A somewhat quieter month for this feature as holidays and a focus on Bondfest minimised my time for other films. That said, there are some cracking flicks to check out this month.
- The Chaser (2008), Na Hong-jin – A supremely intense serial killer flick made even more so by the fact it is based on a true story. It sees a cop tuned pimp racing to find the killer of a number of whores. This is very clever and at times very hard to watch filmmaking. Kim Yoon-seok is simply wonderful as the pimpcop leading a strong cast. Nerve-shredding and brutal.
- The Angel’s Share (2012), Ken Loach – This flips partway through from Scottish drama into delightful heist film. All of it soaked in the beautiful warming taste of good whiskey. A troubled youth finds a soul mate in community service who turns him onto whiskey. A hilariously funny film featuring Paul Brannigan and John Henshaw as a terrific double act. Definitely one of the most joyous films of the year.
- Jack Irish: Bad Debts (2012), Jeffrey Walker – Based on Peter Temple’s crime novel, this TV film brings a very Melbourne-centric story to life nicely. Helps when the cast is absolutely chock full of the best Aussie TV talent. Guy Pearce is very strong as Jack Irish, the lawyer turned sorta-debt collector. Whilst (like the book) the film sometimes gets lost in it’s labyrinth like narrative with too many characters, overall this is a very well made crime jaunt.
- Skyfall (2012), Sam Mendes – This is a very good Bond film, if not the second coming of the series as some have been claiming. The action is taut and it is great to see some more psychology of the main players revealed. The story, whilst perhaps not OTT enough for a truly great Bond film, is an intriguing one. And the knowing nods to Bond films past work well for the most part, especially the appearance of a certain car. As does the reboot-esque ending which fills a couple of classic Bond roles for future outings.
- The Trial of Joan of Arc (1962), Robert Bresson – Bresson may be known as a minimalist, but he brings a lot of beautiful imagery to the screen. First hand accounts of Joan’s trial were used to recreate events. She is such a resilient soul in the face of such horrible oppression. Simple trial scenes and heavy but engaging dialogue abound. The performance by Florence Delay as Joan of Arc is understated but very good, especially her ability to convey both vulnerability and strength simultaneously. The walk to the stake alone is very confronting, let alone the burning scene that follows.
- Jack Irish: Black Tide (2012), Jeffrey Walker – This is the better of these two, both very good, TV films. The makers have done a very good job of bringing the books to the screen. Aaron Pederson is excellent as Cam, my favourite character from the books and it is great to see someone of Pearce’s profile featuring here. A more coherently told effort that brings its crime stylings to life well. There are a lot of dismembered and half rotted bodies in these films though.
Not Worth Watching:
- Dredd (2012), Pete Travis – The urban wasteland settings of this film look amazing. But ultimately this is a hollow experience that wastes the promise of the premise. Doesn’t bother to examine the ethics of future cops being judge, jury and executioner. Also has a totally unnecessary level of violence to top it off.
If you only have time to watch one The Angel’s Share
Avoid at all costs Dredd
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Still not seen The Chaser but heard nothing but good things about it!
You should definitely search it out. Tis a really cool watch, and diverts from typical ‘hollywood’ thriller narrative in a couple of really interesting ways too.
I had never heard of it, but I got chatting to a filmmaker who gave me this long list of Asian films which have really influenced him, so am gradually searching them out.
Cheers, I will. Still quite pricy on DVD but will look for it in Xmas sale 🙂
Tyson, here’s a more in-depth review of The Chaser that I did for another site. http://www.thefilmbrief.com/2012/12/review-the-chaser/
Thanks, I’ll check it out later when I get some free time.
Awesome post. Thanks for the recommendations!