Friday, 8 June 2012


Prometheus - 2012, Ridley Scott

Prometheus is bad. What a shame.
According to Wikipedia, about three years ago Ridley Scott decided he wanted to make a prequel to Alien. He hired a screenwriter called Jon Spaihts who at that point hadn’t had anything he’d written made into a film but was apparently a ‘“go-to-guy for space thrillers" … his science fiction romance Passengers was included on the 2007 Black List of unproduced high-value screenplays’.

Ridley later brought a guy called Damon Lindelof on board who wrote a few episodes of Lost and has produced a few films. The three of them proceeded to talk themselves out of the idea of making a prequel to Alien and instead making something that could be considered a parallel film, or some such lunacy. So what they ended up with is a film that isn’t explicitly part of the Alien story, and yet, it’s full of stuff from the first Alien film. This means that anyone who is familiar with Alien (I am very familiar with all four Alien films which is why I have such problems with Prometheus, more on that later) will recognise all the  H.G. Giger  inspired designs. Gigers ‘look’ was and is unique in cinema and is intrinsically linked to Alien. Prometheus is full of Giger inspired stuff, a lot of it lifted directly from Alien. If Ridley Scott wasn’t involved people watching this film would say “hang on, they’re completely ripping off Alien”. But Ridley and 20th Century Fox are involved, so it seems as though Spaihts and Lindelof have used the desire to make an official prequel as an opportunity to try to create their own saga: 

‘Lindelof suggested that the other parts of the script were strong enough to survive without the Alien hallmarks, such as the Alien creature which he believed had been "diluted" by the exposure it had received since, and the burden of "all the tropes of that franchise with Facehuggers and Chestbursters". He offered that the film could instead run parallel to those films, such that a sequel would be Prometheus 2 and not Alien, and submitted an idea for how such a sequel could work.’

So Prometheus was doomed to fail when it was hijacked by a couple of self serving writers who had their own agenda, but an equally big problem is with the direction and production design.

Like I said, I really like the Alien films.  They form part of ‘The List’. You’ll recognise them:

Termanator 2
Blade Runner
John Carpenter’s The Thing
And whichever others a film fan born in the 80s may wish to include, personally I rate Scanners, Predator  1 and 2 and Alien 3 just as highly.

It’s boring to listen to people go on and on about these films but they all share a special place in the hearts of at least three generations.  For a period of ten years or so a collection of Sci Fi films were made that took themselves seriously (admittedly Predator isn’t exactly Hamlet) and so everyone who acted in them portrayed their characters as believably as possible.

What makes the first three Alien films (and to a lesser extent Alien: Resurrection, but that one’s a bit of a turd and I don’t like to talk about it) so good is that the performances by each actor are completely believable. One of the many revolutionary aspects of Alien was the way the characters were portrayed as ‘truckers in space’. Sure they were travelling beyond the stars in a space ship, but to them it was work and they weren’t happy about it. They weren’t the doe eyed, awe struck, adventure-scientist-astronauts  of Star Trek or the Space Opera Heroes of Star Wars, they were regular people being bored at work. The best horror films are the ones where the characters react realistically to unrealistic situations. The characters in Alien reacted to their mission with contempt and to the creature by shitting themselves, until then end when Ripley was steeled by the fact that the she was the last one left.  Aliens and Alien 3 were the same.

Prometheus is full of good actors acting badly. Stringer Bell from The Wire is in it, The Original Swedish Version Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is in it, Guy Pierce is miscast as an old man in it (just cast an old man for crying out loud), Charlize ‘won that Oscar remember’ Theron is in it, Sean ‘you’ll recognise me from other films where I’m really good’ Harris is in it and they all do very badly. Only Man of The Hour Michael Fassbender comes out smelling of roses bit that’s only because he gets to play an android (clearly Lindelof didn’t feel the artificial humans of the Alien franchise were ‘a burden’) but Fassbenders camp turn still isn’t a patch on Ian Holm’s Ash or Lance Henriksen’s Bishop.

All of these A-Listers are acting like they’re in a summer popcorn blockbuster rather than a film that is unselfconscious enough to be earnest. Its soap opera stuff.  The script is partially to blame; while the events may not be contrived , each character’s motivation for their actions is very hard to swallow.

The hammy performances betray the big secret behind Prometheus; it is a sequel after all. Forget any attempts by Ridley et al to convince you that this isn’t. Of course it’s an Alien sequel, it’s a $130 million summer blockbuster that has to live up to contemporary franchise behemoths like Spiderman and Batman and Star Trek and The Latest Marvel Whoever.

