This week: Syriana, Kidulthood, and The Matador. Plus a scoop of film news and two Trailers of the Week.
We'd have figured after the advance attack of Good Night and Good Luck that George Clooney's other political stab, Syriana, would have been a shoo in for film of the week, but alas no. For Peter Bradshaw the film can't be taken seriously because of the bad guy Arab torturing the good guy American scene:
It made me want to go up to the screen, knock on where Mr Clooney's troubled forehead is and inquire if there was anyone at home. Those extraordinary rendition flights - are they full to bursting with Americans being tortured by Arabs? At any rate, here it's George getting the fingernail-extraction treatment in a basement, which he greets with hardly more than a manly teeth-clenching growl, and in a later scene he's striding through customs with a couple of plasters round his fingertips, with nary a stress counsellor or therapist in sight. What a liberal hombre.
Did he really use the word hombre? It's all very complicated and wears this ostentatious complication with a kind of macho pride, as if raw reality resides in this contrived thicket. We really liked Syriana, but we can't argue too much with Bradshaw when he writes sentences like that. We're just thankful he didn't say it was based on a Stephen King story. Only 2 stars then, but there's a slight improvement over on The Independent where it gets 3 stars and a rather mangled review that then ploughs straight into something about Nicolas Cage in The Weatherman. Strange. James Christopher in The Times manages to get the last word though with a great summation of Christopher Plummer's role
Never underestimate the power of a pensioner who makes silky threats while pruning his roses
Closer to home we have the awfully titled Kidulthood. Ugh. Wendy Ide:
At first glance, Kidulthood is an X-rated Grange Hill, a Daily Mail reader’s wet dream of teen pregnancies, drug abuse and rampaging hoodie gangs. But this urban drama is scripted with a sensitive ear for the argot of London streets and sympathy for the anguish of adolescence.
Damn, we quite liked the sound of the first look version better. Luckily Anthony Quinn has no time for second glances and knocks that third star right off:
Grange Hill for the happy-slapping generation. When a schoolgirl at a Notting Hill comp hangs herself after being viciously bullied, her classmates have the day off to ponder the implications - or else steal drugs, prostitute themselves, beat each other up and stuff their faces with fast food.
So what does the Voice of Yoof, Bradders make of all this? Well he quite likes it, but not enough to say anything particularly interesting about it in his stunted review. Three stars again then, but we think we'd rather just rewatch Kids over the weekend.
Watching The Matador at last year's London Film Festival was a lot of fun, but even then we couldn't help but think that it was one of those films destined to find an audience on DVD rather than on the big screen. It'll be interesting to see how it does, with ex Bond Brosnan playing against type and the always impressive Greg Kinnear playing it pretty straight as the hitman's only friend. Bradshaw doesn't think much of it, but loves the performances. Philip French hit the nail on the head last Sunday when he said that it was:
"insufficiently funny or black. But it does have two expert performances, and once again Brosnan, as in The Tailor of Panama, shows he's better at coarse, sleazy charm than suave sophistication.
Quinn likes it fine and gives up 3 stars, meanwhile The Times continues to have some serious technical problems and finally coughs up a link to The Matador only for the click to take us through to a review of Big Momma's House 2. No one seems to mention Hope Davis much, which is a disgrace as she's constantly one of the best actresses in Hollywood today.
We also loved Manderlay which just opened and is a worthy sequel to Dogville, and while Mirrormask is probably only going to do it for hardcore Neil Gaiman fans, it is worth watching if only to support Dave McKean's labour of love and ensure his big screen version of Varjak Paw gets off the ground.
Movie news then...
Bond will be driving a Ford to Casino Royale. Probably not an Escort.
Brokeback Mountain's Michelle Williams has been disowned by her former school which just goes to show you that there is a case for burning teaching institutions to the ground.
Stills from Danny Boyle's new sci fi thriller, Sunshine, have hit the internets.
A Londonist favourite novel, Coin Locker Babies, is being adapted for the big screen and is now in preproduction. The IMDB page reveals a cast including Val Kilmer, Asia Argento, Vincent Gallo and er... Sean Lennon.