No-hoper Icelandic childhood best friends dream of winning Eurovision. Ferrell adapts his sports comedy template to fit, with generally appealing results. While it’s overlong and needs more jokes, everyone’s having fun, the musical parodies are good, and there are plenty of in-jokes and guest appearances for the faithful.
Month: June 2020
Unfriended (2014, dir. Leo Gabriadze)
Teen friends are terrorised by someone assuming the online identity of a dead classmate. Effective real-time horror-thriller, told via a single laptop screen. Plays straight with its material. Some sly subversion of teenage neuroses, but there’s some commentary here about cyberbullying, and about revenge fantasies in the digital age.
Trick (2019, dir. Patrick Lussier)
A Fed and a cop become obsessed over a mass murderer who reappears each Halloween. The movie starts well, though gets bogged down by Act 3 because it can’t finesse its tricky reveal while still staging multiple splattery deaths and referencing all the horror films it can think of. Over-edited, flawed, but not uninteresting.
Filmworker (2017, dir. Tony Zierra)
A documentary about Leon Vitali, who turned from acting in Barry Lyndon – abandoning an established career – to become director Stanley Kubrick’s amanuensis from the mid-70s on. Fascinating case study of fan-worship and obsessions, of the tolls that they can take, and of the centrality of lived experience to cinematic legacy. Recommended.
Body Cam (2020, dir. Malik Vitthal)
A bereaved patrol officer investigates the cover-up of a child’s death, and the police killings that ensue. Flawed but fascinating horror/procedural that explores cop-on-black murder and the need for justice through genre-heavy allegory, drawing on J-horror and found-footage elements as well as from Candyman. Worth your 90 minutes.
The Public (2018, dir. Emilio Estevez)
One harsh winter’s night, a sacked librarian supports a protest occupation of a city-centre library by homeless patrons. Perhaps-simplistic but heartfelt and well-meaning social issues drama with black comic touches. It’s not subtle in its execution, but you’d have to be a hard-hearted son-of-a-bitch not to enjoy the effort.
Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) [AKA Birds of Prey / Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey] (2020, dir. Cathy Yan)
Harley Quinn, now no longer enjoying The Joker’s protection, is both the target of vengeful Gotham criminals and embroiled in a quest for a diamond. Dayglo spinoff of Suicide Squad with some verve in its playing, direction, action choreography and design. It wants to be a female-led Deadpool, but is let down somewhat by an under-par script.
The Kill Team (2019, dir. Dan Krauss)
A US soldier in Afghanistan is pressurised by a new sergeant into complicity in the murder of Afghan civilians. Developed from writer/director Krauss’s own documentary of the same name, this is a low-key but effective study of morals v camaraderie. No real surprises, but solid nevertheless.
Prey (2019, dir. Franck Khalfoun)
A bereaved teen, left alone on an island as part of a rehabilitation exercise, finds that he is not alone. The film goes to absurd lengths to contrive its location and scenario, and then has little productive to make of the results. Thin stuff with some debts to the TV show Lost. For Blumhouse completists only.
The Witches of Eastwick (1987, dir. George Miller)
Three friends accidentally conjure a priapic demon. Fun loose adaptation of the John Updike novel, offering four meaty roles for enthusiastic players. Nicholson is controlled, all are having fine time, and Miller’s direction is elegant throughout. A good job done all around.