First up is "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans". I watched this this evening and if i'm honest, i still don't entirely know what i think about it. This is perhaps inevitable with a Werner Herzog film, even one as comparatively accessible as this. Herzog is renowned for being one of the most surreal directors out there, very rarely producing films which could be considered easy watching. "Bad Lieutenant" is a slight departure from this, it was VERY watchable, you're just not always sure what it is you're watching. On the surface it's a cop thriller; the plot revolves around the investigation into a drugs related murder and there are many of the trappings of the genre to be seen, but they almost seem merely coincidental, this is a film about one man's reliance on, pursuit of and experiences with drugs.
That man is played superbly by Nicholas Cage, an actor who has been frustratingly inconsistent throughout his career, but is capable of truly great performances. Often he seems at his best when he let's all his craziness show on the surface, and that's definitely the case here, just as it was in "Raising Arizona" and "Kick Ass". Who better to make use of that side of Cage's ability, than Herzog?
It's a police procedural with a surprisingly high frequency of iguanas and break dancing spirits. It's a thriller where the 'good guy' is so bad it's stunning in it's audacity. It's a film which is aware of all the conventions of the genre it falls within, yet picks and chooses which ones it uses.
All in all it's a very good film, one i suspect could become great with repeat viewings. Definitely give it a watch, embrace the weirdness and revel in Nic Cage being as good as everyone knows he can be.
After one viewing, it'd get 4/5 from me.
Next up is "Going The Distance". This is an indie rom-com directed by Nanette Burstein, focussing on the relationship between Drew Barrymore's journalist, Erin, and Justin Long's record label employee, Garrett. As the title suggests, the obstacle in the way of their romance, is distance itself. Erin is based in San Francisco while Garrett is from New York. It's essentially the story of a holiday romance, which neither of them are willing to give up when the time comes for Erin to go home. I really enjoyed this film; i'm a fan of both Barrymore and Long, the characters are well enough acted and written that you definitely root for them to find a way to make it work, and the usual range of misfits that make up their friends and families provide laughs throughout. My one criticism is simply that for the most part, it's indie rom-com by the numbers; it's a great example of the genre, but it doesn't have that little extra bit of quality to make it something more than merely a genre piece. It's why it doesn't quite make it into the same league as "Garden State" or "500 Days Of Summer" for me.
Therefore i'd also give this one 4/5.
The final film i'm going to give a brief review of is the one i saw at the cinema almost a fortnight ago, but never got round to writing about, "Battle Los Angeles". This film won't win any awards for originality or win many fans due to it's intelligence and emotional depth. However precisely because it knew it's limitations, didn't attempt to be something it wasn't and just embraced the kind of utterly idiotic action that makes blockbusters like this one so much fun, i loved it.
It was aptly described by it's makers as "Black Hawk Down with aliens" prior to it's release and it lived up to that. The action was visceral and intense throughout, the characters exhibit exactly the kind of bravery which would result in inevitable death in a real war zone and there's several moments of rousing collective courage that despite their cheesiness, work within their setting. It was hugely entertaining throughout and though it wasn't in any way ground breaking, i never expected it to be.
It was a great example of enjoyment being at least partly based on expectations.
It doesn't deserve more than 3/5 in the grand scheme of things, but for two and a bit hours i was very entertained, so i really can't complain.
The final film i'm going to talk about is the one i'm seeing on Thursday, "Sucker Punch". It's by the guy who made "300" which should tell you a lot about what kind of film it will be. I could ramble on about the stunning visuals and frenetic looking action, but instead i'll simply post the trailer on here, and let you see for yourself. Watch it in 1080p.
Intellectual? no. Emotionally complex? Definitely no. Likely to involve hard hitting social commentary? Not a chance. Absolutely mental and utterly ridiculous? Hell yes. Entertaining? You can count on that.
As always, i'm going to post a song to bring this blog to a close, today's is a song that came on my iPod as i was wandering around Morrisons. Definitely one of my favourite remix's at the moment.