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kerraig UK

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20 hours ago, multiclunk said:

Kill List is one that still creeps me out if I think about it too much. It really disturbed me. The only other film I can remember that gives me that same feeling is Under the Skin. Loved them both but in no hurry to watch again.

 

Mmm, I watched and very much enjoyed Under the Skin (having earlier read the book). That one really did get to me, especially as my boy was about the same age as the kid on the beach. Haven't managed to watch it again since, but maybe one day.

 

American Animals probably next on the watchlist but I think my mrs will also enjoy that one so I'll wait til she's up for it.

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On 04/05/2019 at 20:59, Vimster said:

Death Machine (1995)

In the near future, a defence corporation's new CEO and some terrorists are trapped in a locked-down tower block with a maniac killer robot. 90s straight-to-video SF/horror that, once it gets going, is a real treat. A magpie of a film, taking influence from most SF from the preceding 20 years including Bladerunner, Aliens and Universal Soldier, plus nods to directors and films at every turn, all smashed together with sly humour and tongue-in-cheek attitude by writer/director Stephen Norrington. It gets silly in places but by  then you're invested in the laugh-out-loud chaos. For what must have been a lower budget affair the production design, and the killer robot - all flashing talons, whirring motors and gnashing metal jaws - are superb. Performances get the job done and suit the tone. Stand-out has to be Brad Dourf's loose canon weapons engineer, all long hair and unpredictability. A must for any fans of stylish SF/horror.

 

I bloody love Death Machine. My favourite B-movie ever.

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Rocketman (2019, Cinema)

If you’re expecting a biopic in the vein of Bohemian Rhapsody you’re going to be extremely disappointed. Rocketman is an all-singing, all-spangling, all-sequiney full-blown musical that’s every bit as extravagant as the person it’s based upon.


While Taron Egerton struggles to convey the complexities of the conflicted musician, the boy can certainly hold a tune, ensuring the many musical numbers have plenty of punch as he belts out hit after hit after hit. Far better are Jamie Bell and Bryce Dallas Howard as Elton’s lifelong friend and writing partner, Bernie Taupin and Elton’s rather cold-hearted mother. Special mention must also go to Richard Madden who is deliciously spiteful as Elton’s manager/casual shag. Elton John wanted Rocket Man to be a warts and all story of his life and while it cuts out some aspects and all-too quickly skates over his marriage to Renate Blauel, it does manage to achieve this for the most part.

 

It’s the songs which are the stars of the show however and they don’t disappoint thanks to some excellent choreography, and some truely bizarre sequences which feature everything from an excellent underwater number to Egerton exploding into a firework. It means that some sections of Rocketman play out like a music video, but it’s an issue many similar movies have so I'll cut it some slack.

 

Rocketman certainly isnt perfect but then neither is the person it’s based on. It’s a gaudy, nutty mess of a film at times, but it’s also one that manages to pack a surprisingly emotional punch which may well leave you feeling a little bit funny inside.

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Being Frank: The Chris Sievey Story (2019)

Documentary about the life of the man behind Frank Sidebottom, Chris Sievey. Starting out on Kicksterter, this finally saw the light of day earlier this year, and for anyone with even a passing interest in Frank Sidebottom this is a must-watch, although I suspect anyone in that group would be well aware of it already. The clue is in the sub-title though, this superbly put-together film concentrates on the life and eventual untimely death of Chris Sievey rather than being a history of the Frank Sidebottom character which would become inextricably linked with his creator in complex and later potentially self-destructive ways. The film chronicles Sievey's struggles to make it big, to consolodate potential fame with his manic hyper-creativity, and how this affected the people around him. Interviews from his ex-wife and children, Jon Ronson, Mark Radcliffe and other assorted collaborators and fans feature. What really shines here is the archive footage of which there is tons. Sievey was an early adopter and hugely-prolific user of the home video camera, a lot of that is shown here. Also Chris/Frank's various TV appearacnes and gigs right up to his final show in June 2010 shortly before his death. I found I had a huge smile on my face seeing the endless creativity and energy, the music, the art, the comedy all came from the heart, and this comes over strongly here. On a more eombre note the film documents Sievey's difficulties coping with normal life and flirtations with near-fame that would see him take to drink, although he would make a fight-back. A fitting tribute.

 

EDIT: whilst there was mention of his fantastic 1983 single Camouflage, they made no mention of his ZX Spectrum game, The Biz. Considering how the film discussed his various difficulties with the record industry it surely would have warranted a mention.

