Tag Archives: Square Grouper

A Week In Film #388: Hitting targets

Basic title screen
Terrible, terrible film. I expected more, and McTiernan let me down. A convoluted Agatha-Christie-in-cammo mystery, with disgraced DEA agent John Travolta brought in to investigate deaths on a Ranger training exercise in Panama with the clock ticking away and that Scieftologist who played Phoebe from Friends’ thick brother doing a very odd accent and Sam Jackson barely in it and, um, some other people doing, well, stuff. Did I mention its terrible?

Hitler: Rise Of Evil title screen
Hitler: Rise Of Evil
Okay, so technically a mini-series, but at two parts it’s basically an extended TVM split into a pair of episodes. Both engaging and ridiculous; simultaneously compelling and contemptible. An American actor (Stockard Channing) plays an Austrian character (Adolf’s mum) with an English accents; meanwhile, an Englishman (Robert Glenister) playing a German (Anton Drexler) adopts some kind of a Brooklyn-style American twang. Go figure.

Anyway, Robert Carlyle does at least give the Corporal a fair go, trying to capture his drive and his mania, his incomprehensible ideology and his growing charisma whilst upper class and bourgeois rightists convince themselves they have him on a leash. Direction by Christian Duguay is, you know, by no means incompetent.

Killing Oswald title screen
Killing Oswald
Fairly pedestrian documentary about the reputed sole assassin of JFK, which flags up lots of peculiar details in the life of Lee Harvey Oswald, but never convincingly nails down anything other than ‘this is a bit peculiar’.

The Devil’s Double title screen
The Devil’s Double
Underpowered ‘true story’ (i.e. not in any way verified) affair, about an Iraqi army officer sequestered to be a doppelgänger for psychopathic presidential son Uday Hussein, with Dominic Cooper in the lead, directed by Lee Tamahori.

Square Grouper title screen
Square Grouper
Interesting enough documentary about three different sets of weed smugglers in 70s/80s Florida.

Rising Sun title screen
Rising Sun
Not exactly thrilling thriller about a pair of LA cops investigating the murder of a woman at a Japanese corporate party. Sean Connery, Wesley Snipes and Harvey Keitel each have their qualities, but throw their three different acting styles together and it’s a mess. Not Philip Kaufman’s finest two hours.

Haywire title screen
Excellent Steven Soderbergh joint about an ex-military private contractor (Gina Carano) trying to figure out who has stitched her up and why. Great cast includes Channing Tatum, Ewan McGregor, Antonio Banderas, Michael Fassbender, Michael Douglas, Bill Paxton and Matthieu Kassovitz. Sublimely choreographed action, impressionistic editing, lots of diegetic sound, a genre plot but one which isn’t spooned to the audience, and innovative use of less familiar locations – a real joy.

Pain & Gain title screen
Pain & Gain
Possibly the only Michael Bay film I will ever unequivocally enjoy – three muscly bozos get high on self-actualising seminar guru bullshit, coke and steroids, and decide that the best way to make their fortune is by kidnapping rich clients and torturing them until they sign over their shit. Great central performances from Marky Mark, The Rock and Anthony Mackie from The Hurt Locker, impeccable support from Tony Shalhoub as the world’s most unlikeable victim, plus Ed Harris, Rebel Wilson, Rob Corddry, Michael Rispoli etc. And some really great visuals (e.g. Requiem For A Dream-style chest rigs, ultra-slomo and worm-eye view shots for chase scenes).