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A Bit of Cockney Dyer, Ritchie, Loach ....and a bit of a mess.
Lunatic is essentially like a GCSE (note: not A' Level) media or drama project and a rushed one at that. The mentioned lack of editing seems to be in place because either they couldn't be bothered or couldn't actually find a semi skilled editor. The script seems to be totally improvised and doesn't seem to have advanced beyond treatment stage. Improvisational material is famously hit and miss even when skilled actors and Directors are in charge and seeing as none of the actors have skill here.... and the director certainly has none this aspect falls totally flat on its face. Indeed The acting is of such a poor quality, as is the camera work, that you are constantly drawn to the fact that you are watching a really poor narrative. Suspension of disbelieve is never contemplated, never mind reached. At one point I wondered if this was a Brechtian approach before realizing very quickly that it was an approach borne of utter ineptitude.
The story itself is sub Nick Love Danny Dyer territory lacking any charm, in fact in comparison it makes the work of Nick Love as complex as Godard or Lars Von Trier and as technically accomplished as Kubrick. If that sounds like hyperbole I would challenge you to watch the film were it not for the fact that pernicious clichéd representations of London and Londoners like this should be ignored. The pernicious aspects of the film come to the fore trivially with a casual misogynistic approach and constant stream of swearing that eventually indicates a lack of imagination. More seriously though the 'dip' into the world of the pedophile is hackneyed and reactionary whilst at the same time hypocritical in being exploitative. the subject of pedophilia is introduced not in any organic part of the narrative but simply as a means of the writer director to stand on a soap box and preach anger, which while understandable on a base level is neither enlightening nor engaging. This is exactly the type of coverage pedophilia gets in the red top newspapers which Chris Morris lampooned so cleverly in Brass Eye.
It is a painful film to watch. Not in any engaging way about the story itself...It is literally painful to sit through. It may provide initial laughs considering some promotional material mentioned Hitchcock and Scorsese as comparisons but after ten minutes one realizes how dull Lunatic is. And therein lay the real problem, minuscule budgeted films that are downright bad can often be very amusing one time over but only if they have ambition, Lunatic has none. This is simply a cynical ploy to ride the Nick Love, Guy Ritchie Cockney bandwagon whilst also wanting to be partly a Ken Loach film. The result is a terrible unwatchable mess unfortunately. Its a shame in hindsight they didn't actually try and remake Goodfellas in London.... in fact they could have remade on Golden Pond in London. I do not jest when I say I would have likely preferred the end result. And to know this won an award from an unheard of niche festival! I genuinely have curiosity for the films which were beaten.....The mind boggles!
Review Score = 1/10
The Departed (2006)
I just saw this on FilmFour (uk)and wanted to say how great it has aged. I saw the departed when it came out and thought it was good but something about the hype detracted from it. The fact that it was a remake also impinged. Looking at the deprated now though one of the first things to stand out is the quality of the cast. Great actors turning in top shelf performances bar none. It might be the last great Nicholson performance as well. Leonardo is excellent and Ray Winstone shines. The narratiive itself drives forward and is pleasingly complex - it fills up the long runing time well. There is no shortage of brilliant individual scenes either. It surely has the best bravura opening of any Scorsese film - 18 mins before a title. I realize I am frothing, I just love this film and it seems to be aging like a fine wine. I prefer it to Goodfellas for example now although that would of been unthinkable when the departed came out. One of Scorseses tighest and best films I think.
Alexander Payne's foray into T.V is unmitigated success.
HBO again scores a success with a comedy / drama series following the life of a male prostitute. After an initial shaky start this series has warmed up to be an amusing tale with dramatic sophistication populated by well observed characters. The series manages to handle its source material well being human without being mawkish, while the quality that Alexander Payne resonates is stamped all over this series. Like Paynes work the comedy is in the subjects themselves with a fine line between tragedy and comedy being drawn. special mention here has to be given to the woman as the down trodden pimp. Fans of well written television with edgy subject matter would do well to check it out. With this new series along with the new eastbound and Down HBO continues to be head and shoulders above all other networks when it comes to artistic merit. Not perfect but Hung after six episodes is starting to hit its stride.
Drag Me to Hell (2009)
Sam Raimi has made his 'Jaws'.