 

Anyway, here is Camouflage, a fantastic song and a great example of the great man's creativity.

 

 

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Hologram Man (1995)

A criminal gang leader is sent to hologram pirson, but is broken out, terrorises the city. Can be be stopped? Not the best film produced by PM Entertainment, it has to be said. Yes, it has all the high-intensity shoot-outs, car chases and big explosions, but for several reasons it doesn't really stack up. The main good and bad guys look and sound very similar, and despite an effort to give them a couple of personality quirks they're both very bland. In fact this seeming lack of effort extended to the evil Cal Corp, the OCP-style all-conquering corporation that just came over as blandly-ruthless, mention of shooting civilians to get the job done etc. Whilst bad-guy's methods were dubious, and he must have shot about 60 cops, his intention to return the city to genuine freedom seemed pretty reasonable. If he'd couched it in terms of him turning it into his criminal domain yes, that would be different. The whole hologram prison thing worked in the context of a trashy action film as long as you didn't think too hard. And you just knew what had to be done to stop this guy, pretty predictable ending. Granted, you don't watch this sort of thing for originality, and PM were masters of slickly-made video fodder, with this having their trademark look. However, thanks to the bland leads doing it by the numbers this is for PM Entertainment completists only. Unless you fancy it, I'm not stopping you.

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On 05/05/2019 at 02:51, kerraig UK said:


I took a date to see that at the cinema. Sufficed to say we didn't see each other again.

 

She said she loved it didn't she and now her body's in the Thames.

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On 28/05/2019 at 17:28, multiclunk said:

Kill List is one that still creeps me out if I think about it too much. It really disturbed me. The only other film I can remember that gives me that same feeling is Under the Skin. Loved them both but in no hurry to watch again.

 

I was off work sick for a few days last week and having started to watch Shane Meadows The Virtues on C4, I was in the mood to see some of his earlier stuff, so stuck on Dead Man's Shoes at 8am on Monday morning (it's on All4). Wow, that was a great watch, depressing, disturbing but just a brilliant revenge story that packs a huge punch in the end that just slowly dawns on you as you watch, and let's everything drop brilliantly into place. 

Its stayed in my mind since and is surely going to be in my top 10 for pictures watched this year. Paddy Considine, Toby Kebbel as his brother and Gary Stretch were all outstanding.

Dead mans shoes is probably top 5 all time for me. 

 

“Are you the devil?” 

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Thunder Road

(2018)

D. Jim Cummings

 

The little movie that could. 

It started as a kickstarter or something, and steamrolled its way into Sundance off the back of an ever so earnest leading man. Square jawed good guy writer, actor director Jim Cummings and his mastery of Twitter.. 

So fucking what. It works. It's a tiny bit self knowing in moments and it plays its whole hand in the opening scene, but every single scene is just note after note on point. A couple of moments go on a smiiiidge too indulgently long. But it washed me away and by the end I was in absolute floods. 

 

This is what Sundance is for. A little gem. A beautiful little gem. 

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John Wick 3 Parabellum (2019, cinema)

When John Woo moved across to Hollywood I was expecting the same manic action and over-the-top scenes that made films like Hardboiled and The Killer so exciting to watch. While Face Off came close, that marriage of mayhem and action never arrived.

Thank goodness then for the John Wick series, a franchise that really shouldn’t work when its plot is said allowed, but manages to mine from the same rich action veins that made those earlier Woo films so satisfying to watch.

As with John Wick 2 and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Parabellum action scenes largely focus on different types of fights, so there’s a blisteringly tense knife scene, an incredible sequence that fuses dogs, bullets and ripped teaticles, a tightly designed chase on motorbikes and much, much more. Each and every scene somehow manages to outspectacle the previous one and there’s often a dark humour running throughout each fight.

In fact humour is a surprising core of this new movie and while it has the usual gruff nonsense surrounding the world building of John Wick it’s often a very funny film, mainly due to Mark Dacascos’ fanboy assassin. He’s a delight as he racks up a kill count that’s almost as impressive as Wick’s but can’t stop gushing at Wick’s prowess. The plot is rather weak and the acting is as dynamic as you’d expect, but the action, the action really is on another level and there simply isn’t anyone in Hollywood making movies like this.

See parabellum on the biggest screen you can find. Watch it, love it, then see it again.

