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Friday Film News

By Rob Last edited 148 months ago
Friday Film News
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To be honest Londonist was worried that Team America: World Police wasn't going to live up to expectations. The trailers looked great and the South Park pedigree was in place but the rumours from the US were that Parker and Stone weren't really on top of their game.

Thankfully though it seems the film has won over the UK critics at least.

In the Guardian, Peter Bradshaw gives the films a very respectable four stars, saying that it "brilliantly captures the complex contemporary mood, telling you more about America than Fox News, salon.com and the New York Times combined."

High praise indeed...but what about the jokes? Well apparently they work too:

"Parker and Stone gleefully pull the pin from their comedy grenade, and the result is an explosion of hilarious bad taste"...could have done without the extended metaphor there Pete, but we get the idea.

Londonist suspects though that Bradshaw and his fellow critics particularly enjoyed this film because it takes some pot-shots at some of the celebrity establishment: "Puppets representing Alec Baldwin and Sean Penn mince around reminding everyone in whingeing voices that they have been to Iraq...Michael Moore is shown as a smug liberal martyr attempting to destroy Team America's headquarters - by rigging himself up as a suicide bomber."

In the Independent, Robert Hanks is in agreement, again giving World Police four stars and calling it a "profanity-packed, scurrilous and brilliant attack on everything and everybody."

In the Times the film drops a star but even Wendy Ide admits that it's "guiltily, undeniably hilarious".

Clint Eastwood's Million Dollar Baby is a different kettle of fish. The trailer looked gruesome: a montage of schmaltzy, Hollywood tat with moody lighting and Clint's wrinkles doing all the acting...but the US critics have gone bonkers over it, calling it a masterpiece and tipping it for Oscars. So what's going on?

Out of the three broadsheets it's James Christopher in the Times who likes Million Dollar Baby the most.

He gives it four stars and dubs it "the most impressive film [Eastwood]’s ever made". He also gives a little clue to what the critics have been raving about: "it’s littered with loose ends and unresolved little mysteries, and a rip in the middle that cranks the stakes to troubling heights."

Hmm, so there's more to this film than the trailer gives away is there?

In the Guardian we get some more clues from Peter Bradshaw (who gives it three stars).

"Towards the very end of Clint Eastwood's new film there is ... not a twist, but a narrative development which makes it a lot deeper, darker and indeed more real than you had any right to expect."

So, we’re getting closer. But Bradshaw has one reservation: "Does Clint land this mighty punch too late for it to make a genuine difference?"

It's an argument that Wendy Ide, writing in The Times seems to agree with. She only awards the film two stars, complaining about the "Corny lines, clichéd characters (Swank's hillbilly trailer-trash family is unforgivable) and a final section that drags on for ever."

Seems like whether you like Million Dollar baby or not will depend a lot on whether you like Clint Eastwood or not. It's a risk we might be willing to take (but we'll see Team America first).

Now we were going to look at Wong Kar Wai's 2046 next, but we've actually seen this film a few weeks ago at a preview....and let's just say we don't agree with the huge praises heaped on it by the broadsheets today. So, in the interests of impartiality, we're going with something we haven't seen: Closer.

And the great thing about Closer is Pete Bradshaw absolutely hates it.

"Once sexy and exhilarating, it now has the cutting edge of a butter knife," Bradshaw grumbles, "of the cast, only Clive Owen seems like a real human being with real emotions. Everyone else could be advertising perfume."

Hmmm, this is what we feared: great play ruined by film conversion and hateful actors (oh, how we detest Clive Owen and Jude Law).

But in the Independent Robert Hanks goes gaga for Closer, although reading the review you do begin to suspect that Hanks may have experienced a bad break up recently:

"...infidelity, interrogation, confession, intimidation, reproach and deceit...doesn't honesty lie at the heart of every good relationship? Perhaps it does; but most relationships aren't all that good, at least not all the time. It's noticeable here how often the principals ask each other why they had to tell the truth, or plead for a consoling lie. This is not necessarily a cynical view: when the truth is going to hurt, deceit can be more loving. At other times, too, the characters make a point of demanding the truth, even knowing how painful it will be: because they enjoy the pain, or because it's a price worth paying for the moral high ground?"

Now does that sound like a coded message to a recently departed lady friend, or are we reading too much into it?

What is truly weird about Hanks' review though is the way he loves the fact Law, Portman et al 'dress down' for the parts: "I don't even want to bother trying to anatomise Portman and Law's performances, both are so seamless - and of course, it's always reassuring to see the visibly perfect playing rumpled and ordinary, as if they were within our reach."

Funnily enough, that's the thing which really grates on us about this film. But each to their own.

In The Times, Wendy Ide seems to come down on Bradshaw's side giving Closer just two stars and complaining that the whole thing is "as gripping as watching oversexed laboratory rats."

In film news this week there's some real Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy gossip leaking out, including this teaser image featuring Marvin the depressed android.

More HGttG trivia is supplied courtesy of CHUD who have a Q&A with the team behind the film.

Closer to home there are rumours that Ricky Gervais is set to appear in Mission Impossible 3.

And in superhero news, it looks like Hugh Laurie is going to be cast as Perry White (editor of the Daily Planet) in the upcoming Superman Returns.

And our favourite trailer this week? Well it has to be the one for Sin City doesn't it (even if it does have Clive Owen in it)?

Last Updated 14 January 2005