This week: Jarhead, Breakfast on Pluto, and Cry Wolf.
So last week we had Brokeback Mountain, a film starring Jake Gyllenhaal that everyone loved. And this week we have Jarhead a film starring Jake Gyllenhaal that...most people quite like.
The film gets its best rating from Pete 'Bad Tempered' Bradshaw in the Guardian who gave Brokeback five stars last week. Jarhead doesn't quite manage that but four stars is still pretty good, especially where PB is concerned.
The film is directed by Sam Mendes of course, but Bradshaw also makes sure that we recognise the 'support team' behind Mendes as well, especially cinematographer Roger Deakins and editor Walter Murch, who along with Mendes make up the "triple-A-team of film-making" as far as Bradders is concerned. As a result "Jarhead is something which is stunning to look at and to listen to, with elegantly chosen pop songs unspooling on the soundtrack under each fresh new horror."
Bradshaw calls the film an anti-war film in that "it reverses and confounds the conventional demands for exciting celluloid war action," and goes on to say that the US reviewers who were rather critical of this approach were missing the point:
Professional soldiers testify that a lot of their existence in the field of battle is spent going out of their heads with boredom. Military life does not guarantee to satisfy the narrative demand for confrontation. More than this, Jarhead reminds us of the dangerous lesson that the first Iraq war appeared to teach, and on which the current military adventure was partly founded - that Saddam's Iraq can be defeated painlessly, in a hi-tech daze.
If anything stops it being a five-starrer says Bradshaw it's the fact that it's "deficient in overt emotion, in declining to give one moment in which the horror or the thrill of war is crystallised," but that doesn't stop him calling it "Mendes's best film so far."
Over with James Christopher in The Times the film drops a star but still picks up the rather weird tag of "the most beautiful and pointless war movie ever made."
JC expands on this a few lines later, explaining that "The art is stunning, yet the film has the topical firepower of a potato gun," even daring to suggest that maybe, "the British director has had his wings clipped by nervous Hollywood executives".
We are also warned that "If you thought [Gyllenhaal] looked butch with his shirt off in Brokeback Mountain brace yourself for a beefy surprise," now there's a quote that seems destined for the poster.
However the 'added beef' isn't enough for Christopher and he concludes by saying "One itches for the bigger picture and sharper teeth. Mendes is in need of both if he hopes to land a significant and serious blow."
The film picks up its worst review with Anthony Quinn in the Independent where it's awarded just two stars.
Quinn seems to pick up on many of the same gripes the other reviewers already highlighted but makes much more of the film's deficiencies. The "drudgery and non-eventfulness of modern soldiering," may be accurate for example but they only serve to make Jarhead "not remotely an exciting film."
Again Gyllenhaal's performance is good but what he's performing is "an opaque, unreadable character," and as far as Quinn's concerned "the longer the movie goes on the less interesting he becomes."
In the end "too much of Jarhead is built on anticipation and aftermath, with nothing in the middle," and "there's no dramatic slant on the material, no clue to indicate that the film-makers are alive to the irony of the situation."
So is it a four starrer or just a two? It can't be both. As ever we'll just have to go see it and make up our own minds.
A film which gets a slightly more cut and dry decision from the broadsheets this week is Breakfast on Pluto.
Now we know Cillian Murphy is gradually earning his acting chops and the trailer for this one does look reasonably impressive, plus it's Neil Jordan at the helm...so of course it's not very good.
Anthony Quinn must not be getting any at the moment becasue he hands out another one star for this one, ranking up the sarcasm with this closing remark: "At over two hours, Breakfast on Pluto blithely outstays its welcome - let's be grateful we didn't get lunch and dinner, too."
Other than that all Quinn can bear to write is that "London doesn't look much like London". And we don't know about you but that's enough to put us off completely.
Breakfast on Pluto gets a slightly longer review in the Guardian but still only two stars from Pete B who seems to have a real problem with Murphy's character 'Kitten':
We are presumably supposed to be cheering for Kitten, as a lovably exuberant rebel who makes joyless priests, cruel Brits and stone-faced Provos look silly with his antics. Actually the character is bafflingly charmless: narcissistic and unsympathetic, and the shrill, twittering monotony of Murphy's performance becomes exasperating.
In fact the only person who seems to come away unscated by Bradshaw's review is Brendan Gleeson... and he plays a Womble!
It's just another two stars in The Times where the fact that Neil Jordan might have had something to do with another film involving the troubles in Ireland and a transvestite is raised again (just in case you hadn't worked it out for yourself), and again the vague conclusion is that there just isn't enough substance in the film.
In fact the reviews for Breakfast on Pluto are all pretty sketchy and lightweight, so presumably the film is too. When even James Christopher can only write that there isn't enough "snap, crackle and pop" in the film, then you know you've got something which is so weak it's not even worth slagging off properly.
Finally then we'll take a look at some good, old-fashioned horror... with Bon Jovi in it, in the form of Cry Wolf.
We already know it's shit becasue the Independent haven't even bothered to review it (and Bon Jovi's in it) but let's take a look at the other reviews, you know, just for a laugh.
Pete Bradshaw must still be feeling the warm glow of Gyllenhaal's beefiness, because he sees fit to award Cry Wolf a whole two stars, which is frankly double what we were expecting.
The film apparently takes the slightly annoying step of pretending that the Scream 'postmodern horror' approach hasn't already been done to death (excuse the pun) and saturates its characters "with as much horror-movie-related knowingness as actual gore".
But unfortunately the film has "neither its predecessor's wit nor its sheer nastiness." And did we mention Bon Jovi's in it?
In The Times James Christopher meets all expectiations with his one star review and also mentions that this is a horror film with a 12A rating. How lame is that?
Apparently the film's 'hero' "floats unnoticed around the school wearing a khaki jacket, an orange ski mask, and a 24in serrated elephant knife." We're not sure whether that's the Bon Jovi character or not.
And so on to some film news and gossip that has absolutely no Bon Jovi-related content whatsoever.
Torso is yet another graphic novel adaptation , but one that might actually stand a chance because David Fincher might get to direct it and the original was written by Brian Michael Bendis.
It looks like Aardman Animations are going to go back to their shelved Tortoise and the Hare project. Michael Caine is apparently attached to provide one of the voices.
We don't think they've decided on the next Bond girl yet, but there are soon to be open auditions for the part of Harry's Potter's mate, Luna Lovegood in the forthcoming Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Sienna Miller need not apply.
And Joaquin Phoenix is going to go from Johnny Cash to Russian mafia if the news about him signing up to 80s mob flick We Own The Night is correct.
Trailer of the week? We're going for X3 but that might have something to do with our Famke Janssen fixation.