Monday, June 9, 2014

Weekly Round-Up (6/1/14 - 6/7/14)

Withnail and I (Bruce Robinson) *** - Two drunk unemployed actors who are friends and roommates decide to take a break from their miserable existence by going to a rustic farm house. It is excellently acted and it is often very funny (especially the stuff involving Richard Griffiths' character). Lead actors Paul McGann and Richard E. Grant make a great team. The film though doesn't quite reach the greatness its cultish reputation suggests, at least for me. It is still a solid dark comedy though.

White Heat (Raoul Walsh) **** - This is one of James Cagney's most iconic roles with one of his most well-known catchphrases ("Top of the world, Ma!") and after seeing it, you'll completely understand why. It's fantastic. This is a film about murderous career criminal named Cody Jarrettt and the undercover police officer assigned to bring him down. Cody is a nasty piece of work but thanks James Cagney's outstanding performance, he makes him a really compelling and fully human creation. The film is also a really, really exciting crime thriller filled with heart-pounding moments thanks to Raoul Walsh's outstanding direction. One of the best crime films ever made and really earns its classic status.

Edge of Tomorrow (Doug Liman) ***1/2 - It's another year and it's another high-concept Tom Cruise action movie where Tom Cruise kicks ass and gets to be the hero. But this time around, it's really, really good! It's Groundhog Day meets Starship Troopers. It's about a man who gets killed while fighting alien invaders but he gets the power to live the day again and again and again. Though it has all the familiar tropes of a typical summer action blockbuster, the structure allows it to play around with it and rises above it and made it really engaging and genuinely exciting. It's also refreshing to see a strong female character in Emily Blunt, who manages to outshine Tom Cruise (who, at 52, also manages to convince us that he's still not too old for these roles).

The Lodger: A Story of London Fog (Alfred Hitchcock) **** - This is one of Hitchcock's earliest films. It's a silent but even back then, you can already see all of Hitchcock's trademarks: The sneaky, morbid black humor, the fascination with psycho-sexual killers and of course the beautiful blonde ladies. The film is about a mysterious stranger (the lodger of the title) who rents a room from an older couple and their daughter and who may or may not be a serial killer who targets young blonde girls (oh and the daughter is a young, blonde girl). Even at this early, Hitchcock's editing and cinematography is highly inventive and masterful. You can definitely see the greatness that will emerge from this filmmaker. Terrific film.

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