1 April 2013-04-01

Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook

 Out in the UK this week


Silver Linings Playbook (EV, cert 15, Blu-ray/DVD)

Almost entirely brilliant from first breath to last gasp, David O Russell’s beautifully made, perfectly acted adaptation of Matthew Quick’s novel follows bipolar Bradley Cooper and his faltering relationship with fellow psychiatric case Jennifer Lawrence. If you’ve ever doubted Lawrence’s epic ability, watch this. In fact she’s so good – essentially mainlining Juliette Lewis – that she forces a good performance out of Robert De Niro, who is just one nugget of brilliance in a cast including Jacki Weaver (if you haven’t seen her in Animal Kingdom you have missed out) and Chris Tucker (entirely forgiven for those Rush Hour films with Jackie Chan). Intelligent, emotional, gripping – that’s enough, isn’t it?

Silver Linings Playbook – at Amazon



The Heist aka Maiden Heist (Signature, cert 15, Blu-ray/DVD)

It has taken four years for this film to creak out onto DVD. It is, as the title (originally The Maiden Heist) suggests, a caper movie, and stars Christopher Walken, Morgan Freeman and William H Macy as security guards in an art gallery who decide to heist the works they have fallen in love with, rather than see them shipped off to Norway, to be replaced by conceptual works featuring the artist’s penis, if I remember rightly. As a heist movie it’s competent, as a comedy (which is what it foolishly sets out to be), it’s less so. At one point William H Macy does comedy running about – always a sign of desperation – and Macy also does a fair few nude scenes. So for some people, their ship has probably just docked. It’s not awful – Walken, Freeman and Macy all know what they’re doing, they’re always worth watching. Er…

The Heist aka Maiden Heist – at Amazon



10 Years (High Fliers, cert 12, DVD)

Aiming to be The Big Chill for the N’Sync generation, this high school reunion drama stars Channing Tatum, Justin Long, Rosario Dawson and Kate Mara, all of whom sit snugly in a universally tight ensemble who catch that odd note of regret and exuberance that seems unique to reunions. Yes, there is the initial suggestion that this is a film done on the lam – Tatum, for instance, has the paunchy look of a Hollywood star who put his face back in the trough once shooting on The Eagle was over. But it’s a much more accomplished film than that, and skilfully weaves many isolated stories into a satisfying whole.

 10 Years – at Amazon



The Road: A Story of Life and Death (Verve, cert E, DVD)

Marc Isaacs is an amazing documentary maker and The Road – focusing on the A5 as it runs out through Kilburn in North London – is an amazing piece of work. A snapshot of London, it also chronicles a process of renewal, with Isaacs capturing the moment when one generation of immigrants (among them a Jewish refugee from Hitler and an Irish man who spent a lifetime on the roads and railways) yields to another. If this sounds a little arid, Isaacs makes it anything but with his close access and intimate questioning getting the sort of answers from his interviewees that make the eyes widen.

 The Road – A Story of Life and Death – at Amazon



C’était un Rendezvous (Spirit Level, cert E, Blu-ray/DVD/download)

In 1974, having just finished a film with Catherine Deneuve, under budget and with a single can of unexposed film left, nouvelle vague auteur Claude Lelouch decided to strap a camera onto the front of a car and send it haring through the streets of Paris at dawn. The stunt got Lelouch arrested but C’était un Rendezvous is the result of it, a hair-raising single-shot dash whose soundtrack comprises an engine urgently changing up and down the gears and tyres squealing through the corners. Watch it with headphones on, Richard Symons of Spirit Level Films told me. I did. And as the car went through the corners, I found myself leaning left and right into the bends and hitting the imaginary pedals. It lasts only nine minutes, but it is nine minutes of visceral excitement.

C’était un Rendezvous – at Amazon


Everyday (Soda, cert 15, DVD)

Michael Winterbottom’s drama stars John Simm as a man in prison and Shirley Henderson as the wife trying to keep the family together between prison visits. It was shot over five years, so we see their children grow up, and delivers two familiar messages – that criminality passes down through families, and that it’s the family who suffer when someone is inside. Slight but beautifully acted (special mention for the kids).

Everyday – at Amazon


Baise-Moi (Arrow, cert 18, DVD)

If Thelma and Louise had been written by Quentin Tarantino and was populated entirely by porn stars, it would have something of the lurid grunge factor of Baise-Moi, now released uncut with the offending 10 seconds of material reinstated in the brutal rape scene near the beginning. It stars Raffaella Anderson and Karen Bach as a pair of good looking girls on a revenge spree who seem particularly good at fellatio and killing men. Note how when a man turns up in Baise-Moi, within minutes he’ll either have his cock out or his head blown off. Or both. The reason why this notorious item isn’t considered to be hard core pornography is because a) there is a story of sorts and b) it’s French.

 Baise-Moi – at Amazon


© Steve Morrissey 2013

Cream: Farewell Concert

Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker and Eric Clapton of Cream



You don’t see films about popular music stars of the 21st century on the big screen too often. Recently Katy Perry and Justin Bieber have managed it, and a few years back there was Dig! – about the rivalry between the Brian Jonestown Massacre and the Dandy Warhols – which almost qualifies. But the back end of the 1960s saw the beginning of a run of them, from 1969’s Monterey Pop film, then on to the Rolling Stones’ Gimme Shelter and Woodstock in 1970, before everyone – Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Led Zeppelin – got in on the act. Director Tony Palmer got in early and used his record of rock supergroup Cream’s last concert, originally conceived as a programme in the BBC’s arts strand Omnibus, to convince the world, in a slightly desperate and unnecessary manner, of the relevance of rock musicians (some of them were classically trained, you know).

Then rock was still new and exciting and frightened people. Now, with rock in the phase where it creatively recycles itself, as jazz does, it is a good time to look back on the moment when blues and psychedelia met and gave birth to the baby we’re still holding today. Then, stylish bassist Jack Bruce and crazed drummer Ginger Baker were every bit as well known as Eric Clapton. Now they’re footnotes and only Eric is remembered (though “White Room”, a Jack Bruce song, will survive long after the band members are all dust.) Consisting of the guys gigging at the Royal Albert Hall in November 1968, intercut with interviews backstage, it’s a direct link to the era when rock gigs were recorded with scant regard for sound quality, though the 2005 remaster does clean things up a lot and adds a few more songs. “Sunshine of Your Love” kicks things off, before the band run through a greatest hits set list including “Politician”, “I’m So Glad” and “Toad”, Baker’s steamtrain of a drum solo. There are only six songs in the original film (ten on the remaster) and from the way the band interact musically – they’re all at full stretch almost throughout, improvising like crazy – you’d never guess that Bruce and Baker in particular really didn’t get on. Connecting the whole thing together is a totally square voiceover by Patrick Allen (who refers to the band as “The Cream” throughout). And as for Palmer’s freak-out psychedelic camerawork – like wow, man.

© Steve Morrissey 2013


Cream: Farewell Concert – at Amazon