Sunday, 17 May 2015

Child 44 by Espinosa and Price

Buried somewhere in this glum mess of a movie is the wreckage of a potentially gripping homicide procedural. 

Child 44 was a bestselling novel by Tom Rob Smith. It's described in a quote on the cover as one of the hundred best thrillers of all time, and I'm willing to believe it might be. Sadly its screen incarnation isn't going to be among the best of anything.

Child 44 it is a crime story set in Stalinist Russia — sort of a 1950s Gorky Park — and the movie adaptation has a theoretically distinguished pedigree. It stars the great Tom Hardy among other excellent actors, it's produced by Ridley Scott... 

Most importantly it has a script by Richard Price, a distinguished American novelist (The Wanderers) turned screenwriter (Sea of Love). I actually used Price's book (Four Screenplays) as a text when I was teaching screenwriting. He's deft, accomplished and knowledgeable.

And the premise of Child 44 is rather brilliant. In the putative paradise of Stalin's Soviet Union, murder cannot exist — it's a disease of the decadent West. So when an honest cop has to try and stop an evil child killer, the odds are really stacked against him.

So... great set up, great cast, great screenwriter. What could go wrong? At first, nothing. The film begins strongly, setting up our hero Leo Demidov (Hardy) and his experiences in World War 2, and neatly delineating his fellow soldiers, his loyal buddy Alexei (Fares Fares) and his cowardly, evil nemesis Vasili (Joel Kinnaman — excellent in the recent Robocop remake). 

We then cut to the the 1950s. Leo is now a war hero and Alexei and Vasili are fellow officers in the MGB, the state police.

And Leo is married to Raisa, played by the delightful Noomi Rapace, in a blonde wig. Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace were also a couple in the terrific recent New York crime movie The Drop

Unfortunately, reuniting them here proves to be a mistake — because The Drop was an impressively effective film which knew exactly what it was doing. And Child 44 suffers terribly by comparison.

Because Child 44 never has a clue where it is going. It should be straightforward enough. It should tell the story of Leo's attempt to track down and stop a monstrous child murderer, struggling against the brutal and suffocating Stalinist system which hobbles him. It should be a police procedural, a mystery thriller. And occasionally — very occasionally — it is.

But for most of its running time, Child 44 can't make up its mind about what story to tell. Is it about Leo's troubled marriage (we know it's troubled because when they're banging in bed, Raisa stares unhappily off into space)? Is it about Leo's career problems? Is it a diatribe about the enormous evil of Stalin's USSR?

Sadly, yes, it is about all of those things, and the investigation of the murder is sidelined and minimised, then suddenly remembered towards the end of the film and hastily crammed into a really rushed and unsatisfying conclusion. Did you glean how the killer, who works in a factory, acquired the surgical skills which were supposed to be so critical in identifying his victims, and tracking him down? I must have missed that.

The movie reaches its climax with Leo and Vasili — and even Raisa — rolling around wrestling in the mud. Which is appropriate, because the whole movie has sort of rolled around in the mud. It's a confused mess.

I could go on about the Russian accents adopted by the British and American cast — distracting, silly and above all unnecessary (they are after all, speaking dialogue in English, not Russian, so in that sense authenticity is a horse that's already bolted).

However Child 44 has much bigger problems, all of them fatal. I'll have to read the novel to find out if some of them originated there. But if the book is as strong as it is reputed to be, then its hard to understand why a screenwriter as talented as Richard Price could have made a shambles of solid source material. Maybe the director, Daniel Espinosa (Safe House) interfered with the script. Maybe Ridley Scott interfered with the script (it's certainly been known to happen).

But for now, the only real mystery here is why Child 44 is such a misfire.

(Image credits: All the posters are from Imp Awards.)

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Monsters: Dark Continent

This movie was so bad I wasn't going to dignify it with a post, but I felt I had to get my feelings off my chest — and warn you about it. 

How could a movie about soldiers versus monsters not at least be entertaining? Well, let's take a look...

The problems begin with the title. Besides being incipiently racist, what the hell continent are they talking about here? The movie is set in the Middle East, which isn't a continent... so maybe Asia?

The first Monsters movie was intriguing. It was written and directed by Gareth Edwards who went on to direct Godzilla — a film which suffered from fatal script problems, though not so fatal or problematical as the ones which beset Dark Continent. 
 