Consider this: in 1979 Star Trek: The Motion Picture was released, as was Alien. Both films were produced as a direct result of the success of Star Wars.  Star Trek was already a franchise (although back then ‘franchise’ meant something different to what it means today) so they spent $46 million on the film version. Alien was the only Sci Fi script that was ready to go into production at Fox so it was hastily given a green light. Like so many films, Alien is good because of the lack of expectation, Ridley’s artistic vision was unclouded by the pressure of financial success. Prometheus however is bad due to excessive expectations.  I don’t just mean the expectations of po-faced  Alien fans like myself, I mean the expectations of a Studio demanding  the film be a guaranteed blockbuster and the resulting motivation for the writers to do something unexpected for the sake of it.

I won’t provide details as I’d like to avoid spoiling it for you if you have not seen it yet , but for every good bit there are two bad bits. I’d also like to think I’m wrong, so if you’re planning on watching it, try to keep an open mind. I’ll definitely rent it and watch it again in 3 months time and see if I change my opinion.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

February 2012

Drive – 2011, Nicolas Winding Refn
Obviously I’ve not seen every film that was released in 2011 but I’d have to say this is by far the best. Well worth all the hype. A lot of this film is just a guy with an awful jacket driving around LA in the dark but the reason it’s so good, the reason we care we much about this guy, is because the opening sequence established him as being cool as fuck. He’s a badass and after five minutes in his company we want him to succeed, whatever it is he winds up doing. It looks good and sounds good and the dialogue is very sparse which is also good. The less everybody says the less chance any of the characters have to say something annoying or unbelievable and thus turn the audience against the characters they are supposed to be routing for. I wish I’d seen it at the cinema.

Last of The Mohicans – 1992, Michael Mann

It’s strange to see Daniel Day-Lewis being all heroic and dashing but it’s hard to think of another actor of that period (20 years ago) who could have done better. Mel Gibson? Michael Douglas? Kevin Coster? Pierce Brosnan? I read the James Fenimore Cooper novel over Christmas, I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s nowhere near as bad or unreadable as its harshest critics say it but plot doesn’t really live up to the premise, hence the liberal rearranging of things in this movie and adaptation (preceded by four others, the first in 1912). I suppose this film will go in and out of fashion, just like the novel, but I enjoyed it. Worth watching just for Mugua.

Hunger – 2008, Steve McQueen

I watched this late last year and at the time it was the best film I had seen in ages, but then I do watch a lot of pretty bad films. It’s nice to see a film throw conventional structure out of the window and yet still maintain the viewer’s interest. Michael Fassbender and Liam Cunningham share most of the dialogue but the events bookending their big scene are equally compelling. I like the prison drama genre, but it always leaves me wondering just how accurate such films are and Hunger had me questioning the most. There’s some pretty nasty stuff going on in this film, almost unbelievable in fact. Does doubting make me naive?

Mulholland Drive – 2001, David Lynch
I went into this one completely cold. I knew to expect a the unordinary from Mr Lynch but I was still a bit thrown and slightly annoyed by the u-turn it takes after the first 90 minutes or so. I watched the special features on the disc afterwards and discovered that it was originally a pilot for a TV series that was never commissioned so they decided to film a bit more and release it theatrically. So the first part is the first episode and the second part is the final episode. It’s good and weird and funny, but by the end it seems that it’s just crazy for the sake of crazy. Worth watching I suppose. Incidentally, this film made me feel like a teenager aging; I can’t remember the last time I watched a film where I hoped that a bird would get her tits out as much as Laura Harring in this one. Sweet Jesus what a pay-off.

The Hangover Part II – 2011, Todd Phillips
So The Hangover made over $450 million on a budget of $35 million, all because it was better than everyone expected, so those who had seen it probably recommended it to their friends more highly than they intended. At least that was my experience after seeing it in the cinema one Sunday after a wedding the day before. As you’ve probably heard, part II is the same as the first (if it ain’t broke don’t fix it), only in Bangkok. Any ‘charm’ that the first one had is lost. Apparently the third one won’t follow the same formula.

