This week - Scorsese remakes Hong Kong thriller Infernal Affairs (The Departed) and conjoined twins become a punk band, (Brothers of the Head)
First up, The Departed by director Martin Scorsese. If you're the kind of person who believes the proclaimations of a certain man salaried by the Guardian, Mr. Peter Bradshaw (and we are), it looks as if this might be the film to see this week. He has not a bad word for it and lavishes it with four shiny stars. Scorsese "has got his groove back and has produced "what is arguably his best picture since GoodFellas".
The theme that cuts across all of the reviews is the standard of performance from the impressive cast. Here we go.... Matt Damon "gives the best performance of his career" (Guardian), "What a barnstormer this is from Nicholson, the kind of performance that no one else could possibly do, but which he could probably do in his sleep." (Guardian), Leonardo DiCaprio "is marvellously understated" (Times), Mark Wahlberg gives a "blistering performance"(Times) and finally Alec Baldwin, "impresses with his careless machismo." (Independent) Good job guys.
There is also praise for the scriptwriter, William Monahan. James Christopher, in his four star review in the Times calls the screenplay "Oscar-worthy" while Bradshaw describes "William Monahan's firecracker script", and dubs his writing "first-class" with dialogue "of which Mamet would be proud." That is praise indeed.
However, despite all this, Anthony Quinn in the Independent only gives the film three stars. For him Scorsese's film "falls well short of his landmark movies of the 1970s and 1980s" and at a "two-and-a-half-hour stretch it huffs and puffs and still doesn't blow the house down."
So basically it's down to who you believe. Anthony Quinn or Peter Bradshaw who clearly loves this "unapologetic, unironised crime-family drama" that feels "like a work from Scorsese's golden years"
We know who we'd listen to.
Next up, Brothers of the Head
This looks like a seriously odd film. Bradshaw gives it three stars calling it an "intriguing oddity of a film". It's a fictional documentary about a pair of conjoined twins who become a punk band.
They scream their lyrics over churning guitars and encourage freaky fans to touch the flap of skin that joins them at the chest.
In the Times, James Christopher 3/5 writes,
What makes the melodrama so unsettling and raw is their almost mystical intimacy, which is threatened when Tania Emery’s trendy journalist falls in lust with the soulful Tom. The sex is mesmerisingly awkward.
We imagine it is!
Christopher seems to like it though, there is "a tactless daring about this gothic satire" and "for sheer novelty value few British films can compete with Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe’s quirky 'documentary'"
Anthony Quinn in the Independent also gives it 3/5. The documentary style works especially because "the circumstantial details of their brief fame feel convincing", however, "what lets it down is the music, which thrashes and flails without charm or excitement."
Other films out this week - The Plague (A very heavy weekend's partying seen through the eyes of four friends in inner city London.), The Devil Wears Prada (A naive young woman becomes assistant to the ruthless fashion editor Miranda Priestly), Neil Young: Heart Of Gold (A live film of the seminal country rocker, shot over two nights at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium.), Man Push Cart (TA Pakistani immigrant in New York sells coffee and doughnuts from his cart, struggling to connect with the city he wants to call home.) and Accepted (When a high school student is rejected from every college he's applied to, he sets up a fake university to fool his parents)
Trailer of the week - El Cortez