I'd forgotten that too. You'll get my reactions to this franchise in a few days.
Not seen yet, but tonight I am going to watch 'What Ever Happened To Baby Jane' on BBC4 at 2100hrs.
I haven't seen this film but have been told it is good.
CARRY ON DOCTOR (1967)
Frankie Howard joins the usual cast in this first of his two Carry On outings. I liked Frankie, his humour appeals to me, he was a one-off, a unique comedian of the like that we will never see again. Frankie plays a faith healer who injures his back and has to spend time in hospital with a group of madcap patients - Sid James (workshy malingerer), Charles Hawtrey (sympathetic pregnancy) and Bernard Bresslaw (love struck). Kenneth Williams plays the registrar and Hattie Jacques the matron (all hospitals should go back to having matrons and they should all be like Hattie 😂). Misunderstandings abound as Barbara Windsor’s sexy nurse causes ructions all around.
I suppose Carry On’s are now cancelled in today’s woke culture, but I find them funny, in the sense of a British seaside postcard style of humour, full of double entendres that make me chuckle. One of the best of the series.
I should give Carry On Doctor a rewatch. I'm also fond of the Carry On series, but when I watched them Carry On Doctor was one of the last I got round to and I think it suffered from a bit of Carry On fatigue on my part. I'd like to rewatch it with fresh eyes, because in line with what you say, it has a reputation as one of the best in the series.
Carry On Doctor was indeed one of the best, as is the one that preceded it, Carry On.... Follow That Camel! which was an attempt to break in to the US market by hiring Phil Silvers in a key role of the kind usually taken by Sid James, the film - called simply Follow That Camel! until rebranded - was unsuccessful, however.
These films are perhaps best to be watched with the family all around and their laughter echoing down through the generations.
Like the Bond films, they went off badly in the mid 70s, unlike the Bonds they never were successfully revived though there were nods to that kind of humour in TV series Blackadder and Benidorm.
[B]Whatever Happened To Baby Jane[/b] is on BBC IPlayer to watch on demand. Released in 1962, the film has Bette Davis and Joan Crawford playing sisters who are actresses. Bette Davis's character (Baby Jane Hudson) is a has-been and Joan Crawford's character (Blanche Hudson) is a popular actress. Jane resents -Blanche's popularity and fame and inflicts physical and emotional abuse on her.
Blanche is paralysed after a car accident and uses a wheelchair. There's a great twist at the end. No spoilers though!
Great film! One of my favourites
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. Stars Nicolas Cage and Pedro Pascal.
If you like Nicolas Cage you'll like this. I enjoyed it very much. Lighthearted, fun and just enough action to keep you interested.
MISSION IMPOSSIBLE MARATHON
MISSION IMPOSSIBLE (1996)
I reviewed this last year. I did watch it again, but there was no need to change my review of a very good thriller:
I can’t tell you guys anything you don’t already know about this cinematic reboot of a 60s/70s TV show. Suffice to say, it was a lot less violent than I recalled – having not seen it since about 2000 and its TV premiere. Yes, there is one tremendously suspenseful [!!!] sequence set in a CIA sealed vault and a hair raising climax atop a Eurostar, but for the most part this movie is a tension and plot twisting, dialogue driven exercise. No shoot outs or karate fights bar a very short incident at the film’s end. The body count is as low as seven. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed it. A few minor quibbles with the plot, but a tremendous lot of fun. The lack of action is refreshing. It’s sub-Hitchcock, after a fashion.
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2 (2000)
A decent effort from John Woo spoilt by having too many slow motion inserts slowing down what should be pulsating action scenes.
A half-way remake of Hitchcock’s Notorious, but a film which chooses to focus on action rather than suspense, a mistake not made by Hitch in his 1946 classic or by Brian De Palma in 1996’s Mission: Impossible. What this film is really attempting to do is out-Bond James Bond, given Pierce Brosnan had so solidified the original and best espionage franchise by the late 1990s. It doesn’t succeed in being a Hitchcock homage or a OO7 imitation. Instead it mixes the two components with a healthy dose of T.V.’s Mission: Impossible and comes up with a stylish, good looking thriller that keeps an audience interested without ever bothering to delve too deeply into character or plot lest they become too bored. There’s some neat byplay with Anthony Hopkins’ spymaster, where he suggests Thandie Newton’s cat-burglar is an expendable woman worth exploiting, and thus Ethan Hunt’s conscience takes another hammering, just as it did in the first film, but that’s about it for character motivations.