Warrior – 2011, Gavin O’Conner
Like Rocky but with MMA, or so the producers would have you believe (the plot about a couple of nobodies getting a chance to be contenders is just as far fetched). It was conceived and produced by a bunch of guys who actually look like clowns who are somehow involved with MMA without actually being fighters or trainers. The story is a bit overwritten; it takes itself very seriously in order to arrive at an very contrived climax, but the cast and the direction make up for it. I can’t decide if Tom Hardy is a good actor. He’s very good in Bronson and he’s not bad in this (although his Pittsburgh accent slips a little sometimes). Nick Nolte does well in the role of recovering alcoholic estranged father, well worth an Oscar nod I suppose. Is that Kurt Angle?

Horrible Bosses – 2011, Seth Gordon
Shit, all the more so because of what I read about it in the Variety website:
New Line has decided to go to work with "Horrible Bosses," snapping up Michael Markowitz's spec comedy script for mid-six figures and setting it up with Brett Ratner and Jay Stern to produce through their New Line-based Rat Entertainment shingle.

The Brothers Solomon – 2007, Bob Odenkirk
Not as shit, but far from great. I watched it because of this article.

Senna – 2010, Asif Kapadia

I probably made a mistake in watched the 162 minute extended Blu-ray version. It’s still very interesting but I’m reliably informed that the theatrical version was very well paced. The extended cut was never boring, but some of the taking heads got a lot of screen time, and some of the sound editing was very heavy handed (I imagine it was much better in the shorter version). I’m supprised they didn’t interview more former F1 drivers.

Gran Torino – 2008, Clint Eastwood
Just as good third time round. Maybe my fave Clint, but one day I’ll buy that 35 DVD box set and pick one for sure. Made my girlfriend cry.

Troll Hunter – 2010, Andre Orvedal

Norwegian ‘found footage’ romp about a bunch of students following a grizzled Troll Hunter around picturesque Scandinavian type places. The beginning and the ending aren’t great but the hour in the middle is very good. It’s like Monster and Stakeland in that it’s clearly been made on a shoestring but the digital effects stand up very well.

The Devil’s Double – 2011, Lee Tamahori

The true story about the guy who was forced into being the body double for Saddam Hussein’s son Uday. You’d think that such a premise would attract the interest of a big studio and a big name actor to play the duel roles of psycho Uday and his far abused look-alike (especially since the true story Machine Gun Preacher was made recently). But interesting as it sounds it has a clearly limited budget and the main guy Dominic Cooper doesn’t really pull it off. Shame.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – 2011, Tomas Alfredson

Because I had heard it was very hard to follow I listened very closely and didn’t have any trouble. It’s good, but too evenly paced; there are no real dramatic highs or lows, just steady investigation leading to a slightly unsatisfying climax.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

January 2012

Back on the old Blogger blog with what I hope will be monthly posts. In January 2012 I watched…

Collateral Damage – 2002, Andrew Davis
I consider myself a bit of a Schwarzenegger aficionado yet Collateral Damage always felt like the long lost Arnie film. I’d only seen it once before, it was the first time I’d ever seen one of his films in a cinema. I remember being quite exited by that at the time and perhaps that clouded my judgement as I had fond memories of this one. It was released the year before Arnold became Governor and stopped making movies (beyond the odd cameo appearance) and came after The 6th Day, which is very poor, and End of Days, which isn’t particularly good either but I kind of like it.
Collateral Damage is slightly better than End of Days but it still disappoints. The story tries too hard to be clever and twisty and is more than a Schwarzenegger film requires. There are some quite good moments that stem from the fact that Arnold’s character isn’t a special forces guy or a secret agent or even a cop, he’s just a regular guy (albeit a heroic fire-fighter) so when he does bad-ass things, it’s in a refreshingly humble way. This time Schwarzenegger isn’t playing it to-cool-for-school and it works well. The early digital special effects look quite ropey now but I think they’re charming.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows - 2011, Guy Ritchie
No better or worse than the first one. The slow-motion-pre-imagined fight scenes start to drag a little by the end and it maybe suffers from having such a large budget as it all gets a bit like the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen movie by the end. I’ve never found Robert Downey Jr to be all that funny.

Rare Exports – 2011, Jalmari Helander
A scary Finnish film about a demonic Santa Clause. I really liked it. I think it has a 15 rating but it’s a Christmas film and the main character is a little boy, so while it’s violent and scary, it reminded me of films like The Goonies. The best kids films are the ones that aren’t really meant for kids but that don’t have anything beyond a little bad language and a couple of spooky bits or monsters or whatever. I’d make an awful parent.

