TENET***. non


WOULD THAT I had the intellect and time to better understand the weird and wonderful world of quantum physics. It’d be, without doubt, worth the time. Without doubt the reward for such understanding would be an unique insight into the nature of how our reality actually functions. TENET (or spelt backward, TENET. Gosh ain’t that clever) is a movie that dramatizes the idea of ‘time inversion’, where the linear world of time that as we experience it, is only one reality. As the theory goes, when entropy collapses, time can move backward or something.

If it’s worth the time and effort to try to understand quantum theory; the big questions with TENET, is, is it worth your time trying to understand this film? Would your appreciation and wonder of the world, or even of, say basic tenets of human behaviour, be appreciably increased? A more interesting conundrum: since time inversion reverses time, can I get my money back? I know I can’t get my time back.

Only a quantum review of TENET can do it full justification without spoiling it for everyone…a Nolan-esque multiverse review: where I‘ve both seen it, understood it and so loved it. And one where I chicken out of going to the cinema, didn’t see it and feel that had I done so I would have loved it (It’s Christopher Nolan after all; the poor man’s Terrence Malick); or one where I did see it, couldn’t be arsed to understand it and felt disappointedly underwhelmed by the whole experience

Call it the Schroeder review

The plot is a sort of Dan Brown metaphysics story with the meta left out: A really bad man with a pretend Russian accent (Kenneth Branagh) is planning on destroying the world unless our protagonist, the charismatic John David Washington, called The Protagonist, (because…see below) and his buddy Robert Pattinson (surprisingly good), both wearing great suits, stop him. The only way they can do this (natch) is to go forward or sometime backward in time. The present can only defeated by roping in the future. Or Branagh’s ‘wife’, Elizabeth Debicki (wasted)

And the forward backward time inversion executions are often stunning: buildings that explode and de-explode while people are running forward and backward to and from them; an imaginative car chase that’s happening on the two temporal places simultaneously; and some clever twists that semi explain what’s going on, or went on or will go on.

But it’s difficult to get engaged with a group of characters when you have no idea who they are beyond their role as bodies to drive a plot forward (hence the Protagonist lacking a name/identity/human characteristics?); and it’s impossible to get excited by the drama and tension of a plot when cause and effect are so tangentially related and when the story is so confusing you can’t really grasp who’s doing what to whom and why.

The reviews keep referring to this as a James Bond -like movie. If I were Barbara Broccoli I’d sue them for libel.

TENET writer/director: Christophe Nolan (version, Batman) with John David Washington (BlackKKlansman) Robert Pattinson (The Twilight Saga), Kenneth Branagh, Elizabeth Debicki (Widows). Cinematographer: Hoyte Van Hoytema (Ad Astra, Dubkirk). Composer: Ludwig Goransson (The Mandalorian). Production Design: Nathan Crowley (First Man, Dunkirk)

 

 

INFORMATION HUNTERS by Kathy Peiss


THIS IS A (mercifully) short and thoroughly absorbing book, which to my cinema-oriented mind, is one with multiple potential, gripping movies, just waiting to be made.

It’s written by American cultural historian Kathy Peiss, ostensibly about her uncle Reuben. He was the skinny eldest son of a Russian Jewish couple who’d immigrated to the US in the 20’s. A graduate from Trinity College and Harvard he had just found a job as a librarian at Harvard University when the war in Europe broke out. Soon after, he was invited by a co-worker to join a small team based on Europe. Its role was to source enemy publications (books, propaganda, newspapers, instruction manuals, speeches, whatever) once the US entered the war. They were part of the OSS – Office for Strategic Services, the forerunner of the CIA

The team Peiss joined was made up of librarians, archivists, scholars and spies (based mainly in neutral Stockholm and Lisbon). The acquisitions they hunted were initially focused on those materials which identified Nazi war crimes. Such acquisitions were seen as an open source window into the information and intelligence related to Nazi ideology, plans and even, via the gossip columns, potential officials who could be blackmailed.

Their search led them not only to libraries, fellow librarians and scholars, but to the vast caches of publications which, even then at the beginning of the war, were being secreted in caves, cellars and salt mines.

As the war intensified, their mission evolved from information seeking to one of rescue: the attempt to protect and save the cultural history of Europe, especially that of the increasingly dispersed and murdered Jewish peoples. All over the Nazi empire, books – many were rare old editions, treasured Torah’s and bibles – were rapidly being burnt, bombed, confiscated and stolen (we’re talking about millions of books).

