Roger Michell's Le Week-End is his best film to date, hands down. It's… MoreRoger Michell's Le Week-End is his best film to date, hands down. It's not the easy watch you might think it is from the poster and all the better for it. Ever wondered what those bohemian, free loving, fast living couples, typically seen in 1960s films by Jean-Luc Godard (check the title) and Francois Truffaut would become like in old age. The couples that weren't supposed to stay together but were supposed to be forever free in their sexuality and a slave to no one. Don't get me wrong, this isn't a film about old hippys, more of new thinking intellectuals. It's a tender but brutally honest portrayal of a great love story, desperate, disagreeable and completely hopeless. Set in Paris, the City of Love, Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan play the best screen couple I've seen in cinema for quite a long time.
When an Asian film such as the original Oldboy gains popularity on a… MoreWhen an Asian film such as the original Oldboy gains popularity on a global scale, the Hollywood remake is inevitable. Why make films for the lazy people who can't be bothered to read subtitles? If a film has a good story but doesn't reach full potential then sure, remake away but when it is recognised as a modern classic you leave it alone. To hear that Spike Lee was behind the remake was the real surprise. The fact that it wasn't going to be one of his 'Joints' but merely a 'film' didn't exactly get anyone's hopes up either. We are all agreed that this remake was a needless one but I would argue that it is a good one. The changes are slight but for my money it is still pretty entertaining and the differences are interesting enough to keep me entertained throughout. Of all the Asian films made into Western movies, this was the one that shouldn't have worked but somehow it does. 99 Luftballons' by Nena is a great song, a party classic but so is 99 Red Balloons.
The second but unconnected film in Chan-wook Park's vengeance trilogy… MoreThe second but unconnected film in Chan-wook Park's vengeance trilogy is an explosive one to put it lightly. There are so many layers to pull back in this one that you'd be excused for feeling more than a little dizzy before the end. It's a pure mix of the darkest Manga, Park Chan-wook twisted mind and Asian Extreme cinema. The story hooks you in from the outset, shocks you with it's ultra-violence and then deeply disturbs you with it's shocking realisations. Somehow, after all that, there is a beautiful and tender message, albeit soaked in blood. Not for the fainthearted but unmissable for those who want to see something unique and rather special. The direction is unmatched in its violent beauty.
If you are going to make a film about greed and excess, you've got to… MoreIf you are going to make a film about greed and excess, you've got to use the same levels of greed an excess to match. The Wolf of Wall Street is Martin Scorsese on steroids. He has taken all of the elements people love of each of his films and has put them all in one place. It's part Taxi Driver, a bit Mean Streets, an essence of The Departed, a whole chunk of Goodfellas and a refreshing slice of After Hours about it. I'm afraid it knocks Oliver Stone's Wall Street out of the water somewhat although Wall Street didn't have the same hindsight to be fair. This is the Scorsese/Di Caprio partnership at its best. It's also Thelma Schoonmaker's best work to date although this is the first Scorsese film she hasn't been nominated for, what the hell is that about? The whole production is faultless, the 3 hour run time flies by, it could have been longer to be honest. This is a director, one of the greatest ever, in fine form. If Scorsese has any influence at all in Hollywood then I hope other film makers note the originality, pace, creative indulgence and punchiness and make their films accordingly.
Released the same year as A Hijacking, Captain Phillips concentrates… MoreReleased the same year as A Hijacking, Captain Phillips concentrates on the true story of a Hijacked ship and the rescue mission that followed. Two very different films essentially about the same thing. It's fair to say that Captain Phillips won because it is the big star Hollywood picture but also because Paul Greengrass is the best director working today when it comes to dramatised reconstructions. I would argue that A Hijacking is the better film that takes a more realistic approach and shows all sides of the story but Captain Phillips is the more exciting. The last scene is spectacular though, Tom Hanks has never been as good and I'm not sure Hollywood has ever been so raw.
