The weekly round up of film reviews continues, courtesy of James Bryan...
The lack of big releases this week has allowed the critics to focus on Gomorrah, a brutally realistic Italian gangster film set in a bleak concrete housing estate. The reviews are exceptional, particularly in The Times (5-star):
Great films change the way we think about cinema. A masterpiece can alter our perception of life. Matteo Garrone’s startling film, Gomorrah, about the criminal underworld in Naples, is one of these rare movies.
It’s apparently that good, and all the more refreshing because it is so far removed from the Hollywood cliché of what gangster films should be. As The Guardian says (4-star):
It is not a mob film in the classical vein, because there is no Scarface or central boss figure with whom we are tacitly allowed to become fascinated. There are just scattered villains and victims, filmed with loose, freewheeling energy and attack.
The Independent (4-star) thinks this is a “remarkable film about a society living in fear” and also reveals that “the author of the book on which Gomorrah is based, Roberto Saviano, has been forced into hiding for fear of reprisal from the very mobsters he exposed,” which only proves how authentic the film must actually be. As Peter Bradshaw says in The Guardian, “After the final credits, it is hard to escape the fear, even the despair, that this whole area – all of Naples, all of southern Italy – is suitable only for a rain of fire from the heavens.”
Against this the rest of this week’s films really don’t match up, in fact you’d be strongly advised to avoid them all as they barely scrap a handful of stars between them. Just to make sure you have no excuses, avoid Mutant Chronicles – “a cranium-pulverisingly dull and badly acted sci-fi action non-thriller” (The Guardian, 1-star) – which proves that “the world economy is not the only thing going down the pan” (The Independent, 1-star). There’s a different type of dirge with The House Bunny, a horrific looking comedy that wants to be Legally Blonde but isn’t. It gets 1-star in The Guardian (“less than awesome”) and 2-stars in The Times where it is “a film that is more clueless than Clueless, and the smiles come few and far between.”
The final two films to avoid this week are Mirrors, a remake of a superior Asian horror film starring Jack Bauer (or is it Kiefer Sutherland, they’ve morphed into the same person). Anyway The Times (2-stars) finds it to be “an exercise in laughably earnest nonsense that barely rustles up a single chill,” while the Guardian shows a tiny bit of compassion saying “the remake retains the sensationally creepy ending and it's all reasonably done, but no real chills” (2-stars). Finally we have City of Ember, a heap of nonsense about a bunch of people living underground. At least it’s aimed at kids. The Guardian (2-star) calls it a “by-the-numbers fantasy adventure”, The Independent (2-star) thinks that at least it’s “trying to be different, but even at 90 minutes, it drags” while The Times (2-star) says “the premise is the sort of thing Doctor Who can cope with inside 50 minutes.”
Next week the Coen Brothers return after the fantastic No Country For Old Men with the more light-hearted Burn After Reading.
By James Bryan