The original Monsters was an interesting curiosity. It dealt with the invasion of giant monsters from space, but in a fairly novel and inventive (and low budget) way.

The alien onslaught was seen from the point of view of some American tourists in Central America, and how it affected them. The crisis was treated just like a tsunami or earthquake or volcanic eruption. The eponymous monsters were mostly glimpsed in the distance, as towering figures striding the horizon. The heroes didn't have much interaction with them... the film was a realistic treatment of the experience of ordinary, everyday people coping with a global disaster.

Well, Monsters was a success so here is the sequel, directed by Tom Green, a British TV director and co-written by Green with Jay Basu, another Brit who was among the writers on the excellent movie Fast Girls. 

And they seem to have adopted the same strategy as with Alien and Aliens... the first movie dealt with civilians under threat, so this time let's make it the military instead. In the case of Aliens, that was a brilliant notion. And for a while it seems promising here, too.

But Dark Continent is a poorly conceived and pretentious film which fails completely. The fatal mistake is the idea that the soldiers aren't really going to fight the monsters. They're sent to the middle East to combat human insurgents who are attacking US troops in the course of their battle against the aliens. The insurgents are pissed off at the collateral damage created by the American bombing of the monsters.

The logic of this is nonsensical. For a start, people would tend to get out of the way of giant lumbering monsters who are attacking their town, which considerably reduces the number of collateral casualties. Plus they'd actually tend to be grateful to people blowing up said monsters with bombs from the air. 

In fact, there is a thriving sub genre of science fiction about how a divided and warring humanity buries its differences and unites in the face of an alien invasion. Famous examples include several stories by Theodore Sturgeon, most notably  'Unite and Conquer'; an episode of The Outer Limits entitled The Architects of Fear by Meyer Dolinsky; the novel Wild Card by Raymond Hawkey and Roger Bingham; and most recently Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. All of these stories have got human psychology correct. Monsters: Dark Continent has got it exactly arse-backwards.

But let's assume for a moment that the movie's ridiculous premise holds water...

You still wouldn't need ground troops to fight the insurgents. Your strategy is to bomb the monsters from the air. At the most you'd need some strongly fortified airbases. You wouldn't need to get out in the countryside at all. But forget logic, this movie completely has its head up its ass. For some reason Green and Basu seem determined to make a very familiar and clichéd war story about American soldiers fighting in a conflict like Iraq or Afghanistan. With some monsters. Or, as it turns out, not...

Dark Continent is basically an inferior clone of American Sniper, Hurt Locker and any number of other recent Middle East war films. It might have worked if the troops actually engaged with the monsters. But they don't. They're busy shooting local insurgents in exactly the same old boring fashion as all those other movies.  Occasionally we glimpse an irrelevant alien monster lumbering by in the background, but that's about it...

The concept that was so effective in the first movie... monsters at a distance, no interaction... is a whopping mistake here. And in the first film it was dictated by the tiny budget. Here, in a lavish sequel, there are no such financial constraints. It just makes no sense. 

It also means Dark Continent is just a mediocre Middle East war movie like any other, with some tacked on CGI footage of the monsters. Indeed, it's possible to believe the script existed without the monsters, and they just cut and pasted them in.

The movie would work better if you took the monsters out. But even then it would be pretty poor stuff, because the film makers don't bother to create any sympathy for their military characters. The troops are just an undifferentiated bunch of cardboard cut-outs... except for the guy whose wife has just had a baby, so of course he's going to die tragically. (Don't these people know how much of a cliché that is?)

There are some effective scenes early on, when the blue collar soldiers are partying in Detroit before they go to war. And at the end of the movie it seems for a tantalising moment that Dark Continent might turn into a documentary about the lifestyle of nomadic people (which would have been welcome... anything is better than the farago that is set before us here), but for most of its running time it's a complete failure. And terribly dull, despite all the blazing combat (if we don't care about the characters, action is just tedious mayhem, chaps).

I couldn't work out how anyone could have made a film so ill conceived and unnecessarily bad. What did they think they were doing? Then it hit me. The filmmakers thought they were making a powerful and artistic statement about the horrors of war. And that adding the monsters in the background would make it more powerful and more artistic.

Wrong, wrong, wrong...

