This week: 16 Blocks, Metal: a Headbanger's Journey and Slither. Plus all the usual gossip and Trailer of the Week.
In the last FFN we complained a lot about the fact that that there were no decent films on release. So what do we go and do today? We take one look at the best-reviewed film of the week and decide we're going to ignore it.
Enron: The Smartest Guy in the Room is undoubtedly a very good documentary but it is essentially about accounting fraud and, as a result, the broadsheet reviews from today's papers don't exactly make for riveting reading. When all the critics can do is repeat the facts presented in the movie ($2 billion black hole, 20,000 jobs lost) then there's really nowhere else to go.
So we'll be going to see the Enron documentary but as for the Friday Film News we'd much rather concentrate on something with Bruce Willis in it and that can only mean 16 Blocks.
Both James Christopher in the Times and Pete Bradshaw in the Guardian give 16 Blocks perfunctory reviews, with JC awarding the film its lowest mark of the week with just two stars.
"As subtle and predictable as a wrecking ball," says Christopher of director Richard Donner's attempts to craft a blockbuster out of the admittedly flimsy plot which is full of "wrenching U-turns, conveniently sensitive crowds of extras, and irritating dialogue".
There's been a lot written about the dialogue in 16 Blocks. Apparently Willis hardly says a word for the whole movie, while co-star Mos Def adopts an annoying, squeaky voice which Christopher describes as "Huggy Bear on helium."
JC does point out one bright spot in the film: "David Morse, the villain, the only interesting character in the film" but as for the rest, it's just "a conventional Hollywood ride".
For his part Bradshaw is a little more generous within his three star review mainly thanks to what he calls "a firecracker opening". After that though "the movie unwinds into credulity-stretching silliness."
As for Mos Def's verbal antics, trust Bradshaw to sum it up beautifully: "Donkey to Bruce Willis's Shrek".
Anthony Quinn writing in the Independent also awards 16 Blocks three stars but the review is a litte more indepth, maybe because he disagrees with Bradshaw over just what percentage of the film is actually any good:
for about an hour, it's tremendously exciting; not a word I would previously have associated with a movie - or even a scene - by the Lethal Weapon director Richard Donner. Yet the whippy camerawork and lighting look like the work of a proper film-maker, while the location shooting lends downtown New York a humid, edgy feel that puts us right inside the story.
Quinn credits Willis with "swapping the famous smirk for a tragic grey moustache and looking so depressed that he can hardly bear to speak," while he feels a little sympathy for the corrupt cops who want to silence Def's "grotesque nasal whine that could offer Philip Seymour Hoffman's Capote a challenge for the most insufferably grating voice of the movie year."
Unfortunately, although Anthony Quinn seems to have taken his time writing a lengthy review of 16 Blocks, it looks like he had to rush his two star critique of Metal: a Headbanger's Journey, which at one paragraph long risks making him not just a bit lazy but also ridiculously snobby:
Or, everything you ever wanted to know about heavy metal but were too indifferent to ask. This documentary traces the roots of the genre all the way back to Black Sabbath and the blues, while attempting to cast this essentially juvenile music as a wounded howl of disaffected malehood.
A whole musical genre dismissed as 'essentially juvenile'. Quinn better hope he never bumps into certain residents of the Londonist music dungeon in a dark alley anytime soon.
Over in The Times the film gets a little more respect from Wendy Ide, who gives it three stars and actually explains that the documentary "sets out to discover why the genre has been mocked and vilified and yet still commands such a loyal fan base."
Are you listening Tony Quinn?
It's another very very short review from Adrew Pulver in the Guardian, who also gives the film three stars but he too can't resist injecting a little patronising tone (just in case his reviewer peers decide to take the piss?):
A documentary tour around the heavy metal universe that successfully communicates the makers' fanboy enthusiasm for pounding guitars, the devil's fist salute, and leather-encased flesh. But they fondly imagine they have a more sophisticated point to make about metal's significance as outlaw music; yards of pseudo-academic rambling only demonstrate metallers' spurious sense of siege mentality.
So is this what happens when you send film critics to review music documentaries?
Finally this week it's on to horror-comedy with slugs in the form of Slither.
We linked to the trailer for this last week because it actually looked like it might be quite good fun and, for once, it looks like we might have been right (if the broadsheet opinions are anything to go by).
In the Guardian Bradshaw unleashes a surprisingly generous three stars on Slither, admitting that "there's quite a bit of fun to be had in this not-too-scary horror-comedy," before warning that "both the wit and the creepiness have pretty much disappear as the climax approaches."
In the Independent Quinn actually employs the word "rollicking" in his three star review because Slither "consistently dinged [his] funny bone."
Finally in The Times it's another three stars for this "a surprisingly sharp horror comedy" from James Christopher:
It’s pleasantly disgusting and delightfully tongue in cheek, and comes with spurts of gore and a cast who have an indecent amount of fun.
And so from 'spurts of gore' to 'spurts of gossip' with a quick round up of some of the movie rumours circulating this week.
According to AICN Quentin Tarantino will definitely not be making the Jimi Hendrix biopic.
What has been confirmed though (and which we're very excited about) is that Jon Favreau has been recruited to develop and direct the Iron Man movie about "the adventures of Tony Stark, a troubled billionaire who develops an armoured suit giving him the power of flight and repulsor rays."
It looks like the long-gestating I am Legend might finally get made with Will Smith in the starring role.
And if you got a copy of How to Survive a Robot Uprising: Tips on Defending Yourself Against the Coming Rebellion for Christmas like we did then you might be interested to know that Mike Myers is going to star in a movie adaptation. How and why we have no idea.