Tag Archives: An Inspector Calls

A Week In Film #543: Crackers and duff corks

Black '47 title screen
Black ‘47
Revenge thriller plays out against the backdrop of the Irish Famine, with James Frecheville as a soldier returning home from years fighting abroad for the Crown to discover his people crushed by British tyranny and Planter greed.

Pleasantly surprised by this – it just appeared on my reccos, so I took it for a spin, had no preconceptions, yet was pulled in to the very end. Not the most original, but absorbing enough with some fine performances, from the likes of Hugo Weaving, Stephen Rea and Freddie Fox. Director Lance Daly would appear to be someone to keep an eye on.

Compares very favourably with 2010’s thematically not-unadjacent Tracker, which ultimately wasted Temuera Morrisson, Ray Winstone and some spectacular Aotearoan landscapes.

The Legend At Cocaine Island title screen
The Legend At Cocaine Island
Documentary somewhat in the Errol Morris vein, with semi-reconstructed inserts, about a botched, half-baked attempt by an opportunist, would-be criminal mastermind to recover a bunch of drugs lost in the Caribbean by rather more professional free market entrepreneurs. Yes, there is something of a (massively-flagged) twist towards the end, no it is not, ultimately, satisfying. But watchable. By Theo Love.

Gotti (2018) title screen]
Gotti (2018)
Unlikable biopic, directed by Kevin Connolly, about the Gambino crime boss, played here by John Travolta as though he were little more than a mild-mannered, put-upon suburban dad. Whilst the 1996 HBO effort with Armand Assante was hardly Bergman, this is tripe. It does, however, make a halfway effort to examine the relationship between Gotti senior and his son John Jnr (Spencer Lofranco).

An Inspector Calls title screen
An Inspector Calls
Absolute cracker, with Guy Hamilton directing a rollicking screen version of JB Priestley’s morality play. Alastair Sim is the mysterious ‘inspector’, examining the values of a middle class family (Arthur Young, Olga Lindo, Brian Worth, Eileen Moore and Bryan Forbes).

This Is The End title screenThis Is The End
Self-indulgent, tedious, self-satisfied stoner tosh with the odd moment.

A Week In Film #010: Stocking up on cinema

Hackers title screen
Hackers
Breezy, cheesy, cheeky entertainment about a band of young computer nerds being framed for a hack they didn’t commit. Jonny Lee Miller, Angelina Jolie and Matthew Lillard help you forget about insanely slow typing, lines like “Twenty-eight BPS!!!” and yet another Hollywood interpretation of ‘a nightclub’. There’s also a decent soundtrack (Orbital, Underworld, Prodigy, Carl Cox, erm, Urban Dance Squad…), Bunk from The Wire and the shrink from The Sopranos. CdM has a nice review of it.

Went The Day Well? title screen
Went The Day Well?
A what-if-the-Jerries-invaded? specfic from Ealing, which was liberally looted for Jack Higgins’ ‘The Eagle Has Landed’ and its film adaptation. Director Cavalcanti subverts the ‘Be Pure/Be Vigilant/Behave’-style win-the-war-on-the-Home-Front message, showing the villagers of a sleepy English hamlet to be just as bloodthirsty as the Nazis who infiltrate it. Shocking use of violence for a 1942 film.

The Hitch-Hiker title screen
The Hitch-Hiker
‘Based on true events’, two friends out for a weekend of hunting end up at the mercy of a hitchhiking psychopath. A snappy, vicious noir.

Stage Fright title screen
Stage Fright
Hitchcock gets all playful with notions of performance and acting, using a melodrama about a murder amidst a group of thespy types as his launchpad into something more interesting. What is real? Can a fiction film lie to its audience? Marlene Dietrich, Alastair Sim and Richard Todd (not bandying round insensitive racial epithets for once) are the highlights. Well, that and Hitch’s direction.

Shock title screen
Shock
Cheap but effective shocker, with upscale shrink Vincent Price trying to cover up a crime, but conflicted by his doctorly obligations.

Derailed title screen
Derailed
I gave this a go because it was directed by Mikael Håfström, whose 1408 I was so underwhelmed by. Clive Owen is a stressed out advertising executive. This is not a good start. His marriage to Angel from Home And Away is under strain. He starts an affair with Rachel from Friends, is beaten up by Vinz from La Haine, seeks help from Rza from the Wu Tang, is investigated by the Fed from The Usual Suspects. The ‘twist’ is evident from the beginning, at least to anyone who’s ever seen a twist thriller, or anything by David Mamet. Pretty but dull.

He Walked By Night title screen
He Walked By Night
‘Gritty noir’ is the expression. Clinical, amoral thief Richard Basehart kills a cop early on, changes up so he can’t be identified by his MO, but is relentlessly chased down by vengeful detectives. I was rooting for the bad guy.

Q The Winged Serpent title screen
Q The Winged Serpent
Awesome Larry Cohen schlock horror – an Aztec god-beast terrorises New York, weary cops Keith Carradine and Richard Roundtree hunt the killer behind flayed corpses and headless bodies snatched from rooftops, petty crook Michael Moriarty tries to stay ahead of the curve. Great location shooting at the top of the Chrysler Building. Doesn’t take itself too seriously. Actors actually make an effort, despite the preposterousness. A Moviedrome classic.

An Inspector Calls title screen
An Inspector Calls
Alastair Sim is the inspector in this pedestrian (but watchable) adaptation of JB Priestley’s mildly class conscious potboiler. Bryan Forbes (Mr Nanette Newman and writer or director of gems such as The Cockleshell Heroes, The League Of Gentlemen, I Was Monty’s Double and Whistle Down The Wind) is excellent as Eric, the drunken son in a gruesome monied family.

Shanghai Noon title screen
Shanghai Noon
I went to see this at the cinema. I was disappointed then, and I was disappointed when I rewatched it the other day. The premise – Chinese Imperial Guard Jackie Chan ends up in the WIld West, teams up with laconic outlaw Owen Wilson – is great. It’s well performed. The two leads have a nice rapport. It’s just boring, and it drags. The action sequences aren’t shot to the benefit of Chan’s skills. It looks a mess.

Shanghai Knights title screen
Shanghai Knights

The sequel to the above, with our heroes transplanted to London. Much more enjoyable, much more effective. Lots of late Victorian era tropes are thrown in – Jack The Ripper, Sherlock Holmes, the birth of motor transportation; there are nice visual steals (the umbrella sequence, Keystone Kops) as well as teefed dialogue and terrible English accents (mostly from English actors). It’s fun.

Beat The Devil title screen
Beat The Devil
Rather dull John Huston quest movie, taking the piss out of his own Maltese Falcon. Writer Truman Capote drops names from his involvement in it to get the Holcomb locals to open up to him in both Infamous and Capote, which was the only reason why I watched it. Bogey looks uncomfortable throughout. Jennifer Jones is rather good fun, though.

Hue And Cry title screen
Hue And Cry
A Charles Crichton-directed, TEB Clarke-scripted Ealing comedy, set in bomb-ravaged East London in the immediate postwar period. A group of kids think that a story paper is being used by a master criminal to pass instructions on to his underlings. There’s a lot more to it than that. The best film I’ve seen this week that I’d not previously watched.