BRONSON, crying at dogs, looking like Hoffman, THE INTERNATIONAL, DONNIE DARKO 2 and more reviewed!
What do you get if you cross a serious journalist with a lazy pedant?
Double penetration madness! Since I managed to miss last weeks post - my dog ate it, I promise Sir- Ive included all of the goodies released in the past two weeks. Firstly, I'd like to apologise for the abysmal spelling errors on last week's column. Apparently I had had some kind of massive head trauma, and didnt realise that the simplest of words were spelled as if a chimpanzee had somehow got hold of my laptop and happily bashed at the keys in an unprejudiced manner. It wont happen agen. So, firstly the 6th's offerings... Bronson Director: Nicolas Winding Refn Brutal and brilliant look at the life of infamous criminal Michael Gordon Peterson, better known by the name he changed by deed toll to Charles Bronson, a small-time thief who was imprisoned initially on a seven year term for robbing a post office (for a paltry £26.18) which was repeatedly extended due to some seriously naughty behaviour in prison. Naughty may be a little bit of an understatement- you dont spend thirty years in solitary for refusing to queue or observing the quiet after lights out rule. Whether the film is truthful or otherwise- it is far more valuable as a look at Peterson's degenerative immersion into his superreal alter-ego Bronson than a biography- the film makes excellent viewng. Chief among the glories is Tom Hardy's phenomenal performance as the titular anti-hero, which should further propel him to the heights his underrated performances so far should surely have warranted. Marley & Me Director: David Frankel Why would anyone put themselves through it? I wept like a beaten child throughout, and it was mainly because of the skewed reality that assumed that all the destructive habits of a wayward pet can easily be rectified by one cutesy wag of its evil tail, and that the entire gambit of human emotions must be filtered through some furry critter. I also despise being treated like the surely minimal percentage of the populus who love dogs more than they value worthwhile human relationships- here's a message to everyone who loves this film because of the four legged star and nothing else GET A FUCKING GRIP OF YOURSELF, IT'S A FUCKING POOCH- IF YOU OWNED IT, IT'D ONLY SHIT IN YOUR SLIPPERS AND EAT YOUR BEST FACE CREAM. Ah, I feel better. Now a moment to mourn the loss of Owen Wilson's career... Doubt Director: John Patrick Shanley Cruel people tell me I look like Philip Seymour Hoffman. The truth is I'm closer to an Eddie Izzard doppelganger, but if anyone accused me of having similar acting chops to the man with two first names I'd be mightily grateful. Whatever he turns his hand to- whether creepy obsessive sidekick (Boogie Nights), slightly oddball director (Synechdoche New York) or a progressive priest (Doubt)- he is never anything but brilliant. This adaptation of John Patrick Shanley's excellent stage play is a proper actor's piece (and one inevitably labelled merely Oscar-bait in some quarters) and a wonderful slow-burner of a piece which deserved a hell of a lot more exposure than it seemed to receive on its cinematic release. Strange indeed it owes some of its heritage to Joe Versus The Volcano though eh? The International Director: Tom Tykwer I dont know what it is about Clive Owen, but I am rarely thrilled at the prospect of him appearing on screen- whether acting like a less charismatic Daniel Craig or doing his best to spoil Sin City with his despicable accent (I still think he wandered onto that set by accident), his redeeming achievements are few and far between (Closer is the obvious exception). In The International, an interesting sounding intrigue thriller- with more than a hint of a Credit Crunch revenge theme (much like Drag Me to Hell)- Owen at least doesnt try and play an American. But his performance is undone by the ridiculousness of the plot- it is essentially just a one-man-versus-faceless-corporation yarn, but the hook is just too difficult to accept and the script takes too much time trying to explain itself. S.Darko Director: Chris Fisher In a word- shit. In two- absolute shit. An intensely unnecessary sequel that merely serves to sully the memory of the predecessor, and should never be viewed by anyone desiring any kind of pleasure or entertainment. But as a lesson in how not to make a sequel (to a film that never needed one in the first place) you cant get much better (though the Blair Witch Book of Shadows bollocks does run it close). Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon BLU-RAY Director: Ang Lee The film that reignited the West's raging hard-on for the Eastern epic, finally and rightfully available in high definition format. And it's an impressive transfer as well, with the next generation features framing Ang Lee's masterpiece wonderfully- it was visually stunning beforehand, but now, it's just something else. Martina Cole's The Take Director: David Drury For anyone who missed this on Sky One in the UK, you missed a trick. So how kind of them to release it on DVD immediately after it finished on TV. Tom Hardy should be all over both silver and small screens- I have infinite time for him, and find myself mesmorised by his total immersion in his roles- he is at his terrifying best when he has a character with villainy and charisma in droves to play with, and you cant get much more villainous than in The Take. An exceptional British crime drama. Also AvailableHighlander: Immortal Edition, The Secret of Santa Vittoria (1969), Glass: A Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts (2007), Blind Loves (2008), A Child Is Waiting (1963), Prison Break Season 4, True Romance BLU-RAY, and various Michael Jackson related things released in an effort to shamelessly squeeze his grieving fans into parting with their allowance. And now those released on the 13th...The Young Victoria Director: Jean-Marc Vallee Disappointingly, The Young Victoria plods along for almost two hours without ever really troubling any nerves- its a pleasant look at a screen Queen Victoria we havent really seen yet (played well enough by gorgeous Emily Blunt) but it gets way too bogged down in history without ever offering enough intrigue to keep the attention really on fire. Too much detail and not enough narrative, but at least it didnt try and be as pseudo-hip as some other recent historical dramas (step forward The Duchess). Torchwood: Children of Earth Writer: Russell T. Davies Curiously for someone so into sci-fi series, I've never been turned on by the new incarnation of Dr Who or its Welsh spin-off Torchwood starring camper than Christmas delight John Barrowman- wonderful, self-consciously iffy production values of the original series that were the heart and soul of it have all but gone, replaced by the glitz and glamour of modern BBC budgets and there is a strange hole that even Russel T. Davies' considerable writing skills cant tackle. Hotel for Dogs Director: Thor Freudenthal Sickly family comedy from the most foreign sounding man ever. Do kids really like this? Any adults watching it with them surely wont, and I'm sure Lisa Kudrow didnt really see herself doing this kind of work when she was picking up those hefty Friends cheques back in the day. Driven to Kill Director: Jeff KingSteven Seagal soars in this period drama about love in time of the Industrial Revolution, his desire exacerbating his fragile mental condition, brought on by years of class-based abuse at the hands of his love's family on their estate in Huntingdon, England. Well, maybe not... it's a typical Seagal offering, full of balls and no brain. But what the fuck do you care, you're hardly going to go out and buy the sodding thing. Religulous Director: Larry Charles I love documentaries: especially when they're made by those who have a thick satirical vein running through them- even Michael Moore floats my boat when he's being funny on purpose- so I was always going to take something from Religulous, but I cant help but feeling like it wasnt grand and ambitious enough. The satire is just too easy, the targets too obvious and the scope too limited for something with such infite subject matter and potential for fun-poking. Still worth a watch though. Three Kingdoms- Resurrection of the Dragon Director: Daniel Lee The same narrative subject as the ridiculously good and grand Red Cliff- Three Kingdoms is a far more understated sibling of John Woo's movie, but isnt obviously weaker for the comparatively tiny budget- in fact it is a very good (if slightly typical) addition to Eastern epic genre. That is not the say there's nothing wrong with it- the battle scenes are a little bit too epic (they are bloody endless), and the characterisation takes a back seat in favour of aesthetics and ceremony. But as epics go, it's not half bad and will bridge the gap until Red Cliff eventually hits the small screen in a few months. Also Available:Mad Men Season 2, Ashes to Ashes Series2,Little Ashes, Genova Watching Series 5, Numb3rs Series 4, Hotel Babylon Series 3, The , Red Mist, Haunted Echoes and probably even moreMichael Jackson related gubbins. Yawn.