Tag Archives: Capote

A Week In Film #539: Fresh eyes

Life
Interesting, absorbing, imperfect hard SF with a space station crew in peril from Martian soil samples. With Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds, Ariyon Baker, Olga Dihovichnaya and Hiroyuki Sanada, directed by Daniel Espinosa (the decent Swedish crime thriller Snabba Cash, the so-so Three Days Of The Condor retread Safe House, the disappointing Soviet detective story Child 44) from a script by the Deadpool writing team Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick.

Capote title screenCapote
Somewhat plodding take on Truman Capote (here Philip Seymour Hoffman) discovering then exploring and writing about the brutal Kansas murders that became his bestselling ‘non-fiction novel’ In Cold Blood. Directed by Bennett Miller, who later gave us Moneyball and Foxcatcher, written by Dan Futterman (best known as Daniel Pearl in Angelina Jolie’s A Mighty Heart, or as the American conman in late-90s Brit caper Shooting Fish).

Widows title screenWidows
Steve McQueen remakes the high concept Lynda La Planted telly series about the wives of dead blaggers carrying out their hubbies’ last job in a glossy American context. Sets things up alright, then fucks things up. Very capable cast (Viola Davis! Michelle Rodriguez! Elizabeth Debicki! Cynthia Eric! Colin Farrell and Robert Duvall and Liam Neeson and Jon Bernthal and Manuel Garcia-Rulfo and Daniel Kaluuya and Brian Tyree Henry!) somewhat wasted. Completely fumbles its attempt at a twist.

The Predator title screenThe Predator
Really disappointing take on the franchise from Shane Black. No tension, overly jokey, no scares, just cheap callbacks.

Thirteen Days title screenThirteen Days
Solid drama about the Cuban Missile Crisis, with the focus on White House diary keeper Kenny O’Donnell (Kevin Costner). Captures the tension between Camelot and the generals. With Bruce Greenwood and Steven Culp as the Kennedys, Dylan Baker as McNamara, Michael Fairman as Stevenson, Frank Wood as Bundy, and the likes of Kevin Conway, Ed Lauter, Madison Mason wearing the gold braid. Directed by curate’s egg Roger Donaldson (The Bank Job, but also Dante’s Peak; No Way Out, but also Species).

A Private War title screenA Private War
Sort of good biopic about war correspondent Marie Colvin, but which also never really answers the question ‘do war correspondents provide a positive function for society?’ It’s skirted around a lot here – she’s a good reporter, she’s committed, determined, is brave – but the simple notion that war reportage might have a political aspect, a bias, that it might be weaponised and deployed as a tactical payload, is given not so much as a nod of acknowledgement. Instead we’re in the land of personal probity and individual sacrifice, against a moving backdrop of exoticised wailing women and maimed children.

Still, good performance from Rosamund Pike, some strong visual/mood touches (especially re the PTSD stuff) from director Mathew Heineman, previously a documentarian by trade. With Jamie Dornan, Greg Wise, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Tom Hollander, Corey Johnson.

Greyhawk
Previews and reviews all made this out to be a bit of a cut-price Harry Brown – ex-squaddie (here Alec Newman as a particularly bitter and cantankerous blind veteran) finds himself target of unwanted attention by feral youth on a rundown inner city housing estate, goes a bit Death Wish. But actually I was pleasantly surprised at the way it pulled back from the brink at the end, and gave us instead a satisfyingly simple story more grounded in reality. Kudos to writer Matt Pitt and director Guy Pitt, plus a supporting cast including Zoe Telford, Jack Shepherd, Phil Deguara, Mal Soor, Michael Fox and Matt Young.

A Week In Film #021: G20 riot vans & un décès

The Take title screen (2008)

The Take (2007)

Rather well executed (if ponderous) story of a security guard (John Leguizamo) robbed, shot and suspected of being an inside man.

Shooting Fish title screen

Shooting Fish

This was what the British film industry looked like in 1997. I see that the (American) lead, Dan Futterman, later wrote the Capote screenplay.

Wanted title screen

Wanted

Bloody awful comic book adaptation with Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman paying the rent, and James McEvoy trying to break into Hollywood. It’s about weavers, and assassins, and, erm, stuff. Seems to have completely lost sight of what Mark Millar’s original was trying to say. The bullet bending stuff is nowhere as good as Equilibrium‘s Gun Kata.

Let's Go To Prison title screen

Let’s Go To Prison

Satisfyingly dark comedy about the American prison system, with Dax Shepard as John Lyshitski, a recidivist with attitude, and Will Arnett as Nelson Biederman IV, the son of his recently deceased arch-nemesis Judge Nelosn Biederman III.

