FILM OF THE WEEK: Monsters
Saturday May 17, Film4, 9pm
You might be hearing the name Gareth Edwards quite a lot at the moment. He’s the young British director that Hollywood has trusted with $160m to reboot the ailing Godzilla franchise. Given movie studios’ willingness to flash the cash, this doesn’t seem so remarkable, but it actually represents a huge leap of faith – Edwards has only ever made one film before and, for all intents and purposes, it was entirely homemade.
That film was Monsters, which looks as epic and polished as any big budget sci-fi blockbuster, but was made on a microbudget in just about the most unconventional way imaginable. Edwards and his crew of just four employed guerilla filmmaking tactics throughout the shoot: pitching up at real locations in Mexico and Central America without any permission, grabbing people on the street and asking if they wanted to be extras in the movie. Once the footage was captured, he edited it and added all the visual effects himself. In his bedroom. Using software that anyone can go and buy off the shelf.
The results are genuinely impressive. While the script (a lot of which was ad-libbed) isn’t exactly award-winning, the atmospherics created as we watch a beleaguered couple’s voyage through an apocalyptic quarantine zone under threat from unseen extraterrestrial monsters is utterly beguiling. As it turns out, letting Edwards loose on Godzilla wasn’t such a risk at all.
SET THE RECORDER FOR:
Saturday May 17, BBC Two, 12:10am
Probably the most commercial film of director John Sayles’ career, Lone Star is the film that should have cemented him the status amongst audiences enjoyed today by the likes of the Coen brothers or Paul Thomas Anderson. It didn’t – Sayles chose to remain true to his socially-conscious independent roots instead – but that’s no excuse not to revisit this masterful work. On the face it a fascinating murder-mystery, as Chris Cooper’s small town sheriff investigates a 40-year-old murder that may or may not have been committed by his father, Lone Star is also an acute mediation on America’s political and racial hypocrisies.
Mesrine: Killer Instinct
Sunday May 18, BBC Two, 12:25am
If there’s one thing French cinema was never particularly noted for, it’s the gangster movie (erroneously so – it has actually made many classics over the years). That all changed with Mesrine: Killer Instinct, the first of a two-part biopic of notorious French criminal Jacques Mesrine. No matter that you’ve likely never heard of him – by the time the credits roll you’ll be glad you witnessed the tale of a man who juggled bank robbing and kidnapping with writing two best-selling novels and dabbling in romantic poetry. Make no mistake about it though – Mesrine was still a ruthlessly violent gangster, and Vincent Cassel, a powerful screen presence ever since his debut in Mathieu Kassovitz’s La Haine, is an electrifying force in the lead.
The Lincoln Lawyer
Wednesday May 20, Film 4, 9pm
If you want to know where Matthew McConaughey’s ‘McConaissance’ began, look no further than The Lincoln Lawyer. Up until this point he was still the romcom king; thereafter he went on a streak that included William Friedkin’s Killer Joe, Steven Soderbergh’s Magic Mike and, of course, the Best Actor Oscar for Dallas Buyers Club. Modest in ambition, The Lincoln Lawyer is still a terrifically entertaining legal thriller, with McConaughey proving his serious acting chops alongside the likes of Bryan Cranston, Marisa Tomei and William H. Macy.
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