Episode 24 : Darkside Lightside

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Added on Thu, 16 Oct 2008 21:20:06 +0200.
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This is not a love song. This is not a love song. This is not a love song. Nor is it a PIL song. It's theOneliner.com podcast!

First up, we take a look at the crushing disappointment that Righteous Kill represents. Quite why for the first feature with the legendary Robert De Niro and Al Pacino acting against each other as leads they chose a script so thoroughly B-rated is something of a mystery. A generic cops on the trail of a serial killer flick, the only explanation of their involvement with a this roundly uninteresting and predictable is an attempt to secure their finances before we're reduced to a barter economy. Avoid.

The second Al Pacino film of which we shall speak, and also the second Jon Avnet directed film of which we shall speak, and also the second really rotten film of which we shall speak is 88 Minutes. Doc Jack Gramm (Pacino) is a criminal psychologist whose life rapidly takes a turn for the worse on the day of one of the serial killers he locked up's execution when he receives a series of death threats telling him he has 88 minutes left to live. A seemingly never-ending parade of increasingly silly scrapes ensue, interrupted only by bouts of inept acting from a supporting cast that seem to be mostly drunk. This would perhaps explain why all these nubile young women are throwing themselves at Gramm as though he's the last crotchety old man on earth. Also avoid.

A better choice, and I can't quite believe I'm saying this, is a Paul W.S. Anderson film. Christ on a stick. Not that Death Race is a classic for the ages or anything, but the tale of an ex-racing driver locked up for a crime he didn't commit and forced to enter a barbarous televised motor race to the death by an evil prison warden, for some reason, is pleasingly brainless and action-packed. Also marking a rare U.S. cash backed outing for Jason Statham where he isn't forced into using a comedy accent, apart from a somewhat dull first half hour of set-up the rest of the film does very little wrong, and if you're in the mood for a brainless exploitative actionfest this a decent option.

Another decent option of brainless exploitative actionfest comes in the form of Taken, where Liam Neeson's daughter is kidnapped on a trip to Paris, so the ex-CIA agent flies over there and beats people up until he gets her back. While this is most certainly not going to be winning awards for its scripting, there's an awful lot of simplistic, Commando-esque vengeance fun going on in this Bourne-ian action film. Sure, it delights in violence, but its violence is delightful.

Going back to our theme of 'crappy films', The Mutant Chronicles sees a small troop of warriors in a dystopian future fighting off a plague of mutants who keep stabbing people in the face. Which sounds like a decent idea, but it's completely crippled by some of the most plodding pacing seen in a cinema this year. The effects work has a sort of 300 or Sky Captain-esque mix of fairly obvious CG sets and live action that takes some getting used to, but I'm increasingly convinced it's just odd rather than bad, but even with that it's still not entirely effective. Still, the worst problem is that it's sort of dull.

Last up is How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, which stars Simon Pegg for once not just being Simon Pegg...But In A Film. Still, despite a talented cast this romcom has the one critical failure of simply not being very funny. Pegg's Englishman adrift in a unfamiliar world of high celebrity society as he transitions from abrasive hack to sycophantic hack engenders little sympathy for the tribulations of his love life, and while everyone involved is so talented it remains at least watchable, it's hardly a stunning success.

Right, that's yer lot, sling yer hook, etc. See you next time.