An old faithful, with Harold Becker directing John Cusack, Al Pacino, Danny Aiello and Bridget Fonda against a backdrop of New York politicking and corruption. Never quite hits a proper climax, but enjoyable nonetheless, with a great score from Jerry Goldsmith, and strong writing from a bunch of New Yorkers (former Deputy Mayor Kenneth Lipper, mob-friendly journalist Nicholas Pileggi, Taxi Driver’s Paul Schrader, and Broadway playwright Bo Goldman).
[Kuffs title screen]
Silly stuff with Christian Slater doing his Jack Nicholson impersonation/mugging to camera thing as a slacker who visits San Francisco to see his brother Bruce Boxleitner, a private cop (under a peculiar Gold Rush-era ordinance), only for murder and shenanigans to occur. Milla Jovovich plays his girlfriend. Entirely disposable with nothing distinguishing about it.
Up until a certain point, a quite enjoyable if inconsequential thriller, about a golden boy prosecutor (Dominic Cooper) who finds himself trying a man (Samuel L Jackson) accused of a crime he himself committed. That point will be obvious to you when you get there; it’s worth noting that Jackson is black, and Cooper white – this makes it all the more distasteful. Directed by Peter Howitt (yes, Joey from Bread, then the SAS officer in Some Mother’s Son, and after that the writer/director of Sliding Doors).
[Alien: Covenant title screen]
It’s not an Alien(s) film, it’s a Prometheus sequel. Now, that film was not great, but it had visceral moments. This is just Ridley Scott shitting on his own legacy, rinsing audiences with callbacks to the xenomorph movies that he treats with such contempt. Michael Fassbender as synthetic human David, and now also Walter, is fine; and the crew of the terraforming ship Covenant does at least gel together more convincingly that that of its predecessor; but it’s like a Top Of the Pops LP, all reconstituted hits (Egg! Facehugger! Chestburster! Tunnel chase! Dropship through storm! Trying to set up comms! Powerloader fight! etc). Frankly, boring. I paid nearly £25 for two tix too!
White House Down
Enjoyable Die Hard-style romp, with Channing Tatum as a recently-divorced blue collar shlub trying to repair his relationship with his daughter (Joey King) whilst trying his best to get a job in the Secret Service, who gets caught up in a terrorist attack on Washington. Roland Emmerich directs with a sense of humour and fun, and in all areas it’s a superior effort to the similarly themed Olympus Has Fallen.Nice turns from Jason Clarke, James Woods, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jamie Foxx and Kevin Rankin.
Edgar Wright directs his old Spaced pals Simon Pegg and Nick Frost in the second of the ‘Three Cornettos’ trilogy – here with a metropolitan super-cop (Pegg) sent to sleepy Cotswold town Sandford, where he soon encounters rum happenings. Great cast of older British character actors (Edward Woodward, Billie Whitelaw, Jim Broadbent, Paul Freeman, Timothy Dalton, Kenneth Cranham, Stuart Wilson, Anne Reid), plus younger upstarts (Paddy Considine, Rafe Spall, Olivia Colman, Rory McCann) and Wright stalwarts like Julia Deakin, Bill Bailey and Bill Nighy. Silly, slightly overlong, but fun.
用心棒 AKA Yojimbo
Kurosawa’s tale of a ronin-with-no-name (Toshiro Mifune) arriving in a town beset by two feuding gangs who sees an angle. Great samurai action interspersed with comedy and tragedy.
So-so noir-flecked action adventure, with Tom Cruise as a mysterious ex-Military Policeman digging around into a spree killing in Pennsylvania apparently carried out by a soldier he had previously investigated for similar sniper murders in Iraq. Hardly ground-breaking, but with plenty going on. Director Chris McQuarrie throws in some signature long dialogue scenes, an argument outside a bar and a grumpy old man (here Robert Duvall). With Rosamund Pike, David Oyelowo, Richard Jenkins and Werner Herzog.
Enemy At The Gates
Visually impressive, this is basically just a love triangle (Jude Law, Rachel Weisz and Joseph Fiennes) played against the backdrop of the Battle of Stalingrad, with Bob Hoskins in fake bad teeth as uncouth Party apparatchik Khruschev. Looks pretty, but Jean-Jacques Annaud doesn’t seem to have much to say about anything.
Antoine Fuqua attempts a Robert Altman/Thomas Anderson-style intercut lives affair, with Ethan Hawke, Don Cheadle and Richard Were a trio of differently burned-out NYPD cops who are heading for a collision on Brooklyn’s most dangerous streets. Watchable if not memorable.