Sunday, March 09, 2014

Oscar Night Roundup

Behind the Candelabra: Liberace biopic, about his relationship with his much-younger lover Scott Thorson. If it took place now, it would just be a simple story of celebrity marriage and divorce, but the homophobic backdrop of the 1970s adds drama. Plus you can play Spot Scott Bacula with the supporting cast.

Gravity: Technically impressive adventure story about an astronaut isolated in space after a Russian missile hits an obsolete satellite and sends debris rocketing through orbit; verges on the cliched in places (woman emotionally destroyed by the loss of a child finds The Strength To Carry On, sigh), but it really is genuinely tense and by turns claustrophobic and agoraphobic.

Nebraska: Dementia-suffering pensioner becomes convinced he's won a million dollars, and insists on taking a road trip to Lincoln, Nebraska to collect, visiting his old hometown on the way. A brilliantly credible performance from Bruce Dern, and scarily accurate portrayals of the sort of micropolitics that emerge in small communities.

American Hustle: Clever heist drama, working as both an homage to the mafia/crime films of the 1970s and as an intelligent, complicated story in its own right. A good film to play Spot the Boardwalk Empire Alumnus, and/or Spot Anthony Zerbe, plus Robert de Niro's only good role this decade.

Movie count for 2014: 11


Robocop: Biting, classic satire on privatisation and corporate control, which seriously didn't need a remake, as it's pretty much all still true today. Although it's not often mentioned in reviews of this film, I'd like to flag up Lewis as another of those believably-strong heroines of 1980s fantastic film, and praise it for showing a man and woman having a professional relationship characterised by mutual respect, without degenerating into cliched romance or annoying patronisation.

Robocop 2: Starts promisingly, with the police out on strike and Roboscab, being corporate property, nonetheless carrying on with the crime-fighting. However, the film rapidly forgets about this and degenerates into a bit of a mess; it's not without good ideas and entertaining satire (particularly when it's revealed that the evil corporation is deliberately running the city of Detroit into the ground to buy it out and operate it privately), but the villains are annoyingly cartoony, and there's a bit of a naive-libertarian plotline going (Robocop is given a bunch of ludicrous politically-correct directives which slow him down, but which he remedies by erasing all directives from his databank, but nonetheless carries on doing the right thing because, as we all know, rules and laws just get in the way of The Good Guys). At least Lewis is still in it.

Movie count for 2014: 7