The mission was to find them, rescue them (acquisition soon became requisition and outright confiscation), somehow spirit them in trucks and carts across enemy lines, house them wherever they could find depots (or houses) large enough, catalogue them and then try to restore them to their previous owners (after, that is, acquisitive US libraries had had their fill)

These Information Hunters were led by US Pulitzer prizewinner and poet, Archibald MacLeish from the Library of Congress. And they were hugely aided by the transformative invention of the microfilm (made possible by funding from Rockefeller).

Back in the US, American cultural leaders (remember them?) pushed for government policy to shield museums, historic sites and places of worship from the relentless destruction taking place (often by the Allies themselves). In order to deliver on this desire, President Roosevelt inaugurated the American Commission for the Protection and Salvage of Artistic and Historic Monuments, better known as the Monuments Men (turned into a dreadful movie by George Clooney). The Information Hunters and the Monuments Men were often at loggerheads with each other; but both were arms of a war effort driven by the need to save what MacLeish called “the common culture of the West”.

The book sometimes slips into academic minutiae. But it’s a generally gripping read, filled as it is with fascinating (cinematic?) characters, such as Adele Kibre. She was the beautiful, accomplished (a PhD in medieval linguistics and fluent in seven languages) daughter of Hollywood set designers who found herself trapped in Munich when war broke out. She used her charm, beauty and Hollywood gossip to hoodwink Nazi brass (whose pride couldn’t envisage being outfoxed by a young woman) and steal vast quantities of information, all for her contacts with the Norwegian underground.

She’s just one of multiple personalities that Peiss introduces us to, that give the book added drama and the pulse of felt life.

 

 

A WINCHELSEA photo journal


The confident town sign

Since flying off to exotic climes are now a thing of the past, and inspired by our fearless leader who continues to take the country for a ride, we thought we too would drive, not fly, to a holiday escape. and so we drove south…about 64 miles and eight hundred years away…

to Winchelsea

It’s a tiny comma of a town on England’s south coast (just a few ticks away from its more famous neighbour, Hastings; where one William the conqueror landed in 1066).

Pretty much every home is meticulously ‘gardened’. Nothing else to do?

This tiny conurbation of pretty houses, all set in a formal grid pattern (A first when the town was designed) and framed by abundant displays of flowers and civic pride is actually the new town on Winchelsea. The old one, situated on what is now called Camber was swept away by violent storms. So important was the town, especially as a centre of ship building and wine importation, that the then king, Edward 1, rebuilt it six miles away and higher up on a defensive hill. So, this was the new, highly fortified, town of Winchelsea.

It was built in 1288.

Back in those days, the sea lapped at the foothills of the fortified hill. Now, after centuries of silt, green sheep-grazing pasturelands have usurped what was once shoreline and the  hectic commerce of boats and trade have receded into memory and legend.

Dawn over what would have been the sea

Apart from a lonely crumbling wall and strong fortified gates at two of the entrances, there isn’t a lot that’s still standing since those glory days.

Grand, still standing, still resisting the elements and the developers. A bit like a lone tooth

 

There are two strong old gates. Much good they did!

Some glory: the French regularly arrived in their numbers and sacked the place, sometimes when the very men who should be defending it were in France meting out the same fate to some hapless French. There’s a small central church (of St. Thomas) which formed the anchor to the town’s design eight hundred years ago. But there’s little left of its original structure. It was razed during one of these periodic sackings. And rebuilt, and burned down, and torn down and left to moulder and partly rebuilt again. So what’s visible now is mainly an eighteenth century skin on fourteenth century bones. Magnificent in a Romantic, Wordsworthean way.

That’s him…wandering lonely as…

The fascinating remnant of the town’s majestic thirteenth century past is barely visible. Beneath the many unprepossessing cellar doors (58 of them) lie the vaults of medieval Winchelsea. These are tunnelled cellars (known as undercrofts) where the local tradesmen stored their precious barrels of wine. The multiple cavernous tunnels all link together, forming an entire subterranean city of shadows and ghosts. You wonder how many trembling residents hid here as battles raged above; guarded by the darkness against the glare of bright swords.

This humble wooden door leads to deep mysteries below

And where does this dark tunnel lead one wonders?

