Friday Film News

By Rob Last edited 165 months ago
Friday Film News

It seems that the Easter time feelgood films are taking a bit of a battering at the hands of the critics this week.

First up is Be Cool, the sequel to Get Shorty starring John Travolta amongst a cast of...well, actors.

Most people enjoyed Get Shorty, and Elmore Leonard was actually involved with the sequel, so there were high hopes for this one. Unfortunately it's apparently a bit rubbish.

Someone called Xan Brooks gives the film a two star review in the Guardian.

Xan? Who the hell is Xan? And where is Pete Bradshaw? When we want a scathing review we want the best and there's none better than grumpy Pete! Oh well, I guess Xan will have to do for now.

Be Cool is, according to Xan, "too busy admiring itself in the mirror to get on with the real business of telling a story or developing characters (you know, all that boring stuff)," and "the longer it goes on, the more baggy and debauched it becomes. It needs to learn the difference between being phat and being fat."

You see - you wouldn't get Bradshaw using words like 'phat' in a broadsheet review. Kids today! And he doesn't like the Thurman-Travolta Pulp Fiction-esque dance sequence either:

"Two knackered-looking stars shuffling gamely back and forth makes for an oddly dispiriting experience."

It's a similar story with Anthony Quinn in the Independent, except this time we're down to just one star:

"Exactly the trashy, lazy, cynical exploitation flick that you feared it would be," Quinn complains, unable to find one decent element to the whole project: "It's wretched - and, actually, the very opposite of 'cool'."

In the Times, James Christopher also gives the film one star, but he does find one thing to recommend it. Unfortunately that one thing is The Rock as a gay sidekick, who, Christopher ensures us, is "surprisingly convincing".

And if The Rock doing gay isn't horrific enough for you, what about The Ring Two?

Or maybe not, as Xan Brooks (again!) points out in his two star review, this is another sequel that doesn't live up to the original.

"That murky quality which proved so terrifying in the original movies now looks ludicrous, verging on the bonkers, suggesting that some crucial ingredient has been junked or damaged in transit."

One ingredient that's been added though is "a herd of evil deer". Sounds like a great idea to us, but Xan is not so sure: "Why Nakata chose deer is anyone's guess, aside from the fact that the film is set in Oregon which is presumably full of them. Had he shot it in Australia, he would probably have had Watts bounced on by wallabies."

Anthony Quinn also likes the "herd of carjacking deer" (they jack cars as well? These deers deserve their own film!) but it's another one star from him, mainly because the film "somehow mislays all the subtlety and dread that distinguished the original".

But, just as we're readying ourselves for a hat trick of lowly reviews, up pops James Christopher in the Times with a relatively ecstatic three stars.

Christopher claims that "the bigger budget has allowed [Nakata] to finesse some genuinely hair-raising sequences, and lose the scratchy spontaneity of others."

Wait. So the Hollywood polish is a good thing now? We're confused.

"The jumpy pleasure is that this sequel is terrifically well paced, psychologically convincing (I can hardly believe that I’m saying this) and it’s beautifully shot."

No we can't believe you're saying it either James, but we'll take your word for it.

Finally then it's left up to the downbeat, Nazi film Downfall to really 'do it' for the reviewers this week.

James Christopher gives it four stars in the Times, claiming that "the authenticity is truly chilling" and that the film is "a judderingly intense demolition job. Expensive sets are blown to smithereens, the seats vibrate, and the screen carnage is as raw as Hirschbiegel dare paint it."

You do realise James, that if we go and see this film and the seats don't vibrate we'll have to have serious words?

Anyway, apparently it’s the "empathetic face" that has been "slapped on" this film that makes it truly disturbing. And that's a sentiment echoed by Anthony Quinn in his whopping five star review in the Independent:

"The picture does show Hitler as incontrovertibly human, which is why it is disturbing as well as magnificent."

Got that?

" For all the private glimpses of his avuncular nature, it's hard to see how Downfall could possibly be judged as any kind of apologia."

Is that all clear now?

"An honest attempt to bring the past into focus."

Enough already! We understand that going to see this film will not turn us into jackbooted facist sympathisers. Oh but wait...Pete Bradshaw has something to say:

"Oliver Hirschbiegel's film has been criticised for 'humanising' Hitler. It does precisely this - and makes him seem, in consequence, far more grotesque and sulphurous than any of the dozens of picturesque newsreel documentaries on TV"

When Bradshaw actually gets round to reviewing the damn film (what is it with historical films and reviewers? Are they all frustrated history teachers or something?) he gives it a very respectable four stars and closes by saying that "What the audience takes away from this long and harrowing film is the utter destruction that Germany brought on itself: defeat without honour."

All of a sudden The Rock being camp sounds like a fun evening out.

In news and rumours this week, it looks like M. Night Shyamalamalalan is ready to start casting his new film, Lady in the Water and apparently he's got Bryce Dallas Howard in mind (again) as well as Paul Giamatti.

There's a lot of Sin City news around at the moment, but by far the geekiest we could find was this page of comic-to-screen comparisons.

And talking of adaptations, it looks like Paramount has optioned the book Devil in the White City about real life serial killer HH Holmes. It's a great book so here's hoping they do a good job.

And talking of killer (sorry, spurious) did you see Empie Magazine's special on the Watchmen production. Ooooh baby!

Trailer of the week: Dark Water, simply because Jennnifer Connelly is in it.

Last Updated 01 April 2005