Geoff Murphy directs Steven Seagal, Katherine Heigl and Eric Bogosian in this action sequel where special forces chef Casey Ryback needs to stop a train full of mercenaries.
Two of the least charismatic stars of their respective generations share the screen. Takes an hour to get going. Everett McGill and Jonathan Banks play grumpy henchmen. The ending is explosive. Just about gets away with it.
Anders Thomas Jensen directs Mads Mikkelsen, Nikolaj Lie Kaas and Andrea Heick Gadeberg in this Danish action comedy where a grieving military man teams up with an unlikely group of mathematicians and software designers to hunt those responsible for killing his wife in a random terror attack.
Making sense of violence in a world of infinite cosmic permutations seems to be the over arching theme here but the end result is a bit more like a vigilante The Full Monty. A group of broken men process their issues and grow over some violent justice. The comedy can be very random in tone but overall this strange little package works.
John Carpenter directs Sam Neill, Julie Carmen and Jürgen Prochnow in this Lovecraftian horror where an insurance investigator must track down a missing horror author whose best selling books might be driving the world psychotic.
“Do you read Sutter Cane?”
My first 18 certificate at the cinema. Snuck in between my sister and cousin at the Warner Village multiplex in Park Royale. What a baptism of fire?! Creeping psychological disintegration meets gore, monsters and jump scares. You can approach it as a loving parody of the Stephen King phenomena and tropes or as an apocalyptic vision of our world giving way to mania. Either way it constantly slaps. We are the only sane man in the asylum. We are seeing the axe murderer slowly cross the street towards us with only a window to protect us. We are looking down the alleyway at police brutality that doesn’t need a face covered in rotten latex to feel frightful and deranged that we accept it is as reality. We are pulling at the tear in the marketing poster peeking at the writhing truth that lurks behind it à la They Live. We are caught in a timeloop with boy on a bicycle whose journey never ends. We are arriving at Hobb’s End… one of those North Eastern little towns where Needful Things and Salem’s Lot occur… and we are arriving as the third act is about to get underway. Paintings live, zombie children swarm, somethings in the greenhouse, the old lady behind the hotel room desk is losing it, the church is besieged by gun shot wielding locals, and they are the good guys. The end is nigh and we are just getting started. The only way out of Hobb’s End is a pulsating door to oblivion, a passageway guarded by a wall of monsters (one of many half glimpsed treats from the gloopy lunatics at KNB EFX Group), a rip in the pages of an unpublished bestseller, a peek into the abyss of our nightmares. Sam Neill is playing against type here, his diamond cut movie star looks and innate decency chafing against a cocksure sleaze role. Carpenter’s score goes for head banging rock to ease us in. He plays with so many horror modes so masterfully here that I’m surprised In The Mouth Of Madness has not outgrew its cult standing and become a key classic in the horror canon. Then again I had to order the Blu-ray from Spain to own a copy so someone is missing a trick over at Warner Bros.
Perfect Double Bill: Omen III: The Final Conflict (1981)
Joachim Trier directs Renate Reinsve, Anders Danielsen Lie and Herbert Nordrum in this Norwegian romantic comedy where a restless young woman struggles to settle on the right man / career / lifestyle / path / hair colour… and that’s OK.
Insightful, well made, some neat moments. I can see how millennials might really embrace this, see their lives reflected in a way that doesn’t match their instagram feeds. But that leaves me sharing one part of the love triangle’s fate… standing abandoned, dick out and vulnerable. Wondering what’s in this for me when I really couldn’t vibe with it. The miserable last third over extends itself but speaks to me more, I just know I’m out of the loop and five years too old to fall for this. Let the young people have their fun before they too reach middle age. I’ll go watch Amelie or Singles or summink.
Michael Bay directs Jake Gyllenhaal, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Eiza González in this action thriller where two bank robbing brothers try to make their getaway in the very ambulance containing the cop they didn’t really mean to shoot.
A big project stalled, the pandemic keeping him housebound, Michael Bay declared he wanted to make a small, character driven movie in a claustrophobic setting. Two hours and twenty minutes of luxury cars, assault rifles and fender benders later … Ambulance is clearly his tribute to Bergman and Ozu. I’m no snob. I loves me some Bayhem. The polish and glow he adds to everything, his love of that neon toxic spill green colour, the epileptic fit editing, the schmaltz. This ain’t the movie for him though. The plot hook feels like a throwback to the glorious 1990s where he made his name. Physical stunts, automatic weapons a-go-go, high concept, not a cape or a cowl or a children’s toy IP in sight. Even a comedy cute farting dog is included in the action. Roland Emmerich looks across the crowded room at Michael Bay and raises a glass in tribute, Bay shoots finger guns right back at him. These are not men concerned with making great art, these are titans who want to inflate and overwhelm a marketing idea and spank their audiences into a slap happy submission with sheer god-damned scale of the back of their hands. For an hour I was a happy victim of abuse. It felt like dumb Speed, or stupid Heat, or present day Mad Max: Fury Road only made by a team of creatives who thought Con Air needed twice the amount of bickering cops playing catch up on the ground and To Live And Die In L.A. was lacking in drone shots where we race up and down the side of skyscrapers in place of static establishing shots for us to get our bearings. Beating? Bearings! I’m not complaining about being pummelled, seduced by the sheen. Dragged across tarmac. I just realised too soon that once we were racing across freeways, backstreets and sewers, Ambulance didn’t know what to do with itself. It really is just two men shouting relentlessly at a foxy paramedic while helicopters hassle them. No memorable set piece emerges from them careening around L.A., treating the City of Angeles like their own demolition derby. They just scream, bicker, bond, and try to keep their shot cop alive while a dozen others faceless cops are killed in car wrecks and explosions the wake of their deadening escape causes. Gyllenhaal approaches his chatty bad egg with relish, the acerbic lines just aren’t written down to match the performance. Everyone else is boiled in their own stock. The two extended finales both stall, neither keeping all that unexploited momentum in play. We stop the pursuit, leave the locomotion. Mexican stand-offs when we wanted bright green ambulances flying through the air or scraping through roadblocks. At the two hour point there’s nothing left in the tank. Yet we are being kicked to death by melodrama, everyone gets a teary epilogue. Slow-Mo sad eyes, a hint that a happy ending might be possible even for the arrested, guilty, the traumatised and exhausted. This doesn’t stick the landing, it besieges the runway and mutilates the terminal building. I should have at least liked this, instead I couldn’t wait for it to flatline. Too much, not enough, all in the same near endless sitting.
