Thursday, 1 March 2007

February film roundup

A Scanner Darkly *** - A deliberately confusing, overly serious but visually stunning examination of drugs dependency, given a sci-fi sheen by author Philip K. Dick. It's surprisingly heavy going, and the inclusion in the closing credits of a list of friends fallen (to drugs) is embarrassing, but it's still a thought-provoking film and you're guaranteed never to have seen anything quite like it before.

Ray *** - Despite a superb central performance by Jamie Foxx as the eponymous Ray Charles, this is less succesful than the other recent acclaimed musical biopic Walk The Line. Like the subject of the latter, Johnny Cash, Ray had his fair share of troubles as his success grew, including drug addiction and extra-marital affairs. The difference here is that the script makes him more a pathetic victim whose redemption lay in his music - whereas WTL had a more romantic streak. It's not a bad film by any stretch of the imagination, and of course the music is great, but it just misses the heights to which it aspires.

8 Mile *** - Also a music documentary of sorts: 8 Mile could be seen as a veiled biography of its star Eminem (at least, it's easy to get the impression that it was a very simple casting decision). I'm not generally a fan of the music or the lifestyle but there was plenty to hold the attention and actually I did rather enjoy the soundtrack. The outcomeof the protagonist's struggle is pleasingly left in some doubt until very near the end, with a pleasantly ambiguous finale.