TL;DR This Week In Cinema
Welcome to the Beat's weekly rundown of what's hot in the coming seven days of cinematic releases. February is quite literally going out with many, many bangs - this week, the screens are dominated by action.
There's something to appreciate in every one of these epics. Well, except for one of them. So let's just get that out of the way first...
13 HOURS: THE SECRET SOLDIERS OF BENGHAZI
I am a lover of action films and an unapologetic loather of Michael Bay, who is to filmmaking and storytelling what Donald Trump would be to the presidency. Guilty pleasure from his earlier efforts (Bad Boys II, The Rock) does little to combat the sting of how disgustingly successful the abhorrent Transformers saga was at the box office.
But here's the rub: in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, blowing shit up and yelling about it was at least relatively harmless. Now the king of explosions has applied his ever-so-subtle touch to a real situation in which real people died. The ramifications of which are still being felt in global politics.
Oh, and if that wasn't foul enough, it's two-and-a-half hours long. Certainly a great deal longer than the producers took to consider the families of those who died.
tl;dr Much as I want to use explodey gifs, fuck this film. I'm out.
GODS OF EGYPT
Now this is a little more like it. But who would have thought that the panoply of ancient Egypt's many gods would be entirely white?
Don't despair immediately - dumb as it looks, it could be fun! If we're lucky, it could hark back to the glory days of The Mummy. It's big original CGI action madness from Alex Proyas, director of The Crow and Dark City, plus we get to watch Jaime Lannister (Nicolas Coster-Waldau) punch on with Leonidas (Gerard Butler) in what must surely already be the subject of fan fiction.
And if all that doesn't float your boat, you could always root for the Aussie. He is, after all, the mortal underdog.
tl;dr Nicolaj teaming up with an Aussie again? That didn't end so well last time.
Joel and Ethan Coen balance out the Bay in this week - they're now Hollywood's go-to script analysts and still pumping out incisive, intelligent and hilarious films of their own every years.
This time, they bowl us a slow one - Hail, Caesar! is a rather gentle effort from the Coens, carrying all of their trademark wit and candour with little of the consequence and existential dread that characterise the best of their ouvre. Their latest outing is a bit of a puff piece, a love letter to Hollywood, though it's exquisitely shot by the incomparable Roger Deakins.
With its star-studded cast and good-natured humour, it's the cleanest film on offer this week, and the only thing not exploding.
tl;dr Topping The Big Lebowski? Would that it were so simple.
SON OF SAUL
You thought this week was all fun and games? Folly. Pure folly.
Son Of Saul beat out The Assassin for the Critics' Choice Best Foreign Language film, presumably for its unflinching and historically resonant take on the harsh realities of life in the Sonderkommando, where Jewish men were forced to partake in the machinations of the Holocaust. The titular Saul seeks redemption by claiming a dead child as his own and seeking its rightful burial. And this is László Nemes' first film.
Shot wholly in close-up and devoid of soundtrack, it's as heavy and unforgettable as you'd expect. You've never seen World War II like this.
tl;dr Mr. DeMille, we're not ready for this close-up.
PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES
And just like that, we reach the polar opposite. Based on an extremely silly book (itself the bastard offspring of Jane Austen and George Romero), Pride And Prejudice And Zombies takes the cash-in fad of the undead and applies it to the outdated comedy of manners.
Two hours of prim young ladies resisting the pressures to marry whilst sharpening both their social skills and their swords on the undead skulls of their former peers? An expensive one-note joke featuring two Game Of Thrones alumni (Lena Headey and Charles Dance) and the last Doctor Who (Matt Smith)?
Sounds stupid. Two tickets please.
tl;dr Ladies, may I introduce your role model...
And now for THE VERDICT - maybe you only get the chance to see one of these flicks on the big screen, and you don't wanna waste that night out. So, drum roll please...
Honestly, there's only one film I wouldn't see this week - otherwise, take your pick of two big goofy action flicks, a sly homage to cinema's 'golden age' or a harrowing historical drama. Well, at least the one told with some goddamn integrity.
Until next week!
BY DAVID MOLLOY