Skip to main content

Archive - L



FEATURING:

L.A. Confidential
Law-Abiding Citizen
Leatherheads
The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp
The Lookout
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
The Love Guru


L.A. Confidential
(1997)

Outstanding film, made back in the mists of time before Gladiator when Russell Crowe was bringing his A-game and could still be surprising and a Kevin Spacey supporting role actually meant something. Simon Baker - who's only now making a name for himself -is also in a small role, so the film is littered with Aussies.

*****

Law-Abiding Citizen
(2009)

This needed to be way more OTT than it is to work. F Gary Gray's direction never really gets on board with the nutso script, only Butler seems to really understand how loopy the material is. So there are some nice individual moments of inventiveness but overall it's a lacklustre and distastefully ultra-violent piece of work.

*1/2

Leatherheads
(2008)

George Clooney's third directorial outing is a bit of a bummer, trying to muster a knock-about 1930s vibe to his tale of American football, but ending up with something rather dull and heavy-handed. 

When it should be light, fast and singing with sharp wit. Rene Zellwegger's fairly rotten, while Clooney's comic chops seem to have deserted him without the Coens to guide him in the ways of self-ridicule.

**

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp
(1943)

Classic Powell and Pressburger meditation on the changing times and attitudes to warfare. Churchill hated it, apparently, and wanted it banned (it came out in '43) but Rank turned that opprobrium into a publicity campaign. 

Roger Livesey is outstanding in the lead role, and his make-up dazzles even today. Anton Walbrook provides charming support as his German friend, but fares less well with the aging (he's given a ghostly pallor to deal with). Deborah Kerr’s three roles as the source of Livesey's affection through the years would be a source of creepy obsession in Hitchcock's hands, but here they serve merely to emphasise Livesey's stiff-upper lip propriety.

*****

The Lookout
(2007)

Well-scripted thriller from Scott Frank (Out of Sight, Get Shorty), and his directing debut. Joseph Gordon-Levitt excels as the brain-damaged protagonist who is manoeuvred into involving himself in a bank robbery. Jeff Daniels provides support. 

The script may feel a little "constructed" and artificial but there's a point in the film where that becomes part and parcel of Gordon-Levitt's characterisation, which makes the whole more satisfying.

****

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
(2001-03)

Another (first Blu-ray viewing) for the trilogy, and it looks fantastic. It's always the extended versions that I return to. 

Always gets a big laugh; Denethor running, aflame, from his throne room and making it right to the end of the platform atop Gondor before plunging off; that's some staying power there. 

Always gets a groan; the number of occasions where it appears that Elijah Wood, suffering from what appears to be constipation, dies in slow motion only for it to be then discovered that he's okay after all.

*****

The Love Guru
(2008)

I don’t really understanding why this is "the worst comedy of 2008". I laughed a lot, particularly at the piss-taking of Deepak Chopra, Val Kilmer's cameo, Maska Hargita Special Victims Unit, the Guard Rooster and Verne Troyer being blown up. 

It's pretty much like any Mike Myers film, with lots of pee-pee and poo-poo jokes, which is fine by me.

***

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

There are times when I miss the darkness. It is hard to live always in the light.

Blake's 7 4.12: Warlord

The penultimate episode, and Chris Boucher seems to have suddenly remembered that the original premise for the series was a crew of rebels fighting against a totalitarian regime. The detour from this, or at least the haphazard servicing of it, during seasons Three and Four has brought many of my favourite moments in the series. So it comes as a bit of a jolt to suddenly find Avon making Blake-like advances towards the leaders of planets to unite in opposition against the Federation. 

She writes Twilight fan fiction.

Vampire Academy (2014)
My willingness to give writer Daniel Waters some slack on the grounds of early glories sometimes pays off (Sex and Death 101) and sometimes, as with this messy and indistinct Young Adult adaptation, it doesn’t. If Vampire Academy plods along as a less than innovative smart-mouthed Buffy rip-off that might be because, if you added vampires to Heathers, you would probably get something not so far from the world of Joss Whedon. Unfortunately inspiration is a low ebb throughout, not helped any by tepid direction from Daniel’s sometimes-reliable brother Mark and a couple of hopelessly plankish leads who do their best to dampen down any wit that occasionally attempts to surface.

I can only presume there’s a never-ending pile of Young Adult fiction poised for big screen failure, all of it comprising multi-novel storylines just begging for a moment in the Sun. Every time an adaptation crashes and burns (and the odds are that they will) another one rises, hydra-like, hoping…

I had that Christopher Marlowe in my boat once.

Shakespeare in Love (1998)
(SPOILERS) You see? Sometimes Oscar can get it right. Not that the backlash post-announcement would have you crediting any such. No, Saving Private Ryan had the rug unscrupulously pulled from under it by Harvey Weinstein essentially buying Shakespeare in Love’s Best Picture through a lavish promotional campaign. So unfair! It is, of course, nothing of the sort. If the rest of Private Ryan were of the same quality as its opening sequence, the Spielberg camp might have had a reasonable beef, but Shakespeare in Love was simply in another league, quality wise, first and foremost thanks to a screenplay that sang like no other in recent memory. And secondly thanks to Gwyneth Paltrow, so good and pure, before she showered us with goop.