Ti West directs Mia Goth, Brittany Snow and Jenna Ortega in this slasher horror movie where a film crew pick the wrong farm in Texas to shoot their porn movie at.
West’s most approachable, accomplished and satisfying movie to date. He knows he’s making Texas ChainSaw meets Boogie Nights and doesn’t colour too far outside of the lines of that simple enough diagram. For a sleazy movie, it proves very sex positive and the female characters are granted a pinch more complexity than you’d expect. Of course, West is an old hand at the slow burn, so there’s plenty of room for him to scribble a little shading and messaging while we await the carnage. As things come to the boil he even distracts us with a potential unexpected killer. One of our victims comes very close to a schizoid breakdown themselves. The set pieces are solid, consistent. It is the mood and the tactile sensation the movie illicits that is most satisfying. It is just nice to see something like this crafted so well – the editing, the soundtrack, the make-up, the nudity and the dialogue. All elements come together in harmony, even finding space for a few neat callbacks to Hitchcock’s Psycho. Clearly West is trying to say something about youth being restricted and exploited by the older generation here but he doesn’t ram that message too far down our throats. He knows ultimately we came to see Mia Goth’s now near mandatory naked body and then heads going squelch. I can’t think of many better ways to spend a Saturday. I hope the home video market takes off for these kids.
Carol Reed directs Ralph Richardson, Bobby Henrey and Michèle Morgan in this drama told from a child’s point of view, where his beloved butler finds himself entangled between a shrewish wife, a doomed affair and, eventually, the suspicions of the police.
Great movie. Featuring a one-of-a-kind child performance. Reed kept the camera rolling on the lad, hoping that like a stopped clock, a mixture of restlessness and off camera stimulus would illicit the needed reactions for each scene. That patience worked an absolute treat. Little Bobby Henrey got bored with filming midway through the shoot and started misbehaving allegedly. It doesn’t show here, but it is in keeping with his character, who like all children is a curious little sociopath capable of callous strops and unguarded obsessions. And completely getting the wrong end of stick when trying to fathom the adult world. A trip to the zoo and snake’s hiding place (“McGREGOR!”) both lean into visions of being trapped and caged… in a way, the little tyke wants to keep his hero Baines in much the same captivity. Not realising the poor bugger, lovely and dedicated as he is to his young ward, is constantly stuck behind bars from the off, seen and unseen.The adult performances are somewhat secondary to our protagonist but quite compelling. We never truly plumbs the ultimate depths of these tragic figures and their squalid little love triangle, though Sonia Dresdel’s spurned tyrant is particularly affecting. Set mainly in a vertiginous diplomat’s townhouse, this could easily have felt like a mere filmed play. Reed explores young Philippe’s mini fiefdom with his trademark flair for the askew, meaning the interiors feel infinite and fantastical. Truly cinematic, well worth seeking out.
Steven Soderbergh directs Zoë Kravitz, Byron Bowers and Rita Wilson in this David Koepp scripted thriller where an agoraphobic tech worker discovers recorded evidence of a violent crime but is met with resistance when she tries to report it.
“O.K. Google… I want to watch Rear Window.”
“Rear Window is not available on any streaming service.”
“Alexa… I want to watch Blow Out.”
“Blow Out is not available on any streaming service. Did you mean Get Out?”
“Siri… play The Conversation.”
Not a bad wee techno thriller. Kravitz gives her best performance so far, very physical and attractive. The way she airclaps her hands compulsively after sanitising = the epitome of cute. Soderbergh has the most pleasure in getting his flinty, horny agoraphobic outside into the world, turning Seattle for about 10 minutes into a blocky level from a console game of old. At least that’s what the framing invoked to me. His understanding of tech, privacy and corporations probably matches my own slightly detached, slightly under educated ideas of how the world currently works. We both are probably quite naive, as I’m guessing this is an airport thriller level of knowledge and insight.
John Lee Hancock directs Denzel Washington, Rami Malek and Jared Leto in this cops hunt for a serial killer thriller.
They used to release a movie like this every week. Denzel has even starred in some of the better ones. Cliched and trudging. Too miserable to enjoy. The ending throws up a few neat ideas but you are so disengaged from the variable leads by the showstopper that you are unlikely to care about the thorny ethical issues it churns over.