The rolling, almost European scenery (French vineyards over here and Tuscan pines over there…) is breathtaking.

A grandson runs fleet of foot on an endless sea of vineyards producing award winning English sparkling wine

 

This could easily be Tuscany

 

baa

The nearby Winchelsea beach is a major let-down to the beauty of the area. Most of it is nothing more than a long, grey, unattractive stony expanse, punctuated here and there, when the tide’s out, by pools of black slipper-sucking mud.

Really boring

But at its furthest end, Pett’s Level, the flat ugliness turns charming. There is actually sand (for that brief few hours of low tide) decorated by cool rock pools that invite wading kids. But when the tides roll in (with noticeable speed), swim or run.

Dramatic Pett Level

The area’s popular beach – Camber Sands- is about six miles away near neighbouring Rye. It’s a pretty, sandy, windswept place. But unless you’ve erected windbreakers, hold on to your locks.

A windswept beauty

Camber Sands

Rye though is the BIG CITY of the area…in that there are more than six streets and, hallelujah, a supermarket. Not to mention some picturesque, stroll-friendly Tudor roads (and the best prawns money can buy)

Rye is still very Tudor in feel

So much here that soothes the savage beast (Did I mention the many outdoor pubs where your nearest fellow drinker is waaay over there to the right of the shrub?) that the return to London feels unsettling. The return journey north rips you away from the grace of Norman and Tudor England (beauty that conveniently masks their everyday reality of sundry violence and social squalor).

Back to 2020. Sort of. William the Conqueror and Henry VIII set in motion entire worlds of inherited wealth and attitude (and staggering incompetence) that still run the country. If only we too had our version of the French Revolution. Alas, all we got instead was Wordsworth.

So very not London

 

 

CLEMENCY**** Nation behind bars


What’s the Story?
A portrait of a prison warden (Alfre Woodward from Twelve Years a Slave) who, after witnessing twelve executions, is struggling to keep in touch with her humanity. She’s become an emotionally empty functionary, drifting away from her husband and, increasingly lonely, with anyone else for that matter. She’s become the embodiment of the heartless, inhumane system that she works for. The story parallels her living death with that of a dead man walking: a (wrongly) convicted felon struggling to fend off despair and fight for clemency even as he readies himself for execution.

What’s it All About?
The story seems to take its inspiration from John Donne: “Any man’s death diminishes me”. Bernadine, the warden, is a diminished person, going through the motions of living in what clearly is a diminished nation. The idea is signaled from the beginning when a strapped-in convict’s last words are his recital of the Lord’s Prayer  (“…forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who trespass against us”) No clemency here, as the un-forgiven, trespassed-upon convict is brutally, clumsily executed by the authorities. The law and order of the jungle, of an eye for an eye. Bernadine, who seems to exhibit human emotion only when she’s ether drunk or dreaming, seems to share a symbiotic link with the state’s next victim (Aldis Hodge) – a petty criminal wrongly accused of murder –. They’re both alienated from the comfort of family, immeasurably lonely, and incommunicatively walled off from the world in their own separate yet similar ways. Both jailer and jailed are victims of a system that degrades and dehumanizes its citizens. The difference is that he has a troop of believers and supporters who love and fight for him. She has only her alienated and despairing husband. But the supporters’ love and – Wendell Pierce- her husband’s sense of fealty are all in vain. Such decency, such belief, such desire for forgiveness and clemency can never make headway in a world thus diminished.

Why Should I see it?
Alfre Woodward’s stunning performance offers us the bi-focal vision of a woman whose main expression is one of blank nothingness, even while we see the emotional hysteria beneath the blankness. It’s an extraordinary feat. She’s a riveting screen presence. Writer/director Chinonye Chukwu’s script is a masterpiece of underwriting. She avoids the kind of grandstanding big moment speechifying that a less confident writer would have thrown in. And her understated directing is comfortable to let the story unfold in its own time…carry it own inherent drams, without the need for tricks. It’s a story of compelling real people who at the same time stand in for bigger themes of the idea of the nation
Thoroughly captivating

CLEMENCY. Writer/Director: Chinonye Chukwu. With Alfre Woodward, Richard Schiff, Aldis Hodge, Wendell Pierce. Cinematographer: Eric Branco

 