The Statue of Liberty is kaput.

Saving Private Ryan (1998)
(SPOILERS) William Goldman said of Saving Private Ryan, referencing the film’s titular objective in Which Lie Did I Tell? that it “becomes, once he is found, a disgrace”. “Hollywood horseshit” he emphasised, lest you were in doubt as to his feelings. While I had my misgivings about the picture on first viewing, I was mostly, as many were, impacted by its visceral prowess (which is really what it is, brandishing it like only a director who’s just seen Starship Troopers but took away none of its intent could). So I thought, yeah Goldman’s onto something here, if possibly slightly exaggerating for effect. But no, he’s actually spot-on. If Saving Private Ryan had been a twenty-minute short, it would rightly muster all due praise for its war-porn aesthetic, but unfortunately there’s a phoney, sentimental, hokey tale attached to that opening, replete with clichéd characters, horribly earnest, honorific music and “exciting!” action to engage your interest. There are…

Move away from the jams.

Aladdin (2019)
(SPOILERS) I was never overly enamoured by the early ‘90s renaissance of Disney animation, so the raves over Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin left me fairly unphased. On the plus side, that means I came to this live action version fairly fresh (prince); not quite a whole new world but sufficiently unversed in the legend to appreciate it as its own thing. And for the most part, Aladdin can be considered a moderate success. There may not be a whole lot of competition for that crown (I’d give the prize to Pete’s Dragon, except that it was always part-live action), but this one sits fairly comfortably in the lead.

I’m the spoiled toff who lives in the manor.

Robin Hood (2018)
(SPOILERS) Good grief. I took the disdain that greeted Otto Bathurst’s big screen debut with a pinch of salt, on the basis that Guy Ritchie’s similarly-inclined lads-in-duds retelling of King Arthur was also lambasted, and that one turned out to be pretty good fun for the most part. But a passing resemblance is as close as these two would-be franchises get (that, and both singularly failed to start their respective franchises). Robin Hood could, but it definitely didn’t.

Why would I turn into a filing cabinet?

Captain Marvel (2019)
(SPOILERS) All superhero movies are formulaic to a greater or lesser degree. Mostly greater. The key to an actually great one – or just a pretty good one – is making that a virtue, rather than something you’re conscious of limiting the whole exercise. The irony of the last two stand-alone MCU pictures is that, while attempting to bring somewhat down-the-line progressive cachet to the series, they’ve delivered rather pedestrian results. Of course, that didn’t dim Black Panther’s cultural cachet (and what do I know, swathes of people also profess to loving it), and Captain Marvel has hit half a billion in its first few days – it seems that, unless you’re poor unloved Ant-Man, an easy $1bn is the new $700m for the MCU – but neither’s protagonist really made that all-important iconic impact.

I should have mailed it to the Marx Brothers.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
When your hero(es) ride off into the sunset at the end of a film, it’s usually a pretty clear indication that a line is being drawn under their adventures. Sure, rumours surfaced during the ‘90s of various prospective screenplays for a fourth outing for the whip-cracking archeologist. But I’m dubious anyone really expected it to happen. There seemed to be a natural finality to Last Crusade that made the announcement of his 2007 return nostalgically welcome but otherwise unwarranted. That it turned out so tepid merely seemed like confirmation of what we already knew; Indy’s time was past.

Have you always lived here, Mother?

I Am Mother (2019)
(SPOILERS) This Netflix science-fiction offering arrived with very solid reviews, always a surprise for a Netflix movie, even one they picked up at Sundance. For about two-thirds of the running time, I Am Mother seems to justify the (modest) raves. It boasts assured direction from Grant Sputore (making his feature debut), polished production values and strong performances from a very small cast (basically Hilary Swank and Clare Rugaard, with Luke Hawker in a Weta robot body suit and Rose Byrne providing the voice). It operates intriguing turns of plot and switches in sympathies. Ultimately, however, I Am Mother heads towards a faintly underwhelming and unremarkable, standard-issue conclusion.

It always seems a bit abstract, doesn’t it? Other people dying.

Game of Thrones Season Six
(SPOILERS) The most distracting thing about Season Six of Game of Thrones (and I’ve begun writing this at the end of the seventh episode, The Broken Man) is how breakneck its pace is, and how worryingly – only relatively, mind – upbeat it’s become. Suddenly, characters are meeting and joining forces, not necessarily mired in pits of despair but actually moving towards positive, attainable goals, even if those goals are ultimately doomed (depending on the party concerned). It feels, in a sense, that liberated from George R R Martin’s text, producers are going full-throttle, and you half-wonder if they’re using up too much plot and revelation too quickly, and will run out before the next two seasons are up. Then, I’m naturally wary of these things, well remembering how Babylon 5 suffered from packing all its goods into Season Four and was then given an ultimately wasted final season reprieve.

I’ve started this paragraph at the end of the eighth episode, No One (t…