We Are the Best!: three teenage girls embrace counter-culture and form a punk band in 1980s Stockholm. Directed by controversial Swedish auteur Lukas Moodyson, Adapted from his wives graphic novel. Moodyson is the back in his wheelhouse; fly-on-the-wall documentary style retro Sweden; and it’s what he does best. He’s also great at capturing snapshots of youth that transport you right back to your childhood – of which there are plenty in this movie. Plot-wise, it pretty much follows the same arc as his movies, particularly Fucking Amal (Show me Love), but with younger kids – unfortunately, it’s not quite as powerful a coming-of-age story. Together was all about family, Fucking Amal was a love story two girls, but We Are the Best tries to juggle family, girls, boyfriends, and punk… making it feel less focused. Another Moodyson-stamped nostalgic and enjoyable trip down memory lane, with good music and all of the teenage feels.
Special ID (Tè Shū Shēn Fèn, 特殊身份): an undercover cop finds himself in danger when he’s set on a collision course with an old protégé. Tonally, this film is an absolute mess; there’s Loony Tunes style moments of slapstick comedy in the middle of realistic MMA-Style fight scenes; despite it being a big-budget movie with slick intentions it continually returns to the super-cheese with bawdy music and silly melodramatic over-acting; there’s also a few sleep-inducingly boring scenes (one about Tattoos in particular). The timeline is all over the place, jumping around with no explanation, unaided by the lax direction and editing. There’s some woeful Volvo product placement: not satisfied with having their ‘City Safety’ mode blatantly pimped, there’s an entire fight scene AROUND THEIR CAR – it also doesn’t blow up when it’s dropped from height, unlike those rubbish Land Rovers!!! Ppsschhhtt!!! On the plus side, the action is generally impressive (particularly the two elongated fights at either end of the movie) despite some superhuman abilities being thrown in to the mix here and there. I love Donnie Yen and will watch anything he’s in, but he’s going for a Jackie Chan style cheeky-chappy role here, and doesn’t quite have the charm/charisma to nail it. In the end, this is amounts to little more than another completely forgettable Asian undercover cop film – with two decent fight scenes.
New mini-feature about the great use of great songs to make a great scene even better.
Song: “Mein Herz brennt” by German ‘Industrial Metal’ group Rammstein
Film: Lilja-4-Ever / Lilya 4-Ever
Scene: the central character Lilya has escaped from imprisonment and is running through a foreign city, not knowing where to go, and nobody is offering to help.
Why it’s awesome: it’s Rammstein. It’s a brutal mashup of rhythmic orchestral strings and over-distored heavy metal guitars. The sound is overwhelming, and the visuals are distressing (shaky cam and frenetic cuts), which makes this a very memorable and powerful opening. It puts you right in the scene with her, disoriented, afraid, and desperate.
Edge Of Tomorrow (Live Die Repeat): when a slimy Army PR guy is marked as a deserter and put in the front lines he finds himself reliving the same day over and over again. This is at its best when it’s having fun with the concept of time looping, and doing the tongue-in-cheek sci-fi comedy moments; of which there are enough, but could have easily got in a heap more. It’s at its most boring however when it breaks the cycle, and turns into a fast/shaky/quick-cut generic alien invasion action film. Tom Cruise is playing Tom Cruise for about the 7,000th time; Emily Blunt puts in a good shift in as the kick-ass love interest; and they’re supported by a fine indie ‘OMG where’s he from again?’ cast. Of all the unbelievable alien stuff going on, the daftest thing in here is that a United Global Military is ruled by an Irishman (Gleeson) – LOL Hollywood! The phrase “Tom Cruise Action Vehicle” tells you everything you need to know – if you like him and Sci-Fi doesn’t turn you off, you’ll almost definitely like this. The Edge of Tomorrow AKA Live Die Repeat is an above par alien film, in the middle of a decade where Alien Invasions are becoming boring as shit.
2 Guns: two undercover agents go in for a big drug bust, but neither knows the other is also wearing a badge! With Wahlberg playing a flirty street-smart, wisecracker and Denzel going for the moderately stoic sensible man-with-a-plan it’s safe to say neither is out of first gear, but if it were two unknowns, you wouldn’t have even heard of this – so they’ve already earned their pay cheque. In other departments, the quirky bromance is quite fun to watch, the plot is standard, but entertaining enough to keep you interested, and the action is serviceable for a movie like this. The biggest problem with 2 Guns is that it’s just so forgettable, and about as edgy as an 8-ball: you’ve seen everything in here elsewhere, and better. It feels like the kind of film that was made to fill in a space in the schedules, or because there was some spare cash that absolutely had to be used. While it’s not as good as it should be with two massive stars splitting the bill, it’s another just-above-average entry into the surprisingly difficult to nail “Action Comedy” genre.
Danger 5 (Season 1): a team of Allied super-spies are tasked with stopping Hitler’s various advances in a 1960s interpretation of WWII. With a premise like that, you’d expect the show to be a little bit mental… and it is. The plot lines and characters are insane: it’s a show where a jazz improv band of white-suited apes fighting Nazi dinosaurs & reptiles isn’t just normal, but somehow funny. About half of the major characters have massive animal heads, and nobody seems to speak the same language… but you just roll with it. It has a very unique ‘tapey’ aesthetic, with grain, bad dubbing, Gerry Anderson style miniature sets (locations & action set pieces) and a 60s style surf rock soundtrack – it’s 100% kitsch and kampf. One a comedy level it’s very strong, with good loads of one-off belly laughs, and some cracking running gags like cocktail recipes, Hitler jumping through windows, bad food analogies and bizarre product placement. Although the first few episodes are the strongest the show is consistently funny. Danger 5 is what happens when you draw from a bunch of great TV Shows like Archer, Thunderbirds, The Young Ones (and throw in a pinch of Iron Sky). If you’re after a raunchy, risqué, alternative / subversive comedy packed with b-movie gore, sexy damsels, and – most importantly – laughs by the truckload, look no Führer than this. Pure cult TV that will undoubtedly snowball for years to come.
I Danced For Hitler
Lizard Soldiers Of The Third Reich
Kill-Men Of The Rising Sun
Hitler’s Golden Murder Palace
Fresh Meat For Hitler’s Sex Kitchen
Night Watch (Ночной дозор): after a truce that has lasted for centuries, tensions between Russia’s light and dark sides come to a head when the most powerful ‘Other’ has to choose which side to join. This is an ultra-styalised, almost indie-spirited blockbuster that combines multiple sci-fi/fantasy genres and glues them together with a large dose of Russian folklore. It’s filmed with an impressive style; the colours are bold and bright, the cinematography is striking, the camera work is technically sound, and the editing is fast and exciting… The most impressive aspect of this is that it was made for $4.2M despite being CGI heavy, and looks better than most $100M pictures. Good vs Bad, Light Vs Dark – it’s just a shame that the story is nothing to shout about. Overall, this is a solid pre-twilight vampire film that’s less about the emotional complexities of being a vamp, and more about utilising their superpowers to create exciting action set pieces. Night Watch is totally watchable, entertaining, and big/loud/shiny enough to help you forget that the story is actually a bit pants.