Space platoon! Always good for filling in an evening. We Are All Wierzbowski.
USA! USA! in space. Still marvelling at James Cameron’s mastery of in-camera effects.
Blade Runner: The Final Cut
Got me the five disc ‘Final Cut’ box set, and very nice it is too (though not as impressive on the extras front as the ‘Alien Quadrilogy’)…
Exiled: A Law & Order Movie
Firstly, Mike Logan (Chris Noth) was a great character in the early series of Law & Order, and secondly the premise – Logan, still stuck out on Staten Island after twatting some rich bloke in front of the press and itching to return to the Manhattan homicide trenches – is a rock solid start for any gritty crime drama.
But it’s all done wrong. It’s just a sub-standard ninety minute telemovie; none of the L&O language remains – the CHUH-CHUNGS, the title cards, the split between investigation and prosecution. Even what could be a delicious twist is fumbled. And the music is terrible. What a wasted opportunity.
Aliens: Special Edition
The LLF’s choice – can’t go wrong with Cameron’s space marines.
It’s worrying when even Scott at Cinema de Merde – my go-to guy when I’m having trouble getting into a Brian De Palma flick – has nothing to say about a BDP film. This is a real mess – it starts off promisingly (if very messily); John Lithgow seems to be a nice guy who’s taken time off work to be a full-time dad whilst his wife returns to her career, but soon shows a dark side. Getting from there to the climax is a painfully long and if we’re honest rather dull journey.
The Ghost Writer
Child rapist Polanski directs accent abuser Ewan MacGregor in a breezy adaptation of tree killer Robert Harris’ novel. MacGregor plays a hack writer specialising in churning out ghosted autobiographies who is contracted at the last minute to polish up the turd that is a Blair-like PM’s memoirs in time for the presses to roll. He quickly discovers that all is not as it seems, and becomes embroiled in history as his subject, played with oily aplomb by Pierce Brosnan, faces a war crimes scandal.
Begins promisingly, swiftly descends into shit, and the twist is both facile and telegraphed. Olivia Williams is good as Brosnan’s wife, who is made of sterner stuff. Due to Polanski’s noncery, the scenes set in New England had to be filmed in northern Germany, and Berlin is drafted in (unconvincingly) to represent London.
Can you go wrong with Jim Cameron’s up-to-eleven grunts-in-space extension to Ridley Scott’s own extraplanetary haunted house classic? Reckon not.
A solid cast of characters, a pretty believable future universe (with internal logic, dagnammit!), great in-camera effects, beautiful lighting, precise editing and a damn fine feel for pacing marks this out as JC’s finest. Almost too memorable for its own good.
Directed by Jacques Audiard, who also wrote that early 80s satire on post-colonial French international policy starring Jean-Paul Belmondo, Le Professionnel. I didn’t realise that when I watched this, though – all I knew was that it was set in a French prison.
It blew me away, up there with A Sense Of Freedom and The Escapist as gaolhouse flicks that really work hard to go beyond the clichés, to really say something interesting about the nature of confinement, of life. (I think I saw it trailed somewhere as ‘the French Scarface meets The Godfather‘, which is about as ridiculous as these interminable ‘A-meets-B’ film précis can get.)
It’s definitely a film where the less you know about the plot or the characters going in, the better. Just let it unfold naturally, because it is beautifully built. Some excellent acting, especially Tahar Rahim as a young, new convict, Nils Arestrup as an older Corsican gang boss inmate, and Abdel Bencharif as Ryad and Hitchem Yacoubi as Reyeb.
Rather fine Pixar/Disney animated feature about a pair of misfit monsters (Billy Crystal & John Goodman) on a quest.
The First Great Train Robbery
Another favourite, with Sean Connery, Donald Sutherland and Lesley Ann Warren as a team of Victorian crooks planning the ultimate heist. Michael Crichton directs this adaptation of his own book with brio, and there’s Jerry Goldsmith’s best score ever.
