Monster


Viewed – 13 August 2022 Blu-ray

I can’t believe I never watched this movie until now. Telling the true story of serial killer Aileen Wuornos, this follows Aileen (Charlie Theron) during the period in her life where she worked as a prostitute and befriended a girl at a bar (Christina Ricci) who she develops a relationship with. However as they struggle to get by, Aileen descends into serial murder after life kicks her down one too many times.

Hooker with a heart of…

A fascinating story is brought to life by Patty Jenkins’ gritty, authentic direction and especially an amazing performance by an unrecognisable Theron, who makes Aileen sympathetic, sad and chilling. How she portrays a likeable if rather trouble woman who becomes incredibly unhinged is powerhouse acting. She every bit deserved the Oscar. Christina Ricci is also layered and interesting, turning in one of her best roles to date.

The story of Aileen Wuornos is a unique one, as she was not a typically ‘evil’ killer, more a victim of society, upbringing and clearly mental illness. This captures all that, and although I never condoned her actions, especially as the murders progressed, I always felt sorry for her – such is the power of this movie. A must see.

The newly released collector’s edition from Second Sight is something to behold. Packaged in a hard back case, it comes with a nicely detailed booklet with essays by Anton Bitel, Hannah Strong & Shelagh Rowan-Legg. You also get 6 art cards. On the Blu-ray the movie is presented in fine shape. It’s often a dark, grainy movie but detail is very good throughout. The soundtrack is in DTS 5.1 HD Master Audio and although a mostly tally movie, dialogue is very clear. The occasional music cues also sound decent. Extras consist of several featurettes and documentaries exploring the making of and the real life person. There’s also a commentary from Director Patty Jenkins, Charlize Theron and producer Clark Peterson. An essential purchase for fans of the movie.

Verdict:

(the movie) Essential

(the Blu-ray) Essential

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

Top Gun: Maverick


Viewed – 26 May 2022 Cinema

The original 1986 Top Gun I recall never really appealed. I was only 11 at the time of its release and it’s setting of hot shot fighter jet pilots just wasn’t my thing. Flash-forward 35 years later and this almost gets the crown for longest period between movie and sequel. Tom Cruise returns as Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell, who is given the job of training up a group of highly skilled pilots to undertake a particularly dangerous mission. However amongst the pilots is the son of ‘Goose’ Maverick’s best friend who died in the original movie.

I feel the need….

Cruise is his usual charming self and in the mentor role offers up a commanding presence. Although like before the setting didn’t initially appeal I was still willing to give it a go. Thankfully the story is good enough and support cast do a decent job of becoming an appealing group faced with a life or death situation. The impending threat I felt was under-developed and there’s no actual bad guy just faceless enemy jets and the fact they have uranium hidden in an underground bunker.

That being said the star of the show is the cinematography and the many dizzying in-cockpit flying scenes. The final act is especially exhilarating and edge of your seat stuff. It also looked like Cruise was doing a lot of the fighter plane flying. The movie however pays a little too much homage to the more cheesy aspects of 80’s blockbuster cinema, and the love story between Cruise and Jennifer Connelly felt half baked. That said, I still enjoyed this, much more than expected.

Verdict: Good+