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Bruno Todeschini and Vincent Perez in Those Who Love Me Can Take the Train

Those Who Love Me Can Take the Train

A bunch of reasonably familiar French faces (Charles Berling, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi among them) all get together in a talky French Big Chill sort of affair, concerned with the interaction of lots of individuals, as was director Patrice Chéreau’s recent Queen Margot. Though here we’re in the present day and Chéreau’s characters are  heading off to the funeral of one of their number, a bisexual painter (Trintignant, who also plays his own brother) who’s had them all, one way or another. And they’re on the train, as his will commanded – he’s controlling them in death as he did in life. En route they expose themselves and each other, to their discomfort and … Read more
Robert McCall sits in a chair

The Equalizer 3

At the beginning of The Equalizer 3 we appear to be in familiar “action hero in retirement” territory. A sunny place. Beautiful scenery. The camera drinking it all in. Surely, any minute we’ll be meeting Denzel Washington in a Hawaiian shirt, a cocktail in one hand, a pretty young woman on his arm, in much the same way Matt Damon or Jason Statham were introduced in follow-ups The Bourne Supremacy and Mechanic: Resurrection. Instead director Antoine Fuqua gives us mayhem, horror, lakes of blood, a man with a machete buried in his face, and, sitting coolly in the middle of it all, one-man vigilante machine Robert McCall (Washington). He’s clearly laid waste to … Read more
Jason Statham as Adam Clay, the Beekeeper

The Beekeeper

Jason Statham enters the territory of John Wick, Taken and The Equalizer (feel free to add your own) with The Beekeeper, a midweight actioner marked out by spectacular fight sequences and violence that’s ingenious and gloriously brutal. He plays one of those retired guys who used to be something in the secret service. They’re never regular CIA or anything so crass, these ex-operatives, but onetime members of elite squads who can eat whole SWAT teams for breakfast, even though they’re now retired, out of shape and don’t really want to swing into action. But swing into action they must once they’ve been triggered by the death of a dog, in John Wick’s case, … Read more
Jordan Cowan as the Visitor

You’ll Never Find Me

Streaming channel Shudder picked up You’ll Never Find Me at the Tribeca Festival, proving yet again that whoever does the buying over there has an eye for a good horror movie. It’s an “it was a dark and stormy night” affair. A man sitting alone in his grungey trailer in the back of the Australian beyond is assaulted by a heavy pounding on the door. Reluctant to open up, he eventually yields, to reveal a young woman outside in bare feet, soaked to the skin and wide-eyed with fear. She’s been running, she says, from the beach through the storm. Warily he lets her in. And just as warily she enters. After all, … Read more
Poirot in the dark with a crucifix in the background

A Haunting in Venice

A change of gear for Kenneth Branagh’s third Agatha Christie adaptation. A Haunting in Venice isn’t as starry as Murder on the Orient Express or Death on the Nile, doesn’t start out with a captive roster of possible murderers and murderees and, to an extent, abandons the strict rationality of previous Hercule Poirot adventures for something a bit more supernatural. All three turn out to be changes for the better. This is probably the best of the bunch so far, though, full disclosure, I’m not really a fan of these things. Whether it’s Peter Ustinov, John Malkovich, Albert Finney, Ian Holm, David Suchet, Tony Randall, Alfred Molina or even Austin Trevor (first of … Read more
Still from Season 1 episode 1

Danger Man aka Secret Agent

Is Danger Man one TV series or two? It has two entries on the IMDb. There’s this one, for the original series, which ran 1960-1962, and this one for its second coming, 1964-1967, when the show in some places (the USA for example) went by the name Secret Agent and had a snappier theme tune (High Wire, played on a muscular harpsichord). In its native UK it was always Danger Man. There is an argument for treating them as different entitities but in essence they are the same thing, united by the presence of Patrick McGoohan as John Drake, dry spy extraordinaire – no guns, no girls, no gadgets, initially at least. Along … Read more
Noodle and Wonka out walking

