Sunday, 1 July 2012

The fortnight in brief (18 June - 1 July)

Well, I'm back. Due to one reason and another, I actually got the chance to see quite a few films over the last couple of weeks after all. The line up this time around was as follows:

Like Crazy (2011): 7/10
Into The Abyss (2011): 8/10
Crash (1996): 5/10
Bridesmaids (2011): 8/10
Akira (1988): 7/10
The Adventures of Tin Tin: Secret of the Unicorn (2011): 7/10
An Education (2009): 8/10
The Woman in the Fifth (2011): 6/10
Harvey (1950): 8/10
The Innkeepers (2011): 8/10
Killer Joe (2011): 7/10
The Debt (2010): 7/10
Real Genius (1985): 7/10
When Harry Met Sally... (1989): 7/10
The French Connection (1971): 8/10
The Matrix (1999): 8/10

So, plenty of films which were 'good to very good', but nothing which I'd regard as being absolutely outstanding. The pick of the bunch would include Bridesmaids, Kristen Wiig's very funny female take on gross-out comedy, An Education - featuring stand out performances from Carey Mulligan and Alfred Molina - and The French Connection, which is still a fantastic movie 40 years after it was released, and includes one of the greatest car chases in cinema history.

Also very strong were two more recent films, Into The Abyss and The Innkeepers. Interestingly (to me anyway) I believe both of them were out in the cinema less than a month ago, but due to a shortening in the time it takes for a movie to come out on DVD, I was able to watch them at home this week. Into The Abyss is the latest from the eccentric German filmmaker Werner Herzog, and takes a sobering look at the lives of death row inmates in Texas. The Innkeepers is Ti West's follow up to his (also excellent) 2009 horror movie, The House of the Devil. Although perhaps not quite as tense as its predecessor, The Innkeepers really worked for me -West is adept at creating believable characters you really care about, meaning that the climax to the film has that much more of an impact.

Just a couple of disappointments this week: firstly, David Cronenbourg's infamous Crash, the Cannes Special Jury Prize winning sex and car crashes flick. On its release in 1996, the film got a host of tabloid newspapers hot under the collar, with a predictable number of 'ban this sick filth' type headlines. I can't say that I was particularly shocked or scandalised by what I saw - it was just rather boring, with a catatonic lead performance from James Spader and a plot which doesn't seem to go anywhere. Only Elias Koteas' wild eyed turn as the exceptionally creepy leader of the cult of car crash fetishists raises the movie up from complete mediocrity. Not Cronenbourg's finest hour. Secondly, we have the Woman in the Fifth, a thriller starring Ethan Hawke as a moody American writer who stumbles across some strange goings on in Paris. The build up is very intriguing, but it all falls apart with a very flat and unconvincing ending.

There's been a bit of a lull in terms of the quality of new releases at the cinema, but I did make one trip to the pictures, to watch William Friedkin's Killer Joe. It's kind of like Fargo, but set in Texas and without the biting wit of the Coen brothers' picture. Nevertheless, it does feature a remarkable and unexpected lead performance from Matthew McConaughey as the thoroughly immoral lead character. Next week, the new Spider-man movie is released, which I'm really quite excited about. It's sitting pretty on a 73 score on Metacritic, so it looks promising.

Kirk's Quote of the Week

Real Genius (1985)

"Recruiter: You are Chris Knight, aren't you?
Chris Knight: I hope so. I'm wearing his underwear."

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