Friday Film News - Time Out Special

By Rob Last edited 158 months ago
Friday Film News - Time Out Special

If you picked up a copy of Time Out this week you may have seen that Londonist was featured as their 'London Website of the Week' (there's a slightly wobbly scan of the page here).

Overall the write up was very flattering ("excellent...well-written...really rather funny") but the magazine did mention that they were "rather miffed" because we didn't feature their film reviews in the Friday Film News, and we set "far too much weight" on Peter Bradshaw of the Guardian.

Well Time Out, yes we do love Bradders we admit it. He is a god among men after all and even when we disagree with him we still find his views endlessly entertaining. And we'd love to use your reviews, but you don't assign star ratings on your website like all our other regular reviewers do (we know you have 'user ratings' on your website but everyone knows you can't trust online amateurs...ahem).

However, for one week only, we will be using the Time Out reviews of this week's releases. We figured it was the least we could do.

So let's kick things off then with The Constant Gardener. T.O. give this four stars in the magazine calling Fernando Meirelles' follow up to City of God a "sweeping, stylish and relevant thriller that has its feet firmly on the ground and a heart that offers a tender take on its spy-thriller origins," a view their readers seem to agree with as they give it the maximum five stars on the website.

T.O. point out that the film isn't perfect though: "conflict between the finer points of the political thriller element and its parallel love story," writes Dave Calhoun (we got that name from the mag too, why no credit on the site?), however these sections "are so well-crafted that its themes translate well and it always engages, not least when stylishly packaged with Meirelles’ patchwork narrative style."

So let's contrast and compare that with Pete Bradshaw's four star review in the Guardian shall we (it's a bit like Reviewer Idol this isn't it)?.

Now, we're sorry T.O. but look how Pete kicks off his review:

There are some films which have Oscar-contender written all the way through them like a stick of rock. his version of John Le Carré's 2001 novel is conceived on a grand, almost operatic scale with fervent and passionate performances from actors who come the new year may need shopping trolleys for the all the statuettes.

See, that's some good reviewing right there. Trolleys! Rock! The man's a genius.

Pete reckons that Meirelles has done a bang up job with the film, managing to avoid the " torpid melancholy and disillusion that tend to creep into screen versions of Le Carré - a reflex, perhaps, of his status as the most literary of spy novelists, whose works are sometimes thought of with a kind of Brideshead oboe playing regretfully somewhere in the background."

Brideshead oboe? You slay us Pete, you really do.

Joking aside we haven't seen Pete gush about a film like this for a long while: "There is real anger here, and a real sense that it is worthwhile striking back against wrongdoing. Its global sweep is exhilarating and boldly cinematic," and it's hard to see why he too hasn't given it five stars.

The film picks up another four stars in The Times where James Christopher calls it "the hottest political thriller of the year" (not that difficult when you've only got The Translator to contend with). Bill Nighy comes in for special praise (as he does by all this week's reviewers) and there's also more comparing of the plot to a "jigsaw puzzle" which also seems to be a common opinion.

The Constant Gardener gets its worst mark of the week in the Independent where it receives just three stars from Anthony Quinn.

Tony likes the performances ("the pairing of Fiennes and Weisz has proved a masterstroke") and thinks that overall the film is "an artful and absorbing effort," however Tony finds fault in the movie's lack of impact: "for all its brilliance, it perhaps lacks an old-fashioned clout. It sometimes seems a little too high-minded to use its thriller tropes effectively."

So back to Time Out then for a look at Robert Downey Junior and Val Kilmer in Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang.

It's a better showing by T.O. this time round, where Ben Walters donning the critics hat this time (you know us, we like to know who we're reading so we can get to know their personalities, become chummy with them...go through their rubbish and make detailed notes of their shower routine)

Ben really likes Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang giving it four stars in the mag (the user rating this time is also four stars), summing up the film as "an ultra-knowing exercise in genre deconstruction, and something of a charmer to boot."