While the locations are more exotic than rainy London and oppressive Prague – sunny Seville and Sydney, very nice – the movie, despite the bad guy’s world threatening scheme, feels smaller in scale than any James Bond film. Tom Cruise is suitably robust. I forgot he had long hair in this one. There’s some messing about on motor cycles, several death defying cliff-climbs and another high wire act of some tension [get it ???].
Overall, not bad, but not a patch on the first film.
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 3 (2006)
J.J. Abrams’ directorial debut, after successful television stints with Alias and Lost, begins the ‘excessive action’ phase of the M:I Series. With the first two movies a moderate attempt was made to temper the violence with a semblance of character insight and neatly twisting narratives. Mission: Impossible 3 decides to globe trot excessively [Virginia, USA; Berlin; Rome; Florida; Shanghai] and uses each location for admittedly outstanding slices of action. The night-time helicopter chase across a windfarm was particularly visceral despite being completely implausible. It’s noticeable that even with all the high-tech Impossible Mission Force hardware, this movie basically boils down to a pissed off gun runner threatening to kill a secret agent’s wife. We learn this during a gripping precredit teaser and don’t forget it. So when the wife is kidnapped, we know exactly where the narrative will lead us. The fact this doesn’t affect our enjoyment one iota underlines how mesmerizingly well presented the scenes of suspense and violence are.
In fairness, the writers did include the necessary MacGuffin and it’s better utilised than the NOC List or the Chimera Virus from in the first two outings. Called the Rabbit’s Foot – I kept thinking of Good Luck Charm by Elvis Presley and wondered why the music librarian hadn’t – it is completely irrelevant to the plot. Instead, as before, the MacGuffin is merely a diversionary tool to uncover something rotten at the core of the Impossible Mission Force. Ethan Hunt must turn rogue agent to find the Rabbit’s Foot and save his wife. Yes, you read that right: Ethan Hunt is married. If you can accept the premise that Hunt could ever form a workable, supportive, emotional relationship based on a lie, then I offer you Terminator: Dark Fate to stress how stupid that scenario really is.
Michelle Monaghan is suitably delicate as the wife in question [she’s called Julia Mead]. Ving Rhames returns as cyber expert Luther Stickell. Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Maggie Q play perfunctory I.M.F. agents. Simon Pegg makes an amusing bow as techno wizard Benji Dunn. The best turn comes from Philip Seymour Hoffman as terrorist Owen Davian, a calmly demented arms dealer who emits more physical and psychological menace than any of Pierce Brosnan’s near contemporary Bond villains. This film, by pure spectacle and simplicity, outshines most of the 1990’s OO7 movies and were it not for Daniel Craig’s relaunch at Christmas this same year, the British spy franchise might have bitten dust. Casino Royale wisely reverted to source and left the excesses to the I.M.F. In fact, when Hoffman’s Davian is sprung from an armoured motorcade in the Florida Keys, I could only think how much easier it had been to rescue Franz Sanchez in Licence to Kill. This movie really does demonstrate excess like nothing else.
Regardless, Mission: Impossible 3 is very, very good indeed.
I'm enjoying these reviews, Chris No1. My enjoyment is only tempered by the fact I don't entirely agree - yes, the first one is great fun, well it's Brian De Palma almost in Untouchables mode, slick and stylish. The second would surely be great given John Woo's Face/Off - well, how appropriate is that for a M;I movie? - but was dogged by rewrites so it wasn't what it could have been. The film didn't charm me really. However, for the first time it had that thing of taking Bond set pieces and upgrading them - the car chase rivalry between Cruise and Newton is borrowed off Brosnan and Jamssen in GoldenEye.
The third film I think opened with Cruise being tortured by the torture of his wife or something, I just thought 'naw, this isn't for me' - I can't recall if I saw the rest of it or bits of it later. I think they were trying to address the whole 'Is Cruise's character a ladies' man at all? Will he get married?' snag that seems to dog some of Cruise's films.
Thanks for that @Napoleon Plural
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – GHOST PROTOCOL (2011)
This is the one where Tom Cruise goes climbing around the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Spectacular stuff indeed.
