It's possible I might have mentioned that I do these film reviews all the time on a seperate blog, which can be found here...
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, James Nesbitt, Aidan Turner, Stephen Hunter, Graham McTavish, John Callen, Mark Hadlow, Elijah Wood, Andy Serkis. Dir: Peter Jackson.
A hobbit is persuaded to join a dwarf group in reclaiming their homeland from a dragon. It’s not the dragging, padded story that kills it, not even the 48fps, which makes the image muddy; it’s banal scripting, with one-note characters and cliché-ridden dialogue that renders it lifeless and cheesy.
Hitchcock (2012) Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson, Toni Collette, Danny Huston, Jessica Biel, James D'Arcy, Michael Stuhlbarg. Dir: Sacha Gervasi.
Hitchcock’s determination to make Psycho puts strain on his marriage when he’s forced to finance it himself. At best when staging this as Hitch’s great caper. When it explores rumours, obsessions and mysteries surrounding him and Alma, it’s frequently badly club-footed. Quite liberal with truth also; Whitfield Cook’s harshly treated.
Seven Psychopaths (2012) Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Christopher Walken, Tom Waits, Abbie Cornish, Željko Ivanek. Dir: Martin McDonagh.
A screenwriter’s work is interrupted when his dog-kidnapping friends steal a gangster’s pooch. A film that’s enjoying its cleverness too much, and distracted by supporting characters. Unlike In Bruges, it’s missing an emotional core. But it’s funny, well cast and riffs on how movies now inform our perspectives on everything.
Swiss Miss (1938) Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Walter Woolf King, Della Lind, Eric Blore, Adia Kuznetzoff. Dir: John G. Blystone.
A composer retreats to a hotel to write, just as Stan & Ollie are forced to work in the kitchen. A musical plot makes forced inclusion of songs more organic, but does reduce the boys to supporting characters in their movie. Not quite classic, but consistently funny and fairly brisk.
Strangers on a Train (1951) Farley Granger, Robert Walker, Ruth Roman, Leo G. Carroll, Patricia Hitchcock, Laura Elliott. Dir: Alfred Hitchcock.
A tennis champion meets a man who suggests they swap people to murder to escape suspicion. Highsmith’s book was dream Hitchcock material. One of his most entertaining thrillers, riffing on the idea of doubles to explore the darkness that exists in all of us. Walker is a brilliantly seductive psychopath.
Sightseers (2012) Alice Lowe, Steve Oram. Dir: Ben Wheatley.
A shy woman goes caravanning with her new boyfriend, but things take a bloody turn. A black-comic ramble around UK’s more bizarre tourist hotspot and an insight into people (just) on the fringes, whose isolation has borne a narcissism that finds it acceptable to murder over minor slights. Brutally funny.
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) John Wayne, James Stewart, Vera Miles, Lee Marvin, Edmond O'Brien, Woody Strode, Andy Devine, John Carradine. Lee Van Cleef. Dir: John Ford.
A senator tells the true story of a legendary shoot-out, revealing a surprising truth. A film that still has plenty to say about myth-making, masculinity, society, justice and politics. Pretty cynical Ford shoots it in a surprisingly dark, almost noir style. But foremost, it’s a great story brilliantly told.