Some notes on films and loosely film-shaped things that I’ve recently watched.

The Two Popes

From the Vatican’s New Media department comes… ‘The Two Popes’; a 125 minute explanation of how the infallibility of the Catholic Church turned out to be a little less infallible than initially thought. Ultimately, we find out that while the old Pope was old fashioned, dogmatic, and bad (and was conscripted by nazis as a boy), the new Pope is in touch, modern, and an all round good egg (who just so happened to choose to back murderous dictators as an adult). Like most of the Netflix Original movies, it has that odd TV/Film hybrid feel about how it was produced that I am yet to become comfortable with.

YMMV.

Batman

Brooding. Dark. And yet not just a little hammy. It’s Batman from 1989! Possibly the second best of the 90s (yes, I know…) superhero movies, it was a valiant attempt to move away from the campy, fun style of the Adam West show. Did it work? I’m not certain, but what I am certain of is that it was the best of the 90s run of Batman films.

Batman Returns

Blessed with additional ham, this is the difficult second album of the 90s Batman movies. While still quite clearly a Tim Burton Batman movie, it’s certainly the lesser of the two; pacing, characterisation and plot all leave something to be desired.

Batman Forever

Probably the worst of the 90s Batman movies, Batman Forever manages to sit uncomfortably between the brooding gothicness of the first two batman films and the camp fun of Batman And Robin without fully embracing either. Jim Carrey at his most irritating makes this one best to avoid.

Batman and Robin

The nipple-suited Batman movie and the final nail in the coffin of a franchise that had lost it’s way. Even further away from Burton’s gothic vision of Batman movies, this is a sad, seaside-out-of-season attempt at recreating the fun of the 60s TV show.

But at least Schwarzenegger appears to be having fun.

Jesus Christ Superstar

A Lloyd Webber adaptation, this time with just enough of an ‘Occupy’ makeover to make it seem edgy yet not too much that it scares the Mail readers. You either care for this kind of thing or you don’t. I didn’t.

Mary Queen of Scots

Wonderfully shot though the edit could - perhaps - have been a little tighter. Excluding the meeting, the plot is reasonably faithful to history however the characterisation and narrative perspective is oddly whiplash - it flips between strongly backing Mary against Elizabeth to strongly backing Elizabeth against Mary, seemingly at random and, occasionally, mid scene.

Also the lack of comma in the official title offends me.

Ocean’s Eleven

George Clooney being George Clooney having fun being George Clooney and having a slightly better time than we are. Inoffensive fodder possibly created to sell to the long haul airline industry. While it’s probably best compared to an average scone - the one with jam but no clotted cream - in a provincial art gallery cafe, it is a little hard to justify its existence.

Ocean’s Twelve

As above but with one more person.

Ocean’s Thirteen

As Ocean’s Eleven but with two more people.

Ocean’s 8

As Ocean’s Eleven but with Sandra Bullock and three less people but several more women.

Parasite

A fun black comedy who’s humour manages to transcend the subtitle barrier. A little weak in the last 10 minutes it is, never the less, certainly worth a watch and one I will be looking to re-view when it hits a streaming service.

Red Dwarf: The Promised Land

Some of the best post season 5 Red Dwarf going - though it does wear it’s long term future as two separately edited episodes rather heavily. If that seems like faint praise then you’d be correct.

Salt

A fairly by-the-numbers Angelina Jolie vehicle. I’s path from A to B is a little convoluted but not radical radical (for the genre) and that doesn’t stop it from being a suitable background accompaniment to a beer and a curry.

Zombieland

The better of the two Zombieland movies, this remains a fun little vehicle that hasn’t aged perceptibly in the past 10 years and, at only 88 minutes, doesn’t outstay it’s welcome.