Tag Archives: Charlie Wilson's War

A Week In Film #565: Freezing cold open air

White Boy Rick title screen
White Boy Rick
So-so based-on-a-real-story drama about a young drug dealing gun runner in 80s Detroit. A case of director Yann (’71, Top Boy, Dead Set) Demange’s reach most certainly not exceeding his grasp. Strong cast includes Matthew McConaughey, Richie Merritt, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Bruce Dern, Piper Laurie, RJ Tyler and Jonathan Majors.

Charlie Wilson’s War title screen
Charlie Wilson’s War
Dislikably manipulative movie lauding dislikable and manipulative American policy hawks and cynical politicians using Afghanistan as their playground. Mike Nichols directing from Aaron Sorkin’s script, with Tom Hanks, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julia Roberts and Amy Adams.

White House Down title screen
White House Down
Fun modern remix of Die Hard, with Channing Tatum as a blue collar schlub taking on terrorists targeting the President’s ends; fun turns from Jamie Foxx, Jimmi Simpson and Kevin Rank are rounded out by more straight performances by James Woods, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Jason Clarke. Roland Emmerich directs from James Vanderbilt’s script.

Doomsday title screen
Where it went wrong for Neil Marshall – trying to mash together too many things without having a solid script in place, it would seem. Mad Max, Escape From New York, The Crazies, Assault On Precinct 13, Aliens, The Warriors… All thrown into the blender, but without a coherent vision or a tight enough narrative, it’s just scenes slid up to each other, plot points in search of characters to initiate them, and stunts seeking reason. A shame – a strong cast (Rhona Mistra, MyAnna During, Alexander Siding, Adrian Lester, David O’Hara etc) is wasted.

Bohemian Rhapsody title screen
Bohemian Rhapsody
Bryan Singer’s Freddie Mercury/Queen biopic (as completed by Dexter Fletcher) is certainly watchable, and listenable, but very definitely a PG, vanilla, sanitised, jumbled-about version of the truth. Still, Rami Malek is committed in the lead role, and Tom Hollander has a nice cameo as lawyer-turned-manager Jim ‘Miami’ Beach.

A Week In Film #028: Sunburnt & beer-soaked

The Bunker (2001) title screen

The Bunker (2001)
Now this had potential – a small group of German soldiers in the Ardennes in 1944 holed up in a pill box above a series of dark and foreboding tunnels, which proves to be a portent to terror. It could have been The Keep; it turned out more Deathwatch. A shame, because there were interesting themes and a pretty good cast (Andrew Tiernan, Chris Fairbank, Simon Kunz, Andrew Lee Potts, and, erm, Jack Davenport, Jason Flemyng and Charley Boorman; I guess Eddie Marsan could have swung either way). Tighter directorial attention to the acting than to the shadows would have done this film the world of good, I suspect. Too much of it involves conscious acting rather than natural reacting. The flashback sequences are very efficient.

Anzio title screen

Bloody awful and uninvolving war movie featuring two of my favourite screen actors, Robert Mitchum and Peter Falk, about 1944’s lesser known amphibious invasion of Europe. Not seen this since I was a nipper, and in my memory I always associated the Operation Shingle landings at Anzio with the Ardennes offensive of the Battle of the Bulge, possibly because they each spawned bloated, boring films. Horrible 60s score too!

Charlie Wilson's War title screen

Charlie Wilson’s War
Tom Hanks as a US Congressman who funds the mujahideen fighting the Soviet army in Afghanistan. Interesting, but possibly not one that is going to be remembered as a classic. Philip Seymour Hoffman continues in his life mission to PSHify every supporting role in Hollywood to jittery mumblers who talk over other actors’ lines as a maverick CIA agent who breaks the rules and does things his way, etc.