DA 5 BLOODS***Seriously Flawed


DA 5 BLOODS, Spike Lee’s newest (out on Netflix) is both intellectually exciting and maddeningly bad. It’s a thoughtful, passionate look at how America tries to come to terms with the staggering failure of Vietnam (or the American War as it’s known there) when “some poor hungry people in the mud” (Mohammed Ali) ran the mighty US Army outta town. In Mr Lee’s eyes, perhaps that war was the genesis of the deep seated need to “Make America Great Again”
It’s also the absolutely nonsensical story of four black Vietnam vets, plus a son (Delroy Lindo, Jonathan Majors,Clarke peters, Norm Lewis and Isiah Whitlock Jr) who revisit the country intent on finding the bones of their beloved leader (Chadwick Boseman) and a chest of gold they’d found and buried there…somewhere in the jungles of ‘Nam (because, you know, armed only with a map and a metal detector, it’s a piece of cake to journey into the forests you saw once fifty years before under heavy gunfire and with pin-point accuracy unearth what you buried there. Robert Luis Stephenson made more sense)

It’s nonsensical not because the story of vets revisiting the country in search of answers and redemption is far fetched; ridiculous because on a human level, on the level of fiction, nothing is credible. Spike Lee’s authorial hand tilts the scales of character and story so firmly in service to his philosophical thrust that the simple artistic mandate of creating a willing suspension of disbelief is violated pretty much from the get-go.

There is a grand bloody finale, dramatizing the mental war that for so many of its ancient warriors (on both sides) simply cannot end. And an extended soliloquy on the part of MAGA loving, PTSD crippled Paul (Delroy Lindo in an acting tour de force) in which he morphs into another crazed version of Kurtz, is magnificent.

And thank goodness I’d soldiered on through the preceding two hours of senseless rubbish. Like the four vets, at least there was some redemption.

At least it’s rubbish from a thinking imagination. Lee wisely eschews the fakery of Scorsese’s de-ageing process of The Irishman and keeps his protagonists the same age when we see flashbacks of them in the theatre of war.

It’s his signifier of the symbolic grammar of his approach. As though they are now what they were then. Or, as the story would have it: as a nation, we’ve (America) not changed. And the – haunted- search for redemption is really a search for the forgiveness of a shared guilt. The cache of buried gold also suggests the treasure of principles (the plan was to use the gold for the betterment of humanity) they left behind. As though they could somehow disinter those values they once shared and regain their pre-lapsarian sense of honour (There’s even a nasty snake sinking its fangs into our demented Adamic hero).

The idea that America’s present Trumpian purgatory was catalyzed by a national fall from grace in the Gulf of Tonkin is intriguing. Pity Mr Lee’s writing team couldn’t shape a story that could make humanly credible his Promethean thesis

 

Da 5 BLOODS. Dir: Spike Lee. Writers: Danny Bilson (Company of Heroes), Kevin Wilmott (BlacKkKlansman) and

Spike Lee. With: Delroy Lindo, Jonathan Majors, Clarke Peters, Norm Lewis, Isiah Whitlock, Melanie Thierry. Cinematographer: Newton Thomas Sigel (Extraction). Production designer: Wynn Thomas (Shaft)

 

 

 

ONLY THE ANIMALS****


WHAT A DELICIOUSLY well structured, seductively engaging movie…about murder, deception, obsession and passion.

If that sounds quintessentially French, it sure is.

The story loops forward and backward in time so that the initial scenes (a young man on a bicycle with a goat strapped to his back in an Abidjan (Ivory Coast) slum; a woman gone missing, lost somewhere in the blank whiteness of a snow choked northern France: a pretty young Insurance agent who leaves the family home one morning to visit one of her clients with whom she proceeds to have oddly disengaged sex.)

How are they all related? How do these disparate incidents and people interconnect? Why is the woman making out with this man who is clearly not interested in her? Is her husband aware of her infidelity (as he claims to be) and if so, why is he so indifferent to it? Who is this woman that’s gone missing? And what does all of this have to do with the young man on a bike in central Africa?

Like any good murder mystery, the sordid details of the often bizarre entanglements of the central characters slowly come into focus.

