Thursday, 22 December 2011

Film Roundup - November - Part 1

Got a bunch of films to rattle through so without further ado I present… film roundup November!

First up we have our very own Ken Brannagh’s rendition of the Marvel Comic’s take on the Norse god Thor. Seemingly an odd choice of director to some at first, it is in fact inspired as who better than Wallander himself to elevate what is essentially a story of the family dynamic of the gods of Asgard to lofty, regal and almost Shakespearean heights.

In lesser hands this could have been a distinctly cheddary disaster and yet Brannagh manages to keep the characters fantastical (as powerful deities ought to be) and yet grounded through their oh-so-human flaws.

The other balancing act comprises of half the film taking place in the exquisitely designed mystical realm of Asgard, and the other half on plain old earth, the former being more interesting to watch than the latter.

Chris Hemsworth hits the mark as the titular character as does his antagonist Loki played by Tom Hiddleston. Both provide excellent multi-layered and nuanced performances. Others of note include Anthony Hopkins as Odin (once again, when isn’t he good?) and Idris Elba as the hulking Heimdall.

Unfortunately, with so many characters crammed into the story it is a shame that other great actors such as Stellan Skarsgard and Tadanobu Asano are not given much do to do – and Natalie Portman is a distinctly ‘meh’ presence throughout. Perhaps more can be expected in the inevitable sequel?

But before that we have The Avengers movie to look forward to and at times the setup for that within Thor can be a bit blatant. With an extended role from Agent Coulson as well as cameos from Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye and Robert Downey Jr., it sometimes feels a bit forced. Nevertheless, Thor is an enjoyable romp and a recommended watch.

Nicholas ‘bad hair’ Cage returns again to grace this blog with his coiffeur in Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. Not a remake of the 1992 Abel Ferrara Bad Lieutenant but a totally new story, this time set in post flooded New Orleans and director by Werner Herzog.

Now Herzog is known to be a little ‘out there’ as a director. Similarly, although Nicholas Cage gives the occasional dull performances in some of his films, we all know one thing he can act very well is bat-shit crazy. Put the two together and what do you get? Fireworks.

I cant really describe this film other than it is a nightmare – but in a good way. The plot is a jumbled mess as Cage crashes through it all ranting, pointing guns at people and being off his head on drugs more often than he is not. His character is so insanely bug-eyed and shouty that it’s hard to imagine anyone else in the role. In between pulling over youths to confiscate their drugs for personal consumption, threatening old ladies and hallucinating lizards and a break-dancing soul of a recently deceased mobster, you’ll definitely feel cracked out yourself when watching this film.

Not for everybody, but if you feel like something different then give this one a shot.

Finally, we have The Kingdom – a film about a group of US FBI investigators sent to Saudi Arabia after a terrorist attack on a military base there, the majority of the story focussing on how local customs, religion and resistance from the military there all hamper the progress in their investigation.

Although very interesting factually, the film occasionally smacks of ‘American intellect and superiority over belligerent, backwards Arabs’ throughout, so its fortunate that Ashraf Barhom provides the standout role of the film playing a morally conscious Saudi Colonel willing to buck the trend.

The Kingdom may not be to everyone’s taste with a slow middle section but makes up for it its blistering opening sequence when the terrorist attack takes place, and the final half hour where all the shit goes down and the Americans are forced to go in guns blazing.

For more films check out Part 2 of November’s film roundup!

21 Dec 2011

No comments:

Post a Comment