4.5/5

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Storm Warning (2007)

A couple out boating get lost, run aground, shelter in an abandoned cottage but get more than they bargained for. This started very slow, took ages to set up but warmed up to something special. Aussie horror/thriller that, whilst sticking to the people-caught-in-the-middle-of-nowhere-and-being-tormented-by-psychos script rigidly, right down to the three act structure, ends up delivering the goods. There's some excellent direction that keeps things on a knife edge, that psycho balance where you can feel things are about to kick off. Stick with it because it pays off in the last third with some excellent and creative deaths, and the finale is properly tense. Generally expertly handled pacing and some great performances that aid the unpredictable-nasty vibe. It won't win any plaudits for redefining horror or anything, but I've seen far worse-handled films in a similar vein.

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Recoil (1998)

A crime boss' son is killed after a bank job gone bad by a group of cops, revenge is exacted, but they tried to kill the wrong cop. This is more like it. After the disappointment of Hologram Man, PM redeem themselves with this full-on, if rather predictable, action flick. Gary Daniels is the wrong cop in question, and it really isn't a spoiler to say he loses it all so he can come back fighting. Yes, it's that predictable, no prizes for originality or a twisty plot, but PM does what it does best, solid action with high production values. It certainly felt like the sort of story where they were more concerned with maximising the "oh shit!" factor rather than delivering a believeable story, and frankly that's fine by me. For instance during a hectic and lengthy car chase near the beginning, all of a sudden the chased bank robber pulls out hand grenades - where did they come from? Who cares? It spiced things up nicely. Add in some really heavy-handed religious bollocks and the usual corrupt police insider and the stage is set for action all the way. Extended fight through a limo sunroof during a car chase? You got it! It's the sort of film that defies criticism almost because it exists in its own universe, it deoesn't appear to canibalise influences from other action films (although all the dual-wielding and gun-fetishism is very John Woo), it just does what it does and does it well. Perfect ending too. If you want something middle-brow exciting, you can't go wrong with this.

 

Oh you like the sound of it?

 

 

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Paddington (2014)

 

A young Peruvian bear travels to London in search of a home. Finding himself lost and alone at Paddington Station, he meets the kindly Brown family, who offer him a temporary haven.

 

I was going to write a spoof spiel whereby Paddington  loses his family and goes all  Grizzly  on the poachers that did it in this dark re-imagining of the Paddington story but a) that's not particularly funny and b) it would be a disservice to a movie that I can only describe as lovely. This basically is a relatively short introduction (90 mins)to Paddington and the brown family in London with some major/minor peril   in the form  of an evil Nicole Kidman who wants to stuff him and put him on display. Neither logic nor cynicism  hold too much sway in regards the plot and it trucks along with a who's/who of British actors all looking like they're delighted to be involved.There's lots of humor and heart   and while it's obviously aimed at kids the missus and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I knew that it was well received and should have seen it sooner.

 

4.5/5

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Vox Lux

 

Just blew my fucking mind. What a layered, complex, beautiful, orgiastic exploration of 21st Century ego.

 

No easy answers, no central point. Just a meditation on experience, desire & achievement

 

Natalie Portman is a goddess. I was reminded of Sunset Boulevard, but with added layers as we see what a nervous breakdown looks like within the moment of success, not in retrospect.

I wish I knew how such sophisticated cinema got made so we could replicate it in the UK.

 

Natalie portman goddess.jpg

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9 hours ago, kerraig UK said:

Vox Lux

 

Just blew my fucking mind. What a layered, complex, beautiful, orgiastic exploration of 21st Century ego.

 

No easy answers, no central point. Just a meditation on experience, desire & achievement

 

Natalie Portman is a goddess. I was reminded of Sunset Boulevard, but with added layers as we see what a nervous breakdown looks like within the moment of success, not in retrospect.

I wish I knew how such sophisticated cinema got made so we could replicate it in the UK.

 

Natalie portman goddess.jpg

I absolutely adore this film. And what a way to go out for Scott Walker, amazing soundtrack.

