I don’t review films very often. I watch so many I’d do nothing else if I were to write a review for each of them. But I liked Jennifer Lynch’s latest feature so much I felt compelled to make comment. Chained is quite possibly the best film I’ve seen so far this year. I’m a big fan of Vincent D’Onofrio and this is him at his best. It’s like watching Private Pile’s resurrected brother taking his rifle (knife) out for some fun. There’s menace in those eyes and the way he holds his shoulder that permeates to the form of the words that come from his mouth. Every sinew of his on screen being sweats threat. D’Onofrio reminds me a little of the late Chris Penn. And a little like Mr Penn, if he lost a little weight the cinema going majority might realise that he is actually Robert DeNiro in his prime. Eamon Farren is emotionally engaging as the victimised Rabbit who despite all that is thrown at him desperately clings to a overwhelmed humanity. A huge chunk of the credit for the films success has to go to Ms Lynch, who true to her pedigree keeps you engaged to the end. Just when you think you have the measure of the story, the characters, where it’s all going, she takes a skull cracking left turn that’s as shocking as it is poignant.
If capitalism were a brand? What kind of brand message is THE APPRENTICE sending? I didn’t sit down and watch last nights episode. It was already on when I got in. And stayed on in the background while I busied myself with other things. In that half aware. Peripheral vision. Wallpaper kind of state. I was struck by how juvenile it all is. I realise this is a television programme. And these people are there as much for entertainment as anything else. But if these are the brightest and the best. Lord Sugar’s business is in trouble. They go about their task like a blind man in a patch of brambles. Snaggering here. Tripping there. Because as far as I can tell. They’re so busy trying to elbow their way to the front of the line. They don’t see the others in their team as anything but competition. The worst of it comes when they get to the boardroom. Where the team with slightly better result is rewarded with a trip to a peep show circus. And the others. The ones who did that bit worse. Get to play the greasy spoon blame game. The post task autopsy is like watching a child caught pinching a sibling. They shift the blame. And obfuscate. While holding their knees together. Hoping they will be believed. If they are. It’s off to slime another day. If not. They’re on their bike. Doomed to poverty. And the arbitrary nature of the labour market. If I were the brand manager of capitalism? I’d be embarrassed by The Apprentice. And what it says about my product.
THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ALICE CREED is an interesting low budget thriller from first time writer/director J Blakeson. Two men fortify a derelict apartment. Kidnap a woman. Tie her to the bed. And demand a two million pounds ransom from her father. Eddie Marsan (Vic) is delightfully menacing as the criminal mastermind with the perfect plan. Martin Compston (Danny) turns in a similarly impressive performance as Vic’s obedient conspirator. But it is Gemma Arterton who impressed me most. She rises to the challenge and gives her most believable performance to date as the kidnapped Alice Creed. To be honest I wasn’t expecting much from this film. I knew almost nothing about it going in. So was genuinely surprised by at least one of the plot points. Although we have only three actors. And a limited number of location. It punches well above its weight. The writing is tight. The direction precise. Defiantly worth seeing at least once.
Director: J Blakeson
Writer: J Blakeson
Production Year: 2009
Running Time: 96 minutes
[REC] 2 is a worthy sequel to the one of the best horror films of recent times. Picking up exactly where [REC] left off. An official from the Ministry of Health. And three members of a GEO (SWAT) team. Are sent into the quarantined building to verify the infection has been contained. But when they encounter the infected residents. And the health official, Dr. Owen, is able to fight them off with a rosary and a religious mantra. It quickly becomes apparent that the infection is actually a manifestation of demonic evil. And Dr Owen is a priest sent by the Vatican to recover a blood sample from the source of the infection. The Medeiros girl. But as Owen and the team search for the girl. The second act takes a left turn. Three thrill seeking teenagers follow the father of a quarantined girl and a sympathetic paramedic into the building. Trapped inside they quickly become grist to the mill. Providing a level of histrionics only a teenage girl can bring. Act three brings the story full circle. As the journalist from [REC] makes a dramatic reappearance. Her story brings a satisfying, if icky, conclusion to events. From the opening sequence Balagueró and Plaza manage to maintain the frenetic pace of the original. The three acts. With three very different points of view. Open out the story enough to keep it fresh and interesting. They also manage to ramp up the first person camera thing that was so important to the original. The GEO team wear helmet cameras. The thrill seeking teenagers carry the omnipresent camcorder. We cut between the multiple points of view. Putting us right in the middle of the action. Without ever losing that dynamic first person quality. That made the first such a success. With two more films in the pipeline. [REC] Genesis and [REC] Apocalypse. The franchise looks set to stay. With luck they will be able to take the story in a new direction. Without losing the frantic, constant climax, feel of these two. A genuine scary horror film. Definitely worth your time.
Directors: Jaume Balagueró & Paco Plaza
Writers: Jaume Balagueró, Paco Plaza & Manu Díez
Production Year: 2009
Running Time: 85 minutes