Wonka

Wonka the origin story, with Timothée Chalamet the chocolatier of every child’s fantasy, in a movie aimed straight at those with a sweet tooth and a love of whimsy. Lacking edge, stakes, call them what you will, it’s one for lovers of the soft centre. So, right, yes, story – Wonka arrives in somewhereland (England?) in ye olden times on a boat, with a pocketful of sovereigns and A Hatful of Dreams (first of the Neil Hannon songs), loses all his money to various urchins and mountebanks, and winds up in the clutches of a Mrs Scrubitt (Olivia Colman) and right-hand man Bleacher (Tom Davis), trapped by a contract he too readily signs, … Read more
Spooky mystery figure

The Avengers: Series 5, Episode 18 – Death’s Door

Closer co-operation between European countries is a good thing, right? That’s the idea driving Death’s Door, an episode with a mind-control theme and a jaunty spy-fi approach to what is essentially an espionage thriller plot. But before the Europhobes get all steamed up, the co-operation, though never quite spelled out, appears to be more military than economic, more NATO than the EU (Common Market, EEC, EC – choose acronym according to vintage). I’m going on the various badges and insignia on display at a conference where Sir Andrew Boyd (Clifford Evans) is about to crown his career by leading different European nations into some sort of unified treaty arrangement. He never quite gets … Read more
A cybernaut at the door

The Avengers: Series 5, Episode 17 – Return of the Cybernauts

When the British Film Institute celebrated 50 Years of Emma Peel in 2015, as well as interviewing the venerable Dame Diana Rigg – halfway through her run on Game of Thrones at the time – the BFI screened two episodes of Peel-era Avengers show. Return of the Cybernauts was one (The House That Jack Built the other), chosen, presumably, because it had a big-name star in the shape of Peter Cushing in its cast, because it was something of a fan favourite and, I’m also guessing, because the production values were more polished than they had been hitherto. Because the show had been Emmy nominated, the ABC network ordered more, of which this … Read more
Kris and Naomi

See You Then

See You Then pulls a neat “did not see that coming” switcheroo early on, though a glance at any of the blurbs about the film will reveal what it is. It doesn’t matter much – it comes scant minutes in, so won’t ruin the fun. Two women meet up. They were evidently once lovers. Both seem nervous. It’s been a long time, at least ten years, since they saw each other. Kris (Pooya Mohseni) seems keen, nervous, Naomi (Lynn Chen) less sure, wary. Having got the “look at you”, “it’s been so long” niceties out of the way, the two of them head for a friendly restaurant, where Kris reveals that her changed … Read more
Jeremy Thomas and Mark Cousins en route to Cannes

The Storms of Jeremy Thomas

The Storms of Jeremy Thomas is a documentary for people who enjoy the sort of films that Jeremy Thomas gets involved with. The likes of The Sheltering Sky, Sexy Beast, Crash, High-Rise, 13 Assassins or The Dreamers. Smart, good-looking, slightly offbeat stuff, not arthouse exactly – his films are too starry for that. But not your Pixars, or Disneys, or Marvels or Foxes. Thomas is the producer or executive producer behind all of those movies, plus a long run of critical and box office successes going back to the 1970s. A “searingly bright” man of “great taste”, “totally playful” who can be “very serious”, says Debra Winger. “The dream producer… the enabler… so rock’n’roll,” … Read more
Kevin flies through the air towards an opponent in the ring

The Iron Claw

The family is a cult and the cult a family in the films of Sean Durkin. After Martha Marcy May Marlene and The Nest, The Iron Claw continues Durkin’s excavations with a biopic of the Von Erichs, a famous wrestling clan whittled away by a tragic curse. After a quick black-and-white preamble sketching paterfamilias Fritz’s own career as a fighter who failed to win the big prizes, Durkin goes curtain-up on the era of the retired fighter’s sons, the sun-kissed 1970s and beyond. Fritz, now a ballsy uncompromising martinet of the old school, is in charge of training his boys and of the wrestling franchise they fight in. By this point the family … Read more

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