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A Round Up 30 October 2008

Posted by jordanfarley in Uncategorized.
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Well first thing I have to do I guess is apologise. Keeping up with this blog has proved to be much harder than I thought it would be, if I didn’t do damn shorthand I’d have all the time in the world for these kinds of things but I do do it, and at 9 o’clock every damn morning!

Anyway that’s enough excuses. Instead of trying to review every film I’ve seen over the last month or so I’ve decided I’m going to give a brief review of all of them, albeit briefly so you know what to look out for in a few months time on DVD.

2/10/08 Death Race

Paul Anderson’s re-make of Roger Corman’s classic Death Race 2000 which featured Sylvester Stallone in a hilariously over the top performance proved to be one of my favourite films of the last month. I won’t bother with a plot synopsis (you can read that on IMDB) but needless to say there isn’t much of a plot. There seems to be a general dislike of Jason Statham among the critical community but I personally love him, especially in brainless action nonsense like this where he gets to show off his crazy buff body. The races are what this film is all about and in that aspect Anderson does not fail to disappoint. All of the stunts seemed to have been done largely without CGI and some of the sights defy belief. There is never any question that Statham is in any kind of peril but that’s not important. The film is slick, well shot and features some of the best races in a while. Joan Allen and Ian McShane add a touch of class to the production but are both a little underused.

5/10/08 How to Loose Friends and Alienate People

This one was a huge disappointment. I am a huge fan of Simon Pegg going back to Spaced but he is the only thing which makes this stale rom-com even remotely bearable. It is the kind of comedy which keeps you smiling throughout but in which you rarely actually laugh (I found myself laughing twice). Bridges is excellent as editor Clayton Harding but otherwise the film is sorely lacking any king of originality or edginess it seemed to promise before its release. As a depiction of the magazine industry on the other hand it manages to be even worse!

8/10/08 88 Minutes

Truly awful. To be honest I was actually quite enjoying the second Al Pacino/Jon Avnet thriller in as many weeks until it’s truly ridiculous ending which actually manages to make the ‘twist’ at the end of Righteous Kill seem like a cinematic tour de force. I don’t like to say this but the ending left such a bad taste in my mouth that it has coloured my view of the rest of the film to the point where I can no longer remember what I liked about it. Pacino rings it in and the rest of the cast is just as bad. It’s a shame that brilliant character actors like Niel McDonaugh and William Forsythe get dragged into crap like this.

12/10/08 The Mutant Chronicles

I love my post apocalyptic vision of the future sci-fi epics as much as the next person but the Mutant Chronicles suffered from clearly not being a finished film. The special effects and acting were of a made for TV standard and the plot was clearly the product of a deranged mind. I quite enjoyed the film for the most part but it’s a shame a more talented film maker wasn’t given the chance to make something better out of what is a quite interesting premise. It’s nice to see Tom Jane and Ron Perlman in anything but here they are sorely wasted.

18/10/08 Eagle Eye

Shia ‘the beef’ sci-fi nonsense, a cross between two far superior Will Smith films Enemy of the State and I, Robot, both of which benefited from having directors with at least a minimum amount of ability. The set pieces can be quite entertaining, and it’s always a joy to watch Billy Bob, but the premise is so ridiculous I found it impossible to suspend my disbelief. Nothing we haven’t seen before, Transformers 2 should hopefully provide a more enjoyable slice of Shia sci-fi action next year (if he doesn’t kill himself before then).

21/10/08 Burn After Reading

Disappointing follow up to No Country For Old Men from the Coen Brothers (again sharing directorial duties here). The film sees a return to the more ‘zany’ style of previous films like Raising Arizona, The Big Lebowski and Intolerable Cruelty but even the unbelievable cast they’ve managed to drag together could not lead me to escape the feeling that it all seems a little pointless. The appeal of intelligent actors playing complete idiots is lost when you don’t care about them and to be honest there’s only one or two good performances in the whole film. Brad Pitt solicits the most laughs but even his stichk gets tired pretty quick. John Malkovich offers easily the best performance of the ensemble, playing his role almost completely straight and managing to pull of the film’s one touching scene (for reference it’s the one on the boat with his father). Entertaining while it lasts but instantly forgettable and probably the second worst Coen Brothers film.

26/10/08 Saw 5

If it’s Halloween it must be Saw, as the trailers like to tell us, but this year arriving a week early courtesy of a certain Mr Bond arriving on screens next week. Saw 5 offers pretty much the same as the series has been offering since the second entry, lots of gore, ridiculously complex plotting, neat twists and music video direction to make your head hurt. The fifth installment directed by David Hackl, production designer on the entries since 2, and thankfully his style seems slightly more restrained than that of Darren Lynn Bousman. The story also takes a more restrained approach this time, abandoning the near incomprehensible complexities of number 4 in favour of a cat and mouse detective story inter-cut with Jigsaw flashbacks and the latest deathtrap for another random group of people. The traps are much improved this time around and the more Jigsaw the better but the people who are being put through Jigsaw’s game are in no way connected to the main thrust of the story, unlike in previous installments, are the writers finally running out of ideas? We’ll find out next year.

28/10/08 Mirrors
Alexandre Aja directed re-make of Korean thriller Into the Mirror proves to be a little above standard Hollywood horror but little more. The story is a stripped down version of the Korean original replacing genuine intrigue with the bog standard ‘evil force’ which seems to be behind so many horror villains nowadays. Aja does a good job keeping the scares coming and the brilliantly bleak ending is retained from the original but too much is played for jumps and I sat through the whole thing thinking I wish there had been a new season of 24 this year and hoping that Hollywood will finally give Aja a script worthy of the promise he showed with Switchblade Romance.

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