A Week In Film #471: On the ‘Flix

Backtrack title screen
So-so psychological thriller from Doug Anthony All Stars accomplice Michael Peroni, with a dewy-eyed shrink (Adrien Brodie) returning to his childhood home in a bid to shake off a recurring waking nightmare. With Bruce Spence and Sam Neill.

[Captain Phillips title screen]
Captain Phillips
Tom Hanks directed by Paul Greengrass, Barkhad Abdi as a Somali pirate. Quite watchable.

Security title screen
Utterly shit VOD mashup of Die Hard and any thriller about bad guys trying to eliminate a witness, set in a shopping centre, with Antonio Banderas a special forces vet recently hired as a mall cop throwing a spanner into the works when bad guy level boss Ben Kingsley comes to sow some mayhem.

Run All Night title screenRun All Night
Minor Full Neeson, with His Liamness a soaked former mob enforcer dragged back into the game when his striving-to-be-straight son Joel Kinnaman gets caught up in some gangland shenanigans. Enjoyable turns from Ed Harris, Vincent D’Onofrio, Common and Bruce McGill, directed by Jaume Collet-Serra.


A Week In Film #470: Anniversaire on a G string

[The Boys (1962) title screen]
The Boys
Very watchable early 60s courtroom-set social comment from Sidney J Furie, with a nice line back-and-forth structure as a foursome of young Teddy Boys (Dudley Sutton, Tony Garnett, Jess Conrad and Ronald Lacey go on trial for a murder of a night watchman.

[Arrowhead title screen]
Interesting low budget Australian SF thriller, with hints of Moon and The Martian and Pitch Black, slightly obscured by an unnecessarily convoluted presentation which misdirects with a shoddy-looking prologue. Decent promise shown by writer/director Jesse O’Brien though, and Dan Mor (from Underbelly: The Golden Mile) is fairly compelling in the lead.

[Choke title screen]
Inconsequential fluff derived from a Chuck Palahniuk novel about a sex addict with mummy issues (Sam Rockwell). Some decent actors – Anjelica Huston, Kelly Macdonald, Brad William Henke – but no great vision from director Clark Gregg.

[The Merry Gentleman title screen]
The Merry Gentleman
Rather decent, snail-paced drama about a friendship that develops between a newly single woman (Kelly Macdonald) and an ascetic assassin (Michael Keaton). A pleasingly unflashy directorial debut for Keaton too.

A Week In Film #469: Hallowe’en

[The Little Vampire title screen]
The Little Vampire
Really fucking terrible adaptation of a book series about an American kid transplanted to Scotland who befriends a vampire. Seriously, nothing to recommend. I was rather astounded when I realised it was directed by Uli Edel, who did Der Baader Meinhof Complex and Last Exit To Brooklyn.

6 Days title screen
6 Days
So-so take on the 1980 Princes Gate Iranian Embassy siege, and subsequent storming by the SAS. Mark Strong turns the mournful eyes up to 11 as the police negotiator, but it’s Jamie Bell as the soldier in charge of the assault who impresses most, with virtually no dialogue. Directed by To a Fraser.

Wheelman title screen
In the vein of The Driver, Drive, The Transporter et al, here with ex-con Frank Grillo forced to work as a getaway driver for never-seen clients setting up heists through a middleman in order to pay off a debt. Jeremy Rush conducts some excellent chase sequences, and there is a mild twist to it which keeps things interesting.

The Duel title screen
The Duel
Modern Western from Kieran Darcy-Smith, with Liam Hemsworth as a Texas Ranger gone undercover in a remote frontier town under the thrall of a sinister preacher (Woody Harrelson). Not great, but something a little different.

Black Hawk Down title screen
Black Hawk Down
The more times I see it, the more distasteful it seems, despite some strong performances and action sequences.


A Week In Film #468: Births, deaths & marriages

Final Destination 2 title screen
Final Destination 2
Some great scares and shocks, but overall a weak entry in the franchise.

