Dexter (Season 1): Miami’s top blood-splatter expert has a nice little hobby of dispensing the city of its criminals that the justice system spits back out. I know it’s the first season and everything needs to be established, but there’s no need for the dialogue (and lazy voiceovers) to be this wincingly bad: “This box is like me, completely empty,” “if I had a heart, it would be breaking…” WE GET IT, You’re an emotionless sociopath! THIS IS THE PREMISE OF THE SHOW – DUH!!! Dexter’s (Michael C Hall) acting is also good, or bad, enough (hard to tell when he’s playing a psycho) to convince us he is truly cold, and always trying to act normal. Plot-wise, the bigger “ice Truck Killer” story is far more interesting than the scumbag of the week episodes, however they do reinforce, and slowly let you see Dexter’s M.O. which is interesting to watch. Dexter Season 1 has some good watching in it; and features TVs smoothest asexual, and most supportable vigilante.
City of God: documents around a decade of life in a Rio De Janeiro favela (slum). It starts with 30 minutes of back story then dips in and out of flashback for the rest of the movie. To emphasise the violence in the hood the film’s pretty brutal in parts – ‘hand or foot’ and Knockout Ned scenes are particularly rough. Unfortunately, what’s supposed to be the film’s most crucial scene (in the nightclub) was ruined by strobing lights. For me, the main guy Rocket is a too easy-going: he never really seems to care much about losing his girl, then his job, then some family – and doesn’t want revenge. It’s probably about 20 minutes too long too. The overall message is that everyone, from respectable citizens through to the tiny children, ends up being pulled into the self-destructive criminal / gang lifestyle – and it’s hammered home through pretty much every character’s story progression. The critics said that Slumdog was better than this… and they must have been high. City of God is a well-told, pretty slick, cinematic epic that’s often called ‘the Brazilian Goodfellas‘ (bold statement). It’s definitely a must-see for fans of crime and world cinema.
Also, if you liked this the same director went on to do Blindness – well worth checking out.
Red Road: at the weekend and really enjoyed it. It’s about a Glaswegian CCTV operator – an unusual filming location, and probably made it more interesting for a Scot to be watching it. Top drawer acting from most involved and the story really draws you in as the film progresses, leaving you guessing a lot ’til the end. In true Scottish cinema style, it doesn’t really portray us in a great light, but is worth picking up! Only after watching this did I realise that Lars Von Trier was involved in the concept and, in his style, it’s going to be a trilogy.
(On a Scottish Cinema theme, Sweet Sixteen is also a brilliant film.)