Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Film Roundup - December - Part 3

At last – the final art of December’s film roundup!

First up we have The Guard, starring Brendan Gleeson in a quirky dark comedy set in the west of Ireland. Without giving away the story but basically he plays a policeman who gets involved in a drug smuggling plot.

Except its not really about that – it's about his character – one so well drawn that despite his own drug usage and self professed ‘whoo-ering’, is extremely down to earth and likeable and most of all: sharp as a tack.

The dialogue is witty and often hilarious – with Don Cheadle, Liam Cunningham and Mark Strong all on top form. Fans of Gleeson’s performance in In Bruges will love this one – similar humour between these two films (the writer/director on each films are brothers!).

Sleeping Beauty showcases a brave performance from Emily Browning (she gets naked a lot and fumbled by rich old men whilst asleep for money), but occasionally misses the mark due to some of her traits as the central character making her unlikable resulting in the viewer distancing themselves from her plight. Some may find the film a bit slow and pretentious but others will enjoy it as a meditation on the fleeting nature of youth and beauty.

Takashi Miike continues to produce work at an alarming rate – this time he tries his hand at a period piece in the form of 13 Assassins. A film of two distinct halves, the first is all moody setup as a group of samurai band together to put an end to the dastardly Lord Naritsugu. The second is one long set piece where the thirteen men face off against over two hundred samurai in a booby-trapped ‘village of death’.

Whilst the film is beautifully shot and the action plentiful, the film could have benefited from a bit more blood and gore (here, pretty tame by Miike’s usual standards); and the pacing could have been a bit better. Most will find the almost hour-long set piece entertaining at first but draining toward the end of it. Perhaps that was his intention all along?

Super is a ‘real life’ super hero story that will have inevitable Kick-Ass comparisons, despite the two films having very different tones. Whilst the latter is definitely still comic book-y in its delivery, Super is far more grounded in reality with a darkly comic and yet gritty tone - to sum up: Rainn Wilson’s character Frank suffers from depression, dons a costume and hits people with a wrench.

Despite committing these violent and sociopathic vigilante acts, the film has heart and we feel for Frank despite his misguided actions. Ellen Paige also appears as a comic book nerd who somehow manages to be even more mentally unhinged than Frank, as his psychotic sidekick Boltie.

Finally, we have the remake of the 1985 classic Fright Night, this time with Colin Farrell in the Chris Sarandon role as the vampire neighbour terrorizing a teenage boy – this time played by Anton Yelchin.

Whilst many have cried sacrilege (when is there a remake when they haven’t?), I enjoyed this film despite a touch of over reliance on CG - especially towards the finale. The story is opened out a little more to various locations and the cast is uniformly great. Farrel brings a distinct animal nature to his role and Yelchin continues to impress with his performances and is slowly building a name for himself as a reliable actor. Christoper Mintz-Plasse is always great despite being typecast and its nice to see Brit Imogen Poots getting a deserved Hollywood break.

Lastly, David Tennant deserves a special mention for totally hamming it up as Peter Vincent who (despite being totally different from the 1985 incarnation of the same character) still hits the spot as a sweary gothic Las Vegas illusionist and vampire ‘expert’.

All in all, a fun alternative to the po-faced twilight movies.

Now the final film roundup is out of the way, next up: my Top Ten films of 2011!

4 Jan 2012

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