Recent films – Summer 2022

It’s been something of a slow summer season for films this year.

Layer Cake

And in the beginning there was ‘Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels‘, and the people saw it and liked it and told their friends, who also saw it and liked it and told their friends.,

And then, after some time, it had earned 28 million dollars on a budget of just 1.4 million.

And the film executives and producers and directors looked at this return and saw that it was good.

And thus began the late 90s wave of UK-based dramedy crime capers.

Layer Cake arrived towards the end of this wave; set in a more New Labour but very much pre-Great Recession London, Layer Cake is lighter on both the humour and darkness, but heavier on the drama than ‘Lock, Stock…‘ and, in some ways, has aged better for it. The initial Mcguffin revolves around several boxes of ecstasy stolen from continental neo-nazis and the ensuing plot is well rounded though not particularly difficult to follow. For what it, is it’s well filmed and well paced and has some credible performances from actors who shortly went on to become much bigger.

Terminator: Dark Fate

One of the more interesting things about the Terminator (and, to a somewhat lesser extent, Terminator’s 2 and 3) is that the human characters are massively outmatched by the machines, whether or not they are friend or foe. Kyle Reese – a battle hardened soldier who spent his formative years in the ruins of a post nuclear war L.A. – chooses to run rather than fight. The second Terminator drives a battalion of police officers away from the offices of Cyberdyne Systems whilst simultaneously choosing not to kill a single one. The humans shown are fragile and weak, and the movies are not afraid to show this.

The Police Station scene from The Terminator. The Terminator is unrelenting and inhuman – as it should be.

Terminator: Dark Fate does none of this – Sarah Connor is smashed against a wall and, almost immediately, gets up and continues to fight. People are pulled, yanked, and pushed in ways would have left Connor and Reese bloody and crippled messes in the first instalment. The horror that comes from watching a vulnerable person whom you could empathise with and easily place yourself in the shoes of has been lost – replaced with a sub-Marvel experience that wastes both the viewers and casts time.

Skip.

Terminator 2

Technically stunning, this sequel to the classic ‘Terminator’ is somewhat let down by a ‘Boy’s Own Adventure‘ plot overly focused on Edward Furlong’s precocious yet by-the-numbers John Connor rather than the more interesting Sarah Connor or Miles Dyson. At over 30 years old, it remains an entertaining watch but, alas, inferior to the original.

Where the Crawdads Sing

Where the Crawdads Sing‘ has two simple premises – why is there a funny girl in the woods swamp and did she kill that arsehole of a boy? Well filmed and well acted, ‘Where the Crawdads Sing‘ suffers from something of a split personality – does it want to be a tail of a self-sufficient young woman struggling to maintain a remote way of life that makes her while still engaging in meaningful human relationships with others, or does it wish to be a legal potboiler that slowly reveals her mens rea before a final denouement revealing whether or not she actually did it? It doesn’t know and, having watched this film, I was left with the vague feeling that thoroughly committing to one of these routes would have produced a better piece.