Category Archives: A Week In Film

A Week In Film #493: Newfers

[Lethal Weapon title screen]
Lethal Weapon
I’d never actually seen this 80s buddy cop classic, only ever known it through the prism of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia and Hot Fuzz and the like. Hardly Richard Donner’s directorial peak, but pretty watchable if unexceptional, with a nice rapport between Danny Glover and Mel Gibson as a pair of chalk-and-cheese LA cops thrown together by circumstance.

[Lethal Weapon 2 title screen]
Lethal Weapon 2
A sequel that’s actually better than its parent movie – thanks in large part to the addition of Joe Pesci to the cast, and some cardboard cut-out Seff Efrican bad guys.

[Garfield: The Movie title screen]
Garfield: The Movie
Crappy live action/CGI mash-up of Jim Davis’ lazy cat comic strip, with Bill Murray on feline voice duties, his fellow Groundhog Day alumnus Stephen Tobolowsky one of the few good things as a bad guy, and Breckin Meyer (the stoner dude from Clueless) as Jon.

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A Week In Film #491: XPERIMENTAL

[Bridesmaids title screen]
Bridesmaids
Paul Feig directs from Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo’s script about women and friendships, and shit gags. With Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy, Chris O’Dowd etc.

[Dying Of The Light title screen]
Dying Of The Light
Dire spy shenanigans, ostensibly from the hand of writer-director Paul Shrader, but apparently a case of murder-by-studio. Nicolas Cage and Anton Yeltsin work hard as a mentor-mentee pair of CIA spooks on a freelance mission against a bin Laden type, with the older man constantly battling against the onset of dementia; but in the released version (as opposed to Shrader’s original, impressionistic vision) is just a hackneyed spy thriller minus any thrills.

A Week In Film #490: Yowsers

[Copycat title screen]
Copycat
Shlocky thriller, just how I like ‘em; with cop Holly Hunter teaming up with cob-up-her-ass agoraphobic academic Sigourney Weaver to hunt a serial killer. Directed by Jon Amiel.

[The Hitman’s Bodyguard title screen]
The Hitman’s Bodyguard
Could have been great, with Samuel L Jackson and Ryan Reynolds fizzing off each other; but in reality a flat and poorly-paced plodder from Patrick Hughes.

A Week In Film #484: Being boiled

[Mr Bean’s Holiday title screen]
Mr Bean’s Holiday
Actually pretty watchable big screen outing for Rowan Atkinson’s largely inaudible buffoon, on a trip across Europe (thingshappen, plans change, innocents are drawn in, etc. Affectionately put together.

[The Silence Of The Lambs title screen]
The Silence Of The Lambs
Ham and liver, again.

[Fury title screen]
Fury
Grim, grimy war action from David Ayer, with dead-eyed Sherman commander Brad Pitt leading a battle-hardened tank crew (Jon Bernthal, Shia LaBeouf, Michael Peña) through Germany in the dying stages of WWII, supplemented by young replacement Logan Lerman. Not as meaningful as it seems to think, but not insignificant.

[High Crimes title screen]
High Crimes
Trashy thriller from Carl Franklin (Devil In A Blue Dress), with Ashley Judd as a high-flying attorney defending her carpenter husband (James Caviezel) who is accused of being a soldier who committed an atrocity in El Salvador. With Morgan Freeman as an alcoholic ex-JAG lawyer she brings in to assist, alongside an inexperienced young officer (Adam Scott) and her flaky younger sister (Amanda Peet). The odd little twist, but nothing amazing.

[Snake Eyes title screen]
Snake Eyes
Exhilarating little De Palma flick, with Nicolas Cage as a bent-but-likeable Atlantic City cop drawn into a shady assassination conspiracy at a championship boxing match. With Gary Sinise, Carla Gugino and Stan Shaw.

[Training Day title screen]
Training Day
Denzel Washington as a shark of a corrupt LAPD detective, constantly moving forwards in order to try and remain predator rather than prey; Ethan Hawke the straight arrow rookie partner forced to adapt or die, all during the course of a single day.

[The Hunt For Red October title screen]
The Hunt For Red October
Soviet submariner Sean Connery plays underwater chess with CIA analyst Alec Baldwin. Solidly helmed by John McTiernan.

A Week In Film #481: ALMOST All-New!

I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore title screen
I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore
Quirky first feature as a writer-director from Macon Blair – best known as part of Jeremy Saulnier’s repertory – about an average woman (Melanie Lynskey) who feels compelled to right the wrong of being burgled. Tonally and thematically it sort of plays out like The Big Lebowski with fewer belly laughs. Elijah Wood is fun as her heavy metal-loving neighbour, whom she persuades to tag along, Gary Anthony Williams, Christine Woods, Robert Longstreet, Devon Graye, Jane Levy and David Yow all contribute watchable, endearing performances.

The Bleeder title screen
The Bleeder
Quite enjoyable take on the story of journeyman boxer and one-time contender Chuck Wepner, the purported inspiration behind Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa character. Live Schreiber gives a good central performance, and there are nice turns from Elisabeth Moss, Naomi Watts, Ron Perlman, Jim Gaffigan and Michael Rapaport. Directed by Philippe Falardeau.

