Re-watching Out Of Sight reminded me of just how smart Soderbergh is as a film maker. It isn’t an overly convoluted plot with twists and turns at every moment, it’s just sharp as razor.
The film is helped by Clooney at his suave best as a moderately successfully bank robber, and Lopez, playing it straight as a no nonsense federal officer. Their chemistry is fantastic as their relationship slowly crescendos, perfectly paced through out the runtime. It’s notably helped by three exceptional scenes between the two of them. The first in the boot of a car; the second in a deserted sky high restaurant, which is then immediately followed by the third; one of the coolest sex scenes of the 90s.
Cool, calm and collected.
There is a lot to like about Stranger By The Lake, it’s smart and immersive. Tension abounds as the lines between passion and death merge in the isolated other-world location of a homosexual cruising spot. It’s a wonderful example of simple film making driven by powerful direction, strong performances and a refined, razor sharp script.
Amsterdamned is quite possibly the most fun you can have with a snorkel, wetsuit and a dutch city… which is really saying something. It’s made by Dick Maas and is actually way better than you think.
Honestly, Cold In July, is a bit of an oddball. It’s not ever what you think it’s going to be, which in this case is good. It avoids the mediocre pacing and predictability of many films like it.
Mood and high quality acting are the order of things until Don Johnson bursts on to the screen adding more of the same (different mood though), stealing the show and sending the story on another departure. It’s without fanfare this movie, but it’s a sardonic and compelling parade of a story you can’t take your peepers off.
Damien Chazelle has got it going on and Grand Piano, while wholly fallible in the logistics of what it presents, demonstrates this.
The film has a ‘giallo’ feel to it, which I love as regular readers will attest, as Wood, the slightly unhinged piano playing hero, is tortured via an earpiece during his most challenging recital by Cusack’s psycho with a sniper rifle and a extremely purist view of ‘tinkling the ivories’.
It’s horror/thriller nonsense of the highest order.
There are films that have done more with the themes explored in Extraction, and you’d be better off seeking them out. Characters rarely come more generic than those trapped in this looping banality of exceedingly average sci-fi.
The film Kiss Kiss Bang Bang has been a conspicuous hole in my ‘seen’ list. It was a hole I was looking forward to filling… Michelle Monaghan is a great actress and she’s good opposite Downey Jr. being, well exactly as we expect, but better because there isn’t any of that nod and wink shit he now comes with. The show though is stolen by Kilmer as Gay Perry.
Shane Black is a great screenwriter and he’s on it here, with everything else following suit. Saying this has reminded me that I really need to re-watch Monster Squad…
Aside from the style on show in terms of the chic threads in The Two Faces Of January it doesn’t hold the interest. There is no establishing of character, meaning that there is no expectation regarding their actions, making the deception that may (or may not) be going on irrelevant and therefore dull. Kirsten Dunst in oversized sun-peepers in bleached out, stifling hot, rural Grecian villages, yes. Everything else… No thanks.
Still as good as it ever was Shallow Grave is an almost perfect example of how to deliver a killer thriller on a micro-budget. The key? Strong characters, even better dialogue. Dark, witty and tense.
The second screener was The Trials Of Cate McCall due out on the 7th July. Now this might be just me, but courtroom dramas do feel like a bi-product of the 90s and this is no exception.
Does this make it bad? No. Does it hamper it? Yes. It doesn’t feel relevant or as significant as it should. It’s all a bit ‘90210’ (original series). Beckinsale is miscast and although she is more than capable of carrying a film she has to, through no fault of her own, battle against this. She’s too ‘perfect’, something her character is constantly shown not to be to the point of distraction. It’s as if the film is fighting against the associations an audience has with the actress. Nolte does his grizzled thing and aside from that no-one else has much to do.
There is also a lot of chat. All the significant incidents are discussed rather than shown. A choice most likely to keep the viewer’s perspective in line with McCall’s and a legacy of its made for TV origins. But even so there is still no dynamism to anything, there’s barely a raised voice.
Intriguingly too Taye Diggs is way up on the cast list, yet never appears. It’s a conspicuous absence…