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We present to you the latest episode of theOneliner movie review podcast in which, at the risk of becoming predictable, we review some movies for you. Targets for our truth cannon this time around are Nameless Gangster, The Master, The Place Beyond the Pines and Iron Man 3. So with our firing solution locked in, let's begin.
It's been a while since we covered any Asian cinema, so we thought we'd remedy that by catching up on Yun Jong-bin's Nameless Gangster from last year, a heavily Western-influenced crime film set in the midst of South Korea's organised crime crackdown of the early 1990s. A corrupt customs official rises, through a combination of luck and family ties, to become one of the most powerful men in Busan, but a falling out with his partner leaves him vulnerable when an ambitious young prosecutor starts investigating the city's gangs. While the 1980s period detail is well-realised and there are enjoyable performances from Ha Jung-woo and Oldboy's Choi Min-sik, it suffers from the main character being a buffoon who is extremely hard to accept as being a powerful figure in the Korean underworld. In the end it's a mediocre film in a genre full of classics, and we can't recommend that you watch it.
Paul Thomas Anderson is one of our favourite directors, and while his films don't come along anything like as often as we'd prefer, his name alone has been seen around these parts as a badge of quality. Which really set us up for a fall, and the crushing disappointment that is The Master. The Master of the title is Lancaster Dodd (loosely based on Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard), a self-considered polymath and leader of a cult called The Cause, whose (entirely sensible) beliefs include that the key to curing some cancers lies with letting go of unresolved conflicts from previous lives (perhaps even millions of years ago). Despite the title of the film, though, the main character is a former sailor called Freddie Quell, who, after leaving the Navy, has struggled to adjust to civilian life. Dodd takes on Freddie as a personal project, attempting to use his self-developed 'processing' technique to rid him of his demons. There's very little wrong with The Master on a technical level, and the acting is far more than competent, but the problem is that this is the tale of the leader of a personality cult without any personality, and the redemption of a man with no redeeming features. We hate to find ourselves saying this about a film with this cast and from this director, but this is definitely one film to avoid.
Ryan Gosling stars as carnival stunt rider Handsome Luke in The Place Beyond the Pines, a moody character piece from Blue Valentine director Derek Cianfrance. After learning he has a son with a woman he had a brief relationship with on his last stay in Schenectady, Luke determines to be part of his son's life and leaves the travelling fair. An admirable plan, but the follow up plan of deciding to provide for his child by robbing banks is somewhat less so. While there isn't a tremendous amount happening, Gosling's quiet but powerfully charismatic performance effortlessly holds attention. Unfortunately this promising opening gives way to what seems like an almost entirely separate second, and then third, movie, only very loosely connected to the first. Story gets stretched more and more thinly over these two latter sections and there's just not enough to hold interest over its nearly two and a half hour running time. Alas that this is the third film we've covered in this episode that, despite some clear positives, we can't recommend that you watch.
Fortunately this trend ceases with our final film, the spectacular Iron Man 3. Shane Black's replacement of Jon Favreau in the director's chair allows him to tap into the chemistry with Robert Downey Jr. that made Kiss Kiss Bang Bang such a hoot, and memories of the disappointing Iron Man 2 are swiftly banished. Following on from the events of The Avengers, Tony Stark is suffering from the world-changing revelations of intelligent, and hostile, alien cultures and PTSD from nearly being vaporised by a nuclear missile. It is this more fragile, less cocksure Stark that must take on the terrorist threat of The Mandarin. The previous films in the series suffered from too much CGI on CGI action that was difficult to care about, and the masterstroke here is taking Stark out of the Iron Man suit for most of the film, which has the dual effect of making the character much more vulnerable and giving RDJ considerably more freedom to act. Alongside this the film plays with almost every conceivable implementation of Iron Man's power armour, creating unexpected action and plenty of opportunity for humour. Iron Man 3 is a tremendously entertaining blockbuster, and if you're one of the eleven people who haven't yet seen it we urge you to do so at the earliest opportunity.
We hope you enjoyed that. We're going to let our truth cannon cool down now, but we will be firing a fresh volley soon. While you're waiting for that, if you've any comments you'd like to make, please do so either by emailing us or hollering @theoneliner on Twitter. And as always we'd appreciate you taking a few moments to rate and review us on iTunes, or wherever better podcasts are served.
Well, uh, hope you folks enjoyed yourselves. Catch ya further on down the trail.