Tag Archives: The Informers

A Week In Film #255: Rewinds & remakes

Firefox title screen
I remember rows and rows of Craig Thomas novels, with their ADJECTIVE+ANIMAL NAME titles and foil-embossed covers, nestled between James Herbert and Sven Hassel and Stephen King novels, lining the shelves in our local(isn) Tesco, back in the 1980s.

I remember my dad having all his books, much as he had all James Herbert’s and Stephen King’s (but not Sven Hassel’s, though all Isaac Asimov’s and Frank Herbert’s and a thousand other genre writers’).

And I remember watching this film, with my dad, when it premiered on TV. Probably ITV, I’ve a feeling there were ad breaks. I remember gasping at the persecution-of-the-Jews sub-plot, being shocked by the sudden murder of the drug dealer, I remember the opening with CLint jogging and the sudden appearance of the helicopter. I remember scowling Warren Clarke and kindly Nigel Hawthorne. I remember the submariners and their pretend weather station waving, and I remember the really, really long flight sequence, which seemed pretty boring compared to the hard-boiled escape-from-Moscow bits.

And that’s pretty much how I felt about it watching it nearly thirty years later.

The Crazies (2010) title screen
The Crazies
So-so, bigger budget remake of Romero’s 70s lo-fi not-zombie classic. Not exactly terrible, just not exactly terrific. Bit bland. And doesn’t compare well with The Walking Dead. Timothy Olyphant as the hero sheriff is moderately engaging.

Hitman title screen
Olyphant again, in a video game adaptation. Seen it before, didn’t impress; didn’t impress on second viewing either. Secret order of assassins, Interpol hot on the train, blah.

The Informers title screen
The Informers
I really liked Bret Easton Ellis’s contract-fulfilling collection of interconnected short stories released between American Psycho and Glamorama. First time I saw it I even quite liked this highly flawed film version by the bloke who did Buffalo Soldiers (which, again, I liked), even though Ellis himself reportedly didn’t.

Second viewing flags up the why-I-liked-it bits, and the why-it’s-not-really-very-good bits. I liked it because it held an interesting tone, its mood, there were some interesting character sketches, memorable set pieces. But, it’s just not the book, or the characters or vignettes or world of the book. And losing the vampires, and the humour? Sacrilege. A shame.

A Week In Film #076: Back in the saddle

Matchstick Men
Ridley Scott does a grifter flick, with Nic Cage as a tic-ridden confidence man working with protegé Sam Rockwell who discovers he has a teenage daughter.

Quite watchable, but unfortunately it builds towards a twist climax which is wholly foreseeable to anyone with a passing familiarity to long con films. A shame, because it’s well-crafted.

Le Convoyeur
A very good French number about a mysterious loner (Albert Dupontel) who begins work as a security guard for a shabby armoured car company, directed by Nicolas Boukhrief.

Beautifully, lyrically shot and paced, with nothing spelled out unnecessarily, and many plot points simply implied, which suggests the film makers actually trust their audience.

The Informers
I really enjoyed Bret Easton Ellis’ anthology of interconnected short stories. It was a stopgap book released in the long publishing hiatus between American Psycho and Glamorama, but featured tales that predated all bar his debut novel Less Than Zero.

After the stodgy sub-Brat Pack film adaptation of that, Easton Ellis’ novels seemed to enjoy ever-improving screen versions: Mary Harmon’s take on American Psycho diverged from the text, but proved witty and enjoyable; Roger Avery’s Rules Of Attraction captured much of the essence of his sophomore effort, which focused on unlikeable, overprivileged brats at college in New England.

So it would seem that things were looking up with The Informers – not only had Hollywood seemingly ‘got’ Easton Ellis at last, but there were excellent people on board, with the author contributing to the script, and Buffalo Soldiers director Gregor Jordan on board to helm it.

Except it’s shit, confused, wastes onscreen talent like Brad Renfro, Mickey Rourke and Billy Bob Thornton, strips out some of the most important and memorable elements from the book, and fails to bring things together in a coherent narrative or towards a satisfying climax.

Framom Främsta Linjen
More Finnish war movie business, and this time we’re hanging with a unit from a Swedish-speaking regiment during the Continuation War.

Directed mostly with efficiency by former actor Åke Lindman (the stalwart sergeant in the 1955 classic Tuntematon Sotilas), there are strong performances from Tobias Zilliacus as a respected frontline officer, Harry Järv, and Ilkka Heiskanen as Swedish commander Marttinen. Things do get confused in the last third, though, and the apparently documentary inserts with surviving veterans of the events presented (shades of Tae Guk Gi) that occasionally intrude detract from the drama. On the other hand the still photographs taken by the real Järv help pull things together.

Mathieu Kassovitz’s follow-up to La Haine looks at alienation from a different angle. He himself plays a low expectation-having motherfucker, a low-rent thief who hooks up with Michel Serrault, an ageing hitman looking for a protegé to pass on his skills to. Similarly twentysomething Kassovitz only ever hangs with young delinquent teenager Mehdi Benoufa. There’s lots of sitting around watching TV or playing video games, lessons unlearned, impatience, incompetence, lies, arrogance, stupidity.

Not great, and I’m not sure it’s even really that good, but at least Kassovitz tries some creatively interesting choices along the way, and declines to turn it into either a La Haine sequel or into anything transparently polemical. The midpoint features a fine example of the filmmaker’s feint – a real sucker punch. It is a pity that Kassovitz never quite manages to keep the steam up.