Monthly Archives: February 2020

A Week In Film #588: Unsettling silence

[Rush (1991) title screen]
Rush (1991)
Lili Find Zanuck’s strong drama about undercover Texas cops getting in too deep, based on the novel by Kim Wozencraft, which in turn fictionalised her own experiences. Well acted by Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jason Patric, Sam Elliott, Max Perlich, Tony Frank and Gregg Allman.

[Moonraker title screen]
Cheesy but fun Bond business, representing the midpoint in Roger Moore’s tenure. This time round we end up in space, trying to sabotage megalomaniac industrialist Drax (Michael Lonsdale) and his plan to create an orbiting Ark full of his designated cadres, with which he intends to repopulate the Earth he intends first to flood with a deadly nerve gas. Jaws makes a comeback, there’s excellently silly space battle, terrible SFX, and awful double entendres. Lois Chiles is the lead Bond girl, an undercover CIA agent working with 007. Lewis Gilbert directs for the third and final time, reuniting with the screenwriter from his second (The Spy Who Loved Me), Christopher Wood, whose scripting history includes four (four!) Confessions sex comedies.

[My Neighbour Totoro title screen]
My Neighbour Totoro
Hayao Miyazaki’s masterful animated ode to the mystery and playfulness of childhood. A father and his two young daughters relocate from the city to a near-derelict old house in the country to be closer to the hospital where his wife is recovering from a long illness. Whilst their father settles in to his work, the girls explore their new surroundings and discover friendly soot sprites – and befriend a giant forest spirit that they dub ‘Totoro’.

[The Notebook title screen]
The Notebook
Another one of them long-across-the-tracks period romance things, with Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams as a a lowly lumber worker and a well-to-do heiress who fall in love in the American South in the 1940s, only for obstacles in the way, etc. Directed by Nick Cassavetes from a novel by Nicholas Sparks, and with James Garner and Gena Rowlands adding a bit of class as the lovers in their twilight years.

[Aladdin (1992) title screen]
Aladdin (1992)
The creative peak of the early ‘Disney Renaissance’ animated features of the late 80s/90s, with the Arabian Nights tale given a glossy, cheeky makeover, and with Robin Williams turning in a memorably lose improvised voice performance as the Genie.

[Shazam! title screen]
Fun, somewhat pomo, superhero movie by Swedish helmsman David F Sandberg, somehow nestled in the DCU, and about Fawcett Comics’ supposed Superman rip-off Captain Marvel – subsequently acquired by DC, but remonickered as Shazam due to legal claims by Marvel Comics, which also latterly picked up the rights to Miracleman né Marvelman, the ersatz (Fawcett) Captain Marvel originated by British publisher L Miller & Son… Anyway, it’s pretty funny, and fun.

[Demolition Man title screen]
Demolition Man
Silly, typically mid-90s mindless Hollywood action nonsense, with maverick cop Sly Stallone and psycho criminal mastermind Wesley Snipes thawing out in future megalopolis San Angeles having been cryogenically frozen nearly forty years prior. More than a hint of classic Judge Dredd-esque silliness as the pair rampage through their new surroundings, where crime and violence have all but been eradicated. Appearances from Nigel Hawthorne, Sandra Bullock and Dennis Leary liven things up; directed by Italian-Canadian Marco Brambilla, who appears to be more of a conceptual video artist than a franchise captain, which makes this all the more bizarre.

A Week In Film #587: Two-thirds

Zodiac title screen
David Fincher tackles serial killers for the first time, and on reflection it is a very accomplished, creepy piece of work, based on San Francisco Chronicle cartoonist Robert Graysmith’s account.

Black And Blue title screen
Black And Blue
Military veteran (Naomie Harris) returns to her old ends in New Orleans as a rookie cop, and soon finds herself embroiled in some major shit. Frank Grillo is a bent narc on her tail. Fairly accomplished thriller from Deon Taylor, who is not someone whose work I have come across before, but who is clearly talented.

The Flintstones title screen
The Flintstones
Fucking awful live action version of the Stone Age-set Hanna-Barbera cartoon, which was itself memorably inspired by popular-at-the-time sitcom The Honeymooners. Boorish quarry worker Fred (John Goodman) pursues personal advancement at the expense of friendship, ends up a patsy in his boss’ shenanigans, learns valuable lessons about What’s Really Important, etc. With Rick Moranis as Barney Rubble, Elizabeth Perkins as Wilma, Rosie O’Donnell as Betty, plus Kyle McLachlan, Halle Berry and Elizabeth Taylor. Directed by Brian Levant, written by committee (including Steven E de Souza of Die Hard fame).

A Week In Film #586: Could be worse

BTK: A Killer Among Us title screen
BTK: A Killer Among Us
Fairly sober documentary which mostly avoids luridness (mostly), and features amongst its interviewees Kerri Rawson, daughter of BTK himself, Dennis Rader.

The Great Escape title screen
The Great Escape
Classic ensemble PoW action, underpinned with pathos. Top hole from John Sturges (adapting from Paul Brickhill’s account) and his cast, and fascinating to see how different it is in style and pace (and yet very similar in other ways) to The Wooden Horse, which was based on Eric Williams’ book about an earlier escape from Stalag Luft III.