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The Stud (1978)

A handsome young club manager is caught in a world of sex, money and intrigue. This is 70s sleaze at its finest. Based on the novel by Jackie Collins, who adapted the screenplay, and starring her sister Joan Collins, this was, at the time, a hugely sucessful film that has been largely forgotten, but when I was a lad was the epitome of pure sex. I'd not managed to see it until now, and it's not unfair to say the years have not been kind. Granted, Collins, then 45, is really hot, and makes a meal of the meagre role. And there's something about the cheap retro glamour that appeals, even if the disco scenes feel more like padding than mood-setting. Either 20+ years of internet porn or simply becoming an adult have had an effect, or this is now about as sexy as a wet weekend in the country, tackily tasteful sexual intrigue, smelling faintly of Brut 33 and fags. Some ludicrous attention-grabbing scenes with the drugged-up orgy in the spa being the lowlight. It has the same sort of cheap class as a £15 bottle of champers, and a trashily overaught plot to match. I'll definitely be watching The Bitch.

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Encrypt (2003)

In the future the ozone layer has gone, survivors fight to survive. An ex-major is promised supplies for his fellow survivors if he helps to recover some art from a highly-fortified mansion, but there's more to the mission that meets the eye. Considering this is a TV movie it has to be said this isn't too bad. Mind you, it becomes abundantly clear the producers had been watching the first Resident Evil film on repeat because this bore more than a passing similarlity: heavily-armed team goes into mansion, is harassed by AI/hologram, fights seriously-overpowered super-being (okay, that was RE: Nemesis, but hey). Of course, with this being a TV movie it is nowhere near as visceral, and although it has an air of half-arsed doom about it, ultimately it is far less nihilist, tries to tug at the heartstrings here and there. You can probably figure out how it'll all turn out and where the plot points hit, narratively it keeps to the main road where it at least acomplishes what it sets out to do, if not spectacularly. Could have been far worse.

 

Incidentally, it's worth reading the IMDB comments under this as there appears to be a story behind this film. The original writer, Richard Taylor states this did not represent his story and another writer was brought in to fix it. The other writer comes back, countering Taylor and giving an insight into what he had to do. Worth a read to get some insight into the problems associated with adapting scripts for low-budget TV films.

 

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0338963/reviews?ref_=tt_urv

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On 15/06/2019 at 00:07, Vimster said:

Storm Warning (2007)

A couple out boating get lost, run aground, shelter in an abandoned cottage but get more than they bargained for. This started very slow, took ages to set up but warmed up to something special. Aussie horror/thriller that, whilst sticking to the people-caught-in-the-middle-of-nowhere-and-being-tormented-by-psychos script rigidly, right down to the three act structure, ends up delivering the goods. There's some excellent direction that keeps things on a knife edge, that psycho balanc Ie where you can feel things are about to kick off. Stick with it because it pays off in the last third with some excellent and creative deaths, and the finale is properly tense. Generally expertly handled pacing and some great performances that aid the unpredictable-nasty vibe. It won't win any plaudits for redefining horror or anything, but I've seen far worse-handled films in a similar vein.

 

Watched this based upon this review. It was absolutely fine. Very entertaining in the last third. Looking forward to the new horror generation discovering horror porm. 

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The Similars (2015)

 

Mexico 1968 and a group of people become stranded at a bus station on a stormy night. 

 

I took a break from film watching this year, I think this is something like the fifth one I've seen. This turned up on Den of Geek's list of single room thrillers and as I'm sucker for such things, I thought I'd give it a go. This is very well reviewed and while it doesn't really do anything we've not seen before, the combination of location, storm and something weird with the film print, creates an oddly creepy atmosphere. 

 

A stormy night in Mexico, and a couple of people are at a bus station. The ticket seller is waiting on retirement, a panicked man is desperate to get to his wife in the city, and there's a strange women talking in a language none can understand - and throwing stones on the floor and chanting. Into this comes a heavily pregnant woman fleeing from her abusive husband, a woman and her sickly child, as well as a medical student on his way to a protest (which was actually a real life event that ended in a massacre). I won't go into details, but something occurs and makes the group turn on each other, with the culprit and the victims changing places as other strange things happen. It pulls the rug from under you a couple of times, but keeps the jump scares to a minimum.

 

It has atmosphere in buckets, helped by the strange quality of the print - which looks intentional. While the film doesn't start out colourful, as time goes on the colour vanishes, and the edges of the screen become darker. The picture all but becomes a low grade black and white VHS print, like something badly restored from the 1930s. The central device is an odd one and initially induces laughter, but as the film rolls on, it becomes more and more horrifying. It's quite similar to Pontypool, and cleverly uses radio  broadcasts to explain that the chaos may not be limited to that bus station. It probably wouldn't be out of place as a Twilight Zone episode either. Really interesting sound track too - full orchestra style score that would fit an epic, big scale movie.

