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“Running With The Bulls At Pamplona?” MOVIES! Sometimes I Treat This Place Like I Own It!

John Kane

So, yeah, to help us through the content drought I one finger typed a few words about a couple of movies I watched. I hear people like the movies, popular amongst the younger crowd so I hear. So maybe you’ll like this? I don’t know but I know this – it’s FREE! People sure like FREE! stuff. Anyway, this…

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THE GUARD (2011)
Directed by John Michael McDonagh
Screenplay by John Michael McDonagh
Starring: Brendan Gleeson, Don Cheadle, Liam Cunningham, Mark Strong, David Wilmot, Katarina Cas et al.

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Did you like In Bruges? Firstly let me compliment you on your impeccable taste and, secondly, let me assure you you’ll like The Guard. That was easy. Cheers. Piece of piss this reviewing lark. I’ll have a Guinness, if you’re asking. What? Time to kill have you, okay then. Stand us a scotch and we’re off. That’s the ticket, cheers. Now then, like In Bruges The Guard is a blunt consideration of mortality smuggled in under the cover of comforting genre clichés. Here though the clichés are more tightly adhered to and, as most of them belong to the mismatched buddy cop comedy genre, this movie has a far more affable surface. You can’t get much more affable than lovely Brendan Gleeson can you now? Even though the grand lad himself is playing a man whose lust for life has found itself stunted by the life he has lead, and who now finds sour solace in baiting those around him, magical Brendan Gleeson still charms like nobody’s business.

Smashing Brendan Gleeson is of course one of those rare actors who makes whatever he’s in worthwhile at least while he’s onscreen. This is a problem in awful shite like that there Mission Impossible movie where, when the grand fella isn’t on screen, they might as well just turn it off and everybody involved, everybody who isn’t sweet Brendan Gleeson, should come out and apologise to you personally for the remainder of the running time. Fret not, this isn’t a problem in The Guard as everyone else in the movie is just grand too. Just not as grand as the grand lad himself, Mr. Brendan Gleeson. Even that there Don Cheadle fellow acquits himself well as the FBI man sent over to help the delightful Brendan Gleeson put a stop to some rum doings with drugs. In fact I’m pleased to report that having checked with everyone we, the peoples of the United Kingdom, have now decided to let Mr. Cheadle off for the debacle of his accent in those Ocean’s films.

It may well be the lesser role but Cheadle doesn’t bring any less to bear on his endearing performance as an essentially decent man hampered by his solipsism; a man silently and increasingly angry that everyone he meets is disappointed he isn’t from The Behavioural Sciences Unit (like in the movies, you know). The rotten sod role is split between three fine actors so (rather than In Bruges’ towering evocation of evil turdery as personified by Mr. Ralph Fiennes) here the evil is diffused across three equally strong performances which makes it a little more palatable as befits the (slightly) more comedic tone. Because, as I have probably failed to get across, this movie is very, very funny. Early on in the movie Gleeson dryly teases an overexcited rookie with, “So what you’re saying is, this could be the work of…a serial killer.” he’s having fun, but serious fun. And yes, serious fun can be done as it is here in The Guard (which is VERY GOOD!).

THE WOLFMAN (2010)
Directed by Joe Johnston
Screenplay by Andrew Kevin Walker and David Self
(Inspired by the 1941 Curt Siodmak screenplay)
Starring: Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt and Hugo Weaving etc.

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Sometimes I take time out from being a fussy prick and just watch stuff like this. This is the kind of film where a doctor bellows “This man could no more turn into a wolf than I could grow wings and fly through that window!!!” and you know exactly what’s going to happen in the next three minutes. How you react to this knowledge will, I predict, be an accurate measure of how you react to this film. This film being about lycanthropy in Victorian England. It’s OKAY! Nothing special really but nothing terrible either and there are, fair’s fair, some really nice bits. On a couple of occasions there are werewolf attacks and, man, these are pretty tasty coming across like shark attacks on dry land. Actually, that suggests the wolfman just lays there wheezily expiring while crusty villagers insolently kick him around a bit. That’s because I’m a bad writer.

In actual fact there’s people running and screaming while a furry blur swoops and loops around lopping off limbs and spilling intestines like egg noodles from a clumsy waiter’s tray. They are a bit over the top the werewolf attacks are, is what I’m saying there. And all the better for it. If there’s one thing this film would have benefited from (besides a bit of script polishing. The “My father told me…” scene in the pub just sits there like a daft lad waiting for his tea. That should have been a slam-dunk.) it’s a bit more gusto. GUSTO!