Downey is "deliciously crumpled" while the description of Kilmer's character is a little more...wordy:

Kilmer inflects Perry’s sarcasm with an undertow of pastoral care for Downey’s Harry, whose amiabe [sic] haplessness also meshes well with Harmony’s world-weariness.

We can forgive you for the typo in 'amiable' (we can talk!) but "pastoral care"?

Over in the Guardian, Pete 'Best Reviewer in the Whole Wild World' Bradshaw is in agreement with T.O.'s readers, also awarding a respectable four stars for a film he sees as "a violent, neo-Chandleresque LA thriller with a convoluted plot, lashings of hellzapoppin' comedy, and a design that absorbs the pulpiness and cynicism of Quentin Tarantino, Elmore Leonard and Modesty Blaise."

Pete also agrees with T.O. that the narrative's whistles and bells don't overstep the mark and the leads do their jobs well...especially Val, who Pete damns with faint praise:

Perry is played by Val Kilmer who gives a hilarious performance, easily the best I can ever remember seeing from him, disclosing that given half a chance, and Black's script gives him a much higher proportion than that, he can play comedy to the hilt... Kilmer even makes jowliness seem sexy.

The Independent and the Times both give the film three stars, with the Indy claiming the actors are lost inside a "self-consciously arch and indecipherable plot" and the Times in agreement: "the plot is a gumshoe’s worst nightmare, littered with dead dames and red herrings and it’s not the easiest thing in the world to follow."

Finally this week let's see how Time Out's Anna Smith (how many reviewers do they have?) deals with chick-flick In Her Shoes, which stars Cameron Diaz.

On the one hand this could be a decent film: it's got Toni Collete in it and she rarely gives a poor performance, and the director of LA Confidential is a the helm. On the other hand though, just listen to what it's about:

Two very different sisters – one an uptight lawyer, the other a boozy tart – wrestle with life, love and their relationship with each other.

Jesus wept, if that doesn't make you want to run for the fire exit of your local cinema then nothing will, but Anna refuse to give up and decide to look on the bright side, claiming the film contains "a level of sophistication rarely seen in the genre...packing in dark humour and decidedly flawed characters alongside the expected moral conclusions."

And despite the fact that "Broad physical comedy and a high truism count mean not everyone will love this [and] those who can’t stomach ‘Sex and the City’ should approach with caution," the film still recieves a whacking four stars in the hardcopy version and the same from the T.O. readers (is there nothing they don't like?).

That's the film's highest score of the week, with the next highest being three stars in the Times. Wendy Ide (the only female amongst the broadhsheet reviewers) agrees with T.O. that In Her Shoes is "lifted above the average chick flick by sharp writing and complex characters."

However she also say that the plot does "veer into the realms of the sentimental" and "A calypso version of the Wedding March is one of the less pleasant things to feature on a movie soundtrack - but fortunately the film is so sharp and honest that you’ll probably forgive it the big slushy ending."

Tony Quinn is a little less forgiving in his two star review in the Independent, where the film gets called "as maddening as a squeaky heel, partly because of Susannah Grant's cutesy screenplay and partly because LA Confidential director Curtis Hanson has seen fit to spend an exorbitant 130 minutes in its telling."

Mr Quinn does admit though that he "was moved" by a few well placed poems in the movie, but he "resented it".

Finally this week it's over to Pete Bradshaw (have we mentioned how much we like Pete's stuff?) who demonstrates why we revere him so in his two star review:

Curtis Hanson directs this gruesome ya-ya sisterhood hugfest starring Toni Collette and Cameron Diaz - and boy does he take his own sweet time about it. The landmasses of Asia and Africa took less time to split apart than this interminable film does to grind towards its emotionally forgiving conclusion.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you write a review. Oh yeah!

No time for a detailed film news roundup this week (hey, blame Time Out!) but here's a nice list of sparkly new trailers we think you'll enjoy:

Darren Aronofsky's The Fountain.

Final trailer for King Kong.

Memoirs of a Geisha.

Justim Timberlake acts! (kind of).

P.S. If you're reading this over at Time Out, can we come and write your film reviews for one week? Go on, it'll be fun.

Last Updated 11 November 2005