The Clash Film Column: Who You Gonna Call?

If there’s an action flick in the making, Liam Neeson, obviously…
Harold Ramis

If you’re a child of the 1980s, you definitely felt the passing of one of the decade’s film greats…

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That Was The Week In Which…

Harold Ramis (pictured) died.

If his role as bespectacled Ghostbuster Dr Egon Spengler (“Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light”) had been the sum total of his work, Ramis would’ve been remembered fondly.

Yet Ramis’s talents also extended to directing – Groundhog Day (“This is one time where television really fails to capture the true excitement of a large squirrel predicting the weather”), National Lampoon’s Vacation (“I’m on a pilgrimage to see a moose”), Caddyshack (“Ahoy polloi!”) - and writing (both Ghostbusters films, Stripes). Hey, even the Bedazzled remake wasn’t that bad if you discount Liz Hurley’s as-wooden-as-a-wooden-table (made-out-of-wood) delivery. All of that combined is a pretty sensational return if you’re one of those movie-making folks.

Let’s face it: anyone with even a passing interest in Ramis or regular collaborator Bill Murray will be repeatedly re-watching Groundhog Day until the end of their own mortal days. And that’s about as glorious a tribute as anyone could desire.

Ghostbusters, trailer (1984)

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The Big Film: Non-Stop

Gentle Celtic giant Liam Neeson has been typecast of late, essentially making the same movie over and over like he’s in some kind of real-life personal Groundhog Day (yes, there’s a Taken 3 on the way). But we wouldn’t have it any other way.

To be fair, he’s done plenty of other work in recent years – including supplying voices for animated features, being The Chronicles Of Narnia’s Aslan and stepping into Greek god territory as Zeus. He’s even appeared on stage in Jeff Wayne’s musical version of the War Of The Worlds. But it’s Bryan Mills in (2008’s) Taken that has cemented his reputation as action hero extraordinaire, and it’s this side of Neeson that audiences seem to want to see.

Non-Stop is a tamer Taken. It’s dumb, censor-trimmed, action-led fun at 40,000 feet, as US-air-marshal-with-a-drink-problem Bill Marks (Neeson) attempts to rein in a hijack situation. A little bit Flight, a little bit every other terror-in-the-sky thriller you can call to mind, it’s also an Agatha Christie-style whodunit with a credible cast including Julianne Moore, Lupita Nyong’o and Michelle Dockery to boot.

Jaume Collet-Serra, who directed Neeson in Unknown, keeps the direction taut and fast-paced to craft a ‘90s-feel suspense thriller with enough laughs and self-awareness to elevate the audience to a position as lofty as the plane itself, inviting us to join in with the affectionate mocking, which in turn makes us love it. Words: Kim Francis

Non-Stop, trailer

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Also Out: We Are What We Are

Being a cannibal is no fun. Pensioners have the chewy consistency of biltong: their skin weathered by 80 years of disappointment and self-loathing. No one knows the correct gas mark with which to cook a pancreas. And you never quite escape from the eerie suspicion that you’ll get a pubic hair stuck between your teeth like particularly curly floss.

Just like a people-eater trying to find sustenance at a catwalk show, the world of indie horrors generally offers slim pickings. Remakes. Reboots. Uwe Boll. It’s enough to cast you into an eternal Nietzschean funk.

A remake of the grimy, almost social realist Mexican horror of the same name, We Are What We Are excels at the genre’s trickier attributes. It looks fantastic with a sombre, washed-out palette. Thematically it warps tradition, religion and matriarchy into something sickeningly sinister. The atmosphere forebodes too, with hints at the mysteries hidden by the Parker family.

It’s not so successful when it comes to pacing as the tale trickles down its grisly stream, thus rarely allowing that atmosphere to flourish into something more exciting. The pay-off, however, is as flesh-chewingly excessive as anything since Claire Denis’ Trouble Every Day.

We Are What We Are, trailer

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New Talent: Julia Garner

Who? Dark dramas and horrors are the speciality of the 20-year-old American, with her porcelain skin and wild hair a memorable match for both genres.

What’s she been in? Highlights include a small role in the excellent cult drama Martha Marcy Marlene May, a lead in the bizarrely plotted Electrick Children, and another substantial performance in the idiotically titled The Last Exorcism: Part II.

What’s coming up? She’s the pick of a decent cast of We Are What Are (eyes upwards if you’ve already forgotten) and has a part in the upcoming Sin City sequel A Dame To Kill For (playing Martha, which should appeal to fans of long-winded symmetry).

She says: “I think that the most important thing for me is how is the character that I would be reading for? Is it interesting? Is there stuff to do? Are there things that you can do with the character? How can you play it out? Just those kinds of things that are very important for actor.” (link)

They say: “She still has this child-like wonderment in so many ways, and so many things just come to her so naturally,” says We Are What We Are director Jim Mickle.

Electrick Children, trailer

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Shorts

Everything remains awesome for The LEGO Movie (featured last week), which stills rules at the UK box office and has now surpassed The Wolf Of Wall Street in terms of total revenue. Not much is happening in terms of new entries, with Nymphomaniac and Only Lovers Left Alive (reviews) debuting in the mid-teens.

It’s the Oscars this weekend, but you knew that. If you want to watch it on a legitimate service, it’s live and exclusive on Sky Movies Oscars. Alex Zane will be doing his funny(ish) thing as host if that sways you either way.

Finally, the Internet’s leading MS Paint enthusiast Jim’ll Paint It delivered a wonderful tribute to the late Harold Ramis:

 

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Words: Ben Hopkins (except where indicated)

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