The script writers don’t try to be too clever here. This is a very straight forward chase film. An arms terrorist called Kurt Hendricks is attempting to obtain activation codes for the Russian nuclear fleet. He has pre-recorded his aims, delivering a speech to the U.N. where he expresses his belief that planet Earth and its inhabitants will be better off eking a life in a depopulated nuclear wasteland. Preposterous stuff and heavy going even for Ethan Hunt. We don’t see one mission here, we get to see four and none of them go according to plan. The team don’t use those fantastic masks once, which is a shame but just as well since every bad guy they come across rumbles them accept a for a masochistic sex mad Indian media tycoon. This Impossible Mission Force is impossibly useless and tremendously lucky. They even admit it themselves. I don’t think I’m spoiling anyone’s breakfast by telling you they succeed only by the skin of their teeth.
Another series of great locations [Budapest, Moscow, Dubai, Mumbai, Seattle] get the run around and after a while the atmosphere becomes turgid, around about the time a sandstorm blows across the United Arab Emirates and fails to leave even a token of red dust on the creek. Great set pieces alone can’t disguise the leaden nature of the story which feels twenty minutes, or one mission, too long. Everyone is interconnected so closely you feel it can’t all be coincidence – and it isn’t. There’s a long coda which explains what we haven’t already figured out.
Tom Cruise does his usual accomplishments perfectly well, grinning, running, being the daredevil and generally making sure the whole thing keeps us watching. Interestingly this wasn’t co-produced with Paula Wagner and I wonder if that’s the reason for the over emphasis on action at the expense of serious plotting. The thing tends to plod. The addition of comic book style cut-away humour doesn’t help. Instead it makes the experience too light hearted and that doesn’t sit well next to these stylised and gregarious set-pieces of violence and suspense, well done as they are. The whole thing is, well, impossible.
Jeremy Renner joins the crew. Paula Patton has a revenge motive. Simon Pegg plays it like the joke it is. Tom Wilkinson is uncredited as the fourth boss of the I.M.F. Ving Rhames is missed; so too Michelle Monaghan; both have brief cameos, also uncredited. Lea Seydoux looks remarkably vacant as an assassin for hire whose easily bested. The villain is strangely obscure. Michael Nyqvist looks too old for this kind of affair and when he’s battling Tom Cruise along and around a mechanical high-rise car park, your belief simply has to be suspended, in more ways than one. As if that sandstorm wasn’t enough…
An over-the-top extravaganza of a film. Eye candy for techno geeks, I guess. A soulless experience. Very successful at the box office
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – ROGUE NATION (2015)
The M:I series has always looked a little like James Bond with knobs on and the feeling is confirmed with this fifth instalment which takes as its template a nasty organisation called the Syndicate [a Quantum substitute] and Ethan Hunt has to go it alone to hunt its head honcho, ex-MI6 agent, Solomon Lane [signs of Skyfall]. Sean Harris doesn’t quite have the gravitas of Javier Bardem, but he does a competent enough job and convinces as a steely, slick, shadow figure, who manipulates rather than kills. He’s equally good at both mind. It’s noticeable that both this film and Spectre [released the same year, but at Christmas] end in night time London and with a companion strapped to a bomb. I wonder if the screenwriters are constantly idea swapping? After all, Skyfall nicked the idea of a NOC list, and No Time to Die’s nanobot thing is remarkably similar to M:I 2’s Chimera virus. Both series have pinched Hannibal Lecter’s sealed glass prison, so stealing isn’t only between franchises. The idea of the British secret service being corrupt is hardly new either, but Craig-Bond used that to death, so when Simon McBurney’s Atlee is found to have authorised a rogue organisation [the Syndicate] we’re not surprised. I was mildly amused McBurney bore a resemblance to that arch-Brexiteer and ‘no fan of experts’ Michael Gove; was that deliberately topical, I wondered?
