Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Page Based Productions


Cronenberg’s shiny/grimy adaptation of Cosmopolis (a sharp knife in the shallow guts of 21st Mammonism) retains some of it’s edge despite the uneven performance from Twilight Pattison. The film follows the book quite closely with most of the billionaire-on-the-brink’s varied antics included during his slow limo crawl across a gridlocked city and I’m sure there’s a fair bit of dialogue lifted too but there’s not enough time to give either their significance. It’s a fine looking film and there’s still plenty of smarts behind it’s gleeful, grim comedy so it’s worth catching but I’d recommend the novella first.

Another thought provoking, nuanced novel, Steppenwolf, got a big screen version back in 1974 and although good, similarly lacks the depths of the original. Max von Sydow stars as the melancholic scholar who, adrift after WW1, finds his mind and life lifted by an unusual jazz loving woman oh and lots of drugs and esoterica. The acting is excellent, the production not so much, peppered unnecessarily with some dated, gimmicky animations and sfx . Still there’s an effectively dreamy, dissolute weirdness that pervades proceedings and like Cosmopolis plenty of the big thoughts are intact.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

British '78s

Richard Burton stars in the curious British paranormal chilller The Medusa Touch from 1978. The chronologically jumbled narrative follows a detective’s investigation into the attempted murder of a man who’s witnessed a few too many tragedies but perhaps unsurprisingly a far darker truth is slowly revealed. This is a low budget curio which, despite some of it’s frippery, musters an effective brooding atmosphere that ticks along nicely towards a suitably grim finale and of course It does help to have Burton in the centre of the piece exuding a smouldering menace that far outweighs his screen time. Understated & underrated.

Shape shifting aliens, cannibalism & lesbians feature in Prey, another British horror from ‘78 that, although quite ridiculous, has a potent, dreamlike atmosphere that masks most of it’s shortcomings. On arrival to Earth the alien adopts human form and infiltrates a nearby mansion only to loaf about for days winding up the squabbling lovers that live there – so far so idiotic and though the script  is half baked and the acting, er, shit it somehow kind of works. There’s some nice directorial touches but I guess it was the sheer weight of all that strangeness that kept me watching to it’s baffling denouement. Probably just for aficionados of cult crap but there’s enough here to justify a remake,

Peace by the Dozen

Peace Go With You Brother  - Gil Scott Heron

A Chance for Peace – Lonnie Liston Smith

Peace – Horace Silver

Whatever Happened to Peace - Visioneers

Peace in the Valley – Sam Cooke

Prince of Peace – Pharoah Sanders

Peace of Mind - Neil Young

Peace Brother Peace – Dr John

Peace Be Still – James Cleveland

Peace Piece  - Bill Evans

Give Peace a Chance  - Leon Russell

We Gotta have Peace  - Curtis Mayfield

Doltish Double

Seth Macfarlane peddles his particular brand of shtick onto the big screen with the foul mouthed fable Ted. A young boy's wish comes true when his ursine companion comes to life but 20 years later the bear has some nasty habits, a potty mouth and seems to be dragging his friend down. Wahlberg's acting isn't much better than the CGI bear's and though there's a couple of decent laughs the script consistently aims low and I found it a depressingly tawdry watch. Probably quite enjoyable when drunk.

There's  a few more dull witted chuckles in 321...Frankie Go Boom but it has a meanness of spirit that really shouldn't be encouraged. Chris Dowd stars as an unrepentant bunghole who thrives on humiliating his brother on camera and on his return to the family home post rehab he recommences the torture despite being a fully grown adult. Lurching from jape to jape the script never really picks up momentum and it, like Ted, prefers the low hanging fruit of pratfalls and crudity to crafting any decent character comedy. Instantly forgettable nonsense with sour note.

Audible Additions


Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Drivelling Low Lights


Sometimes even I am surprised by the lazy, craptaculars that get churned out by Hollywood machine these days but Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter was quite astonishing in it’s vacant, soulless idiocy. Retelling the story of an American hero with some fang action thrown in probably seemed a good idea on paper but it’s a pitiful, by the numbers plotted pile of steaming dung that has literally no redeeming merits and will no doubt be an endless source of embarrassment for the director Bekmambetov, producer Burton and the talented cast including Brits Sewell and Cooper. Avoid.

Resident Evil: Retribution is a similarly crummy action flick with Jovovich and Anderson seemingly deluded into thinking that there’s mileage left in this weary franchise. Seguing directly from the 4th the action starts with Alice rescued/kidnapped from the wreckage of aircraft carrier by the Umbrella Corp and her subsequent monster stomping escape. Paper thin characters stumble through predictable set pieces with the usual fan favourite critters making intermittent appearances and though I’ve nothing against the games or some of the earlier film efforts this is a complete waste of celluloid that’s neither scary, thrilling, inventive nor even that grisly

Hard Realities


The artful documentary The Impostor is a look at the baffling experiences of a 20 something Euro-drifter who assumed the identity of a missing Yank teenager. A murky, quite disturbing undertone is unfurled along with the facts of the story but none of the well handled interviews with the key players manage to clear up the central mystery, done deliberately I presume, to keep things light and breezy. Still this is riveting, quite barmy viewing that’s presented with some nice flourishes of style.

There’s nothing light or breezy about Kirby Dick’s new documentary The Invisible War which is an unflinching expose of the epidemic of rape in the American military. The testimonies from the victims, mostly women, are harrowing but it’s the systematic obfuscation and half hearted investigations by the authorities that are somehow almost harder to bear and though there has been some policy changes it’s a woeful state of affairs – I hope our own Services are better policed. Tough going but an admirable, entirely necessary watch.