Tuesday’s Overlooked A/V: 22 Bullets

In the crime zone lately (I have so much to catch up on!) although last night we watched Resident Evil: Afterlife which might as well be called Resident Evil: We Don’t Even Bother with Narrative, as they just string along a bunch of things that happen and shoot a lot of zombies and edit poorly and leave huge gaps of logic for you to fill in on your own time.

Ahem.

L’Immortel, released to English speaking audiences as 22 Bullets has a few gaps of logic and/or huge plot holes and dubious scenes of varying believability, but it also has Jean Reno. And as the target audience of ResEvil doubtless thinks about Milla Jovovich in tight-fitting trousers, that can be enough to keep one interested for the length of a fast-paced film.

The plot, as capsulised by Wikipedia: “For three years [retired gangster Charlie Mattei] has led a peaceful life and devoted himself to his wife and two children. His past catches up with him when he is ambushed in a parking lot and left for dead with 22 bullets in his body. Against all odds, he survives to take revenge on his killers.”

Based on the book L’Immortel by Franz-Olivier Giesbert, the film retells incidents from the life story of real gangster Jacky Imbert, whose ‘nickname “Jacky Le Mat” means “Jacky the madman” in Provençal.[1] He is also known as “Pacha” and “Matou”.’ I can only guess that either the novel or Imbert himself came up with those fanciful scenes of high speed chases on a motorcycle, as it’s a difficult thing to do with one arm paralysed. It’s a good bit of mayhem and double crossing, as you know will happen once you have three young men in a flashback swear to be friends even into death.

It’s kind of nice to see the casual diversity of the French crime world; whereas the American or British crime films tend to represent different ethnic groups as traditional opponents, there’s an interesting mix of cultures without any grandstanding or exoticism.

It’s kept from being a Movie With 1 Woman by the (for this film) nuanced portrayal of the dogged investigating officer, Marie Goldman (Marina Foïs) who battles her own despair and thirst for revenge for her husband’s death against the practicalities of working for a corrupt boss and penetrating an intricate criminal network.

Worth a look; see Todd’s blog for the round up of over looked films.

The Claddagh Icon

Review: The Wolfman

I had planned to write this yesterday until sidetracked by other news. I managed to catch the first matinee at the Spectrum (oh, how lucky to have the Spectrum!) and had a small crowd with which to see it, as it’s not the usual fare of that venue.

The short review: it was fun! I enjoyed it immensely and not always ironically 😉

The filmmakers really tried to capture the Universal monsters feel albeit with swanky CGI, speedy camera movement and a whole lot of gore. There was so much digital fidgeting that the settings looked as fake as an Universal set. You would think that in a film with an historical consultant (and a tarot consultant, Shakespeare consultant [really want to see del Toro’s Hamlet!] and Siekh consultant) someone would have mentioned that you don’t blow out oil lamps, but simply turn the wick down. Facts — phht!

The cast was excellent; I think the director’s charge to Benicio del Toro was simply, “Okay, now SMOULDER!” He was very subdued at the start, as was Anthony Hopkins throughout. Yes, I know, you were expecting scenery chewing, but Sir Tony really kept his cool. Never raised his heart rate 😉 And I think they were surprisingly clever and insightful as they developed the answers to the “del Toro is Hopkins’ son?” question quite admirably.

Of course it’s always surprising for a young man to find that his brother was about to marry Queen Victoria; poor Emily Blunt was “the Girl” or more precisely for this film, “the sexual enticement” because that’s what The Wolfman is all about. In the usual oversimplification of the past that inevitably happens in films, the Victorian-era sexuality repressed becomes lycanthropy (I love when Blunt pages through the coincidentally handy Big Book of Weird with a serious expression, researching lycanthropy).

Yes, it’s another Movie with 1 Woman: this film is all about dangerous masculinity on the loose. Sure Geraldine Chaplin takes over the gypsy crone role made famous by Maria Ouspenskaya with more make-up and less panache, but she’s just there to supply facts — as is the pub owner’s wife. No, it’s all about the sexual temptation. There’s a great scene where del Toro breaks out in sweat just glancing the little bit of skin that peeks out from Blunt’s collar.

Unbridled masculinity — it’s a monster!

Think about it — when the wolfman changes, he gets all hairy and things…grow. He sprouts long hard nails, he loses all reason and gets all violent. It’s Super Bowl Sunday all over again.

There’s a whole Englishing to the script that’s meant to heighten the sense of emotional and sexual repression, but it’s so self-conscious and over the top that you practically expect the Inspector to greet the first killing scene with “Here’s a howdy-do!” I did laugh out loud when they said his name (yes, I was the only one to do so) but it was a nice link, though they could have done a little more with it. Ditto the silver cane. I loved that they started with the rhyme as a headstone; fun. Loved the London scenes, especially the Wolfman astride the griffin, howling.

That’s all I can do in a spoiler-free review; more to say when some of you have seen it, which I do recommend.