Only watched two films at home this week because I got a bike and it’s fast. Here are the verdicts.
Stand Up Guys (2012) – 2/5
Director: Fisher Stevens
Cast: Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, Alan Arkin, Lucy Punch
‘Woahh! Wowhh! You’re kiddingh meh? Me and Pacinoh; in a filmmm; togetha? Woww! With gunnns? Alright, yeah, oooh, hey, yeahh!’ (Christopher Walken being offered Stand Up Guys)
‘How much? Oh, eh, okay.’ (Al Pacino being offered Stand Up Guys)
Stand Up Guys is a straight-to-TV quality script acted by Oscar winning legends. It’s the septuagenarian’s Expendables, harking back to the glory days of King of New York, Serpico and Heat. Al Pacino emerges from a 20-something year stint in federal prison, having taken the hit for a crime he didn’t commit because he’s a stand up guy. Chris Walken, stand up guy that he is, remains faithful to his old partner in crime for the duration of Pacino’s unwilling vacation. But there’s a twist: Walken has to whack Pacino even though he’s his oldest friend. But there’s another twist: Pacino knows Walken has to whack him, but doesn’t care, so they have sex with prostitutes, reminisce, steal a car and crank up their characteristic facial tics and speech quirks to maximum capacity.
Il Conformista / The Conformist (1970) – 4/5
Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
Cast: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Stefania Sandrelli, Enzo Tarascio
Political thriller set during the rise of Italian Facism before WWII, adapted from Alberto Moravia’s novel ‘The Conformist’. A sheep-in-Wolf’s-clothing, Roman native Marcello Clerici (Jean-Louis Trintignant) is dispatched by his militaristic superiors to murder a well known Anti-Fascist ex-pat now living the life of bourgeoisie luxury in 1938 Paris. Clerici agrees to the deed, aware that his position as a trusted former student of the target, Professor Quandri (Enzo Tarascio), makes him an ideal assassin. His lack of conviction is clear from the start, and he struggles to hide it from his superiors and his trophy wife, a woman he confesses to have married to obtain ‘the impression of normality’.
Francis Ford Coppola and Brian De Palma were taking notes when they went to watch this 1970 espionage classic; the progressive, non-linear story arc – which sometime jumps backwards and forwards whole decades, often for only a few seconds at a time – and unfathomably emphatic filmic and lighting techniques paved the way for films of The Godfather, The Untouchables and The French Connection ilk. Trintignant’s balanced central performance is of great quality, bringing across the emotional turbulence of Clerici’s quandary while subtly telling of the extent of the damage caused by his troubled adolescence. Dominique Sanda is excellent as Professor Quandri’s seductive wife, pulling Clerici further still from his unwanted mission. Il Conformista is a special film, and I have a feeling that it went way over my head because I tried to read too much between the lines instead of focusing on the subtitles.