Friday, 18 August 2017

An actors senses are so finely attuned

Handsome: A netflix mystery movie (2017)
Chosen by me as I like Jeff Garlin.

Making an interesting companion piece to yesterdays Girlfriends Day  - another netflix original film, short (about 80 mins), with a pointless mystery (that maybe one of the films jokes as the whole thing is kind of a Columbo spoof) and rambling shaggy dog structure bolstered by great cast (including - again - Natasha Lyonne).
This one is more overtly comedic but lethargically paced and it's odd world not so compelling as the noir tinged greetings card celebrities.
That said, it has it's charming moments, some of the goofy humour hits and it's amiable enough.
Steven Weber is, as ever, terrific.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

They make me feel better somehow

Girlfriend's Day
Chosen by me scanning through netflix for something I haven't seen and Bob Odenkirk is amazing.

At a scant few minutes over an hour long this barely qualifies as a film but it also doesn't allow for it's central joke to become too laboured.
It feels a little like a Mr. Show with Bob and David sketch idea stretched out, with most things more obviously representing a joke excised - the central gag being it takes this version of the world seriously. A world where greeting card writers are more akin to stand-up comedians, with the hangers on and a-list and c-list stars.
Each scene explores a different facet of this peculiar set-up wrapped up in a neo-noir and nihilistic plot (the one murder is almost entirely pointless) all hanging on Odenkirk's terrific performance.
Many interesting faces pop up for a scene or two to never come back again, some, like Natasha Lyonne and Stacey Keach more obviously a pastiche of film noir tropes, others like Andy Richter or Ed Begley Jnr. just adding flavour to a funny but melancholy tale.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Don't worry about the dead man in the bath tub, it's not what it looks like.

Violet and Daisy (2011)
Chosen by me by looking at netflix for a film I hadnt heard of.

It's easy to see how this one slipped through the cracks despite an interesting cast and a writer/director fresh off an oscar win. 
It's too slight, too odd, too arch without really being any good.
Every now and then its strange fairytale vibe almost coalesces into something, if not meaningful, at least fun but the energy is so low key as to be non-existent which harms it's chance at becoming a cult oddball curiosity.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

There are two types of beings in the universe: those who dance, and those who do not.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
Chosen by me as I like to go to the cinema a lot and the first one was chunks of fun.

Though it is funny (and that's enough) Gunn seems bored by the fight scenes and,  2/3 times, does a hacky joke where the action is happening in the background and the foreground is a contrasting mundane thing - though at least it's not the really bad just reaction shots malarkey.
The way the first integrated the music went beyond trying to sell a cool tie in album and made for an unexpected emotional throughline - here the daddy issues are more rote and having a discussion over the meaning of one of the songs meaning seems a forced way of replicating it.
There's a really, bizarrely strong fast and the furious vibe going on through the whole movie with it's emphasis on family both by blood and by choice, and baddies becoming staunch allies with little to back up the heel/face change.
The first one has a dull villain but at least the plot's structure makes sense, this one seems to meander for a while then suddenly darts all over the place (i mean i kinda adore Stallone's team but why are they taking up time at the end? that whole ravagers plot is super clunky).
Still despite these flaws making it not quite as good as the first one it is hugely enjoyable, fun, silly, exciting - hard to be too disappointed by that really.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Playing "Disintegration" by the Cure

Ant-Man (2015)
Chosen by me on netflix last night though i had seen it at the cinema

Ostensibly Marvel Studios have been trying to give their movies a different feel. Winter Soldier was meant to be more political thriller. This was meant to be a heist flick. 
In actuality they are all pretty much the same tone-wise. Luckily that tone includes being breezily entertaining, with a good mix of humour, stakes and character based shenanigans. 
Ant-Man can't quite escape the shadow of Iron man (there's some similar plot beats here and a very similar villain - though it gets some points by not hiding the fact this time) but is still a lot of fun.
It's hard to know the behind the scenes details, and it will always be a shame we didnt get the Edgar Wright vision for this film (he and Joe Cornish! get screenplay credit and there a couple of moments that feel very much in Wright's style) but Peyton Reed does a solid job.
One of the most commendable things about Ant-Man is that it gets weird pretty quickly and doesnt care too much (oh sure there's a sub-atomic world where time and space cease to matter, oh sure i can control ants who can do all sorts of cool stuff).
One of the least commendable things about Ant-Man is that it goes out of it's way to explain why a woman is not the lead. Instead of, you know, just making a woman the lead. Still the next film gives title billing to both Ant-Man and Wasp, so that's something I guess.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world.

The Little Prince (2015)
Chosen by me as it was on Netflix and I had been introduced to it via the medium of board game by a friend.

Perhaps not quite as well known here as in it's native France or the States (I was mostly aware of it for being referenced in a Futurama episode) Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's slight tale is expanded for this film, mostly successfully.
The newly added modern day framework may annoy purists but it adds a Neil Gaiman-esque element to the proceedings making it a tale about how tales are told, and why they are so important.
The two clashing styles of animation end up marrying together quite well though it's hard not to long for the more retro stop motion style look of the Aviator's story over the smooth but slightly bland modern cg take of the contemporary story line.
The whole thing is charming and affecting, funny and a little sad. 
Not quite to the standard of another classic children's lit. animated adaptation, The Iron Giant but worthy of being talked about in the same breath. 

Here is a video of a couple of my friends talking about the original book in which you get to see some of the delightful art before playing the rather splendid and cut-throat board game

Saturday, 12 August 2017

A writer writes a novel, a songwriter writes a song, we do what we can to endure.

A Ghost Story (2017)
Chosen by me as I like to go to the cinema a lot.

A haunting melancholy film that turns from being about grief into something more extraordinary and metaphysical before turning again and becoming very human and grounded.
It may be too dry to bring on the tears but it's hard to imagine a sadder film this year (though it has some very funny jokes - these too are bone dry).
Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck* are terrific with very little dialogue and the sheeted ghost manages to be expressive perhaps because of it's blankness (we project/empathise onto the sheet in the same way light projects onto a screen).
Indeed, one reading of the film makes us into one of the ghosts, observing, without being able to interact fully. This is why we see Mara eating that pie for so, so long from a single angle, different to the ghosts point of view who we can see in the background. 
A truly unique film. 

*yeah he's a prick in real life. Hard to ignore that.