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Showing posts from February, 2014

How can I help you steal our stolen art?

The Monuments Men (2014)
How do you end up making a movie with a cast and premise this good so goddamn boring? I had hopes for The Monuments Men, based on both those good solid reasons; it was in my films to see for both 2013 and this year, even though I should have heeded the warning signs when the release date was delayed. After all, it couldn’t be anything but at very least entertaining. Could it? Unfortunately this is George Clooney the director in complete disarray, clueless over to how to string a plot together (with co-writer and frequent collaborator Grant Heslov) and inept at introducing any kind of pace, urgency or drama into his filmmaking. He’s not even that endearing in his familiar anchoring star turn.

He and Heslov previously teamed on Good Night, and Good Luck and The Ides of March, both buoyed somewhat by having a politically invested Clooney (even if his points are relatively soft and familiar ones). Heslov also directed Gorgeous George in the oft chastised but actually…

Can I blow my nose now?

The Iceman (2012)
It says something that Michael Shannon’s most sympathetic role in ages finds him playing a notorious hit man. Both in terms of typecasting and the favourable view director/co-writer Ariel Vromen takes of his subject. Those familiar with the case have found much to fault in this account of Richard Kuklinski’s activities, both factually and with regard to characterisation. But, leaving aside concerns over authenticity for a moment, this is a well-crafted, well-performed and engrossing piece of work. Having just witnessed the OTT glorification of all things ‘70s in American Hustle, The Iceman is refreshingly low key in its milieu. Instead, it’s the succession of sometimes spuriously recognisable faces popping up in a string of cameos that proves a sometimes distracting experience (a scenario that was likely all about favours and financing).

The end credits of the movie announce that it is based on The Iceman: The True Story of a Cold-Blooded Killer by Anthony Bruno and th…

Uncle loves Google.

Beautiful Creatures (2013)
Another week, another failed Young Adult adaptation. This one floundered on its release about this time last year and it’s easy to see why. Possessed of the Southern flavour flaunted by True Blood, but without the libido, Beautiful Creatures is entirely mechanical in its construction of a supernatural world where teenagers both mortal and immortal (see Twilight) interact in a post-Whedon landscape of chosen ones and dark destinies. Richard La Gravenese, who made a splash early in his career with The Fisher King for Terry Gilliam, does his best on scripting and megaphone duties, but he’s unable to wring out anything very memorable.

The movie starts reasonably well though, and unlike many a YA picture, La Gravenese has managed to attract a supporting cast of colourful thesps who, when they’re occasionally granted a scene to themselves (as is more common during the first half) dispel the overpowering odour of the rather insipid love story. That’s not to diminish t…

There is no such thing as forgiveness. People just have short memories.

True Detective 1.6: Haunted House
The far-out theorising of the fifth episode (probably my favourite so far) is all but jettisoned as True Detective is brought back down to earth with a thud and a bump and a grind in Haunted House. It’s a definite and intentional pullback from the investigation side (barring a couple of scenes, and one especially memorable one), which tidies the hedgerows and brings the narrative fully up-to-date. And it serves to really cement that this is all about the decaying lives of the detectives at its centre; the solving of the crime needs to pay-off satisfyingly to justify not being a high class variant on The Mentalist’s progressively less-and-less satisfying Red John arc, but it’s the reverberations in the lives of Rust and Marty that really count. And once it’s over the great scenes filter back into the mind; Rust’s interrogation of the murderous mother, his encounter with Tuttle, the most stunning scene of the episode between him and Maggie (that soundtrac…