October 09, 2006 | Category: Uncategorized

Film Fight: September 2006

Another month, another bunch of films.

Normally, I abhor Owen Wilson. His acting abilities stretch to a single character: goofy and dazed. Thankfully, in You, Me and Dupree that’s exactly how he is cast. A lovable fuck-up that ends up living with newly married friends, we begin to see his character learn that he needs to make something of himself or forever be branded a loser. The real failure in this cast is Matt Dillion: a normally reasonably comic actor trying and failing to pull-off some trickier emotions. Not for one second will you believe his characters downward spiral or the subsequent, inevitable rise back to form. All in all, a watchable but forgettable film.

For fans of Broken Lizard, the comic writing, acting and directing team behind Super Troopers, Beerfest will hit all the sweet spots. A goofy comedy about something a little nonsensical, nods to it’s own stupidity, some fantastic quotes and over the top characters, and just a little grossness: a low-brow comedy for those of us beyond the cheap simplicity of teen gross-out comedies. Their debut was excellent, and Broken Lizard have once again shown they know how to write funny. Worth seeing.

The Black Dahlia is a beautifully shot piece full of ugly characters, motives, and premises; and that’s what makes it so good. A fictionalisation of a real murder, the film follows two detectives trying to solve the case of the most brutal unsolved murder in LA history. While the eventual conclusion is less than satisfying, the characterisation and interactions are so compelling that it does not matter. Another excellent film.

Jason Statham, by now, knows that his niche is in cheap action films. Crank is no exception. The plot is ridiculous (he’s been given a drug that will stop his heart unless he does progressively more extreme things as he tracks down the people who are killing him) but it doesn’t really matter. As dumb action goes, this hits all the sweet spots: excellent set pieces, hints of comedy without getting slapstick, all the while not taking itself seriously. If you can forgive the film the premise, acting and cringe-worthy moments (the falling scene, for example) and just enjoy it for what it is, a dumb action piece, then you’ll be fine.

The Children of Men future is one of the most convincing, well-conceived worlds ever seen. Set in the near future where, because women are no longer giving birth, hope is gone and the world is in turmoil, near civil war and refugees trying to escape fighting further afield. A disinterested, ex-activist is approached by a political group and asked to provide papers for a girl to leave the country; there’s something special about her. As various factions hunt down the pair, the film is relentlessly focussed on their escape, framing the political machinations and fighting all around as a background to their story, and not the other way around. Intense, emotional and unnerving; a beautifully imagined and desolate film. One of the best of the year.

Finally, Kevin Smith returns to his debut film in order to make a sequel. Clerks 2 is a smart enough piece of film making not to simply rehash the jokes and story of its predecessor, while being a disgusting enough look at current pop culture to set-up the main conflicts well. Again, we follow Dante and friends through a series of amusingly unpleasant conversations, and watch as their issues come to a head. While it’s hardly high-brow, it has the kind of honesty in dialogue many better films lack.

It has been a good month for cinema and, while Beerfest or Clerks 2 could have taken it for comedy in quieter months, the only real choice for winner is the excellent Children Of Men. Expect it to finish very high for the year.