A relatively quiet January for once, with just three films…
First up, J. Edgar is about the personal life (or lack thereof) of former FBI director, J. Edgar Hoover. As well as recalling some of his deeds (and exaggerations about said deeds), it goes to great lengths to show what kind of man he was and why. Paranoid, extremely driven, shaped by his domineering mother, and lacking much in the way of a social life, it’s a sobering picture. Leonardo Dicaprio does an excellent job in the lead role, but is often left working with material that seems extraneous. The final cut is overlong, largely because it remains relatively unfocussed. Many aspects could have easily been removed and a tighter film made. Good, but badly needs editing down. (See my J. Edgar Twitter review).
The Sitter is a pretty standard American comedy: a man-boy takes on more than he can/should handle for selfish reasons, and arrives in increasingly farcical situations. There’s nothing surprising or shocking here, but it does manage some good laughs, even if it feels like some of the gross-out moments are shoe-horned in. Sam Rockwell stands out as an unhinged drug dealer, but even he starts to wear a little by the end. Funny, but probably exactly what you expect. (See my The Sitter Twitter review).
Finally, Haywire is a spy film with all the usual genre tropes like, double-crosses and a bunch of international locations. The story itself isn’t particularly interesting or well told, and the acting from leading lady, Gina Carano, is pretty poor. That said, the one thing it does surprisingly well is the fight scenes. Not only is Carano convincing when she’s beating up everyone, as you might expect from a former fighter, the direction favours clean and clear shots. No handycam shaking or impossible to follow shots; everything here is about clarity, and it does sacrifice any energy or visual impact to do so. Not a classic, by any means, but the action scenes make it perfectly watchable. (See my Haywire Twitter review).
The winner for January was tough to pick, as none of the films blew me away, but I think J. Edgar was the best. It’s certainly the film I’d most like to see again.