Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Film Roundup - April

   I haven’t done a Film Roundup in a while so I guess it’s catch up time – these here films are on the loose and they need rounding up!

   First up we have Cedar Rapids, a quirky, offbeat comedy about an insurance broker going down to the town of the title in order to represent his company at an insurance convention. Sounds super dull, right? Not only that but the film is awash with pastel suits and 70s browns wallpaper – and yet this film stands out from other comedies with its genuine charm and interesting, multi-dimensional characters. Kudos to them for being able to make this into a workable comedy.
   Ed Helms is the likeable sap in the main role (flexing his acting chops more than in say, The Hangover), with John C. Reilly and Anne Heche providing strong support.

   Next we have Blitz, a London based crime thriller starring Jason Statham as the hard boiled detective who doesn't-play-by-the-rules™. Someone is out there bumping off coppers and its up to him to stop it! Not exactly groundbreaking is it? The Stath does what you would expect him to – he's pretty much on autopilot here, whereas a major talent such as Paddy Considine is unfortunately not given much to do except some minor investigating and occasionally spouting exposition.
   Aiden Gillen on the other hand, looks to be having a ball in his role and gets to show us how versatile an actor he is. Sadly, it doesn't make up for the fact that Blitz is a deeply average film that may as well just have been a TV drama special – except some of the killings are probably a bit too gruesome for prime-time viewing.

   Another British film that features gruesome deaths is Kill List, an unsettling hit man film with a tinge of the occult thrown in. The reason it works is all in the build up – you start by thinking you are just watching a normal family man – who then turns out to be a hit man – who then gets mixed up in some very strange happenings – keeping you guessing what the hell is going on, right up until the very end and beyond.
   Some viewers will hate the lack of resolution and things not being clearly spelt out, but I found the ambiguous nature of the film to be both effectively creepy and intriguing at the same time. Fans of films such as The Wicker Man, A Serbian Film, The Omen and Rosemary’s Baby will probably enjoy this one.

   Yet more Brits represent in the biopic Bronson – which chronicles the life and times of Charlie Bronson - dubbed ‘Britain’s most violent prisoner’, who spent 38 years in prison. Two things stand out about this film: the token flair of director Nicholas Winding Refn (who later went on to direct Valhalla Rising and Drive) with its unconventional narrative and awesome 80s electronic influenced soundtrack, and the lead Tom Hardy - who absolutely owns this part. Seriously, he is a force to be reckoned with – anybody who has doubts about him being Bane in the upcoming Dark Knight Rises should watch this film first. Not to be missed – if only to witness Hardy’s performance alone.

   Finally, also starring Tom Hardy - along with Chris Pine and Reese Witherspoon - is the love triangle spy comedy This Means War. Two CIA operatives (and best buddies) both unknowingly fall for the same girl and attempt to woo her in their own way whilst trying to sabotage each other, using all their spy skills and resources at their disposal. Sounds like fun, right?
   Well, partly. Whilst the chemistry and banter between the two male leads is great, it’s not so much the case with between them and Witherspoon’s character. Now this may be just the fact that her character is slightly underdeveloped (a girl who has a constantly failed love life suddenly gets two awesome guys fighting over her?) or bad casting (possibly a younger and better looking girl would have made more sense in the part) – not to diss Witherspoon but purely to make the story more believable. Til Schweiger is also wasted as the token baddie, there purely to help move the story along.
   It's just a shame then that as a romantic comedy, the most effective and affecting thing turns out to be the ‘bromance’ between the two male leads.

That's it for April’s Film Roundup – the May edition is coming very soon!

23 May 2012

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