The LAPD fight to keep gangsters out of LA in a film that Stephen described as “one of those fine films that fills you with absurd excitement; the kind of film that has you imitating the characters for the rest of your evening.” I think Emma Stone might be in it, I can’t be sure.
Who really knows the plot of Les Mis? Oh, OK then. I certainly don’t. What I do know is that the musical used as the standard metric for a good show (the phrase “it was good but no Les Mis” has been said many a time) has been directed by Tom Hooper with all singing having been recorded in set rather than in a studio. Is it any good? Critics seem unsure.
What Richard Did (limited release)
“A stark portrait of the fall of Richard, the golden-boy of a privileged set of Dublin teens, whose world unravels one summer night.” If that doesn’t appeal the BBFC say the film “contains strong language, once very strong, and strong sex.” You know what that means? They say the C word. Edgy.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi (limited release)
Documentary about 85-year-old sushi master Jiro Ono. One film that removed any debate about what food to get before you go to the cinema. But what song should you listen to as you eat the sushi. Let me think…
May I Kill U? (limited release)
A policeman on a bicycle decides to start brutally murdering criminals in this dark British comedy starring the young boy from Muppet Treasure Island. Fun as it may sound the reviews are terrible.
Underground (limited re-release)
Re-release of 1929 British film about two men who fall for the same woman on the same day at the same station on the London Underground. I fall in love on the Underground at least two times a day. Where’s my film!?
American Mary (limited release)
A young medical student gets embroiled in the world of underground surgery as she struggles to pay for tuition fees. Rape and gore galore!
Midnight Son (limited release)
A young man with extremely sensitive skin develops a need to drink human blood. I smell a vampire! Seriously. Send help.
The Lookout (limited release)
Not the 2007 Joseph Gordon-Levitt film but a European (I can’t be more specific) drama about “a detective hunts for the marksman who foiled the plan to catch a notorious team of bank robbers.” It has such a limited release only the Cine Lumiere in London is showing it. South Kensington is the nearest tube station. You’re welcome.
Gangster Squad opens on Sean Penn as real-life mobster Mickey Cohen, alone in a boxing ring. With a murderous glare and muscly arms more scary-looking than Madonna’s (incidentally, Penn’s ex-wife) he beats a punching bag violently whilst Josh Brolin details through voiceover how awesomely criminal Cohen is. Because director Ruben Fleischer doesn’t think this convinces us enough that Cohen is a cold-blooded psycho we cut to a remote location where he has a man chained to two cars pointing in opposite directions. Cohen instructs his goons to drive and audience cheers at the bloody violence thrown at them before they’ve even had a chance to sit down.
Mickey Cohen’s mafia occupation is a force that 1950s Hollywoodland can do without. That is why the incorruptible LAPD Chief recruits Josh Brolin’s equally honest Sgt. John O’Mara, a too-dedicated-to-the-force war veteran, to put together an unofficial squad to not just arrest Cohen but to destroy him.
Although some may find it odd that director Ruben Fleischer has seemingly taken a different route from his previous efforts Gangster Squad isn’t all that different from Zombieland and 30 Minutes Or Less. They all play host to dark humour, they all feature excessive violence, and they all play with their genres in ways that we don’t see often. It may play the plot straight but at the same time it is certainly no The Untouchables.
Without crossing into parody the squad O’Mara selects are pretty laughable. The gang are sincere in their efforts to take down Cohen’s operation but run into problems only Mr Bean could have if he ever challenged the mob. Needless to say, the misfits are incredibly hard to not love. Brolin is excellent as the group’s leader whose biggest flaw is his dedication to his Protect And Serve oath, constantly endangering himself, ticking his pregnant wife right off. As friend, Sgt. Jerry Wooter, Ryan Gosling somehow balances cutie-pie with hard-nosed cop brilliantly, falling in love with Cohen’s favourite “doll”, Grace, played by Emma Stone (which makes the pair two for two in playing love interests in a film they both star in – the other being Crazy Stupid Love). The rest of the gang consists of veteran character actor Robert Patrick whose skills put to shame loyal Michael Peña, doubter Anthony Mackie and the reserved but bold Giovanni Ribisi.
Sticking to cliché most of the way some may sneer at Gangster Squad, but it spreads itself equally between set pieces and long dialogues, making it easier watch than most crime films without becoming a soulless actioner.
Gangster Squad is one of those fine films that fills you with absurd excitement; the kind of film that has you imitating the characters for the rest of your evening. Just like I put my socks on my hands and pretend to shoot webs right after seeing any Spider-Man film, Gangster Squad had me adding “lickety split” to every sentence and firing an imaginary tommy gun everywhere as I travelled home. Les Miserables this weekend? Gangster Squad, lickety split!