Entebbe (2018)

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José Padilha directs Rosamund Pike, Daniel Brühl and Eddie Marsan in this dramatic recreation of the hijack, hostage situation and rescue mission that happened in 1976.

Entebbe is hamstrung slightly by the fact it is a dedicated recreation of a true story that involves six days of waiting about in a derelict airport terminal and an action sequence that lasted all of three minutes in reality. But it is a fascinating, ethically complex moment in recent international history. And Brühl and Pike (always watchable leads) make for sexy, sexy freedom fighters. “I want throw bombs into the consciousness of the masses!” My manhole is wet. Buttons popping from brown beige blouses as the plane is taken. PHWOAR! Day of the Jackal for horny Guardian readers.

7

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Dying of the Light (2014)

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Paul Schrader directs Nicolas Cage, Anton Yelchin and Alexander Karim in this espionage drama about a CIA legend, with a deteriorating brain, tracking down his long-lost nemesis. 

This was allegedly taken off Schrader in post production  by the producers and blanded down from an immersive drama to a DTV potboiler. Plot-wise this certainly has potential and ambition beyond being a poor man’s Taken but the end product comes across as flat, cheap and standard. A waste of Yelchin and a shame for Cage.

3

The Void (2017)

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Steven Kostanski and Jeremy Gillespie directs Aaron Poole, Kenneth Welsh and Kathleen Munroe in this gory body horror about a hospital under siege from a satanic death cult. 

Why so serious? The Void takes infrequent but winning swings at Hellraiser and The Thing and Assault on Precinct 13 … AND HOLY SHIT KIDS THIS MUTHAFUCKER MUST BE A NEW LATE NIGHT CLASSIC!!! Great inspiration aside, this isn’t. The acting is way too wobbly, the pacing meandering and the ending unsatisfactory. There’s no need for anyone to survive if we have no investment in the minor characters that do. It clearly is an experience that was designed to be a cool trailer first… a feature length experience a distant second. But when those gloopy, excessive, iconic, grotesque VFX shots do rear their gorgeously pulsating heads… God, are they good. An overly serious pastiche, a love letter to a lost genre from the dullest nerds. I’d watch this again for the visceral bursts of freakish mutancy. Possibly even on mute with a nice Zombie Zombie or Godspeed You! Black Emperor vinyl on my turntable.

7

My Top 10 Body Horrors

1. Alien (1979)
2. John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982)
3. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
4. Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn (1987)

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5. Freaks (1932)
6. Prometheus (2012)
7. The Exorcist (1973)
8. Re-Animator (1985)
9. The Fly (1986)
10. The Neon Demon (2015)

 

Manhunt (2017)

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John Woo directs Zhang Hanyu, Ha Ji-Won and Masaharu Fukuyama in this Chinese action thriller about a corporate lawyer framed by his pharmaceutical company who have assassins and corrupt cops on their payroll. 

Sentimental flashback. Doves gracefully darting around a shootout. Antagonists respecting each other and teaming up. I guess John Woo is back doing what he does best. It is very convoluted (another hallmark of Heroic Bloodshed era) and tongue in cheek. A little too parodic – one thing that marked The Killer and Bullet in the Head out was their unguarded sincerity. Equally the action is a little unsustained. It comes in short chaotic, often forced, bursts. Only a motorbike siege on a country house reaches a prolonged sense of kinetic mania. Neat but really not a patch on the Eighties classics it tries to revive. Was Chow Yun-Fat busy?

5

 

 

… And Justice For All (1979)

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Norman Jewison directs Al Pacino, Jack Warden and Jeffrey Tambor in this satirical drama about the modern day court system. 

Sold as a political thriller on the DVD blurb, this feels more like a dated sitcom pilot. Not a very funny one at that. Even the closing credits has Pacino breaking the fourth wall, staring at us incredulously, while a sub-Randy Newman recap of events is sung cheerily at us. It is a film that allude to three separate rapes. I think Jewison’s aim is to bring a scathing, Catch-22 style madcap portrait of a screwed up bureaucracy. Instead we get a weak stew of corruption and zaniness ending in a much needed Pacino speech. Albiet a Pacino speech with zero HO-HA!s.

4

My Brilliant Career (1979)

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Gillian Armstrong directs Judy Davis, Sam Neill and Wendy Hughes in this Australian period coming of age tale about a young woman who wants more than to just be married off. 

A compelling central performance from Davis, a pure feminist message and neat period realisation of every strata of Aussie life make this a watchable treat. I’ll confess I had to hunt this down illegally on YouTube and the version available was seemingly speeded up by about 30 percent. So not an ideal viewing experience but the quality still shone through.

7

Hoffa (1992)

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Danny DeVito directs Jack Nicholson, himself and J.T. Walsh in this biopic of the doomed teamster leader’s life. 

God only knows what 13 year old Bobby Carroll made of this when he first watched it in 1993. Adult, well versed in US history and Jack Nicholson fan Bobby Carroll had to sit on his own hand this week. I had to do it to stop myself from continually reaching for my phone to distract me from all the unfocused turgidness. DeVito tries every visual trick in the book to propel the story along. We get cartoonish match cut after match cut, hauntingly fake studio bound exteriors and prosthetic make-up that is better suited to a Batman movie (The Joker meet The Penguin). But all that can’t hide that this lengthy borer fails to reveal much about the important eponymous subject as it rushes through the headlines of his life. There’s a man’s life hidden in all this barking incident.

4

Let the Sunshine In (2017)

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Claire Denis directs Juliette Binoche, Xavier Beauvois and Philippe Katerine in this Parisian drama about a single woman bouncing haphazardly between imperfect men.

We open on a flattering shot of Binoche’s beautiful face and breasts. Everything goes downhill from there. How could a movie made by women come across as so misogynistic in its portrayal of their lead’s weakness and uncertainty, gullibility and lack of self worth? I don’t know… just listen to the pretentious Frenchies talk…and talk… dull-ly… on and on… well past the credits… with nothing to say.

3

Tully (2018)

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Jason Reitman directs Charlize Theron, Ron Livingston and Mackenzie Davis in this family drama about a frazzled mother of 3 who hires a mysterious night nanny to help with her newborn.

Featuring another impressively in-depth and committed central turn from Theron and Reitman’s artful visually astute direction, Tully should be more than the sum of its parts. It is not as entertaining or witty as previous Reitman / Diablo Cody collaborations … it is after all a film focused on postpartum mental health… not the stuff of big yucks. Then again Juno was about teen pregnancy and Young Adult about malignant arrested development and stalking… so… I guess their partnership stands out as they make quality adult dramas for adults with very little manipulation or concession for demographics or studio conformity. Their work compares favourably with the kind of Hollywood New Cinema auteur work that is now overlooked. Their oeuvre shares the craftsmanship, concerns and sadness with work like Petulia, Hal Ashby or Robert Altman. Tully will mean more to some people than it does to me. It has a power I can’t personally tap into but do appreciate. To my unattached eye it feels like [SPOILERS] an underwhelming Mary Poppins meets Fight Club. But I still admire its uniqueness and ambition in the current movie marketplace.

6

Wise Blood (1979)

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John Huston directs Brad Dourif, Amy Wright and Harry Dean Stanton in this southern fable about lay preachers who populate the flop houses and street corners of a feckless city. 

A strong, sleazy milieu and excellent performances from Dourif and Wright make this miserable curiosity worth a watch. Sadly the final act loses sight of all the quirky goodness that the first hour of Wise Blood hums with. Ending a promising experience on a frustrating, open ended downer.

6