(Image credits: The main (official) poster is from Imp Awards. The orange and brown official poster with the helicopter is from Image 12. The tormented face poster by Daniel Nash is from the Geeky Nerfherder. The blue poster by Marko Manev, the gunsight poster by Orlando Arocena and the sandy brown poster by Paul Shipper (which calls to mind John Schoenherr's desert art for Dune) are all from Inside the Rock Poster Frame. The black and white posters are from Ace Show Biz.)

Sunday, 3 May 2015

The Salvation by Levring & Jensen

A Danish Western made in South Africa sounds like a recipe for a disaster. In fact it turns out to be a recipe for a masterpiece. 

What's more, it's evident from the first few seconds that The Salvation is going to be a winner. As soon as we get a glimpse of Mads Mikkelsen (so terrific in Hannibal and Charlie Countryman) it's obvious that this movie is going to work — he looks perfect for the hero of a Spaghetti Western.

The Salvation is a harrowing revenge story. It's also a magnificent film and a classic western, one of the two or three best in the genre in the last twenty years. It had begun to look like the Western was a lost art form. (Although The Homesman was an excellent film, for my money it wasn't really a Western.) 

And it seemed that Hollywood could turn out nothing but disappointing near-misses like The Missing and duds like Open Range or 3.10 to Yuma (a remake of an Elmore Leonard classic that falls to pieces spectacularly). Or — god help us — The Lone Ranger. Indeed, one of the few decent examples in recent times was Seth MacFarlane's A Million Ways to Die in the West. Despite being an hilarious deconstruction of movie cliches, it was also a proper specimen of the genre and beautifully photographed to boot, with a good music score.

But now comes The Salvation, a title with an unintended (?) extra layer of meaning in terms of the fate of a whole movie genre. I was going to say that this film has single-handedly revived the Spaghetti Western — with immense skill and style. 

But on reflection I'm forced to concede that Tarrantino's Django Unchained — which is certainly intended as a Spaghetti Western, indeed the Spaghetti Western to end all Spaghetti Westerns — beat the Danish film makers to the punch.

But Django Unchained was so post-modern it hardly seemed like a Western. The Salvation is a much more pure and serious example of the genre. It is also one of the most gorgeously photographed films I've ever seen, thanks to cinematographer Jens Schlosser. The sequence of a stage coach ride at night, with the vehicle lit inside by butter yellow oil lamps and a deep blue sky outside, was ravishingly beautiful.

The film is splendidly directed by Kristian Levring whose last feature was a Danish thriller called Fear Me Not and superbly written by Levring in collaboration with Anders Thomas Jensen (who previously worked on Fear Me Not and the Kiera Knightley vehicle The Duchess).

What is really impressive is how these Danish guys have written not only a script in English, but one which is idiomatically and authentically a period piece. This may not be exactly how people spoke in the old West, but it was certainly adequately convincing to fool me.

It tells the story of Jon (Mads Mikkelsen), an ex-soldier, who is brutally bereaved and left to avenge himself against the evil Delarue (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and his colourful band of robbers, including the French football star Eric Cantona. Of no help to Jon are the local townspeople, including the slimy local mayor and undertaker (an excellent Jonathan Pryce) and the spineless hypcritical local parson and sheriff (Dougie Henshall, another fine British actor).

It's a great cast, but besides Mads Mikkelsen the other real knock out is Eva Green as Madeleine or 'Princess', apparently one of the bad guys — but it's not that simple. 

The Princess bears an Indian tattoo on her face, from the tribe who cut out her tongue. She is of course mute, and spends the whole movie silent. But if you think that limits the possibilities of her performance, you'd be wrong. Eva Green delivers an astonishing performance, using just her eyes to convey profoundly affecting emotions. She is brilliant, and her performance is a reminder of the lost power of silent cinema.

I should also mention a fine music score by Kasper Winding (who did the music for a recent British drama The Riot Club) and the breathtaking location photography in South Africa (which also serves so well in the pirate series Black Sails).

The Salvation is great movie, one of the best of the year, and an instant classic. The only false note in it is a character named Mallick, which struck me as an unnecessarily knowing reference to Terence Mallick, a film maker and a brilliant purveyor of quasi-Westerns such as Badlands, Days of Heaven and Pocket Money. On the other hand, there is another character called One Eyed Jack which is a great Western movie reference.

