Trance: when an art heist goes wrong the only auctioneer who knows where a valuable painting is can’t remember what he did with it. Purposely or not, this is a fragmented mess of a film: it’s hard to know exactly what is past, present, hypnosis, and visions – making it frustrating to follow at times. The twist-o-rama finale in particular is both super-smart and hyper-ridiculous. If it’s one thing though, Trance is visually sumptuous; some parts feel like a technical demo reel – full of impressive techniques, colouring, imagery, and most scenes have some form of reflection / symmetry. Yet, no matter how much Boyle tarts this up, it still manages to feel like a TV drama for the most part; lots of talking, small locations, tight cast etc. There’s also a really, really, strange ‘hairy bush’ Vs ‘shaved pubes’ sub-plot. Trance is part cutting-edge super-styalised directorial flare, and part humdrum, but the shattered timeline and ambiguity of what you’re watching make it very hard to tune in to. I imagine this plays better with a 2nd viewing.
Standard night out for us Scottish people…
Inside Llewyin Davis: follows a struggling musician for one week in the 1960s New York folk music scene. This film drags. This film is boring. Nothing significant happens. The Main guy is a total ass-hat (stubborn, unlikeable). There’s around 35 minutes of full-song renditions – it’s like a huge folk-music shaped penis being rammed down your throat (and into your ears) around every 10 minutes. Some sections just didn’t know when to end – like the trip to Chicago; it feels like you are in the car with them, but for all the wrong reasons. There are a couple of jokes sympathetically flicked at you every 20 minutes or so to keep you interested, but they’re too few and far between. The only saving grace is that Oscar Isaac (literally comes out of nowhere) and puts every fiber of his lifeforce into the role, and you totally believe he’s there, slogging it out, blaming everyone else and living a groundhog week. From around 30 minutes in I felt like the cat in the movie’ trapped with a douchebag and looking to throw myself through a window at the first opportunity. My final line in the A Serious Man review was: “Very difficult to watch, unless you’re a diehard Coen fan or were Jewish in the 1960s.” – and I’m going to be a lazy toad and change that to “Very difficult to watch, unless you’re a diehard Coen fan or love 1960s folk music.” Talk about niche movies…
Hell Comes to Frogtown: in the aftermath of a nuclear war that ravaged the planet and left most of the population infertile Sam Hell (WWF star “Rowdy” Roddy Piper) must save a group of fertile ladies from frog-based sex slavery. Yup. That really is the plot. Everything about this film is lightyears away from the realms of possibility, logic, science, facts etc. It’s 100% bad acting, bad sets, bad props, bad writing, bad lines – yet it has a bizarre “can’t get any worse” / car-crash quality that keeps you watching til the shoddy showdown in the desert. There’s boobs, there’s weirdness and there’s some green-gore & action set pieces – so it ticks all of the B-movie boxes. If you love your films cheaper than cheap and as silly Troma releases this will be up your street. Otherwise, just another one for the B-movie completists and raslin fanboys.
Iron Sky: in 1945 a group of defeated Nazis fled to the moon, in 2018 they’re coming back to finish what the Fuhrer started! For a B-movie, the graphics and effects are superb: the Blu Ray looks delicious, although washed out in the colour department. Sets, costumes, machinery, and industrial / steampunk settings all look fantastic. Written as an open-source script (aided by the internets) the entire movie is tongue-in-cheek and absolutely rammed with gags, nice details and one-liners – loads of laughs to be had. It’s a bit of everything: political satire, comedy, invasion, sci-fi, exploitation, ‘Nazispoitation’ – the only things it really shies away from are (surprisingly) nudity and gore. You could say that the film’s biggest weakness is that it’s all over the place; but flip it around, there’s something for everyone in here. Cast-wise, everyone’s at the top-range of B-movie; with guys like ‘Stamper’ from Tomorrow Never Dies and Udo Kier going in to full-on scenery chewing baddie mode – what’s not to like?! Given that it’s about moon Nazis, there’s some taboo moments, covering everything from skull measurements to a kamikaze Japanese spaceship – most are subtle enough to be overlooked. Although Iron Sky was panned by mainstream critics, if – like me – you’ve sat through thousands of over-promising, under-delivering B-movies, you’ll understand why this is a top-tier cult / midnight movie. A fantastic space Nazi romp, great fun, and put a smile on my face for the duration.
Nazi base on the moon, obviously.
Wolf of Wall Street: based on the memoirs of a drugged-up banker that did a load of bad things. Most obviously, three hours is just far, far, far too long for this story, which is essentially: motivational speech, loads of drugs, party harder than Andrew WK, repeat x20. The premise is classic Scorsese – rise-and-fall – but they way in which it’s told, what he chose to film, and how he chose to film it is anything but. There’s so much skin, sex, sensationilsm, and alpha-male testosterone in here that it felt like Michael Bay defiling a Scorsese sceenplay. Another huge problem is that the main character – Jordan Belfort – isn’t even remotely likeable or interesting; just a one-dimensional, remorseless asshole. On the plus side the script it great, the casting is magnificent and Scorsese really gets the most from them. It’s also very funny, funnier than most comedies, although it does have a lot of time to play with. Sadly, it feels a bit cheap coming from someone that’s brought us films like The Departed, Goodfellas, Gangs of New York, Taxi Driver… and it made me remember how good a film Boiler Room was. Scorsese – you’re above this. Studios – no director is above cutting empty & pointless scenes from! Not Scorsese, not Tarantino, nobody.
Captain Phillips (Mild Spoilers): the Maersk Alamaba cargo ship gets hijacked by four AK-47 wielding Somali pirates whilst navigating ‘round the dangerous ‘Horn of Africa’. I can never tell if Tom Hanks is really good, or really samey (in the same way that Tom Cruise is always Tom Cruise) – although the only dodgy part of this performance was his accent. Unfortunately the film peaks too early, in the nerve-shredding boat boarding set piece, which even the big finale doesn’t live up to. Like most films at the moment, it’s a little flabbier than it needed to be, out-staying its welcome, with a hyper-extended finale in the cramped lifeboat, in which Greengrass slowly loses his grip on the audience. Also, if you know anything about legendary sniper shots, you’ll know how the film ends before you step in to the cinema, which is a bummer! All-in-all, a solid film – but note quite Oscar worthy.
Lone Wolf and Cub – Baby Cart in Peril (AKA – 子連れ狼 親の心子の心 Kozure Ōkami: Oya no kokoro ko no kokoro, Shogun Assassin 3: Slashing Blades of Carnage): Ito’s latest contract is to assassinate a killer of many samurai, but to his surprise it’s a lady with outstanding short-blade skills, and in a similar situation to himself… Oyuki presents a very strong female lead, something that the previous movies have had – but not taken this seriously. The very first frame is a tattooed boob, so it starts off great! But soon after there’s a bit of silly magic (face mask magic guy), some sizable flashback sections, and a lot more talking than previous installments. However, as good as the story and premise are, the Babycart films are never better than their action set-pieces: with Wakayama hacking, slashing, and literally flying around the frame – he can’t half move around for a big bloke. The now customary ‘final battle’ with dozens of enemies and a few ‘bosses’ is also great, and for the first time we see him properly injured/vulnerable too. More than anything, the film is a little confused about who the baddie is: the girl? Her nemesis? Itto’s old foe? The big hairy guy? By the fourth movie it does feel a bit like more-of-the-same but the film still pushes the boundaries, and does well to set up the one-armed swordsman myth.
Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart to Hades Review
Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx Review
Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance Review