What Movie Have You Seen Today?

Saw PETERLOO (2018) last night followed by a Q&A with Mike Leigh.

As the film began, I wondered what a Mike Leigh massacre scene would look like, and it turned out to look exactly as one would expect a Mike Leigh massacre to look: it built slowly and deliberately to a powerful conclusion in the same fashion all of his films are made. Dick Pope’s cinematography was a wonder to behold as always, and Leigh’s brilliance with actors was as strong as ever. I was impressed all over again at how whatever genre Leigh puts his hand to, he makes a wonderful film that works as both a genre piece and a Mike Leigh film (much like Joseph L. Mankiewicz in this regard).

1 Like

"Ghost Stories" (2018)

Wonderful, British psychological horror starring Martin Freeman, and Andy Nyman reprising his role from the play, as a man devoted to debunking fraudulent psychics, who is tasked with solving three unexplained paranormal events.

Slow-moving, but well worth sitting through the first 30 minutes as the pace picks up. Lots of interesting visuals and creepy foreboding.

Shazam!

Fun, but kind of dumb. Good if you have kids, but a bit scary if they’re under 10. Best scenes were when they were testing the new super powers. Zachary Levi does a good job channeling a 14 year old. DC always goes for the other-worldly powers (Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Suicide Squad) and so does Shazam! Batman seems to be the one exception to this rule. Its villain’s motivations aren’t really spelled out, despite getting a lot of Dr. Sivana’s backstory. And in parts it seems more reminiscent of Spiderman Homecoming than a DC movie, despite numerous easter eggs and a lame semi-cameo at the end. More successful as a comedy than a superhero movie.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi. First time I’ve seen it since the theaters. It has some issues, but it’s actually a very good film and dares to be different unlike The Force Awakens. If you haven’t, definitely give it another watch with an open mind.

2 Likes

Good Time (2017)

A really good movie set over a single night. The cast, script and direction are all top notch.

It’s witty, inventive, moving and highly entertaining.

The score is particularly good, winning Cannes soundtrack award. Influenced mainly by Tangerine Dream and a little John Carpenter, it’s by Oneohtrix Point Never, which is basically a guy named Daniel Lopatin. He also scored The Bling Ring.

I’d love to see him collaborate with the likes of Zimmer on a Bond score.

I digress… Great movie that’s well worth an hour and a half of your time.

Arrival (2016)

Very interesting sci-fi film which I’ve only just gotten around to see. More Close Encounters than Independence Day.

Mandy


This. Movie. Is. Bonkers…!

But bonkers in a wonderful way! A nightmare that’s beautifully rendered and with performances as committed as you could wish for. Despite some great reviews I put off watching this, not being a fan of torture porn. But Mandy isn’t torture porn, so I would allay those fears for anyone else put off for this reason. It’s probably one of the best looking movies of the year and if you roll with the tone it’s quite a ride.

Operation Finale (Netflix production)


Great cast. Isaacs is solid; charismatic and believable as usual. Kingsley gives a character who’d be 1 dimensional in most hands a degree of wit and humanity. It’s another Kingsley masterclass in the sometimes simmering, sometimes explosive evil that he portrays better than any other actor (see Sexy Beast and polanski’s Death and The Maiden; the latter captive aspect is very similar to this film).

However, the direction is workman like and the script ok, but undistinguished. I gather it’s based on a true story, but it felt like they took too few artistic liberties, particularly and ironically in the finale. It would all read nicely on paper, but lacks the spectacular that it needed on screen.

This may be symptomatic of Netflix processing of script and production, since it’s other Oscar Isaac movie Triple Frontier suffered the same issue (though to a far greater extent). It all feels a bit production line, much like the old studio movies; quantity trumping quality. Makes one appreciate the extra time taken to do Bond.

Glass


I’ve been looking forward to this sequel for about 20 years. Can anything satisfy such a wait?

More yes, than no!

Glass isn’t really a sequel, but the third part of a trilogy.

Unbreakable is for me a perfect movie; I’d change nothing about it. But it did leave huge questions and begged a continuation.

Split was a very fine return to form for Shyamalan after making increasingly awful films for almost 2 decades (few filmmakers come back from such a run). But thanks to material, characters and a subject that are a muse for Shyamalan, he’s more or less achieved that come back.

Set in a mental institution, Glass’ central thread is the question: are these ‘super powers’ real or in the minds of our 3 protagonists/antagonists? I certainly won’t answer that here - you’ll have to watch it - but this thread is imo a triumph. Shyamalan works miracles here and the cast all deliver.

