Films of the week: A passionate call to revive a spirit of collectivism
Friday 21 June 2013
The Spirit of '45
(Ken Loach, 2013) Using talking heads, fabulous archive footage and the music of the period, Ken Loach's documentary evokes the mood of the immediate post-war years, when a defiant spirit of collectivism led to the birth of the NHS and the modern welfare state. And with endearing optimism, it argues that if we can regain that public mood, the good fight against Thatcherite market forces might still be on. ****
(Cameron Crowe, 1989) Cameron Crowe's debut film is one of the loveliest teen movies of the Eighties, and the motormouth high-school graduate Lloyd Dobler is one of the defining roles of John Cusack's career. The film is best remembered now for the iconic scene in which Lloyd holds aloft a ghettoblaster playing Peter Gabriel, in order to woo back the school brainbox. ****
Brothers of the Head
(Keith Fulton, Louis Pepe, 2005) The director's previous film was the excellent documentary Lost in La Mancha. This one is a convincingly faked documentary, based on a 1977 Brian Aldiss novel, that tells an alternative history of English pop culture in which a pair of conjoined twins (Harry and Luke Treadaway) led a successful and influential punk rock group. Weird, cool and more than a little bit messed up. ****
(Neil Burger, 2011) Putting to good use the fallacy that humans only use a small percentage of their brain power, this flashy techno-thriller gives protagonist Bradley Cooper a designer drug that lets him tap into the rest. Effectively, it's a superhero movie in which the hero's new power is intelligence. Sample dialogue: "Read Brian Greene's Elegant Universe in three days – and I understood it!" ****
(Ken Loach, 1990) Starring Robert Carlyle and Ricky Tomlinson as non- unionised labourers on a London building site, Riff Raff still has a strong social conscience but it is one of Ken Loach's lighter-hearted films: an ensemble comedy full of naturalistic banter and earthy humour. There's a romantic subplot, too, though it isn't as convincing or engaging as the workplace scenes. ****
The Hurt Locker
(Kathryn Bigelow, 2008) Action films have long used the unexploded bomb as a device to generate tension and suspense in a scene. This multi Oscar-winning war movie, which puts you right there, in the dust and in the moment, with the members of a US bomb disposal unit in Iraq, has dozens of such scenes, at regular intervals, and is exceptionally sweaty and intense as a result. Jeremy Renner stars. *****
(Paul Verhoeven, 1997) Unless you consider Showgirls an elaborate joke at Hollywood's expense, then this garish, gory and highly entertaining sci-fi action film ranks alongside RoboCop as Paul Verhoeven's most satirical work. Earth is at war, and various square-jawed, Aryan-looking youngsters are recruited, trained and then sent off to do battle with massive, insectoid aliens. Casper van Dien stars. ****
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