And what characters they are: the insurance agent, Alice (Laure Calamy), denied the passions of her husband seems desperate for the affection of (any?) other. Her husband, Michel (Denis Ménochet) is surly and withdrawn, living a dark secret life in his farmer’s office behind the shadow of his penned sheep and the glow of his computer. Her -Alice’s- equally surely lover, Joseph (Damien Bonnard)- another perennially hay dusted farmer – is equally withdrawn and still in shock from the death of his mother (whose body he, apparently, kept hidden until it decayed. As one does.) We are introduced to the story of the missing woman, Evelyn (Valerie Bruni Tedeschi). She is a married, fourty-ish, wealthy executive, whose loveless open marriage opened her up to flitting dalliances. She isn’t looking for love; just hot sex. But the dalliance she tumbles into bed with (Nadia Tereszkiewicz) is in search of love, not just sex. A bad combination. And our youth in Africa (Guy Roger N’Drin) ) is just a small time hustler, out to make his mark; and perhaps earn the love of the mother of his child.

In his conversation with the local voodoo shaman, the young African man is queried about his understanding about love. “Love,” informs the shaman “is giving what you don’t have. Anything else is just pleasure”

Aah, pleasure. These characters lie, cheat, steal and murder; all in the name of love, but maybe simply in service to pleasure. Where there is (physical) passion, the emotional charge is always in a one-way direction. It’s as though the givers and the receivers of love simply can’t align. For despite the lubricants of (a lot of) sex and (smatterings of) money, where there is love, it is never mutual.

It’s a very clever, intricate plot…so nice to indulge in a movie where the director (Dominic Moll) has made the effort to minimise the often gaping loopholes and to reel in his audience so that revelation upon absurdist revelation, the slow striptease unraveling of the mystery, becomes such a delight.

 

ONLY THE ANIMALS. Dir: Dominic Moll. Screenplay: Dominik Moll and Gilles Marchand (From the novel by Colin Niel). With: Denis Ménochet, Laure Calamy, Damien Bonnard, Nadia Tereszkiewicz, Valerie Bruni Tedeschi, Guy Roger N’Drin. Music: Benedict Schiefer. Cinematographer: Patrick Ghiringhelli

 

 

NEVER RARELY SOMETIMES ALWAYS*****definitely, decidedly, unreservedly, now


AT THE DEAD centre of this thoroughly engaging movie, the stoic, unmoving visage of the central character, Autumn (Sidney Flanigan in her first movie) cracks. This naive, determined, innocent girl, in response to questions about her sexual experiences – and in particular about forced, coerced sex – never, rarely, sometimes, always, can no longer hold it together. For a moment, the blank defensive wall of her private world opens up, just long enough for us to glimpse the scars within.

The story follows the secret (from her family) journey of pregnant Autumn and her bff, Skylar (Talia Ryder…who starred in Matilda and soon to be seen in Spielberg’s version of West Side Story) to New York, the big, alien, hostile big city. She’s in search of an abortion. The two friends rarely exchange words: this is a friendship deeper than any words…an almost intuitive union. It’s a union of love and companionship and protectiveness that’s set in direct contrast with the other union, which resulted in the child growing within her.

The men we meet are all sleazy, sexually predatory. They embody the contrast between the emotional trust and tenderness of these two girls v the physical danger (of the city, of the men they know, of the protesters outside the abortion clinic, of the future perhaps) they must learn how to handle.

Throughout their odyssey, they drag around an old wheelie suitcase. It contains clothes – which are never used – and that seems to grow heavier with every passing hour. They drag it up steep stairs, run with it through the rain, and hoist it up to be checked by security guards. It’s a lovely symbol of the baggage they, everyone, must drag through life. It’ll weigh you down, the story suggests, if you let it.

Filmed in a rough and ready, seemingly artless, cine verity style, we follow these two teenagers over the few days they spend, living from hand to mouth, snatching moments of sleep in public waiting areas, scarfing down cheap Chinese buns and simply eking our the few dollars they’ve scrabbled together.

The entire movie focuses intimately on the faces and gestures of its two principals. Their faces carry the movie. And they’re both superb. The protagonist, Sidney Flanigan, reminds me of Saoirse Ronan in the tremendous expressiveness of a blank face. Her friend, Talia Ryder, believable empathetic and supportive, is a fresh, stunningly beautiful face. Stardom awaits.

The English critic Peter Bradshaw wrote that a good movie must combine and balance the intellectual the emotional and the visceral. By those standards, this is a sure fire five star winner.