(Image credits: The main poster ('Bad Men Will Bleed') is from Vortex Effect. The other posters are from Imp Awards. The clean-cut close up of Mads is from Mongrel Media. The scar faced close up of Mads is from Indie Wire Play List. Eva Green pointing her Winchester at us is from the official movie trailer on You Tube. Mads pointing his Winchester at us is from Fandango Groovers movie blog. Eva sitting looking thoughtful is from Love Heaven 07. Maybe she's reflecting on how brilliant she was in this film.)

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Tremor of Intent by Anthony Burgess

Anthony Burgess has written some first rate novels — notably Clockwork Orange and Earthly Powers. So I was always keen to see what happened when he hopped on the the 1960s espionage-fiction bandwagon. 

And indeed, Tremor of Intent at first is highly entertaining, very promising and rather splendid. Complete with a colourful antagonist and "blonde pouting girls who twitch for savage anonymous love" — there is also a girl with "hair you wanted to eat" — it looks like it might be very much in the vintage Bond mould. 

It is particularly Fleming-like in Part II, where it shifts from the first person narrative to third person and Burgess begins referencing brand names like Daks (a make of menswear). But with his baroque language and sardonic humour Burgess soon begins to seem more like Derek Marlowe, another great British spy novelist.

Then the narrative grows more satirical — and acquires a slightly surreal edge — with a gourmet eating contest between the British intelligence operative hero Hillier and his hugely fat antagonist (a literal heavy). It appears to be moving towards the more way-out fiction of Kyril Bonfiglioli. Unfortunately, by the time the book is over Burgess has drifted in the direction of  Graham Greene at his worst — self important, dull and priest-ridden. So much for the prospect of a classic 1960s spy novel.

Part of the problem is that, like so many respectable 'literary' writers (but unlike Kingsley Amis, or Graham Greene when he is on form), Burgess doesn't understand or respect the principles of genre fiction. This is clearest in the way that Hillier never confronts the real villains of the novel — shadowy senior intelligence figures and politicians. Indeed these villains remain pretty much offstage. Instead Hillier arbitrarily and pointlessly goes after a strictly minor bad guy, for no better reason that he has featured heavily in the plot (he is on stage) and bumps the bad guy off in a dull fashion. This is what happens when you bungle your structure, Anthony.

Worse yet, there is a coda where the hero discovers god. I'm not kidding. That's what I meant by that crack about Graham Greene.

Still, Burgess can certainly write. We have a scientist character who is "a highly efficient artefact crammed with non-human knowledge." The Cold War is "a great childish game on the floor of the world." And as Hillier entered a sinister foreign sea port, "A dog barked somewhere in comforting international language."

Also, this being Burgess, there are vivid musical references (when a character thinks about the woman he loves, "he looked for a moment as though he were listening to Beethoven"). And of course, the glittering, show-off vocabulary. Among the ten dollar words are old favourites like proleptic, ludic, mimesis and otiose. New friends include phatic, aleatoric, pudeur and 'gulous' — a word that seems to pertain to gluttony, but is nigh impossible to track down online. Often Burgess's highfaluting language strikes me as both otiose and aleatoric. He should feel pudeur.

More interesting are his own invented words. Hillier is trapped by the opposition and dosed with a (fictional) compound called 'vellocet' — a drug which also crops up in Clockwork Orange. Here it is B-type vellocet, which induces euphoria and loosens the tongue. In Clockwork Orange it is Moloko Vellocet, which is mixed with milk and will "sharpen you up and make you ready for a bit of the old ultra-violence."

Tremor of Intent is a disappointment, but one with extended moments of brilliance. (Oh, and the title refers to a trembling of the muscles you get when attempting a precise movement. Like aiming a gun, or a bow and arrow.)


(Image credits: Thin pickings from Good Reads, though they did at least yield the stylish graphic Serpents Tail edition with the typewriter. The sniper rifle Ballantine, which is the edition I read, is from ABE seller 1. The nice photographic Penguin is from ABE seller 2. The silenced gun photograph Heinemann first is from ABE seller 3. The lovely cartoony Norton paperback is from ABE seller 4. The equally attractive stripey eyes Norton first edition is from ABE seller 5. Regarding the Nortons — "eschatological" means the branch of theology concerned with death, judgement, heaven and hell (bless you, Oxford English Dictionary!) — which gives you some idea of the god-bothering pretentiousness which finally and fatally sinks this book.)

