Thursday, October 01, 2009

Hit, miss, miss, hit, hit, hit.

A Shock to the System: The presence of Michael Caine and no other star names made me brace myself for a bad movie, but this turned out to be a pretty deft black comedy of the 1980s "nice-guy executive snaps and starts murdering his corporate rivals" subgenre.

The Whistleblower: Another Michael Caine one, this time of considerably lesser quality. It's one of the paranoid-thriller Britpic genre that sprang up in the wake of Edge of Darkness, and like most of the genre it lacks the credibility and disturbing characterisation of the original. Nigel Havers is a man who Knows Too Much about corruption at GCHQ; Michael Caine is his father. Barry Foster, John Gielgud, James Fox, Gordon Jackson, Peter Miles and others lend far too much credibility to the venture.

Runaway Jury: A thriller about a jury called upon to judge a lawsuit against the American gun lobby? Sounds great, but in practice any anti-gun message is watered down and forced into the background of a deeply unbelievable vigilantism-cum-revenge plot. Gene Hackman does his best but ultimately gives up trying to make anything interesting of the villain.

Under Suspicion: Low-budget, set in Puerto Rico on carnival night, and starting off as a simple police procedural with Morgan Freeman as the jaded cop and Gene Hackman as the blustering local dignitary dragged in as a witness to a murder case, but ultimately venturing into territory exposed by the "Satanic ritual abuse" court cases and questioning the nature of memory and reality.

Malice: Fantastic medico-sexual thriller, which unfortunately I can't synopsise without revealing any plot twists. Suffice it to say that your initial impressions of every single character will be utterly transformed by the end of it.

This is England: Disturbing but credible and touching story about a young boy in 1980s England who falls in with a gang of skinheads, just as the movement is starting to tip over into racism. The performance of the main racist skinhead in particular is simultaneously lunatic and charismatic.

Movie count for 2009: 86