13 items from 2011
William Friedkin's 1971 thriller set in New York is nihilistic, unapologetic and even racist. But it still feels contemporary
This year, as every year, there have been some big anniversary rereleases. The 1981 Ivan Passer movie Cutter's Way has just been dusted off, Kubrick's 1971 classic A Clockwork Orange was treated to a big retrospective showcase at Cannes this year, soon Basil Dearden's Victim (1961) is to be revived at BFI Southbank in London as part of a Dirk Bogarde season, and Alain Resnais's Last Year in Marienbad (1961) has resurfaced.
I staged my own "anniversary" rewatching this week of a movie I hadn't seen in many years: the last time was on TV decades ago. It is William Friedkin's The French Connection, now 40 years old, based on a true story, and starring Gene Hackman as detective Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle, a driven New York cop who wears a hat that makes »
- Peter Bradshaw
Predicting an opening number for Bridesmaids at UK cinemas was always going to be tricky. On the plus side, the film enjoyed good buzz, thanks to critical praise, awareness of Us success and positive word circulating from an aggressive programme of advance free screenings. On the minus, lead actresses Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph are both significantly less famous here than Stateside, where they served long stints on Saturday Night Live.
Considering fast-improving weather over the weekend, with grosses dropping heavily for all films on scorching-hot Sunday, Universal will be pretty delighted with Bridesmaids' debut figure of £3.44m, including paid previews of £1.03m. That's not quite Wiig's personal best, since Paul opened in February with £5.52m, including £2.31m in previews, but she was hardly a significant selling point on that occasion. »
- Charles Gant
A 30th-anniversary reissue for 80s curio Cutter's Way finds Jeff Bridges in sports jacket, open-necked shirt and jeans, a look he carries off with nonchalant ease, luxuriant hair and the tidiest of moustaches. Set in Santa Barbara, this is Californian noir, as Bridges's yacht salesman Bone is caught in a plot to blackmail a local industrialist, egged on by crippled Vietnam vet Cutter, raucously played by John Heard. There is much to like (Lisa Eichhorn's alcoholic Mo is rather wonderful), although the film's climax, with a runaway horse and people knocking over buffet tables in a big mansion, is straight out of Hart to Hart.
Celebrating 20 years with a reissued digital clean-up, Japanese manga masterpiece Akira returns to big screens. Although this particular cyberpunk, post-apocalypse style has never appealed to me, it undoubtedly retains a fiendishly inventive sci-fi plot and boasts remarkable cinematic scope for hand-painted animation.
CrimeJeff BridgesAnimationJapanJason Solomons
- Jason Solomons
Having recovered from the shocking revelation that women can be funny, rude, and entertaining in the absence of men, we can at last put the debates and Hangover comparisons this movie has prompted behind us now and just enjoy a satisfying prenuptial comedy. Led by Wiig's anxious maid of honour, it certainly matches male equivalents in the grossness stakes at times, but it also finds deeper, smarter ways to make us laugh.
A mother's death sets her two children on an investigation into their personal and political history in this powerful mystery, set in an unnamed Middle Eastern country.
Countdown To Zero (Nc)
(Lucy Walker, 2010, Us) 89 mins.
Not got enough things to worry about? That's because you forgot about the threat of nuclear annihilation that still hangs over us. »
- Steve Rose
It's a good weekend for moviegoing in the UK, starting with the pleasantly surprising revival of Ivan Passer's Cutter's Way (1981). "Much as womanizing slacker Richard Bone (Jeff Bridges) finds himself late one evening in a rainy Santa Barbara alleyway at the same time as a silhouetted figure dumps a young woman's body there, Cutter's Way suffered the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time," begins Anton Bitel in Little White Lies:
Adapted from Newton Thorburg's 1976 novel Cutter and Bone, Ivan Passer's film was released under the same title, only to receive a critical drubbing, be withdrawn from screens a week later, and then renamed and repackaged for United Artists' arthouse division, and ultimately for VHS (where its reputation really grew). This was the early Eighties, when American cinema, ruled over by Spielberg and Lucas, had become all about action, spectacle and escapism, »
Now that everyone has woken up to the genius that is Jeff Bridges, perhaps it's time to give John Heard his due. By the mid-1980s, after starring in a brace of films by Joan Micklin Silver, Paul Schrader's Cat People remake and pulp horror C.H.U.D, he looked all set for leading man status. But it never happened; instead he turned into one of those character actors whose presence never fails to cheer you up. It didn't help that the release of Cutter's Way, which gave him the role of his career, was bungled by United Artists, which saw it as a failed thriller instead of the noirish character study it was. It faded into obscurity, trailing a few rave »
- Anne Billson
This week, Jason Solomons meets the man behind Us comedy Bridesmaids, which hits these shores tomorrow. Paul Feig's name is a hallmark of comic quality in TV following his cult Judd Apatow collaboration Freaks and Geeks, but can he continue his success on the big screen?