Tracker title screen
Tracker
Pedestrian period piece about an Afrikaner farmer-turned-guerilla (Ray Winstone) coming to New Zealand in search of – well, something – in the wake of defeat at the hands of the British in the Boer War. There he finds himself hired to hunt down a Maori whaler (Temuera Morrison) wrongly accused of murder by dastardly British soldiers. Nothing exceptional from veteran director Ian Sharp.

Killer Joe title screen
Killer Joe
Kind of absorbing, but not wholly – William Friedkin adapting a Tracy Letts play about an unlikable family of Texan buffoons (Emile Hirsch, Juno Temple, Thomas Haden Church and Gina Gershon) enmeshing themselves in a ridiculous murder-for-insurance plot, assisted by creepy cop Matthew McConaughey.

Bad Day For The Cut title screen
Bad Day For The Cut
An interesting stab at a Blue Ruin-style take on the revenge thriller, set in Ireland, with Nigel O’Neill as a mild-mannered farmer who goes on a mission of retribution after his elderly mother is murdered. With Susan Lynch, Stuart Graham, David Pearse, Ian McElhinney, Jósef Pawlowski and Anna Próchniak; directed by Chris Baugh from a script co-written by Brendan Mullin.

Red Rock West title screen
Red Rock West
John Dahl’s pre-Last Seduction neo-noir, with a dusty Western vibe to it. Nic Cage is a drifter drawn into a web of deceit and double cross when he ends up in a shithole town with no money after a job falls through. Mistaken identity, honour, betrayal, a femme fatale, shifting alliances, JT Walsh, Lara Flynn Boyle and Dennis Hopper.

A Week In Film #480: Kicking in

[Green Zone title screen]
Green Zone
Paul Greengrass overextends his jitter-cam pseudo documentary style, with Matt Damon as a kind of super-soldier uncovering a conspiracy in post-occupation Iraq.

[13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers Of Benghazi title screen]
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers Of Benghazi
Like Zero Dark Thirty and Black Hawk Down something of a guilty, visceral pleasure – male-dominant, innately right wing, violence-fetishising, fearful of darkness, yet excellently staged and well acted. Strong performances from buffed up Office alums John Krasinski and David Denman, Pablo Schreiber from the second season of The Wire, Toby Camomile Lawn Stephens etc.

[Command And Control title screen]
Command And Control
Interesting, old-style documentary about a catastrophic fubar at a nuclear missile silo in 1980.

[Tokarev title screen]
Tokarev
A late period Nicolas Cage crime thriller that looked like it might be okay – an ex-Irish mob hardman-turned-legitimate-businessman gathers together his old pals when his teenage daughter goes missing after a home invasion. But this is no Full Neeson. The odd nice turn (Peter Stormare as a gangster in a wheelchair) and a sort of decent twist don’t go any way to salvaging what is a turgid piece of crap.

[2 Guns title screen]
2 Guns
Starts off as a pleasingly old school sugar-and-spice buddy cop actioner in the vein of Busting, Freebie And The Bean, Running Scared, Lethal Weapon, 48 Hrs and the rest – overlaid onto the plot of Charley Varrick – but quickly tails off into forgettable Big Explosions territory. Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg have decent chemistry, but overall it feels like a late series A Team episode with a bigger budget.

[Power Rangers title screen]
Power Rangers
The Breakfast Club-meetsGoonies opening was great fun, with a likeable cast of young outsiders, but once we get into the actual save-the-Earth-from-Rita-Repulsa shenanigans it’s all rather meh.

[The Open House title screen]
The Open House
Dark little tale from Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote, taking a recently widowed woman and her teenage son and plonking them in a remote mountain lodge being put up for sale by her sister. Then a bunch of creepy shit happens. And more creepy shit. And then some really freaky shit. And then it ends. Excellent score by Joseph Shirley.

A Week In Film #477: Sacré bleu

[Back To The Future title screen]
Back To The Future
Still great after all these years, though the racism/cultural imperialism angle definitely shows through more now.

[The Foreigner title screen]
The Foreigner
Could have been so great – Jackie Chan as a Chinese special forces dude out to avenge his daughter, murdered by dissident Irish republicans in London, Pierce Brosnan as a Gerry Adams type – but quickly becomes turgid. A couple of nice action sequences and that’s your lot.

[Men In Black title screen]
Men In Black
Never seen it; now I’ve seen it, and that’s that, really. Decent enough interplay between Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, the odd amusing bit, Vincent D’Onofrio paying the mortgage as an alien villain.

[Bright title screen]
Bright
Another Netflix Exclusive that coulda, shoulda, but misfired heavily. Will Smith as an LAPD cop paired up against his wishes with the department’s first and only orc cop (Joel Edgerton) in an alternate reality where humans uneasily coexist with various other magical series (including fairies and elves). There’s a bit of a quest element, chase scenes, a bit of odd couple bickering, and some nice performances – it’s just it does not add up to the sum of its parts, let alone an improvement on them. Directed by David Ayer, written by Max Landis.

[The Man With The Iron Heart title screen]
The Man With The Iron Heart
The assassination of Heydrich gets yet another film iteration, closely on the tail of 2016’s Anthropoid. This one’s based on Laurent Binet’s non-fiction/novel mash-up HHhH, but sticks very much to the trad tropes. Jason Clarke plays Hitler’s brain, Jack O’Connell leads the son Czechs. Directed conventionally by Cédric Jimenez, who also gave us possibly the most pedestrian squandering of Dujardin and Lellouche in recent memory in La French.