Back Roads

Harley and Callie confront each other

  Having played the junior James Bond figure Alex Rider in Stormrider, and then a few teenage heartthrobs before bulking up to become a kind of Channing Tatum in waiting, Alex Pettyfer takes control of his own destiny by starring in his own film. It’s his directorial debut and a pretty good one, a knotty piece of American trash gothic about a family in trouble. As we open, Pettyfer’s blood-stained Harley is being grilled by cop Robert Patrick. Why did you kill her, the cop wants to know. But the question this film actually asks is not why but who? We know it’s a woman who’s dead, but which woman exactly? Harley’s life … Read more

Catch and Release

Jennifer Garner in Catch and Release

    Having written the entirely acceptable Erin Brockovich and the entirely terrible 28 Days, Susannah Grant makes her directorial debut with a dog of a rom-com starring Jennifer Garner as the girl mourning the death of her fiancé, learning that he wasn’t as perfect as she had thought, and turning to his friend (Timothy Olyphant) for succour and much else besides. How awful a rom-com premise is that? Such was your love for someone, so impactful was his death, so stricken are you by the news that he might well have been a scumbag, that you decide to start making big eyes at the nearest available sexy guy. True, it might happen … Read more

Cape Fear

Robert De Niro as Max Cady in Cape Fear

It’s compare and contrast time. Max Cady, a psychopath recently out of stir after a long stretch for rape, sets out to terrorise lawyer Sam Bowden who he believes withheld information about his case at the trial which resulted in him going down. The original, directed by cult British director J. Lee Thompson in 1962, starred Robert Mitchum as the avenging psycho (a role he’d perfected in 1955’s Night Of The Hunter) and Gregory Peck as the apparently decent lawyer. Both turn up again in cameos in Martin Scorsese’s remake, in which things aren’t quite so clear cut. This time around Bowden (now played by Nick Nolte) is a lousy lawyer, and a … Read more

Natural Born Killers

Juliette Lewis and Woody Harrelson in Natural Born Killers

        Oliver Stone’s notorious film about two dim kids who kill a few people and become media celebrities takes two actors who weren’t exactly the go-to choices for crazy nutjob killer roles. Woody Harrelson was fresh from playing affable dunce Woody in Cheers and Juliette Lewis was uppermost in the mind as the daughter in Cape Fear. As it turned out the roles fit them like a second skin. As in similar gangster/road movies such as Badlands or Bonnie & Clyde, writer Quentin Tarantino and director Stone send their two fuck-ups off on a series of murders. But, unusually, they also send them off on a stylistic journey through a … Read more