What really happens in this one, once we get over noticing the homages, is another globetrotter, from Belarus to London, then Havana, Vienna, Casablanca and finally back to London and Oxford. Tom Cruise kicks the action off with a ludicrous stunt hanging onto a plane [Octopussy, anyone?] and the pace hardly lets up. Writer / director Christopher McQuarrie has form for this type of convoluted thing having been responsible for The Usual Suspects. He’s never so subtle here, but manages to pull off a phenomenal effort which really does feel and look like the sort of James Bond film we wanted in 2015. Okay, it’s pinching scenes left and right [a trip to the Vienna State Opera being the most obvious] but the certain familiarity becomes rather endearing. It’s as if Cruise and Co are sticking a thumb up at OO7 and saying: “There you go, matey, match that.” Sadly, Spectre didn’t, chiefly because it too involves a rogue James Bond doing everything muscular himself and relying on techno geeks to get him out of trouble. This time, it was OO7 who looked the impersonator – was Craig actually Cruise wearing an I.M.F. mask? Ethan Hunt is aided by Rebecca Ferguson’s on-the-run and undercover MI6 agent Ilsa Faust, with whom he shares a familiar spikey relationship. Jeremey Renner and Ving Rhames return. So too Simon Pegg, who is given much screen time with Cruise as the two enact a sort of Butch and Sundance comedy act while the mayhem ensues all round them.
The ad breaks made the film seem longer than it is, although occasionally one senses the hand being removed off the tiller and put on the throttle. There’s a big, watchable underwater stunt which apparently was done for real. I’m fairly certain only the easiest bits were done for real: if the power turbine had kicked in with the star in the water, I’m fairly certain he’d be dead by now. The fights are spectacular – by which I mean ridiculously over-the-top. More messing about in cars and on motorbikes keeps the pace rapid. Casablanca looks empty. So too London, unless you like pop-up restaurants. Belarus could be anywhere. The tension was best in Vienna with triple execution squads aiming to eliminate the Austrian Chancellor. The reveal scene in front of Tom Hollander’s British P.M. was the most exquisitely scripted, harking back to McQuarrie’s early days. He’s clever enough also to remember about inserting teasers into the rapid fire credits, which both J.J. Abrams and Brad Bird forgot. The incidental music is very good. A big cheery wave to composer Joe Kraemer.
By the end, I felt quite content. It ticks all the prerequisite boxes and comes out with a decent, low key ending, which almost mirror’s Spectre. You really do have to wonder if there was some screenplay-swapping going on. I doubt it, but the similarities are all too obvious. This movie, really, is where Quantum should have ended up after Skyfall, not as a component of a greater evil, but as Mr White’s evil all on his own. I mean how hard was it not to see that? I’m digressing, but that’s because compared to Spectre, M:I 5 or Rogue Nation or whatever you want to call it is a bloody marvel.
Thoroughly enjoyed this.
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – FALLOUT (2018)
Still looking and feeling like a bits and pieces James Bond, the Mission: Impossible series continues on its merry way with the I.M.F. crew wreaking more untold havoc. This one’s a dour affair though, with hardly a moment of humour in it, so concerned is Christopher McQuarrie in tying up every loose end of the past three films. Several characters return, although Jeremy Renner is missing, replaced by a C.I.A. turncoat called August Walker [Henry Cavill]. He’s not a capable agent and Ethan Hunt rightly suspects him from the off. The film doesn’t do anything we don’t expect. Gun fights, fist fights and chases are de rigour. Every action sequence seems a bit too obvious and strung out way past the use by dates: three chases in Paris, one after another; a silly public fight at a charity bash; an elongated punch up in a gentleman’s washroom [clearly ripped off from Casino Royale]; another rooftop run around; another bomb defusing; another clever reveal; another rock face climb to salvation. This one doesn’t even have the expected break-in or break-out, so it’s low on spectacle until we get to the climax in Kashmir which then stretches our credulity to breaking point. Turning a fifteen minute countdown into thirty minutes of delirious action is elastic indeed.
The MacGuffin is a cache of three plutonium cores. Solomon Lane’s Syndicate has reformed as the Apostles [Spectre, anyone?] and is embarking on a ruthless terror campaign, which he appears to be orchestrating from his prison cell [No Time to Die, anyone?]. Their arch leader John Lark wants to spring Lane from prison, although it isn’t clear why: he’s doing a damn fine job on his own. Rebecca Ferguson returns as an MI6 assassin. Alec Baldwin, Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames make up the I.M.F. team. Vanessa Kirby cuts a dash in evening gowns as the arms dealer and go-between cryptically called the White Widow. Even Michelle Monaghan puts in an appearance. Simon Harris is less effective this time as Solomon Lane. Henry Cavill proves he’s not really any good as a bad guy or an action star. Growing facial hair doesn’t inform your character; it only makes him standout like a prize bull in a sheep pen. His role as Walker – telegraphed as it is – is the weakest link in a generally weak film. For me, on this, he’s out as Bond.
