Tag Archives: Se7en

A Week In Film #525: In ’n’ Out

Gangs Of New York

Scorsese’s misfiring would-be historical epic, which never assumes the scale it needs.

The Lady Vanishes
Pretty decent Beeb take on the interwar train-bound potboiler The Wheel Spins, which Hitchcock adapted as his last pre-Hollywood movie. Tuppence Middleton makes an excellent petulant, chauvinistic English flapper caught adrift in a Mitteleuropan conspiracy. Good support from Tom Hughes, Keeley Hawes, Julian Rhind-Tutt et al.

Escape To Victory
Hardly John Huston’s best, no one’s buying Sly as a goalie, and Michael Caine does not look convincing as a former West Ham player-turned-PoW, but still it’s enjoyable. Poor old Tony Lewis, though. VICTOIRE!

A Quiet Place

Strong stuff from writer-director-actor John Krasinski – a near future post-apocalypse horror, set in a massively depopulated world where super fast, incredibly sound-sensitive monsters wreak havoc on humanity. Krasinski, real life wife Emily Blunt and child actors Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe all put in impressive work. Some genuine jumps and chills, all without being a gorfest.


Fincher-Nine Inch Nails-“Farkin’ pigs, man”-plastic shavings-rain-cardboard box.

The Goonies

One of those I’m-sure-I-remember-it-being-better movies from the 80s, and sure, it sags somewhat once we’re into the caverns, but still got charm.

Arthur Christmas

Better than I expected it would be, an Aardman/American co-production, with three generations of Father Christmas pulling in different directions (traditional vs futuristic, kid-focused vs overall accomplishment). Pretty funny, with voices supplied by Bill Nighy, Jim Broadbent and James McAvoy.

A Week In Film #229: FOOLS RUSH OUT

I Went Down title screen title screen

I Went Down
Rather decent Irish crime drama/comedy/road movie, with unlucky young romantic Git (Peter McDonald) teamed up with veteran low-level hood Bunny (Brendan Gleeson) to find Frank Grogan (Peter Caffrey), the errant ex-associate of crime boss Tom French (Tony Doyle).

It’s basically the same story as Midnight Run, and pitched in the same zone of funny/serious. Works well, Gleeson is as ever a treat, and the older chaps like Caffrey and Doyle keep the younger lads on their toes. Paddy Breathnach directs a Conor McPherson script.

Se7en title screen

Seven deadly sins, serial killer, rain, Nine Inch Nails, etc.

Zero Dark Thirty title screen

Zero Dark Thirty
A thoroughly effective if immensely manipulative action-thriller, which no doubt has a lot less to do with the truth that the inter titles might suggest. Kathryn Bigelow is a very talented technician.

Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Jennifer Ehle and others all give good performances, but still you wish you’d dabbed a bit of Vick’s around your nostrils first.

Argo title screen

Another based-on-true-events job, but with a bit more humour, and from Ben Affleck, who did so well with Gone Baby Gone and The Town.

It’s all very well done, up to a point, but in prepping audiences for the movie, the trailers and publicity basically drain all the drama from the film. I mean, that’s it. There’s no real surprises. And the semi-comic pursuit by the Revolutionary Guards at the airport, well…

Prime Cut title screen

Prime Cut
Very curious 1972 gangster flick written by Robert Dillon and directed by Michael Ritchie, with Lee Marvin a veteran enforcer sent by the Chicago mob down to Kansas to collect overdue payments from creepy meatpacking boss Gene Hackman. Sissy Spacek rounds out the main cast.

At the heart of the film is a plot about sex trafficking, and Marvin plays as Marvin does; but there is an affecting tenderness, an unspoken intelligence that goes further than the pure animal cunning and persistence of his character in, say, Point Blank. The film, whilst looking superficially like a standard exploitationer, actually seems to have some interesting things to say about the relationship between men and women.

A bit of a slow burn, but worth an hour and a half of anyone’s time.

Sus title screen

Three-hander set in a police interview room on the night of Margaret Thatcher’s election as Prime Minister in May 1979. Written as a stage play that year by Barry Keeffe (The Long Good Friday) – and it shows, and that’s not a negative – but just as powerful today, in this 2010 screen version directed by Robert Heath, demonstrating that the themes have not gone away…

And what are the themes? Young black British man Delroy (Clint Dyer) finds himself in a room with two white police detectives (Ralph Brown, Rafe Spall) who accuse him – over time – of murdering his wife. He is at every step, every stage, treated only as an ‘other’, and every quality in him that in a white man would be held as a positive is considered with suspicion – articulacy, intelligence, compassion.

Fuzz title screen

Fascinating cultural tie capsule – a proto-Hill Street Blues-style police procedural-cum-action comedy, about the Boston’s fictional 87th Precinct, its various oddball detectives and their collective caseload.

Based on Ed McBain’s books, it’s a strongly-cast ensemble, with a central trio of Burt Reynolds, Jack Weston and Tom Skerritt, plus Dan Frazer as the perpetually stressed Lieutenant, Burt Remsen as a grizzled Desk Sergeant, and Raquel Welch as a recently reassigned undercover working a rape case. Okay, so the rape investigation plot thread is not – certainly for our time – is not sensitively handled; and if we are honest, the whole film hums with casual sexism.

