Tag Archives: Coen brothers

A Week In Film #022: Backed up on G20 investigations

The Omen (2006) title screen

The Omen (2006)
Pointless and rubbish remake. Julia Stiles is even more ineffectual than in the Bourne flicks. Pete Postlethwaite and David Thewlis do their best to impersonate Patrick Troughton and David Warner. The sequences are mostly inferior carbon copies of the originals, though the reporter’s demise in Jerusalem is riffed upon in a moderately interesting way. Note: Prague does not look like London.

Blood Simple title screen

Blood Simple
The Coen Brothers’ first feature, a natty little neo noir. Some great touches – the slimy private dick (M Emmet Walsh) and his Beetle, John Getz’s rubbish Ray, Dan Hedaya as pathetic cuckold Marty, and of course Frances McDormand as Abby, a femme fatale of sorts. The ending is wonderful. Works well with the likes of Red Rock West, The Hot Spot and The Last Seduction.

The Front Page title screen

The Front Page
Rather lacklustre adaptation of the Hecht/MacArthur commemoration of the bawdy world of newspapermen in Roaring Twenties Chicago. Given that it revolves around Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, and is directed by Billy Wilder, that’s a shame. There’s some really unpleasant moments of misogyny and racism in there too, which the far superior His Girl Friday (the 1940 Cary Grant/Rosalind Russell one) managed to avoid despite being much closer to the source in time.

Daredevil title screen

Daredevil
Ben Affleck as a blind Marvel universe superhero; Jennifer Garner is Elektra, Colin Farrell Bullseye. Not great, but okay.

Zoolander title screen

Zoolander
Ben Stiller as a vacuous model recruited Manchurian Candidate-style to assassinate the Malaysian prime minister. Fairly entertaining Frat Pack stuff, with Owen Wilson as his rival-turned-ally.

Bad Influence title screen

Bad Influence
One of the more interesting films from that yuppie terror cycle (cf Pacific Heights), with weedy Michael (James Spader) coming under the influence of self-assured and dangerously confident Alex (Rob Lowe). So far so bland; but midway there’s something of a twist, and the tone and pace changes rather effectively. Lisa Zane is most alluring as Claire, a woman Michael falls for, and Christian Clemenson is convincingly flakey as Michael’s stoner brother. An early effort from director Curtis LA Confidential Hanson.

Cruising title screen

Cruising
William Friedkin directs Al Pacino in a story about a cop undercover in the pre-Aids BDSM scene in New York’s Meatpacking district. Frankly that sounds awesome on the page. Sadly it’s a balled-up-sock-down-the-trousers of a movie. Pacino pretty much does Serpico in a leather jacket. It’s interesting, just not very exciting. I’m sure I remembered it as being better.

The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three title screen

The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three
More New York, this time underground on the subway, with menacing mercenary Robert Shaw commanding a group of colour-coded hijackers holding a trainful of passengers to ransom. Walter Matthau as a transit cop, Martin Balsam a renegade train driver, Hector Elizondo a psychopathic ex-mafioso, Earl Hindman a making-up-the-numbers fourth man.

A Week In Film #016: A trifle disappointing

Heaven's Gate title screen

Heaven’s Gate
Ian Bone, you let me down! Michael Cimino’s studio-bankrupting revisionist Western about the Johnson County War has lots of nice ideas, it just doesn’t pull them together very satisfyingly (inaudible dialogue, dull editing, no finesse in the pace etc). Still, it’s a good class war fable.

Die Hard 4.0 title screen

Die Hard 4.0
Bloody awful reboot of the John McClane franchise, with yet another unconnected script hamfisted into a DH template. It’s all about cyberterror.

Fargo title screen

Fargo
One of the Coen Bros’ finest, featuring Minnesota Nice, a pregnant police chief, woodchipper business, a botched loan fraud/fake kidnapping scam and Mike Yanagita FTW!

A Week In Film #006: Wet wintry nights

Gorky Park title screen
Gorky Park
Boring, slow adaptation of the Martin Cruz Smith potboiler, with William Hurt as Moscow cop Arkady Renko. A shame, seeing as it’s written by Dennis Potter and directed by Michael Apted (usually bankers), with Lee Marvin, Michael Elphick and others adding oomph to the screen.

Crimewave title screen
Crimewave
Awesome, comic book-style shenanigans with Sam Raimi directing from a Coen Bros script. The LLF thought it was boring, but I found it as entertaining as I remembered it being on first seeing it nearly 20 years ago. Bruce Campbell, Bryon James and Paul L Smith are all superb.

The Quick And The Dead title screen
The Quick And The Dead
More Sam Raimi, more comic book-style photography and framing, this time laid over Western tropes, with Sharon Stone a woman-with-no-name entering a shoot-out contest in a frontier town.

The Sound Of Music title screen
The Sound Of Music
The hills are alive with the sound of music, etc. One for the LLF. Nice tunes, nasty Nazis.

In Cold Blood title screen
In Cold Blood
Excellent late 60s treatment of the Truman Capote proto-new journalism book, as recommended by the LLF. Two bottom-feeding hoodlums commit incompetent, heinous crime, and are caught. Robert Blake (the short chap from Electra Glide In Blue) is good. Writer-director Richard Brooks approaches the material with imagination and creativity.