Despite all the tough stuff on show, the film doesn’t succeed anywhere nearly as well as numbers 1, 3 or 5. Its steadfast lack of any humour can take most of the blame. Fallout, with its overarching pedantic themes of nuclear terrorism, mass murders, betrayal and trust is simply too heavy going for a good time, much like the action scenes. McQuarrie really should have taken a look at the 1996 original – or even the T.V. series – to figure out how to create a suspenseful story without extensive and unbelievable violent incident. This one doesn’t even have the benefit of a decent trick ending, that’s come half way. Instead we get a bland ‘hunt the thimble’ sequence and all the tetchy, ferocious silliness a production team can conjure in forty minutes.
Too long and taking itself way too seriously. Time for a rethink, Tom.
SPARROWS CAN’T SING (1963)
I’ve never seen this before, and wow, what a treat I’ve missed. Sailor James Booth returns to the East End of London after two years at sea to find his home demolished and his wife (Barbara Windsor) , with a new baby, living with a bus driver (George Sewell) who is separated from his own wife. There’s not much plot to the film, just Booth trying to find his wife and the ructions that happen when they meet at the local pub. The cast is amazing, lots of early turns from actors who would go onto to find fame in tv and films - Roy Kinnear, Brian Murphy and Yootha Joyce (George and Mildred), Murray Melvin, Arthur Millard and Queenie Watts (Romany Jones), Bob Grant and Stephen Lewis (On The Buses), Victor Spinetti, Harry H Corbett (Steptoe), John Junkin and Rita Webb, amongst others. Stephen Lewis (Blakey in On The Buses) wrote the script. There is extensive use of real locations including The Kentucky Club which was owned by the Kray twins. As a look at life in 60’s London it is wonderful, the knees-up at the pub with a live band and a stripper is evocative of the era, when I first frequented pubs as a teenager in the early 70’s this was still par for the course, great memories.
Sparrows gets one star out of 5 in the Radio Times - no idea why. My mum was a fan of it - a scene with Barbara Windsor, a pram and a two bridge tickled her. James Booth was great in it too and lots of British stalwarts. Written, as you say, by Blakey.... It's fun stuff. Booth had a way of the young Connery about him, I think they were taking notes off each other almost though.
Booth turned up in last night's Robbery, directed by Paul Yates who was handpicked by Steve McQueen to direct Bullitt on the basis of the film's exciting opening car chase around London. Robbery is based on the actual Great Train Robbery of a few years earlier and stars Stanley Baker as the guy carrying out the heist, Booth is the police officer assigned to the case and possibly the blueprint for John Thaw's Regan in The Sweeney, There's little to connect him to Sparrows Can't Sing assuming I've got the right actor.
It's a very decent low-key thriller, almost documentary style. You don't quite root for the cops or the robbers, though. Some interesting settings for discussing the crime - one at a football match, the other a two-minute jog around a park, one hopes the actors did it in one take or they would have to have been very fit!
That’s why I take no notice of professional movie critics - in general they all follow each other like a herd of sheep - scared of being different - I much more enjoy amateur reviews on here, whether I agree or not - that’s part of the fun - but for me Sparrows Can’t Sing was a wonderful piece of history reflecting a period of time that I grew up in. But at the end of the day movies are personal and everyone’s own critique is the only one that really counts.
I haven’t seen Robbery for many years, but it’s a great film directed by Peter Yates - slip of the tongue @Napoleon Plural you said Paul Yates - who cut his directional teeth on The Saint and Danger Man tv series before finding fame in Bullitt, and the best ever car chase on film.
SILVER STREAK (1976)
Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor pair up for the first time in this marvellous comedy thriller. When Wilder sees a murder on a train, events escalate as Patrick McGoohan’s fraudulent art dealer aims to eliminate all the witnesses. Clifton James is excellent as a thinly disguised JW Pepper and Richard Kiel stars a henchman with metal teeth a full year before TSWLM - Cubby must have loved this movie 😁
This is a really good movie, you could mistake it for a Hitchcock inspired film, it’s funny, thrilling and suspenseful. Excellent.
