I Have Been Watching… August 2013, Part 1
I watched a few more films than usual in August, so have split my monthly roundup into three parts! Part 1 below! Parts 2 and 3 coming soon!
Welcome to the Punch (2013)
Another film in which James McAvoy has a distractingly shit beard. Like someone threw a load of cat fur clippings into the bottom of a bird cage, then tossed them at his chin, hoping some of it would stick. In Welcome to the Punch, he plays a cop, and I guess the beard is so he looks like a cop, rather than a 14-year-old work shadowing a police detective during the school holidays.
His nemesis is Mark Strong, a now ex-criminal who shot McAvoy in the leg several years earlier, before skipping the country. Now he’s back. The story is a bit pants, but oddly gripping. Everything just looks so damn stylish. There’s a bit where McAvoy grabs a fellow cop’s gun out of its holster before running down a hospital corridor to chase a baddie, and it looks effortlessly cool.
Quite enjoyable while it lasts, but its superficial sheen won’t leave a lasting impression.
Side Effects (2013)
Side Effects is the story of big pharma, and the side effects of antidepressants. Or is it? Well, yes, it is. But then again, it isn’t. Confused? You might be, until the plot unwinds in the second half and it becomes a different film altogether. I really wasn’t expecting it to go in the direction it did. It’s like two different movies smooshed together.
In lesser hands, it would’ve ended up a mess. But guided by Steven Soderbergh, it’s anything but. Is he really retiring from movie making, so he can grow a beard and take up painting or some such shit? I hope not. He straddles the divide between commercial and indie like few other directors, and on the evidence of Side Effects, he’ll be sorely missed.
The Conjuring (2013)
Maybe I’ve seen too much horror, but The Conjuring didn’t do a lot for me. It’s been getting some good press, and perhaps that raises expectations a little too high sometimes. It just isn’t that scary, except for one scene where mother and daughter play a game of “hide and clap”. What happens during the game sent a genuine chill down my spine. The chilling of spines stops there though. Once people start flying around the room, and levitating in a demonic fashion, the silliness crowds out the scariness.
It’s commendable that Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga try extra hard to make a bullshit occupation such as “ghost hunter” almost believable. They do a great job, playing it straight down the line, as do the rest of the cast. But I’ve seen it all before.
Starring that guy from Heroes (Stallone’s son in Rocky Balboa), Sarah Shahi (Stallone’s daughter in Bullet to the Head) and for some reason, Sara Paxton (not Stallone’s daughter in anything).
Shahi plays her part well as one half of a relationship that’s running into trouble. Whereas that guy from Heroes still has the same constipated expression he had in, well, Heroes. Static starts off as a house invasion movie that follows tradition: guys in masks, protagonists doing stupid stuff etc. Unfortunately there’s a crippling lack of tension, followed by a last-minute twist that had me sitting back in my chair, sort of bored looking, thinking, “Oh yeah, that twist again! Can’t they think of something new?”
The Collection (2012)
This is a sequel to The Collector from 2009 (from the makers of the Saw franchise, as ever). Rather than call it The Collecter 2, they’ve called it The Collection, probably because it’s on the Collector’s home turf, in an abandoned hotel where he stores all his human trophies. The naming and story seem partly influenced by Aliens: there’s a team of soldiers who’ve been sent into the spider’s lair to take down the Collector. And naturally, they get taken down one by one, with spikes and traps and stuff.
The Collector himself is basically Jigsaw from Saw, but with a mask. And no cancer. And no delusions that he’s punishing people for their misdeeds. He just gets off on slaughtering people, the highlight being the total splatterfest inside an underground nightclub, where countless revelers get mashed to a bloody pulp. I didn’t mind the first film, but this one’s not as good.
There’ll be another 5 films in part 2!!