Monday, 13 May 2013

The week in brief (6 - 12 May 2013)

This week's list of movies I've seen over the last seven days:

Ill Manors (2012): 6/10
Troll 2 (1990): 2/10
Mud (2012): 7/10

As I only caught a few films this week, I should have time to do a little write up of each of them. First of all, we have UK rapper Ben Drew (aka Plan B)'s first foray into the world of filmmaking, with his London crime drama Ill Manors. Set in a deprived part of East London, the movie looks at the lives of various residents of the area in a non linear fashion, with the storylines of various characters intersecting with each other at certain points. It's difficult to convey just how bleak and depressing this movie, but the free form word association exercise in the following sentence should give you a flavour of it ... High rise, grim, grey, drugs, violence, degradation, pimps, prostitutes,  squalor, guns, knives, thugs, concrete, desolation, hatred.... Despite all of the misery, I never really found myself drawn in by this picture. I'm not normally a person who needs to emphasise with the lead characters to enjoy a movie, but on this occasion, the sheer unpleasantness of actions of nearly everyone involved means that it's hard to care too much if those same characters meet a grisly end. Drew certainly has talent as a director, adding some interesting visual flourishes, but he's let down to a certain extent by a number of mediocre performances and a rather contrived, overly melodramatic ending.

Moving on, I finally got the chance to catch the infamously terrible Italian/ American horror movie Troll 2, and it was pretty much as bad as the hype suggested. The nonsensical plot involves an all-American family unit spending a little quality time on holiday in a strange village called 'Nilbog', a place with a dark, terrifying secret which is a mystery to everyone unable to read place names backwards. Yes, as you may have guessed, its residents are a group of vicious goblins, hell bent on tucking into some sweet, gamey human flesh. For some reason (possibly because the people behind the movie really hated vegetarians), the goblins need to convert their prey into vegetable form to consume them. To do this, they must first tempt the humans into eating goblin food, which apparently has the power to turn people into a mushy green pulp. Only a plucky young boy and the spirit of his beloved (but sadly deceased) Grandpa Seth can save the family... It's not all that often that I go in to watch a film knowing (and in fact hoping) that it will be truly terrible, but this was one such occasion. The movie didn't disappoint -  the acting is laughably bad, the special effects are atrocious and there are some scenes which are just indescribably bizarre and have to be seen to be believed... . Having now seen two of the three movies which constitute the holy trinity of 'so bad it's good' cinema, I will finally get to complete the set when I get to see 'The Room' next month. I can hardly wait...

Last, but definitely not least, we come to my pick of the week, Mud. It's an old fashioned kind of adventure/ thriller, with Matthew McConnaughey contuing his recent career renaissance by offering a very creditable performance as the charismatic title character. He's a fugitive who's hiding out from the law (and a gang of vicious local gangsters) in a boat which has been abandoned halfway up a tree in the wilds of Arkansas. When a couple of teenage boys come across him, the three of them strike up a friendship - but with the authorities closing in, it's going to be difficult for him to stay free... Although I wouldn't say I was dazzled by this movie, it's definitely enjoyable, with some interesting characters and some strikingly beautiful shots of the Southern American wilderness. It's just good to see an American picture during the summer which isn't a big budget remake or sequel - so I'll keep my fingers crossed that Mud does well enough at the box office to give the director (Jeff Nicols) another crack at the big time.

Kirk's Quote of the Week

 Taxi Driver (1976)

"Personnel Officer: How's your driving record? Clean?
Travis Bickle: It's clean, real clean. Like my conscience."

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