This week's FFN is written by our new recruit Ben, who has stepped into the breach following the call from our readers last week not to scrap the weekly roundup.
This week’s roundup includes a big summer blockbuster (X-men 3 – The Last Stand), a rubbish comedy (Friends With Money) and a film about a monkey (Curious George). Perhaps you ought to go to the theatre instead. Or better still you could rent “Ghost” on DVD (only joking)
Bradders Bradders Bradders… after the bashing that Mr Bradshaw received last week for his review of MI:3, (as predicted in last week’s FFN) he has managed to outdo himself again.
As with his review of MI:3, Bradders pulled out the old chestnut of refusing to actually critically appraise the Da Vinci Code and Joe Public was not pleased. Chintan Nanavati from Stafford wrote in to the Guardian regarding, “Peter Bradshaw’s non-review of the Da Vinci Code” calling it a “dereliction of his contractual duty as a film reviewer at the Guardian. He spends approximately a third of his allotted word count actually mentioning the film itself and the remaining two-thirds trying to be spoofily clever-clever in a highly pointless and irritating way.” But don’t you see Chintan? That’s why we love him.
To placate the baying public, Bradshaw writes a good review of Brett Ratner’s X-men 3 – The Last Stand, giving it 3/5.
Apparently it “turns out to be a lively and likeable picture - a fun summer blockbuster, which is capable of being scary and even rather affecting.”
We don’t think anyone is under any illusion that this will be a masterpiece, and 3/5 from Bradders for a popcorn blockbuster can’t be too bad. He continues:
The second X-Men was a chaotic, cranked-up mess that failed to ask or answer the pertinent question about the X-Men: if, collectively, they can do almost anything, then how can you have a story? How can it work without, as it were, dramatic gravity, especially if they are pitted against each other?
We know, those particular questions were bothering us here at Londonist too, Peter.
Wendy Ide at the Times also gives it 3/5.
She, like all the reviewers, likes the character of Jean Grey, played by Famke Janssen who has, “cheekbones like knives and a voracious and deadly sexual appetite. She also has a terrible temper and the ability to chuck buildings around and reduce people to ashes with the force of her wrath.” Ide continues: “How I wish I could do that.”
It’s ok Wendy, us too. No one thinks any less of you.
Regarding Janssen, Tim Robey in the Telegraph writes, “theoretically, she should be the centre of the movie, not least because the dry and intriguing Janssen was quite the best thing in the other two, but it's typical of Ratner's inattentiveness that she spends most of this silently swamped in scary-face effects.”
The problem with this instalment is that, having taken the time to get to know a handful of the mutants really well, we now find them used as disposable devices by which yet more showy special effects are introduced into the mix.
Isn’t that always the way!?
“The action sequences are hilariously over the top and, on several occasions, genuinely impressive,” so if you are into your explosions (as we here at Londonist most certainly are) then may well be the film for you. It’s clearly not great but as Bradders reminds us, “A galaxy of exotic fun and drama is to be had with these X-Men.”
Next up, Jennifer Aniston’s new flick, Friends With Money.
Anthony Quinn at the Independent starts with, “How do moneyed people deal with friends who suddenly don't have money and wilfully take jobs no middle-class person would touch?”
You wish them all the best at university of course.
In this film, three married women are concerned about their friend Olivia (Jennifer Aniston), a woman nearing 40 but seemingly incapable of finding a decent boyfriend or pursuing a "proper" career. (Ring a bell Jennifer?) It is Miss Aniston herself who seems to be the main problem with this movie, “her character has been left maddeningly opaque. We gather she's partial to dope now and then, but that would hardly explain her weird passivity and lack of drive.” However, he still awards it 3/5, “we can still admire the cleverness of the writing and the vigour of certain performances.”
Tim Robey is less generous and gives it 2/5, “While hardly a masterpiece, Friends with Money is a relief in that it restores a modicum of credibility to the idea that she can a) read and b) act.”
The producers can thank themselves for not falling into the trap of casting Vinnie Jones as Olivia then.
Bradders was less kind still, giving it 1/5 and describing “An exasperatingly awful performance from Jennifer Aniston” which, “puts the tin lid on this humourless and self-pitying ensemble comedy, which has a cop-out ending of such spectacular and fundamental dishonesty that I felt like flinging my nachos at the screen.” Then he twists the knife, “she is here only slightly more animated than a haddock on a slab”; before going for the final death blow, “This is a movie from which genuine humour and insight have been removed like caffeine from coffee. The result is a thin and meagre brew.”
Lovely metaphor Mr. Bradshaw. We're left with no doubt in my mind that this film isn’t any good. If you still need convincing that this film probably isn’t worth seeing, the Mirror gives it 5/5. We put this down to the disproportionate amount of column inches given to analysis of the scene where “Aniston dons a sexy maid’s outfit.”
Last up, a quick look at the reviews of Curious George. Half term approaches, so we are more than justified in having a look at what the papers have to say about this kids’ film.
Ian Johns in the Times only gives it two stars , however it seems that Johns’ problem is simple that it is a children’s film “Too tame for anyone over four ... these stories are as simple and direct as cave paintings: the chimp George gets into trouble and the Man in the Yellow Hat gets him out of it.”
Now we agree that it doesn’t sound like a plotline that would have the reviewers at Cannes thumbing their beards and dropping their jaws but, a chimp? A man in a yellow hat? Surely the kids will love it?
Steven Rose in the Guardian, is a little kinder (meaning that he is more generous, not that he is a little German child) giving the film three stars, and Tim Robey at the Telegraph loves it, “it’s cleanly animated the traditional way, short on smarmy in-jokes, long on charm - that's worth your time…. Jack Johnson's laid-back songs lull you into smiling contentment between games of peekaboo.” (4/5).
In the event of a child being abandoned on the doorstep at Londonist HQ, we’ll probably take it to see Curious George.
Other films out this week - Down in the Valley, (A rebellious teenager embarks on a fateful romance with an older man who thinks he's a cowboy – happens to the best of us); The Wild (A young lion is accidentally shipped to Africa, his zoo friends have to band together to rescue him – seems to be the exact same storyline of Madagascar but turned inside out) and Thief Lord (two orphaned brothers flee their impending separation, falling in with a gang of urchins and their mysterious leader – looks like utter wank)
Trailer of the Week: Pirates of the Caribbean : Dead Man’s Chest.