23 Feb

Where there is wheat there is inevitably chaff. And February’s cinematic harvest has produced an inordinate amount of chaff, as evidenced by the dross currently being served up at the box office. It’s a veritable graveyard out there at the moment and unfortunately it’s one that is populated by the likes of Danny Dyer, annoying kids with tambourines and Nic Cage’s flaming head.

Ghost Rider

Oscar season 2012 threw up very few surprises, but the one nomination that had critics audibly gasping in disbelief was the Best Picture nod for Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. Stephen Daldrey’s 9/11 drama, so roundly derided by the press as manipulative, mawkish, self-important and dull, tells the tale of Oskar Schell, an 11 year old boy who loses his father (Tom Hanks) in the 9/11 attacks. In a veiled analogy of how the West has vainly tried to deal with the traumatic aftermath of that dreadful day, autistic Oskar figuratively spends what seems like aeons searching for a door that fits a mysterious key that he finds amongst his father’s belongings. File this one under extremely crass and incredibly tedious.

Next up, Nic Cage reprises his role as Johnny Blaze AKA Ghost Rider in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. Look, it’s Nic Cage with a flaming skull head on a flaming motorbike. There’s nothing else to say. Except that maybe it’s in 3D. Of course it is…

A change of pace is on offer with The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, a British ‘comedy’ about a group of retirees who travel to India on the assumption that they will be residing in the relative luxury of the aforementioned hotel. But oh wait, hilarity ensues when guess what, it turns out to be a dump. And oh how we’ll all guffaw when Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy et al struggle to adapt to their less than luxurious surroundings and oh won’t we all get that warm fuzzy feeling when in fact the entire experience enriches their lives.

So, from some of Britain’s finest acting talent it’s onto…Danny Dyer. Dyer, cast against type (!) as Frankie, a schizophrenic prison escapee murderer, fronts Deviation, a film in which entirely nothing happens other than Dyer driving around with hostage Amber (Anna Walton) killing people and calling people “PROPER MUGS”.*



From one nutter to the next, it’s onto Woody Harrelson in Rampart. Harrelson plays corrupt LAPD cop Dave Brown, who must face up to the consequences of his actions in light of the Rampart scandal that has blighted the force. Harrelson dazzles as he cracks skulls, boozes and womanises his way around LA, while the likes of Ice Cube and Sigourney Weaver try to coax him onto the straight and narrow.

We’re sticking with cops as next up is Safe House which stars Denzel Washington as crooked ex-CIA agent Tobin Frost who is forced to go on the run with rookie agent Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds) after their safe house is compromised. Cape Town provides the spectacular backdrop to this somewhat formulaic game of cat and mouse, but a snarling Denzel might justify the ticket price alone.

Rounding things off, it would be amiss of me to neglect to mention Dogwoof’s latest addition to their burgeoning pantheon of superb documentaries, Position Among the Stars. Leonard Retel Helmrich’s final part of his trilogy is a poignant snapshot of the travails of the Sjamsuddin family living in the slums of Jakarta as they struggle to make ends meet. A bright spark amidst a sea of mediocrity.

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