Wednesday, 4 December 2013
Top Ten Films at the UK Box Office
for the weekend of November 22-24, 2013:
1 (new) The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (12A) **
2 (1) Gravity (12A) *****
3 (new) Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor (PG) [above]
4 (2) Thor: The Dark World (12A) **
5 (5) The Butler (12A) ***
6 (3) Philomena (12A) ****
7 (6) Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 (U) ***
8 (new) The Family (15) **
9 (new) Andre Rieu: Home for Christmas 2013 (U)
10 (8) Turbo (U)
My top five:
1. Gone with the Wind
2. Jeune et Jolie
5. Saving Mr. Banks
Top Ten DVD rentals:
1 (new) Now You See Me (12A)
2 (1) Oblivion (12) *
3 (3) World War Z (12) **
4 (new) Monsters University (U) **
5 (2) Behind the Candelabra (15) ***
6 (new) Snitch (12) **
7 (5) Cloud Atlas (15) ****
8 (10) Hummingbird (15) **
9 (7) Trance (15) ***
10 (9) After Earth (12)
My top five:
1. The Act of Killing
2. The World's End
5. Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa
Top five films on terrestrial TV this week:
1. The American President (Tuesday, ITV1, 11.35pm)
2. Honeymoon in Vegas (Friday, BBC1, 11.50pm)
3. Walkabout (Tuesday, BBC1, 12.05am)
4. Warrior (Sunday, five, 9pm)
5. A Separation (Monday, C4, 12.30am)
NFA (uncertificated) 74 mins ***
The title’s the acronym for No Fixed Abode, and this cautionary tale of displacement sports impeccable credentials: writer-director Steve Rainbow has worked at hostels across the country, and his supporting cast are evidently the real thing, drawn from Birmingham’s homeless population. A credibly befuddled Patrick Baladi is Adam, the sometime family man who wakes up in a hostel with no memory of how he got there; his plight is framed – perhaps a little conveniently – as a Memento-like puzzle, with flashbacks revealing grim truths during the trudge between makeshift shelters. It’s operating at a fairly low, scrappy level: there are continuity blips, and Rainbow can only assign two (representatively unsympathetic) policemen for the whole of Digbeth. Yet for once this doesn’t seem inappropriate: NFA has the air of a compellingly ordinary nightmare, and its modulated conclusion brings us closer than expected to the pain and confusion of a life lived on the streets.
NFA is now playing in selected cinemas.
The Best Man Holiday (15) 123 mins **
The Best Man Holiday is in cinemas nationwide.
Marius/Fanny (12A/PG) 90/97 mins **/**
Actor-director Daniel Auteuil has been handed the prime gig/poisoned chalice of refilming Marcel Pagnol’s Marseilles trilogy, two-thirds of which open here this weekend. The beloved 1930s film treatments, artefacts of the early sound period, were largely stagebound yet possessed of a crackling, bawdy, close-to-the-source life; Auteuil has fashioned hidebound museum pieces that expand the backdrop with sundappled glimpses of port activity, while generally resisting any notes of modernity or change of emphasis. What modicum of cosy Sunday-afternoon pleasure they provide stems from the performers: Raphaël Personnaz (from Tavernier’s The Princess of Montpensier) and Victoire Belezy make a handsome couple as the barman Marius and his on-off sweetheart Fanny (stop sniggering), while Auteuil and Jean-Pierre Darroussin are typically dependable as Marius’s father and love rival respectively. Still, in 2013, this seems a peculiarly antiquated project for anybody to be undertaking: not just cinema de papa, but cinema de grand-papa.
Marius and Fanny screen at London's Institut Français this week, before opening at selected cinemas nationwide from Friday.
Day of the Flowers (15) 99 mins **
Day of the Flowers is now playing in selected cinemas.
Monday, 2 December 2013
Who Needs Enemies (18) 91 mins *
Another week, another set of mouthy geezers in suits mugging one another off. Peter Stylianou’s microbudget thriller strives to rejuvenate the tired honour-among-thieves narrative with some grim business about child sex abuse, the detail of which is obscured from us less out of discretion than indifferent storytelling. Events are wrapped in a certain low-level flash – wardrobe from Burton’s, ominous chapter headings, narcissistic slo-mo – but it’s fundamentally alienating: you have to cheer yourself up by reasoning the grizzled faces drafted in to cameo as pederasts are those of retired newsagents and market traders, sweet-talked into making a less-than-wise investment of time and/or money.
Who Needs Enemies is now playing in selected cinemas.
Monday, 25 November 2013
The boyish, Ashton Kutcher-like comedian Andy Samberg made his name in the US posting spoof videos on YouTube; his debut vehicle Hot Rod is a skittish but endearingly silly film from Lorne Michaels' Saturday Night Live stable. Like Death Proof, which only truly zinged in the way Quentin Tarantino wanted it to if you happened to have seen 1970s grindhouse features, Hot Rod might appear semi-incomprehensible to any viewers who've never watched a cheesy 80s sports movie and have only minimal knowledge of old MC Hammer records.
Samberg plays the eponymous hero, an amateur stuntman in a stick-on moustache who putters about the suburbs on a crummy, clapped-out moped; needless to say, his every death-defying leap usually results in physical injury of a sort. His latest mission is to jump a row of school buses to raise money for mocking stepfather Ian McShane's heart transplant: the best gag in the film is that Rod isn't specifically doing it for this brute's health, but just so he can eventually kick pa's ass in a fight.
Akiva Schaffer's direction subscribes to a broad, anything-goes policy: the soundtrack and fashion date from the Reagan era, but the Internet and mobile phones the leads use suggest all this is happening in our own backyard. (Rootlessness is always a problem whenever comedians in their late twenties and thirties try to relive their youth on screen: take the Wayne's World films, where the least convincing aspect was that teenagers in the early 1990s would be excited by Aerosmith and Alice Cooper.)
These SNL offshoots are prone to a certain comic sameyness - like Wayne and Garth, or the clueless nightclubbers played by Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan in A Night at the Roxbury, Rod and his entourage are essentially overgrown kids - and here the hero's hobbydom leads Samberg and Schaffer into the fistfights-and-carcrashes crudity of a Superbad or Jackass movie: more than once, a character goes facefirst into an immovable object, a joke that doesn't get any funnier - or less painful - in the repetition.
There are lulls along the way, and Isla Fisher really ought to move on from having bodily fluids chucked up all over her - she can't do anything especially persuasive or funny with her big speech declaring her love for Rod on the grounds that he hasn't changed (i.e. he's comprehensively failed to grow up) - but Hot Rod nevertheless concludes with a run of very strong gags, most notably the comeuppance of Will Arnett's Andrew McCarthy/Rob Lowe-style yuppie, and the most inspired screen use to date of John Farnham's timelessly inspirational power ballad "You're the Voice".