There are six films in the Film Fight for April, making it quite a busy month…
First up, Compliance is a worrying look at control, and how someone that seems like an authority figure can cause serious problems without being questioned. Based on a true story, it shows how a man posing as a police officer over the phone talks the manager of a fast food place into some highly questionable behaviour. It explores its theme well, despite overextending a few scenes to pad out the paltry runtime. The performances are reasonable, and the film manages to hold interest despite a few pacing issues. Worth seeing. (See my Compliance Twitter review).
Trance is the latest work by director, Danny Boyle. It’s a typically stylish and slick heist movie about the theft of a painting, with all the hallmarks of a Boyle movie. That includes the expected last-act twist, which is so utterly predictable and surrounded by silliness as to fall apart under its own weight. Vincent Cassel and Rosario Dawson were both great, but the rest of the film was hampered by the ridiculous premise. Watchable, but not a classic. (See my Trance Twitter review).
Maniac is an entirely forgettable, modern-day, B-movie slasher film. Its one gimmick, the point of view camera, starts to lose its appeal very quickly, and forces the film to rely on cliche: the killer with mother issues, obsession with (essentially) dolls, people that can’t run away or make silly choices etc. There’s nothing in this film that you haven’t seen many times before, so there’s very little reason to see it again. (See my Maniac Twitter review).
A brilliant cast, lead by Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper, makes The Place Beyond The Pines a particularly bold movie. It compares the actions and decisions of three men over the course of several decades to show how blurry the line between good and bad is, how only a handful of choices and circumstance keep us from going down much darker paths. The narrative is sprawling, but never confusing, and the arguments it makes are convincing. It’s let down, in part, by a weak final act, focussing a little too much on weaker characters brought together by serendipity. A classic film that deserves to be remembered. (See my The Place Beyond The Pines Twitter review).
Spring Breakers, meanwhile, follows a handful of young girls as they head off the rails in an attempted satire of selfishness and hedonism. It attempts this by painting a dream-like, neon unreality; glitches in the cutting used to put multiple takes together, with a never ending stream of music. Sadly, it fails utterly in its goal. It comes across, for the most part, as sluggish and dull. There’s no substance here, or even a strong message, just vague ideas presented vaguely. Awful. (See my Spring Breakers Twitter review).
Finally, Olympus Has Fallen was being billed by some as a modern take on Die Hard, as the most recent Die Hard films are nothing like the original. It doesn’t live up to that, but it is a surprisingly fun, if utterly dumb, action film. There are a whole heap of big action set pieces to keep you interested (including a surprising opening sequence). These help hide the many plot holes. If you notice those, you’re paying attention to the wrong things. This is an unabashed, straight-up action film; sensible plotting be damned. Enjoyable. (See my Olympus Has Fallen Twitter review).
The winner this month is The Place Beyond the Pines, for its many excellent choices.