‘Springsteen & I’
Springsteen & I takes a new approach to the idea of a music documentary, being neither a concert/tour film nor a biography. Instead it takes its cue from the crowd sourced Life in a Day. Like that experimental film, Springsteen & I is composed entirely of footage submitted by fans of Bruce Springsteen to the director over a short period last year. These include the expected stories about how his music has affected people’s lives and such, along with anecdotes about specific concert moments, nearly all of which have decent quality footage to back them up. It finds time to showcase a good number of his classic songs too. It doesn’t function as an effective introduction to Springsteen though, and like most music documentaries, it’s only really going to be of interest to existing fans. I’m sure many artists could be given a similar treatment, but few are as deserving as the Boss.
Belgian director Jaco Van Dormael’s long-in-development film Mr. Nobody originally debuted back in 2009, but most of the world only really got a chance to see it this year. It’s a hugely ambitious epic of life that begins in a future where humans have essentially conquered death by ageing. Nemo Nobody (Jared Leto in old man make up) is 118 years old and the last ‘mortal’ still alive. He recounts his life story, only he doesn’t appear to remember it exactly, and tells more than one story of his past, reflecting completely different paths his life could have taken based on certain decisions. It’s an incredibly intriguing film brimming with ideas about life, choices, time, mortality, chaos theory, and much more that entices you in with a cascade of startling images. As much as there are great elements to Mr Nobody though, it begins to wear around the halfway mark and just can’t maintain interest throughout. A highly original film, but one I wanted to love much more than I honestly could.
Here’s film that I never thought would be made. Universal thought producer/star Vin Diesel’s Riddick character from Pitch Black had enough potential to warrant a mega-budget film surrounding him in 2004, but that film failed critically and commercially. Undeterred, Diesel agreed to return to the Fast & Furious franchise in order to secure the rights to the character, and now, after his other series has lit up the box office, he’s able to return to this one. For this rare second chance, Diesel and series writer/director David Twohy apparently worked for many years developing the story, and Diesel mortgaged his house to complete it. Has all this hard work, free from studio constraints paid off? No. Riddick is a thuddingly dull film that finds Riddick awaken on some alien planet alone. He spends a little while fighting off weird creatures and then some bounty hunters show up. Riddick isn’t a bad character but it’s hard to see what it is that Diesel and Twohy love so much about him. When he’s on his own he’s not very interesting, and then the film abandons him for large swathes, focusing on the even less appealing bounty hunters. Twohy commits to making a more ‘badass’ film with lots of violence and swearing but Riddick is not a return to the tense Pitch Black, and still as much of a snooze-fest as Chronicles was. Maybe it’s time to give up?
I only just saw this Spanish film that originally came out in 2009, later winning the Goya award for best picture. It’s a unique prison film with a fantastic set-up. A newly employed guard is being shown around before he starts work, after a small accident, he’s taken to an empty cell to lie down, when suddenly a full scale riot erupts, taking over the whole prison. Alone, he must now pretend to be an inmate without letting anyone realise who he really is. Cell 211 jumps straight into the action, avoiding any prison movie clichés, and remains nail-bitingly tense, gripping, and shockingly unpredictable throughout. Try to catch up with it before the inevitable American remake appears.