Cinema Review: Cold Comes the Night

cold_comes_the_night

 

DIR: Tze Chun  WRI: Tze Chun, Osgood Perkins, Nick Simon  PRO: Mynette Louie, Trevor Sagan  DOP: Noah Rosenthal. • ED: Paul Frank  • DES: Laurie Hicks CAST: Alice Eve, Bryan Cranston, Logan Marshall-Green

 

Chloe (Eve) is the owner of a sleazy motel whose inhabitants are predominantly prostitutes and junkies. The reason for the griminess of the motel’s customers is largely down to an agreement Chloe has with local, crooked cop Billy (Marshall-Green), in which he gets a cut of her profits in exchange for him turning a blind eye to the lurid activities that take place in the motel. Chloe is under pressure from social services to find a more suitable environment for her to raise her young daughter Sophia in. The trouble is that Chloe struggles to make ends meet with the motel as it is and does not have the capital she needs to start a new life. However, when an incompetent sociopath is killed in her motel, Chloe is forced to help his blind partner in crime, Russian mobster Topo (Cranston) relocate a stash of money that was in the dead man’s car, and which has been taken by Billy. Initially scared of Topo, Chloe gradually begins to wonder if this might be an opportunity for her to get the extra cash she needs for her and her daughter to start a new life.

While this may all sound terribly generic, Cold Comes the Night eschews such accusations, through virtue of its pervasive oddness and unintentional hilarity. What was going through the mind of whoever thought it would be a good idea to cast Bryan Cranston as a Russian mobster is anyone’s guess? It is not just the thickness of the accent that raises chuckles but also the insistence that his character drops ”the” from every sentence. What makes matters even more curious is the fact that there is no real thematic reason for his character to be Russian. It’s as if the director, Tze Chun, simply thought it would be fun to experiment with how far he can take a well-respected character actor out of his comfort zone.

Marshall-Green does his best not be outshone by Cranston in the laughing stakes by giving one of the largest performances seen on screen in some time. It’s up to Eve to attempt to ground the film in some sort of believable reality. Having, earlier on in the year, been the subject of the Hollywood male gaze at its most cretinous, in a notorious, tastelessly gratuitous semi-nude scene in Star Trek: Into Darkness, Eve is here allowed to create the closest thing to a real character in the film. While her portrayal of a good mother and hard-working, if morally dubious, woman is quietly impressive it is hardly likely to be mistaken for something out of a film by The Dardenne Brothers in terms of its realism.

There are some unqualified successes- Noah Rosenthal’s cinematography is appropriately cool and distanced, while Jeff Grace’s excellent score keeps things enlivened. But if this film is likely to be remembered for anything, which in itself is highly unlikely, it is for how disastrously the film utilises its genuinely talented actors, particularly Cranston, and the question as to how, indeed, these actors came to be involved in it in the first place?

One wonders if the film isn’t in fact some grand postmodern joke. Just what universe is this film supposed to be taking place in? It is so utterly misconceived and so relentlessly ridiculous that it is certainly never boring. While that may not count as a recommendation for this ludicrous slice of pulp, it’s hard not to have some affection, or perhaps some sympathy, for something as harmlessly daft as this.

David Prendeville 

15A (See IFCO for details)

90 mins
Cold Comes the Night is released on 20th September 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cinema Review: Men in Black III

 

DIR: Barry Sonnenfeld • WRI: David Koepp, Jeff Nathanson, Michael Soccio • PRO: Laurie MacDonald, Walter F. Parkes • DOP: Bill Pope • ED: Wayne Wahrman, Don Zimmerman DES: Bo Welch • Cast: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Alice Eve

Men in Black III comes 15 years after the first offering and 10 years after the second. Over time, we have learned our lesson about sequels the hard way, and now assume that anything that comes after the original will suck all of the charm from what we originally fell in love with. Somehow, the Men in Black have timed their return perfectly and proven that, occasionally, sequels can add something special to the original.

For the forgetful: the Men in Black are a secret government agency dedicated to keeping track of aliens on Earth and dealing with any potential threats. They are as conspicuous now as 15 years ago, but when you have many gadgets available to you, one needn’t worry about being questioned. Nostalgia is the ultimate key here as we remember the previous offerings throughout.

Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) and his young recruit Agent J (Will Smith) are under the instruction of Agent O (Emma Thompson). It’s important to be up-to-date on the alphabet in this agency and it seems as though our heroes are continuing to do well since we last visited them. Of course, this is the movies, and all good things must come to an end.