Captain America: The First Avenger – 2011, Joe Jonston

Not as good as Thor, better than The Green Lantern. I always think that the bad guy’s creation stories are better than the good guy’s so it’s unfortunate that the origins of The Red Skull are glossed over while the we spend the whole first act waiting to see super buff Chris Evans. I hope Thor gets plenty to do in The Avengers.

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol – 2011, Brad Bird
As much fun as you’d expect but I think the third one is better. It’s similar to MI3 in that it’s clear we’re not supposed to worry too much about what’s going on. It’s funny how such a big deal was made of the sequence in Dubai and the whole ‘international production’ when there’s not a single Emirati or otherwise Arabic character in the whole film, then when we end up in India for the climax and the one Indian character is just comic relief.

Source Code – 2011, Duncan Jones
Some people were under whelmed but I liked it, although I’m predisposed to enjoy high concept, low budget sci-fi in all its forms. The ending was a bit happy for me though. If you like this I’d recommend Surrogates. What next from Mr Jones?

The Duellists – 1977, Ridley Scott
I like Ridley Scott’s debut film. Harvey Keitel was very well cast as the villain who is a bit one dimensional; he just a complete prick who wants to kill the good guy in a duel. Harvey’s got the chops to make his character interesting even though he isn’t at all fleshed out. The two lead characters duel a lot throughout Napoleonic France while the hero (played by Kieth Carridine, who disappeared into obscurity) tries to get on with his life but can’t escape his nemesis. Harvey really pulls off the bad guy role leaving the good guy to provide the emotional weight. It’s very simple but it works well and looks lovely.

Summer Wars – 2009, Mamoru Hosoda
Not as disappointing as the tedious The Girl Who Leapt Through Time but still quite boring in parts. A lot more Animes receive high profile release outside Japan due to the success of Miyazaki, but films like Summer Wars just don’t ‘play’ in the west because (or not with me at least) because we don’t care about the love stories between high-schoolers that form most of the plot. We’re far more interested in the crazy, imaginative stuff that is, in the case of Summer Wars, frustratingly relegated to the background while mundane family drama/teenage relationships develop in the foreground. Boring

Stakeland – 2011, Jim Mickle
No cinematic release to speak of but it recently had a prominent Blu-ray release (by which I mean it was on the ‘New Releases’ shelf at the Prestwich Blockbuster). Post-apocalyptic road movie type stuff, it’s shot like a small indie film. More The Road than Zombieland, but with more scary bits and not so harrowingly bleak. And lots of Vampires in case that wasn’t obvious from the title. Shot on a low budget but with a high end digital camera (a Red One if that means anything to you) it looks very good it’s lovingly made, clearly inspired by Monsters. It’s let down slightly by some corny dialogue and would have been greatly improved if the plot and characters were just a bit better. It’s a good take on a rather tired premise but falls just shy of being excellent.

Mr Nobody – 2009, Jaco Van Dormael

138 minutes of pretentious guff that I couldn’t be bothered to finish.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

I have moved on...

Hello. After some frequent updating my blogging slowed to a standstill over the summer. Rather than keep up this blog at a slower pace, I moved to another site that isn't effected by that google bug thing that makes viewing blogger difficult if not impossible for some folks

The new blog 'Last 5 Films' is here

and the format is self explanitary. No need to sign up to anything to comment either, so swing by and tell me what you think.

Thanks for reading,


Sunday, 12 June 2011

Inglorious Basterds

Inglorious Basterds – 2009, Quentin Tarantino

I remember begrudgingly accepting that Inglorious Basterds was a good film upon its release a couple of years ago. I went into the cinema with an open mind after all the hype that comes with ‘The New Tarantino’ but there were a few things that put me off at the very start, Firstly there’s the three opening titles fonts. I had forgotten all about them, and watching it again in DVD, they weren’t quite so annoying but they’re still unnecessary and out of place (I wonder if Quentin regrets it now).

You remember, it starts out like this

then changes to this

then through out the film it's like this

apart from this bit

It’s a minor thing to moan about, and they only detract from all the good bits a little. Bastards is a self conscious ‘genre’ film like every film Quentin has made since Jackie Brown (I’d say the Jackie Brown and everything before are unselfconscious genre films, not to suggest that Quentin didn’t make genre films on purpose, he just never used to wear it like a badge of honour) And such films are idiosyncratic enough through the use of unorthodox sound and fast-cut flashbacks and such things, without resorting to crazy ‘look at me’ on screen text, which should really be far less obtrusive (in my old fashioned opinion).

