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McAvoy stretches his thespianism even further in ‘Filth’

May 1, 2014 |

By G. Michael Dobbs news@thereminder.com A challenging art house film and a down and dirty drive-in zombie movie are this week’s offerings to discuss.
On demand: Filth
If you seen Scottish actor James McAvoy in the past you might have noticed he has considerable range. From his wide-eyed innocent in “Wanted” to his commanding Dr. X in “X Men: First Class,” McAvoy has shown he is an actor to watch. In his newest film, he gets a dream role that would challenge any actor: Detective Bruce Robinson, a police officer in Edinburgh who is teetering on the verge of a complete emotional collapse. Robinson snorts cocaine and drinks like a fish. He’s more than willing to use violence to intimidate people and engages in risky sex. He’s a mess. His behaviors are based on events, which we slowly learn about and their revelation adds considerable depth to the story and to Robinson’s character. For McAvoy, the role gives him an opportunity to truly test his abilities. In single scene Robinson may go from thoughtful to completely uncontrolled. McAvoy brings a realization to the role that signals while Robinson may want to believe he’s OK, he understands on some level how terribly sick he is. At first glance one might assume this is a Scottish remake of “The Bad Lieutenant,” directed by Abel Ferrara and starring Harvey Keitel. A huge difference is the amount of dark humor in this story as well as its efforts to paint a picture that isn’t just shocking, but all too human and sad. Once you realize that Irvine Welsh, the same author who wrote the highly acclaimed film “Trainspotting” wrote this film, you’d understand the film’s unique tone. Like “Trainspotting,” this movie will undoubtedly horrify some people. The humor and the outrageous behavior are bound to put some viewers off. If you are adventurous and are interested in this rollercoaster of story, I suggest you give it a try. One word of caution: while the Scottish accents are not impenetrable, the slang at times can be a little difficult to understand for most Americans. “Filth” is currently available through on demand services on local cable systems.
Code Red
Oh, sigh – yet another zombie movie. We had movies with stripper zombies, slow-moving zombies, fast-moving zombies, zombies who fall in love, Nazi zombies and Cuban zombies. Now we’ve got Nazis created by Stalin! Why not? I’m sure someone has a good reason. Actually the beginning sequence, which depicts the battle for Stalingrad, is amazingly well done with great staging of the battle scenes and superb camera works and editing. The premise is that Stalin’s scientists have perfected a gas that re-animates corpses into zombies. The logic isn’t well developed though as the zombies attack anybody, not just the invading Nazis. Fast-forward to 2014 in Bulgaria where an American Army intelligence agent is charged in finding what a corrupt Bulgarian army colonel is hiding in a World War II storage facility. You know it’s Stalin zombie gas and you know people become exposed. For a low budget zombie film, this production actually had some good points in production designs, editing and even some decent performances. Its main problem is that the film doesn’t have an ending. It just stops, which is not a good technique in storytelling. Because of that I can’t recommend even spending the pocket change it costs to get this film from the Red Box.

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