Normally when we set out each week to start writing the FFN, we bring up all the broadsheet film pages and at least one movie immediately jumps out at us as being the the most interesting offering of the week. Whether it's controversial, really good, really bad or just starring Scarlett Johansson - there's usually be something to catch our eye.
But not this week. This week is full to the brim with complete dross. So much so that we're going to have to kick things off (and it almost pains our fingers to type this) with a Hugh Grant film.
If American Dreamz were going to get a good review from any UK broadsheet it would probably have to be from the Guardian, because the paper actually features in the film. We'll let Uncle Bradshaw explain:
What's not to love about a film in which the president of the United States opens a copy of this newspaper (in its pre-Berliner format, however) and says wonderingly: "There's so much interesting stuff in here!" Well, quite so. Sadly this interest is merely symptomatic of going all liberal and wobbly and menopausal, but it's a nice plug and I wish I could return the compliment - I can't, though, not really.
So it's just two stars from Bradshaw, who sums the film up as a "pretty ropey satire-lite on... reality television, celeb culture, rightwing politicians," making the point that it has to "strain very hard in all satirical directions," only to reach the level of "laboured comedy".
Hugh Grant plays Simon Cowell and tones down the poshness but according to Bradders "his dark side is more interesting when it is coupled with his patrician persona". Dennis Quaid meanwhile plays the George Bush character as 'dopey and reactionary'...spot on then.
The most interesting thing about P.B.'s review? The revelation that he quite enjoys Pop Idol:
...these people have to wait in line for hours at some regional hotel or conference centre and humiliate themselves utterly in front of the panel of judges. It is compelling. And frankly, I'm inclined to say that any episode of Pop Idol or The X-Factor has more drama and comedy than this film, whose view of reality TV in spirit hails from what I can only describe as the Blind Date era.
It's another two stars from Tony Quinn in the Independent who agrees with Bradshaw that "The film takes on more than it knows how to handle," and its "barbs simply aren't sharp or funny enough,".
The hat trick of two stars is completed by Wendy Ide in the Times who concedes that there "are some amusing moments" before offering some advice to anyone planning a film with a comedy terrorist as a narrative device : "it needs to be altogether tougher, meaner and smarter than American Dreamz".
Next up in the dross-o-rama that is this week's Friday Film News then is the movie adaptation of Silent Hill.
Now our expectations of any film based on a video game are normally pretty low, but Silent Hill was a damn good game and with Christophe Gans and Roger Avary (who is apparently going to write and direct a movie version of the game Driver...why?) involved it seemed to have a decent chance of making it into the territory of 'half decent'. Judging by the broadsheet reviews though, it got mauled by something undead before it even got to the town named 'Watchable'.
The film gets its best review at the hands of Wendy Ide in the Times, who gives it two stars and sees something positive in the film's portrayal of women:
In the film’s favour, instead of the mammoth-breasted, gun-toting warrior women who usually populate game adaptations, Radha Mitchell plays Rose, a harassed mother in a cardigan searching for her daughter in the abandoned ghost town of Silent Hill.
Ide also likes the effects, calling them "gorily impressive — a close-up of a character’s face being toasted to the texture of Chinese crispy duck is genuinely horrible," but in the end its not quite enough to combat a paper-thin narrative full of "gaping plot holes".
As for Peter Bradshaw, unsurprisingly he's not Silent Hill's biggest fan, justifying his one star review by claiming that this is "an unbelievably boring horror-thriller" which clocks in at a "testicle-shrinking length" (over two hours).
Bradshaw blames the video game format on the fact that the film also launches into manic face-toasting action without so much as "the most minimal of nods to dull irrelevant stuff such as character and plot."
Silent Hill clocks up another one star in the Independent where Anthony Quinn pens a whopping three sentences of review only the last of which is actual 'review': "Hardly a single fright, and not a fragment of sense, can be extracted from it."
Tony does remind us that Sean Bean is in this film though...Blaaaaades.
Our conscience tells us that, to finish off this week, we should really look at a quality film which manages to receive three or more stars in today's review pages (something like L'Enfer for instance) but when there's a film out which is set in London, stars someone who used to be in Blue, and is called (chortle) Rollin' With The Nines well there's just no way we can resist is there?
"Enthusiastic bloodletting is the order of the day in this London-set hoodlum yarn, which laughably attempts to present itself as a cautionary tale," says Andrew Pulver in his one star Guardian review.
"The clean-cut Simon Webbe, once of Blue, cuts a fairly implausible figure as one-third of a hardcore beats'n'rhymes trio..." he goes on, but we're afraid to say that we coudln't read anymore as the hysterical tears of laughter were clouding our vision.
The Times' one star review doesn't have a name attached to it, and we can only assume that's because the author didn't want anyone else to know that they'd sat through a pile of toss, which is apparently "like 50 Cent’s Get Rich or Die Tryin’ without the sensitivity and redeeming moral message."
In his own one star review in the Independent Tony Quinn possibly flatters the filmmakers by calling Rollin' With The Nines "a warped hymn to unregenerate criminality" but he does point out that "By the end, the trail of carnage looks more like it's from the streets of Johannesburg or Detroit than our own capital."
So it's all crap this week then, let's hope the film news holds some shred of hope for our cinematic future.
The folks over at AIC are creaming themselves over the rumour that JJ Abrams may be directing a Kirk/Spock movie.
The shortlist for the 'Best film name ever' award just got longer with the talk of upcoming zombie western Wanted: Undead or Alive: "a vengeful Apache warrior who joins up with a pair of outlaws. But while they're trying to evade a posse and she's seeking payback against the US Army for the murder of her people, they end up getting caught in the middle of an Apache curse that has brought the nearby dead to life."
And talking of horror, it looks like Guillermo Del Toro has been attached to The Call of the Sea: "based on a legend about a spooky ghost ship that ploughs the chill waters of a mysterious Chilean island seeking the souls of fisherman."