Ben Wheatley strikes gold a third time with his new black comedy Sightseers. After the grim and tense Kill List, Wheatley takes a more light hearted approach, all be it still twisted. Written by its two leads Alice Lowe and Steve Oram, Sightseers tells the tale of Tina and Chris, a couple on a caravan holiday in the north Yorkshire. In a attempt to escape from her Domineering mother who blames her for the death of her dog Poppy, problems arise for Tina who discovers that Chris has certain issues with anyone who annoys him. Seeing this dark side to her seemingly boring boyfriend as the body count rises, see make the attempt to embrace it and join in, releasing her inner psychotic self but failing to see what truly makes him tick.
Lowe and Oram have great comedic chemistry together using improv to give natural performances that make such ludicrous characters believable. Not for the faint hearted, the film uses the juxtaposition of the normal every day arguments that couples have, in extremely gruesome surroundings. Though fully aware of it absurdity, Sightseers takes advantage of the locations and we do a little sightseeing ourselves, but we didn’t kill anyone….. honest..
When the director of The French Connection William Friedkin gives praise as “one of the best cop movies ever” it’s very high praise indeed. The new film by David Ayer centres the plot around two Los Angeles police men and their life on the job. Played by Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña, clearing having that buddy chemistry that’s a joy to watch giving the film it’s most valuable asset. Set up as another found footage film witch switches between the Jake Gyllenhaal’s camera filming the events that unfold before them with some separate handled cut away shots. This is End of the Watch major flaw in that it tries to have its cake and eat it. Wanting to keep to the idea of it all being filmed from the protagonist perspective, while also having the need to cut away at other points. It gives the impression that the film is unsure of its own self, so why not just shoot it normally using hand held? I don’t know.
That being said the films main success is its two leads. The film rests entirely on the shoulders of Gyllenhaal and Peña. If their performances fell flat, so would the film. What they give is an energy and a charm that gives there roles instantly believable and likeable. You really do get the feel that you get to know these guys and enjoy spending time in their company. Also the movie doesn’t have much of a plot but is not dependent of it but can be too cliché for its own good when depicting the villeins. Needless to say, for the running time, the film is highly entertaining, like hanging with two best friends at work..
Argo is the new film starring and directed by Ben Affleck. Based on the true story of a secret CIA mission to fly out escapees of the siege on the Tehran U.S embassy in 1979. Affleck plays Tony Mendez, a technical operations officer brought in to hatch a plan to bring them back home. With all other options exhausted Mendez has the idea of setting up a fake Canadian film to start production and fly out commercially using fake passports. The story is so far fetched, it has to be true.
Affleck is forming himself to be a formidable director as Argo’s best element is its direction. Affleck balances the true story, Hollywood satire and nail biting thriller all in one. Usually the result is muddled and uneven, but Affleck pulls it off armed with a great assemble cast featuring Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, John Goodman to name but a few. Argo changes the gear from comedy to the tense life or death drama without jarring the pace.
Bond is back after 4 whole years off, the worlds most famous secret agent graces our screens in his 23rd outing. Returning to the role for a 3rd time, Daniel Craig still has the hard edge grit that made the previous two a breath of fresh air, although this time with added humorous one liners. After getting shot in the line of duty and presumed dead for 3 mounts, the British super spy comes back home to MI6 to stop a cyber terrorist leaking the list of undercover operatives lost by M (Judy Dench). Skyfall is just as much M’s story as it is Bonds’s. The story involves a ghost from her past coming back to haunt her, giving Dench a meaty role this time round. This ghost is in the form of former agent Silva, played by Javier Bardem hell bent on revenge. It is a pleasure to see Dench get a decent story line that is key to the plot, being the connection between Bond and Silver as a mother figure.
Bardem’s Silva feels very traditional villain from the Fleming novels brought bang up to date in modern times. Sporting some ridiculous blond hair, he goes for a more creepy unhinged approached rather the megalomanic with the taste for world domination.Oscar winning director (a series first) Sam Mendes keeps all the drama and the action some weight and a touch of class that is pleasurably noticeable. Armed with a strong supporting cast, featuring Naomie Harris, Ralph Fiennes, Albert Finney and Bérénice Marlohe, Skyfall has a boisterous score from Thomas Newman and gorgeous Cinematography by Roger Deakins making it the best looking Bond film.
Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the franchise, we see the return of the Aston Martin DB5 witch provides some good natured jovial humour towards the end, however it clashes with the dark feel of the films conclusion. While serving a tribute to the memories gone by, the jokes and the use of iconic car compromise the dark and intense moments. It was inevitable that the serious tone was going to change, but producers wanting to look back while going forwards feels a tad evan. Witch is a shame because while at its best, it does feel like the best one. Still with Craig still at the top of his game, there is never a dull moment with some interesting decisions, it ends with the sense of a series reborn with great things to come. Roll on Bond 24.