The hilarious Jemaine Clement plays an ugly alien named Boris the Animal who has managed to escape from a maximum-security prison on the Moon. Whilst this is inconvenient by anyone’s standards, unfortunately Boris has a major vendetta to settle with Agent K for the small matter of shooting his arm off. He hatches the ingenious plan of going back in time and killing Agent K. When K disappears without a trace, it seems his prodigy is the only one to notice. As J questions his absence he is met with odd looks and the information that K has been dead for years. The only option for J is to travel back in time and rescue his mentor from the alien threat before he is ultimately lost to time.

Josh Brolin expertly plays the young Agent K. So convincing is his performance that the audience would be forgiven for thinking that it is simply Tommy Lee Jones wearing an obscene amount of prosthesis. As soon as Brolin speaks in his effortless Jonesian drawl, we can almost feel the relief director Barry Sonnenfield is said to have felt at his convincing portrayal. His performance is so close to perfection, that it is almost unnerving until we settle into it.

Much has happened since the first Men in Black movie hit our screens. The one noticeable shift in attitude between this and the first movie is that the semi-outsider narrative evident in the aliens then, has been transformed into an insider narrative as the alien threat walks amongst us unnoticed. It may simply be a sign of the times, but it is an important shift in social attitudes and is very effective here. It’s also refreshing to see megastar Will Smith has remained grounded enough in his meteoric rise to Hollywood royalty to effortlessly recreate the often-silly scenes required here.

So whilst it’s easy to remain unenthusiastic about the onslaught of sequels we are subjected to, this third installment of the Men in Black franchise is different. Packed full of ingenious monsters, hilarious comedic moments and excellent performances, Men in Black III is not to be missed.  Men in Black III manage to escape the danger of becoming dated by time and Brolin’s performance alone is worth the price of admission.

Nostalgia viewing at its finest, offering a surprisingly satisfying emotional payoff for something we weren’t aware we had been missing.

 

Ciara O’Brien

Rated PG (see IFCO website for details)
Men in Black III is released on 25th May 2012

Men in Black III  – Official Website

 

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She’s Out of My League

She's Out of My League

DIR: Jim Field Smith • WRI: Sean Anders, John Morris • PRO: Eric L. Gold, David B. Householter, Jimmy Miller • DOP: Jim Denault • ED: Dan Schalk • DES: Clayton Hartley • CAST: Jay Baruchel, Alice Eve, T.J. Miller, Mike Vogel

There’s a pattern at work here. Someone somewhere comes up with a neat little way of explaining something that seemed obvious to the rest of us – for example, why beautiful people tend not to go out with ugly people. This idea makes its way through society from conversation to website to glossy magazine before coming to its final resting place in a Hollywood romantic comedy, the elephants’ graveyard of ideas. This romantic comedy will have a hero who is the last person in the Western world to hear of this idea, so that the action can come to a complete stop about a third of the way through for it to be explained to him (or her) at length by one of his (or her) cynical, sassy, sarcastic friends. In She’s Out of My League our hero is Kirk (Jay Baruchel) and the idea is that if you rate a person’s attractiveness out of ten, that person will never go out with someone more than two points above or below them. You see Kirk, a ‘nice guy’ in a dead-end job – in other words a 5, has fallen for the beautiful, successful, charming Molly (Alice Eve), a 10.

Baruchel turned in a great little performance in Tropic Thunder and was one of Seth Rogan’s group of goofball friends in Knocked Up. Well here he’s come of age with a group of goofball friends of his own. Chief of which is T J Miller playing Stainer and clearly desperate to stake his claim as next in line to lead a rom-com and group of friends (although I preferred Nate Torrence as the more optimistic and less loud Devon). So far it’s all bog-standard, sub-Apatow rom-com stuff.

The film did make me laugh once or twice and there are some good ideas in there. I liked that Kirk is perfectly cool around Molly, until he realises he actually has a chance with her. It’s a pity that the whole thing mostly relies on tired comedy set pieces that are either misjudged (the final one in particular) or just fall flat. The real pity is that Baruchel and Eve are a likeable and believable couple. Their scenes together are the only times the movie comes to life and I think they could have carried it if it wasn’t for all the dead weight.

Geoff McEvoy

She’s Out of My League is released on 4th June 2010

Rated 15A (See IFCO for details)
She’s Out of My League – Official website

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