Drag me to Hell is, really, a throwback in so many ways to the fun of The Evil Dead 2. The camera angles, the excellent score - it all recalls how Raimi played with us in his earlier trilogy. What has changed however, is the sense of pace. We know its coming and Raimi employs all his skills to draw out the tension. The thrills are all there in place, I jumped like there was an electric buzzer under my seat. Perhaps a little too much CGI is indulged in but its easy to forgive in a film as wicked and blackly comic as this. I genuinely found the film disturbing for a 15 as well, again I think this is a mark of tension that Raimi creates with the score and camera work throughout the film. So incredibly refreshing to see a horror film with out the hallmarks of the recent saw franchise. Special mention for the ending, which has conviction and guts and was the proverbial cherry on top of the cake. throughly entertaining.
narcissistic, shallow and vapid exercise.
This documentary starts out interesting enough, the honesty of Waitt and the vicious rejections of his ex girlfriends are disarming and lead us to feel In tail empathy towards the thirty something film maker. From here on in though, as Waitt turns the film from a meditation on failed relationships to a discourse on his impotence, he himself becomes vulgar and comes across as an entirely obnoxious person. Furthermore Waitts interview technique comes across as cold bordering on ignorant and even passive aggressive.
Its impossible to tell if this is a persona that the film maker dons to illicit frustrated responses from the participants he tracks down or if this is actually how Waitt is in reality. Its clear that by the time Chris Waitt is staggering the streets in a Viagra induced stupor asking as many girls as he can if they will sleep with him in the most uncharismatic manner that we have lost all empathy for him and completely understand the hostility shown to him at the start of the film. I found myself hoping that one of the girls approached on the street or one of the men with the girls would end up lumping him. Clearly Waitt feels that wielding a boom Mic a la Nick Broomfield gives him the right to be completely offensive. The stunt itself is pre empted by a childish and phony sequence in which Waitt takes six or seven Viagra pills while waiting for the first to kick in, feigning ignorance of what taking a large amount of Viagra might do.
As stated Its clear that Chris Waitt has taken a Broomfield / Louis Theroux style approach to his material but he simply does not have the charm to pull it off. The aforementioned film makers are famous about making films about diverse subjects but in the process also making films that say a great deal about themselves and therefore making themselves the principle players in the unfolding drama. Here Waitt has got the balance horribly wrong, he is making a film about himself, so conversely it would have merited the final film to step back and be more objective and let others speak about him. But Throughout the film Waitt discredits the participants (calling one ex girlfriend a psychopath is one such example) and and is constantly pushing his own interpretation about himself. Its is all him and what he wants. This all makes for a very ugly spectacle, entirely self consumed and entirely cold and unflinching. When his behaviour gets notable bad at points in the film Waitt is quick to insert a validation and some ponderous music but it all feels very mechanical, like an inserted unsubtle disclaimer. The only part I did relate to was the end when Chris meets his ex who is now having a child, this seems to be the only time that the mask slips and we see Chris as a sympathetic character. It is a shame that this interview is edited to the point where it is just a very few exchanges between the pair before showing an emotional meltdown. but it is too little too late and the film fails under the weight of all that has gone previous and the final 'happy' ending and new relationship feels trite. disingenuous and unpleasant. What Nathan Barley might have made given a video camera. Gets only minimal marks for being polished.
Saw IV (2007)
saw 3 was looking a little tired although it did have some creative deaths and some gruesome endings. saw 4 shows the franchise in decline. We knew all we needed to know about the motives of jigsaw from the first three films. Now Jigsaw is dead we are subjected to a sequence of largely pointless and frankly dull flashbacks to flesh out his story further. It also removes all the remaining mystique of the character. I don't feel I need to know jigsaw acts the way he did primarily through his wife losing a child. As a narrative arc it just lacks any involvement or cohesion.
In the purely visceral category of gruesome deaths and drawn out torture scenes I found the film also largely lacking the impact of the other three films. I found the most disgusting part to be at the start wherein Jigsaw is subject to the autopsy. But if thats all you want from film, Go on youtube and find the real thing.
In general disappointing and a departure from the other films I thought. The most horrific thing in general is that the end leaves the door ajar for yet another sequel and with the way this is performing at the box office I wouldn't be surprised if we got one. Jigsaw communicating from beyond the grave to his followers perhaps?