The Lincoln Lawyer: follows a defense attorney that will represent any scumbag if the money’s right, but his latest case isn’t all it seems. First off, this is way, way better than the trailer makes the film look. Being based on a successful novel, the story’s rock solid, and stands up to the best court-based dramas out there at the moment (i.e. The Good Wife). There’s plenty interesting developments as the story moves forward. It’s also quite slick and really well made; the standout shot being the long revolving one in the courthouse. From out of nowhere McConaughey’s is excellent as a streetwise southern lawyer and Phillippe rises to the challenge with an equally believable performance. It’s a little slow in the 3rd quarter, and could have probably done without the last 15 minutes (everything after the major verdict) but hey ho, it still works well. Sack the casting director too; putting in two of the three most obvious latino typecasts working today. I was pleasantly surprised walking out of the cinema after this, well worth your time if you like your legal-flicks, topped off with a superb bluesy/R&B soundtrack.
800 Bullets: When you see the phrase “tribute to Spaghetti Western“ splattered all over the box you’re kind of expecting a good old-fashioned cowboy flick, not the story of some washed up stunt guys waiting for the day when Spain will once again be the set of Western movies!! Parts of it are trippy, like some of the midnight movies (Black/White/Red credits especially). There’s the most gratuitous boobs & sex I’ve seen in a long time – you always expected in b-movies but it just feels out of place here. The ending totally doesn’t match the tone of the film. On the up side it’s very Spanish, with emotions flying all over the place and a few familiar names and faces. There’s a handful of classic and iconic Western camera shots scattered throughout, and in general the film looks great – from the landscapes to the costumes. By the end, you could divide 800 Bullets up into the following: 40% banal story focusing on main stuntman’s family; 40% ‘what keeps punters interested’; 20% love letter to old westerns and stunt guys. Overall, it just feels like a pretty bad idea, dragged out for far too long. For stories about washed up stunt men, stick to The Fall and for Spaghetti Western tributes this should do the trick.
Maléna: From the writer/director of Cinema Paradiso, this nostalgia driven film is about a teenage boy’s first obsession with a lady, Monica Bellucci, who the entire town perves on & gossips about. We all remember our first unattainable crush, but this film goes little too far as we see the kid transform from casual degenerate, to voyeur, then pant-snatchng sex-pest weirdo-stalker… definitely take this with a pinch of salt! The passion and intensity of Italians really shines through in the characters, which makes is great to watch, if a little OTT, and the visuals harness the best of picturesque Italy / Sicily. The tone of the film takes a massive U-turn near the end, from sugar-coated to bleak, although it coincides with the main’s realisation about his love. In the end, as she was the focus of pretty much every scene this film is to Monica Bellucci what Volver was to Penelope Cruz, but a lot kinkier with much more nudity (unfortunately 15 minutes of skin is cut from the UK release!!). But why do directors always give her on-screen beatings?!?! The cinematography, Bellucci and accompanying score were the only real stars of this.