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Close to the Enemy (2016)
Acting so bad you'd think it was a spoof
You know comedy shows like Harry & Paul or Mitchell & Webb or Armstrong & Miller do 1940s smarminess? Well, this is like that, only not very funny. It's only funny in as much as the acting is so bad you can't really believe it. Stand-out bad performance goes to Jim Sturgess as an even cheesier version of Pierce Brosnan. Alfie Allen (Theon Greyjoy, as he is better known) comes on like the "Suits You" tailors from the Fast Show. The cut-class accents everyone is putting on are cracked and blemished, taking you out of the story. All the characters are clichéd. We get the noble lady of the night, the sassy American jazz singer. Everything about this show is just so awful, apart from Phoebe Fox who is a center of calm in an otherwise farcical maelstrom of nonsense. So we have to turn away from the plot, the acting, and the script, and look instead at the physical components. From the beginning, we see that everyone's clothes are brand new and show no signs of wear, straight from the tailor shop. The military uniforms are clean, new, and without any dirt. The sets also have a fake feeling about them. Look at Foyle's War to see how this type of show should be made. Had to stop watching after 30 minutes.
The Wild Blue Yonder (2005)
Earnest, humorous, and strangely moving.
I caught this film on BBC4 while flicking through the channels last night. An hour and twenty minutes later I sat in front of my TV, knowing that I had experienced a work of rare film poetry. The plot (and here's the 'spoiler', not that it would spoil any enjoyment of the film), is that an alien from the Andromeda system (or a seriously confused human),played by Brad Dourif, who landed on Earth after fleeing his frozen world, tells the story of a group of Earth astronauts who travel to the frozen Andromedan planet and then come back to Earth. Brad Dourif tells his story from an abandoned city, full of half-finished buildings and broken trailers, that was to have been the mighty capital of Andromedans on Earth. The story is illustrated by footage of NASA missions, diving expeditions, physics lectures, and ancient news reels. What really makes it, however, is the soundtrack. I don't know what the music is, but it sounded like some version Mongolian yodelling. Juxtaposed with the images and storyline, the whole thing becomes strangely moving. Please don't expect a conventional Hollywood storyline- there a many long, apparently monotonous sequences, perhaps reminiscent of Space Odyssey. Just relax into it. If you have any depth, you will not be disappointed.
Little relationship to the book
A couple of months ago I went to see a film titled "Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King". The title was the same as my favourite book, so I went in with high hopes. After three hours I left the cinema feeling confused and dejected. The film plot bore only the flimsiest relationship to the book, the dialogue was stilted, there was little continuity between scenes, and special-effects took the place of good acting. I can only believe that the writers have egos the size of Mount Doom to think that their imagining of the story surpasses that of JRRT, and that the Director was too exhausted after 7 years of work to do his job properly. However, I must mention the thrilling cinematography and music of the Lighting of the Beacons scenes. Also the Army of the Dead were well executed.
Down by Law (1986)
Eat your heart out, Coen Brothers
This jailbreak film makes 'O Brother' seem bloated and cliche-ridden. Down By Law follows the adventures of a pimp, a DJ and an Italian 'good egg' (see the film and understand) as they are incarcerated, bear the tedium of their cell, and finally escape across Louisiana's swamps. A wonderful film, sometimes tough, sometimes hilarious, and with a great ending.
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)
So awful, only teenage boys will like it
Only 2 good things about this movie: Lara's ample charms, and some lovely huskies. Therefore 2/10. Also nice to see Chris Barrie (Rimmer) get a part in something.
Black Hawk Down (2001)
Where were the Malaysians?
Typical Hollywood rewriting of history, which should be banned for racism. In reality, the US soldiers shown blowing away all those naughty black people were rescued by the Royal Malaysian Army, but of course no sign of them in the film. 4/10 for what looks like realistic gunfire: but not being a soldier I wouldn't really know.