Here I am again, watching films (particularly of the streamed variety) so that you don’t have to! I’ve been not been watching too much recently so I think these reviews are more ad hoc than weekly (let’s face it, it doesn’t matter!!).
First up is, ‘Bedroom Window’, which you can see on Amazon. At nearly 2 hours this 1987 film is way too long for the thriller bracket. It was directed by Curtis Hanson (who went on to greater success with L.A. Confidential amongst others), who is doing his best to ape Hitchcock but comes off like a weak lemon drink version of Brian de Palma, which I actually think is the film’s intention. It definitely wants to take something like ‘Blow Out’ as it’s inspiration but instead of Travolta and Allen we get Guttenberg and McGovern – which, as said, is a diluted drink indeed.
Yes, I said Guttenberg! I am sure he is a lovely man but I’ve always disliked him as an actor – the smug Tom Hanks. Only passable in Short Circuit – the third best thing in it. He was in 3 Men and a Baby – unforgivable – as for those Academy movies…..He is OK here, but really unlikeable, when he’s supposed to be likeable. Elizabeth McGovern isn’t much better. Lucky to be in ‘Once Upon A Time in America’, the first section of her career was slowing down here. She struggles as the feisty love interest and when she tries to play ‘sexy’ in the barroom scene all I can see/hear is her vamping it in the style of Cora from ‘Downton Abbey’ – which brings a frisson which I don’t think should be there!!!! Also in the movie, and doing rather better, is Isabelle Huppert, who proves that she found her signature look when young and has stuck with it her whole life – some people are just lucky that way – I’m still waiting to find mine!!
The film is reasonable, it over reaches, but has that 80s cinematographic charm with lovely rich colours (very de Palma, who, himself, was only being very Argento).
Rating: 3 …Afternoon killing fodder!
Next up, and one that I didn’t expect to recommend, is ‘El Camino’, the Breaking Bad sequel movie thing. I really wasn’t looking forward to this one. Don’t get me wrong I liked Breaking Bad, just not as much as other people and I think part of that was to do with my non-connect Jesse Pinkman, so the idea of a movie purely based on Aaron Paul’s character just didn’t thrill me…..
But, it works. Without the over-powering force of Bryan Cranston as Walt, Aaron Paul has the time and space to show us more of what he is capable of.
The film looks at the time directly after the ending of the TV show and, through a succession of flashbacks, looks at what happened to Jesse during the final section of the last season. This gives the film the opportunity to briefly bring back several well-beloved characters, though at times these scenes could have been cut down a little. The running time of 2 hours is a little on the long side and there are definitely a few flashbacks that overstay their welcome a little.
Aaron Paul is great in this flick, but the highlight of the film for me is the cameo from Robert Foster, who sadly died last month, with ‘El Camino’ being his last film. He brings his usual hypnotising steadfast honest delivery to the role, wonderful.
Rating: 4..If you were a fan…don’t bother if you weren’t!!
On Netflix at the moment is Gasper Noe’s, ‘Climax’. I meant to see this last year at the cinema, but getting myself out proved to be difficult at the time. It’s a shame, as I think this would make a helluva experience in the darkness of a cinema.
The film is based on a true story, which I don’t really want to mention too much for spoilers, and involves a bunch of dancers rehearsing for a show and partying afterwards. This being a Noe film you know you are going to be led on a colour-saturated nightmare journey. The film delivers the story over a series of sections – some dialogue to camera heavy, others purely contemporary dance pieces. This just about works increasing the tension and the that feeling that something is about to happen but at times makes things a little draggy. For example there are scenes of excess in this movie but they go on a little too long and I found myself wanting to fast forward to the next set up.
Noe is an auteur, a rare thing in movies these days. You know it’s his movie from the get go. But, to steal another French phrase, he is a bit of an Enfant terrible, which means his films come with certain expectations and because of this I felt a little disappointed with this movie. There is a lot to like but it never seems to go that extra mile in either visuals or excess. I know there is no reason why he has to go the full ‘crazy’ but there’s always that expectation….That’s the problem with auteurs, they are often redeveloping their own art and therefore rework the same themes again and again. I would rather see this movie than a 100 Hollywood hack jobs though.
Rating: 3 Just for the dancing alone!
Talking of French auteurs that basically keep remaking the same film for the entirety of their careers, I also had another watch of Jean Rollin’s ‘Requiem For A Vampire’. Widely held to be his best film (but not by me!) it’s another of his ‘a couple (this time 2 female bank robbers dressed as clowns – don’t ask) fall into the clutches of an eccentric group of vampires’. It’s surreal and dreamlike with very little dialogue and a mid-section ‘erotic’ torture scene that still troubles the censors to this day. If you remember Hammer films not being able to compete with the ‘sexy’ vampire films from the continent, it was because of stuff like this. The movie is nice to look at but drags for me and that’s not because of the lack of dialogue
Rating: 2 There’s a piano in a graveyard!
OK, so fave film over the last 2 weeks was ‘El Camino’.