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.

Continue reading

Recent Films

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.

Continue reading

Ad Astra – The ‘Is this a review?’ Post

Is this a review? Probably, but sometimes it’s quite hard to tell. Anyway, earlier today I braved the train-tram combination to see Ad Astra at the local IMAX.

And it’s a funny little thing – part 2001: A Space Odyssey, part Apocalypse Now, odd little bits that felt almost like b-reel from Beyond the Black Rainbow (especially certain parts of the Mars sequence) and what appeared to be some very visible sellotape.

The plot is relatively straight forward; bad things start happening to Earth, the military dispatch a man to the outer reaches of the solar system where they think his estranged father might be responsible for these bad things occurring, the hero stops them and then comes home to tell everyone that the universe is otherwise empty of life and so we should be happier and nicer to each other.

And yet we take a number of odd diversions along the way. Lunar rover driving moon pirates attack the hero as he transits between two American controlled installations and then, shortly afterwards, a brief stop-off at a Norwegian space station sees a barely introduced secondary character die via free-floating space baboon. Major actors (SutherlandNegga]) turn up for a few minutes, move the plot along a little and then disappear, never to be seen again. Liv Tyler – who, miraculously, actually manages to appear in all three acts! – seems to live in a parallel universe where every camera has a thin sheen of vaseline covering every lens. FX are what you would expect from a film of this budget and time-period but with only limited moments where it goes beyond the norm. There were no real moments where the IMAX format was used to it’s full effect.

I came away confused at what this film wanted to be – Apocalypse Now2001? A mediation on the need for family and community? A condemnation of the idea of sending people far outside of their natural habitat? – and, because of that, I walked away with a strong feeling that Ad Astra was far less than the sum of it’s influences and that this flaw ran all the way back to the beginnings of the production.

Recent Films

Notes on films I’ve recently watched.

28 Days Later

See here

Contagion

A medical drama with clear roots in The War GameThreads and The Day After. Well filmed and well cast, it seems to loose confidence in the story it’s trying to tell when it diverges into a Chinese kidnap plot that neither explores the desperation that a village in China might feel or ratchets up the overall tension.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Rubbish! A mish-mash of ideas and themes and – quite possibly – scripts makes this a terrible sequel. The first – though a little wooden in places – understood the concept of the slow reveal and that, while human drama was a traditional element of a Godzilla movie, the drama was always wrapped around the actions of the monsters rather than the other way around.

Oddly enough, I think there was actually the hint of a good idea hidden under the layers of mess. The eco-terrorism angle had potential legs and could have led to a very nice Night Moves-with-giant-monsters concept. Perhaps that’s an idea who’s time has yet to come?

Continue reading

An Alien short for the 40th anniversary of the first film

Alien turns 40 this year and, to me, remains the pinnacle of horror movies and ranks amongst the top tiers of the science fiction pantheon.

Dirty, claustrophobic, unrelenting; it was the complete opposite of another great personal favourite – 2001: A Space Odyssey. Gone was the shining white heat of Kubrick and Clarke’s future, where a top tier crew pushes the boundaries of man’s knowledge with not a mote of dust to be seen. Instead our A Team is replaced with tired industrial workers, each one vested in little more than getting safely back home with their pay packet in their pockets. It was a grimy, tired future, one created by people worn out by the end of the post war dream and who were looking to see a future that reflected a present that refused to change.

Interestingly enough though, both crews get screwed over by a remote governance structure that doesn’t trust them and an artificial intelligence that acts as their local agent. Apparently some fears never change.

As part of this 40th anniversary celebration, a set of Alien themed shorts has been commissioned. The first, below, is a nicely compact piece that manages reflect the fear and claustrophobia of the original film whilst ignoring the pseudo-philosophical tripe that tainted recent efforts. I look forward to the release of the remaining shorts over the next month or so.