The other thing that grated the first time I watched Inglorious Basterds was harder to put my finger on. I think I had begun to tire of what I perceived as smugness. Basically, Quentin’s dialogue isn’t as good as he thinks it is, and in Kill Bill and Death Proof, there are long talky bits that everyone gets bored of. The problem with Kill Bill and Death Proof is that the long sections of dialogue are an indulgence, serving no dramatic purpose, whereas in Inglorious Bastards, the conversations create the tension. Each of these films is full of peril, but because of the setting in occupied France, the peril the Basterds are put in is far more affecting.

Inglorious Basterds captures the politeness of 40’s Europe and contrasts it with the barbarism of the Nazis in a way that almost no other WWII film does (and I’ve seen a few). The characters are experts in polite conversation. They are very pleasant company, yet war and ideology force them to do despicable things. The long, occasionally one-sided conversations that take place emphasise this contradiction and create a very real sense of unease.

I suppose the reason I may have missed this first time round is because Inglorious Basterds slightly uneven. Half the scenes are tense, the other half are funny (the great Christoph Waltz is present in both varieties). Any cinemagoer will more likely remember the funny bits of a film rather that the perilous bits. Watching it again I think that the balance between drama and comedy, tragedy and farce, is pretty much perfect, further emphasising the contradiction of wartime Europe.

So belated congratulations are in order Mr Tarantino. I think the only bad thing about Inglorious Basterds is Brad Pitt. I hope that Michael K Williams gets the part in Django Unchained rather than Will Smith.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

And what did you learn today?

Way back in early 2010 I started to write a review of Schindler’s List but ended up with a brief stream-of-consciousness blog about WWII films in general. I think I was trying to make the same observations about the atrocities of that period that Richey Edwards made far more eloquently in the song The Intense Humming of Evil.

Richey’s notes from the Holy Bible Tour Book read:

The Intense Humming Of Evil"/"Mausoleum:
"Brother/sister songs. Visited Dachau and Hiroshima. What reflections should be for everyone. Otherwise we're all Edward Scissorhands Avon Lady. Winners dictate history. Holocaust one of the few examples where even truth is being questioned. Revisionist historians. Danger of Schindler's List - Portrayal of merely flawed man. Never question our own past - myth of Churchill. "An individual death means little - millions must mean something?"

Schindler’s List is the obvious example of a big Hollywood Movie dramatising the holocaust, but since then (and since Richey’s disappearance) there have been others. I always felt a little uncomfortable watching the WWII veterans speak at the beginning of Band of Brothers, and I always wondered how they reacted to watching their experiences recreated on screen. Was it really like that? I’d believe them if they said it was.

So anyway, here is a clip-heavy and probably too long animated short about films about the Second World War.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Ten Short Film Reviews Eleven

Glen-Gary Glen Ross – 1992, James Foley
aka ‘Death of a Fucking Salesman’ aka ‘Famous Actors Swearing At Each Other’.
Based on a play and packed with an all male cast of stellar actors giving incredible performances. You may have stumbled upon the famous scene where Alec Baldwin rips into Jack Lemon, Ed Harris and Alan Akrin on Youtube but if you haven’t, rather than watch it in isolation I’d recommend watching the whole thing. Put it on your lists.

Marathon Man – 1976, John Schlesinger

I was expecting to be underwhelmed but this one is actually quite good. I was disappointed by The French Connection and The Conversation and even slightly let down by Mean Streets, so I though this 70s thriller would turn out to fail to live up to the hype. Dustin Hoffman delivers his typical style of character; all sincere vulnerability that comes across as charming (clearly a great inspiration for Jason Schwartzman, I’ve been watching Bored To Death recently, it’s the best thing on telly I reckon). The tense drama of the story combined with Hoffman’s youthful whimsy is what makes this one well worth a watch.

Undisputed – 2002, Walter Hill

I wasn’t expecting greatness but I was still disappointed by Undisputed. I’m a big fan of Walter Hill, not just his films but his attitude to film making. ‘Every film I’ve done has been a Western’ he famously said, and he’s right: The Driver, The Warriors, 48 Hours, Red Heat, and Last Man Standing are my faves. Walter also made more than his share of absolute duds, and though Undisputed isn’t a complete train wreck, it’s not so good. It’s a boxing drama set in a prison with Ving Rhames playing a Mike Tyson inspired character sent down for a sexual assault he vehemently denies. Once he’s banged-up the film becomes a predictable prison yard yarn with bent screws and screwy cons. If only Undisputed had been made in the 70s it might have had the same charm as many of Walter’s other films. As it is the story and characters are as stale as the ubiquitous and poorly compiled hip hop soundtrack. Sadly, Ving proves himself to be no more than a competent supporting actor unable to carry a lead, even when sharing the screen with a more wooden than usual Wesley Snipes.

