The Clash Film Column: Does Whatever A Film Column Can

He's electric: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 reviewed…

Really? We’re still having these Cobain-was-murdered discussions? What are we, 14?

- - -

That was the week in which...

The trailer for Soaked In Bleach was released.

Last Saturday marked the 20th anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death. By Monday, the first trailer for Soaked In Bleach, a docu-drama examining the death of the Nirvana frontman, was online.

To paraphrase the film’s official blurb, the film ”reveals the events behind Cobain's death as seen through the eyes of Tom Grant, the private investigator that was hired by Courtney Love in 1994 to track down her missing husband only days before his deceased body was found at their Seattle home.” It adds that Grant “did his own investigation and determined there was significant empirical and circumstantial evidence to conclude that foul play could very well have occurred.”

The trailer makes a compelling case for Grant’s claims, as it should do: many similar conspiracy theories would also appear to be convincing if edited into a four-minute package of the strongest evidence which supports just one-side of a particular argument. The counter-argument is that documentary filmmakers have a vital role to play in examining the validity of all manner of official stories.

Only time will tell whether Soaked In Bleach represents exhaustive investigative journalism or is simply more crass sensationalism. The irony is that it’s unlikely to sway the staunch belief of those who are firmly convinced that Cobain’s death is either suicide or something more sinister.

Soaked In Bleach, trailer

- - -

The Big Film: The Amazing Spider-Man 2

The release of a fifth Spider-Man film just 12 years since Sam Raimi’s Tobey Maguire-starring first suggests a near infinite excess of narrative ideas for our web-wielding hero. That, or perhaps it means that Spidey’s real special power is a licence to print money. The motive matters not, for Andrew Garfield’s second outing in the title role does exactly as you’d expect it to.

Unfolding over the course of over 140 minutes, as if grandiosity is a desirable trait in its own right rather than a misfortune, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 masks the paucity of its largely obvious A-Z plot with enough visual spectacular to trick your mind into believing that a whole lot more is happening than it really is.

This time around, Peter Parker’s relationship with Gwen Stacy becomes more on than off, especially when Jamie Foxx’s stalky Max has an accident so severe that the authorities would need a record-breaking bribe to stop them from closing down Oscorp on the grounds of lax health and safety. And so Spidey’s new foe Electro is created: a malevolent force who could so easily have been a powerful ally.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is almost a comedy warped into a superhero caper, especially with numerous puns based on the idea that Parker’s powers would bring him first world problems. Often, though, the comedy and the baddies veer towards the kitsch, which is especially true of Paul Giamatti’s Rhino. Surely a misanthropic alcoholic would instead be the perfect basis for a superhero’s nemesis.

By the end, though, you’ll remember the sizzling spectacle of Electro; a huge scale set-piece in Times Square; the cataclysmic climax; and, erm, Gwen being impressed that Parker used his Spidey skills to stalk her. It’s big, bold and mostly fun.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is out on Wednesday, April 16th.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2, trailer

- - -

Also out: Calvary

Calvary: the site of Jesus’ crucifixion. In this film about a priest practising in a small coastal community in Ireland, director John Michael McDonagh examines religious faith within a compelling whodunit framework. It begins with a threat made on a priest’s (Brendan Gleeson) life in the confessional box.

Disclosing his childhood abuse at the hands of a man of the cloth, the confessor reveals his plan to kill Father James in seven days as retribution. From this point on, Gleeson’s impassioned, pensive ecclesiastic flits from troubled soul to troubled soul, offering words of help and salvation as he attempts to make sense of things and battle the weariness of burden.

Filled with ‘sinners’, this bleak, remote settlement is a limbo for those awaiting judgement. Gleeson’s clergyman wields the gavel but he’s also sympathetic, stoic, moral – and human – with a deep understanding and acceptance of the flaws inherent in human nature.

A meditation on what it is to have faith, the film may knock certain aspects of organised religion but it sends an overriding message that faith can have a positive effect on individuals, giving a sense of morality, community and direction. For all its darkness, Calvary is shot through with humour, its wry script adding poignancy to a tragic denouement. Words: Kim Francis

Calvary, trailer

- - -

New talent: Maisie Richardson-Sellers

Who? Exactly. The case of Maisie Richardson-Sellers has forced us to change this section’s normal format.

Why? Because what’s she’s been in doesn’t amount to much. At present she has five stage credits – all of which were held in Oxford – and, according to IMDB but not her own CV, the short film Our First World. The latter is credited to the Oxford/Saint Petersburg-based director Alexander Darby, who curiously enough doesn’t list it on his own website.

So why should I care? Because Richardson-Sellers is rumoured to have been cast in a “possibly major role” (link) in the new Star Wars film, despite been almost entirely unknown. Although still only ranked around the 365,000 mark on IMDB Pro’s STARmeter, she’s a good five million places higher than she was last week.

They say: “Richardson-Sellers creates a protagonist that is patterned with a residue of understanding and misunderstanding.” The Oxford Student on her performance in They Will Be Red

IGN reports on Richardson-Sellers' potential casting...

- - -

Shorts

The avian species didn’t get much screen time in Darren Aronofsky’s Noah (reviewed last week), but their vengeance has been completed with the news that Rio 2 pipped the epic to the top of last weekend’s UK box office. Captain America was stuck between them at #2, like the superhero filling in a very surreal sandwich.

Exeter’s Vue cinema cancelled its first showing of Noah due to flooding. The culprit wasn’t God, merely a faulty ice machine. Unless, of course, God decided that the famous flood was a little excessive and decided to downgrade future incidents.

Finally, a weekend freebie: Shaun Of The Dead is now 10 years old and director Edgar Wright has marked the occasion by releasing free illustrated screenplays for SOTD, Hot Fuzz and The World’s End. Which was nice of him. Grab ‘em here.

She’s not drunk, gents. Just go back inside the house. Like, now…

- - -

Words: Ben Hopkins (apart from where indicated)

More Clash film content.

Buy Clash Magazine
Get Clash on your mobile, for free: iPhone / Android

 

Have your say

Sign in or Register to leave comments
-