Patrick Brice directs Sydney Park, Jesse LaTourette and Theodore Pellerin in this teen slasher where high school students with dark secrets are made to face their true selves before meeting grisly ends.
Mistitled… very little home invasion action. A win for representation and buzz topics but everything else is wet, loose and unsatisfying.
Joe Penna directs Anna Kendrick, Toni Collette and Daniel Dae Kim in this space thriller where a three astronaut mission to Mars is thrown into jeopardy when a fourth person is found on board meaning their tight resources to survive will no longer last the journey.
Norm MacDonald and Jeff Tomsic direct Norm MacDonald, Adam Sandler and Dave Chapelle in this stand-up special filmed via Zoom in the dying comedian’s hallway.
Self taped as he knew he was on the way out, and still deadpan as fuck. The always fantastic Norm records his last few routines for posterity. Most of the material has been aired on podcast and guest show appearances before. And the audience-less home working location does the less rigorous bits few favours. I wasn’t a fan of the celebrity round table tacked on at the end – as everyone who struggled to speak felt too raw and humbled to really contribute. But it is nice to have one last artefact from this comedy great.
Romain Gavras directs Dali Benssalah, Sami Slimane and Anthony Bajon in this French action drama where a project is laid under siege during the protest of a youth’s death at the hands of the police.
Amazing no cuts opener – Mad Max: Fury Road but gritty, urban. Histrionic and spectacular throughout. But by the end you can’t help but think some serious issues have been boiled down to perfume advert visuals. Lacks the intensity and verisimilitude of its forebears.
Guy Ritchie directs Nick Moran, Vinnie Jones and Jason Statham in this British gangster comedy where various crews and toughs work at cross purposes to nick each other’s scores and obliviously quadruple cross each other.
Much like Jaws and Star Wars are somewhat unfairly maligned as heralding the death of New American Cinema from within, Lock, Stock can somewhat accurately be linked as the early demise of the resurgence of British popular cinema that occurred in the Nineties. Not the only factor… but a significant factor. By 1992 UK homegrown product was in the doldrums – Merchant Ivory, a doomed revival of Carry On, Michael Winner and Loach / Leigh. These were the only productions that troubled an ABC, and that’s if your local fleapit was lucky. It was the year of the lowest ratio ever of British films released in British cinemas. And then came a slew of younger directors and producers keen to make genre films rather than period films, movies worth going to with your mates rather than movies with the only selling point being a social conscience. Bhaji On the Beach, Shallow Grave, Four Weddings (the other culprit), The Young Americans, Shopping, Trainspotting, The Full Monty… In a few swift years, the national film scene was back in rude health. Then Lock Stock came along riding the crest of that wave and a perfect storm occurred.
Lottery funding kicked in, Cool Britannia kicked in, the lad mags kicked in and suddenly those who greenlit movies knew exactly where to deposit their dosh… mockney gangster flicks with ensemble casts and chocolate box posho rom-coms. And nothing else. All the true talent had fucked off to Hollywood pretty sharpish anyways. Is it Guy Ritchie and Matthew Vaughn’s fault that their movie captured the zeitgeist so well that they obliterated an emerging subculture with their dominant strain of posturing caper? A little bit of blame can be left at their doors. These weren’t struggling artists who got lucky. They were well connected and well funded old boys who networking and wealth positioned their debut into a victory that emerging voices like Shane Meadows or Antonia Bird could only dream of. When Lock, Stock was released it was given the push of a blockbuster. I remember the biggest billboards in London being dominated by its advertising for months. Every magazine and broadsheet was plastered with articles and posters and profiles. That might happen for the latest Tarantino or the next James Cameron actioner but the shoestring debut of an alright crime comedy…?? Some serious backhanders must have happened, the journos were definitely in bed with them (student bedsit or boarding school bunks, hey, chaps?). The PR spend for Lock, Stock to become a phenomenon was unfair. Criminal, even.