[No One Lives title screen]
No One Lives
Potentially good horror movie, but ultimately one long fumble from director Ryuhei Kitamura. A mysterious drifter (Luke Evans, High-Rise) turns out not to be the pushover a feral gang of rural hoodlums think he is. The movie then unfolds in furtherance of its Ronseal title.

A Week In Film #467: Quiet

[Kagemusha title screen]
Kurosawa’s superb mournful late period samurai picture, sort of I Was Monty’s Double with more swords and extra pathos. Tatsuya Nakadai gives the performance of his life as a lowly criminal saved from execution to act as a doppelgänger for the recently deceased daimyo of a royal house; slowly he takes to the role, only to succumb to hubris, and fuck everything up. The recreation of the Battle of Nagashino at the end is stupendous, as is the use of colour throughout.

A Week In Film #466: Catch up

[Under Fire title screen]
Under Fire
Roger Spottiswoode gives us the Sandinista Revolution, seen through the love triangle between American journalists Nick Nolte, Joanna Cassidy and Gene Hackman. Much of the best stuff comes from the supporting cast – Embassy buffoon Richard Masur, shady Frenchman Jean-Louis Trintignant, amoral mercenary Ed Harris.

[T2: Trainspotting title screen]
T2: Trainspotting
Honestly I thought it worked really well, revisiting visibly aged if not matured characters, with plenty of visual flair and silliness and sadness. Anjela Nedyalkova was an interesting addition, meatier roles for Macdonald and Henderson were sorely missing, but McGregor, Bremner, Miller and Carlyle were all magnificent.

[Children Of The Revolution title screen]
Children Of The Revolution
Pretty decent dark comedy about an Aussie communist (Judy Davis) having a brief tryst with Stalin which precipitates his death; from this emerges her son ‘Joe’ (Richard Roxburgh), who in time displays ever-more unignorable tics from his presumed father… From Peter Duncan, who late created the might Rake along with Roxburgh. Wonderful cast, including Geoffrey Rush, Rachel Griffiths, Sam Neill and F Murray Abraham.

[Mystery Road title screen]
Mystery Road
Superb, gritty, depressing, beautiful, provocative, sweet Australian western, about an aboriginal girl who is found dead on the outskirts of a dusty outback township, and the aboriginal police detective who pursues the case (Aaron Pedersen). Absolutely a stand-out film – exhilarating stuff from writer-director Ivan Sen, who packs his cast with redoubtable scions of the southern screen, like Jack Thompson and Hugo Weaving, familiar genre faces like Robert Mammone, Damian Walshe-Howling and Bruce Spence, but also younger actors like Ryan Kwanten and Tricia Whitton.

[Goldstone title screen]
Ivan Sen and Aaron Pedersen revisit their aboriginal detective Jay Swan, here in very different circumstances. Okay, so it does not match the majesty of Mystery Road, but if you hadn’t seen that one you would still be impressed by this one. Another nice cast, rounded out by the likes of David Wenham as a dodgy mining company manager, Jacki Weaver as a bent local politician, and Alex Russell as a morally uncertain local cop.

A Week In Film #465: Moody

[Argo title screen]
Ben Affleck’s not-terrible take on the true-life story of a CIA rescue operation in the wake of the Iranian Revolution. Some decent bits of tension, some decent performances, but nothing stupendous.

[The Hunted title screen]
The Hunted
So much potential: Benicio del Toro, Tommy Lee Jones, a tale of a black ops dude gone off the rails and the efforts to bring him in, directed by William Friedkin. But a mess, and never hits its stride.

[Foxcatcher title screen]
Bennett Miller’s slow, muted, awkward telling of the story of a fucked-up rich dude with an interest in wrestling (Steve Carell as John E du Pont) who sponsors an Olympic programme, does some bad shit, gets super dark. Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo are also excellent.