Tag Archives: Sleepers

A Week In Film #505: So tired

Stalin (1992)
Sort of okay HBO biopic with an unrecognisable Robert Duvall as Jughashvili, running through the greatest hits… Revolutionary bit-part player, the blagger nobody likes, wheedles his way into the inner sanctum by agreeing to do the shitty admin no one else will do, elbows out Lenin’s pals when the auld fella karks, does for the kulaks, secret police business, has a few more Old Bolshies knocked off, bit of Terror, purge the army, crap taste in art, show trials, quite big on anti-semitism, not a huge fan of doctors, Molotov-Ribbentrop, oh shit that didn’t go so well, war, hunger, destruction etc, win the war, few more put on trial, bit more purging, oh shit I’m having a stroke FIN. Directed by Czech New Wave dude Ivan Passer, whose big flick after coming West was Cutter’s Way.

Infuriating Oliver Stone conspirobollocks, but with many nice elements to it – the structure, despite it all, and many of the performance notes, and the confidence with which such a big bag of ‘maybe’ is shaken about and emptied over the screen.

Sleepers title screenSleepers
Barry Levinson’s indulgent (TWO AND A HALF HOURS) adaptation of Lorenzo Carcaterra’s period novel about who a group of New York kids in the sixties had their childhood stolen from them at a Borstal, and how they came to wreak revenge on those who tormented them. Silly, portentous, but very watchable, with son Patric, Brad Pitt, Ron Eldard, Billy Crudup, Minnie Driver, Bruno Kirby, Frank Medrano, De Niro, Hoffman etc.

The Thing (2011)
Terrible, misguided preboot, getting us to the start of the 1982 John Carpenter horror classic. Frankly completely redundant, unnecessary, unasked for, pointless. Too much of it rehashes bits from the earlier film, which doesn’t even make sense, and without the charm or wit of the in-camera, physical effects that gem of a movie put before our eyes.Decent enough cast – Mary Elizabeth Instead, Joel Edgerton, Adewale Akinnuouye-Agbalje etc – but truly AvP levels of script bodging. Never even heard of director Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. before. Probably won’t again.

They Who Dare title screenThey Who Dare
Somewhat tedious, non-action filled Lewis Milestone wartime sting, with Dirk Bogarde leading an SAS team into Occupied Greece (Crete) to fuck shit up at some Axis airfields. It all goes a bit tits, almost everyone dies.

Presumed Innocent title screenPresumed Innocent
Enjoyably silly court room thriller with straight arrow prosecutor Harrison Ford finding himself in the frame when an ambitious young colleague, with whom he had a brief affair, winds up murdered. Takes itself a bit serious, but not bad. Adapted by Alan J Pakula from a Scott Turrow novel.

A Week In Film #169: SHUT IT

British based-on-TV-shows films from the seventies have a bit of a bad rep, but this spin-off is a solid little thriller.

Okay, so it’s basically a Jack Regan solo album – Carter doesn’t really get a look-see – and there’s a lot of faces recycled from the series but in different roles (Lynda Bellingham, Colin Welland, Ian Bannen etc), but it is pretty damn taut (if you can excuse the almost comically British chase sequences – “Quick! Run down the fire escape of this anonymous concrete office block! Head for the bus!”), and streaked with darkness.

Having said that, the LLF did cry with laughter at the pay-off line at the end.

A silly film – all po-faced ‘true story’ stuff – that is overdone and in need of a fat trimming. But some nice performances, a few decent set pieces. Saw it in the cinema when it came out; I remember thinking at the time that the De Niro bit part had been properly stretched out. Plus it was a long film, and my arse went numb (at the pictures, I mean).

The Time-Traveler’s Wife

Didn’t expect to like it, but was hooked. Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams made for effervescent chemistry. Robert Schwentke directed all the complicated jumping around very professionally, and made it feel effortlessly disorientating, but not messy.