Monday, 30 August 2010

The Warriors

Director; Walter Hill
Starring; Michael Beck, James Remar
Year; 1979
Genre; Thriller
Release; UK Paramount Blu Ray

In case you've never heard of this, set in the future, New York is in the grip of gangs. Big cheese Sirus has called a meeting of all the big gangs, and a truce for people to attend. Assassinated at the meeting, the killing is, falsely, blamed on The Warriors. Stranded miles from their home turf, they have to fight all the way home. A classic of 70's filmaking, this is an utter blast. Sure it's a bit cheesey, the acting is terrible, and Beck is far from convincing as the leader. However, it's all great fun, as the gang go from one fight to the next, in their attempt to make it home. Required viewing for just about anyone.

The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo

Director; Niels arden Oplay
Starring; Michael Nyqvist, Noomi Rapace
Year; 2009
Genre; Drama
Release; UK Momentum Blu Ray

Drama based on the first of Stieg Larssons trilogy of novels, centred around Lisbeth. The story deals, if anything, more with the reporter, Mikael Blomkvist, and his attempts to find out what happened to a missing girl, in the 60's. Rapace plays the titular character extremely well, as does Nyqvist in his role. A properly excellent film, that manages to overcome the problem many Scandinavian dramas have, that of slow pace and dullness. Just as it seems it might slip into there, the film picks itself up, and moves along. Watch this, and not the impending, inevitable, Hollywood remake. They will fuck it up.

Mesrine, Parts 1&2

Director; Jean Francois Richet
Starring; Vincent Cassel
Year; 2008
Genre; Thriller
Release UK Momentum

I'll do both parts in one, as it's really one long film, split in 2. Telling the story of true life French Public enemy No1, Jacques Mesrine, this is a long, and involved tale, spanning 2 decades. The first part deals with his rise, the second with his life as enemy no1. Stylish and cool, the films show life in the periods well, and must have had a good budget. Not sure as to the accuracy of the films, but they are great to see. I watched them back to back, and the time flew by.

Sin Nombre

Director; Cary Fukunaga
Starring; Marco Antonio Aguiree, Leonardo Alonso
Genre; Drama
Year; 2009
Release; UK Revolver

More slum gangster stuff, this time in Mexico. The story centres on a gang who live in the south. One of the things they do, is help illegals get from Guatamala to the US, a gruelling, dangerous journey, hanging onto the top of trains. The main guy, in the story, turns on his boss, during a robbery of said immigrants. On the run, he's forced to make the journey himself, to try to get in the US. Gritty, brutal, yadda yadda yadda. Good stuff though.

Gomorrah

Director; Matteo Garrone
Starring; Toni Servillio, Gianfelice Imparato
Year; 2008
Genre; Thriller/ Drama
Release; UK Optimum

Slum gangster films have been in the ascention, ever since the success of City of God. Here, it's Italy having a go. A multi threaded, interwoven tale, set in the slums of Naples. Usual sort of thing, gritty, brutal etc. It's a good film, definatly worth seeking out.

Elite Squad

Director; Jose Padilha
Starring; Wagner Moura, Andre Ramiro
Year; 2007
Genre; Action/ Drama
Release; UK Optimum

Set in the Flavelas of Rio, where crime rules, and the police are as corrupt as the criminals. A pair of rookie cops become disillusioned with the rampant corruption they see around them. In an attempt to escape, they try to enrol in the BOPE unit, an elite force of uncorruptable police. Gritty and brutal, as you'd expect these days, this is a very good, watchable film.

13; Game of Death

Director; Chukiat Sakveerakul
Starring; Krissada Terrance
Year; 2006
Genre; Thriller
Release; UK Revolver

This is a Thai remake of a French film. A salesman is having a really shitty day, loses his job, car and girlfriend. So, when a mysterious caller offers him huge sums, for taking part in a game, he takes up the offer. 13 challenges, getter ever more dubious and questionable. Keep playing, or lose the lot. This film starts out well, but loses its way a bit towards the end. Trying to hard to hit with a twist ending, it kind of buggers up the previous hours good work. Decent enough, but needs a better ending.

