A Week In Film #427: More fucking nights

Nick Of Time
Absolutely inconsequential, but a pleasure to watch – an in-real-time thriller, with accountant Johnny Depp picked at random after stepping off a train in LA to carry out a political assassination by psycho Christopher Walken and his partner Roma Maffia, or risk his young daughter being killed.

Directed with vim by John Badham, written by Patrick Sheane Duncan (84C MoPic, Courage Under Fire), great little bit part for Charles S Dutton.

Body Heat
Lawrence Kasdan does film noir, in a sticky, sweaty Floridian coastal town, with William Hurt as a mediocre-at-best local lawyer letting himself be ruled by his dick, and jumping into an inappropriate relationship with a rich real estate magnate’s trophy wife (Kathleen Turner). Some really rather wonderful moments in it, and superb performances (from the leads, Richard Crenna as the creepy husband, Mickey Rourke in an early cameo, Ted Danson and JA Preston as the lawyer’s pals.

Heist (2015)
‘I quite liked that Haywire’ you said, ‘I wonder what else Gina Carano has done?’ A bunch of shit, it turns out. Here she is as a cop caught up in the aftermath of a casino robbery in Alabama.

British director Scott Mann is an interesting proposition – he was also responsible for The Tournament, which had a sort of Amicus/seventies genre feel to it, spliced with 80s Seagal-type action movies, but with more ambition than budget. For that one he secured big (or biggish, in their time) names including Robert Carlyle, Ving Rhames and Sébastien Foucan; here he has Bobby De Niro, former wrestler Dave Bautista, Morris Chestnut (big splash in Boyz In The Hood, more recently starring in TV series Rosewood and Legends) and, erm, Mark-Paul Gosselaar from Saved By The Bell.

It’s full of clichés, it’s leaden, there’s no real heartbeat to it, it lacks pace, but there are some moments of interest. Slapped arse-faced Jeffrey Dean Morgan makes for a decent enough lead here. And DB Sweeney has a supporting role, as seems customary in these fast turnaround VOD days. Written by Stephen Cyrus Sepher (who also plays a robber) and Max Adams.

Another contemporary grindhouse actioner, again written by Max Adams (with Umair Aleem), this time directed by Stephen C Miller, with Bruce Willis the big name in a bit part skilfully woven in to give the illusion of a bigger role – a veteran CIA field officer.

Meanwhile, the real heavy lifting is done by Kellan Lutz (from the Twilight movies) as his son, who has tried to follow his father’s footsteps into the Company but come up short, despite help from his dad’s pal (and now Jnr’s boss), DB Sweeney. Oh, and look, there’s Gina Carano as his ass-kicking Agency-employed old flame!

Nothing really of note – no really memorable fight scenes, and really no acting of any kind worth recounting. Though I do like how the plot – about a MacGuffin which will destroy the world – is purportedly stolen by international terrorists and then, uh, transported to New Jersey, meaning cheaper locations can be used.

A Week In Film #426: Getting behind again

Misconduct title screen
My kinda thing – trashy, disposable, overwrought. Josh Duhamel is a dickish young attorney cheating on his missus (Alice Eve) and doing unethical things to get himself noticed by his boss (Al Pacino). Anthony Hopkins is a dickish old pharmaceutical company boss doing horrible things to his missus (Malin Åkerman) and, etc. Never heard of director Shintaro Shimosawa, but based on this would probably watch more.

The Accountant title screen
The Accountant
Ben Affleck tries to tread on Matt Damon’s toes, here as a mob accountant specialising in forensic auditing. Not groundbreaking, not awful. Directed by Gavin O’Connor, scripted by Bill Dubuque, with Anna Kendrick, JK Simmons and Jon Bernthal. Tips of the cap to The Brotherhood Of The Rose, Three Days Of The Condor and, obviously, Bourne.

