JESSIE Buckley delivers a star-making turn in Wild Rose, a note-perfect musical drama with pathos and bite.
Pet Sematary resurrects the Stephen King novel for another go-round with zombie cats and creepy toddlers. But it’s the politics that stinks in Dragged Across Concrete, with Mel Gibson as the ultimate alt-right anti-hero in a grimly compelling cop drama.
DVD Of The Week: Wild Rose
(15) 96mins, out Monday
NOTE-PERFECT musical drama with a star-making turn from Jessie Buckley as the combustible but gifted Glasgow mum who emerges from prison with dreams of Nashville.
Julie Walters is reliably excellent as her fearsome mother and their often spiky relationship powers much of the early drama.
But the film belongs to Buckley, who belts out her own songs as Rose-Lynn. Her aspiring singer is refreshingly flawed — a bag of contradictions with rough edges, sharp elbows and that soaring voice. Her country mantra of “three chords and the truth” rings a little hollow when the truth is not something Rose-Lynn seems overly wedded to.
Often touching and sometimes bruising, the social commentary is not subtle and some of the narrative beats are familiar. But Wild Rose is no less effective for all that.
A bracingly British counterpoint to A Star Is Born.
(15) 101mins, out now
MOROSE, mumbly adaptation of Stephen King’s novel which departs significantly from the patchy 1989 movie but doesn’t really improve on it.
Jason Clarke is an upgrade over Dale Midkiff as the doctor who quickly gives up on sanity following an escalating series of family setbacks. And John Lithgow is as good as ever playing crusty shoveller Jud. But he is no better than the 1989 Jud, given such warmth and depth by telly hero Fred Gwyne (The Munsters).
There are a handful of creepy, squelchy moments — Maine looks more like Mordor at times — but that is a disappointing return on King’s brilliantly macabre premise. The earlier cinema iteration had a boneheaded, bonkers quality that makes it arguably the more entertaining of the two, albeit less technically proficient.
Significant plot changes threaten to drag up some interesting themes but they are never fully explored, as the movie slides towards a mishmash of conventional horror tropes. Things belatedly ramp up towards the climax and the final scene is a gut-wrencher — but even that is immediately undercut by Starcrawler’s terrible pop-punk cover of Ramones’ Pet Sematary over the closing credits.
Dragged Across Concrete
(18) 155mins, out Monday
SPRAWLING crime pseudo-epic with Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughan the heavy-handed cops dragged (across a variety of surfaces) into dastardly underworld antics.
Their brutish anti-chemistry is at the heart of the movie, which spends as much time on their arguments about egg sandwiches and coffee as it does on the duo’s pursuit of a diabolical mastermind.
That’s a bold choice but turns out to be a good one. Though Dragged Across Concrete is far longer than it needs to be, with a couple of jarring tangents, it is grimly compelling whenever Gibson and Vaughan are on screen together — perversely so, given these are not people anyone in their right mind would wish to spend time with. Gibson, in particular, is a deluded, self-pitying sad-sack whose nightmarish worldview makes Travis Bickle seem like Mary Poppins.
There are some unpleasant political undertones — actually, just tones — here. It’s not clear whether all the moaning about the media, political correctness and affirmative action is satirising the deluded paranoia of America’s racist alt-right or simply pandering to it. If Dragged Across Concrete is all a dark joke, Gibson certainly isn’t in on it.
Still, the gangland shenanigans are tense and satisfyingly nasty, while oddball auteur S Craig Zahler uses long periods of quiet to great effect, letting the action speak for itself. When the blows land, it is with a sickening thud.
(15) 120mins, out Monday
TEPID resumption/reboot of the Dark Horse comic creation with Stranger Things’ David Harbour chasing giants and witches across rural England.
Ron Perlman’s grumpy charm was the best thing about the first two movies and Harbour is an underpowered stand-in, looking ill at ease under the red body paint.
Likewise, Brit director Neil Marshall is no Guillermo del Toro — and while the first two movies weren’t perfect, they feel like triumphs compared to this.
From the clumsy opening it goes rapidly downhill. The performances are barely more convincing than the substandard CGI and even Ian McShane, taking over from the late John Hurt as Hellboy’s human “dad”, can’t rise above the mediocrity.
With too much exposition and not enough wit or charm, this is a crushing disappointment.
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Ewan McGregor and Robert Carlyle lead stars at glamorous T2 Trainspotting premiere
(18) 102mins, out Monday on Blu-ray
AL PACINO is the cop going deep undercover on the trail of a po-faced serial killer bumping off Pacino lookalikes in New York’s gay S&M community.
Writer-director William Friedkin (The Exorcist) got into hot water for unleashing this on an unsuspecting public back in 1980. And some of the antics are still pretty bracing for a mainstream thriller — more so than the otherwise unremarkable deadly-game-of-cat-and-mouse between Pacino and his homicidal quarry.
That said, modern audiences are more likely to find moments of accidental comedy than things to get outraged about, from the Rocky-style training montage looms as Pacino beefs up his scrawny frame to the leather bars that call to mind the Blue Oyster in the Police Academy movies.
More of a cultural curiosity than a misunderstood masterpiece.