High Flying Bird
Take-a-knee era sports agent business, imaginatively shot by Soderbergh on an iPhone from a tight script by Tarell Alvin McCraney.
Strong old school documentary, timely in its focus on angry white men.
Shaun The Sheep Movie
Definitely approaching peak Aardman.
Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer
Catch-up doc by Broomfield and Churchill, eleven years on from their The Selling Of A Serial Killer. Wuornos remains majorly fucked-up, tragic figure. No happy endings.
Bullet To Beijing
Awful, attempt to revive Len Deighton’s anti-Bond spy character ‘Harry Palmer’, with eternal mortgage-payer Michael Caine returning to the role for the first time in 28 years. The set up is nice – Palmer is still a lowly but money-obsessed spook, but is swiftly pensioned off and offered a glimmer of private sector gold. But it’s pants. Jason Connery is truly atrocious as Palmer’s reluctant sidekick. ‘Journeyman’ would be a generous description of scriptmonkey Harry Alan Towers and director George Mihalka.
Funeral In Berlin
Back to the source – Guy Hamilton’s follow-up to Sidney J Furie’s The IPCRESS File is a successful follow-on, atmospherically set in the divided German city and featuring a convoluted plot of cross and double cross, with memorable characters from the likes of Oscar Homolka and Paul Hubschmid.
Perfectly diverting legal potboiler, Francis Ford Coppola directing from John Grisham’s book, with Matt Damon a young lawyer teaming up with boisterous paralegal Danny De Vito to… Erm… Can’t remember – it’s that sort of film. But definitely not terrible.
The Lady Vanishes (2013)
Not the Hitch version of Ethel White’s pre-war European mystery novel The Wheel Spins, so not as much fun, but Tuppence Middleton (Cleanskin) and Tom Hughes The Game) have a fair crack at it in a BBC TVM directed by journeyman Diarmuid Lawrence.
Funeral In Berlin
I prefer a game with a better chance of cheating.
A Most Violent Year
Excellent, low key period piece from JC Chandor (Margin Call) about a struggling businessman (Oscar Isaac) and his wife (Jessica Chastain) trying to stay clean in grimy, gritty early eighties New York.
The Wolf Of Wall Street
Flashy, silly, fun (and in parts highly objectionable) based-on-a-true-story nonsense about boiler room bastards in eighties New Jersey; Scorsese pastiches himself, with Leonardo Di Caprio and Jonah Hill meeting him halfway from typical Judd Apatow territory.
A frankly awful horror flick. The words “based on a Stephen King short story” should have been a clue. It’s about a hack writer haunted by the death of his daughter who writes those ’10 most haunted houses’ type books, who is lured to a New York hotel room which seems to kill its guests. As the LLF said, “Samuel L Jackson has been in some shit films, but John Cusack, what were you thinking?”
The Ipcress File
Entertainingly dark and dense take on Len Deighton’s grammar school secret agent ‘Harry Palmer’ and his attempts to staunch a brain drain. Not the anti-Bond it’s sometimes proclaimed to be, but more satisfying for its banality and austere locations. Michael Caine’s performance is good. Sidney J Furie’s direction is good also.
Funeral In Berlin
More Harry Palmer silliness, but this time focused around Cod War Germany and defection mania. Oscar Homolka is fun as an affable KGB bigwig. Guy Hamilton directs effectively but without any showiness.
Billion Dollar Brain
Ken Russell takes the reins of the Harry Palmer franchise for a witty, silly adventure taking in nutty Texan anti-communist crusaders, Vietnam war satire and the dominance of Kennedy era technocrats. In silly fur hats and snowy Finnish locales. “Boom boom!”