Family Jewels / Barry Munday: just weeks after losing his testicles in a trumpet-based attack, Barry is faced with a paternity lawsuit from someone he can’t remember humping! Being in almost every scene, Patrick Wilson really keeps this moving in the right direction; his comedy timing in particular is top-notch, and having seen him in Watchmen and Hard Candy he’s rapidly shooting up my list of most watchable actors. The rest of the cast are good, although most characters feel like they’ve been plucked from other films. The funny moments are mostly awkward/cringe-based with a hint of deadpan – lines like “one second I was watching a movie, six hours later I woke up in a hospital… where they had removed my testicles” – or 5 guys talking about their mangled penises – may not sound amazing, but are absolutely nailed with comic conviction. For a cringedy the laughs are paired with some surprisingly deep and emotive scenes & themes centering around paternity, fatherhood, pregnancy and family. Sure Family Jewels is a little slow-paced and has some questionable plot points, but it very uplifting and loaded with charm – right up to cheesier than cheesy ending. Decent debut from Chris D’Arienzo
The A-Team: a crack commando unit gets sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn’t commit; these men promptly escape and try to clear their name, by any means possible! It was an honourable attempt at a decent story, which was good in parts but landed somewhere between you’re average Seagal and Bourne Flick. You get what you see with the simple characters, but it’s hardly a character piece. Hannibal/Neeson looked uncomfortable throughout, but Murdoch/Copley picks up all the slack, and ends up the film’s real star. Patrick Wilson‘s also decent. The action was great, and should leave you grinning ear to ear because it’s cool & gratifying escapism (flying tanks, mad stunts, explosions, dogfights…) right up until the last big play where it got so ridiculous that CGI had to take over. We got a solid 3 months of hype in the UK so I wasn’t expecting much, but The A-Team is simply an enjoyable, over-the-top action film. Probably 20 minutes longer than it should be, but much better than expected.
Hard Candy: a character-driven modern thriller that feels like the most extreme episode of ‘To Catch A Predator’. Right from the opening IM conversation you know this film will be difficult to watch, and the first 20 minutes are among the most awkward I’ve seen. Because there’s only two characters the story’s very neat and wrapped up tightly: Ellen Page is nothing short of phenomenal and Patrick Wilson was great. David Slade made a good job of making the film feel cold, minimal and clinical, although colour is used very effectively, and his direction throughout is spot on. Guys will always remember what happens off-screen and there’s a few more scenes that stuck with me since I originally saw it in the cinema. By the end, it begins to feel a little stretched out, and it does make you question how a kid could execute this plan so perfectly. Fantastic feature-length debut, but hard-hitting content will be too uncomfortable for some.