The Lost City


Viewed – 03 August 2022 online rental

A popular romance fiction writer who has lost the passion for her work (Sandra Bullock) finds herself whisked away on an adventure when a wealthy tycoon (Danielle Radcliffe) believes her fantasy adventure books hold the secret to finding a lost treasure. However her good-looking but dim witted cover model (Channing Tatum) sees an opportunity to prove himself a real hero.

Some movies are easy prospects. You’ll know exactly what you’re getting, and can sit back and simply enjoy the ride. This is one such movie. I’ve always liked Sandra Bullock and she’s perfectly fine here, delivering a likeable lead and once again proving her comedy chops. Same goes for Tatum, perfectly cast due to his Hollywood good looks and proves a likeable co-star. Radcliffe surprises in the villain role and is again fine. That’s the perfect word for this move – fine. It doesn’t do anything surprising, is funny enough and had a few fun action bits, and the exotic locations are nice enough to look at (even if they’re probably neatly all green screen).

Yet its also very throwaway. Bullock & Tatum’s parring is enjoyable but also very cheesy. An appearance from Brad Pitt is memorable. But with a clear influence from Romancing the Stone (a better movie) this just feels too safe and familiar to be anything more than ‘see if if there’s nothing better and you like the cast’.

Verdict: Good

The Northman


Viewed – 30 July 2022 online rental

The last Robert Eggers movie I saw was The Witch, a movie that took two viewings before I could fully appreciate it. This latest effort follows a young Prince who grows up to become a Viking warrior, out to avenge his father’s murder at the hands of a ruthless uncle.

A simple set up is given a very (I’m guessing) authentic approach similar to The Witch, meaning that at first this could alienate some viewers used to the more Hollywood interpretations of history. However if you can get past some of the dialect and more unusual aspects, what Eggers has delivered here is a visually powerful, at times brutal and engrossing revenge tale. Camera-work is particularly effective and how shots are framed really impress with their other-worldly beauty. Performances are decent, including memorable (if brief) turns from Ethan Hawk and Willem Dafoe. Nicole Kidman is quite good too. Also as is often the case, Anya Taylor-Joy is again great. Yet the star here is Alexander Skarsgard in an uncompromising, animalistic performance.

At times some of the Nors mythology and weirder aspects went a bit over my head, and some of the rituals like howling like a wolf were a bit too theatrical – but overall this was gripping and a treat to simple take in.

Verdict: Recommended

The Princess


Viewed – 09 July 2022 Disney+

This turned up on Disney+ so I thought I’d give it a go. This tells the story of a young princess (Joey King) who has been locked away in a tower after refusing to marry a powerful lord who wishes to become king. After her refusal however he’s chosen to attack the kingdom and imprison the current king and his family.

This was a fun and energetic movie. The story is very simple but the concept of the princess having to battle her way down the floors of the tower is an interesting one, paving the way for plenty of action. Joey King shows off some skilful sword fighting too and overall it’s a physically demanding role. I also appreciated that the violence wasn’t watered down, and although not graphic, it still packed a punch.

Support is mostly just ok, with the stand out being Dominic Cooper’s evil lord. Also a reliance on exaggerated style and fancy camera work for some of the fighting felt a little out of place – in addition some CGI moments looked a bit silly. That said, King is the star and delivers a convincing badass heroine. Worth watching even if this had potential to be even better had more been put into its story and also the world it inhabits.

Verdict: Good

Mother


Viewed – 01 July 2022 Blu-ray

Not to be confused with the movie of the same name by Darren Oronofsky … this 2009 drama is by Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho, Oscar winner of Parasite fame. This tells the story of over-protective ‘Mother’ who goes out of her way to prove her simple-minded son’s innocence after he’s accused of murder.

A mother’s love…

This surprised me. I had picked up the Bong Joon-ho collection a while back after loving Parasite and had been slowly working my way through the movies. This hadn’t exactly caught my eye but I thought I’d give it a go. With a demanding and enjoyable lead performance from actress Kim Hye-ja this proved an intriguing mystery. Joon-On’s direction is creative, subtlety stylish and often gorgeous. The movie delivers several twists and turns in the plot and I was kept transfixed throughout. It’s not exactly a thriller, but more a quirky drama with smatterings of sex & violence along with a great deal of personality.

Support from Won Bin as the simple-minded son is also very good as is much of the rest of the cast. The ending did perhaps deliver a twist too far, leaving me slightly scratching my head but overall I’d say this is up there with the best of Korean cinema. Well worth checking out.

Verdict: Recommended

X


Viewed – 25 June 2022 online rental

A group of young adults travel to a rented house in the middle of nowhere to make a porn movie. However once there they attract the attention of the elderly couple who own the property who are not exactly in approval of their guest’s brand of filmmaking.

Ti West is a director I may have watched all the movies of so far and he’s proved a consistent talent in the horror genre, most notably his debut The House of the Devil. This latest effort, set in the seventies goes for the sort of grind house exploitation of The Last House on the Left and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Whilst the setup is familiar, the porno plot gives it a bit of a unique spin at least.

Like several of the director’s other movies this is a slow burn, focusing largely on the characters and the movie being made rather than actual horror. When it comes though there are some effective, gory kills and the elderly couple prove freaky if not particularly scary antagonists (not helped by the fact the elderly characters are clearly younger actors in elderly makeup). Also rather than going for scares, the horror often focuses on being repulsive or gross (the bed scene). Overall this was still entertaining and had a welcome tongue-in-cheek humour throughout. Worth a watch, but there’s better horror movies out there.

Verdict: Good