The only person having anywhere near enough fun with this stuff isn’t even a person, it’s a pair of sideburns which are wearing Hugo Weaving. Bafflingly Anthony “Hammy Horror” Hopkins declines to chew the scenery until the end when he is required to do so quite literally. For most of the film though the sneaky imp contents himself with tinkering and fiddling with stuff so as to draw attention from whoever else is in the scene with him. Emily Blunt has the most thankless role in the film (well, she is a Victorian lady) and works the minor miracle of making her nothing of a character appear somewhat independent and self-possessed without it coming across as anachronistic as wearing a miniskirt and body popping. Del Toro’s a bit disappointing and comes off as just being really, really tired or something like he’s really missing his dog back in L.A. Distracted, he seems distracted. His finest moment occurs on seeing the corpse of his dead brother, where he unleashes a Full On Frankie Howerd OOOoooooOOOOOO! of a look if ever there was one. I wouldn’t seek this one out then, but if I was sat there when it came on I’d stay where I was. Which is exactly what happened. Another glimpse into my rock’n’roll roller-coaster life there. You’re welcome.

(Any quotes are approximate but hopefully retain the spirit of the original. After all I hardly sit there with a notepad and pen whule I watch stuff. Expecting a bit much that is.)

And like Don Cheadle’s guilt – I’m gone!

That’s right! Those were movies – not COMICS!!!

5 Responses to “ “Running With The Bulls At Pamplona?” MOVIES! Sometimes I Treat This Place Like I Own It! ”

  1. “MOVIES! Sometimes I Treat This Place Like I Own It!”

    Given that no one else is posting any kind of written content around here anymore, you practically do own it.

  2. @Pete: Well, it’s just an unfortunate lull. It’s not every week Bionic Brian Hibbs is insensate with faceache and Graham and Jeff finally get their request for Conjugal visits to the Savage Compound approved.

    Don’t worry I’m sure that on Monday Big Top Brian Hibbs will be slapping up the Shipping List, and on Tuesday Graeme and Jeff will upset everybody by saying something about a thing and get everyone’s juices flowing again.

    Also, Bifurcated Brian Hibbs did spend 20 hours writing up that beast of a post about sales. I’m still trying to understand most of that but his enormous effort has not gone unnoticed. Just in case he thought it had.

    Have a nice weekend now, y’hear!

  3. It’s true: things are a bit quiet around here (sez the guy who’s dragging his feet starting in on the podcast editing, sigh).

    But these were some very lovely reviews, indeed. I very much appreciated the bit of info about The Guard since some review (can’t say where for sure–The AV Club, probably?) ripped that film a new butthole. But it sounds like even if the Brandon Gleeson love is toned down from John Kane levels to Jeff Lester levels, it’s worth checking out.

    The Wolfman is a tougher sell for me since Captain America confirmed what I’ve suspected since The Rocketeer, which is that Joe Johnston is cinematic valium for me–I just stare at the screen and fixate on how numb I feel.

  4. @Jeff: Well, Jeff Lester, I guess you could go with the opinion of the people whose job it is to know what they are talking about when it comes to movies. You could do that, Jeff Lester. Or, Jeff Lester, or you could take the word of a rambling eedjit who would happily watch Brendan Gleeson phone his plumber to ask where the stop tap is because his washer won’t drain.

    Okay, THE GUARD doesn’t work as a proper movie but it has scenes and performances that work so well you’ll forgive it its messiness. So it isn’t Rush Hour 3: Big Troubles In Little Oirland. Good. I say: good! Everybody out there should not get so hung up on that whole “beats” and three act structures stuff. Hang your arse out of the car window once in a while, folks! Please note that I’m using a figure of speech there not suggesting anyone literally does that.

    As for WOLFMAN, well, yeah, it was just OKAY! not GOOD! or anything. Even then it should be noted that I am notorious for having a low resistance to horror films featuring people in top hats and muttonchops screaming. Cinematic valium may be bang on! Altho’ I do like ROCKETEER – “It wasn’t lies, Jenny. It was acting!” Aw, yeah!

    Thanks to jeff Lester there; taking time out from his weekly Blow Out impression to bring the words! Cheers!

  5. Man, I loved The Guard. Whatever review ripped it a butthole was wrong, unless that was meant in a kinky way (hopefully)! If anything, it ruined Seven Psychopaths for me because the Guard was so much closer to what I want from a McDonagh experience, even if it was from a completely different McDonagh. The mix of sarcasm and sincerity was more to my liking. I don’t know– for me, it was just such a pleasant surprise because I hadn’t heard ANYTHING about it and it was just this movie that really invites a certain amount of co-conspiracy from the audience…

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