 

Worth a watch for certain, a great build up of atmosphere and solid wrap up too.

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Beast

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5628302/

 

A troubled woman living in an isolated community finds herself pulled between the control of her oppressive family and the allure of a secretive outsider suspected of a series of brutal murders.

 

This is a really impressive debut feature that kept wrong-footing me right up to the excellent ending. Set and filmed on Jersey it’s the story of a young woman who might have mental-health issues and a strange man who comes into her life. In the background there’s a serial-killer story playing out. 

 

I remember Kermode raving about this one when it came out but it passed me by at the time, I finally got round to watching it last night. I thought this was fantastic. The acting from the whole cast is top quality with Jessie Buckley being particularly impressive. I love the way it was filmed with lots of beautiful scenery and wide nature shots then tight, oppressive and underlit interiors. The Jersey setting gave it a kind of weird, not-quite-right feeling and you’ve never really sure what’s going on and who you can believe.

 

This is two years old now and IMDB doesn’t show anything new from the director coming soon. I hope that changes because this was a proper, great thriller. Definitley recommended.

 

4/5  


 

Birds of Passage

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6386748/

 

During the marijuana bonanza, a violent decade that saw the origins of drug trafficking in Colombia, Rapayet and his indigenous family get involved in a war to control the business that ends up destroying their lives and their culture.

 

I caught this in the cinema last weekend during another rainy Summer day. It’s the story of the birth of the drug trade in Columbia back in the 70’s and how it affects some of the native people.
 

The story is nothing new (a guy rises up through the ranks of a criminal empire and in the end loses everything) but the setting and the way we follow the rites and rituals of the native people meant it felt really fresh and original.

 

The acting and photography are what sell this film. We see native rituals and ceremonies performed and see how the various nations interact and communicate with each other. But all the while there’s a Narcos style rise-to-the-top story playing out in the background.

 

I thought this was really good. I knew nothing about the native people or their involvement in the birth of the drug trade but I was proper invested by the end. It moves really quickly with some proper shocking scenes. A basic morality tale but really well told.

 

4/5


 

Her Smell

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7942742/

 

A self-destructive punk rocker struggles with sobriety while trying to recapture the creative inspiration that led her band to success.

 

It’s been a really good year for films based on musicians and music - Vox Lux and Lords of Chaos will almost certainly be in my top 10 at the end of the year. This isn’t up there with those two films but is definitely interesting.

 

It tells the story of a few years in the life of a punk musician (a mash-up of Courtney Love, Liz Phair and a few others). The film starts with her about to go on stage and then starts jumping back and forward over the course of her life and the people who come into her orbit. We’re never told what stage of her life the film is covering, the audience has to work that out for themselves based on how characters age or what they say to each other.
 

Elizabeth Moss is really good as the troubled musician and really sells the part. The support cast are all fine, Dan Stevens, Eric Stoltz and Cara Delivigne all stand out. The original songs are great and there’s some quality coves - Moss does a version of Heaven by Brian Adams on piano that’s amazing.

 

It’s messy and uneven - I guess the structure of the film is meant to mirror the chaos of the life of the central character. And goes on far too long but it’s certainly worth watching if only for Moss’ performance.

 

3.5/5
 

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Paddington 2 (2017)

 

Paddington, now happily settled with the Brown family and a popular member of the local community, picks up a series of odd jobs to buy the perfect present for his Aunt Lucy's 100th birthday, only for the gift to be stolen and Paddington take the fall.

 

So a bit  of a different scenario this time with Paddington doing some time due to being in the wrong place at the wrong time . The architect of his downfall is a much more colorful if equally dastardly enemy Phoenix Buchanan  , played by Hugh  Grant  who really puts the effort in and seems to be enjoying himself immensely.  I have to say I preferred him to Kidman''s protagonist in the 1st, he's much more colorful and interesting , seems like a proper pantomime villain. There's also a much larger set piece for the finale  which is good fun.

 

I've quoted part of my previous review because  I'm lazy and it holds as true for the sequel as the original movie:

 

Neither logic nor cynicism  hold too much sway in regards the plot and it trucks along with a who's/who of British actors all looking like they're delighted to be involved.There's lots of humor and heart   and while it's obviously aimed at kids the missus and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

 

4.5/5

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Since there isn't a thread for it I thought I would leave my brief thoughts on the new Child's Play. 