Jason Bourne title screen
Jason Bourne
So-so franchise retread, with titular rogue assassin (Matt Damon) still on the run and now fully cognisant of his bloody past, but soon to be dragged into shady Langley shenanigans once more via the agency of a now also rogue Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles), who Snowden/Wikileaks-style hacks into the Agency’s records and discoverzzzzz… Vincent Cassel makes for an impressively weathered programme asset; Tommy Lee Jones drew the short straw to become this episode’s Haggard Character Actor As Amoral Management Bad Guy.

Judgment Night title screen
Judgment Night
Tacky, offensive and shallow, but still very watchable – a bunch of middle class suburbanites heading off to watch a championship boxing match get trapped in a dangerous ghetto neighbourhood being hunted by drug dealers. Hints of Assault On Precinct 13, Trespass and The People Under The Stairs, but lacking their wit, charm or social comment. With Emilio Estevez, Cuba Godding Jnr, Jeremy Piven and Stephen Dorff as the hunted, Denis Leary and Everest from House of Pain as the hunters. Directed by Stephen Hopkins (Nightmare On Elm Street 5, Predator 2) and co-written by Lewis Colick, who previously had worked on the taut yuppie terror movie Unlawful Entry.

Anthropoid title screen
Not terrible modern Hollywood take on the SOE mission to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich – but totally superfluous given far stronger previous efforts such as Atentat. And enough with the crappy accents, Cillian Murphy and Jamie Dornan! Director Sean Ellis did the excellent low budget drama Cashback a decade back; he still has a flair for strong composition and letting his actors’ faces do the work.

Hell Or High Water title screen
Hell Or High Water
Really strong modern Western with intriguing noirish notes. Chris pine and Ben Foster are a pair of Texan brothers on a mission – and the mission involves robbing banks. Jeff Bridges is the lawman on their tail. Directed by David Mackenzie (whose work includes Hallam Foe and Starred Up, neither of which I’ve seen but will as soon as I get the chance), and scripted by Taylor Sheridan (who played the strait-laced sheriff’s deputy David Hale in the first couple of series of Sons Of Anarchy, as well as writing Sicario).

Inherent Vice title screen
Inherent Vice
Significantly less enjoyable than I expected it to be. Joaquin Phoenix as a stoner private detective navigating weird conspiracies in seventies California, directed by Paul Thomas Anderson and based on a Thomas Pynchon novel.

A Week In Film #425: Into 2017

Rogue Agent title screen
Rogue Agent
A young man recruited into a private intelligence company subcontracted for the CIA soon finds himself out of his depth after his first operation goes tits-up. James Floyd is convincingly sub-par; Anthony LaPaglia provides heft as his new boss. Decent, un exemplary thriller from director Kai Barry and writing collaborator Igbal Ahmed.

Cold Comes The Night title screen
Cold Comes The Night
Pleasingly twisted neonoir about a single mom (Alice Eve) who gets stuck between a rock and a hard place after a mob bagman (Bryan Cranston) visits the sleazy motel where she works as a receptionist. Writers Oz Perkins and Nick Simon play with the conventions of the femme fatale, whilst director Tze Chun provides confident direction.

Too Late title screen
Too Late
Ambitious sunshine gumshoe noir from Dennis Hauck, who breaks up his story – about a private dick (John Hawkes – Sol Starr from Deadwood) searching for justice for a woman (Crystal Reed) – into five long single take scenes. He also messes up the narrative timeline, keeping the audience on its toes, and throws in some nice red herrings along the way, whilst hinting at seventies dick updates (Elliott Gould, James Garner, Paul Newman). Excellent turns from Dash Mihok and Vail Bloom, and Robert Forster and Jeff Fahey are solid in their little corner of the film.

High-Rise title screen
Ben Wheatley’s adaptation of JG Ballard’s novel didn’t seem to get unanimous acclaim when it came out, but I thought it succeeded on every level – great cast (Tom Hiddleston, Sienna Miller, Elizabeth Moss, Luke Evans, Peter Ferdinando, Augustus Prew, Keeley Hawes, Jeremy Irons), looks beautiful, perfect soundtrack (Clint Mansell), and a fine update of the early seventies social satire/post-apocalypse shocker.

