Regular visitors may have noticed a lack of posts this month. The simple reason I have been too busy watching movies to write about them. Sixteen movies at the cinema in twenty-nine days to be precise. Was it worth it? This is what I have seen:
Mama: A simple and generic ghost story horror movie that is creepy atmospheric and with just enough jumps to keep it ticking along. The whole thing is elevated by the presence of the sensational Jessica Chastain who is as great in a genre movie as in more weighty movies.
Cloud Atlas: Tom Tykwer and The Wachowski’s adaptation of David Mitchell’s 2004 novel of the same name. moving between six stories set between 1849 and a time approximately 300 years into the future. Utilising the same actors in the different stories to help ram the metaphor down your throat, but it gets away with it. What it lacks in subtlety, it more than makes up for in charm and beauty.
Stoker: Its no secret that Oldboy is one of my all-time favourite movies, it therefore comes as no surprise that I have been eagerly anticipating the English language debut of its director, Chan-wook Park. It isn’t Oldboy but I was far from disappointed. I won’t dwell on the plot as its best to go in without preconceptions, I would like to say you won’t be disappointed but to say you will love it or hate it is probably more accurate. Matthew Goode continues to impress, Nicole Kidman reminds me of what I used to love about her and Mia Wasikowska finally gets the role her talents deserve.
Arbitrage: An intriguing drama that blends a topical story of the murky world of hedge fund management with a crime thriller. The cast, particularly Richard Gere is fantastic but the movie as a whole is a little cold and holds its audience at arms length.
Side Effects: The film seems to get lost in the “will it/won’t it” speculation over if it is to be Steven Soderbergh’s last movie as a director. I have heard criticism of the movie for descending from a serious movie with a social realist agenda to a more base genre movie, without going too far into the plot, I found the movie strongest in the latter parts of the movie. Not the directors finest work but a an intriguing and enjoyable movie that tips a knowing hat to directors like Alfred Hitchcock and Billy Wilder.
Oz the Great and Powerful: Prequel to The Wizard of Oz that ticks all the boxes you would expect but lacking the magic and spark needed to really make it work. It comes across as another cynical Disney attempt to cash in a successful movie.
Parker: Jason Statham is a good fit for the Parker character. The movie starts and ends well but sags in the middle. As predicted it, its biggest fault, its too long. A disappointing movie and a missed opportunity but not a terrible one.
Welcome to the Punch: A British crime thriller that with a distinctly Hollywood feel. The plot isn’t great but the casting is spot on. The “Michael Mann blue wash” makes London look great. Ultimately it is flawed but still enjoyable and serves as a stepping stone for promising director Eran Creevy in just his second feature.
In the House: A teacher becomes obsessed with the stories one of his pupils submits. There us just enough ambiguity to the story to elevate the story beyond the average quirky dark comedy. Great performances from Fabrice Luchini and Ernst Umhauer as teacher and pupil with equally good support from Kristin Scott Thomas(why are her French roles so much better than her English ones?) and Emmanuelle Seigner.
The Paperboy: A dirty and gritty southern yarn that probably has more in common with the genre roots of director Lee Daniels first movie Shadowboxer than his better know (and received) Precious. I don’t get the look warm reception for this movie, a good bedfellow of last years Killer Joe that also revels in its visceral grime. John Cusack revels in the opportunity to play against type, Matthew McConaughey continues his redemption (following a lifetime of crappy rom-coms), Zac Efron reminds us again that he is so much more than the teenage movies he is known for, but this is Nicole Kidman’s movie displaying naivety and vulnerability at the same time as being sensual, sexual and controlling.
Vinyl: A British comedy drama based on the 2004 “rock and roll swindle” where aging welsh punk-rock band, The Alarm released a single fronted by a fake young band. A little lightweight and clearly made on a tiny budget but and enjoyable little movie with a strong cast including stalwarts Keith Allen and Phil Daniels and relative newcomer Jamie Blackley.
Compliance: This demonstration of human stupidity and gullibility is prefaced by claim “based on a true story”. Although the claim is that nothing has been exaggerated I suspect the story is an amalgam of many incidents. The movie is helped by a trim 90 minute running time and a good and largely unknown cast.
Trance: A British heist movie about the theft of a £25million painting. The less you know about Trance the better, other than to say with Danny Boyle you are in safe hands. The primary cast of James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson and Vincent Cassel are all as fantastic as you would expect but the star is director Danny Boyle who skilfully manipulates the audience and their affections.
Stolen: The first re-teaming of Simon West and Nicolas Cage, the director and star of Con Air (don’t get too excited, a similar re-teaming from Gladiator resulted in A Good Year!). As you would expect from a Nic Cage genre piece, it is no better than your average straight to DVD release but its quite good fun along the way.
G.I. Joe: Retaliation: I didn’t intend to see the first G.I. movie but good word of mouth convinced me to change my mind. While it wasn’t terrible, it also wasn’t great. This sequel is more of the same. It isn’t terrible but it offers nothing that hasn’t been done better many times before.
The Host: Imagine Invasion of the Body Snatchers where all despair and desperation is replaced with hope and a love story. Just for good measure you could then take out any subtext and metaphor, and with it any meaning or point. That is the banal and emotionless movie that The Host is. On a positive side William Hurt is good and Diane Kruger looks like she is having fun as the villain.