The Clash Film Column: Interview, Declined

Should have sent Arec Barrwin…

North Korea in not being amused shocker…

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That was the week in which...

North Korea declared war on James Franco and Seth Rogen.

It sounds like a tagline for one of Michael Bay’s brash and brainless flicks, or an unreleased episode of South Park, but it’s seemingly true. The BBC has reported that a North Korea foreign ministry spokesman stated: “Making and releasing a movie on a plot to hurt our top-level leadership is the most blatant act of terrorism and war and will absolutely not be tolerated.”

The film in question is The Interview, a film in which Franco and Rogen play two celebrity reporters who are recruited by the CIA to kill North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Of course, it can’t be a particularly fun experience to discover that a whole bunch of people thousands of miles away have spent millions of dollars on a film that’s intended to make strangers laugh at your death. But it could be worse: they could’ve sent him a copy of The Number 23 on Blu-ray.

Assuming the whole story isn’t some sort of huge-scale joke intended to dramatically boost the film’s profile in one fell swoop, a far nicer result would be for Kim Jong-un to embrace his enemies. Franco could dramatically revitalise Jong-un’s sense of style and especially his haircut, and taking some tips from Rogen’s all-round blokey charm could reverse his ogre-ish reputation.

Maybe Franco and Rogen could reach out first: HEED THIS OPPORTUNITY! YOU CAN CHANGE NORTH KOREA FOR THE GREATER GOOD OF HUMANITY!

The Interview, trailer

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The Big Film: Cold In July

There are moments when Cold In July lives up to its stellar reputation and others where it appears to be the most bewilderingly over-rated film of the year. It commences with a moral quandary recalling A History Of Violence before quickening the pulse for some Cape Fear-style stalking. It then drifts into an almost satirical tribute to John Carpenter’s greatest hits and moves towards a conclusion that feels like a particularly challenging level of Hotline Miami. And it’s far odder than such a summary can explain.

Sporting a comedy mullet, Dexter’s Michael C. Hall leads as Richard, a shop-keepin’ everyman who blows away a burglar. The law says it’s okay and the community treats him like a hero, which leaves him even more confused by the emotional turmoil that his actions provoke. There’s not a great deal of time to worry about it, however, for his ‘victim’ is gaining an afterlife vengeance courtesy of his sinister father (Sam Shepard). Soon enough, the two became allies in one of the daftest plots twists of recent memory and are joined by a larger-than-life private investigator (Don Johnson) who immediately overshadows everyone with his blend of Texan clichés and extreme violence.

Director Jim Mickle can certainly capture tension and foreboding with the help of a Carpenter-style synth-heavy soundtrack and some gloomy cinematography. If you can forgive its dafter excesses, the plot moves in some entertainingly strange directions (notably with a nod to the long-forgotten world of VHS video nasties) en route to a finale that, contradictorily, is as predictable as they come. It’s good. It’s bad. It’s ugly. It’s Cold In July.

Cold In July, trailer

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Also Out: Mistaken For Strangers

Since Spinal Tap, stars have been mythologised, psychologised and rediscovered by the rockumentary director. Nick Broomfield played detective as he picked through the evidence which surrounded the deaths of Kurt Cobain, Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur, while Dig! and Some Kind Of Monster witnessed the implosion of the very bands under inspection. This latest addition to the rock doc genre, although ostensibly about The National’s 2010 tour, almost entirely neglects to include the band – fleeting figures in a film that instead concerns itself with unpacking fame, sibling rivalry and family.

In an effort to help his younger brother (and straight-to-video-filmmaker) find direction in his life, the band’s frontman Matt Berninger enlists Tom as a roadie. In this task, as in so many others, Tom is simultaneously enthusiastic and inept, preferring instead to point a camera at himself rather the band. Back stage, on tour buses and in bars, beers are drunk, tears are shed and arguments had as Tom picks through the footage of this band – itself made up of brothers – and slowly comes to terms with the nature of creativity and success in this strange and affecting movie. Words: Kingsley Marshall

Mistaken For Strangers, trailer

Related: Tom and Matt Berninger in conversation

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New Talent: Tye Sheridan

Who? A 17-year-old Texan who has already built an enviable filmography.

What’s he been in? After debuting in Terrence Malick’s The Tree Of Life, Sheridan excelled with a key role beside Matthew McConaughey in Mud and also with Nic Cage in Joe.

What’s coming up? There’s almost too much to list: The Forger with John Travolta, horror mash-up Scouts vs. Zombies, Last Days In The Desert with Ewan McGregor, the all-star Dark Places, and The Yellow Birds with Benedict Cumberbatch and Will Poulter.

They say: “Tye is just an exceptional talent. We know that and we’ve seen it time and again in his performances. I like to work with young people because young people haven’t had their dreams kicked out of them yet. They’re full of confidence and imagination and vision and when they score, that all gets empowered. Tye was a great example of that.” Nicolas Cage

He says: “That’s one of the coolest things about acting, I think, that you can be someone you’re not. I mean, that’s not you on the screen. Some of these characters are nothing like me. I’m not violent at all. I’ve never been in a fight. And it’s like, every film that I’ve been in I’ve gotten into some kind of fight. It’s cool because it gives you a challenge and you get to experience things that you normally wouldn’t in your own personal life.” Metro (US)

Joe, trailer

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Shorts

Eli Wallach (pictured) died at the age of 98 leaving a stunning filmography: The Magnificent Seven, The Misfits, How The West Was Won, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, The Godfather III and many more. His final films included Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps and The Writer.

Last weekend’s UK box office #1 went to the tearjerker The Fault In Our Stars. Clint Eastwood’s Jersey Boys and Kevin Costner’s 3 Days To Kill both hit the top 10 but took a combined total of approximately half of that of the still popular 22 Jump Street. If everyone who attended the same The Art Of The Steal press screening that I did had paid a tenner for the privilege, it would’ve added around 5% to its opening weekend total. Which is a long-winded way of saying that nobody much saw it.

A Kickstarter project is underway to finance a documentary about Shirley Collins, an English folk singer who joined the renowned songhunter Alan Lomax on a musical voyage of discovery across America’s Deep South. Much more more info can be found here

Finally, it seems that El Topo / Holy Mountain director Alejandro Jodorowsky and Kanye West are pals. Jodorowsky read West’s Tarot and described him as “a beautiful child-like soul”, which seems like a rather backhanded compliment.

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Words: Ben Hopkins, except where indicated

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