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Round-up

Monsters is a thoughtful, perhaps too thoughtful film about two people that should get together but probably won’t (and don’t, or do they?) that must, after an unlikely wrangle at a ferry-port, head into the ‘infected‘ zone, which is basically where the titular creatures reside, in order to make a fraught journey home. The special effects (of which there are not many) were contrived resourcefully and imaginatively on a home PC by director Gareth Edwards, and are affective and effective when they (at their best) arrive. It’s a well shot and admirable use of meagre means – if marginally too ponderous to avoid slipping through the cracks between genres a little – an austere Close Encounters.

Joe Dante returns with The Hole, exuding Speilberg deference like a hopeful charm, dusts off the (very) old box of tricks and wields the camera like a little kid, rolling it through the exact same well-worn routine that made Gremlins so successful: swift domestic setting then straight into tight, well-orchestrated mayhem. It’s a retread but also a reminder of a long-absent talent for quick, slick, disposable thrills.

In The Lincoln Lawyer, ‘Lawyer’ Matthew McConnaughey smirks, swaggers and jaw-clenches his way in and out of his client-turned-chauffeur driven ‘Lincoln’, pausing occasionally to engage in ‘cool’ negotiations with gnarled biker crews that flag him down, try and keep is-he-isn’t-he-of-course-he-is playboy Ryan Philippe out of the slammer, impetuously toss a Styrofoam cup over his shoulder and reignite the alcohol-doused fire that was his marriage to Marisa Tomei. He succeeds, and then doesn’t. And then does. It’s another film whose self-affirmation partly rests on its delivery of ‘twists’. All of which are the stuff of ad-infinitum hour-long TV cop-shows. A great assemblage of interesting actors skulk around (or, if you’re William H Macy, look scruffy and knackered) and McConnaughey shows off in front of them, by turns not-that-likeable and then likeable again when he stops acting like a drunk frat-boy trying to impress a cheerleader and becomes moody and imperiled.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. May 6, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    Monsters is on my to watch list, the others not. The trouble with my to watch list is that it’s lengthy and I don’t get to watch that many movies (plus I do reviews for an online webzine and by the time I’ve done two or three films for them I get little time for my own stuff). The trouble with your blog is that it adds to my to watch list…

    On the subject of reviews and to watch and so on, have you seen the Korean film Mother? It’s tremendous. An elderly woman’s mentally handicapped son is accused of the murder of a local girl and she tries to clear his name. It sounds comic (or horrific given it’s exported Korean cinema), but it’s not. It’s one of the better films I’ve seen in the past twelve months. A strange kind of melancholy noir.

  2. May 6, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    Mother goes straight on the list, then…

    Hey, what’s the webzine? I’ll have to check that out.

    Monsters is the only one worth spending your time on. I do watch a lot of ‘unwind’ flotsam and I could never deny it…

    Although, the next handful of films going up on here look promising. Have you seen any? (Police, Adjective; Enter The Void; Lourdes; Fish Story; and I’m pondering doing something on Treme.)

  3. May 6, 2011 at 9:08 pm

    Oh and Chungking Express as well.

  4. May 24, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    Police, Adjective is one of my favourite films of the past twelve months. My thoughts on it are here: http://www.videovista.net/reviews/feb11/policeadj.html though I prefer your blog entries. Films aren’t my primary medium. Still, writing for videovista is an interesting stretch and I get exposure to a lot of Korean cinema through it (I seem to be the primary reviewer of the Korean films they get, though I avoid torture horror which puts some of them out of my personal bounds).

    My unwind flotsam is horror. I recently watched Dance of the Dead (huge fun, geeks and a cheerleader try to save the prom from zombies), Splinter (surprisingly effective and actually quite horrid, which is no bad thing really) and Carriers (extraordinarily downbeat post-apocalyptic drama horrifically mismarketed as zombie horror – mismarketed as it has in fact no zombies or paranormal elements of any kind).

    If there’s one thing I’ve learnt from cinema it’s that American teenagers really shouldn’t ever visit the countryside. It rarely seems to end well…

    My love is serious cinema, but as often as not if it’s late and I’m looking at a Taiwanese relationship drama or nazi zombies it’s the nazi zombies that win.

    I’m watching Treme at the moment. Overall I’m a fan. Slow buildup and it’s not perfect, but it’s interesting and rich in character.

  5. May 25, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    Been incredibly busy but back to normal asap: Enter The Void review up tomorrow hopefully. Thanks for the kind words; if my Police, Adjective review is as good as yours I’ll be delighted.

  6. May 25, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    Oh and I love Treme thus far. A friend who loved The Wire described Treme as ‘a snoozefest’. Ah well: I could watch it all day.

  7. May 27, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    I’m a big Treme fan so far too. It has its flaws, it’s sometimes very self-indulgent, but overall it’s solid drama with interesting characters and an ability to tell a story which largely doesn’t depend on people being shot in the opening scenes. On contemporary tv that’s no small feat.

    It is a langurous show. I think one really needs to give it time and space, to settle into its rhythms, otherwise it would just be a snoozefest as your friend found.

    • June 1, 2011 at 3:28 pm

      ‘…which largely doesn’t depend on people being shot in the opening scenes.’

      That sentence had me laughing.

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