Cinema trips last week: Whiplash (5/5), Foxcatcher (2/5) and Birdman (4/5). Maybe I’ll review them soon. Realistically, probably not. There are these things called dissertations at university and apparently I have to write one. My home viewing has also been slacking but that’s a positive if anything because it means writing this post will be a lot shorter than usual. As hinted in the title, this might be the last WIWLW for possibly ever. I’ll introduce some new categories in its place. Maybe bring back my infamous movie plagiarism rants. Then Jeremy from Cinema Sins will hire me and give me his internet money.
Speed (1994) – 2/5
Director: Jan de Bont
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock, Dennis Hopper
Keanu Reeves is making a McConaissance-esque comeback right now but there was a time – well, most of his career – when he appeared in absolute trash like this. Point Break and the first Matrix are about his only films that hold up, and that’s more to do with the lumbering presences of Garey Busey and Laurence ‘Samuel’ Fishburne than any acting efforts on his behalf. In Speed he pretends that he’s a cop whose best friend is the un-funny half of Dumb and Dumber and whose job it is to drive a van extremely fast (well, 50mph, which is sorta fast, I guess) in order to stop Dennis Hopper from laughing manically. Why Dennis, why? You were in Apocalypse Now and Blue Velvet, and here you are getting decapitated so that a second rate action hero can crack a third rate pun (‘He lost his head’). If you know anything about Speed, it’s probably to do with the travelling lunatic/new age mystic who is pursuing a lifelong quest to collect every single VHS copy of the film in the entire world, which is roughly as hard as it is to pay attention to this film for more than fifty seconds.
The Place Beyond the Pines (2012) – 4/5
Director: Derek Cianfrance
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Rose Byrne, Ryan Gosling, Ray Liotta
Star-crossed enemies Luke (Ryan Gosling) and Avery’s (Bradley Cooper) lives are forever changed when the former commits a string of bank robberies that the latter is forced to stop. More heart wrenching than cupid’s toolbox and more coincidental than even the laziest Dickensian novel (although thankfully nobody spontaneously combusts), The Place Beyond the Pines is engaging because of the turns it takes when it reaches major forks in the storytelling road; where most films would screech to a halt, this implacably mysterious family drama makes the most unexpected choices, at one point skipping an entire fifteen years . There is a karmic energy to the film, but it never feels engineered.
‘If you ride like lightning, you’re gonna crash like thunder’. This is an absolute cracker of a line, a line which sent shivers down my spine every time I saw the trailer, a line which made me want to see the film just to experience its power when delivered on the big screen. As it happens, when this scintillating wisdom is at last dropped by Ben Mendehlson’s car mechanic/walking Budweiser advertisement, it is so utterly cringeworthy and out of place within the films setting that it transcends the disappointing, almost reaching the giddy (from breathless laughter) heights of Cormac McCarthy’s unbearably pretentious musings in The Counsellor. It would have had more luck in the corny, buttered and salted screenplay of the above-reviewed Speed, which takes place in a world so removed from reality that a civilian woman (without a valid license) can be told by a gun wielding robo-man to captain a bus at maximum velocity – occasionally guiding it across 50 feet gulches or else the vehicle will explode – and she be completely ok with it.