Tag Archives: Star Wars

A Week In Film #029: Catch up & sunburn

The Black Dahlia title screen

The Black Dahlia
Brian De Palma takes on the James Ellroy novel about the notorious 1947 murder of Elizabeth Short. It should be very good, based on that alone, but I found it very turgid.

The most excellent review site Cinema de Merde rates it, but whilst Scott’s persuasive arguments brought me round to love Body Double, here I’m not so sure.

The Chronicles Of Riddick title screen

The Chronicles Of Riddick
Pitch Black was great. This is not. Judi Dench, Karl Urban, Keith David, Colm Feore, Linus Roache and Thandie Newton are amongst the embarrassed here. Some crap about ‘Necromongers’ and and and…

Jersey Girl title screen

Jersey Girl
Non-View Askewniverse Kevin Smith, with Ben Affleck as a widowed PR guy forced back to New Jersey by some choice (but impolitic) remarks made about Will Smith whilst under nappy-changing pressure. Very likeable.

All The King's Men (2006) title screen

All The King’s Men (2006)
Sean Penn as populist Southern Governor who becomes as corrupt as those he sought to replace. Worthy, dull. Jude Law FFS!

Conspiracy title screen

Conspiracy
Excellent real-time staging of the 1942 Wannsee Conference which sealed the fate of Europe’s Jews by way of the ‘final solution’. Kenneth Branagh and Stanley Tucci are particularly powerful as Heydrich and Eichmann, though there is not a bad performance from any of the cast.

Atentát title screen

Atentát
Very economical retelling of the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, the architect of the ‘final solution’ and Nazi overlord of Czechoslovakia, directed in 1964 by Jiří Sequens. Couldn’t find subtitles for this (it’s in Czech and German), but it doesn’t matter, you can follow it just the same.

Below title screen

Below
Supernatural war horror flick set aboard an American sub in WW2, courtesy of Riddick dude David Twohy.

Thematically in the realm of The Keep, Deathwatch and The Bunker, and sadly, like the last two, never quite meeting its potential.

The presence of merchant seaman Dexter Fletcher and nurse Olivia Williams – survivors of an earlier torpedoing – hints at rollicking genre fun like The Land That Time Forgot, but mostly it’s a locked room mystery with ghosts.

1968 Tunnel Rats title screen

1968 Tunnel Rats
Dull film about interesting topic: the tunnel complexes used by the NVA/NLF in the Vietnam War. Oh, it’s directed by Uwe Boll. That would explain it.

Star Trek
I am not and never have been a Trek fan (though I’m partial to a bit of Babylon 5) – this was this LLF’s idea. It was much better than I feared, easy enough for a civilian to follow, with the odd LOL moment or two.

A Week In Film #028: Sunburnt & beer-soaked

The Bunker (2001) title screen

The Bunker (2001)
Now this had potential – a small group of German soldiers in the Ardennes in 1944 holed up in a pill box above a series of dark and foreboding tunnels, which proves to be a portent to terror. It could have been The Keep; it turned out more Deathwatch. A shame, because there were interesting themes and a pretty good cast (Andrew Tiernan, Chris Fairbank, Simon Kunz, Andrew Lee Potts, and, erm, Jack Davenport, Jason Flemyng and Charley Boorman; I guess Eddie Marsan could have swung either way). Tighter directorial attention to the acting than to the shadows would have done this film the world of good, I suspect. Too much of it involves conscious acting rather than natural reacting. The flashback sequences are very efficient.

Anzio title screen

Anzio
Bloody awful and uninvolving war movie featuring two of my favourite screen actors, Robert Mitchum and Peter Falk, about 1944’s lesser known amphibious invasion of Europe. Not seen this since I was a nipper, and in my memory I always associated the Operation Shingle landings at Anzio with the Ardennes offensive of the Battle of the Bulge, possibly because they each spawned bloated, boring films. Horrible 60s score too!

Charlie Wilson's War title screen

Charlie Wilson’s War
Tom Hanks as a US Congressman who funds the mujahideen fighting the Soviet army in Afghanistan. Interesting, but possibly not one that is going to be remembered as a classic. Philip Seymour Hoffman continues in his life mission to PSHify every supporting role in Hollywood to jittery mumblers who talk over other actors’ lines as a maverick CIA agent who breaks the rules and does things his way, etc.

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith title screen

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith
Never seen it before, and I don’t think I will again, willingly. A clumsy mess of dull exposition, extended toy adverts and shonky CGI. Though the scenes with Palpatine and Anakin did have promise. As I said to the LLF, they took a wrong turning tracing back the Skywalker story, when Han Solo was what people liked the most about the original films.

Hart's War title screen

Hart’s War
Colin Farrell is a rear echelon Ivy Leaguer who accidentally ends up captured during the Battle of the Bulge in 1944; Bruce Willis is the Westpoint career soldier running the POW camp he ends up in. All about moral codes and sense of duty, with Tuskegee airmen the real life point of interest. Sort of a grittier, less pleasant modern retelling of Stalag 17, with a strong theme of racism supplanting class antagonism. Not great, but certainly impressive. But then at a cost of $70million, would anything less be acceptable?

88 Minutes title screen

88 Minutes
Honestly, this is not a good film. For once the IMDb comments seem mostly on the nail. Pacino is a raspy, rascally, randy professor of forensic psychiatry who moonlights as a profiler for the FBI. A man he helped convict for multiple murders and rapes is about to die in the execution chamber… But wait! A bunch of fresh victims have all just been found killed in circumstances similar to his modus operandi! Maybe he’s not really the killer! And to top it all off, our horny prof has received a phonecall telling him he has eighty-eight minutes left to live! Etc, etc, etc… The poster for this film unforgivably harks back to those for Scarface and Carlito’s Way, which both – for each their flaws – are far superior to this lifeless pile of cinematic afterbirth.