Sunday, 19 April 2015

John Wick by Derek Kolstad

John Wick should actually be called Jon Wick — since the hero's name, as confirmed in dialogue is Jonathan. Getting its own title wrong is somehow emblematic of the loopy, unapologetic disconnection from reality which characterises this excellent thriller. 

It is the kind of movie where, when a cute puppy is introduced at the beginning, you know it will be dead by the third reel. But, uniquely in my experience, the death of the pet is not here solely to signal how nasty the bad guys are, or pile up menace on the good guys. Rather it is a trigger for revenge, and the direct cause of everything that follows.

The eponymous John Wick is very effectively played by Keanu Reeves, last seen committing seppuku for no apparent reason in 47 Ronin. 

Poor John, or Jon, Wick has had a hard time lately. He's just lost his beloved wife to a lingering illness. Knowing the end was nigh, she thoughtfully bought the aforementioned cute puppy to see her husband through his period of grieving. The dog poo hits the fan when Wick drives his vintage Mustang to the gas station and attracts the attention of a young Russian hood — son of a powerful gangster — who covets his ride. Wick won't sell him the car, so the hood steals it, beating Wick unconscious and killing his dog in the process.

The young hood is played by Alfie Allen, who was so excellent as Theon Greyjoy — a similarly despicable character in Game of Thrones. What Alfie hasn't realised is that the fellow whose pup he's just murdered is in fact an implacable hitman, recently retired. But now John Wick is back in business.

After the death of the dog — which is an unpleasant moment — this movie is pure pleasure. Wick wipes out everyone in his way in a sequence of splendid action set-pieces until the movie comes to its highly satisfying conclusion.

In many ways John Wick is reminiscent of The Equalizer. But that Denzel Washington revenge thriller was a complete failure on every level (I say this despite knowing it was a mammoth box office hit) whereas John Wick succeeds on every level. Okay, there is one really dumb moment of dialogue where the Russian punk's gangster dad tries to impress on him the folly of what he's just done: he describes how John Wick once killed three men with a pencil. A pencil. (Exactly the sort of idiotic thing Denzel was doing in The Equalizer). But, that aside, John Wick is a great shoot-em-up.

The movie exists in a stylised, slightly off-kilter version of reality. A parallel dimension where film noir rules — sort of a less extreme Sin City. In this respect the picture it most resembles is Payback. John Wick presents a world where there is a body disposal service which is just a phone call away, and there's a club and a hotel that cater only to hit men and top criminals, and payment is always in gold coins. The hotel clerk, revealingly, is called Charon — played impressively by Lance Reddick from The Wire.

It's a terrific cast, which also includes Ian McShane as the club owner, Willem Dafoe as Wick's hitman buddy, and Adrianne Palicki as Perkins, a briskly amoral hit-woman.

John Wick is written by Derek Kolstad whose previous credits are a couple of  Dolph Lundgren vehicles, The Package and One in the Chamber. With this movie he seems to have taken a big step up. The director is Chad Stahleski, a former stunt coordinator.

The film is shot in doom laden greys and lavenders (which, if memory serves, was much the same pallet as The Equalizer) by cinematographer Jonathan Sela.
 
This movie was pure unalloyed pulp pleasure, apart from the incident with that poor dog. But then, I'm more of a cat person anyway.

 (Image credits: All the posters are from Imp Awards.)

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Seventh Son by Steven Knight et al

Sword and sorcery is a tricky genre and most film attempts at it fail to a greater or lesser degree — including the most recent version of Conan, and the Solomon Kane film, based on another of Robert E. Howard's great creations.

So it's a real pleasure to be able to report the presence of a successful sword and sorcery movie in the multiplexes — Seventh Son.

This is a brisk, inventive, vivid and fun pulp adventure. It even prevails over Jeff Bridges's terribly dodgy accent which almost, but not quite, sinks the enterprise. And some unforgivably bad prosthetic make up on one of the characters.

But the list of good things about the movie is far longer, and far more significant. Most crucially, one of the two screenwriters credited with the final script is the brilliant Steven Knight, responsible for Locke, a masterpiece and one of the very best films of 2014. Here Knight is something of a hired gun, but he's contributed to a fresh and enjoyable script. 

The other major credited writer is Charles Leavitt, who wrote the excellent Blood Diamond. An early draft of the script was by Matt Greenberg, who worked on the dragon movie reign of fire.

