Not since 1986, with the Kevin Bacon starring ‘Quicksilver’, has Hollywood turned its gaze to the world of bike couriers and it seems not much has changed. Paper-thin characters (Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s leading man is called Wilee!) and a plot stretched to breaking point would ruin other films but lets face it, we’re here for the fun and director David Koepp doesn’t disappoint with a sting of breakneck cycling sequences. Add to that Michael Shannon trying to out-crazy Nic Cage in the role of a desperate, corrupt, cop and you have a very enjoyable 90 minutes.
Decent films about adolescence are few and far between, especially when they also attempt to tackle larger issues such as homosexuality and mental health, but TPOBAW manages to sidestep the cliche minefield and comes out relatively unscathed. It’s not perfect but it’s the performances of its 3 leads that elevate it above the usual fair. Logan Lerman makes Percy Jackson seem a distant memory and Emma Watson proves what we knew all along with an assured turn and a believable US accent but it is Ezra Miller, following his terrifying performance in ‘We Need To Talk About Kevin’ with an about-face as a charismatic young gay guy, who steals the show.
Disney and Tim Burton deliver the off beat, black and white, stop start animation ‘Frankenweenie‘, which takes us through the story of Victor, a young high school student who uses science to bring back his beloved dog ‘Sparky’. When the fellow students find out about his successful experiment, they steal his idea with the hope to win the state science fair, cue the mild peril.
Even though we have seen this story before (Tim Burton co wrote and directed a live action version in 1984) and plays out in a very familiar format, the animation, directing and characters have once again pushed forward the art of this film genre.
Fans of Edward Scissorhands and Mars Attacks I recommend this to you.
(Also, What is it with Tim Burton and his fetish of the 1950s housewife… )
A short film that lingers long in the memory, ‘What Richard Did’ offers up a moral dilemma and then leaves the audience to decide which side of the line they stand. Featuring a career-making performance from Jack Reynor, the film sidesteps what could have been an easy descent into melodrama and ends up being a fascinating study of guilt, blame and how one moment can change an otherwise perfect life.
RZA from the Wu Tang Clan tries his hand at both writing and directing in this attempt at a martial arts epic/Western mash-up and comes up short in almost every department. The characters are paper thin, the script awful and, most surprisingly, the music is just plain annoying. With a finale that includes a scene which dares to mimic a Bruce Lee classic, the only way this film succeeds is in making the audience yearn to watch the films which inspire it.
No-one knew in 2005, when Christopher Nolan launched his batman franchise, the heights it would reach with last years ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ but ‘Batman Begins’ changed the face of comic-book superhero movies. Gritty and, most importantly, realistic, this is a film not just about a man dressed as a bat but about the larger themes of justice vs revenge and the nature of vigilantism. Oh, and it also features one of the most excitement inducing final scenes in recent memory.
Talking of ‘teen horror-comedy gone very wrong but in a good way’; Detention is 100 films in 1, the kind of film that can easily give you a headache if you are in the wrong frame of mind. It’s got timetravel, prom, a serial killer, love, explosions, body-swaps, body-horror, mutations, jocks and meta coming out of it’s wazoo and is almost too much until the last stretch brilliantly pulls together all the various strands and ‘what the hell?’ moments. File under ‘no f**ks were given during the making of this picture’.
‘Excision’ is a teen horror-comedy gone very wrong but in a good way. AnnaLynne McCord, from the recent 90210 reboot, is unrecognisable as Pauline, a teenager who revels in deviating from the norm. Seemingly untroubled by the the bullies both at home and in school, Pauline is totally content in her own skin and demands life on her own terms. The only positive relationship in Pauline’s life, the one with her terminally ill sister, gives the audience the hope of a redemptive arc but the films overall nightmarish tone points to a different outcome. In any other film Pauline would start as the ugly duckling and then slowly flower into a beautiful swan, getting her revenge on the ‘beautiful people’ along the way. ‘Excision’ decides to tread a far murkier path and Pauline’s dark, surgically erotic, dreams point to a horrifying and devastating climax that, if your stomach can handle it, will blow you away. You have been warned.
Sam Mendes’s elegiac gangster movie may not be to everyone’s tastes but it’s his clear love of the genre that raises it above most other modern attempts. The acting is top-notch with a cast-against-type Tom Hanks giving his most sour performance to date, ably assisted by Daniel Craig, a truly creepy Jude Law and the peerless Paul Newman in his last film role as a troubled patriarch stuck between the son he has and the son he wishes he had. The film hits all of the expected beats with tommy guns, Fedora hats, silhouetted men and religious iconography all present and correct, but it’s in a climactic scene where it manages to both subvert and reinforce genre stereotypes at the same time that the film truly soars and demands your attention.
Toby Jones portrays Hitchcock, in this made for TV film, focusing on his love, then obsession with his leading lady, Tippi Hedren (Sienna Miller) during the filming of The Birds and Marnie. While the acting is of brilliance in some areas, this film was let down by the awkwardness while watching it, leaving open questions and trying to shift through fact and fiction. This story is from the memories of Tippi Hedren, giving us a one sided portrayal and the unfortunate circumstance of not being able to see a balanced retrospect of the events suggested.
We are being re-introduced to Hitchock’s films with the release of the Blu Ray collection. Also another side of the great director will be portrayed as ‘Hitchcock‘ (Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren and Scarlett Johansson) film is due for release later this month (UK) – A love story between influential filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock and wife Alma Reville during the filming of Psycho in 1959.