You may have been wondering, How come you haven’t done a film roundup recently? I mean, the last one I did was for April of earlier this year.
Its not that I haven’t been watching films - I always watch films. LOTS of them. So I guess it’s time I catch up quickly with another ‘turbo’ film roundup, keeping it all short and snappy like a terrapin – much like I did the last time.
So are you ready? To quote Frenzy The NinjaB3ar: The sound horns! So Let’s Go!
Ezra Miller puts in a shockingly evil performance as a nightmare son in the disturbing We Need To Talk About Kevin, but really its Tilda Swinton as the mother character attempting to cope with the aftermath of her son’s crimes that is the central performance here. A beautifully shot yet thoroughly uncomfortable to watch film that juggles questions about the conflict between maternal love and hate for your offspring, and the nature of the possibility of someone simply just being born evil. A well crafted film, but may not sit well with those just wanting to be entertained – you have been warned!
Horrible Bosses is the opposite – a pure throwaway flick designed for the everyman to identify with, as the three main characters of the movie come up with a plan to murder each other’s irritable employers a la Strangers on a Train. Lightly funny in parts, but doesn't help in the fact that all three main characters are unlikeable, bumbling idiots. As for the bosses, Kevin Spacey played a better version in Swimming With Sharks, however its good to see Colin Farrell and Jennifer Aniston gamely poke fun at themselves.
The English language remake of Girl With the Dragon Tattoo just comes across as being pointless. The story remains largely the same, as does the dullness (I wasn't really a fan of the original either) although Rooney Mara is impressive in the Lisbeth Sander role, matching Noomie Rapace’s performance and yet also making her it her own – the greatest triumph of this film in my opinion.
Also an ordeal to watch is The Grey – although this is one of those supremely watchable ‘ordeal’ movies. Can Liam Neeson and crew survive against a pack of bad bastard wolves after their plane crashes in the middle of nowhere? A surprisingly poetic movie - although the nature of the story means that you can probably only watch it once.
Another film you should only watch once - or maybe not at all – is The Hangover Part 2. Why? Because its pretty much exactly the same as the first film. Except not as funny.
Fancy a change of pace? Check out Carnage – a simple film about two pairs of New York parents who meet to talk after their sons are involved in a playground fight. Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly, Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz all put in superb performances as they run through the gamut of emotions, as things don't stay cordial for long. An excellent character piece adapted from a play.
Another character driven piece is My Week With Marilyn, based on the supposed true story of the troubled production of ‘The Prince and the Showgirl’, in which Marilyn Monroe came over to London to film with Laurence Olivier. The initial criticism of Michelle Williams not resembling the titular icon enough are soon quashed as she perfectly nails the essence of her character – giving an insight into how beautifully enigmatic and yet fragile she really was. Kenneth Branagh is also a highlight as Olivier. Worth watching if you are into period pieces or are interested in the life of Marilyn Monroe.
Despite a stellar ensemble cast and amazing production values, Ridley Scott’s much-hyped Prometheus proved to be a big disappointment for me, as the story didn't amount to much, raised more questions than were answered and generally didn't add much to the ‘Alien’ mythos as all the marketing would have you believe. Whilst Charlize Theron and Michael Fassbender had decent roles, much off the talent was squandered with characters that had nothing to do except stupidly die. I mean come on, Idris Elba! Rafe Spall! Sean Harris! Guy Pierce! Sigh…
What did live up to expectations of course was the final part of Nolan’s Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises. This will undoubtedly feature in my forthcoming Top 10 Films of 2012, so not much needs to be said here apart from I loved it. Better than The Dark Knight even? Possibly. What’s interesting is that Tom Hardy’s depiction of Bane seemed to divide people down the middle – they either loved him or hated him. I’m definitely in the former camp…
Speaking of camp, Burlesque Undressed is a documentary featuring Immodesty Blaize, that looks at the growing popularity of the scene, consisting mostly of interviews with her but also more interestingly the pioneers of the art-form from back in the day, as well as featuring footage of a few modern acts. Worth a watch if you are interested.
Another documentary worth a watch is Senna, which follows the rise (and tragic death) of the famous Brazilian F1 driver. Whilst I’m not that interested in the sport itself, this was still a fascinating watch that takes a close look at the man’s utterly driven character (no pun intended).
Yet another documentary is Corman’s World, a celebration of B-movie uber-producer Roger Corman’s films old and new - documenting his early days and featuring plenty of awesome footage of monster movies and exploitation flicks. Fans will love this.
A big fan also features in Mission: Impossible– Ghost Protocol that Jeremy Renner nearly falls into – shame there wasn't more of him, but really its bound to be The Tom Cruise Show isn’t it? More running here for the Cruiser – he seems to run a lot in his films! Here, he outruns a fricken sandstorm! Good set pieces but ultimately not that memorable.
