Place! Your! Bets!
It! Was! Laurence Fishburne! In Bill Duke’s Deep Cover!
Frankly awful modern day reworking of Bad Day At Black Rock, with Val Kilmer a wounded Iraq war vet who goes to visit a Mexican American comrade-in-arms out in a dusty southwestern town. Less Bad Day… and more Burt Reynolds vehicle Malone, mixed with a last season episode of The A Team.
Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, unnamed American city, serial killing nutter on the loose, David Fincher directing from Andrew Kevin Walker script, superb opening credit sequence.
Spike Lee translocates Richard Price’s novel about bottom level drug dealers in New Jersey to Brooklyn, makes you really feel for some of these working stiffs. Mehki Phifer is excellent as pit supervisor Strike, desperate to get out, Delroy Lindo terrifying as his mentor/boss Rodney. Isaiah Washington, Regina Taylor, Keith David, Harvey Keitel and John Turturro all put in top work too.
Frank Peirson’s gripping staging of the Wansee Conference, with Heydrich (Kenneth Branagh) and Eichmann (Stanley Tucci) coaxing, bullying and chiding their fellow bureaucrats and political soldiers into orchestrating the annihilation of European Jewry. No less powerful a men-round-a-table film than 12 Angry Men.
Didn’t like. Didn’t work. Tried to hard to replicate the book, but never got close to its depth or tone. Tried to fit too much texture in, ended up a mush. Some good performances, but overall a mess of nothing.
I remember catching a review of this on Barry Norman-era Film 92, but have only just got round to watching it. Laurence Fishburne is an undercover cop who gets close to drug dealer Jeff Goldblum. Things get messy. Bill Duke directs. Some great touches, but not anywhere near perfect – but plenty to raise it above most narcothriller dirges.
A new Stath flick! As a cop who DOES THINGS HIS WAY! With Paddy Considine as the cop with completely contrasting outlook and method with whom he is paired! And Aidan Gillen as the whacko cop-killer! David Morrissey as a sleazy reporter! Zawe Ashton as an ex-undercover finding it hard to go straight! Mark Rylance as the Stath’s mentor, recovering from the recent death of his wife!
Basically, this had all the makings of being a really worthwhile – if not necessarily substantial – crime thriller, but somewhere along the way it falls apart. That’s not to say there is not plenty of talent involved; the mise-en-scène is in general impeccable, the photography beautiful. But the shifts in tone from almost pantomime shenanigans to deeply unsettling violence do the film no favours. Needless things like calling the Met ‘London Police’ irritate too, presumably it’s some sort of pandering to the Stateside audience.
The Bang Bang Club
Patchy, overwrought, casually offensive attempt to turn an interesting memoir about a bunch of South African photographers covering the early/mid-90s Hostel War into a mainstream movie where observers are portrayed as heroes. Ryan Phillippe, Frank Rautenbauch, Taylor Kitsch and Neels Van Jaarsveld are decent enough as the snappers.
Christopher Morahan (Paper Mask) directs a Michael Frayn farce about a punctilious, punctuality-obsessed headmaster (John Cleese) slowly disintegrating as he tries to get to a conference on time only to sabotage himself at every turn. Makes I LOL.
The set-up seemed inviting – four bad boys return home to Detroit to bury their foster mother after she is killed in a convenience store robbery, only to realise that the cops’ version of wrong-place-wrong-time doesn’t hold water. The trouble is the execution is mostly by-the-numbers and tedious. Having Mark Wahlberg as your leading man doesn’t help. Not John Singleton’s best.
Last up to the plate in my week of not-great-but-not-bad films is a recent Scorsese. I didn’t know anything about it, as the trailers seemed to be rather opaque, but I noticed recently that it was based on a Dennis Lehane book – him what wrote the source novels for Mystic River andGone Baby Gone – so I figured on giving it a crack.
In a nutshell: A Federal Marshal (Leonardo DiCaprio) with problems of his own investigates an inmate escape at a secure psychiatric hospital off the coast of Massachusetts in Fifties America. All is not what it seems.
Apart from an awkward piece of exposition in a cave halfway through, and the occasional sloppiness (matches to illuminate a dungeon), overall a pretty strong piece, with great mood and tone for the most part, with good performances (Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Jackie Earle Haley), just lacking something.