Sure it’s the summer, but there’s always time for a Christmas film!
The Ice Harvest is a black comedy directed by Harold Ramis and starring John Cusack and Billy Bob Thornton.
Cusack plays Charlie, a lawyer for the mob who is estranged from his family, whilst Thornton plays Vic, a porn distributor. The two lowlifes then join forces to steal $2 million from the mob boss. The film is set the evening after the theft so that they can escape when the weather gets better.
Charlie spends most of the film going from strip joint to strip joint, getting drunk and helping other people, which is decidedly out of character.
It is a decidedly dark turn for Ramis, but also works best when it is at it’s darkest. There are some funny moments, the pulpy, noir-style story moves along nicely and the performances from Cusack and Thornton are good.
Despite being adapted from a novel, it is also a remarkably short film, clocking in at around 80 minutes. It has also been referred to as similar to a Coen Brothers style film. Whilst it is nowhere near that quality, it does give a feel for what to expect.
Nicolas Cage plays a weatherman whose family is falling apart. He has divorced his wife, his child is obese and being bullied and his son’s drug councillor’s behaviour seems highly dubious. He also has a difficult relationship with his father, who is dying of cancer.
Everyone is miserable and it is up to Cage’s character to sort it out, sort of.
This is a nice story about someone trying to do right by his family, whilst trying to sort his own mind out.
There are some good performances here and a nicely written script.
Full Tilt Boogie is a documentary which focuses on the filming of the Quentin Tarantino penned and Robert Rodriguez directed film, From Dusk Till Dawn.
Comprising mostly of interviews with behind the camera staff you don’t normally get to see, as well as general footage of the making of the film, it offers an interesting and unique insight into the practicalities of making a film.
It is interesting to see in an industry famous for people clambering to be famous, some people just do it because it is a job.
It is also interesting for the footage of Tarantino interacting with everyone, which makes for slightly uncomfortable viewing. Depending on your angle, you can practically see the group of yes-men swelling around him. Whenever he tells a story, the reaction of the people seems almost forced, regardless of quality or taste.
This is a great documentary about the film industry and whilst it might not offer any practical advice for budding film-makers it does show the hectic schedule mixed with mind numbing tedium that makes a shooting schedule.
There is nothing new about Tom Cruise playing an action star and there is nothing new here. Jack Reacher is a pretty silly film about a super trained former Military Police Corps Officer who has dropped off the grid. When a sniper kills a bunch of people Reacher turns up to solve the case.
There is intrigue and plotting and a pretty silly plot, but jogs along at an enjoyable enough pace and isn’t so stupid as to make you want to jump out a window.
There is also a really good performance from acclaimed director Werner Herzog, playing the main bad guy. He brings a menacing performance and his philosophy about the cruel indifference of the universe allows him to bring an honesty to the role.
This is a quintessential weekend film.
The Perks Of Being A Wallflower is a romantic 21st century look back at what being a high school student was like in the 1980s. Soundtracked by the mix tape, with adolescent adventures with drugs and sex and love, it is undercut with a vein of tragedy.
Whilst certainly not a realistic look at the past, it goes for an emotional resonance which it just about succeeds in getting, which in turn enables the viewer to overlook some of the flaws and tropes inherent in the work.
The story is enjoyable and the cast are all very good. With a screenplay from and directed by, the author of the book, it feels like an attempt to capture a singular vision and he does succeed.
I did enjoy this, but think had I seen it when I was sixteen or so it would have had an even greater resonance with me. This is very much a film for teenagers which shows films for teenagers don’t have to be loud and stupid.
This is by no means a perfect film, but it is good nonetheless.
Sleepwalk With me s an independent comedy about a struggling comedian struggling with his relationship and with sleepwalking. Co-written, directed and starring Mike Birbiglia, it is the big screen adaptation of his one-man show.
As his comedy career starts to (ever so slightly) take off and pressure increases on him to get married to his girlfriend of eight years, Matt (played by Mike) starts to have increasingly elaborate and dangerous bouts of sleepwalking.
This is a very enjoyable film, with some very funny moments dealing with some personal issues. It treats the subject matter and the people involved respectfully, whilst also keeping a good level of humour involved.
The cast is great and there are just brilliant performances all round.
This is something that might easily slip under the radar if you’re not looking for it, so I recommend you all go see it.
Drive Angry is a 2011 film starring Nicolas Cage, wait, come back! It’s good!
Nic Cage plays Milton, a man who has escaped from hell in order to save his murdered daughter’s child from being sacrificed to Satan by the same cult who killed her.
Wait, come back! It’s good! Honest!
On this mission he travels with Piper (played by Amber Heard) and is pursued by The Accountant (a brilliance performance from William Fitchner).
It is a loud, crass exploitation film that doesn’t take itself at all seriously, which explains why Cage and his psycho acting works so well. It is packed full of action, swears, violence and nudity and it is all the better for it.