Game Night


Viewed – 02 March 2021 online-rental

I must admit I like Jason Bateman. Other than his excellent turn in the Ozark tv series, he’s always enjoyable in most things he appears in. This comedy has him as one half of a couple who once a week get together with their friends for ‘game night’. However one such night, Bateman’s arrogant elder brother turns up to propose a new game that will involve a kidnapping and nobody will know what is real and what isn’t.

Just fun and games?

Co-starring the equally reliable Rachel McAdams, initially I wasn’t sure what to make of this. The characters are all drawn a little larger-than-life and could’ve got obnoxious until that is, the story kicks in and quickly the movie got really interesting. This is helped by a solid script with many funny lines and unexpected twists and turns. McAdams & Bateman are a good pairing and I was always invested in what was going on. Support comes from Kyle Chandler as the elder brother and the increasingly enjoyable Jesse Plemons (Breaking Bad) as the a creepy neighbour.

It gets a bit silly towards the end and I did get a bit lost amongst the plot twists at one stage, but overall this was still highly entertaining. Well worth a watch.

Verdict: Recommended

Movies of my life – update 1


Well this is currently a slow process I confess. I’ve so far only ticked two movies off this project as follows…

The first movie, from 1975 was the Stanley Kubrick period drama, Barry Lyndon – not a movie that appealed previously but considering I’m a big admirer of Stanley Kubrick, I thought I’d give it a watch. Well, I liked it. It’s certainly a nice looking movie, with Kubrick’s vision to recreate the Renaissance period of art giving the movie a unique feel. Ryan O’Neil is ok, his character is a bit of a womanising rogue yet his journey from poverty to high society was engaging and often funny. At over 3hrs it’s too long, but I’m glad I’ve now seen it.

My next choice, dependent on the mood I was in at the time, was the comedy-thriller Silver Streak. This has Gene Wilder as a man on a train who believes he witnesses a murder, and therefore chooses to investigate. As the story progresses, he falls for a mysterious woman who seems linked to the murder and befriends a car thief, played by Richard Pryor. I really enjoyed this. I think I saw the ending on TV years back, but hadn’t seen the rest. Pryor & Wilder were such a funny pairing, even if Pryor is only in the second half of this one. Well worth it if you like the actors named and 80s comedies.

I’m gradually working on a list to pick from and trying to find movies that really appeal or I had always wanted to see but have never got around to. I’ll try and keep these updates semi-regular.

Craig.

The Young Master


Viewed – 22 February 2021 Blu-ray

Hong Kong Theatrical Cut

It’s strange how one remembers some movies. It turns out this is a completely different movie than what I thought I’d watched a numbers of years back. That movie was Dragon Lord and not this 1980 break-out hit for Jackie Chan and his first with studio Golden Harvest. Despite my mistaken identity I chose to settle into this regardless. Chan plays a martial arts student who’s school is involved in a Chinese dragon dance contest and loses when his brother fakes an injury only to join the rival school and win the contest. Disgraced by his former master, Chan’s brother is outcast. Chan himself whilst attempting to locate his brother gets mistaken for a man who helps free a local criminal and has to prove his innocence. This leads on to a final confrontation with said criminal who turns out to be a martial arts master.

fight through the pain…

The story is rather convoluted, feeling patched together, like how scenes can follow on from one another and feel unconnected like there are bits missing. Yet coming to this I wasn’t expecting a great story, but was hoping for good action … and well, in this respect the movie delivers. There’s a decent bunch of kung-fu encounters, including a fun fight involving benches, a street brawl with Chan disguised as an old man, and an extended final encounter that’s particularly exhilarating. The kung-fu is shot expertly too, brilliantly edited and with great camera work that showcases the skill on display. It’s of the dance-like style of fight choreography but I still appreciated it. Casting, with an appearance by Chan regular Yuen Biao (Wheels On Meals) is good too with a few recognisable faces, and Hwang In-shik as the main villain is one hell of a fighter. Just a shame the plot is so all of the the place, as an easier to follow story would have added a great deal of substance. As it stands, watch this for the brilliant martial arts on display, not so much the story.

This special edition release from 88 films comes in deluxe packaging, has a detailed booklet, a poster, art cards, specially commissioned cover art, and several versions of the movie – the ‘theatrical Hong Kong cut’, a slightly shorter ‘export cut’, and a third version called the ‘extended export cut’ – with restored 2k transfers, restored audio in dubbed English or original language with subtitles (the export cut is English dub only). Add to this plenty of extras, with interviews, featurettes, alternate scenes and two commentaries. Great stuff for collectors. Maybe not one of Chan’s best – but still worthwhile for kung-fu fans.

Verdict:

(the movie) Good

(the Blu-ray) Recommended

News of the World


Viewed – 16 February 2021 Netflix

Following Apple TV’s Greyhound, actor Tom Hanks once again embraces the streaming platforms, this time Netflix and like that earlier battleship thriller, there’s little dip in quality compared to his usual, reliable output. This eighteenth century set western has him as a retired army veteran who now travels from town to town reading news articles to paying audiences. However one day he stumbles upon an orphaned young girl and decides to help return her to her family.

Directed by Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Identity) based on the novel by Paulette Jiles, this boasts eye catching cinematography that brings the setting and time period to life. Although slow burning, the gradual bond that forms between Hanks and the girl is of course the heart of the movie … this is a very simple tale but one that’s done with a lot of feeling and authenticity.

At times some details of the girl’s background can be a bit too vague (not helped by a language barrier) and where Hanks was heading to lost me at one stage. The movie also feels a little too understated at times. Yet with some nail biting scenes, including a tense shoot out and a sand storm, this was still quite gripping. Again Hanks is great, conveying all the necessary emotions and brings the character to life. Helena Zengel as the little girl is also memorable. That ending really got me too. Worth a watch.

Verdict: Good

Saint Maud


Viewed – 13 February 2021 online rental

A rather talked about British horror from newcomer Rose Glass that has been getting some good word of mouth lately. So of course I thought I’d check it out. This tells the story of Maud, a young woman who comes to work as a full time carer for retired former dancer Amanda (Jennifer Ehle) who is dying of cancer. It soon transpires that Maud is deeply religious and through caring for the woman, decides she may have finally found her ‘calling’.

Not your usual setup for a horror and initially I was wondering if I’d been sold the wrong movie. The portrayal of Maud and her beliefs is intriguing and as the story progresses, quite eye opening and unsettling. I personally am not religious although I believe in spirituality, and some of the things in this woman’s head are troubling. Such as how she self harms in an attempt to please God. Director Rose Glass transports is into Maud’s mind quite quickly and it’s a dark and disturbing place to be. She also fills the movie with a claustrophobic dread, using camera work, lighting and music effectively.

However, there’s only a hint of back story and the movie fails to even remotely explore why Maud is the way she is, which as her actions get crazier makes for a rather unsympathetic character. This is the movie’s only failing … it’s like we’re just getting a small part of the story, and I get it – a lot of what goes on is subjective. Yet performances are solid, especially Morfydd Clark as Maud and where the movie goes is quite shocking. Just a shame it’s mostly surface horror than anything deeper.

Verdict: Good