 

It's a completely different from the originals and is all the better for it. A nice bit of modern life critique, some genuinely funny moments and a great vocal performance from Mark Hamill. Even the younger cast members are mostly decent and none annoying. A fine genre piece! 

 

A surprising 4/5 Skulls  

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The Bitch (1979)

An Italian con man in hoc with the mob gets involved with on-her-uppers divorcee Fontaine Khaled. Adapted from the Jackie Collins novel, this is the sequel to the previous year's The Stud, and whilst it improves in some areas, this is largely a pretty lame affair. The story is a little tighter, with an Italian con man feeling the squeeze when he gets Joan Collins' character involved in his scheme that was supposed to pay off the mob, but obviously doesn't. Plenty of convenient coincidences and suspension-requiring plot jumps stand in for actual plotting. I've not read the original novel so I can't say how well this was adapted. There are twists and turns but somehow it doesn't feel as sleazily unhinged as the first one. A lot more sex and nudity here yet it feels less erotic, or at least more conventionally sleazy. The whole film has that vaseline-smeared-on-the lens haze popular at the time, somehow adding to the not-quite-soft-porn tone. Once again there's precious little character development, especially with Collins' protagonist, her motivations are clear, she's The Bitch after all, but that's it. And once again we're treated to all that is fashionably 1979, in fact half the end credits are to do with where they got the outfits from. And that says it all really, style over substance, and even that style is pretty cheap. Making Collins a protagonist was a mistake, she needed to be wayward and bitchy, someone who could at any time just turn on someone. Ian Hendry does a good cock-er-ney gangster type, just saying. Law of diminishing returns, not as enjoyable or decadent.

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I had a Stephen Frears double-bill this weekend. Starting with a film I’d heard a lot about but had never seen:

 

The Hit

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0087414/

 

Ten years later, after ratting on his old mobster friends in exchange for personal immunity, two hit men drive a hardened criminal to Paris for his execution. However, while on the way, whatever can go wrong, does go wrong.

 

This film opens with Terrance Stamp testifying in court against his gangster crew. They get sent to prison he gets sent into exile - living in rural Spain. After a decade in the sun his old gang catch up with him, he’s kidnapped and the gang start a roadtrip across Spain into France where he is to be executed.

 

I don’t know why I let this pass me by for so long because it was amazing. And can stand alongside classics of the British-gangster genre like The Long Good Friday and Get Carter.

 

To start with the cast are uniformly excellent. Terrance Stamp radiates cool but shot through with intelligence and vulnerability. The two hitmen are played by John Hurt, who looks immaculate in his suit and sunglasses, and a baby Tim Roth, all bravado and swagger but we learn early on this is his first job so we can be sure it won’t go smoothly. 

 

As their journey across Spain progresses we see the power dynamics between the 3 shift over and over. But it’s done in such a subtle way you almost don’t notice it until you realise two characters are now working against the other but the two allies really shouldn’t be allies. When they kidnap a woman this complicates the dynamic even further. 

 

Every scene was a little masterclass in tension and shows the skill of the director. A stop for petrol or a rest break at a roadside cantina turns into an exercise in paranoia that the Coen brothers would be proud off. One of the films this put in my head was No Country for Old Men. 

 

The photography and the camera work are really impressive and while there’s a few unorthodox shots it never feels flashy - just the right option for that scene. There’s a bit 

When the camera goes down the outside of a tower-block while the characters are making their way down the stairs. 

 

I can’t praise this enough - every aspect of it is top class. You know how some films try hard to be ‘cool’ but end up just being naff - something like Baby Driver. But some films are just effortlessly cool - well this is one of those. 

 

It’s a really superior thriller and I know it’s a cliche but they don’t make films like this any more.

 

4.5/5

 

(I thought this essay was really good and summed up why I found this so rewarding

https://www.criterion.com/current/posts/1115-the-hit-road-to-nowhere )

 


 

The Grifters

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0099703/

 

A small-time conman has torn loyalties between his estranged mother and new girlfriend--both of whom are high-stakes grifters with their own angles to play.

 

Another film I was aware off but somehow had never seen. John Cusack is a low-level conman running $10 scams in bars - he’s not very successful and takes the occasional beating when he gets caught. He ends up in hospital and his mother comes back into his life. It turns out she runs scams for the mob. This sets up a nice three-way tension between Cusack, his mother and his girlfriend. They’re all scamming in one way or another.

