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Her name was Lola, she was a show notes...
In this exhilarating instalment we cover, in what is only the correct order by extreme coinkydink:
Can't decide whether to make a war film or a horror film? Why not try both? British effort Outpost channels Deathwatch (awww, first review on the site, isn't it cute), to an extent, as it heads off to a somewhat vague 'Eastern Europe'. A ragtag bunch of multicultural mercenaries headed by DC (Ray Stevenson) are called on to investigate and protect a seemingly deserted bunker at the behest of Hunt (Julian Wadham) and his mysterious company and after a short period of noseying around, the gang uncover a bunch of Nazi memorabilia and, more worryingly, a pile of bodies, not all of which are entirely dead. The gang unearth a weird machine in the basement that seems to be some sort of horrible Nazi device for manipulating unified fields or something needlessly grounded in reality for a gadget that essentially makes Invincible Nazi Zombies. Oh Noes There is, in real terms, nothing much wrong with Outpost, it certainly mixes action and horror an awful lot better than Doomsday did. It's only problem it that it never manages to make much of a connection with an audience, or at least this section of the audience, so while it's very competently done it's sorta difficult to get worked up about. Still, it's the best invincible Nazi zombie film I've seen this year.
Surely you must have had the same sense of dread. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Beloved childhood franchise, George Lucas being within a hundred mile radius of the decision making process... A now somewhat greyer Indy (Harrison Ford, obviously) is rudely snatched from his university teaching gig and bundled up with 'Mac', George McHale (Ray Winstone) by a shower of evil Nazis... no, wait, Russians? WHAT INSANITY IS THIS? The Cold War brings hot new enemies headed by Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett), although going by the comedy slash ropy accents on show you'd be forgiven for thinking they were from... anywhere back to 5th century BC Greece. After escaping from his Nazi...Russian captors by hiding in a fridge and riding out a nuclear explosion (look, it's an Indy film, deal wih it), he's approached by rebellious young pup Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf). He's trying to find his friend and old colleague of Indy, Professor 'Ox' Oxley (John Hurt), who's gone off in search of a fabled Crystal Skull and vanished. Before long there's South American wildmen jumping around and aliens coming out the wazoo and it's all got rather silly, although it's not as though going after the Lost Ark is any more believable so shut your stupid face, playa hatas. The great thing about this film is that it looks like an Indy film, and it sounds like an Indy film, and it feels like an Indy film, and for all I know it tastes like an Indy film. Just not a great Indy film. Ford still has that roguish twinkle in his eye and laconic wit, and the very real peril he allows the character to feel and show is a welcome relief in a cinematic climate plagued with nigh-on-invulnerable comic book superheroes farting about willy-nilly. If you want sensible plots and involving character arcs then you're in the wrong franchise, but I assume if you're looking for this in Indy then you're so stupidly wrong-headed that you'll be unable to find the cinema's door, so that works out alright. The film's a great distance away from being perfect. The bizarre early doors obsession with terrible CG gophers defies all explanation, apart from maybe being a Caddyshack tribute. On reflection, maybe I'm being a little soft on Indy just because he's Indy. I remember thinking early on in the film "Yeah! This shows National Treasure and Sahara and all that pish the way to do things!" but by the end I was decidedly less upbeat about the whole experience. Still, it's another Indy film, and it's not a total disaster, and it's better than Young Indy, so it has delivered about as much as I'd dared hope for from it. It hasn't, I think, delivered anything more, though. Decent, but not stellar.
In what has to be one of the least original setups in film history, recently sacked slacker layabout (Aston Kutcher) and recently dumped uptight careerwoman (Cameron Diaz) meet in a drunken haze in What Happens in Vegas and wind up married. Ho ho! Just as the pair decide it's a terrible idea and decide to get an anullment, they win three million bucks on the slots. Both parties laying claim to this, the divorce courts decide to make them live together for a while in the interests seemingly only of creating a film. Now, seeing as the two start off hating each other, I'm pretty sure you can write the rest of the plot, if that's the term, yourself. This film isn't as intolerable as I expected entirely on the basis that Rob Cordry of the Daily Show is in it, and does exceptionally well with his fairly extensive supporting role. In fact the only time it's completely horrible is the saccharine drenched ending. Other than that it's merely a completely unremarkable romcom, but the added spice of Cordry shouting "I am the Law, bitches!" after winning a case helps the sugar go down. Not massively recommended, but it's inoffensive enough for this sort of thing and I'm guessing it's a lot more tolerable than Sex & the City if your bird is dragging you to the cinema against your will.
Speaking of which, Sex & The City sees the first and for the sake of mankind we hope last big screen outing for horse-faced harridan Sarah Jessica Parker's Carrie Bradshaw and her merry band of woman do... I dunno. Shopping for shoes? Actually it's something about marriage, and the general implication from Craig is that it's a fair old drop in quality from the already marginal-interest-to-those-with-testicles telly series, although it's not a complete washout. Just a partial washout.