Hard Eight – 1996, Paul Thomas Anderson
An unknown Gem.
Paul Thomas Anderson’s feature debut is excellently written with an excellent cast. John C. Reilly does very well in a non comedic role which makes it seem even stranger that he’s appeared in so many sub-par comedies. I suppose he was just best buds with Will Ferrell when he was at his peak of popularity. Quite similar to The Cooler, maybe slightly better? It’s a tightly made film, there’s nothing that might be unnecessary, dramatic but never excessive.

American Splendour – 2003, Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini
I had this DVD on my shelf for a year before I finally got round to watching it. I saw it at the cinema way back and remembered it was good, but I’d forgotten how good.
Paul Giamatti is amazing, and although he makes it seem like no other actor could have played Harvey Pekar, Harvey’s life and personality would make any film about him compelling. Pekar was the original loveable loser. Years ago I saw the documentary about Robert Crumb, who is equally interesting but far less endearing (coz he’s a massive perv). The directors of Splendour have worked together on a few films since that are all probably worth checking out.

Porco Rosso – 1992, Hayao Miyazaki
Far from the best of Miyazaki’s films but still excellent. It’s about an Italian fighter pilot at the turn of the (last) century who has been turned into a pig. Typically imaginative with familiar character design. No real environmentalist undertone this time, but a smattering of anti-fascist sentiment. Of all the Miyazaki films it’s the least ambitious in terms of scale and animation, it was followed by the almost epic Princess Mononoke which is every bit as good as Spirited Away in my opinion.

Happy Together – 1997, Wong Kar-Wai
Another dreamy tale from Wong Kar-Wai. I just read my previous post on a couple of films of his and on his style in general. I think I was a little harsh, especially now that I’ve watched a few Andrei Tarkovsky films. There’s a big difference between the free flowing, illusory beauty of Wong’s films and the bare tedium of Andrei’s. Happy together a very simple story about two lovers who try to escape to a better place, and end up realising that they really need to escape from each other. Visually, it’s probably a huge influence on scores of young cinematographers, and like most of Wong’s film it stars The World’s Finest Actor Tony Leung.

Coraline – 2009, Henry Selick
Stunning stop-motion animation from the guy who directed The Nightmare Before Christmas. I’m a big fan of stop motion and animation in general and this film is a real marvel. The story and the characters are slightly lacking, but then again it is a film for kids. Any thinness to the plot is more than made up for by the quality of the animation, and the more I find out about how it was made, the more in awe I am of the talented people who made it. It actually looks too good to be true in parts, and though there are clearly some digital effects, the character and the sets all exist in real life.

Planet Terror - 2007, Robert Rodriguez
Grind House marks the beginning of a kind of low in the history of cinema that hasn’t quite passed, but the disappointment of Machete could bring the ‘self conscious exploitation genre’ to an end. Neither Planet Terror nor Death Proof are completely awful, but both of them appear to have skipped a very important stage of pre-production; the script review. Normally (as is my understanding of the Hollywood Studio film making process) a script will be assessed and rewritten, maybe even eventually being written by committee, until the shooting script is ‘locked’. Often the good films closely resemble the original draft (Predator, Lethal Weapon) and the not so good ones end up as something completely different (Alien 3, Last Action Hero, although I like both). The Weinstein Company was so smitten with Tarantino and his mate Richard Rodriquez that they let them go off and do whatever they wanted to do, when really there should have been more input from other writers and producers. All style and little substance with some ideas that weren’t as good as they seemed when they thought of them. It lacks the soul of the films that inspired it.

Gangster No1 – 2000 – Paul McGuigan
Crappy British Gangster Film No 72.
Paul Bettany is in danger of becoming the new Clive Owen. He’s not quite so uncharismatic and boring, but he does the same ‘see how refreshingly understated I am’ thing. Luckily he seems to have found a niche that suits his talents; action-horrors steeped with Christian mysticism. I though Legion was OK and the new one about the futuristic vampire hunting monks or whatever looks fun.
Gangster No1 is just more over indulged cockney turd. Malcolm McDowell plays Bettany’s character as an old man, and delivers completely the opposite type of performance, chewing the scenery like crazy. It’s almost embarrassing to watch. Are there any British actors who aren’t overrated?