The Stath as an ex-special forces type turned courier-for-hire who breaks his own rules and gets involved with some seriously bad people. Not cerebral, but thoroughly entertaining. The oil slick fight is superb. Co-directors Corey Yuen and Louis Leterrier keep things moving at a decent lick, and there’s engaging support from Shu Qi and François Berléand.
Haunted house in space, Sigourney Weaver, xenomorph, etc. Classic stuff.
Marines in space, Sigourney Weaver, xenomorphs, etc. Classic stuff.
Convicts in space, Sigourney Weaver, xenomorphs, etc. Flawed stuff.
Pirates in space, Sigourney Weaver, xenomorphs, etc. Fucking awful stuff. Joss Whedon bow your head in shame. I paid to see this at the picture palace, too. Not impressed.
44 Minutes: The North Hollywood Shoot-Out
Very slick, very well made TVM about a real-life bank heist, with Michael Madsen leading a solid cast. Better than most big screen efforts.
The Rules Of Attraction
Roger Avery’s Bret Easton Ellis college novel adaptation, very unpleasant, very good. The dude from Dawson’s Creek is in it.
Trés bon silliness set in a near future dystopia where les banlieues are used as a prison to keep les sans culottes in their place. David Belle as the ghetto idealist and Cyril Raffaelli as the cop he teams up with are a good pairing, and the action sequences show off their respective disciplines (parkour & martial arts) to the fullest effect. Pierre Morel directs with skill from Luc Besson’s paper-thin script, and it looks amazing.
Enjoyable cop-based retread of the Simon Pegg/Edgar Wright/Nick Frost relationship, with almost too many familiar faces.
I really liked this Danny Boyle/Alex Garland SF number, about a space mission to save the Earth, but it seems I’m in a minority. I like the way it slowly unfolds, I like the tension, I like the unlikeableness of many of the characters, I like the sound design and the visual structure, I like the cast.
The Dark Crystal
Very disappointing Muppet-based sword-and-sorcery nonsense. Nowhere near Labyrinth in quality.
Matthew Vaughn handles his material with confidence first time out the traps as a director in an adaptation of a novel about a nameless coke dealer and the scrapes he gets into. From this he somehow manages to make a well-polished and engaging little picture in which older character actors are given a chance to shine – Colm Meaney, Kenneth Cranham, George Harris, Michael Gambon. Oh, and it’s blatantly Daniel Craig’s 007 calling card.
The Killer Elite
Dull, uninspiring lesser Peckinpah, with James Caan and Robert Duvall as a pair of US proxy spooks who end up on opposite sides. There’s no energy in it, and the fight scenes are amongst the worst I’ve ever seen. An interesting premise wasted.
Michael Mann does cops and robbers in LA with Pacino and De Niro, and Andy McNab choreographing the mesmerising post-heist shoot-out.
Al Pacino as the cop who wouldn’t be bought, but could be shot. One of Sidney Lumet’s best pictures, and Pacino’s too, and with no happy ending. A classic New York film.
Nid De Guêpes
Florent Emilio Siri takes Assault On Precinct 13 as his starting point and turns in a film far more stylish than anything Hollywood has produced in a long time. Four groups collide on an industrial estate outside Strasbourg on Bastille Day – a gang of burglars, a group of security guards, a multinational anti-terrorist team, and a massive and heavily armed band of Albanian bandits. If you’ve not seen it, and you like action pictures, seek it out. A strong cast includes Samy Naceri, Benoît Magimel, Nadia Farès, Pascal Greggory, Sami Bouajila, Anisia Uzeyman, Richard Sammel, Valerio Mastandrea and Martial Odone.
Third film in a franchise that lasted at least two films beyond its natural life. I have nothing of note to say, a bit like the film itself.
Michael Apted directs Val Kilmer in a barely-fictionalised account of the US war with modern American Indian society, based on the Pine Ridge siege. Think of it as a superior version of Mississippi Burning, in which the FBI aren’t whitewashed into heroes.