More palatable is Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay, an admittedly pretty similar sequel to the first effort. Following directly on from the end of Harold and Kumar Get The Munchies Or Go To White Castle Depending On Which Country You're In, the pair decide to head off to Amsterdam to surprise Harold's new love and, er, blunt some chronic fatties, or whatever the drug lingo is amongst today's yoof. Kumar unwisely decides to bring some extravagant drug paraphernalia on board the flight, and finds himself decried as a terrorist in the resulting confusion. The two find themselves arrested, shipped back to America and at dim-witted G-man Ron Fox (Rob Cordry)'s insistence they're packed off to Guantanamo Bay. The actual escape is rather swift in coming, with the bulk of the film being concerned with them attempting to clear their name, visiting many of the characters from the last film and also trying to get Kumar back with old flame Vanessa (Danneel Harris). The actual plot is somewhat secondary to setting up a whole bunch of oddball situations including Neil Patrick Harris tripping off his tits in a whorehouse. Y'know what? It's pretty damn good. The first five minutes do a fairly good job of putting you off, what with all of its toilet humour, but it rapidly gets much better. Maybe not vastly more sophisticated mind you, but there are moments of left-field genius that's more than worth the price of admission.
Also knocking about is The Eye sees (ho ho!) directorial duo David Moreau and Xavier Palud strap themselves to the ever popular 'Asian Horror Remake' rocket and propel themselves in the general direction of the best named directors working today Danny and Oxide Pang's original well regarded 2002 effort. Sydney Wells (Jessica Alba) is blind, which is a pain, but soon receives donor corneas enabling her to see, which is nice. However, it soon becomes apparent that Sydney is seeing freaky apparitions and dead people and whatnot. While her doctor is rather keen to write this off as a maladjustment of a brain not used to filtering reality, for reasons that escape me he agrees to Sydney's plans to find out who the donor for her crazy eyeballs was and see if they can't get to the bottom of what these recurring nightmarish visions portend. It's not following the usual teen oriented horror traditions of throwing loud noises and buckets of blood at you, instead going for a somewhat more refined approach of creeping vicarious concern that a part of your body is working against you, seeking your downfall, as well as from some well realised effects as Sydney's visions encroach more and more on reality. There's nothing wrong with that approach, and indeed I applaud it wholeheartedly. However it does demand a fairly large amount of the star called upon to carry this through and Jessica Alba doesn't quite have the chops to convince that she's in the grip of either real horror or real danger. She does well enough to at least hold my interest in the investigatory elements of the piece and I can't deny that she's a pretty thing to behold. So, it's a decent enough film, if not one I'm going to advise you to rush out and see. Given the state of the horror genre these days, that practically makes it the most highly regarded horror of the year. Of course, now as so often happens these days we are left with the question of whether or not a remake was particularly necessary. It's not too much of a stretch to say that, language and layer of gloss aside, this is essentially the same film as the six year old original and this new version doesn't actually improve on the original.
Cassandra's Dream.Oh dear, Woody. Preliminaries. Two London brothers from the Dick Van Dyke borough of London in the shape of Terry (Colin Farrel) and Ian (Ewan McGregor) pool some funds to by a small boat, which they call Cassandra's Dream, and then barely refer to it again in any meaningful way for the rest of the film. Farrell is a mechanic with a small gambling habit. McGregor runs his ailing father's restaurant while fancying himself as a small time property investor, if he can ever get the cash together for it. While out swanking around in a flash car borrowed from Farrell's garage, he meets an aspiring young actress in the shape of Angela Stark (Hayley Atwell). Of course now he needs some cash to keep up appearances. Farrell also needs money having run up a hefty debt to a loan shark during a poker game, with salvation coming in the form of Rich Uncle Howard (Tom Wilkinson sporting an accent from Jupiter), making a flying visit from his successful stateside visit. he'll pony up the needed cash, but there's a string attached. He's in danger of being imprisoned for some unexplained reason based on the evidence of a past business partner, and he wants this guy bumped off. Will the brothers do the bumping? Can they cope with the guilt? Will they insist on making plans to do said bumping in the middle of a pub with umpteen people in earshot? The answer to all of these questions is "Who gives a damn?". There's little actual meat to this plot, so it's going to come down to a character study, which is unfortunate as Farrell and McGregor put in such downright awful performances that seem to be intentionally bad. Ungrateful curmudgeons like myself have been saying for years that Woody Allen ought to be making films outside of the radius of the three blocks in Manhattan that ninety odd percent of your films seem to be set in. I accept now that I was wrong. Please go home, Woody. In London, it is clear that you are out of your element, Woody. You have no frame of reference. You are like a child who has wandered into the middle of my country and suddenly thinks he understands our peculiar class structures and the dialect of the people of this country. You don't. That, I think, is why you haven't noticed that the dialogue you've written is infeasibly clunky. And it why you may not have realised that Farrell and McGregor sound nothing like Londoners and more like what an American might think Londoners would sound like. I'm assuming it's intentionally this way, because we know from other works that Farrell and McGregor are great actors. This is a fairly dreadful film, because it's hinged entirely on the two lead performances and both of them are dreadful. One of the writers for the Guardian a few weeks ago claimed this was about the worst film they'd ever seen, which is rather overstating things I feel but they have a point. This feels amateurish and clunky, which is perhaps the most disappointing thing given the talent in front of and behind the camera. Perhaps the worst Woody Allen film I've seen, and it's only the dual horrors of Doomsday and Happy Go Lucky stopping it being the worst film set in Britain of the year also.
Hey! The Edinburgh International Film Festival is starting soon, and theOneliner.com has front seat tickets. Well, the seating actually isn't allocated in Press screenings. And we typically prefer seats a few rows back from the front for the increased legroom and not having to crane your neck. But, well, you see what I mean, I think. Look, what I'm trying to say is that we'll be doing some sort of podcast series from it, so prepare yourself accordingly. Until next time, cheeriebye.