A Week In Film #422: FUCK THE BOSSES!

[Home Alone title screen]
Home Alone
Can you believe I’d never watched this? Surprisingly very enjoyable, with John Hughes on script duties, Chris Columbus directing, and a fresh-faced Macaulay Culkin as a kid left behind when his family go to Paris for Christmas. Cartoon violence, very likeable performances (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern as the burglars in particular), zesty.

Deadpool title screen
Superb (relatively) low budget meta superhero business, with Tim Miller directing Ryan Reynolds as an amoral mercenary-turned-costumed vigilante. Ultra-violent, witty, with touching relationships and economical scenes.

Precinct Seven Five title screen
Precinct Seven Five
Not the most innovative documentary film, but certainly an interesting story – about corrupt police officers in the Brooklyn neighbourhood East New York in the 1980s. However, focusing on Michael Dowd means wider issues are never really explored – nor is the issue of IA cop Joe Trimboli finding himself under threat from bosses for starting to investigate the 75.

The Last Of The Finest title screen
The Last Of The Finest
Written (in part) by stalwart movie guy George Armitage, directed by John Mackenzie (The Long Good Friday, A Sense Of Freedom), with Brian Dennehy leading a team of LA cops (Joe Pantoliano, Bill Paxton and Jeff Fahey) on the trail of a drug dealer, but the bosses are on their back, yadda yadda yadda… I definitely remember this being a lot better than it is. Once again my brain lied to me.

A Week In Film #421: West is best

[The Godfather Part II title screen]
The Godfather Part II
Cuba libre!

[The Last Grenade title screen]
The Last Grenade
Grizzled mercenary Stanley Baker faces off against former comrade American soldier-for-hire Alex Cord in Hong Kong. Could have been much better if only it hadn’t got sidetracked with a tedious and melodramatic romantic subplot involving general’s wife Honor Blackman. Last film directed by Gordon Fleming, of Dalek movie fame.

[Tell Spring Not To Come This Year title screen]
Tell Spring Not To Come This Year
Fly-on-the-wall documentary about the Afghan National Army’s first year without NATO support in Helmand. From directors Saeed Taji Farouky and Michael McEvoy.

[Tombstone title screen]
George P Cosmatos brings together a sturdy cast including Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, Sam Elliott, Bill Paxton, Powers Boothe, Billy Bob Thornton and Micheal Biehn and tells the tale of the gunfight at the OK Corral and subsequent Earp Vendetta Ride with aplomb. Rollicking old fashioned Western.

[Wyatt Earp title screen]
Wyatt Earp
Lawrence Kasdan brings together a sturdy cast including Dennis Quaid, Michael Madsen, Gene Hackman, Isabella Rossellini, Tom Sizemore, Bill Pullman and Mare Winningham and tells the tale of the gunfight at the OK Corral and subsequent Earp Vendetta Ride with a plum. A PLUM NAMED KEVIN SODDING COSTNER. Turgid pseudo legend-building.

[The Getaway title screen]
The Getaway
Unnamed ice-for-blood getaway driver Ryan O’Neal tries to stay one step ahead of excitable detective Bruce Dern who is increasingly determined to nail him. With Isabelle Adjani as the woman who complicates matters. Sterling work from writer/director Walter Hill.

[Kiss Me Deadly title screen]
Kiss Me Deadly
Robert Aldrich’s noir classic, with punch-drunk private dick Mike Hammer scowling and sneering his way through early fifties LA as he tries to figure out why a hitchhiker he picked up (Cloris Leachman) was murdered. Superb on all levels.

[Detour title screen]
Early doors noir, with lovestruck loser Tom Neal drawn into a fast-spiralling nightmare, thanks to peerless femme fatalery by Vera Savage. Certainly the best known work by Edgar Georg Ulmer, if not his best.