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More show notes! How I love writing these delicate pearls of beauty!
This instalment in the continuing saga sees us discuss, in what is not guaranteed to be the correct order:
George Clooney's latest directorial offering sends us back to the struggling world of 20's pro American Fitba' with Leatherheads. It's a decent enough film, and better than the good percentage of films we've seen this year or indeed will talk about during this podcast, but I struggle to become wildly enthusiastic about it. Clooney is never less than affable in this sort of thing, and I'm starting to get the feeling that he'd have been more comfortable in a bygone era. Love interest Renee Zellwegger is less irritating than usual, and John Krasinski does well enough as the celebrated hot new kid on the block and rival to Clooney's alpha dog status. It's consistently mildly amusing, and I get the impression that was all it was aiming for.
Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson are excellent as two hitmen hiding out after a job goes wrong in the black comedy In Bruges. The banter between the two seems natural, flowing and viciously amusing with a strong supporting cast backing them up. If there's any awards being given for high quality facial expressions then these two have to be in the running. This is about as black a comedy as I've seen since Peter Mullan's equally excellent Orphans. Some may find this morbid, some may find this offensive, some may find this altogether too silly to be enjoyable, and perhaps they have a point. However, this film is right up my alley.
The first flick from the freshly minted Marvel Studios, Iron Man sees Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), genius weapons designer captured by terroriztz, prompting him to create the stompy powered exoskeleton to escape. Continuing the stompy powered exoskeleton based shenanigans on his return to home soil, the film might perhaps suffer from the typical origin story pitfall of relegating its bad guy to second fiddle status in favour of establishing the hero's character, but that's just about the only thing wrong with it. A simply stunning turn from Downey Jr. makes this a very enjoyable film and a welcome opening for the summer silly season.
Rather less enjoyable is miserysmith Mike Leigh's Happy-Go-Lucky, curiously because it's trying to be less depressing than Leigh's normal output. Poppy (Sally Hawkins) is an unbearably unbeat Londoner, and this unbearably upbeat film follows her unbearably upbeat life (even when rather downbeat events occur in it) over its unbearably upbeat running time. Perhaps somewhere under all of this there's the kernel of an interesting story but it's so comprehensively overwhelmed by the brain-itchingly annoying central character that this film becomes more of an endurance test than a form of entertainment. EPIC FAIL CAN HAS CHEEZBURGER.
Somewhat more enjoyable is Son of Rambow, a lovely little romp through childhood seeing Will Proudfoot (Bill Milner) and Lee Carter (Will Poulter) make a decidedly unofficial sequel to Rambo. I dread to use the word 'whimsical' because it automatically makes things sound a bit pony, but the term fits rather well here. Son of Rambow is a charming little treat that not only bounces between gently amusing and downright hysterical, but also manages to be touching without devolving into sappy sentimentality.
Back onboard the Oscar train, as we look as the formative years of the writer/director Marjane 'Marji' Satrapi as she grows up in Iran and Austria. The early running, dealing with her families trials throughout hopeful days after overthrowing the Shah and the crushing despair of a 'normal' family forced to suffer the lunacy of the hardline muslim nutbags we've come to know and love in the modern age is interesting, the whining of her adolescent days in Vienna significantly less so and the film is only marginally saved by the final reel move back to Iran. It's interesting from the point of view that this is the sort of thing that would typically be handled with live action rather than by animation, which doesn't automatically make it worthy and indeed there's times when this sails perilously close to being self-indulgent and dull. Oscarworthy? Nah, not really.
Oh! Your second shipment of FAIL has arrived in the form of Neil Marshall's Doomsday, a truly dreadful action / horror that's woefully short on action and horror. A deadly virus renders Scotland quarantined and silly, but in the future for reasons too ludicrous to relate top SWAT cop Eden Sinclair (Rhona Mitra) is informed by Bob Hoskins that the Reaper virus has shown up in London and she'll have to lead a team into the danger zone to find a cure. A bunch of tenuously connected nonsense that frankly I cannot countenance calling a plot occurs and somehow it all staggers to a thankful end, by which time anyone bothering about any of the plot holes or character motivations will have used their car keys as makeshift trepanning tools and will no longer be looking for the answers that aren't given. In a nutshell, this film reduces to two hours of Scotsmen slurring, "Wir gonnae eat ye", which normally happens when I walk out of the front door. Total, total pish. SUPER EPIC FAIL LONGCAT IS LONG.
Hopefully we'll plop another 'cast out before we plummet headlong into the decadence of the Edinburgh International Film Festival, with what ever change in format that will bring.