Thursday, June 19, 2008

Day One: "If you need to stretch your legs, buy a blow-job off a Lithuanian"

Featured review of the day: The Edge of Love.


Smalltown thriller based on a novel by Jack Ketchum, starring Brian Cox as a storeowner seeking justice against the thugs who killed his dog.

I really enjoyed The Lost two years ago, so when I read that Red was also based on a Jack Ketchum novel, I was really excited about seeing it. Brian Cox plays semi-retired store-owner Avery Ludlow, who seeks justice against three local teens when one of them (Noel Fisher from "The Riches") kills his dog (Red) for no reason. Unfortunately it turns out that the boy's father (a slimmed-down Tom Sizemore, still playing bastards) is something of a local bigwig so justice looks unlikely. However, things quickly get out of hand after a local TV reporter (Kim Dickens) does a news story on Avery. This was brilliant from start to finish. Cox is superb - he's not as angry here as he often is in other films, which made for some interesting slow-burning tension. Sizemore, of course, is one of the screen's all-time great bastards and he's as good as you'd expect, but there's also strong work from Dickens, Fisher and Kyle Gallner as Sizemore's more sensitive son. Needless to say though, you might want to avoid this if you're a dog-lover. Four stars.

Just Another Love Story

Danish film noir starring Anders W Bertelsen as a married man who becomes obsessed with a coma victim and allows her family to believe he's her boyfriend, even after she wakes up.

This was very much like a Danish film noir version of While You Were Sleeping. Anders W Bertelsen (you'll know the face – he's in practically every Danish film I've ever seen) plays married photographer Jonas, who witnesses a car accident and becomes obsessed with the victim (Rebecka Hemse), who ends up in a coma. Visiting her in hospital, he allows her concerned family to believe that he's her boyfriend Sebastien, a deception he continues even after she wakes up (with apparent -and convenient- memory loss). But then the real Sebastien (Nikolaj Lie Kaas – also in every Danish film) turns up and things take a nasty turn... To be honest, this wasn't quite as good as I was hoping it would be, despite good performances from Bertelsen and particularly from Kaas. It definitely had its moments, but the whole lying-bleeding-in-the-rain beginning / ending thing has been done to death over the years and I didn't think the script did enough to sell Jonas's sudden obsession. There were some nice touches though, such as all the scenes with Dejan Cukic as Jonas's weird best friend Frank who, like Dennis Hopper in Elegy yesterday, gives really bad relationship advice. Also, it was brilliantly edited, particularly during the scenes where Jonas is starting to lose it and mixing up his two relationships in his head. Three stars.

Somers Town

Shane Meadows reunites with Thomas Turgoose for this low-budget black and white tale of the friendship between a lonely Polish teenager and a young runaway.

Partly funded by Eurostar, thanks to a rather spectacular bit of product placement, Shane Meadows' latest film stars his This Is England discovery Thomas Turgoose as Tomo, a young runaway who comes to London and is promptly mugged. A chance meeting in a cafe leads to a developing friendship with bored Polish teenager Marek (Piotr Jagiello) as the two attempt a few rubbish money-making schemes, steal Tomo some clothes (leading to him wearing a woman's blouse for most of the film) and try to woo the French waitress (Elisa Lasowski as Maria) that Marek has a crush on. Turgoose and Jagiello are both excellent and the charming script brims with witty, naturalistic dialogue that works well. The film paints an interesting picture of the Somers Town area of London, with its Polish immigrant workers (Marek's father is building the new St Pancras station) and local cafes and apartment blocks. There are several great scenes, but the highlight is Tomo and Marek treating Maria to their “special taxi service”. Four stars.

Three Miles North of Molkom

Swedish documentary about a New Age healing festival and a young rugby-playing Australian who wonders what the hell he's doing there.

Three Miles North of Molkom is a Swedish documentary about a New Age healing festival that's held annually in the woods, er, three miles north of Molkom. It begins with a bunch of half-naked tree-hugging hippies rolling around together in a scene that reminded me of The Shunting in Society. Anyway, we're quickly introduced to various tree-hugging types including solid-looking Siddhartha (who's kind of like the Eric Thal character in Mouth-to-Mouth, only not as manipulative), blonde children's care worker Marit, Hawaiian hippie Ljus (who says he was raised by goats and does actually look a lot like a goat) and middle-aged retired careers advisor Mervi. And then there's Nick, a no-nonsense Australian rugby teacher who wound up at the festival because a friend recommended it and who cheerfully announces to the group that his first thoughts were “Oh fuck, it's a cult”. He doesn't really see the point in “all that tree-hugging shit” and doesn't care who knows it. However, over the course of several different exercises including Fire-walking, Tantric Sex workshops (at least, I think that's what they were doing), Finding Your Inner Power Animal, Primal Screaming and actual, literal tree-hugging, Nick gradually starts to come around and eventually gives his own mini-class called The No-Worries Workshop, where the group learn phrases like “No, you're alright” and “We're not here to fuck spiders”. The only problem is that the movie doesn't sell us on Nick's conversion – whatever it is that he gets out of it, we don't see it, so the effect is kind of like watching someone getting brainwashed. Also, it's at least 20 minutes too long and some of the New Age sessions go on far too long. That said, there are some great scenes, particularly when Nick's group have a session with someone who teaches them about channelling power as self-defence who then ends up knocking Mervi to the ground (“Where the fuck were you guys? Why didn't you channel your power to stop me?”). And then faces rugby player Nick... Not bad, but not the documentary of the festival either. Three stars.

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