Wednesday, 28 February 2018
Weaving, with his soft voice and probing pale eyes, is a perfect fit for a character who veers abruptly between vulnerability and inhumanity. It's a small film with limited ambitions, but does leave us guessing at the facts beyond the closing credits, and that lack of gratification is gratifying in itself in a world of too many pat endings.
Tuesday, 27 February 2018
This is related to the 2008 found footage alien monster invasion smash in name only, and thank God for that, since the first film bearing the name was a ludicrously hyped barrage of shaky camera filming unbearable arseholes running to and fro. It's no masterpiece of any genre, but it does keep you watching because you simply don't know what genre it really belongs in until very late in the game.
Rush occupies the role of the truculent, supercilious Oldman effortlessly, making every one of his obsessive quirks real, and Tornatore's direction complements this perfectly. What works less well is some of the dialogue, which at times feels very much the product of stilted translation into a second language, as well as the unexplained and needless decision to film the whole thing in Italy and then fill it with only English-speaking actors without making any reference to the actual location. Also, while the emotional progression of the protagonist is credible, the actual twist denouement is too heavily signposted. It concludes in a frustratingly open-ended manner, which is a pity as it has continuously promised to deliver a concrete point until that moment. But you can't deny Rush or the style either.
Monday, 26 February 2018
Plank-like Alexander Skarsgård plays a mute bartender whose girlfriend goes missing, launching him on a search for her through the city's underworld. In addition, he's Amish and therefore also technologically backward, so the search is beset with even more obstacles. Meanwhile, in a parallel story on a convergence course with his one, we follow two American black market surgeons as they torture and patch up people at a gangster's behest: Paul Rudd, doing a sort of psychotic version of Hawkeye from M*A*S*H and his paedophile friend. They are somehow meant to be likable too, and the world they're in is meant to be interesting. It is not. It's a mish-mash of pillage mostly from Blade Runner, all urban decay, neon advertising, holograms and flying cars, and wholly incongruous elements which the film does not have the intellectual rigour to bother to explain, such as the continued anachronistic U.S. military presence in the city and the co-existence of all manner of 1990s clothing and technological paraphernalia alongside the random future stuff. Just to underline how eclectic the society is, and simultaneously underline how derivative and anime-level infantile the set-up is, everyone apart from the leads has a stupid post-punk haircut and robot pole dancers get thrown in too.
It dawns on you very soon that the story being set in Germany is only for modish effect, because otherwise it's a wholly American affair, from the fundamentalist Amish background of the main protagonist to the bowling alleys and continuation of the war in Afghanistan in the news, and might as well have been set there instead. The transposition therefore really adds nothing of purpose and then it's just a pointlessly long slog through extreme violence to an unsatisfying resolution. Jones will have to pull something miraculous out of the bag next to earn trust once more.
Saturday, 24 February 2018
In a development that sees life imitating satire to the nth degree, this is actually being remade in English, with...Liam Neeson.
Friday, 23 February 2018
On an entertainment level, the film is well served by its cast, led by Steve Carell as a perpetually angry hedge fund manager crusading against the inequities of the system, Christian Bale as a semi-autistic visionary who first discovers the impending disaster and Ryan Gosling as a smooth banker who makes no bones about simply wanting to cash in on the crisis. But, despite the comedy (unsurprising, as the director was behind the Anchorman films), what it finally imparts is a sense of indignation at how this was allowed to happen, and how no-one behind it really got their comeuppance at all. Hence, the film can be considered to have accomplished its difficult mission.
Wednesday, 21 February 2018
The Fury of a Patient Man was abundantly rewarded in Spain's Goya awards, and it does have a certain complexity in its basic revenge scenario, with conscious decisions to steer away from the standard plot trajectory, but it's still just a revenge scenario, brutal and lacking in real-world consequences, and has little message beyond 'blood will have blood'.