Chocolate

Director; Prachya Pinkaew
Starring; Yanin Mitananda, Hiroshi Abe
Year; 2008
Genre; Martial Arts
Release; UK Cine Asia

Ok, there's about a hundred films called Chocolate, this one is a Thai MA movie. The film centres around Zen, mentally retarded she has to raise money to care for her mother. Her mother used to be a big shot criminal madam, but now is ravaged with leukemia. Zen gets money by chasing her mothers old debts. Naturally, people refuse to pay, so Zen 'perusades' them, with her savant ability to mimic martial arts off tv. Interesting take this, although not the first time such things have been done. By no means a classic, but worth a watch.

The Class

Director; Ilmar Raag
Starring; Vallo Kirs, Part Uursberg
Year; 2007
Genre; Drama
Release; UK Final Cut

A classroom drama, from Estonia. Not seen anything from there before, so I thought I'd have a look. Joosep is the class whipping boy, and permanently bullied. Out of nowhere, Kasper decides to stick up for him. Leading to an all out war, in the classroom. Not exactly a feelgood movie, this is a bleak and depressing view of teen life. It's a very good film, just don't expect any yuks along the way.

District 13: Ultimatum

Director; Patrick Alessandrin
Starring; Cyril Raffaeli, David Belle
Year; 2009
Genre; Action/ Thriller
Release; UK Momentum

Inevitable sequal. Inevtiably, not as good. The two guys from the first one are back, to save the district again. Much more overblown than the first one, it sort of goes a bit far, really. Some good action scenes, but not much else.

District 13

Director: Pierre Morel
Starring: Cyril Raffaeli, David Belle
Year: 2004
Genre: Action/ Thriller
Release: UK Momentum

Set in a none too distant future, Parisian suburbs have been walled off, and divided into 'districts'. Ruled by criminals, these places have been left to rot by the authorities. When a local hero is set up, and imprisoned, the criminal boss kidnaps his sister as his own, personal slave. Hero boy teams up with an uncover cop, to take him down. Fast and frentic action, with a certain style about everything (not suprising, Luc Beeson has his nose in it), this is meant as a showcase for parkour. The scenes of free running are great to watch, as it's all unfaked. The story is pretty terrible, but it's a good no brainer.

Monday, 5 July 2010

The Warlords

Director; Peter Ho-Sun Chan
Starring; Jet Li, Andy Lau, Takeshi Kaneshiro
Year; 2007
Genre; Period epic
Release; UK, Metrodome, Blu-Ray

Another sprawling epic, from China. these films can be very good, or very boring. Fortunatly, this fits into the former. Li does not rely on kung fu here, getting the chance to act a bit instead. Lau is Lau, you pretty much know what you're getting there. Good entry into the genre, and one of the few films I'm prepared to pay the extra for on blu-ray, as the visuals in films like this deserve it.

Inglorious Bastards

Director; Enzo G. Castellari
Starring; Bo Svenson, Fred Williamson, Peter Hooten
Year; 1978
Genre; War
Release; UK, Optimum

Yup, it's the film Tarantino got the name from. Inevitably released in the wake of the more famous film, Tarantion took only the name, and nothing more. This is Italian exploitation stuff, but don't let that put you off. Hiding beneath the low budget, terrible partial dubbing and lousy production is actually an extremely enjoyable film. The story, although formulaic in the most (it's a Dirty Dozen rip off), has a few touches that are ok. Like the double-misunderstanding resulting in the death of the sympathetic german soldier prisoner with them. It's a brain-off thing, but there's nothing wrong with that. Oh, and naked chicks with machine guns! What more do you want? I paid 3 quid for this, in HMV, and honestly, is one of the best value films I have ever bought.

Inglorious Basterds

Director; Quentin Tarantino
Starring; Melanie Laurent, Christoph Waltz, Brad Pitt, diane Kruger
Genre; Action/ Thriller
Year; 2009
Release; UK, Universal

No, I didn't list Pitt at the top of the cast list, he's not actually in it that much. I rather enjoyed this little romp, although I do think it could have been very different too. I think Tarantino has too many ideas for his own good, sometimes, and it shows a little here. Even at near 2 1/2 hours, there could be more in it. The titular characters are not in it, all that much, the story mostly centreing around Laurent's character, and Waltz's excellent turn as the Nazi Colonel. Pity, as some of the Basterds are very good characters, and deserved more screen time. Still great fun though.