Archive for June 2009
I’ve now moved this to my new blog
Smokin’ Aces (oh and that missing ‘g’ is so annoying) is well, if not THE worse, then certainly the worse film I’ve seen in a long long time. I mean I wasn’t expecting some art-flick masterpiece but, given the trailer I’d seen I was hoping for at least a fun romp. But it’s just a mess and not even a glorious mess. A pastiche of half a dozen other films it miss-fires on all levels.
There’s this bloke, Buddy Israel who was originally a magician but got mixed up with the mob. Now he’s planning to turn stool pigeon and the big crime-boss wants him dead, and what seems like about a hundred assassins are out to get him. On the other side, trying to protect him are a group of FBI agents led by Ray Liotta who seems to be mentally counting his pay-cheque in every scene and some bail-bondsman led by a smug under-performing Ben Affleck. They all end up bumping into each other in, not actually in Las Vegas, but it may as well be, hotel.
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I was pleasantly surprised by Skeleton Key. It’s real B-movie and gets a bit daft in the final reels but it’s well-acted and has an intelligent screen-play with some decent twists and makes its lower budget an advantage by placing almost all the action in one effective location. Pure Southern Gothic… had a real Alan Moore Swamp Thing feel to it with its voodoo, sorry houdoo, vibe. No walking talking plant though.
Beasts is a series of plays with a horror theme written by Nigel Kneale, most famous for originating Quatermass. I’ve know about them for some time and their release on DVD gave me an opportunity to see if they are as good as their reputation. On the whole they do hold up well, given some consideration that they were made back in a time when special effects were not so special; plus the direction can be pedestrian and acting a bit over the top at times. But though things might be a bit creaky round the edges they do hold up well. Things actually work best when things are left more to the viewers imaginations, as is often the case with very low budget horror, such as the episode ‘Special Offer’. A very young looking Pauline Quirk plays a check-out assistant in a small supermarket who thinks she keep seeing the supermarket’s mascot, a rabbit-like animal, Billy. As she is disbelieved and sees the manager flirting with a pretty rival the appearances of Billy start to have a physical effect with cans flying off the shelves. The viewer never actually seems Billy and whole thing is an interesting investigation of poltergeist activity in a ‘modern’ setting (thought the supermarket will look very old-fashioned to modern eyes).
Now Millions was the business. I only watched this because Danny Trainspotting Boyle directed it, but it turned out to be a cracker. A nice mixture of darkness and light as a child who recently lost his mother finds a bag full of money. There is a real evocation of the magical times of childhood when everything is that little bit more special and your imagination can run riot.
Daisy Donovan was a revelation. From her earlier shows I knew she could act but she puts in a real subtle performance. And for once James Nesbitt didn’t annoy me at all.
I just wish Danny Boyle would make more films. Still his next science fiction one, Sunshine, looks a cracker.
I first heard about Stalker ages when I read a rave review of it in a book about science fiction films. It was a film directed by the acclaimed Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky. A few years back I had tried to watch his Solaris on late night television but gave up due to both the lateness of the hour and the film’s extreme length. I will not say it was boring exactly, just so arty as to be almost unwatchable. After that the urge to watch Stalker had receded. But then recently I saw it was available for rental so thought I would give it a go.
The film does have a plot, if on the face of it a rather simple one. A Stalker leads the Writer and the Scientist into the Zone (yes all the capitals indicate we are dealing with arch-types not real people here). The Zone was formed after a meteorite (or possibly an alien spacecraft) crashed, leaving an area riddled with deadly ‘traps’ but at the centre of which is a Room that will grant whatever is someone’s deepest wish. Read the rest of this entry »