10,000 BC (2008)
Steven Strait, Camilla Belle & Cliff Curtis. Narrated by Omar Sharif.
Written by Roland Emmerich & Harald Kloser.
Directed by Roland Emmerich.
Roland Emmerich is the master of big budget Hollywood garbage and his latest film is no exception – an absurd tale combining woolly mammoths, saber-toothed tigers and pyramid building. There are primitive men and women with manicured dreadlocks and immaculate teeth, an extraterrestrial ‘god’ figure and allusions to Atlantis. What Emmerich and his co-writer lack in character development and competent dialogue, they make up for with impressive CGI. But this doesn’t make for an entertaining experience, for what audiences really crave is a damn good story and that is something Emmerich and his cronies never deliver. Watch Quest for Fire instead.
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)
Brad Pitt, Casey Affleck, Sam Rockwell, Mary-Louise Parker & Sam Shepard.
Written & Directed by Andrew Dominik.
Australian director Dominik’s second film is an outstanding achievement – a deliberately-paced examination of the cult of celebrity. Detailing the events proceeding the death of Jesse James by the man who claimed to be his biggest fan, Dominik’s film is a class act in every department. Monumental production design and costumes, wonderfully nuanced performances from Pitt, Affleck and the entire cast, and a raw emotive score by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis. One of the greatest films of this genre ever made, and certainly one of the greatest American films of the last decade.
Reese Witherspoon, Jake Gyllenhaal, Peter Sarsgaard & Meryl Streep.
Written by Kelley Sane.
Directed by Gavin Hood.
When an Egyptian-born American is suspected of having links to a terrorist organisation, he is detained at a US airport and eventually flown to an undisclosed location abroad. There he is put into the hands of a nasty interrogator, overseen by CIA operative Gyllenhaal. Meanwhile, the man’s pregnant wife (Witherspoon) grows increasingly frantic as the search for her missing husband is blocked at every turn. Well-acted drama is a frightening indictment of the abuse of power and the radical degradation of civil liberties due to the so-called ‘War on Terror’.
(Wadrick Jones is a freelance writer for GritFX and will post weekly thirty second film reviews on this blog.)