As soon as the perspective shifts away from the cops, though – like to the gang of hoods assassinating city bureaucrats and politicians in pursuit of a big blackmail payoff – the pace drops and it feels a lot more generic. But overall it’s a decent flick, which fizzes with sharp wit and fast dialogue and enjoyable bit parts (like the two decorators).

Total Recall (2012) title screen

Total Recall (2012)
Somewhat dull, over-realised remake of Verhoeven’s Philip K Dick short story-inspired camp SF classic, which sucks the fun out of its predecessor, yet adds nothing other than ropey CGI. And Colin Farrell.

A Week In Film #151: Builders in

Frankly awful modern day reworking of Bad Day At Black Rock, with Val Kilmer a wounded Iraq war vet who goes to visit a Mexican American comrade-in-arms out in a dusty southwestern town. Less Bad Day… and more Burt Reynolds vehicle Malone, mixed with a last season episode of The A Team.

Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, unnamed American city, serial killing nutter on the loose, David Fincher directing from Andrew Kevin Walker script, superb opening credit sequence.

Spike Lee translocates Richard Price’s novel about bottom level drug dealers in New Jersey to Brooklyn, makes you really feel for some of these working stiffs. Mehki Phifer is excellent as pit supervisor Strike, desperate to get out, Delroy Lindo terrifying as his mentor/boss Rodney. Isaiah Washington, Regina Taylor, Keith David, Harvey Keitel and John Turturro all put in top work too.

Frank Peirson’s gripping staging of the Wansee Conference, with Heydrich (Kenneth Branagh) and Eichmann (Stanley Tucci) coaxing, bullying and chiding their fellow bureaucrats and political soldiers into orchestrating the annihilation of European Jewry. No less powerful a men-round-a-table film than 12 Angry Men.

Didn’t like. Didn’t work. Tried to hard to replicate the book, but never got close to its depth or tone. Tried to fit too much texture in, ended up a mush. Some good performances, but overall a mess of nothing.

Deep Cover
I remember catching a review of this on Barry Norman-era Film 92, but have only just got round to watching it. Laurence Fishburne is an undercover cop who gets close to drug dealer Jeff Goldblum. Things get messy. Bill Duke directs. Some great touches, but not anywhere near perfect – but plenty to raise it above most narcothriller dirges.

A new Stath flick! As a cop who DOES THINGS HIS WAY! With Paddy Considine as the cop with completely contrasting outlook and method with whom he is paired! And Aidan Gillen as the whacko cop-killer! David Morrissey as a sleazy reporter! Zawe Ashton as an ex-undercover finding it hard to go straight! Mark Rylance as the Stath’s mentor, recovering from the recent death of his wife!

Basically, this had all the makings of being a really worthwhile – if not necessarily substantial – crime thriller, but somewhere along the way it falls apart. That’s not to say there is not plenty of talent involved; the mise-en-scène is in general impeccable, the photography beautiful. But the shifts in tone from almost pantomime shenanigans to deeply unsettling violence do the film no favours. Needless things like calling the Met ‘London Police’ irritate too, presumably it’s some sort of pandering to the Stateside audience.

The Bang Bang Club
Patchy, overwrought, casually offensive attempt to turn an interesting memoir about a bunch of South African photographers covering the early/mid-90s Hostel War into a mainstream movie where observers are portrayed as heroes. Ryan Phillippe, Frank Rautenbauch, Taylor Kitsch and Neels Van Jaarsveld are decent enough as the snappers.

Christopher Morahan (Paper Mask) directs a Michael Frayn farce about a punctilious, punctuality-obsessed headmaster (John Cleese) slowly disintegrating as he tries to get to a conference on time only to sabotage himself at every turn. Makes I LOL.

Four Brothers
The set-up seemed inviting – four bad boys return home to Detroit to bury their foster mother after she is killed in a convenience store robbery, only to realise that the cops’ version of wrong-place-wrong-time doesn’t hold water. The trouble is the execution is mostly by-the-numbers and tedious. Having Mark Wahlberg as your leading man doesn’t help. Not John Singleton’s best.

Shutter Island
Last up to the plate in my week of not-great-but-not-bad films is a recent Scorsese. I didn’t know anything about it, as the trailers seemed to be rather opaque, but I noticed recently that it was based on a Dennis Lehane book – him what wrote the source novels for Mystic River andGone Baby Gone – so I figured on giving it a crack.

In a nutshell: A Federal Marshal (Leonardo DiCaprio) with problems of his own investigates an inmate escape at a secure psychiatric hospital off the coast of Massachusetts in Fifties America. All is not what it seems.

Apart from an awkward piece of exposition in a cave halfway through, and the occasional sloppiness (matches to illuminate a dungeon), overall a pretty strong piece, with great mood and tone for the most part, with good performances (Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Jackie Earle Haley), just lacking something.