Showing posts from May 20, 2012

Review: The Good Die Young

Laurence Harvey plays Rave, a caddish, smooth-talking (but terminally lazy) playboy with possible psycho tendencies (and a former military man of dubious distinction) who has alienated his father (Robert Morley), gambled most of his wife’s (Margaret Leighton) money away and has conceived of a dastardly plan to convince several other chaps hard on their luck to join him in a mail van hold-up. Richard Basehart is an American Korean War veteran married to Brit Joan Collins who has returned home to her ailing (read: manipulative) mother, and he can’t currently afford to bring her back. John Ireland is an American soldier who has gone AWOL after discovering his vampish actress wife (Gloria Grahame, who else?) has been fooling around. Finally, there is ne’er do well pug Stanley Baker, who has to have a gangrenous hand amputated and whose wife (women don’t fare too well in this film!) Rene Ray, has forked over his meagre life savings to her no-good brother. Each man is desperate, but geez,

Review: The Trip

Comedian Steve Coogan is asked by The Observer newspaper to tour the north of the UK, sampling and writing about its fine dining. His foodie girlfriend was meant to accompany him, but when she bails (she’s going to the US and wants to take a break from each other anyway), he turns to long-time colleague and rival Rob Brydon. Along their journey the duo eat, bicker, annoy one another, and play a game of one-upmanship, with various impressions and the like. Meanwhile, Coogan reveals himself to be jealous of other people’s success, wanting to be seen as an accomplished character actor like Michael Sheen. He’s also going through a mid-life crisis and will crack onto anyone with tits and legs. Here’s a road trip so claustrophobic, you’d swear you were travelling in the car with them. They barely seem to even like each other. Edited down from a 2010 BBC miniseries, this 2011 Michael Winterbottom (the eclectic director of “9 Songs” , “Tristram Shandy” , and “The Killer Inside Me” ) co

Review: Game Change

Dealing with the 2008 American election, and in particular the Republican campaign as Presidential nominee John McCain (Ed Harris) and his chief strategists Steve Schmidt (Woody Harrelson), Rick Davis (Peter MacNicol), Mark Salter (Jamey Sheridan) and Nicole Wallace (Sarah Paulson) are looking at potential running mates. Schmidt, sensing that McCain needs someone to help counteract Democratic nominee Barack Obama’s ‘rock star’-like charisma, comes across a then obscure Alaskan Governor named Sarah Palin (Julianne Moore). Her ‘hockey mom’ persona and pleasant aesthetic seem like they are the perfect fit. Unfortunately, the vetting process is sped up in order to change the game as soon as possible, and it ends up biting them in the bum. Her homespun charm makes her popular with <cough> Average Joe plumbers <cough> who buy into the ‘hockey mom’ schtick, but when it comes to more serious issues, she is far less assured. Palin proves to be, at best, woefully unprepared, and so

Review: Ladder 49

Joaquin Phoenix plays a member of the tight-knit Baltimore Fire Dept. who falls through the crummy floor of a building whilst on the job. Whilst he is waiting for his buddies to hopefully rescue him, he reflects on his life, including his relationship with wife Jacinda Barrett (lovely as always). John Travolta is his chief, with the various members of his crew played by Billy Burke, Robert Patrick (seemingly enjoying himself playing the resident prankster), Balthazar Getty (Remember him? He used to almost be somebody), Tim Guinee, and Morris Chestnut. Didn’t we already see this back when it was called “Backdraft” ? Well-made 2004 Jay Russell ( “Tuck Everlasting” ) fire-fighting drama has good intentions and performances (especially by Phoenix), but cannot escape familiarity, and particularly a repetitive story. How many scenes of fire department pranks did we need to see? (Insert your own soon-to-be outdated John Travolta towel-snapping joke here) It was either that or another d