The movie itself now only holds up in fits and starts. It is a lark… has some nice moments but looks cruddy. The needle drops are obvious. The first time actors like Statham and Jones make better impressions than the proper trained thesps like Moran (who really makes for a poor protagonist.) I like the energy but it goes on a good twenty minutes too long. It has never met a dated stereotype it didn’t lean hard into. Having said that – the framework for your superior Snatches, Revolvers, Rock’N’Rollers and The Gentlemens are here. As a rough draft of a form Ritchie would perfect and Vaughn would swiftly abandon, I respect its place in multiplex history. But then you also have to include your Rancid Aluminums and Circuses into the debit column of it cultural wake and tally. We are all fond of this kinda comic strip criminality but it got kicked to death by lazy imitations very quickly. Around the same time Lock Stock was produced, Loaded magazine serialised Get Carter as a monthly comic strip. This feels like that idea regurgitated out into the processor and blended. The Italian Job as The Bash Street Kids. The Dandy equivalent of Pulp Fiction. Carry On Scorsese. I don’t know if that swells your gonads but it does less and less for me as I get older and wiser.
David R. Ellis directs Bobby Campo, Shantel VanSanten and Mykelti Williamson in this tired sequel to the elaborate industrial death curse franchise.
A bunch of no names suffer the least memorable deaths of the series. The CGI inserts, bunged in to make this 3D, can’t even stretch proceedings out to a respectable feature length running time, and look cheap and nasty.
George Stevens directs Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and James Dean in this epic drama following a cattle baron who loses his grip on his massive Texan spread once oil is discovered by a rival.
Academy award winning Giant is a biiiiig movie. Weighing in at over 3 hours. And it ain’t perfect. The middle act is baggy. We barely get used to who the stars are playing, what they are about, and then the march of time takes over. Liz, Rock and Jimmy seem sidelined by their ever changing children and fortunes. We only spend meaningful time with them while they argue, shriek at each other wearing very basic ageing make-up. Then then last hour seems like the final season of a long running soap (Dallas, Dynasty, etc) rolled into one night. Pathetic fallacy goes into overdrive. Topics like racism, sexism and manifest destiny are skirted over. Yet in its finest moments (the ones where Liz, Rock and / or Jimmy are the centre) it really seduces. This is a dark tragedy told with a technicolour sweep. Really classy, but also camp, overwrought. Mercedes McCambridge and Carroll Baker both put in compelling shorter shifts, the kind that would steal normal length movies. Dean is a strange presence for the duration, but not an unwelcome one. Mannered but not as mumbly as you might expect. The punch ups that close this are stretched and histrionic. You really do feel like a violent judgment on American capitalism has been made, one that has painstakingly evidenced all the years and pigheadedness that got us to this crisis point. Giant is unwieldy, sometimes slightly weird for something so straight, and I adored swathes of it.
Parker Finn directs Sosie Bacon, Jessie T. Usher and Kyle Gallner in this supernatural horror where a psychiatrist is haunted by smiling presences after a patient of hers commits suicide.
Tries to go down a road less travelled, and, in terms of shot composition at least, achieves something quite memorable. The alternative approach to casting ranges from smart to awkward. Smile is a tad too miserable and jerkily paced to love but there are some banging jump scares and an OTT finale worth sticking around for. I like a curse movie and this scratched an itch. Let’s see what Parker Finn does next… though I’d be sad if it was Smile 2 right away next.
Ronny Yu directs Jennifer Tilly, Brad Dourif and Katherine Heigl in this horror comedy soft reboot to Child’s Play.
Not a franchise I love but this is a gleefully silly entry, strengthened by the ridiculous Jennifer Tilly. She’s fantastic here as an unhinged goth milf Marilyn Monroe ex-flame of the killer doll. Chucky is his usual abrasive self. Dourif voices him with gusto but his foul mouthed nastiness probably only hits a laugh once every act. He looks pleasingly fucked up after a trilogy of destructive finales. BoC could do with more kills, more tension but at least the puppet FX work is always cool. Nu metal soundtrack, some nice homages to other horror icons, short and sweet.
Baltasar Kormákur directs Idris Elba, Sharlto Copley and Iyana Halley in this adventure thriller where a doctor and his family are stalked by a rogue lion on a South African wildlife reserve.
While it doesn’t hit the giddy heights of Jaws, or even Crawl, Beast has plenty of mid-tier meat-and-potatoes entertainment to offer. Even a few surprises. The CGI lion isn’t perfect but far preferable to a living creature being bullied and tortured to achieve these shots. The camera swoops and swoons around Elba and this is probably his most convincing stint as an action lead. Location work is laudable. Beast is a fine B movie you’d definitely stay tuned to if it came on a hotel TV channel.