What’s pleasantly surprising with Glass is its scale. It could’ve gone big and epic, but instead it’s a tight character study; a meditation on the character’s motivations and a welcome antidote to the increasingly banal and derivative Marvel tent poles.

Being the third in the trilogy does it wrap things up to a fan’s satisfaction. Pretty much, yeah! There’s a few surprises that are welcome and a few beats that are disappointing. I can see why the story needs these beats, but there may have been ways of presenting them in a less trivial way (I guess it’s one beat in particular I’m talking about here). For a movie so long in the writing it seems oddly lazy - unimaginative. It serves the plot rather than the character and that sadly is a staple of Shyamalan’s bad movies.

The whole comic book angle seems at times crowbarred into the dialogue because it’s part of the brand and Shyamalan is obviously keen to keep reminding us of that. I think that he gets this wrong; it’s essential to Mr Glass’ interpretation of events, which is an interesting angle. But when it also becomes other characters interpretation it unnecessarily saps an essential realism from the the world they inhabit. That realism is the very thing that made Unbreakable and Split so outstanding.

But on the whole Glass works very well and is another brave, smart, grown up movie about people with ‘super powers’.

One last thing… Glass includes By far Shyamalan’s worst acting. He likes to do a Hitchcock and write himself into his movies. The guy is a terrible actor, but often it’s a fleeting part and he gets away with it. Here it’s a part that if another actor had played it would have been 20 seconds tops. Shyamalan’s apparent delusions of grandeur see him stretch this part out to what seems like and eternity of self conscious shifty eyed, grimaces and stilted dialogue. I’m guessing it’s about 3 minutes… that’s 3 pages that adds nothing and could’ve gone altogether without effecting story or character… the man’s got a screw loose, surely!

I can imagine how crushing that must be for the editor, to make the best film they can, but have to massively over extend this scene, because it’s the filmmaker is sat next to you saying, “Gee, this stuff’s great! Make it longer, let it breath, it’s got Oscar performance written all over it!!!”

The movie’s psychiatrist states that her speciality is Delusions of Grandeur… I wonder if Shyamalan is aware that he suffers this himself when he sabotages his own movies by over extending his terrible acting?

2 Likes

SOut Of Blue

Astrophysics and quantum mechanical musings delivered via a neo noir murder mystery… what’s not to like?

This is a fascinating meditation on memory, identity and the nature of reality. It’s a hugely ambitious attempt to fuse these dilemmas in a more conventional plot.

On the whole and ultimately it’s successful. There’s a few creaky moments; either too vague (the red scarf in the bedroom!) or too on the nose (the out of sync reflection is far too out of sync; could’ve been far subtler).

It also employs a trope that’s obvious at the outset, yet revealed as a supposed surprise in the finale. However, when attempting to fuse such high concept, complex subjects you have to pick your battles. So perhaps Director Carol Morley was absolutely right to allow the less complex tropes to be less complex.

Without doubt this is an accomplished attempt to pair the abstract with the figurative; something you can follow, while plenty to stir the imagination.

It’s also wonderful to have a female protagonist playing a role that’d usually be the reserve of the grizzled male. For me the best female roles are the ones that don’t wear their gender on their sleeve; playing a character rather than a gender. High bench marks for this in the mainstream are Ripley (Alien) and Sarah Connor (Terminator). Mike Hoolihan joins their ranks.

Highly recommended for those with an appetite for life’s biggest questions.

… …

Speaking of great female roles, you don’t see one for ages, then 2 come at once!

Destroyer

It’s a gritty crime movie that reminded me of Friedkin’s excellent 1985 To Live And Die In LA. That was a portrait of life in the grime of LA drugland law enforcement; William Peterson portrays the detrimental effects upon the mental health and relationships his job inevitably incurs. This time round Nicole Kidman sends herself to these and perhaps greater depths of the sole.

I struggle with the entity that is Nicole Kidman; she’s a good actress, but it’s difficult to take her seriously with the amount of work she’s had done on her face. But to her credit as an actress she often manages to suspend disbelief despite the ‘plastic’, but only so long as the role is a good one. She was great in Big Little Lies and here she is stunning. She goes the full Christian bale/chalize Theron, transforming her appearance to really convince us that this is a women barely clinging to life out of sheer habit and stubbornness.

The movie has some great imagery and a considered pacing and nuance that raises it far above most movies with this subject matter. Like Out of Blue it uses its genre trappings and narrative to convey a far deeper subject matter; in this case loss and sadness. Something we can all relate to in that despite our best efforts life always beats us. Kidman’s character has already figured this out and this narrative is her waiting for us to catch up.