The Omen title screen (1976)

The Omen

Gregory Peck, Billie Whitelaw, Lee Remick, Patrick Troughton and David Warner all taking their hocks up to eleven in the cause of a great schlocky horror about the antichrist. Three of the most memorable deaths in my film watching life, as well as a genuinely scary safari park moment, an unsurpassed stunt fall – with the lead actress’s face in shot!, the Waldorf salad chap from Fawlty Towers, and an unsettling ending.

A Week In Film #009: A snowy German January

Martian Child title screen
Martian Child
John Cusack is a science fiction writer still missing his dead wife. He decides he wants to adopt a troubled orphan who thinks he is an alien. Less cloying than it could be. The LLF did ask whether JC turned down any roles these days, going on his appearance in this and 1408. Toby from The West Wing turns up as an evil social worker (okay, not evil, but definitely a social worker).

300 title screen
300

Zach Snyder delivers an energetic, mostly-faithful-to-the-text version of Frank Miller’s comic book about Spartans holding off Persian hordes at Thermopylae. Entertaining cultural propaganda, though as the LLF pointed out, “not much happens in this, does it? It’s just one long fight.”

From Hell title screen
From Hell

Gobsmackingly poor Hughes Brothers’ version of Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell’s thoughtful comic book meditation on Jack the Ripper, his deeds and his effect. Johnny Depp and Heather Graham wheel out comedy cockney, every working actor in England gets to cash in their artistic integrity for a pay cheque.

Music & Lyrics title screen
Music And Lyrics

Fun romcom with Hugh Grant as a washed up 80s pop star (think: Andrew Ridgley meets the dude from Dollar) forced from his cosy convention PA circuit into writing a new song for a Christina/Britney-style starlet. Drew Barrymore is his ditzy plant waterer with a gift for writing lyrics. You can guess the rest.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona title screen
Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Woody Allen at least has the courtesy not to stick himself in front of the camera in this one, about two (rather annoying) young American women in Spain (Scarlett Johansson and Rebecca Hall, last seen as young Sophie in The Camomile Lawn), who meet a brooding Spanish painter (Javier Bardem). It definitely perks up when his (bipolar?) ex wife, played by Penelope Cruz, appears. A decent little number about the many shapes love takes. The LLF wasn’t impressed by the whole ‘in Barcelona to research Catalan identity’ thing (“She can’t speak Spanish or Catalan, so how does that work?”)

Love Actually title screen
Love Actually
Richard Curtis/Hugh Grant/Working Title/’feelgood romcom’.

Divine Secrets Of The Ya-Ya Sisterhood
Cosy Southern nostalgia in the Fried Green Tomatoes/Miss Daisy vein. Okay but not great.

Snow Cake title screen
Snow Cake

Quite nice little indie flick about an Englishman in Canada, wrestling with guilt. Alan Rickman in quiet mode, Sigourney Weaver does Rainwoman, Carrie-Ann Moss providing excellent support.

Capote title screen
Capote

Philip Seymour Hoffman impersonates Truman Capote as he researches and writes ‘In Cold Blood’. Catherine Keener is good as his friend Nelle Harper Lee, Clifton Collins Jr. is sympathetic as killer Perry Smith, Chris Cooper is solid as lawman Alvin Dewey. Didn’t really say very much to me.

Infamous title screen
Infamous

Toby Jones impersonates Truman Capote as he researches and writes ‘In Cold Blood’. Sandra Bullock is very good as his friend Nelle Harper Lee, Daniel Craig Jr. is menacing as killer Perry Smith, Jeff Daniels is wet-eyed as lawman Alvin Dewey. The sequences with Capote’s New York scene friends as talking heads were distracting, and made me think of Casual Sex?, for some reason.

Oh, Mr Porter! title screen
Oh, Mr Porter!
Will Hay vehicle based on a popular play by Arnold Ridley (Private Godfrey from Dad’s Army!), which in turn seemed to inspire every Scooby Doo plot, ever. Will is a station master at a sleepy rural railway station on the Irish border, where strange things are afoot. Naturally there is a perfecly reasonable explanation. I like this for the comedy interplay between Will and his two feckless colleagues, played by Moore Marriott and Graham Moffatt, though the actual plot is a bit boring.

The Ghost Train title screen
The Ghost Train

Arthur Askey vehicle based on a popular play by Arnold Ridley (Private Godfrey from Dad’s Army!), which in turn seemed to inspire every Scooby Doo plot, ever. Arthur is an annoying tit who gets stranded at a remote railway station late one night, along with a bunch of other people, and strange things are afoot. Naturally there is a perfecly reasonable explanation. Quite a taut little comedy thriller, with shameless don’t-you-know-there’s-a-war-on touches.

Reds title screen
Reds

Warren Beatty’s quite good take on John Reed’s Ten Days That Shook The World take on the Bolshevik Revolution, with Diane Keaton sparring impressively with the director-star.