Godzilla turns 60 this November. The King of the Monsters had a great run between 1954 and 2004, when Japan celebrated his golden anniversary by having him squash the life out of almost every monster in his rogue’s gallery in Godzilla: Final Wars; including dishing out a veritable curb-stomping to the mutant iguana beast of Roland…
Author David Neary
Sometime in the future, at least the future from 1987’s perspective, children will be glued to their TV sets by the adventures of T.J. Lazer, a space cowboy armed with a laser pistol and a devil-may-care attitude. It’s the sort of sci-fi hokum that entertains young boys and adults afraid of their own adulthood. It’s the sort of realm you might expect to find a robot cop.
But T.J. Lazer is the joke and RoboCop is the reality in Paul Verhoeven’s sci-fi classic; a triumphant action movie, moral tale and biting satire. The audaciousness of science fiction and the commercial nature of the action movie are realities that RoboCop proves itself to be aware of throughout, and also hypocritically revels in the freedoms they provide while critiquing their ills and inanities.
“Greed is good,” someone somewhere once said. I can’t remember who. By the time you’re done watching The Wolf of Wall Street, you won’t remember either. Because greed is awful. Just awful.
But oh is it tempting. Temptation really is the theme of this movie, the latest from Martin Scorsese, one of the last American masters still in the business. Working with one of the finest casts he’s ever assembled, from a merciless true-story screenplay by Boardwalk Empire boss Terence Winter, Scorsese draws you into a world of bacchanalian excess and grotesquery, and invites you to excuse all the illegal activity that funds it because… well… damn it looks fun!
Where to begin? This three-hour opus has been the talk of Cannes since its debut earlier this week, and at the time of writing is the forerunner to win the Palme d’Or. It had better. Tunisian filmmaker Abdellatif Kechiche has crafted a beautifully intimate film that introduces us to one of the most perfectly defined characters to appear in a movie in recent memory. La Vie d’Adèle (aka Blue Is the Warmest Colour) displays some of the most confident acting and storytelling imaginable.
Who doesn’t love a good thematic trilogy? Three Colours? Rosselini’s Post-War trilogy? Fassbinder’s BRD? Filmmakers can explore ideas of genre and the era in which they live through loose thematic constructs that somehow inform upon one another. Often a filmmaker, like Antonioni, will cast the same actor in different roles in each film, playing with concepts of identity and performance.
Nicolas Winding Refn finally broke out onto the international stage with Drive, his ultra-slick stripped-back thriller that won him the best director award here at Cannes in 2011. Returning to the festival with another violent thriller so stripped back its veins are oxidising, Refn has reunited with Drive star Ryan Gosling and the results are… troubling.
Hong Kong had already re-invented the cop thriller with the likes of John Woo’s A Better Tomorrow and Hard Boiled long before Infernal Affairs arrived. But despite a poster campaign that showed drawn guns held by tough-as-nails cops, there would be no slow-motion shoot-outs in burning buildings this time around. No motorbikes careering through windows. No slickly concealed weapons. And, most important of all, there would be no redemption.
It’s been 26 years since we last saw Superman punch a guy on the big screen. The sole attempt to bring back the last son of Krytpon since Christopher Reeve last wore the red cape, 2006’s cringe-inducing Superman Returns, saw Supes battling his greatest nemesis yet: an inanimate chunk of rock. That anti-climax is perhaps the greatest of the reasons that film, and the Superman brand, has suffered so hugely in the public consciousness. Rebooted here with the explosive verve of a Zach Snyder movie, this take on the Superman myth satisfies both those who crave faster-than-a-speeding-bullet aerial fistfight-ery and those who like their Christ allegories with really good hair.
The fifth feature from Sofia Coppola, The Bling Ring once more sees the director looking at the vapid excesses of the comfortable-off, and like her 2006 film Marie Antoinette succumbs to the vacuous nature of its subject matter. Based on the real-life ‘Bling Ring’, a gang of rebellious upper-middle class LA teens whose obsession with the celebrity lifestyle led them to start burglarising A-listers’ homes when gossip websites reported they were out of town, the film attempts to deconstruct concepts of fame and its pursuit.
I know what you’re thinking: “Did the world really need another vampire movie?” The answer is assuredly no. But then, did the world need a vampire movie directed by Jim Jarmusch? Certainly not! Are we better off that we now have one? Actually, yeah, a little. Jarmusch, one of American cinema’s greatest eccentrics, has dabbled with genre pictures before; his last movie before this was 2009’s esoteric hitman thriller The Limits of Control. Here once more he takes a done-to-death (pun unintended) genre and makes it distinctly Jarmuschian—more so, even, in that Only Lovers Left Alive seems to be repeatedly referencing the auteur’s filmography. There are tinges of Broken Flowers in the reunions of old friends and lovers, and a number of extended night-time driving scenes conjure memories of Night on Earth.