Se7en (aka Seven, 7, Sept, Siete, Sieben, セブン, 七, 일곱 …) during a veteran detective’s final week a gruesome serial killer surfaces, whose work is based around the seven deadly sins. Despite being released in the mid-90s and framed as ‘modern’ this has a sense of timelessness; it’s puply and Noir to the core – especially Freeman’s character, who’s straight out of the 40s. This is just part of Fincher’s portrait of an extremely nihilistic vision of ‘downtown’ America – a nameless, timeless city characterised by sirens, rain, fear, vice and filthy, dilapidated buildings mirroring their residents. It’s a dingy look, but one that has subsequently influenced a lot of movies and TV (The US Killing as a prime example). Whilst the story takes a while to properly get going once it gains momentum it’s an unstoppable force -right through to the very last scene. It’s also remarkable that 20 years on it’s still effective, and shocking – which is a testament to Fincher’s directorial skill. Despite all of the larger than life blood and guts, Se7en is all about the minor details; everything helps to flesh out the characters and explain their behaviours – allowing you to pick out more details every time you watch it, which is what makes it a classic.
Horrible Bosses 2: after the zany hijinx of trying to knock off their bosses, the gang try to start their own business to be their own bosses; even more hijinx ensues!!!lol!1! Most scenes seem to be the three central characters shouting over each other, becoming an incoherent babble of noise, with the odd silence for a scripted ‘funny’ to become audible. Spacey, Foxx, Waltz, Aniston, Pine – there’s some pretty big names in here; surprisingly big given the gutter level humour – so it goes without saying that nobody’s really putting that much effort in (Maybe just Pine?). Despite the lazy premise, inaudible din, and coasting cast I did still laugh, more than I thought I would – although it’s obviously because I’m a bad person that finds crass / inappropriate / shock value moments funny (there’s not a whole lot else in there that tickles the funny boner.). Literally identical write-up but overall marginally less impressive than the original in every way.
Casino Jack: the rise and fall of top Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff, after his increasingly flaky attempts at influencing politicians lead to some ugly outcomes. It’s quite an interesting story, that’s part drama and part comedy / political satire. The film’s at it’s best when it’s dramatic: both Spacey and Pepper are red-hot, top-drawer, scene stealingly good. The comedy moments cover everything, from solid gags and witty lines all the way down the scale to unnecessary quirk – most annoyingly, Spacey‘s cinephile character bursts in to (some pretty good) cinematic impressions in every second scene. The direction matches what’s on screen, ranging from sensible handling of the dramatic moments, through to playful snappy quick-cuts and comedy timing. While the tone leaps all over the entire spectrum, there’s enough good performances, and moments of drama / satire to keep this watchable and entertaining. Not least, the film’s good for bringing Jack Abramoff, and his insane life story to your attention.
Margin Call: ensemble piece set around the 2008 financial collapse, when bankers first discover how much they screwed up. Seeing as the whole world knows how this story ends, it feels a bit odd creating a tight drama out of it, especially only starring the culprits. The script feels like it’s been written by a committee of naïve, lefty students, with some terrible “OMG – guess how much this banker was paid last year” and “LOL- it’s OK to screw over the unwilling public” type dialogue thrown in every ten minutes, just in case you still happened to like/respect bankers. The film only really comes to life when Tucci, Spacey and Irons are in the frame; they do what they do best and for those scenes you can soak up the proper acting. Unfortunately, there are also scenes where broody Baker and Moore struggle to convince, or keep up with the big boys. It is – and feels like – someone’s first time behind the camera; filmed in a rough-ish documentary style, when it needed to be more slick, engaging, flashy or all three. The best bits of Margin Call are powerful scenes with A-listers earning their buck and dropping your jaws; the worst parts feel like unnecessary hindsight-laden anti-banking propaganda.
Horrible Bosses: three friends are having major issues at work and decide it would be best if their bosses weren’t around any more… so they hire a ‘murder consultant’. The three bosses (Spacey, Aniston, Farrell) are all well cast and solid comedy characters. The three goons pull off the comedy of errors pretty well; albeit in a Hollywood shouty fashion, especially the little guy. However, it’s Jamie Foxx in the cameo role that and outshines and outfunnies everyone else put together with immaculate comedy timing. Worth noting that Aniston looks amazing, and gets to say some unbelievably filthy lines – ‘I fingered myself so hard I broke a nail’ – for the guys, this has been a looooong time coming! The majority of the jokes are consistent, and pretty funny, although mostly lowbrow crude/sex orientated – which is a shame as it had massive black comedy potential. It’s also well shot and has the advantage of being one of those films that everyone can relate to – who hasn’t had a boss that was a Psycho, Maneater or Tool at some point?! Horrible bosses is far better than it looks, and a contender with Bridesmaids for Comedy of the year.