 

I thought this was a really bleak but fantastic film. Based on a Jim Thompson novel but set in the 90’s it has a great, sleazy feel to it. You’re never sure who’s scamming who and it’s constantly surprising. There’s a great tension between the 3 leads and like The Hit the power dynamics are constantly shifting. 

 

The acting is excellent - the three leads, John Cusack, Anette Benning and Anjelica Huston are all superb. And there’s a load of great faces in support roles - Steven Tobolowsky, JT Walsh and others. I loved the 90’s-ness of it, the suits and the cars. It looks great, there’s a nice soundtrack and an amazing ending.  

 

Another excellent Frears work.

 

4/5

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5 minutes ago, Silent Runner said:

I had a Stephen Frears double-bill this weekend. Starting with a film I’d heard a lot about but had never seen:

 

The Hit

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0087414/

 

Ten years later, after ratting on his old mobster friends in exchange for personal immunity, two hit men drive a hardened criminal to Paris for his execution. However, while on the way, whatever can go wrong, does go wrong.

 

This film opens with Terrance Stamp testifying in court against his gangster crew. They get sent to prison he gets sent into exile - living in rural Spain. After a decade in the sun his old gang catch up with him, he’s kidnapped and the gang start a roadtrip across Spain into France where he is to be executed.

 

I don’t know why I let this pass me by for so long because it was amazing. And can stand alongside classics of the British-gangster genre like The Long Good Friday and Get Carter.

 

To start with the cast are uniformly excellent. Terrance Stamp radiates cool but shot through with intelligence and vulnerability. The two hitmen are played by John Hurt, who looks immaculate in his suit and sunglasses, and a baby Tim Roth, all bravado and swagger but we learn early on this is his first job so we can be sure it won’t go smoothly. 

 

As their journey across Spain progresses we see the power dynamics between the 3 shift over and over. But it’s done in such a subtle way you almost don’t notice it until you realise two characters are now working against the other but the two allies really shouldn’t be allies. When they kidnap a woman this complicates the dynamic even further. 

 

Every scene was a little masterclass in tension and shows the skill of the director. A stop for petrol or a rest break at a roadside cantina turns into an exercise in paranoia that the Coen brothers would be proud off. One of the films this put in my head was No Country for Old Men. 

 

The photography and the camera work are really impressive and while there’s a few unorthodox shots it never feels flashy - just the right option for that scene. There’s a bit 

When the camera goes down the outside of a tower-block while the characters are making their way down the stairs. 

 

I can’t praise this enough - every aspect of it is top class. You know how some films try hard to be ‘cool’ but end up just being naff - something like Baby Driver. But some films are just effortlessly cool - well this is one of those. 

 

It’s a really superior thriller and I know it’s a cliche but they don’t make films like this any more.

 

4.5/5

 

(I thought this essay was really good and summed up why I found this so rewarding

https://www.criterion.com/current/posts/1115-the-hit-road-to-nowhere )

 


 

The Grifters

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0099703/

 

A small-time conman has torn loyalties between his estranged mother and new girlfriend--both of whom are high-stakes grifters with their own angles to play.

 

Another film I was aware off but somehow had never seen. John Cusack is a low-level conman running $10 scams in bars - he’s not very successful and takes the occasional beating when he gets caught. He ends up in hospital and his mother comes back into his life. It turns out she runs scams for the mob. This sets up a nice three-way tension between Cusack, his mother and his girlfriend. They’re all scamming in one way or another.

 

I thought this was a really bleak but fantastic film. Based on a Jim Thompson novel but set in the 90’s it has a great, sleazy feel to it. You’re never sure who’s scamming who and it’s constantly surprising. There’s a great tension between the 3 leads and like The Hit the power dynamics are constantly shifting. 

 

The acting is excellent - the three leads, John Cusack, Anette Benning and Anjelica Huston are all superb. And there’s a load of great faces in support roles - Steven Tobolowsky, JT Walsh and others. I loved the 90’s-ness of it, the suits and the cars. It looks great, there’s a nice soundtrack and an amazing ending.  

 

Another excellent Frears work.

 

4/5

 

Have you read the Thompson book? I always fancy watching that flick but I hold the novel in such high regard - just like everything else by Jim Thompson really - that I don’t want to observe anything that might displease me.

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