After its short ninety minutes, director/writer Eliza Hittman leaves you in no doubt what it must be like (the terror, the danger, the reserves of strength needed) for the naive small town girl to brave a world that is at best indifferent and at worst, physically threatening.

And God knows what dangers their return ‘back home’ await them.

On last word on this movie: It was written, directed, scored, shot, cast, designed, costumed, sound designed and co-produced by women!

 

NEVER RARELY SOMETIMES NEVER. Director/Writer: Eliza Hittman (who is also an editor, actor, production designer and producer) With: Sidney Flanigan, Talia Ryder. Cinematographer: Helene Louvart.

 

 

 

THE ASSISTANT*****


THIS IS A stunningly original and thoroughly engaging examination of the shared corporate omertà that kept (keeps?) the likes of Harvey Weinstein in power…over his cowed employees and over the flow of women dazzled by dreams of fame.

The story follows a day in the life of Jane, the eponymous assistant (Julia Garner from Ozark). She is withdrawn, insecure, clearly highly competent and increasingly concerned by the predatory reach of her boss. Said boss, some sort of mega powerful studio executive, is never seen. He’s simply “he”…a malign force-field hidden behind closed doors, heard only in muffled conversations and belligerent shouts. We see groups of people come and go, seeking his direction, his approvals and, for the young women, his entry ticket -they hope – to stardom. Their jobs are clear-cut: to serve his every whim. Total compliance is the only route to career growth, not to mention job security.

For everyone, from the lowliest (the assistant, Jane) to the most senior, depend entirely on him. As Jane’s father tells her, “It’s a great job. You’re fortunate to have it”. In other words, work hard, see nothing, say nothing. This is how – this- business functions.

The camera is focused almost entirely on the expressive face and the actions of Jane’s daily duties and her barely concealed and growing rage. It follows her as she answers his calls (including to a distraught wife), manages his travel and appointments, executes the menial tasks (of photocopying, cleaning up the messes left behind after conference meetings, even neatly stacking dozens of hypodermic syringes). One of her jobs also is to clear away the evidence of his dalliances (a dropped bracelet here, a lost earring there). Her job is even to safely conduct the naive young things to the expensive hotels he accommodates them in…a mutual accommodation of sorts.

As the day progresses and the story arcs to its distressing conclusion, the viewer is left in no doubt that the defences he’s built around his reputation are total. And the only hope is that, as the oleaginous head of HR (Matthew Macfadyen) tells her, “You’ve nothing to worry about. You’re not his type”

The brilliance of this quiet (with its sound design of only natural sounds and voices), understated (and inexpensively produced) movie is the incisiveness of director/writer Kitty Green’s observations, and her astute decision to let the story carry its own potency. There’s no false or heightened drama. There are no cathartic speeches, no overt expressions of outrage or demonstrations of conscience; just the hum drum banality of office life, office gossip and the casual acceptance by everyone that this is all par for the course.

She may be the focus of the tale, but in a sense they’re all assistants, passively assisting in the continuity of abuse that you reveal at your own peril.

Chilling

 

THE ASSISTANT. Dir/writer: Kitty Green (Casting Jon Benet). With: Julia Garner, Matthew Macfadyen, Makenzie Leigh. Cinematographer: Michael Latham

 

 

 

MOVIE SHORTS. Misbehaviour and Extraction


MOVIE SHORTS
A new style movie watching…from my couch

MISBEHAVIOUR
The Plot:
It’s the twin stories of the rise of feminism and the cracks in the 1970 Miss World contest (previously an all White affair). The parallel stories are told through the eyes of the two principal characters: Sally Alexander (Keira Knightley), one the early feminist leaders, and Jennifer Hosten, (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) the Grenadian who won the beauty contest . Sally is a quiet, conservative woman/wife/mother/student of conscience who finds herself the unwitting spokesperson for the fledgling movement as it barrels its way toward a huge, televised disruption of the beauty contest, starring Bob Hope.

