What I Watched Last Week is a weekly blog space which I use to type down my often libellous opinions on films which I have just seen for the first time and have no right to critique since I have never and could never actually make a film. Has anyone seen them newly uncovered fossils of the Spinosaurus, the largest land-based carnivore of all time? (T-Rex, I’m really happy for you and Imma let you finish but…) Dinosaurs are cool. Anyhow, here’s the film reviews.
Midnight Cowboy (1969) – 4/5
Director: John Schlesinger
Cast: Jon Voight, Dustin Hoffman, John McGiver
Jon Voight is Joe Buck, an insubordinate self-prostituting Texan prospector whose naïve world view is rattled by the hustle-bustle of New York City. Ratso (a magisterial Dustin Hoffman, who seems to wither before your very eyes) is Buck’s only chum and link to the streets , but between Joe’s misinformed aspirations and Ratso’s long term health problems – of which there are many varietals – they do not a fine pair make. Midnight Cowboy works both as a tale of friendship (mostly the stuff that tests it) as well as one of self-discovery, as Jon Voight’s man-out-of-time explores NYC, learning some harsh life lessons in the process. Harry Nilsson’s late 60’s anthem ‘Everybody’s Talkin, which bookends the movie, feels so fitting, snapshotting an entire era.
Casino (1995) – 5/5
Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Sharon Stone, James Woods
If Gangs of New York and The Wolf of Wall Street were to have a fist fight, Casino would come up behind them mid-scuffle and cave in their skulls with a golden-gilded red carpet stanchion. Weighing in at a hefty two hours and fifty eight minutes and running on an entirely unique, grandiose grist compared to his other works, it’s not as endlessly rewatchable as Scorsese’s most acclaimed works, but it is an enrapturing ride. Top-billed ‘Marty’ adoptee Robert De Niro (since disowned and replaced with Leonardo DiCaprio) may posses the better hand as former wise guy gambler/Las Vegas moneyman Sam ‘Ace’ Rothstein, but Joe Pesci steals the films with his polemic fusion of violent frisson and psychopathic panache, his every chilling remark making Tommy ‘Funny Like a Clown’ DeVito look like a motormouthed pussy.
Sharon Stone is as scintillating as she is stunning, putting the likes of Margot Robbie (Wolf Of Wall Street) to shame, and James Woods is exquisitely convincing as a sticky pimp scumbag. Now I’m not going to say Casino is a more entertaining or technically superior film to Goodfellas – it’s neither – but it does have some truly unforgettable, life defining turns from a host of world class actors.
Repo Men (2010) – 1/5
Director: Miguel Sapochnik
Cast: Forest Whitaker, Jude Law, Liev Schreiber, Alice Braga, Carice van Houten, RZA
‘For those of you still counting: this is concussion number four.’
That’s a quote from Jude Law’s obsequious turd of a lead character in Repo Men there, who decides to foray into his historical misadventures (as if its even moderately interesting) whenever there is a lull in his current storyline, wherein he works as a repossession expert from the near future who has to reclaim synthetic organs from the torsos of famous hip hop producers like RZA. Forest Whitaker is his partner and Alex Braga a 0.5 dimensional love interest. Whitaker, who was not so long ago an Oscar conquering champion, has become a poor man’s Denzel Washington; he has turned his back on worthy roles, instead choosing to worship the false idol of the Hollywood paycheck, but his depreciating acting chops – speaking of chops, he’s become rather porcine of late – don’t allow him to land anything beyond sub-par action thrillers (e.g Vantage Point, Crossfire, The Last Stand, Repo Men and the upcoming Taken 3) that everyone knows he’s better than. Repo Men plays out like a well-funded but poorly executed television pilot for a Fox show that got axed – since its release in 2010, director Miguel Sapochnik hasn’t done anything beyond serving as a proxy helmsman for an episode or two of Under the Dome (shitty show) and the upcoming series of Game of Thrones.
For those of you still reading: this film’s an abhorrent bore.
The Third Man (1949) – 5/5
Director: Carol Reed
Cast: Joseph Cotten, Orson Welles, Alida Valli, Trevor Howard
Dow dow dow dow dow dow, dow dow
Dow dow dow dow dow dow, dow dowwwww
That is how the music goes.
The Third Man is unconventional in all the right ways. Copied by Coppola, Tarantino, DePalma and the Martins McDonagh and Scorsese, this films is the primordial murder mystery story, its bombed out, post-war black-and white Vienna setting operating as a haven for man-on-the-lam mayhem. Perfunctory performances, chaotically tense camera work and addictive noirisms all collide to form a – dare one go there? – Hitchcockian masterpiece. HITCHCOCKIAN! As for the artistry of the set design/cinematography (for which an Academy Award was won by photographer Robert Krasker), it is like crack for the eyes. Can we have more black and white films, Universe?