A somewhat quieter week of film watching but some damn good stuff in here regardless.
Monday 18th April
Rififi (Jules Dassin, 1955) – 5/5
I will be reviewing Rififi’s new Blu-Ray edition within the week so I will keep my thoughts brief here but the famous silent heist sequence is pulse pounding, all the leads are well defined and the ending for me seems pretty undervalued, it depicting the ultimate rush to a destination against the clock in thrilling style. It’s a true masterpiece.
Prince of the City (Sidney Lumet, 1981) – 4.5/5
An epic runtime for a quietly epic piece of filmmaking from the late Lumet. Treat Williams is a cop who decides to turn informer against his own colleagues but only on the condition that he doesn’t rat out his friends. Through the years, the people he works with come and go and he gets increasingly paranoid that someone is going to find him out. The idea of cops being as dirty as criminals has been done many times in films but by focusing so specifically on the corruption within the force, the suffocating feeling is made ten-fold, and made worse by the fact that our “hero” isn’t exactly squeaky clean himself, constantly lying to anyone to get out of trouble and being ruled by his emotions rather than his head at all times. Treat Williams struggles with the more histrionic elements of the role but he does well as an anti-hero who on paper you should feel for but in the performance you never quite get onside with him, something which makes the film far more interesting than it may otherwise have been.
Le Cercle Rouge (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1970) – 4/5
Alain Deloin and Jean-Pierre Melville reunite again for another exercise in French cool as he and Leone player Gian Maria Volonte team up after Deloin’s recently released prisoner Corey finds Volonte’s recently escaped prisoner Vogel in the boot of his new car. Taking on the Rififi model of enlisting men and performing a silent heist, as an obvious tribute to Rififi, this suffered for me by watching in such close proximity to Dassin’s film. I didn’t find the characters as interesting in this, while Corey and Vogel make a decent pairing, the other man Jansen (Yves Montand) and the cop chasing them Mattei (Andre Bourvil) constantly threaten to have meat to chew on with their roles but it never quite happens. Saying this though, the silent heist is great filmmaking and I very much enjoyed the opening half hour as Vogel and Corey come together slowly, the film playing like the fates are bringing them together.
Goodfellas (Martin Scorsese, 1990) – 5/5
Don’t need to say much about this do I?
Doomsday (Neil Marshall, 2008) – 4.5/5
I very much like Doomsday and if you want to know why, check out my Defending Doomsday piece here. The film never gets old for me though, this being the 5th or 6th time I’ve seen it.
Fast Five (Justin Lin, 2011) – 3/5
You can check out my review here.
Thor (Kenneth Branagh, 2011) – 4.5/5
You can check out my review here.
Raiders of the Lost Ark (Steven Spielberg, 1981) – 5/5
Probably the best paced adventure film I’ve ever seen. Watched this on BBC HD and wow do we need a Blu of this, as the HD master used for this transfer looks great and god knows how good a Blu with a much higher bit rate could look.
Arthur (Jason Winer, 2011) – 4/5
I very much enjoyed Arthur but I think this will depend entirely on your tolerance for Russell Brand. I find the guy funny and likable and that comes across well for his first solo lead US film, and though critically and commercially it’s taken a beating, I laughed a hell of a lot and when more dramatic material rears it’s head towards the end of the film, Arthur’s relationships have been so well told earlier that it did have a good effect on me. Brand exhibits great chemistry with Helen Mirren and Greta Gerwig and has some nice comedic sparks with Jenifer Garner so while it’s not going to win any awards, for a fairly gentle but sweet and funny time, I was fulfilled completely.
Casino (Martin Scorsese, 1995) – 5/5
Many say that this is Scorsese trying to make lightning strike twice after Goodfellas but the only area I really see that is with Joe Pesci’s character whose little brutal man stuff is obviously almost a carbon copy. However, I find this film to be a different beast from Casino with a lead character who IS more likable than Liotta’s, he just wants to do business and have a quiet life but everything around him stops him from doing so. Sharon Stone is amazing as the tart with no heart and considering her image at that time, she should have been celebrated more for both playing an absolute douche of a woman and also for uglying herself up quite remarkably towards the back end of the film. De Niro also puts in one of his less showy roles, instead Â doing a lot of the heavy lifting with the exposition and really letting those around him hog the limelight. Yes, there are mob connections abound and the violence is again extreme but I get enough different out of Casino to make it worthwhile. It’s also a 3 hour film that never once feels long, and that’s worth a lot in itself.
More next week!