Joseph Losey's 1964 King & Country is a devastating piece of theatre.… MoreJoseph Losey's 1964 King & Country is a devastating piece of theatre. Adapted from the play Hamp written by John Wilson, director Joseph Losey keeps the story as a piece of theatre and sets the scene behind the characters, rather than sets the characters within the scene or scenario. A young solder is overcome during fighting in the trenches during WW1 and finds himself walking North. He is soon captured and tried for desertion. After 3 years of solid fighting and trench conditions, far longer than any of his superiors, and at the moment of reading a letter from his wife at home informing him that she had left him, Private Hemp (Tom Courtenay in his best role to date) decides the only thing to do was to 'go for a little walk'. Dirk Bogarde plays his martinet officer given the task of defending him in a rag-tag court. Private Hemp's long suffering friends hold a mock court outside, and try a Rat they've found in the corpse of a dead Horse of nibbling the solders ear and general pestilence. The madness is shown in the nerves of the solders and in the decisions of those in charge. King & Country is every bit as good as Paths of Glory and it's about time it received it's due credit as one of the best War films of all time.
It's fair to say I'm not Shawn Levy's biggest fan, Date Night being… MoreIt's fair to say I'm not Shawn Levy's biggest fan, Date Night being the only of his films I enjoyed. I loved Vince Vaughn in his Swingers years but ever since then he's played the same character and Owen Wilson has also lost his way somewhat and is only really good in Wes Anderson movies these days. So, it was nice to see that actually everyone was on good form. Vaughn and Wilson play off each other so much more naturally since the painfully overrated Wedding Crashers and I think this is due to their continuing off camera friendship. The idea is great, even though it verges between being charmless Google advertising to 'Are you sure google want to be associated with this?' territory. When it's good it's good, when it's bad, it's awful. Some of the characters are dreadful and the story-line is up and down like a cookie on a porn site (or so I've heard). Everything good about the message is ruined by either a pointless strip club scene, a man with sexual OAP tendencies or by a Will Ferrell cameo. It started so well, then sank back into the sort of garbage I first feared it would be.
I hate the phrase 'Coming of age' and I'm a firm believer that not all… MoreI hate the phrase 'Coming of age' and I'm a firm believer that not all comedies need a moral message and 'Coming of age' films could do with focusing on normal kids for a change. I admit, I didn't think comedy pair Nat Faxon and Jim Rash were up to the job. I was wrong and I'm ashamed of myself. This is one of my favorite 'Coming of age' films of all time. It's nice to see a film were the parents aren't unbelievable, two-dimensional characters and whereby the child in question isn't secretly special in anyway. The cast is great, Toni Collette is good in everything and Sam Rockwell couldn't be cooler. It's very nice to see Steve Carell in a straight role for a change too, hopefully we see more of this from him and less of his Brick Tamland character. One of the more uplifting films of 2013.
Fisher Stevens's Stand Up Guys seems to have flown straight under the… MoreFisher Stevens's Stand Up Guys seems to have flown straight under the radar. It was poorly advertised and what little publicity I did see was misleading. A real shame because the film is quite good. Not necessarily what you'd expect from an Al Pacino/Christopher Walken/Alan Arkin 'Gangster' collaboration but that's no bad thing. Opportunities are missed and not all of the story, or indeed some of the scenes, work or are as effective as they were meant to be but there is a whole lot of heart in this film that doesn't go unnoticed. It's not just about three old guys complaining about the aging process either, there is depth to the ideas of faith, friendship and trust and not in the bull-shit way you might see in many action/gangster films. The tender moments make the film worth watching for, it gets a little silly towards the end but at least when it's not being sensible it is being fun.
I've been a fan of Nicole Holofcener's for quite a while now and for… MoreI've been a fan of Nicole Holofcener's for quite a while now and for me Enough Said is her best so far. The pairing of Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini was perfect, her sassy confidence and his laid-back and slightly sarcastic demeanor makes for the perfect not-so-perfect coupling. Why isn't Julia Louis-Dreyfus in more films? Much like Nicole Holofcener as a director, she switches from TV to Movie mode effortlessly when many actors/directors can't. It will be remembered for being the late great James Gandolfini's penultimate film, last as leading man but I'm not sure you could ask for a better swansong. Enough Said is well written, brilliantly performed and very very funny. It's convincing as both a comedy and a romance and that hasn't been achieved in Hollywoodland for quite some time in my opinion, certainly not as well. Five stars, as I just can't fault it.