The Idea
The movie examines the common thread that links racism and sexism: both accepted expressions of a patriarchy dominated status quo. Both of course still dominate a status quo that’s still patriarchal. But the movie celebrates the huge personal courage and moral principle It took to make these first hugely publicised moves

Why You Should View It
It’s a gripping drama that’s nicely directed (by Phillipa Lowthorpe) and vastly entertaining. Uptight Sally (Knightley), egged on by her outlandish side-kick and rabble rouser, Jo (Jessie Buckley from Chernobyl) are compellingly watchable. Their relationship (A sort of feminist version of a buddy movie) is engaging, their characters feel real and there are enough nicely observed moments of patronizing sexist behavior, exemplified by a reptilian Bob Hope (Greg Kinnear), to boo hiss at.
As Miss Grenada, Gugu Mbatha-Raw is bland. The part feels underwritten, as if though thematically convenient, her character (probably accurately) lacks the angst and moral outrage of Sally.
It’s not a major movie…skims along superficially on multiple issues. But it’s a fun watch

EXTRACTION (Netflix)
The Plot
An emotionally wounded, alcoholic mercenary – his daughter has died- (Chris Hemsworth) is called our by his sexy handler (Neha Mahajan) to rescue the kidnapped son of a wealthy Indian drug dealer. The child is incarcerated in a heavily guarded mansion in Bangladesh

The Idea
Even the most ruthless, savage killing machine can have a conscience and a human heart (OK I’m struggling here)

Why You Should View It
If you like non stop kinetic action, lost of mayhem, and terrifically well choreographed car/truck/motorcycle chases in heavy Bangladeshi traffic (by director Sam Hargave; stunt coordinator of various Avenger movies), then this is the film for you. The body count is very high (I lost count, but it’s well over a hundred) and it’s fun to see Thor pretending to bleed just like a normal person.

 

 

 

 


NOW THAT WE’RE all home bound, and a few select movies have come out on early streaming, here area few I caught up with:

LE MANS 66
THE PLOT
Caroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and ace driver, Ken Miles (Christian Bale) are contracted by the Ford Motor Company, eager to inject some spunk into its boring brand. Their no-expenses spared mission is to rebuild both the brand and the Mustang into a lean, mean super-fast machine that can take on and beat Ferrari’s mastery on the track.

THE BIG DEAL
It’s a wildly entertaining, ahem, ride, driven by director James Mangold (Logan), written by Jez Butterworth (Spectre) and John Butterworth (Edge of Tomorrow) and piloted by his two top gun stars, Matt and Christian. The nub of the story pits the pure, macho, literally death-defying competitive mania of the Shelby Team (of Shelby and Miles and their crew) against Enzo Ferrari’s unbeatables. This sporting ‘purity’ is contrasted with the Ford world of compromise, commercialism and committees. The real challenge Shelby and Miles face isn’t just outracing Ferrari, but retaining their integrity in the grubby world of Ford marketing.

They want to race the perfect lap. Ford just wants to sell more cars.

And beneath the sweat and the speed is a movie about the endurance of friendship (or what Hollywood prefers to macho-up with the term, “Buddy movie”). Here are two life-long friends, whose entire, and entirely meaningful, and unwittingly hilarious, conversation is ALL about cars, chassis, gear boxes and RPM’s.

Gear up for a delightful ride

THE INVISIBLE MAN
THE PLOT
Cecilia (Elizabeth Moss) is the emotionally and physically battered wife of a maniacally controlling Optics genius husband (Oliver Jackson-Cohen). After escaping, her fear of being tracked by him is alleviated by news of his suicide. Of course he’s not dead. Just invisible. And he’s found out where she lives

THE BIG DEAL
There’s a great new trend in (low budget) high concept horror (Us, Get Out etc). They combine all the chills you’d expect rom the horror genre while delivering equally chilling insights into society and human behaviour. The focus of the hold-your-breath shivers of The Invisible Man is the all too common reality that battered wives/women is a crime invisible to society.

Despite being ‘dead’, Cecilia knows he’s there. Initially she can feel his presence…that strange, hair-raising tingle you get when you feel the presence of another (There’s a wonderful moment when we can see his frosty breath next to her). And then this presence gets (much) more heavy-handed. And no one believes her. She must be mad. She’s depressed. She’s on drugs etc.

Just how much does a woman need to get beaten up for someone to believe her?
The answer: when men start to get beaten up too.

Elisabeth Moss is the hugely impressive centre of the story. Her multiple levels of expressiveness focus and channel our anxiety, our nervousness, our blind terror and finally the “fuck you” determination to get even

Leigh Whannell’s directing (and writing) avoids the usual clichés of the horror genre (even if he did direct Insidious: Chapter 3). He lets the terror of an invisible stalker speak for itself.

And there’s a wonderfully clever ending.