If you’re anything like me, then you’re wondering how on earth it can be April already? The year has slipped by, and the first season of the year has passed – and by that, of course, I mean Oscar season, not winter. Yes, all of the gold plated statues in their freakish forms have been handed out to the other freakish forms that are Hollywood, and we’ve been in the post-awards season lull, awaiting the arrival of the next season: blockbuster season. (I also find it impossible to think of all these seasons without thinking of this. Oscar season – blockbuster season – FIRE!)
So if the sheer number of sequels and studio-produced product this year are giving you cold sweats (and it was giving me the shivers as far back as last summer) then be grateful for one more month before the giant exploding robot movies take over completely, and your fifteen screen multiplex has Harry Potter on eight of them and Captain Thor on the other seven. Of course, we’re not immune to sequels in April – Scream 4 and Winnie The Pooh both land in the middle of the month, but thankfully at least one of those looks like it was worthwhile; I have seen all three Scream movies in a cinema, so my attendance at the fourth is a given, but I will reserve judgement for now.
Not making the list this month are either of those, Winnie The Pooh losing out for using a fairly maudlin Keane song in the trailer – we don’t all want to be Eeyore, Mr. Disney. Your Highness has Natalie Portman in a bikini and a moderate line about triangle faces, but that’s it, and we’ve also got Gallic frippery in Little White Lies, moon based madness in Apollo 18 and Helen Mirren in a Darth Vader mask in the was-it-really-necessary Arthur remake. But none of those were quite interesting enough to make this list.
Duncan Jones isn’t a name to inspire the most active of imaginations in and of itself, but when you consider he spent a large chunk of his childhood being referred to as Zowie Bowie, then it’s hardly surprising he’d want a less outlandish identity. Maybe it’s this that’s drawn him to this tale of dual identities and men changing faces almost as often as his dad has changed identities, but it could just be because it’s another cracking sci-fi concept after his first film’s cracking sci-fi concept and execution, Moon. Either way, let’s hope Mr. Jones continues with the original content for now.
Speaking of original, it’s a crying shame that movies like this one don’t get a better deal on distribution. If you’re not in the vicinity of Cine Lumiere in London, then you won’t be seeing this on a big screen, and that’s a shame. Maybe it’s the subtitles that put people off, but I fear this is one that’s only going to find life on DVD. Almost makes you want to rent a hitman yourself. Almost.
There’s a number of things that qualify this for the Interesting of the title of this post. The cast is eclectic but solid, all of the big names having a big performance on their CV from the last few years. More unusually, this has been shot in 1.33:1; if you’re not au fait with your aspect ratios, that’s the same as old, pre-digital TV which is in the 16:9, or 1.85:1, format. (Most films are either in that or 2.35:1 these days.) That format is no doubt intended to reinforce the old-fashioned feel, and this is one Western that looks sufficiently out from the rest of the crowd for those reasons.
It would be remiss of me not to take the opportunity to both have my cake and eat it. So, if you’re going to see one sequel this month, after all my moaning about sequels earlier on, then my gut’s telling me it should be this one. If action movies are your kind of thing, then surely The Rock and Vin Diesel having a scrap should be worth the price of admission alone. My confidence in this is built up by the surprisingly decent fourth entry, which set out to be nothing more than a cool action movie with cool cars, and this looks like it’s continuing in the same tradition.
How I Ended This Summer
There are few greater pleasures when watching a trailer for the first time of stumbling into one film and then realising you’re actually watching entirely another. How I Ended This Summer’s trailer manages to swing from comedy to danger very successfully, but that’s more easily done in a two minute highlights package than in a full length feature. Still, when both halves look sufficiently worthy of your time then you’ve got twice the chance not to be disappointed.
The Extraordinary Adventures Of Adele Blanc-Sec
For some reason, I chose to skip this at the Cambridge Film Festival last year, and watch Winter’s Bone instead. This worked out well for me, as Winter’s Bone was stunning, but less well for Luc Besson, whose film I have not yet seen. (I’m sure he’s personally gutted by this turn of events.) I would normally take umbrage with a trailer like this, which tries to cover up the fact it’s in foreign by omitting dialogue of any kind, but the narration is rhyming, and there’s a pterodactyl or something, so I’m going to let it off.