Friday night is warm across London so we met some friends, had tapas and headed to the flicks to see Mr and Mrs Smith. Unusually for me, I knew what it was about before I actually sank into my lovely comfortable Clapham Picture House seat and – therefore – I wasn’t surprised in either a good or bad way with this film.
The premise: Mr and Mrs Smith are killers for hire but they don’t know that about each other. You need to gloss over the huge holes in that for they don’t matter. The on-going lies each one has to tell to cover their other life as a hit man is ruining their marriage. So, they seek counselling and somewhere along the line – again, don’t worry about the detail – they end up trying to kill each other.
The lead up to the assignation attempt(s) is essentially background filler and, thankfully, is over pretty quickly. When the penny drops – and Mr and Mrs Smith head to kill the other – is the point where the movie gets better. As you would imagine for such a blockbuster the killing spree is well covered with special effects making the gun battles comic-book in style and certainly all the more enjoyable for it.
This film, however, is made by the unexpected witty dialogue that writer Simon Kinberg has peppered the film with. For plot details and suspense then two deadly assasigns trying to kill each other is – perhaps – better left to Robert Ludlum. A husband and wife couple doing the same and you’ll laugh along to the clever use of the dialogue which moves this film. When it really gets going, it’s great.
Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt keep it moving well. They are a convincing couple and have the all the moves a film of this nature needs. Most importantly, they carry the dialogue convincingly as a married couple.
Don’t expect realism nor a movie that takes itself seriously. Expect a surprisingly entertaining cinema experience. The fact that some in the audience applauded at the end should suggest you give this film a chance.
On this day…
2005: links for 2005-06-17
2004: Football Crazy
I seem to be spending most of my Christmas vacation watching films. We just watched Bruce Almighty and I quite enjoyed it. I have never been a big fan of the Jim Carrey slapstick roles but in this the comedy is more subtle.
Carrey plays TV reporter Bruce Nolan who hates the lifestyle oddities he is asked to report on a wants the TV anchor role. When his colleague Evan gets the gig Bruce, down on his luck, complains bitterly to everybody who listen. When God (Morgan Freeman) has had enough of the complaints he lets Bruce play God for a while (and God goes on vacation).
Predictably, Bruce uses the power to his own advantage at first before we get to the moment where he realises this isn’t the way (which is not too long after he let everybody win the lottery and watched riots unfold before him). And, despite that predictability, it’s an enjoyable way to pass an hour or two (and you hear God explain the concept of ‘Free Will’ which is a nice get-out clause for everybody).
On this day…
2006: Here We Go
2005: 2004 In Review
2004: Love Actually
2004: Review of 2003: December
2004: Review of 2003: November
2002: Why Do You Do It?
Not sure what has happened, but weeks have passed since we went to the cinema and now I have done two films two nights in a row.
50 First Dates had a preview last night (I think it opens today) and it was showing at the right time for us in Wimbledon so we thought that we would give it a go. I expected an Adam Sandler gag-fest and, really, it wasn’t. I am not a fan of many of the movies Adam Sandler has been in but this is heart-warming (and humorous) and was a big surprise.
Sandler’s character (Henry Roth) meets Drew Barrymore‘s Lucy in a breakfast diner and tries to pull all his best lines on her. None of them really work but he falls for her and so begins a touching story (if somewhat unbelievable) and a thoroughly entertaining evening out. You may, or may not, really be suspending your disbelief as the woman with no memory seems to fall for Roth but I think you’ll get over that.
On this day…
2003: End Game
A quick review of The Station Agent, a film a saw on the spur of the moment last night.
It’s a well-written, superbly acted film where – almost – nothing happens. And, unlike many films of its type it’s well-worth watching because the characters are both fascinating and endearing. Fin is, as they say, vertically challenged and moves into a parochial American backwater town where a Cuban hot dog man sells his wares to (more-or-less) nobody and Olivia, an artist going through a messy divorce who almost drives over our hero (twice). They are an odd set of warm characters performed brilliantly by the cast.
It’s also a comedy and succeeds in not turning farcical with lots of slapstick about shorter people. The comedy is tender, clever and entertaining but it’s not a belly-laugh-a-minute film.
The Station Agent turned out to be one of the best films I have seen so far this year.
You can buy The Station Agent on DVD from Amazon.
On this day…
2004: Fries Are Chips and Chips Are Fries
There was something of an 80s flashback over the Christmas period which set me thinking about my teenage years – although I am not suggesting you should now read my regurgitated teenage angst. The flashbacks came in the form of three films on free-to-air television that I caught by accident (by which I mean I didn’t know there were on until I flicked past them).
Firstly, we had the excellent Footloose (Kevin Bacon, dancing) which is a film I must have seen several hundred times and never get bored. It’s those standing up for you rights and proving your responsibility moments that resonated with people of a certain age when it was released. It’s helped by the fact that the 80s electro-pop soundtrack was pretty good (for the time) and Kevin Bacon is moody and supports a tight fitting vest at one point!
Then, on New Years Day, we had another teen angst film in the shape of The Breakfast Club. From the John Hughes stable (he made one of my all time favourite movies, Some Kind of Wonderful) this was a teen film with a difference. The film is – almost entirely – dialogue driven and there is very limited action. It’s set in the detention room on a Saturday where a small group of students (of all the stereotypes) must spend the day together as punishment for various misdemeanours.
Again, we are treated to the teen isolation, the misfits and the stupidity of the adult world. And, it also features a soundtrack that instantly brings to mind the mid-Eighties including Don’t You by Simple Minds – which is possibly the only Simple Minds track that I can listen to again and again.
Sandwiched in between Footloose and The Breakfast Club and shown sometime in that almost-dead period between Christmas and New Year was the first Back To The Future movie (which again has a soundtrack of it’s time featuring Huey Lewis and The News, Eric Clapton and Lindsey Buckingham). What struck me about it (apart from the now dated effects) was how good a film it really was. There are some superb performances in it (Christopher Lloyd and Crispin Glover) and it was a real combination of teen and sci-fi movies. It was also the first film I can recall going to the cinema more than once to see – it must really have inspired me as a 15 year-old. Superb stuff.
So, despite the fact that you can be critical of television over this past Christmas period, I really think that it served me some unexpected movie gems. And for that, I am grateful.
On this day…
2005: The Incredibles
2005: Shaun Of The Dead
2004: Honoured for HTML
2004: 2003 In Summary
2003: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
2003: Mirror Picture
At the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival I saw Endgame. It’s a unique take on the London Gangland film genre – in this gangster/sugar daddy (Mark McGann) keeps his rent boy housed in a plush apartment to turn tricks for those required to be kept onside. Without wanting to spoil the plot, rent boy Tom (Daniel Newman) escapes his prison, befriends neighbourly Americans who come to his aid and escape to a remote country cottage.
Normally, I don’t watch films with so much violence (there are scenes of rape and some horrific beatings) but it’s filmed/directed in a way that’s does keep you watching. Despite the things that happen to him, Tom’s character never really develops much beyond the chain-smoking cute-boy that starts the film, although you do begin to empathise with him as the film moves on. Mark McGann, however, is menacing and John Benfield (as Dunston, the corrupt detective) is threatening (if a little one-dimensional).
Disturbing but interesting.
On this day…
2004: 50 First Dates