The World’s End: five middle-aged friends re-unite to tackle the 12-stop pub-crawl that they never finished as teenagers. If you watched the trailer and thought that this looked a bit empty and silly then you’re completely right. No matter how good the director is (which he is), or how on-form the cast are (which they are) this is a great example that if you have a silly idea, you’ll probably end up with a silly film. It also has a few long stretches where there’s not many laughs – namely backstory. The cast are truly the best of contemporary British comedians, and a few bigger players thrown in: Paddy Considine and Pierce Brosnan, to name but a few – a well-picked bunch. The World’s End boils down to being a silly bodysnatchers movie that’s overflowing with 90s nostalgia, whilst pulling from some modern sources like Attack The Block, Hitchhiker’s Guide etc. Given the quality of Sean of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t expect more from The World’s End, still, it’s a decent Brit-Com, and a good enough way to close out the ‘Cornetto trilogy’.
Headhunters (Hodejegerne): a professional headhunter, and art thief, risks everything he has to steal a Peter Paul Rubens painting from an ex-mercenary. The central story is absolutely brilliant, and it feels surprisingly fresh given the setup. It’s plot and character driven in equal measures and it doesn’t stop once it gets rolling. The film’s punctuated with brutal graphic violence, although it’s most often used as comedy (!!) to break the unbearable tension built up in pivotal chase / confrontational scenes; I never thought I’d laugh at a smashed up skull, dog abuse, or poop – but if you didn’t laugh, you’d break down. Askel Hennie (a Christopher Walken lookalike) leads a great bunch of actors, and memorable but believable characters. Other than above, you can’t really mention much more without risking spoilers. The film didn’t need the quirky voiceover setup and wrap up – flat-out drama / thriller would have been sufficient – and some parts start to flirt with surrealism, but those are very minor niggles. Headhunters is well-directed, well acted, well written, funny, serious and dramatic crime caper… you couldn’t ask for anything more. It’s an absolute must see; European cinema at its best, and film of the year so far.