A film or two

Prefatory note.

I’ve watched a whole bunch of films recently, but should really have been posting reviews progressively instead of letting a large pile build up on the sofa.


Kung Fu Hustle.

Martial arts comedy from Stephen Chow in which local thugs, the Axe Gang, cross swords with kung fu masters who are living incognito in a slum. You get exactly what you expect in films like these, but it’s bloody good fun nonetheless.


No Country for Old Men.

A somewhat vague rather rambling film in which a drug deal has gone wrong, and Javier Barden goes round killing people as he tries to recover the money. It’s one of those films which has no conclusion because things just carry on as they already have been.


AvP 2.

Having blasted off into space at the end of the first film only to have carried the seed of their destruction with them, the Predators crash their ship near Smalltown USA and the Aliens decide to go looking for a bite to eat.

Back on their home planet, the Predators find out that things have gone pear-shaped, but instead of sending a team to sort out the mess, only one of them goes, and gets nuked along with the rest of the town.

Don’t worry. The final scene hints at the possibility of AvP 3: Teen Alien. No, come to think of it, do worry. While AvP was, grudgingly, all right, this represents the slippery slope to endless and increasingly dreadful sequels.


American Gangster.

This appears to be based on a true story about the rise and fall of Frank Lucas in the 1970s. It’s interwoven with problems surrounding the en­dem­ic corruption in various forces in America at that time as Russell Crowe’s character more or less has to work independently outside the force. Although Lucas was eventually jailed, his time was reduced for helping the police with their enquiries.


Appleseed. Ex machina.

It’s been ages since I’ve seen any new anime. I didn’t even know that there had been another Appleseed story. In this one, Olympus is under threat from a mad scientist who’s turned his dead girlfriend into a psychotic supercomputer (bit like Galatea in Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040) which is controlling both cyborgs and humans. It’s fairly obvious from the outset that Connexus is going to be a Bad Thing™.

Meanwhile, a new model bioroid based on Briareos and looking just like Deunan’s now mecha boyfriend appears. She’s not keen about a bioroid that looks like Briareos, but the three of them must join forces to defeat the mad scientist and his zombie girlfriend.

It’s worth noting that the quality of the animation is another step up even compared with Appleseed. Just a pity the story isn’t so good.


Vexille.

More anime, but not a title I knew. It had a very odd style about it until I glanced at the sleeve and saw it said 3D. It’s watchable, but the colours are hideous. In the story, Japan has been cut off from the rest of the world by an impenetrable electronic barrier. After a meeting is attacked by the Japanese, the Americans want to know what’s happening in a country with which there’s been no contact in ten years. They send in a small group of agents who discover that due to some trickery by government and business, Japan has been flattened (literally) and the surviving population forced to live in small coastal enclaves. In fact, the Japanese are all dead, having been turned into androids.

I wondered whether the film was even Japanese to begin with because Japan wasn’t being presented in its usual rosy light. It was only once Vexille got to Japan that the tragedy was revealed. I assume it’s meant to be a satire on corporate culture in Japan in which so many people have been turned into robots.


Jumper.

Darth Vader has the power to jump from one place to another. he is eventually hunted down by a group of people calling themselves paladins who think Jumpers are an abomination in the sight of God. It’s the usual sort of thing. The bad guys catch the good guys; there’s a big fight; the good guys win. Turns out Darth’s mum is also a paladin. Somewhat point­less. If this is the film of the book, it might’ve made more sense if I knew the original story.


The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.

Long and dull.


There will be Blood.

Also long and dull.

Actually, this story might’ve been much better than it was if it’d been less arty and a little more, er, actiony [sic!]. I spent the time doing some translating and having a shower. Got back to see Daniel Day-Lewis beating the religious nutter to death. If you don’t see this one, you’re not going to miss it.


Pierrepoint – The Last Hangman.

Timothy Spall plays Albert Pierrepoint, Britain’s last hangman. It covers both the executions in which he tried to dispatch the condemned swiftly and then treat them with dignity afterwards and his personal life outside his public duties. Although he tried to approach his other job professionally, there were times such as the occasion when he had to execute a friend and the production-line executions after Nuremberg when it wasn’t so easy for him.

Spall puts in a solid performance. It wasn’t exactly the most exciting work and the film, fortunately, didn’t attempt to dramatise the executions in the way Hollywood would’ve.


To Kill a King.

The colouring of Elizabeth The Golden Age to satisfy the need for drama may have ended up casting Sir Walter Raleigh in the role of alleged royal boyfriend, but the portrayal of Oliver Cromwell in To Kill a King actually makes EGA look much more historically accurate. To Kill a King is the story of Fairfax and Cromwell after the end of the English Civil War. They insist on calling each other by their first names in almost every line of dialogue as if this establishes what good friends they are.

Cromwell, played by Tim Roth, comes across more like some Hollywood psychotic than a religious fanatic. In one scene, after Charles I has been executed, a street pedlar sells relics. Some solders from the New Model Army turn up to arrest the man and with them, for no particular reason, are Fairfax and Cromwell. Cromwell pulls out a pistol (primed and ready to fire) and shoots the man in the leg against Fairfax’s protests before then shooting him in the throat and leaving him to die. Fairfax finishes him off.

Fairfax then arranges to have Cromwell assassinated, but when he admits the plot and although Cromwell is ordering the conspirators to be burnt, nothing happens. After the Restoration, Fairfax was pardoned. I don’t think Charles II would’ve pardoned the makers of this turd of a film.


National Treasure. Book of Secrets.

I only bought this one because it’s on at the movies here and I was curious to know what it’s about. The answer? A treasure hunt.


Patlabor the Movie 3. WXIII.

Read the title as W13. It’s the usual sort of thing: monster from Tokyo Bay wrecks havoc on the city. A little dull at times. Like the Appleseed film, it came with decent English subs.

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2 thoughts on “A film or two”

  1. "You get exactly what you expect in films like these, but it’s bloody good fun nonetheless."Describes every Stephen Chow film.No Country for Old Men? Complete waste of time and money, thoroughly undeserving of any awards. I was thoroughly bored by the whole thing.

  2. I like some Coen Brothers films, but I think more than a few of them are grossly overrated, and actually pretty dull. I won’t be watching No Country for Old Men again – ever.

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