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith title screen

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith
Never seen it before, and I don’t think I will again, willingly. A clumsy mess of dull exposition, extended toy adverts and shonky CGI. Though the scenes with Palpatine and Anakin did have promise. As I said to the LLF, they took a wrong turning tracing back the Skywalker story, when Han Solo was what people liked the most about the original films.

Hart's War title screen

Hart’s War
Colin Farrell is a rear echelon Ivy Leaguer who accidentally ends up captured during the Battle of the Bulge in 1944; Bruce Willis is the Westpoint career soldier running the POW camp he ends up in. All about moral codes and sense of duty, with Tuskegee airmen the real life point of interest. Sort of a grittier, less pleasant modern retelling of Stalag 17, with a strong theme of racism supplanting class antagonism. Not great, but certainly impressive. But then at a cost of $70million, would anything less be acceptable?

88 Minutes title screen

88 Minutes
Honestly, this is not a good film. For once the IMDb comments seem mostly on the nail. Pacino is a raspy, rascally, randy professor of forensic psychiatry who moonlights as a profiler for the FBI. A man he helped convict for multiple murders and rapes is about to die in the execution chamber… But wait! A bunch of fresh victims have all just been found killed in circumstances similar to his modus operandi! Maybe he’s not really the killer! And to top it all off, our horny prof has received a phonecall telling him he has eighty-eight minutes left to live! Etc, etc, etc… The poster for this film unforgivably harks back to those for Scarface and Carlito’s Way, which both – for each their flaws – are far superior to this lifeless pile of cinematic afterbirth.

Frost/Nixon title screen

Michael Sheen (the slow dude from Gallowglass and latterly your go-to guy anytime you want a Tony Blair) is playboy talk show host David Frost, Frank ‘Skeletor’ Langella is disgraced warmongering Quaker president Tricky Dicky Nixon. Ron Howard directs, and for the first half it’s good, gripping stuff, but the contrived structure of the third act – trying to create a false ‘victory’ – lets it down.

Runaway Jury title screen

Runaway Jury
Actually rather a good, fun, exciting John Grisham legal twist thriller – John Cusack, Gene Hackman, Rachel Weisz and Dustin Hoffman all ham things up nicely in this New Orleans courtroomer about a lawsuit filed against a gun company and the latter’s recourse to an amoral jury consultant to win them the case. The Jeremy Piven character seems somewhat pointless though.

Star Wars title screen

Star Wars (or Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope if you really must)
Special Edition CGI sucks.

The Empire Strikes Back title screen

The Empire Strikes Back (or Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back if you insist)
Icy Hoth, sleeping in a dead tauntaun, wampa attack, AT-ATs, Boba Fett (ship looks like a prawn), Lando, betrayal, Yoda on Dagobah, hand losing, “I am your father”, carbonite sleep, etc.

Return Of The Jedi title screen

Return Of The Jedi (or Star Wars Episode VI: Return Of The Jedi, though I can’t say I approve)
Bounty hunters, metal bikini, Jabba the Hutt, skiff, Sarlacc, Yoda dying, new Death Star, teddy bears Ewoks, speeder bikes, etc.

Semi-Pro title screen

Yet another Will Ferrell jockcom, this time round about a crappy basketball team trying to secure a place in the NBA. Woody Harrelson, André ‘3000’ Benjamin and Maura Tierney (Abby the ER nurse/doctor who looks like a stroke-ridden cousin of Friends‘ Rachel) add a little class, Will Arnett and Andrew Daly are in the Waldorf/Statler chairs.

Defiance title screen

Daniel Craig and Liev Schreiber as battling Bielski brothers, running a band of Jewish partisans in the forests of Eastern Poland in WW2. An interesting story but a plodding film. Interesting to see director Edward Zwick borrowing/homaging visual and sound motifs from Elem Klimov’s Idi I Smotri.

Aliens Versus Predator: Requiem title screen

Alien Versus Predator: Requiem
Honestly, avoid. The first AvsP flick was bad enough. Yautja hunts xenomorphs in contemporary America; lots of dull septics die.