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Friday Film News

By Rob Last edited 145 months ago
Friday Film News
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A bit of a boring week for film reviews this week, with pretty much three stars across the board for every major release.

The only thing that comes anywhere near 'exciting' is Peter Bradshaw's four star review of The Merchant of Venice in the Guardian.

Bradshaw praises Al Pacino's "brilliant performance" as Shylock, mainly awarding him points for not being Al Pacino (i.e. not "shouting and preening"). Bradshaw also likes Joseph Fiennes's performance, mainly because he stops doing Joseph Fiennes stuff: "In the past his smirking mannerisms have been frankly unbearable, and even Roger Moore would suggest counselling and drug treatment for his addiction to single-eyebrow-raising."

There's also a pretty good Simon Hattenstone interview with Pacino in today's Guardian.

The other broadsheets are not quite so enamoured with the Bard and Pacino as Bradshaw is. Someone called Robert Hanks in the Independent complains that the film "strains for authenticity", and apparently "Pacino feels reined in" (which, if you read the Guardian interview, is exactly what he likes).

And James Christopher in the Times says that Al's "electric performance" is the only decent thing in the whole film, and that "everyone else on screen is simply underwhelming."

A three star average for The Merchant of Venice then...get used to it.

Moving away from Shakespeare then, and on to the "quirky indy comedy" that is Napoleon Dynamite. Jon Heder's performance as the title character seems to be the main draw for this one, "Heder's central performance is rather bewitching" says Hanks in the Independent, giving it three stars.

"Heder plays the lanky, myopic title hero with the kind of conviction that can only be described as suicidal for his career." Says James Christopher in the Times (who, despite calling the film "arguably...a masterpiece", only gives it three stars).

And even Bradshaw in the Guardian says that Heder's "quite extraordinary lead performance" saves the film from being a Todd Solondz knock-off. Three stars again...yawn.

Once again it seems it's down to the documentaries to make a (ahem) splash with the reviewers.

Riding Giants doesn't actually get a review in the Independent, but both the Times and the Guardian love it, giving it four stars each.

Peter Bradshaw (not someone you'd associate with the laid-back world of surfer dudes) walked away from the film "wondering if there can be any experience in sport or indeed life to compare to the surfer casually letting his fingers trail in the water as he hurtled downward", and manages to get a dig in at a few other sports in the same breath: "[Surfing] is often dismissed by people whose idea of excitement is golf, or the zooming cigarette billboards of formula one, or following the careers of boorish Premiership footballers"...oooh, bitchy!

Meanwhile Wendy Ide in the Times just calls Riding giants a "a terrific film" with "lush tropical prints and indiscriminate acts of ukulele abuse"

That's good enough for us.

In film news this week, it seems Casino Royale might actually get its remake. There was some talk of Pierce Brosnan and Tarantino doing this but that never materialised. Now it may simply be "the next Bond movie".

And talking of remakes, Spielberg's War of the Worlds now has its own website. There's not much there right now, just a creepy picture, Tom Cruise's name and a place to sign up for updates. But we're excited nonetheless.

(And of you want to get really geeky about it there are loads of pictures from the set online at the moment.)

In Superhero news Kevin Spacey has said that he would like to get the Lex Luthor role in Bryan Singer's Superman project.

And our favourite bit of film-related weirdness this week: this site for Karate Kid - the Musical, currently showing at a theatre in New York. We are enjoying the MP3 downloads of the "20 ferocious new songs" but we should point out that Peter Kay did get there first.

Last Updated 03 December 2004