Also featuring spies, is the exciting combo (on paper) of Statham/Owen/De Niro in Killer Elite. In reality, all Statham films end up being him playing the exact same character and De Niro is only in a handful of scenes. On the plus side though, Clive Owen sports a fine mustache and there is one decent brawl between him and the Stath – otherwise its pretty forgettable.
Similarly forgettable is comic book sequel Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. Whilst the action chops of directors Neveldine/Taylor (of the Crank films and Gamer fame) seemed suited to the task, this film turns out to be a botched mess, somehow worse than the thoroughly average original. Ciaran Hinds and Idris Elba are also unfortunately caught up in this travesty. When Ghostrider’s infamous ‘Penance Stare’ is Nicholas Cage’s digitized skull literally staring manically into the camera for almost a minute you feel almost awkward for watching.
Similarly, awkward is Mirror Mirror, a Snow White adaptation released very close to another (Snow White and the Huntsman – which I have yet to watch) which features overblown visuals that don't really sit too well with the uninspiring story and uneven tone - director Tarsem is better suited to darker material. Julia Roberts seems to enjoy hamming it up as the villain, but it's not really enough to save the movie.
Speaking of villains, Jared Harris’ portrayal of Moriarty in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is what elevates a good film into a pretty good one. He nails the badassness perfectly! More than a match for Holmes’ genius, he is truly a worthy adversary. Business as usual for Guy Ritchie, Robert Downey Jr., and Jude Law - all doing again what they did last time – but the added element of Harris is what you really need to watch the film for.
Again, speaking of villains, what if the Nazis had been secretly chilling on the dark side of the moon since the end of WW2 and then came back with a fleet of flying saucers to invade earth in the near future? Well that's exactly the premise of Iron Sky. Sure, it has some awesome b-movie moments but its lack of budget sometimes undermines its lofty ambitions. Waaaaay too much greenscreen going on. Still, any film with Udo Kier in it is worth a look in my book.
Similarly on a tiny budget is The Wild Hunt, the tale of LARPing gone awry. If you don't know what that is, you probably don't wouldn't be interested. An intriguing premise, but sadly the film lacks in conviction, especially towards the end.
Another film about events spiraling out of control is the recent remake of the controversial Pekinpah film Straw Dogs. James Marsden plays well against type as the quiet husband who, after returning with her to live in her hometown in the Deep South, gets deeper into conflict with the locals, leading to disastrous consequences. The tension built up is definitely palpable and Alexander Skarsgard is great as the complex antagonist and yet, apart from the more graphic depictions of violence that we can get away with in these times, is this remake really necessary? Is it really bringing anything new to the table?
One ‘remake’ that is successful is 21 Jump Street, which although having a same name as the 80s TV series, is actually explained away as being a modern utilization of the ‘21 Jump Street’ Program which allows undercover cops to infiltrate a high school posing as students. Ridiculous, I know, but the whole film doesn't take itself seriously at all and as a result is genuinely hilarious at times. Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill share great chemistry as the two leads as well as the film having a great supporting cast. Watch out for a super surprising cameo too. Recommended!
Also coming recommended is Cabin in The Woods – a film that completely took me by surprise as not only was it smart and entertaining but was also very self-aware and meta – and you all know how I love ‘the meta’. Although many other people’s opinions of this film is very much divided down the middle into either ‘love it’ or ‘hate it’ – I would say that if you love horror movies and/or are generally aware of horror movie conventions this is definitely worth a watch.
What’s not worth the watch however, is ultra low budget and yet highly profitable at the box office horror flick The Devil Inside, an exorcism film presented in a mocumentary style. The Last Exorcism already did this (and much more effectively too) and the denouement of the film will leave the audience feeling cheated. Ending a film with a url? Really?
An equally disappointing horror flick is The Wicker Tree, a sequel 37 years later to the original 1973 cult classic The Wicker Man. Despite having the same director and very similar story, the film somehow manages to be devoid of any tension or the creepiness that made the original so successful.
Something that was surprisingly creepy was Martha Marcy May Marlene, where Elizabeth Olsen plays a young girl trying to adjust to normal life after escaping a brainwashing cult. Some may find its slow pace difficult to watch, but Olsen is excellent and her performance of a troubled young girl is very layered and nuanced.
Olsen also stars in Silent House, an English language remake of the La Casa Muda, which sells itself on the premise of being presented (but not actually filmed) as one continuous take – in other words you watch her ordeal unfold in real time. Add it to the list of another pointless remake as, whilst it is certainly a novel idea, neither adds much to nor improves on the original film.
So that's it! 26 films in one go! But guess what? We are only about half way! Join me again soon for the next Turbo Film Roundup!
5 Nov 2012