I have no idea where the icon below has come from and I can’t delete it so please ignore 😂
I watched this today, pretty much entirely off your recommendation, Lady Rose 🍸
You are spot on…although it was a surprise to see Sharon Horgan in this 👀 and I really enjoyed it 👍🏻
The Batman (2022)
This is very different from Batman & Robin, and that's a good thing. But is it too dark? The closest it gets to other movies in style and tone is The Joker and Seven. A popular fan theory says that Seven is set in Gotham before Batman, and after watching The Batman this makes a lot of sense. Paul Dano plays the Riddler as a very sinister serial killer and Batman and Jeffrey Wright's Gordon. I'd like to see Wright showing his range more often. He seems to play a brooding character who mumbles a lot in many movies, including here. It fits this character and movie, but I'd like to see him doing something very different. Robert Pattinson like Wright fits the character he's playing and the movie well, but the role as Batman doesn't offer many chances to show his range as an actor. Many would like to see him as James Bond, but I can't back him based on this movie. His Bruce Wayne isn't a charming playboy here, instead he's more of a reclusive goth. The fighting is brutal and more down to earth than other Batman movies, but it's hard to say if it's Robert Pattinson or a stuntman behind the mask. In my opinion The Batman is an interesting and well made version of the character, an experiment that shows Batman in a different (lack of) light. I enjoyed it, but I'm not sure I want to see any sequels.
I watched this yesterday too 🤣
I thought it was tremendous…very much style over substance but I didn’t think that was issue…be very interesting to see where they go with this now…
I enjoyed it, but I enjoyed Nolan's trillogy more.
I saw this on TV in the mid 2000s and had a blast with it. I see it's just popped up on The Criterion Channel for a limited time so I will definitely be giving it a rewatch,
Glad you enjoyed it. 😊
I was surprised to see Sharon Horgan too. She pops up in some unexpected places.
THE TROUBLE WITH GIRLS (1969)
This is an oddity in the Elvis Presley canon. Late in his movie career he took a few strange turns: a spaghetti western in Charro, a swinging sixties acid fuelled sex comedy in Live a Little Love a Little, a rodeo rider in Stay Away Joe, etc. The songs became conspicuous by their relative absence and while the results were patchy, at least Elvis appeared to be stretching his acting chops a little. The Trouble With Girls is based on a novel Chautauqua, by Day Keene and Dwight Vincent Balcock. The novel was a crime mystery surrounding a murder at a Chautauqua travelling show. I don’t know what these are; some sort of strange travelling carnival. It’s set in 1927. It’s a seedy little number about the crooked fair manager, his shop steward love interest, a card sharp, a philandering pharmacist and two cute kids who win a talent show. Part Pollyanna, part Charlie Chan at the Circus, part all-round-disaster, no part successful, this tired exercise was a difficult watch. Several times I wanted to turn the telly off and walk out. I impressed myself by sticking through to the end.
There are songs, somewhere, but the whole project appears ill-conceived. Apparently it had been mooted as a movie for Elvis as early as 1960, but various scripting and production issues had halted it. You can see why. Devoid of humour or subtlety, this is a dud from the outset. Elvis’ character Walter Hale, going rather against type, is described as a salesman with a forked tongue. He smokes, drinks and ogles the women in a sleepy Iowa town, although he only has real eyes for one: the union boss Charlene. Cue romance. I’d almost say Elvis is half-way decent, but he’s let down by everyone else, accept for a masterful five minutes from Vincent Price as Mr Morality, a sideshow entertainer. When the movie kicked off, I thought director Peter Tewksbury was being clever and showing us the story from a child’s eye point of view. But he dispenses with this after half an hour or so. Whatever charm The Trouble With Girls did possess, it lost it immediately after the switch.
With about fifteen minutes to go and the film stalling in the projection room, there’s a sudden shift in camera work and style as Elvis sings Clean Up Your Own Back Yard, a decent slightly chilling blues which inhabits the same groove he’d occupied in the run up to and during the NBC TV Special, stuff like Big Boss Man and Guitar Man. The filming of it is totally sixties, all zooms, close ups, weird angles, disorientating blurry lights. It puts the rest of the camerawork for the film, hell, the rest of the film, period, to shame. Very odd.