Frost/Nixon title screen

Frost/Nixon
Michael Sheen (the slow dude from Gallowglass and latterly your go-to guy anytime you want a Tony Blair) is playboy talk show host David Frost, Frank ‘Skeletor’ Langella is disgraced warmongering Quaker president Tricky Dicky Nixon. Ron Howard directs, and for the first half it’s good, gripping stuff, but the contrived structure of the third act – trying to create a false ‘victory’ – lets it down.

Runaway Jury title screen

Runaway Jury
Actually rather a good, fun, exciting John Grisham legal twist thriller – John Cusack, Gene Hackman, Rachel Weisz and Dustin Hoffman all ham things up nicely in this New Orleans courtroomer about a lawsuit filed against a gun company and the latter’s recourse to an amoral jury consultant to win them the case. The Jeremy Piven character seems somewhat pointless though.

Star Wars title screen

Star Wars (or Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope if you really must)
Special Edition CGI sucks.

The Empire Strikes Back title screen

The Empire Strikes Back (or Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back if you insist)
Icy Hoth, sleeping in a dead tauntaun, wampa attack, AT-ATs, Boba Fett (ship looks like a prawn), Lando, betrayal, Yoda on Dagobah, hand losing, “I am your father”, carbonite sleep, etc.

Return Of The Jedi title screen

Return Of The Jedi (or Star Wars Episode VI: Return Of The Jedi, though I can’t say I approve)
Bounty hunters, metal bikini, Jabba the Hutt, skiff, Sarlacc, Yoda dying, new Death Star, teddy bears Ewoks, speeder bikes, etc.

Semi-Pro title screen

Semi-Pro
Yet another Will Ferrell jockcom, this time round about a crappy basketball team trying to secure a place in the NBA. Woody Harrelson, André ‘3000’ Benjamin and Maura Tierney (Abby the ER nurse/doctor who looks like a stroke-ridden cousin of Friends‘ Rachel) add a little class, Will Arnett and Andrew Daly are in the Waldorf/Statler chairs.

Defiance title screen

Defiance
Daniel Craig and Liev Schreiber as battling Bielski brothers, running a band of Jewish partisans in the forests of Eastern Poland in WW2. An interesting story but a plodding film. Interesting to see director Edward Zwick borrowing/homaging visual and sound motifs from Elem Klimov’s Idi I Smotri.

Aliens Versus Predator: Requiem title screen

Alien Versus Predator: Requiem
Honestly, avoid. The first AvsP flick was bad enough. Yautja hunts xenomorphs in contemporary America; lots of dull septics die.

A Week In Film #027: Poop idle

Shoot 'Em Up title screen

Shoot ‘Em Up

Clive Owen as a mysterious man drawn into a complicated web of intrigue after coming to the aid of a pregnant woman being chased by gunmen.

Now, I like Clive Owen (I’m a fan of Close My Eyes, Croupier, I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead, Children Of Men and Inside Man, and the Sharman and Second Sight TV series); I like Monica Bellucci (Dobermann etc); and I most definitely like Monica Bellucci as a lactating hooker.

I like how this film starts, and gets down to business straight away, no preamble, no exposition, just foot down and through the gears. And I like how (certainly to start with) this preposterous actioner is played out just how its title suggests – in full-on, video game style, lots of pointless running around and jumping and shooting and unlimited magazines and laws-of-physics-defying physicality.

But then, as it slows down, it attempts to rationalise the irrational, to explain the inexplicable, to hint at some sort of reason behind all of this silly nonsense. Trying to do this this undermined my enjoyment. As such, FAIL.

Knocked Up title screen

Knocked Up
On paper, a repulsive film – drunken one-night stand, unwanted pregnancy, woman pressured into dieting for her job, idle slob the father – but this one has real charm, as seems to be the way with Judd Apatow and his rep company of likable slackers (like lead actor Seth Rogen). Katherine Heigl excels as Alison, the woman at the centre of it all.

Zack And Miri Make A Porno title screen

Zack And Miri Make A Porno
Non-View Askewniverse, non-Jersey Kevin Smith film, with Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Smith as platonic friends down on their luck who decide to make a skin flick to bail themselves out of financial trouble. You can guess how it pans out, but despite its predictability I really rather enjoyed it, and so did the LLF.

Smokin' Aces title screen

Smokin’ Aces
Joe Narc Carnahan does a convoluted, colourful actioner about a bunch of law enforcement types, hitmen, bounty hunters and psychopaths all trying to get to a Vegas-showman-turned-Mob-boss-wannabe (Jeremy Piven), who’s holed up in the penthouse of a Lake Tahoe hotel. It doesn’t work, but there’s interesting elements. A gayed-up Ben Affleck, Common giving a great – practically Shakespearean – performance, Taraji P Henson and Alicia Keys as assassins with sapphic undertones, a trio of redneck Nazi nutter brothers, and an ADHD kid are amongst the highlights, but ultimately it just doesn’t pull together with any satisfaction.

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace title screen

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
Never seen it before, and I don’t think I will again, willingly. A clumsy mess of dull exposition, extended toy adverts and shonky CGI.

Star Wars Episode II: Attack Of The Clones title screen

Star Wars Episode II: Attack Of The Clones
Never seen it before, and I don’t think I will again, willingly. A clumsy mess of dull exposition, extended toy adverts and shonky CGI.