Bohemian Rhapsody

This review is part of the LAMB’s Oscar coverage this year, in which each award category and Best Picture nominee has its own dedicated post. As no-one else seemed interested in Bohemian Rhapsody I offered to cover it instead, then languished for a few weeks working out just how I was going to do that. I’m posting it here as well just in case the makers of the 1001 book lose theirs minds even more than usual and add it to the 2019 edition. Here we go.
Continue reading

Advertisements

Caravaggio

Michelangelo “Mikaeli” Caravaggio (Dexter Fletcher) is a painter and street hustler in late 16th Century Italy when he catches the eye of the wealthy Cardinal Del Monte (Michael Gough), who proceeds to fund the boy’s artwork. Growing up (into Nigel Terry) Caravaggio lives a hedonistic lifestyle, fornicating with his models – both male and female – eventually leading to a complicated love triangle between himself, street fighter Ranuccio (Sean Bean) and his manager/lover Lena (Tilda Swinton) which is unlikely to end well for anyone involved.
caravaggion bean Continue reading

Blind Spot: The Elephant Man

Whilst attending a carnival, well-to-do surgeon Mr. Treves (Anthony Hopkins) sees John Merrick (John Hurt), a 21-year-old man born with such severe physical disfigurements that he is displayed as “The Elephant Man”. After Merrick receives another in a series of beatings from his “owner” Bytes (Freddie Jones), Treves takes Merrick into the hospital and cares for the man, slowly uncovering the person behind the appearance.
silhouette Continue reading

Topsy-Turvy

Mike Leigh’s depiction of acclaimed stage show writer and composer Gilbert & Sullivan (Jim Broadbent & Allan Corduner) creating their most famous production, the Mikado, is extremely well performed by all involved, especially the two leads and Timothy Spall as one of several preening thespians. The background is littered with know-the-face British actors (Andy Serkis, Dexter Fletcher, Mark Benton etc.) and the costumes and set design are spectacular. Unfortunately, the film is far too long, and too much time has been given over to the musical numbers, with at least ten being shown throughout the film. A much tighter script, focusing more on the backstage goings-on and less on the show itself, could have led to a bona-fide British classic about two of our most notable showmen.

Choose life 7/10

Kick-Ass

Just as Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) cannot understand why no-one has tried to become a superhero in Matthew Vaughn’s first American film (after Layer Cake and Stardust in the UK, before X-Men First Class), so too it is difficult to understand why no-one has made a film about someone trying to become a superhero. It’s such a forehead-slappingly simple premise that you assume someone else must have already done it. Of course, since then the likes of Defendor (starring Woody Harrelson) and Super (with Rainn Wilson) have put their spin on the idea, and received less critical acclaim and box office revenue in return, as they have failed to match the level of absurdity, shock or brilliance of Kick-Ass, based on Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.’s excellent graphic novel. And, they don’t have a 10-year old girl calling a room full of drug dealers cunts and being shot in the chest by her doting father.
Using a scuba suit, rubber gloves, self-taught nunchuck skills and the inability to pain and a partially metal skeleton gained from wildly overestimating his ability to take down some thugs, Dave transforms into Kick-Ass, soon becoming an Internet sensation after being caught on a cameraphone helping a victim of a gang crime.
Meanwhile, Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage, channelling original Batman Adam West with a kiddy-fiddler moustache) and daughter Hit Girl (Chloe Moretz) already exist as superheroes, albeit far more covertly than Kick-Ass, and are trying to take down crime kingpin Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong), whose nerdy son Chris (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) goes to school with Dave, and thinks he can help his Dad by becoming Kick-Ass’ sidekick, Red Mist.
Whilst very much an origin story, this neatly sidesteps being bogged down in exposition and training montages with the already established Big Daddy, whose backstory is succinctly covered in a well-played comic book style. The standout though is Moretz, clearly having clocked some serious training in both combat and knife skills, despatching the aforementioned gang of hoodlums with all manner of weaponry; stabbing, shooting and dismembering as though an everyday occurrence, although there’s a fair chance that for her it actually is. There is some truly amazing music to kill people to as well, with Joan Jett’s Bad Reputation being a particular favourite.
Choose film 7/10