Films I Saw This Week (22/06/2015)
Inherent Vice (2015)
Some people will love Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice, and its crazy characters, complex plot, and bizarre sense of humour. Some people will hate it, for all the same reasons. I find myself hovering somewhere in the middle. There’s plenty to like about the film; Joaquin Phoenix is once again terrific as “Doc” Sportello, a private detective unravelling a mystery he can’t begin to understand, while Anderson, perhaps the great 21st century filmmaker, is as visually beautiful as always. The plot, deliberately confusing as it is, is just too much to really get a handle of, especially with a runtime of two and a half hours. With tighter editing and a slightly more consistent tone, Inherent Vice could be something truly special. As it stands, Inherent Vice is a bit of a rambling mess, with brief flashes of excellence.
About A Boy (2002)
Hugh Grant may too often lean heavily on his usual bumbling Englishman schtick, but he gives one of the best comedy performances of the last fifteen years in the Weitz Brothers’ hilarious About A Boy. Based on the Nick Hornby book of the same name, Grant is droller and wittier than ever before as a rich loser whose life is changed by the introduction of a bullied teenager (a breakthrough performance from the now-huge Nicholas Hoult) and his suicidal mother (Toni Colette). Even with its televisual look, hit-and-miss gag rate, and the occasionally wooden performances from the supporting cast, the film works, mostly because of Grant, managing to make even the most mediocre of gags hilarious. Plus, it has a killer joke about a loaf of bread and a dead duck.
Cuban Fury (2014)
When Simon Pegg went from Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz to Run Fatboy Run, it was disappointing to see how bland and mediocre he could become away from friends Edgar Wright and Nick Frost. Somehow, Nick Frost’s first starring role away from Pegg and Wright, James Griffiths’ Cuban Fury, makes Run Fatboy Run look cutting edge. Nick Frost may be a lovable hug of an actor, but that doesn’t excuse his horribly limp performance (or the fact that Cuban Fury was his idea).
The rest of the cast aren’t much better; Rashida Jones plays the same character she always does, Chris O’Dowd gives good creep but gets no funny lines, and Olivia Colman, possibly the finest actress of her generation, does absolutely nothing in a real shocker. Despite Ian McShane giving a reliably great performance as Frost’s dance instructor, Cuban Fury is the rare comedy that contains absolutely zero laughs; most of the time, it doesn’t even seem to be trying.
As Good As It Gets (1997)
While James L. Brooks’ As Good As It Gets is best remembered for the Oscar winning performances from Jack Nicholson as the antisocial, OCD-sufferer Melvin Udall, and Helen Hunt as the put-upon waitress who might be able to change him, the real standout of the film is Greg Kinnear. As Melvin’s gay, neurotic neighbour, Kinnear gives the best performance of his career, being capable of comedy and tragedy in a single line. The plot is pretty standard rom-com, and hasn’t aged greatly, but the acting holds it together. Nicholson has never been as sharp and acidic, cutting everyone around him down with brutal words, while Hunt raises the question of why she never became a bigger actress.
My Week With Marilyn (2011)
Simon Curtis’ period drama My Week with Marilyn has a fantastically entertaining first half, as Marilyn Monroe (the excellent Michelle Williams) arrives in England, flirts with an assistant (pre-Oscar Eddie Redmayne, as lovably tragic as a a puppy bounding towards a furnace) and clashes with Laurence Olivier (a flamboyant Kenneth Branagh). Sadly, the second half is a bust, the relation between Monroe and Redmayne’s Colin Clark not as interesting as it needs to be to carry the film. Unless you’re a particularly big fan of Redmayne or Williams, there’s not much to see.
The Long Goodbye (1973)
Has there ever been a cooler performance than Elliott Gould in Robert Altman’s classic noir The Long Goodbye? With his permanent cigarette, suit, and whiskey-soaked voice, Gould is instantly iconic as the laid back private detective roped into finding a missing novelist. The opening 45 minutes are note perfect and the ending is surprisingly dark for 1973, but the middle section is a little too long winded. A classic of style, if not quite a flawless film.
By Harry Ford
- Posted in: Films I Saw This Week ♦ Reviews
- Tagged: 1973, 1997, 2002, 2011, 2014, 2015, about a boy, as good as it gets, chris o'dowd, comedy, cuban fury, drama, eddie redmayne, edgar wright, elliott gould, greg kinnear, hugh grant, ian mcshane, inherent vice, jack nicholson, joaquin phoenix, josh brolin, michelle williams, my week with marilyn, nicholas hoult, nick frost, noir, olivia colman, oscars, paul thomas anderson, rashida jones, robert altman, simon pegg, the long goodbye, toni colette