This week, I have been mostly watching...
Bugsy (1991): 6/10
The Purge (2013): 5/10
Sullivan's Travels (1941): 8/10
In the Name of the Father (1993): 8/10
Your Friends & Neighbors (1998): 7/10
Starting off with the only movie which I saw at the cinema, I'm sorry to report that The Purge wasn't any great shakes. It's a shame too, since I loved the premise of this film. It's set around ten years time, in an alternative version of America in which for one night of the year, all crime, up to and including murder, is legal. The 'New Founding Fathers' of this brave new world are constantly on the television, trumpeting their achievements in establishing a place in which the ability for the masses to let out their basest instincts in an annual cathartic bloodbath, thus minimising violence for the remainder of the year. However, aside from the state sanctioned propaganda, it's clear that 'the purge' isn't really solving any problems - those rich enough to pay for protection are able to shelter for the night, whilst the poor and homeless are soft targets for the angry and the sociopathic. So, like I said, a very intriguing premise. Sadly, the director doesn't really delve into this world in any great depth, instead presenting us with a fairly ordinary home invasion thriller, in which a family is under attack from a group of rampaging 'Purgers'. The tension is built up pretty effectively, and I was generally enjoying things until the point at which the doors blew off and the house was under attack - after which the film collapsed in on itself like a deflated balloon. The 'Purgers' act in such an idiotic fashion that any sense of threat from them soon dissipates, and all of the action scenes are shot in an irritating shakey-cam style, meaning that it's hard to gather any sense of what's going on. It's all a bit of a shame, as there must be a brilliant movie which could have been made with the same premise - unfortunately, The Purge isn't it.
My pick of the week goes to In the Name of the Father, a powerful movie which examines the Guildford Four case, a famously tragic miscarriage of justice. Beginning in the early '70s, we follow the life and times of Gerry Conlon, perhaps the most famous of the Four, a petty thief from Belfast who was framed for the IRA Guildford pub bombings and remained in prison for a total of 15 years despite evidence clearing his name being available to the police. If it wasn't true, it would be hard to believe that something like this actually happened - but it seems that the desire to catch somebody - anybody - for the pub bombings led the police into a position in which they flagrantly abused their powers. It's a shocking story, but very well told, and features some splendid performances from Daniel Day Lewis (fantastic as usual), Pete Postlethwaite (as Gerry's father, Guiseppe Conlon) and Emma Thompson (as the crusading lawyer who brings the truth to light).
(In mentioning my favourite film of the week, I should also make a very quick shout out to the Preston Sturges comedy Sullivan's Travels, which was apparently a great influence on the Coen brothers, and remains very funny 72 years later...)
Kirk's Quote of the Week
I'm not really the heroic type. I was beat up by Quakers."