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Reviews Archive - C


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Casino Royale
Charlie Wilson's War
Chungking Express
Clear and Present Danger
Close Encounters of the Third Kind: The Collector's Edition
Cloverfield
Clue
Collateral
Colossus: The Forbin Project
Control
Convict 99

Casino Royale
(2006)

Viewed following a Bourne marathon, this comes across as being as cheesy as any post-Moore entry in the Bond canon. Which isn't to say it's not very good. But repeat viewings betray the lack of chemistry between Craig and Eva Green, which is crucial to both this and the next film (in terms of Bond’s motivation). 

Bringing back Judi Dench was a mistake, since it allows leaden "in the pyschiatrist's chair" dialogue. There's also some clunking product placement ("Rolex?" "Amiga"). The title sequence is absolutely beautiful.

****



Centurion
(2010)

Something of a return to form for Neil Marshall after the atrocity that is Doomsday, although he should really stop writing his own scripts (some of the dialogue is beyond ripe) and maybe consider that sometimes splatter isn't everything. 300 vets Michael Fassbender and Dominic West put in fine performances.

***


Charlie Wilson's War
(2007)

Tom Hanks and Phiip Seymour Hoffman are enjoying themselves immensely but the result never feels as deliriously barbed or satirical as it should, given the ripe subject matter (funding Afghanistan in the early '80s to overthrow the Russian occupation). 

Still, the material is never less than engrossing despite the presence of Julia Roberts. The cute chick from the Roswell TV series turns up as one of Wilson's floozy secretaries.

***1/2


Chungking Express
(1994)

I'd forgotten how much I love this film. Split into two halves, each follows a different lovelorn cop frequenting the same noodle bar. 

The first part sees depressed Takeshi Kaneshiro eating 30 tins of pineapple chunks then chatting up drug dealer Brigitte Lin. It's very agreeable, but it's the second half that truly shines, as adorably loopy pixie Faye Wong breaks into bemused cop Tony Leung's apartment while he is away and tidies it up, to the accompaniment of California Dreamin' and Wong's own version of The Cranberries' Dreams.

*****

Clear and Present Danger
(1994)

We’re well into Harrison Ford's "constipated acting" phase by this point (which started circa Presumed Innocent). It was never a good sign that he was so desperate for a franchise that he took Alec Baldwin's table leavings, but he is served up a decent confrontation scene ("How dare you, sir!"). 

Willem Dafoe completely steals the movie. Because that’s what Willem Dafoe does.

***

Close Encounters of The Third Kind: The Collector's Edition
(1977)

The version with the good bits from the 1981 re-release (ship in the desert) but not the crap ones (inside the mothership). 

It's telling that Spielberg says on the doc that he wouldn't have Neary go off with the aliens and leave his family if he was making the film today; this was back when Spielberg just wanted to make good movies, rather than shoehorning sentiment into every crevice. The photography is stunning, and the special effects stand up, if anything, even better today as the approach taken is so very non-CGI.

*****

Cloverfield  
(2008)

J  J Abrams and director Matt Reeves dial up every cliché in the book in order to place their central characters in peril, but they are undeniably successful in creating a sense of immediacy and panic, even if the film runs itself into the ground in the last 10 minutes. 

The piece is a whole lot more effective in summoning up an atmosphere of apocalyptic dread than any of the recent end of the world flicks.

****


Clue
(1985)

Communism was just a red herring.

****

Collateral
(2004)

Michael Mann does wonders with a decent but unspectacular script, drawing a strong villainous performance from Tom Cruise at the same time. 

The film's conceit (hit man forces cabbie to drive him from hit to hit) works well for most of the duration although the final reel descends into your standard action/chase sequence (but exceptionally well-put together). Always good to see Mark Ruffalo, but his dogged cop is a bit of a thankless part.

****

Colossus: The Forbin Project
(1970)

Early '70s mad computer feature. If the set-up requires a certain suspension of logic, the actual play-out is nastily effective and credit is due for resisting any kind of easy solutions.

***

Control
(2007)

Inevitably extremely depressing, but brilliantly directed by Anton Corbijn (the black & white photography is gorgeous, as you'd expect) and superbly performed.

****

Convict 99
(1938)

Highly enjoyable comedy. Will Hay’s Benjamin Twist mistakenly ends up behind bars, then assumes the role of prison governor and hands the prisoners luxuries. Moore Marriott steals the show as an ever-tunnelling-for-freedom in-mate.

***

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