The Clash Film Column: It Never Rains, But It Pours

And did someone just say TOP GUN…?

You’d think a biblical flood would make for amazing cinema. Yeah, you’d think that…

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That Was The Week In Which…

Jerry Bruckheimer discussed Top Gun 2.

A quintessential 1980s favourite, Top Gun addressed America’s burgeoning military expenditure during the Cold War, with a homoerotic subtext prevalent throughout the gang’s curious balance of laddish bonding and alpha-douche rivalry. Renowned for the visceral thrill of its aerial scenes and rammed with memorable musical motifs (Kenny Loggins’ cheese-rocker ‘Danger Zone’, Berlin’s ‘Take My Breath Away’), it made Tom Cruise a star and worked wonders as a naval recruitment tool.

The prospect of a sequel has been on the cards for years, but the death of director Tony Scott stopped any momentum that the idea had. But now, Jerry Bruckheimer has confirmed that Maverick will return to the skies once more to demonstrate that drone technology is no substitute for a talented pilot who sports aviators (Bruckheimer didn’t actually mention the aviators).

It’s been 28 years since the original Top Gun was released and, without a director yet attached, it will be well over 30 by the time the sequel is in cinemas. Sure there have been slower sequels – had Bambi been real, he would’ve been worm food by the time Bambi II was released over six decades later. But can a ressurected Top Gun truly reprise its cultural relevance?

There is no way we’re not posting these videos after that…

Top Gun really is the most 1980s of all 1980s movies made in the 1980s, isn’t it?

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The Big Film: Noah

Amidst the speculation as to whether or not director Darren Aronofsky has remained true to the biblical story (Genesis 6:9 – thanks, Wikipedia), the more compelling question – is the tale of Russell ‘Noah’ Crowe and his big-ass ark (pictured, above) actually entertaining? – has slipped into secondary importance.

It’s fitting that a story as ludicrous is this is channelled loosely through a film that offers an equally bizarre level of bewilderment, not least in its sense of consistency. A hyperkinetic rush through the emergence of life on earth in the style of The Tree Of Life is as good as anything from Aronofsky’s filmography. By contrast, The Watchers – fallen angels cast in the shape of mammoth stone guardians – would be laughably unconvincing even in the inevitable Transformers versus Flintstones franchise collision.

Noah doesn’t really match the scale of the grand epics of days past but, bafflingly, nor does it really strive to. The floods are briefly thrilling, the ark towers over everything in a semi-believable fashion, and the battle between Ray Winstone’s merry band of meat-eaters and those damn Watchers is a guilty thrill. Yet most of what works best here is born from simple, intimate acting: Emma Watson’s grizzling sorrow when Noah threatens to kill her children; Logan Lerman’s anger as Ham is sent to the high seas without a wife.

Too limited in scope to convince as an epic and too mundane to work as a more fantastical voyage, this mostly passable take on Noah has committed the biggest dramatic sin possible: it’s rather dull.

Noah, trailer

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Also out: The Double

It would be fair to say that coming-of-age comedy/drama Submarine fitted Richard Ayoade rather well, so it’s interesting to see the British director take on a dark and forlorn thriller, with that same comedic touch.

Based on a book of the same name by the legendary Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Double is a truly Gogolesque theme from a time when Russian writers thrived on exploring the trials of the suppressed working class using dramatic motifs. For The Double, it blends the reality of schizophrenia with the concept of a doppelganger to thrilling effect.

Ayoade’s adaptation revolves around Simon James (played by Jesse Eisenberg, interviewed here), a hopeless button pushing office worker - with low self-esteem - trapped by his job in a bureaucratic limbo of banality. To his dismay, Simon James arrives at work one day to find James Simon – a gentleman of his exact appearance – wooing the office, seducing all and rising through the ranks with swaggering buoyancy. The two become allies, and these diametric roles pay testament to Eisenberg’s growth as an actor. But ultimate betrayal leads to a troubling climax that plays intricately on the complexities of mental health.

Much like the Coen Brothers’ Barton Fink or Scorsese’s After Hours, the film conjures a thick atmosphere of travesty and humour matched with Pinter-like dialogue to create a surreal microcosm. Once again, Ayoade succeeds in perfectly portraying a troubled male protagonist of modern literature. Words: Joe Zadeh

The Double, trailer

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New Talent: Max Irons

Who? A 28-year-old who has also modelled for Burberry, Irons comes from fine acting stock: his parents are Jeremy Irons and Sinéad Cusack. Young Max would’ve been very confused had he seen dad’s Dead Ringers when he was a small child.

What’s he been in? His first lead film role came in last year’s The Host which was an adaptation of Twilight Stephenie Meyer’s novel. He has also featured in Red Riding Hood, Dorian Gray and the BBC drama The White Queen.

What’s coming up? The most exciting project on the horizon is the cinematic version of the play Posh, centred around the elite Riot Club, modelled on the infamous Bullingdon Club. Directed by Lone Scherfig (An Education), Max lines up alongside a who’s who of ascendant British actors including Douglas Booth, Sam Claflin and Olly Alexander.

He says: “The Riot Club’s sole purpose is to celebrate wealth, elitism, hedonism, and excess – just random acts of destruction and chauvinism, which is interesting because our Prime Minister, our Chancellor of the Exchequer [and] the Mayor of London were a part of this club.” (link)

The Host, trailer

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Shorts

The start of spring saw Captain America: The Winter Soldier (review) go straight to the top of the UK box office with a gross of over £6 million. Another Disney title, Muppets Most Wanted, took just over a third of that as it Fozzied in at #2. The next highest new entry was The Legend Of Hercules at a less than muscular #9, while the excellent music documentary 20 Feet From Stardom debuted at #17. 

Russell Crowe has been almost everywhere in promotion of Noah. After the London premiere, he met the Archbishop of Canterbury. But in Dublin, Jedward turned up.

Finally, April Fools’ Day saw the world of film join in with the annual “arse about as much as you want as long as it’s before midday” festivities. Highlights included Paddy Considine’s stating that he’d signed up for a series of Expendables movies (“Gulf War vet declares vengeance on a group of old men,” says my great movie cliché generator), while film publicity team Fetch announced their upcoming animal B-movie, Catfurnado. A purrfect idea, but is it fur real? Help miaowt here...

Words: Ben Hopkins (except where indicated)

These columns run weekly, you know. So be sure to come see us again. More Clash film content here

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