Films I Saw This Week (29/06/2015)
Jon S. Baird’s Irvine Welsh adaptation Filth does an excellent job of showing just how terrific Trainspotting is; whereas Trainspotting took deplorable characters and situations and turned them into pitch perfect black comedy, Filth struggles wildly to find the right tone. Fortunately, Baird just about pulls it off.
Despite a chaotic middle section, pretty naff hallucinations, and Jim Broadbent’s baffling appearance as an Australian psychiatrist, Filth doesn’t completely fall apart, mostly due to the outstanding James McAvoy, giving his greatest performance to date as the worst detective in Scotland. As the film grows darker, reaching a surprisingly emotional climax, McAvoy rises to the challenge in some incredibly difficult scenes. Filth is a complete mess, but it’s a furiously demented and entertaining mess. Stay tuned after the ending for the weirdest credits sequence in film history.
Paris, Texas (1984)
Wim Wender’s American classic Paris, Texas is one of the most unusual films I’ve seen; it’s incredibly slow (with a long two and a half hour running time), it’s still, it has very little plot, and it only really gets going after around two hours. Somehow, Wenders makes it work. The combination of Ry Cooder’s slide guitar score, Robby Müller’s gorgeous cinematography (especially in the early desert sequences), and the captivating performances by legendary supporting actors-turned leads Harry Dean Stanton, Dean Stockwell, and, especially, Nastassja Kinski, turn Paris, Texas into a beautiful and tragic road movie.
Comedy is always hard to review; what makes one person laugh leaves another feeling pretty cold. Take Michael Dowse’s hockey comedy Goon, for example. It got great reviews and audiences loved it, yet it didn’t really make me laugh at all. Despite Sean William Scott giving the best performance of his career by quite some distance, as a lovably dumb but violent hockey player, the central concept of Goon (in which we’re supposed to laugh at staggeringly brutal hockey fights) just didn’t work for me. It’s inoffensive and not particularly bad, but none of the laughs really landed like they needed to.
Clockers has all the best and worst qualities of Spike Lee’s filmography. It’s way too long, features a leading character who simply isn’t very interesting, and doesn’t really communicate its morals and messages effectively. However, it does feature two brilliant performances from Harvey Keitel and Keith David, and has grittier, bolder direction than nearly any other American independent filmmaker. Spike Lee has an anger and passion that always carries his films, but for most of its runtime, Clockers feels far too lifeless and boring to leave any kind of impact.
Oslo, August 31st (2011)
The best film about heroin addicts since Lenny Abrahamson’s Adam and Paul, Oslo, August 31st is a sympathetic and truthful portrayal of recovering addict Anders (the terrific Anders Danielsen Lie) as he leaves his rehab clinic for a job interview. Essentially a series of sketches in which Anders has conversations with various people in his life, Joachim Trier’s film is deliberately slow and ponderous, but the script is so sharp and the leading performance so on-point that the film rarely feels dull. Only the ending lets it down with a realistic but deflating final scene.
Mauvais Sang A.K.A. The Night Is Young (1986)
Insane French auteur Leos Carax (director of Holy Motors, one of the weirdest films of the 21st century) created an enduring indie classic in Mauvais Sang A.K.A. The Night Is Young. Though the film has a vague sense of plot, as street kid Alex (the enigmatic Denis Lavant) is hired by a gangster to steal the vaccine for a new STD that is becoming an epidemic, and falls in love with the gangster’s young girlfriend (Juliette Binoche in one of her earliest roles), it’s more about style than anything else.
Similar to Jean-Luc Godard in the sixties, Lavant uses any filming and editing technique he can to create the coolest film imaginable, and succeeds; the cinematography is outstanding, the script sharp and memorable, and the scene of Lavant dancing in the street to David Bowie’s Modern Love is still one of the most iconic in all of European cinema.
Werner Herzog’s cult classic, in which the always-excellent Klaus Kinski decides to bring opera to the jungle by hauling a steamboat over the mountains, is a cinematographer’s dream. Some films have that one perfect shot; Fitzcarraldo has a dozen at least. At two and a half hours, the film is quite flabby (Kinski doesn’t start hauling the steamboat until two hours in), and some of the jungle scenes are painfully slow, but there is so much beauty and intensity throughout the film, it manages to hold your attention.
By Harry Ford
- Posted in: Films I Saw This Week ♦ Reviews
- Tagged: 1982, 1984, 1986, 1995, 2011, 2012, 2013, adaptation, american, bad blood, black comedy, classic, clockers, comedy, cult, david bowie, dean stockwell, denis lavant, eddie marsan, filth, fitzcarraldo, foreign language, goon, harry dean stanton, harvey keitel, holy motors, indie, irvine welsh, james mcavoy, jim broadbent, juliette binoche, klaus kinski, leos carax, mauvais sang, modern love, nastassja kinski, oslo august 31st, paris texas, scottish, sean william scott, spike lee, the night is young, trainspotting, weird, werner herzog, wim wenders