Tag Archives: Death Machine

A Week In Film #048: Science fiction and political faction

Death Machine title screen

Death Machine
Quite fun, witty SF comedy-horror from Stephen Norrington pre-Blade, about a dastardly corporation and its attempts to build an ultimate soldier. Thrown in the blender: Robocop, Total Recall, Die Hard, Alien, Aliens, Hardware, Terminator and much more. Brad Dourif is splendid as a B-movie creepy scientist, the rest of the cast do fine too, there’s the odd familiar face like Tony from Die Hard (Andreas Wisniewski), and a brief appearance of Rachel Weisz.

Riverworld title screen

Tedious and dull TV movie based on Philip José Farmer’s alternative world SF novels, which could have been interesting but isn’t. Notable only for featuring Emily Lloyd’s return to acting, which is not an edifying experience.

Beautiful Creatures title screen

Beautiful Creatures
Very watchable darkly comic thriller about two women, Susan Lynch and Rachel Weisz, thrown together by violent men. Bill Eagle directs creatively, and whilst there are hackneyed moments (and the final reel slips into lazy clichés), for the most part it’s a satisfying experience in which the obvious does not always happen, for which screenwriter Simon Donald should be applauded. Good to see meaty roles for perennial bit part players like Iain Glen, Alex Norton and Maurice Roëves.

Defence Of The Realm title screen

Defence Of The Realm
One of my favourite films, a grimy, sordid little story about war, lies, deceit, friendship, spies, reporters… Ech, I wrote about it ages back, don’t be making me do it all over again. Just know that Gabriel Byrne is more believable as a hack than John Simm is in State Of Play.

A Sense Of Freedom title screen

A Sense Of Freedom
Simply the most powerful film I’ve seen about prison. Plenty of the standard tropes are in play, but the thing that really impresses is how it gets across the feeling of confinement. David Hayman is awesome as Scottish gangster Jimmy Boyle. John Mackenzie directs (and it’s even better than The Long Good Friday). Find it and watch it.

Omagh title screen

Powerful drama-documentary-style faction from writers Paul Greengrass and Guy Hibbert and director Peter Travis about the Real IRA bombing of a Northern Irish town.

Much in the vein of Jimmy McGovern’s Hillsborough, in that it frames the bombing and the aftermath around the experience of one man (here Gerard McSorley as Michael Gallagher), but also close in tone to McGovern’s Sunday and Greengrass’ Bloody Sunday.

Veronica Guerin title screen

Veronica Guerin
Fucking awful, mawkish version of an interesting story – that of an Irish journalist investigating Dublin’s underworld who was shot dead. It’s directed by Joel Schumacher, who adds every shade of begorrahism he can lay his hands on. If he could have had a dancing troupe of leprechauns playing penny whistles, he would have stuck them in too. Offensively bourgeois into the bargain.

Hidden Agenda title screen

Hidden Agenda
Talking of Maurice Roëves (we were, honestly, just scroll up a bit), here he convinces as a British army intelligence officer (much in the mould of Robert Nairac) who is caught between conflicting political concerns in this flawed Ken Loach take on shoot-to-kill in Northern Ireland.

There’s interesting bits in here, but the use of American characters as an in is shameless, and the trademark Loach improvised political discussion jars immensely, and was done to much greater effect in Land And Freedom. There’s a distastefully uncritical implicit support for the provo brand of militant Irish republicanism. The final scenes in Dublin retain a visceral power, though.

Inglourious Basterds title screen

Inglourious Basterds
Tarantino’s homage to Euro war flicks, with Brad Pitt leading a merry band of bloodthirsty Jewish American commandos on the rampage behind Nazi lines. I don’t think the film holds up as a whole, but I like that Tarantino steadfastly refuses to stick to a single schtick, and is willing to explore different techniques and genres. I very much like his use of long scenes.