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.
Powerful documentary by Barak Goodman about the bombing of the Alfred P Murrah Federal Building in 1993 by Timothy McVeigh, and the circumstances leading up to it, such as Ruby Ridge and Waco.
Started promisingly for a shlocky thriller – a man is brutally murdered one night witnessed by his son! Turns out he was a KKK leader! The FBI team includes a black Agent! Soon the kid and the Agent are on the run together! – but it’s spoiled by a prematurely signalled twist and over-long, poorly staged action sequences.
With Courtney B Vance (Law & Order), Virginia Madsen, Robert Patrick and Jeremy Lelliott as the kid (with a voice seemingly borrowed from Edward Furlong), plus super-brief cameos from the likes of William Forsythe, David Keith and William Sadler. Director Ernest Dickerson was a long-time Spike Lee collaborator who debuted helming his own movies with Juice; but after a bunch of lacklustre efforts like this, by the mid 2000s he wisely concentrated on directing epsisodes of TV shows like The Wire, The Walking Dead, Dexter and Treme.
Solid noir from Edward Dmytryk about GIs returned home after the war getting caught up in an anti-semitic murder (changed from the homophobic killing of the source novel). With Roberts Ryan, Mitchum and Young, plus Gloria Grahame and Jacqueline White.
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens
Kudos to JJ Abrams for taking the series back to its in-camera effects, live action roots. Some stunning action sequences, great characters, great villains, and a sweeping, epic arc. Plenty to commend it.