Tag Archives: State Of Play

A Week In Film #524: Peaking duck

State Of Play
So-so Hollywood retooling of Paul Abbott’s mini-series about newspaper reporters and politicians and a violent death setting off a chain reaction of interconnected events. Directed by Kevin Macdonald, with Russell Crowe, Rachel McAdams and Helen Mirren holding up the journalistic end of things, and Ben Affleck and Jeff Daniels on the congressional side. Some decent enough moments, but no heart of its own, and largely comprising a patchwork of familiar tropes.

Debbie Isitt’s seasonal family movie is wafer-thin, but still thoroughly enjoyable, with uptight teacher Martin Freeman mugging his way through everything in a Freemanly way, whilst Marc Wootton bounces off the walls as man-child classroom assistant Mr Poppy, and assorted Real Life Kids say all sorts of Things Real Kids Say. Jason Watkins puts in a good turn as a rival school’s nativity impresario.

Chris Nolan’s brain-melting action SF thriller made for a very tasty filling in between slices of his Batman, and still stands the test of time, so long as you don’t try and think about it too much and just let yourself be immersed. Awesome Hans Zimmer score, and normally I find him turgid.

Tango & Cash
One of those eighties muscle Mary buddy action comedies that I remembering seeing video cases and posters for, but never actually watching. TBH I wasn’t missing much, apart from a muddled, messy, confused film that doesn’t know whether it wants to be serious or funny, dark or light. With Sly Stallone and Kurt Russell as chalk-and-cheese LA detectives stitched up by a drug lord, backed up by decent character actors like Geoffrey Lewis and Brion James, and directed variously by Andrei Konchalovsky, Albert Magnoli and Peter MacDonald.

A Week In Film #126: Hotter

State Of Play
Bastardised yankification of the superb British political potboiler, with the newsroom excitement, repartee and characters here replaced by Russell Crowe doing slobbish-but-effective-newshound whilst investigating deaths around his college roomie-turned-Congressman, Ben Affleck.

Takes its cues all too obviously from Klute, All The President’s Men etc, it never builds up a head of steam, and drags – which seeing as virtually all the nuances of the original’s script have been stripped out is no mean feat. Boring.

For years I avoided watching this, as it had an awesome soundtrack (plus beautiful cues by Barrington Pheloung), but terrible reviews (it did star Jude Law and Sadie Frost – even back in the 90s people occasionally demonstrated good sense), and I didn’t want to spoil my enjoyment of the music.

Anyway, it would appear I foolishly ignored my own judgement in finally watching it – a pile of cack about joyriding in a mildly dystopian present/near future, in which we are supposed to identify with whining brats like Law & Frost. Seems to try to be Vanishing Point-meets-Suburbia in a very cinema du look kind of way, and fails on all fronts. Aside from the awful central performances there are pointlessly wasted actors like Jonathan Pryce, Eamonn Walker and Sean Bean, dull chase scenes, no chemistry between the leads, a lack of any sense of tension, a never-explained world, and no noticeable point to it all. Oh, and the wonderful soundtrack is pitched far too low and drowned out with library foley. And just WTF is the point of the Marianne Faithfull cameo?

Good points: some pretty photography, occasionally.

King Of New York
Abel Ferrara’s beautiful, lean, mean tone poem to his city, played out as a crime drama, with Christopher Walken as Frank White, a gang boss just paroled and determined to take back what’s his.

Amazing supporting cast – Laurence Fishburne as jive-walking enforcer Jimmy Jump, Steve Buscemi as a near-mute drugs tester, Giancarlo Esposito, Paul Calderon, John Turturro, Theresa Randle, Janet Julia; then there’s the cops – Victor Argo, David Caruso, Wesley Snipes…

The kind of crime drama Stone failed to achieve with Scarface, the sort of modern opera Coppola didn’t deliver with The Godfather Part III.