[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]
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).
[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.
[Broadcast News title screen]
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]
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]
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.
[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]
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.
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.
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.
The Death Of Stalin
Armando Iannucci does Soviet accession as farce.
Solo: A Star Wars Story
Less shit than the reviews would suggest, but definitely underpowered. Some nice little plot points, some decent action, some nice performances. Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s rabble-rousing droid L3-37 is particularly delightful.
College spods engage in card-counting in Vegas. Jim Sturgess plays the newbie recruited to the team who really, really needs to make $300k so he can go to Harvard, because MIT just isn’t good enough, or something. Directed by Robert Luketic from a script by Peter Steinfeld and Allan Loeb, based on the to-be-taken-with-a-pinch-of-salt ‘non-fiction’ book by Ben Mezrich. Kate Bosworth plays the love interest, Kevin Spacey the prof who grooms(!) our hero, Laurence Fishburne as the casino security goon chasing after them.