Kevin Hooks directs Wesley Snipes, Bruce Payne and Elizabeth Hurley in the action thriller where a terrorist hijacks a flight with an airline security expert on board.
Cool trailer, rubbish movie. This has aged like vinegar. Possibly the worst Die Hard – On – A- Plane movie. It doesn’t have Con Air’s zaniness. Nor Executive Decision’s tension. Or even Turbulence’s Ray Liotta batshit powerhouse. The cast are game and try to elevate a script that has to rope together the studio mandated trailer moments and not a lot else. Tom Sizemore > Bruce Payne > Bruce Greenwood > Wesley Snipes > Liz Hurley. Yet clearly a decision was made to move the action from the plane as quickly as possible meaning that Passenger 57 is a film that only cursorily delivers on its hook for all of 20 minutes. All filler, trace levels of killer.
Guy Hamilton directs Sean Connery, Jill St. John and Charles Gray in this Bond movie where 007 smuggles some diamonds that might end up being used on a space laser.
“I don’t need love, for what good will love do me?” A clunky and uninspired Bond. The action is rote, Connery looks full of regret, the girls and locations aren’t exactly memorable. The villians make this. Multiples Blofelds. Bambi and Thumper. The terrifying Wint and Kidd. I had no ideas they were gay when I was a kid but I just knew they were a pair of highly effective, utterly strange stone cold killers. Unnerving. Meeting these two weirdos means death. I feared for James as a little boy. Unsure if he could survive his much teased and delayed encounter with them. These motherfuckers were vicious! They’d actually be perfect characters to modernise and let loose in a new adventure.
Takeshi Kitano directs himself, Yusuke Sekiguchi and Kayoko Kishimoto in this Japanese road movie where a low level thug takes a lonely boy to see his estranged mother for the summer.
Beat Takeshi and John Woo. These were the first international directors I really got into. The violence and the persuasive sense of cool helped. Takeshi is the more experimental filmmaker. He plays with quiet and irony and and randomness a lot more. His background in sketch comedy means his stories have a jerky quality – a series of cascading skits. But every scene has a point or a punchline. There’s very little filler… even though his mood is akin to Jim Jarmusch where his films also often consist of the everyday life moments that might happen between what a regular genre movie might show. This is Takeshi’s A Perfect World. A personal film that hits a sweet spot of comedy and drama. There’s issues of loneliness and masculinity subtly explored here that are quietly sophisticated but in the main it is a daft ditty where Takeshi’s low-level yakuza ruins (and makes) the journey with his selfish uncouth behaviour. His twitchy blank face and brutish but broke approach to any interaction generates constant amusing chaos. It follows the road less travelled and is all the better for it. The final half an hour after Kikujiro reaches its planned destination is just Takeshi, the kid and some other hard shoulder denizens engaging in zany play. Extraneous to what you expect but as fine as anything dictated by the needs of the story. The printed shirts are awesome. Joe Hisaishi’s music is possibly one of the best movie themes not in heavy rotation. This a great little labour of love movie, a change of key from the director’s crime flicks but very much of the same rhythm.
Francis Ford Coppola directs Robin Williams, Diane Lane and Jennifer Lopez in this kids drama where a 10 year old boy has a growth disease that makes him look like a 40 year old man… time to go to school.
What in the holy fuck am I watching? Who is it for? A director going through a crisis of grief. And a genius comedy star whose ability to improvise is often capsized by his attraction to saccharine maudlin vehicles. The intended audience might find the queasy, boisterous ADHD boys playing sequence mildly distracting but adults have little hope of anything but boredom and a turned stomach. I love Robin Williams but Good Will Hunting Robin Williams or Aladdin Robin Williams or Insomnia Robin Williams or Mork Robin Williams. Sickbag Robin Williams rears his ugly head way too often in the 1990s.
Clint Eastwood directs himself, Gene Hackman and Morgan Freeman in this revisionist Western where a reformed gunfighter takes up a bounty from some wronged whores.
How can this be Clint’s last western? I mean it is a perfect swansong from the genre that he defined for thirty years but still… Every lead performance is wonderful. Clint understands intimately how to wring star power from big names, and memorable performances from jobbing actors. David Webb People’s script is a masterclass. The lullaby theme by Clint and Lennie Niehaus is magical. Jack N Green’s cinematography glowing and shadowy in equal measure. The shocks from Quick Mike’s small dick to “Deserve’s got nothin’ to do with it.” jerk you out of the deceptive elegiac pace. This is a definitive epilogue to my favourite genre and new day rising in the career of one the very best directors. This is where we all realised Clint was a master of the art of cinema rather than a star who also dabbled behind the camera often.