Guardian film critic Peter Bradshaw joins Jason to review some of this weeks other releases, including Incendies, which tells the story of a brother and sister's quest to discover the truth about their mother's life, a rerelease of 1981's Cutter's Way (featuring a very young Jeff Bridges) and a doomsday scenario in the documentary Countdown to Zero.
Finally, we speak to director Matt Porterfield about Putty Hill, his visually striking and inventive portrayal of his home town. Matt discusses the hybridisation of documentary and fiction techniques in his film and the cinematic pull of Baltimore.
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- Jason Solomons, Jason Phipps, Peter Bradshaw
Life In A Day (12A)
(Kevin Macdonald, 2011, Us)
Compiled from amateur submissions of what people all over the world did on 24 July 2010, this documentary sets itself an almighty challenge. It's fashioned into some sort of narrative order, with recurring themes and music, and moments of emotion and illumination, which saves it from becoming a random global channel-surf. But you could say the subjective "direction" and homogenising technical treatment are at odds with the democratic intentions.
The Beaver (12A)
Having crucified Jesus, Gibson now nails himself to the cross in a bizarre talk-to-the-hand family drama that feels more like the actor's own public therapy session.
Green Lantern (12A)
Like banks, summer superhero movies are now too big to fail. But will Reynolds's charm, a virtual costume and some interplanetary effects be »
- Steve Rose
Thirty years on from its botched original release, Ivan Passer's note-perfect, sun-splashed neo-noir thriller Cutter's Way has slowly fought its way up from cult obscurity. As one of the lucky few who saw it then, and having loved it madly ever since, I couldn't be happier to see it available once more.
Released in 1981, it's like the last Hollywood movie of the 1960s, in which the aspirations and ideals of that long-gone decade finally soured irrevocably on its dazed, burnt-out survivors. It belongs alongside Karel Reisz's Who'll Stop The Rain (its perfect double-bill doppelganger), and Arthur Penn and Alan Sharpe's Night Moves – both visions of a post-Vietnam, post-Watergate American malaise.
Cutter's Way opens with a girl's corpse dumped in a trashcan in a rainswept Santa Barbara back alley, »
- John Patterson
Does China have the chops to take on the panda?
The Us and China are going to war. And Kung Fu Panda struck the first blow. Not content with whispers about cyber attacks, squabbles over currency values and set-tos at environmental summits, the two global powers are widening their conflict to the more violent field of animated film.
China, after decades of using panda gifts as tools of diplomacy, appears to have been caught out by the approach of one of the sex-shy shoot-munchers travelling in the opposite direction. Hollywood's Kung Fu Panda hit the box office hard in China three years ago and now its sequel has arrived with another onslaught on its mind.
Beijing is about to strike back in the form of Legend of a Rabbit, featuring a belligerent bunny with, coincidentally, a ruthless panda for a foe. But that is unlikely to be »
This festival of world culture offers a different perspective to British equivalents, leaning as it does towards France's ties with Africa, the Middle East and south-east Asia. A case in point is French-Tunisian guest of honour Abdellatif "Couscous" Kechiche, whose Black Venus finds rich material in the life of 19th century "Hottentot Venus" Saartjie Baartman. There's also Berlin film festival winner A Separation, and from south China, The Rice Paddy, set among the tribal Dong people. Among documentaries are Ethiopian sounds in Abyssinie Swing and Mexican circus thrills in Circo.
Various venues, Thu to 9 Jun, institut-francais.org.uk/mosaiques
There's music for film, there are films that use music, and then there's the work of Bernard Herrmann, which seems to come from another place entirely. His work with Hitchcock is best known – the stabbing strings of Psycho, the »
- Steve Rose
Cutter's Way (Original Release Date: 24 March 1981)
Having mostly nice things to say about a movie puts me at a disadvantage. I don't think this is all my fault. Higher education (especially in the arts) fosters a feeling of superiority, and I've spent nearly half my life bogged in that mire. The reviewer comes to think his voice lacks authority unless he uses it to suggest he is smarter and more cultured than what he's reviewing,and he is encouraged to continue looking down on as many things as possible by positive responses to his negativity. Anton Ego discusses this in what may be my favorite scene in Ratatouille.
Centuries ago, the daring thing to do was to be the one subject willing to acknowledge the king's nakedness. Now it's reversed. Now people want to make damned sure they're the first to say the emperor is naked, whether he is or not. »
- Thurston McQ
London's pubs offer punters an alternative cinematic experience of fun themed nights, forgotten films – and the freedom to talk
Film buffs have suddenly never had it so good. In recent months I have had the choice of such films as Psycho and Taxi Driver, 80s Hollywood gem Cutter's Way, cult favourite The Man With X-Ray Eyes and an evening devoted to art house favourite Luis Buñuel, without having to set foot inside a cinema or venture more than three miles from my north London home.
Psycho was on at my local, the Nobody Inn, and Taxi Driver directly opposite on the other corner of Newington Green in the neighbourhood trattoria's regular Monday movie night slot. The others, and many more movies like them, were screened at more formal gatherings, all part of a fast-growing trend for film clubs springing up across the capital.
The changing nature of pubs, London's dearth of repertory cinema, »
- Tony Paley
13 items from 2011
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