Episode 118 : Thatching Barnets, Syrup and Figs

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Added on Thu, 23 Jan 2014 15:16:48 -0800.
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We continue our predictable, but reassuring, pattern of creating a podcast in which we offer you our opinions on film. The articles in question in this episode are American Hustle, 12 Years a Slave and The Last Stand. Go on, give it a listen.

In American Hustle David O. Russell assembles much of the cast of his successfully awards-gathering Silver Linings Playbook, and adds the not inconsiderable talents of Christian Bale and Jeremy Renner, to tell the story of New York con artists forced to work for the FBI in an attempt to bring down corrupt politicians. Much of the plot revolves, as you would expect, around the con attempts, but the most compelling aspects of the film are the relationships between the characters, and these are superbly played. It's not without its flaws - Jennifer Lawrence's character is, perhaps, a little underwritten, and it would be fair to describe Bradley Cooper as hammy - and homages to the works of Scorsese inevitably invite comparison (American Hustle suffers in relation), but it's a very engaging and enjoyable experience. Also: best (or worst, depending on point of view) hair styles in cinema in years.

The plight of slaves in the United States seems to have been relatively poorly represented in American cinema, but British director Steve McQueen goes some way to redressing this with 12 Years a Slave. This drama is based on the memoirs of Solomon Northup, a free black man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery, where he toiled for more than a decade before his release was secured. A uniformly excellent cast, led by Chiwetel Ejiofor, gives a visceral and rage-inducing portrayal of the life of a slave in 19th century USA. An easy-going and happy watch this is not, but essential viewing it most certainly is. If you see a more affecting film this year we'll be very surprised.

Our catch-up film for this episode is The Last Stand, the first lead role for Arnold Schwarzenegger in a decade. Ah-nold plays the sheriff of a sleepy town near the US-Mexico border which finds itself at the centre of attempts to stop an escaped convict leaving the country. While Arnie probably is too old for this shit, Johnny Knoxville, Peter Stormare and Luis Guzmán are at least quite entertaining. The biggest issue we have with The Last Stand is the very off-putting change in tone, from a fairly straight-faced crime thriller to an over-the-top action flick with exploding torsos and gurning. Our opinions on this are split between mediocre and passable, but we can agree that this isn't something worth going to any particular effort to watch.

That's it for this episode. If you've any comments you'd like to make, you can email us, or hit us up on Twitter, @theoneliner. We'll be back with more soon, but until then be excellent to each other.

Some people say it's forgive and forget. Nah, I don't know. I say forget about forgivin' and just accept - and get the hell outta town.