Ladj Ly directs Damien Bonnard, Djibril Zonga and Alexis Manenti in this French crime drama where three cops who police the streets of ‘Les Bosquets’ reveal their corruption, racism and humanity after an arrest of a child goes wrong.
Yes. YES! This is the cinema we want. Exciting, politically charged, looking for humanity even in the darkest corners and thrilling in its bursts of violence and morality. Ly puts you right in the centre of the tension… stop and searches, mob stand-offs, chases, full out orchestrated riot chaos. You are dragged along, dodging rocks, scraping around corners. The flow and tone is established in the opening sequence. A group of kids ride into Paris to celebrate the World Cup final. They ain’t white or Christian but they take patriotic pride in the victory. Why shouldn’t they? The famous players are immigrants from backgrounds similar to their own. But the mood turns from jubilant to oppressive. Celebration turns to mob threat. Then our day begins… What a 36 hours! I liked the moments where characters who could be from a Victor Hugo classic melded into the contemporary weaving action. Lauded after a year on the international circuit (the posters where still up at the locked down cinemas of Amsterdam when we visited in March) this has been a long time coming to the UK. Worth the wait. If anything I’d say the title and poster very much undersell what a impactful crime thriller this is. If you love La Haine or A Prophet, you should be seeking this out.
Niki Caro directs Yifei Liu, Donnie Yen and Gong Li in this live action remake of the Disney animated classic about a Chinese girl who pretends to be a boy warrior to protect her family from dishonour and save the Emperor.
These remakes are the epitome of inessential but occasionally (this, The Jungle Book) Disney get the update spot-on and deliver fine family entertainment. Mulan has epic sweep, adventure, colour, convincing villains and consistent action. We would have loved to have seen it on the big screen but I was pleasantly surprised at just what an impressive blockbuster it was. Thoroughly entertaining, well acted and eye-popping!
Shannon Murphy directs Eliza Scanlen, Toby Wallace and Essie Davis in this Australian drama about a terminal teen who falls for a homeless junkie and her dysfunctional parents reaction.
A difficult film to get a grip on. Clearly wants to be unjudgmental of its characters warts and all behaviour. Likes to point out the hypocrisy of middle class, middle age people who self medicate looking down on junkies. But then junkies don’t keep nice, safe, tastefully furnished homes… do the laundry, fill the fridge, keep you distant from street violence and your wardrobe stocked with quirky prints and a half a dozen wigs. It ain’t a binary comparison. Like much of the film the message is messy or half hearted, the visuals and the moment and the feels are more important. The acting is uniformly great. Scene for scene Scanlen, Ben Mendelsohn and especially Essie Davis smash it. But the characters are wildly inconsistent and never entirely believable in their bigger lurches into danger. Only Toby Wallace’s sweet natured pillhead really has a role that stays ‘steady’ and he’s is wonderful in it. You get the overriding feeling that as long as the visuals and soundtrack are sleazy but pleasing the director is happy. There are show-offy stylistic choices smothering a more engaging film. A film that talks about a lot of sensitive topics but struggles to say anything coherently. Definitely an experience though.
Oliver Stone directs Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger and Willem Dafoe in this Oscar winning Vietnam war movie where a young G.I. must chose between two commanding officers with opposing philosophies towards the ‘Nam.
Apocalypse Now is the finest Vietnam movie, Full Metal Jacket has the most intellectual voice about dehumanisation, Casualties of War and Bullet to the Head find unique viewpoints but THE SHIT will always belong to Oliver Stone. He was actually in country. This is a pure film. The pure ‘Nam. An ensemble working and dying and showing their true colours together. Sweaty bold type acting, two dozen potential stars trying to hit their mark and steal focus, imbue personality on script rations, convince on short time. Not all of them make it, in this theatre of war and the fame game in general. That baby faced interpreter might be alright. The horrorshow jungle that eats you and disorientates you and offers no moments relief. Stone puts you right in there. The violence overwhelming, the constant threat seeps into you. The heady pull between Berenger’s tyrannical killer (career best) and Dafoe’s more spiritual CO. The good vibes soundtrack and camaraderie between the assaults and offensives. It might be pure but it ain’t perfect. It is heavy handed… a little too on target… Adagio for Strings is wheeled out a few too many times. And those Christ metaphors ain’t subtle. You wouldn’t see this kinda heavy ordinance movie win Academy Awards now but I’m glad it gave Olly a couple of decades freedom to fuck the frame and tell epic morale destroying treatises on modern America.