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.

A Week In Film #420: Tickling the n00bs

[Polytechnique title screen]
Pre-Hollywood fame Denis Villeneuve delivers a moving interpretation of the 1989 ‘Montreal Massacre’, in which a misogynistic student sets out to kill as many feminists as he can.

In black and white, and shifting between the perspectives of two victims/witnesses, as well as looking over the shoulder of the perpetrator (but never really going inside his head), Villeneuve creates a thoughtful, moving piece of work, comparable to Gus Van Sant’s Elephant, if not the unrelenting brutalism of Alan Clarke’s original of that name.

[Shaun The Sheep Movie title screen]
Shaun The Sheep Movie
He’s Shaun the sheep, he’s Shaun the sheep; he even mucks about with those who cannot bleat. Keep it in mind he’s one of a kind – oh, life’s a treat with Shaun the Sheep.

[The Temp title screen]
The Temp
Misfiring early 90s noir mangled into more of a SCARY BAD WOMAN IS SCARING ME yuppie horror thing, but still quite watchable, with Timothy Hutton, Lara Flynn Boyle and Faye Dunaway.

[Triple 9 title screen]
Triple 9
On paper, a great prospect: John Hillcoat (Ghosts… Of The Civil Dead, The Road, The Proposition) directing Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael K Williams, Aaron Paul, Norman Reedus, Anthony Mackie, Clifton Collins Jnr, Gal Godot, Woody Harrelson etc, with an unrecognisable Kate Winslet as a Russian mob boss, a byzantine plot about crooked cops and heists and double crosses… But sadly on the day it didn’t pan out. Not bad, just not… Great.

[Dope title screen]
Upbeat, uplifting, fun modern take on the high school losers movie, with Shameik Moore, Tony Revolori and Kiersey Clemons as a trio of geeky kids who get caught up in shenanigans. WITH HILARIOUS CONSEQUENCES. Made me want to see more by director Rick Famuyiwa.

[The Godfather title screen]
The Godfather

A Week In Film #419: Chuntering along

[Dr. Who And The Daleks title screen]
Dr. Who And The Daleks
Thoroughly enjoyable, non-canonical big screen version of the BBC TV show, with Peter Cushing as an absent-minded professor who has accidentally built a space- and time-travelling machine. Roberta Tovey, Jennie Linden and Roy Castle are the trio of youngsters sent with him to the nuclear war-scarred home world of the evil Daleks. Directed by Gordon Fleming.

[Daleks – Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D. title screen]
Daleks – Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D.
Slightly darker sequel, with Bernard Cribbins replacing Roy Castle as the bumbling helper, and a plot about human resistance to Dalek tyranny. Also directed by Gordon Fleming.

[The Polar Express title screen]
The Polar Express
Okay, so I used to hate it but Robert Zemeckis’ motion capture animated version of a kids’ book about children visiting Santa Claus at the North Pole has grown on me. Some great set pieces (the dancing hot chocolate waiters for one), and Tom Hanks in multiple roles is fun.