At the end, the train to Des Moines pulls out of the station, but to be brutally honest, this one’s a train wreck in anybody’s book.
I spent a few days in the UK, and a couple of days ago, on my flight back home, I took in a pair of films. First up was the critically roasted MORBIUS. It wasn't as bad as I'd heard--at least it didn't make me want to jump out of the plane--but it's not a particularly good movie. There is nothing in it I hadn't seen before (two characters raised as brothers, both with powers, one becomes good and the other beco. . .zzzzzz), and there was no sense of fun or adventure to at least make the familiar trip enjoyable. Next up, though, was a great surprise: BOILING POINT, with the always-great Stephen Graham as a chef on the edge. The film is in the "one continuous shot" format (like BIRDMAN) and follows everyone working at Graham's high-end restaurant. Surprisingly tense and probing. And then I landed--one day before my luggage.
On my recent vacation to Europe, I watched a few films on the airplane to pass the time.
THE NORTHMAN (2022)
I thought this was fantastic. The plot itself is like a fairly simplistic revenge story but it's all given a very polished Viking world with a tad of Shakespearian intrigue in there to keep it all engaging. Essentially, a Viking prince sees his father get murdered by his uncle. He runs away and comes back 20 years later seeking revenge. There's more to it than that (I'm being deliberately vague) but, from a high level, that's the main crux of the story.
The world building here is phenomenal. Substituting Northern Ireland for Norway, Russia, and Iceland, it all looks and feels extremely authentic...very raw and gritty. The action is all extremely well done and violent to the nth degree without devolving into cartoonishness. The acting is solid from everyone with Anya Taylor-Joy particularly impressing. She also starred in THE WITCH, the first movie from this film's director (Robert Eggers) and I kinda think she's even better here.
I liked this so much that I bought it when I got home and showed it to my wife who also loved it.
The latest Michael Bay actioner. I guess it's a remake of another European film. Whatever, this film is mainly an excuse to blow stuff up while doing a car chase in an ambulance. Some interesting camera shots aside (usually involving drone cameras swooping through action scenes), this is a fairly worthless movie. The script tries to be cute with a lot of self-referential material (usually poking fun at Michael Bay's prior films, especially THE ROCK) but generally exists as a paper thin template upon which to stage action sequences.
Wait for highlight clips to hit Youtube of some of the action sequences. Avoid the movie itself.
THE MATRIX: RESURRECTIONS (2021)
It's...ok? We didn't need a 4th movie as the prior trilogy ended rather definitively, but we got one anyways. Apparently Warner Brothers wanted more and they got one...indeed, a big thing in the movie is a lot of self-referential humor regarding the existence of the prior films and the need for more.
The meta humor works pretty well and Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Ann Moss are both in good form. The plot itself is rather wonky in spots but it works if you don't think about it too hard. I had fun with it for the most part although it never comes close to topping the first film. I did appreciate that it didn't get up its own butt in the same manner that parts 2 and 3 did.
Did you like DARK CITY? Did you like EXISTENZ? Do you like the current WESTWORLD on HBO? Then you might like this, as it's made by the same people that are currently doing WESTWORLD. Essentially, Hugh Jackman runs a business in the future where people can rewatch their memories. People can do this of their own accord if they want to relive pleasant memories from the past OR the courts can order it done to extract information. Thandiwe Newton is Jackman's assistant. Rebecca Ferguson comes in and wants to find out where she left her car keys. Jackman ends up falling for her for reasons. When she disappears, he goes down a rabbit hole of past memories to try and find out what happened.
It's ok. The production design is excellent, featuring an Earth in the future where the coastal cities are partially underwater and land/resources are getting scarce. The acting is also pretty solid from everyone. Where the film falters is with the pacing...it's too languid to keep things going. It needs more oomph.
It's worth watching once but just have tempered expectations.
Very efficient movie reviewing, Gymkata!
Efficient is my middle name!
This was one of my options on my flight too…glad I gave it a wide berth now 👍🏻
@Gymkata , thanks for The Northman review…I’ll check this out on my flight back - hopefully it will still be an option to view 🍸
It was kinda what I expected without me actually having THAT much of an idea what it was 🤪🤣