The film is loosely based on ("inspired by")  the first in a series of young adult novels by Joseph Delaney called The Spook's Apprentice. In this fantasy world, a Spook is a kind of witch hunter and monster killer. This is the role of Jeff Bridges, complete with his silly accent. Vocal contortions aside, Bridges is excellent as are the rest of the cast. 

Ben Barnes plays the young apprentice with absolute conviction and he is surrounded by talent. His mother is Olivia Williams, his love interest is Alicia Vikander and the big bad witch is none other than Julianne Moore.

Sergey Bodrov (who did the Ghengis Khan movie Mongol) directs with a gift for speed and detail — I particularly liked his use of the dog to warn us something bad was about to happen.

The striking production design is by Dante Ferretti, a regular collaborator with Martin Scorsese and the colourful cinematography is by Newton Thomas Sigel. Marco Beltrami provides a highly effective, outstanding music score.

If you like sword and sorcery don't miss this excellent, unpretentious popcorn movie.

(Image credits: All the posters — rich pickings this time — are from the useful Imp Awards.)

Sunday, 5 April 2015

The Face of an Angel by Winterbottom and Viragh

Meredith Kercher was a young British student who was studying in Italy when she was brutally murdered. Three people were convicted of her killing, including her room mate Amanda Knox, and Knox's boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito. No one knows for sure what happened but on my — admittedly wholly amateur — reading of the case, Knox and Sollecito seemed to be clearly blameless and the victims of a publicity seeking fantasist of a prosecutor. To me their imprisonment compounded the tragedy of Kercher's death.

The story has therefore remained vividly in my mind and when I heard that there was a film based on it, directed by Michael Winterbottom, this movie shot to the top of my must-see list. Winterbottom has made some truly excellent films (not least The Killer Inside Me), often with a powerful documentary edge. He seemed the perfect man to make a riveting study of this case.

What I'd forgotten was that he's also the man who knows so little about drama that he thought he could take a tragic love triangle from a literary classic (Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy) and safely remove one of the characters. When you remove one point of a triangle, Michael, you end up with a straight line. Come to think of it, Winterbottom is a film maker who has even bungled pornography (in Nine Songs... the linear Tess adaptation was Trishna).

Winterbottom's screenwriter Paul Viragh (who wrote the Ian Dury biopic Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll) must share some responsibility for the farrago which is The Face of an Angel. Despite being based on a non fiction book about the Kercher murder by the American journalist Barbie Nadeau, the film is a work of fiction, with the names of Kercher, Knox and Sollecito changed. And it doesn't even deal with the crime. It follows a film director as he fails to make a movie about the crime. If you think that all sounds too precious for words, then by golly you are right.
 
The film director — played by Daniel Brühl; a terrific actor lost here in a lousy movie — wanders around, snorts cocaine, whines about being divorced and separated from his charmless child, has an affair with an American journalist (Kate Beckinsale) and timidly circles an attractive young British student. The young British student is played with great charm and brio by famed model Cara Delevingne, who is the only one to emerge with any credit from this sorry mess.

Winterbottom and Viragh go on endlessly about the film director's lost daughter, as if this had some parallel with the central story (or lack thereof). They have also latched onto the hilarious notion that the works of Dante can be referenced as relevant to their meandering miasma of a tale.

Perhaps the worst moments of the movie — god knows there's enough to chose from — are the director's dreams which have been crowbarred into the narrative to try and add some action and suspense. There's even a bit where he's attacked by scaly monsters (presumably out of Dante's inferno) rendered in some of the worst CGI witnessed in mainstream cinema. I have seen The Face of an Angel described as a psychological thriller. Don't believe it. It's a very boring, incredibly pretentious attempt at an art film.

Just on its own merits, this has a strong claim to being one of the worst movies ever made. When you factor in the real life tragedies on which it is founded — and which it exploits — it then becomes unforgivably, reprehensibly bad. The publicity for The Face of an Angel makes shameful use of the real life murder case to drum up customers. And for the movie to conclude with a dedication to Meredith Kercher is just the final insult.
 
The film is so rotten it made me never want to see a movie again. But I suspect I'll get over that. Probably by tomorrow...

(Image credits: the poster is from Imp Awards; the shot of Brühl and Delevingne is from Ace Show Biz. The shot of Delevigne's face is from a blog about the crime.  The shot of her in a red and black shirt is from You & I. The book cover is from General eBooks.)