See How They Run


Viewed – 26 September 2022 Cinema

I recall enjoying the revival of the classic whodunnit with the other year’s Knives Out. This follows a similar blueprint but sticks even closer to the Agatha Christie style by setting the story at a theatre production of one of the author’s plays, where an arrogant movie director (Adrian Brody) is murdered. A world weary inspector (Sam Rockwell) and his prodigy constable (Saoirse Ronan) are called in to investigate and unmask the killer.

The trailer for this has strong Wes Anderson vibes, which is no bad thing and the inclusion of Ronan in the cast made this an instant must see for me. Thankfully this didn’t disappoint. It’s a gently, quirky comedy with bags of style and that sort of caricature approach to the performances that I often find really enjoyable. At the heart of the movie is Rockwell & Roman’s double act that’s fun and charming throughout. Support from Adrian Brody, Reece Sheersmith amongst others is also decent, making for a personality-rich experience.

The final reveal is a bit weak, and few more star names amongst the ensemble cast would have been welcome. Yet I had a great time with this and it kept a smile on my face throughout.

Verdict: Recommended

Thor Love and Thunder


Viewed – 16 September 2022 Disney+

I was quite hyped for this when I saw the trailer. Thor Ragnorok remains for me one of the more enjoyable Marvel movies, so going into this follow-up I was hoping for another dose of entertainment. This time we have Thor (Chris Hemsworth) out to stop a maniac warlord called ‘Gorr the God Butcher’, who blames the gods for the death of his daughter. Back on earth, Thor’s ex girlfriend Jane (Natalie Portman) is dying of cancer until she discovers hope in Thor’s shattered hammer.

Directed again by Taika Waititi (Jo Jo Rabbit) this mostly light-hearted adventure is full of jokes and visual pyrotechnics as Thor wages war and bumps into characters like The Guardians of the Galaxy and Zeus (Russell Crowe), all to the soundtrack of Guns N Roses. Yeah, sometimes the jokes don’t always land, there’s a few poor effects shots and I grew tired of the screaming goats quickly. Yet the action is fun, the tone is fun and the story good enough for this kind of thing.

It’s a shame then that, despite best efforts Christian Bale is simply ‘ok’ as the villain, failing to figuratively ‘jump out of the screen’. Otherwise, it’s hard to find much fault here. Many of the scenes are very enjoyable and I got caught up in the action and entertainment factor the movie was clearly going for. Natalie Portman also held her own alongside the gods (whilst avoiding ‘woke’ pitfalls of other recent movies). Overall better than critics and the generally negative culture of the internet might have you believe. Simply put – I’d watch it again.

Verdict: Good+

Men


Viewed – 26 August 2022 online rental

Alex Garland has become for me a director to watch. Both Ex Machina and Annihilation are two of the most interesting science fiction movies in years. However this latest effort dips his toe in the horror genre, so I was intrigued what this director would do. This has a woman escaping to the English countryside in an attempt to get away from traumatic events. However whilst staying in an old house she begins to feel like she is being stalked by mysterious men in the village and neighbouring woods.

Jesse Buckley (Fargo, I’m Thinking of Ending Things) is someone I’m finding I enjoy; a quirky actress who seems to just be getting better and better. Here she turns in arguably her strongest performance to date as a troubled, broken woman overcoming domestic violence. The movie is beautifully shot, full of creepy atmosphere as well a very artistic style, making even the simplest shots eye-catching. At the centre is a dream-like, occasionally nightmarish tone and it works well. A special mention should go to actor Rory Kinnear in possibly one of the most chameleon-like roles I’ve seen an actor in for a while. It’s both comical, weird and disturbing.

Towards the end Garland gets a bit carried away with his ideas. The final moments went to some utterly out-there places to make a point about guilt, paranoia and grief, of which it’s only partly successful. Overall a unique and unsettling experience that although doesn’t stick the landing, is still worth seeing.

Verdict: Good+

Prey


Viewed – 19 August 2022 Disney+

I’ve always been a fan of the original Predator, and also consider Predator 2 a decent sequel. However I haven’t bothered with any of the other movies. Yet I had been hearing good things about this movie so thought I’d give it a watch. In the early 17th century, a tribe of Native Americans find themselves hunted by a mysterious creature. A gutsy female in an attempt to prove herself as a hunter unwittingly becomes the only person who can take on this new threat.

Predator vs Apache Indians is certainly a novel concept, and is given a feminist twist with the central protagonist having to outwit not just an alien but also her male counterparts. With a backdrop of foreign invasion onto American soil, not just from the Predator this could have been a intriguing depiction of the plight of native Americans suddenly faced with a unique enemy … but with all the Natives speaking perfect English I soon realised this was that kind of movie.

Thankfully the portrayal of the Predator is spot on, brutal and cool, making favourable comparisons to the first movie. It’s also suitably gruesome in parts – although the editing means it never gets that grisly. Amber Mudthunder is great in the lead role and proves a capable badass in some well choreographed fights. I also found her quite likeable and I’m intrigued to see what she’ll turn up in next. Her character did feel a tad one-note though, with little more to her than wanting to be a ‘hunter’. Yet this was still a Predator movie in its tone, and was well shot, tense and at times exciting. It can’t touch the original but I still had a good time with this.

Verdict: Good

Top Ten Favourite Movies


I’ve hesitated for a while about doing a ten favourite movies of all time, as I find my list can change. However there’s always been certain titles that will always be there. So I thought I’d finally compile a list. These are not necessarily the ‘best’ movies ever made, but movies I personally enjoy watching. In reverse order of greatness…

10

Blue Velvet

Still for me the definitive David Lynch experience. Easier to follow for his style of movie but still weird, dream-like and mesmerising.

9.

American Psycho

Although I find the book overly graphic and just not as interesting, Christian Bale’s electrifying performance makes this highly re-watchable, quotable and perversely entertaining.

8.

Goodfellas

The perfect mob movie. Energetic, fascinating, shocking, and with all-round great performances. The star of the show however is Martin Scorsese’s expert direction.

7.

Dazed & Confused

The ultimate ‘comfort movie’ for me. I love watching this and chilling out to the music, the characters and the laid-back seventies vibe. A great snapshot of a time and place that’s endlessly watchable.

6.

Terminator 2: Judgement Day

The ultimate action movie. Possibly the greatest sequel of all time. James Cameron’s slick direction, amazing action, stunning effects. This has it all.

5.

The Big Lebowski

My favourite Coen Brothers movie, a great chill-out movie, massively quotable, very funny with one of the greatest double acts ever put on screen.

4.

Back to the Future

So much nostalgia for this as it formed my childhood. Doesn’t seem to age, is still as fun and re-watchable as ever. Just one of the most enjoyable movies ever made with the other great double-act of Michael J Fox & Christopher Lloyd.

3.

Leon

One of the coolest thrillers ever made. A star making debut from Natalie Portman, a badass Jean Reno and Luc Besson’s super-slick direction. This also has my favourite Gary Oldman performance.

2.

Pulp Fiction

Still Quentin Tarantino’s masterpiece. An ingeniously woven crime opus, great performances all round, cool music. What’s not to love?

1.

Almost Famous

Another great ‘comfort movie’ for me. That seventies vibe, a charming, funny and feel good coming-of-age drama that is just so satisfying with great performances and so many memorable moments. Love this movie.