Five films in the Film Fight for October…
First up, Filth is a film in the Irvine Welsh tradition: an anti-hero swept into a maddening situation of his own making, presented in a surreal technicolour, before dropping into a cold, dank reality. That Filth isn’t anything new doesn’t mean it’s bad, it’s not. James McAvoy does a fantastic job of showing the breakdown of a cop who was always a little on the edge. Supported by a fun cast, he is certainly the film’s highlight. The film is somewhat undone by the weirdness. While it mostly fits the portrayal, it sometimes lacks a point beyond being strange. Overall, the film is decent, but could’ve been better. A film to watch, rather than rewatch. (See my Filth Twitter review).
How I Live Now is the story of an American girl who comes to stay a summer with her cousins in rural England. Unfortunately, a devastating war breaks out whilst no adults are around. The film could’ve descended into a crude Lord of the Flies rip-off at this point but it doesn’t. Instead it does an excellent job of building a new survivalist world in the background, the young cast slipping into it seamlessly as the world collapses around them. There are many excellent moments of despair (that I won’t spoil) but the film is somewhat let down by a flimsy central romance, hints of psychic abilities that go nowhere (apparently they’re more important in the book), and more than a few lines of clunky dialogue delivered poorly by the youngest actors in the cast. All in, it’s a beautifully presented work, let down by the details. One to see. (See my How I Live Now Twitter review).
Wherever you sit on the Wiki Leaks debate, The Fifth Estate should’ve been an interesting insight into the organisation’s early days and founders. While Benedict Cumberbatch puts in an excellent performance as a controlling, jealous and paranoid Assange and Daniel Brühl does a good job of playing his level-headed counterpart, they can’t save the film from its many flaws. When it has to lower itself to silly CG office spaces filled with countless copies of Assange to explain the technology of the organisation, you know that it’s not going to get better. A real shame, given the meaty subject. (See my The Fifth Estate Twitter review).
The problem with Prisoners is that it’s an afternoon murder mystery with torture porn set-dressing: it has the cliched attempts to mislead of the former, and the unnecessary and over-the-top suffering of the latter. I don’t really want either. The cast can’t be held responsible here, as everyone puts in an outstanding performance; from Jackman’s angry father-figure to Dano’s disturbed young man, the principle actors do a great job. It’s a shame, then, that they don’t get better material with which to work. You’ll see many of the attempts to fool you coming, as not one hasn’t been seen many times before. All of that said, when it lets Jackman’s character go off-the-rails, things can get remarkably tense. Just how far will he go to save his daughter? Good, but not a classic. (See my Prisoners Twitter review).
Finally, if you’re looking for a ridiculous, over-the-top action film with lots of B-movie trimmings, then Machete Kills will work for you. It’s not as well made or silly as the original, but you’re unlikely to care. You’ll get the intentionally terrible dialogue, wonky effects, explosions and half-baked characters you’d expect from a grindhouse film. Enjoy after a drink or two for maximum impact. (see my Machete Kills Twitter review).
The winner for October is Prisoners. It’s not a strong winner, but the best of a fun-to-average bunch.