That does all sound very depressing and by no means is this movie ‘fun’. But thanks to Karyn Kusama’s artistic choices, her imagery and perspective it’s actually a celebration of life being delivered by this sad tale.

2 Likes

Watched " The Man who killed Hitler and then Bigfoot" , and was pleasantly surprised it was a great vehicle for the considerable charms of Sam Elliot ( would have made a superb Felix Leiter) and a very decent performance from the chap that might be 007 Aidan Turner.
It was a really fun popcorn genre mashup and as a 90 minute diversion I heartily recommend

3 Likes

The title had me hooked from the start. Need to check this out.

For my own indulgence, enjoyed a double feature of the last two Shaft films. “Shaft’s Big Score” and “Shaft in Africa”. Wish Roundtree had gone for a few more.

3 Likes

Me too, they are Fun movies. Shaft in Africa might well be my favourite

1 Like

Went through the Star Wars saga in episode order, including Rogue One (but not Solo). It brought up some interesting issues. First of all, IMO watching in episode order doesn’t work for Star Wars. It ruins some of the big reveals of the OT, mainly that Vader is Luke’s father. I prefer the machete order: IV, V, I, II, III, VI, VII, VIII (Rogue One can come whenever you want). That way, we get the father reveal and then a flashback to show how it came to be. One issue that does crop up though when watching TFA directly after RotJ is that you go from the Empire being vanquished to all of a sudden existing again with no explanation. It’s a bit jarring. Also, I don’t like the machete order that omits Episode I. I disagree that TPM doesn’t add as much to the saga as people claim. It sets up the prophecy and the Jedi’s self-centeredness. Obi-Wan goes from a hotshot kid to a wisened master. Yoda’s speech to young Anakin is a great bit of foreshadowing and the Maul fight is excellent (though I wish he wouldn’t have just been dumped and instead kept returning in the prequel trilogy). Not to mention too, TPM is loads better than Attack of the Clones.

The whole saga does work better in release order rather than chronological setting, as it keeps plot twists and also allows breathing room between ROTJ and TFA

Also it occurs; the prequels assume you’ve seen the original trilogy, whilst the sequel trilogy assumes specific knowledge of the prequels events that the original trilogy relies on you not knowing, The history of palpatine for example…

Has anyone seen Endgame yet?

I’ll be seeing it (Avengers) on Tuesday. Doing my best to avoid spoilers until then.

Yesterday, watched Coco with my daughter and not gonna lie, definitely choked up at the ending when Hector seemed as if he was about to fade away without being able to see his daughter. Made me think of how I’d feel if that were to happen to me.

1 Like

I honestly haven’t seen a Marvel movie in years. I lost interest and got tired of the avalanche. Endgame isn’t going to be the end of it either. But all the best to the people who enjoy it, I guess.

I was going to see Endgame, until I learned the 3hr and 1 minute runtime :astonished:

With the trailers etc that’s nearer 4hrs. Sod that! I’m waiting for it to hit amazon…

They really should introduce intervals for movie’s over 2 and half - they worked very well in the early 80s.

1 Like

But that’s cutting down how many screenings we get in now we’ve screamed the word “unmissable” and “once in a life time” solidly for a year!!! - Disney, 2019

Also, is anyone else a little annoyed at the constant “End of an era!” Line, given Spider-Man: Far From Home has already started its marketing campaign and they’ve already announced Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol 3?

I mean, I get it

spoiler for anyone who has not guessed

Summary

Tony Stark dies. I’d say sorry to anyone who accidentally read that, but I havn’t actually seen the film, but Marvel and WB’s love for announcing things has given the game away (Sherlock Holmes can now move freely in schedules…but that’s nothing compared to Spider-man starring mournfully at a picture of Stark on his phone in the bloody poster)

But when you have at least 3 other films on the way, that’s not an end.

Dude, come on, spoiler tags.

2 Likes

Can never get them to work, but it is just my speculation that I put a bolded warning before in case I’m right.

Edit: How’s that? Have edited in case my educated guess is right,

Do remember it’s my speculation, nothing more, much like

Summary

Captain America, Black Widow, Thor, The Hulk and Hawkeye will have endings, but the sort another director can pick up if wanted. Most will be brought back exactly as they where by the time stone, except Gamora who’ll be pre Guardians version (as necessitated by GOTG 1, GOTG 2 and Infinity WR running into each other)

Also expect the kid from Iron Man 3 to turn up in a cameo to seed an iron man reboot.