. Convoluted plot, which revisits too much from the first two movies, but some strong moments. Michael Fassbender, Billy Crudup and Danny McBride turn in decent performances.

Minions title screen
Throwaway sidequel, with Despicable Me’s wee helpers in search of a new evil overlord, leading them naturally to the British royal family. Unexceptional, but moderately diverting.

[Captain America: The First Avenger title screen]
Captain America: The First Avenger
Solid legend-building from Joe Johnston, giving us the origin of Cap. Weedy kid Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), in his desperation to join the Army in WW2, in enrolled onto a secretive ‘super-soldier’ programme, and turned into a buff hero battling evil Nazis. Hugo Weaving is great as the bad guy, Hydra boss Schmidt; Hayley Atwell is Peggy Carter; Dominic Cooper is Iron Man’s dad Howard Stark.

A Week In Film #583: Slow but steady

Primary Colors title screen
Primary Colors
Joe Klein’s roman à clef about Bill Clinton’s run for president gets a not-great film adaptation from Mike Nichols. John Travolta and Emma Thompson are pretty decent as the power couple at the heart of it, and Kathy Bates chews the scenery as the campaign’s investigator, but it’s oddly constrained in its staging. And it wavers unconvincingly between comedy and melodrama.

A Week In Film #582: New year new you

Red Heat title screen
Red Heat
So much less than it should be – mis-matched cops (Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jim Belushi) from either side of the Iron Curtain team up in Chicago to pursue a psycho Georgian gangster (Ed O’Ross) intent on setting up a major drug buy.

Written and directed by Walter Hill, after the prologue – with its weird but iconic scenes of a naked Arnie fist-fighting bad guys in the snow, and then snapping off the hollow leg of a coke mule during a raid – it is surprisingly perfunctory. Schwarzenegger and Belushi never quite gel, there’s lots of pointless traipsing back and forwards to the same locations, and the big action scenes are never really very exciting.