Senna / Last Night (sort of)

By إبن البيطار (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia CommonsJust for a change, here’s a film and a half. I don’t mean, “Wow – that was a film and a half!”. I mean I saw a film then half of another one.


Plot-in-a-nutshell: documentary about the life and times of F1 racing legend Ayrton Senna using archive footage.

See it if you like: Formula 1. Or in fact, even if you don’t. It’s worth a watch either way.

I am not an F1 fan. I appreciate the technology and so forth, but I find the sport itself deathly dull. The only way you could make F1 more boring would be to take out all the corners. Well done, America, with your NASCAR nonsense. Seriously, an oval?

However, I really enjoyed this film. Senna was a lunatic – any racer or racing fan will tell you that. He drove cars past their limits and seemingly had no fear of coming to a fiery end. He was very much a genuine natural talent at what he did – and sadly didn’t get a chance to do it for as long as he or his fans would have wished. I’m assuming this isn’t a spoiler…

The film is made completely of edited archive footage. Home video, news broadcasts, race footage – you name it, it’s all used in there. Commentary is provided by overdubbed speech from the time or more recent interviews, all in original language with subtitles where required. It is very much a documentary but one which has been edited incredibly well, especially in terms of pace.

Our story opens in the early years, and focuses on Senna’s family life and early start in Formula 1. A large section covers his love/hate/loathe/despise relationship with Alain Prost and his rise to the top of his game.

And then we start to approach that incident. At which point director Asif Kapadia slows the pace down. We start to cover individual days… then hours. We know what’s going to happen. And it’s almost an awful feeling as we can see it looming until it hits. Just like the accident itself, swiftly and suddenly.

The whole move manages to tell a superb story without bogging things down with mawkish interviews. It’s very much seen from a Senna point of view (Prost comes off looking very much the bad guy – deservedly or not, we’ll never know) and some of the footage is incredibly engaging, in particular the scenes from the pre-race drivers’ meetings.

As I said, I’m not a fan of the sport but this is a superb example of a documentary. If the film can make you interested, even if only for a while, in something you’d otherwise not show an interest in… then that’s good film-making.

Last Night

Plot-in-a-nutshell: a seemingly happily married couple each spend a night out in different cities with a bit of “will (s)he, won’t (s)he” tension around the people they’re with.

See if if you like: being able to leave early to get dinner rather than having to sit through the whole thing.

Dear Grud, what a tedious film. There was about 20 minutes of argumentative whinging between Keira Knightley and Sam Worthington until finally they both go to different nights out – he with a woman from work (Eva Mendes) that Knightley is sure he’s banging, she with an ex that I think she was shagging while they were engaged. Or something. Frankly I’d stopped caring by that point and was spending more time looking at my watch or the insides of my eyelids than the screen.

Honestly, if I had Keira Knightley around I’d still bugger off with someone else if she acted like the spoilt little cow she comes across as in this. It wasn’t enjoyable to watch. Simply frustrating. And slow. And boring. And going nowhere by the 45 minute mark so I gave up and went home.

I came close to walking out of Pirates 4, and wish I had. I didn’t make the same mistake again.

Crap. Avoid.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Unstoppable London Boulevard

Two more films to make up for last week’s drought, courtesy of some kids’ film taking up all the new screens.


“In training they just give you an F. Out here you get killed.”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: Runaway train!

“Based on real events” apparently, but who cares. Unstoppable is ninety minutes of being sat on the edge of your seat despite knowing perfectly well how it’s going to end. Denzel Washington and Chris Pine play two train drivers (yes, I know there are technical terms – I don’t care) who get caught up in a potential disaster. A huge train laden with dangerous chemicals is belting along the tracks towards a township, and *dramatic drum roll* only they can stop it.

The film has all the stereotypes. There’s a guy with marital problems. Another pushing retirement. A tough female who’s belittled by the powers that be. A twat of a company director.

Tony Scott‘s done a great job with what’s a very simple story. We don’t spend too much time messing around with character development when all we’re really interested in is the BIG SODDING TRAIN. There’s actually very little destruction in the film (it’s Scott, not Michael Bay after all), so it’s more in the thriller camp than an action film.

If you’ve had a tough week at work, then this is an ideal movie to go and see. Switch your brain into neutral and shovel the popcorn into your gob while Unstoppable washes over you.

London Boulevard

“Fahk awf. Cahnt.”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: Don’t make me angry. You’d not like me when I’m angry. I turn into a gangster.

A hell of a cast, this one, led by Colin Farrell as a released convict who’s expected by his peers to get back “on the game”. However, he really doesn’t want to. The local kingpin, however, has other ideas and it rather insistent.

Farrell manages to almost drop his Irish accent for this one, whereas Keira Knightley hams up her posh one playing a strung-out ex-actress. Who really needs to eat more. And wear a padded bra. Just saying, sorry. Ray Winstone is cast as the big, bad gangland lord which means he gets to swear a lot and be violent. So no typecasting so far.

My choice for best performance of the film goes to David Thewlis, who plays a wonderfully scatty friend to Knightley’s recluse. His character ranges from stoner to thug without ever seeming as if he’s acting unnaturally. Genuinely wonderful to watch.

London Boulevard flips from violence to humour to emotional and touching from scene to scene, often meaning that it seems a little jumpy. However, the story is good enough that it really doesn’t matter.

At risk of giving a spoiler (do stop reading if it worries you, just in case), the film’s similarity to Layer Cake is emphasised by the ending which is just too samey.

I enjoyed it, though. A very good story (even if it’s unoriginal), great performances and some genuine laugh out loud moments.

Enhanced by Zemanta