Monday 14 March 2016

High Rise, High Rise, Neighbours are banging on the wall again: Your Week In Film (March 14-20)

Tom Hiddleston in Ben Wheatley's adaptation of High-Rise

TV, Radio, DVD, Blu-ray, VOD and cinema picks for the next seven days...

Monday 14th: Philip Ridley's 1990 film The Reflecting Skin (Blu-ray and DVD) is a profoundly strange piece of work chronicling a series of murders that plague a remote American prairie town. The story is told through the eyes of eight-year-old Seth Dove (Jeremy Cooper) so you're never quite sure what is real and what is the product of his fevered imagination. The dependable Viggo Mortensen (The Road) is Seth's dad, Lindsay Duncan (Birdman) the eccentric widow the boy suspects of being a vampire. Even if its Lynchian puzzle of a plot leaves you cold, cinematographer Dick Pope's (Mr Turner) magnificent visuals make it more than worth a look. Amongst a number of DVD reissues this week is Peter Greenaway's macabre 1989 film The Cook, The Thief, His Wife And Her Lover. Michael Gambon is repulsive crime boss Albert Spica, Helen Mirren the wife that cheats on him with the chef at the fancy restaurant he owns, bringing down terrible consequences upon them all. A metaphor for the rise and fall of Thatcherism, it's stagey and grotesque but incredibly powerful stuff nonetheless.

Philip Ridley's The Reflecting Skin (trailer)

The Cook, The Thief, His Wife And Her Lover (trailer)

Tuesday 15th: Has there ever been a better performance in any Hollywood movie than the one Jack Nicholson gives as rebel without a pause Randle P McMurphy in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest (22:05, Sky Drama)? I'm genuinely not sure there has...

Nicholson rules the roost in Cuckoo's Nest (trailer)

Wednesday 16th: For reasons that genuinely escape me, this week Sky have temporarily renamed one of their multifarious movie channels 'Sky Robots'. Today it's showing the underrated Tomorrowland: A World Beyond (09:05 and 17:45), Neil Blomkamp's daft but enjoyable Chappie (20:00), and Spielberg's disappointing AI: Artificial Intelligence (Midnight). Other nights boasts various Robocops, Transformers and Terminators.

Thursday 17th: With Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice hitting cinemas next week, some bright spark at Film4 decided it might be a laugh to show Ben Affleck's previous venture into superhero cinema, Daredevil (23:10). This tale of a blind lawyer gaining special powers and using them to fight crime isn't bad exactly just clunky and underwhelming compared to the best of the Marvel character's comics, not to mention the Netflix 'TV show' now into its second series. A strong cast (Colin Farrell, Jon Favreau, Michael Clarke Duncan and Jennifer Garner also star) just about saves it though.

Daredevil: Not entirely terrible (trailer)

Friday 18th: High-Rise - Ben Wheatley's adaptation of JG Ballard's 1975 novel of the same name - hits cinemas today and I can't wait to see what the Kill List director does with it. Ballard's black-hearted but bleakly satirical tale chronicles the collapse of order within a swanky London tower block, complete with more death, destruction and depravity than you can shake a stick at. It isn't really about class war (everyone in the high-rise is comfortably middle class), nor is it a 'yuppie Lord Of The Flies' (no one is trapped or stranded anywhere). It's more about alienation and isolation - the high-rise's well-to-do inhabitants shut themselves away from regular society and are progressively dehumanised as a result. The ubiquitous Tom Hiddleston stars along with Jeremy Irons and Sienna Miller. Also out today is 10 Cloverfield Lane - a sort-of sequel to 2008 found-footage monster movie Cloverfield. I love the original film but this is a smaller, altogether more claustrophobic, film set in a bunker during the creature's attack on New York. John Goodman stars. TV-wise, there's bargain-basement Bond in Spooks: The Greater Good (20:00, Sky Movies Premiere), or middling Mads Mikkelsen revenge western The Salvation (Sky Movies Premiere).

High-Rise: Black-hearted and bleakly satirical (trailer)

The Trainspotters (aka DJ Mike Read) and 'High Rise'

Saturday 19th: On the subject of Ben Wheatley (as we just were), subscription service Mubi are showing the director's debut film Down Terrace from today. It centres on a Brighton crime family - a kind of cut-price Corleones - trying to root out the police informant responsible for sending their son to jail. As riotously violent and darkly amusing as you'd imagine. Elsewhere, there's Wake Wood (01:15, BBC1), an effective British horror with a sliver of The Wicker Man in its DNA. Aidan Gillen stars. 

Sunday 20th: Who needs High-Rise when you've got low-budget Brit thriller Tower Block (21:00, Channel 5)? Sheridan Smith (Cilla) and Jack O'Connell (Unbroken) are residents in a rundown East End block of flats facing a fight for survival when they are targeted by an unknown sniper. But this is no random attack...

Low-budget Brit thriller Tower Block (trailer) 

The last 5 films I saw – from great to good
1. Grizzly Man (2006) Werner Herzog's extraordinary documentary chronicling the life and death of troubled grizzly-bear botherer Timothy Treadwell, who spent 13 summers studying and filming the creatures in Alaska. Until one ate him.
2. Hail, Caesar! (2016) Slight but joyous love letter to old Hollywood from the Coen Brothers. It has wit and charm to burn and is full of great performances (George Clooney, 
Alden Ehrenreich) and clever pastiches of old movies.
3. Mississippi Grind (2015) Ben Mendelsohn (Slow West) is quite superb in this atmospheric comedy/drama about a pair of gambling addicts on a road trip to a big poker game. Ryan Reynolds acquits himself well, too.
4. King Jack (2015) American coming-of-age indie set over a single weekend and focusing on 15-year-old Jack, as he feuds with a local thug and clumsily attempts to woo the object of his affections.
5. Too Late Blues (1961) John Cassavetes' debut for Hollywood studio Paramount is rather better than its reputation suggests, with Bobby Darin convincing as an oddly unlikeable jazz pianist selling out to be with a beautiful but damaged singer. 

UK box office top 10
1. London Has Fallen
2. Hail, Caesar! R
3. Deadpool R
4. Grimsby R
5. Alvin And The Chipmunks: The Road Chip
6. How To Be Single
7. The Revenant R
8. Spotlight R
9. The Other Side Of The Door
10. Goosebumps

R = Recommended

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