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+

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, in one of her finest roles.

The story of Aileen Wuornos is a unique one, as she was not a typically ‘evil’ killer, more a victim of society, upbringing and likely mental illness. This captures all that, along with a powerfully tragic love story. Although I never condoned Aileen’s actions, especially as the murders progressed, I did come away feeling sorry for her. 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 (very enjoyable) 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

Ambulance


Viewed – 10 August 2022 online rental

For some reason, people like to hate on Michael Bay. However I’ve enjoyed his movies, the ones I have seen – and consider movies like The Rock and Transformers classics. This latest is about a guy trying to get money for his wife’s operation who turns to his brother, and gets pulled into doing a bank robbery.

One of my favourites, Jake Gyllenhaal stars here as the career criminal brother who talks his brother into aiding him steal millions. Of course things don’t go to plan. This is every bit a Michael Bay movie, stylish and packed with action, explosions and a sun-drenched Los Angeles. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, who I didn’t recognise is very good as the other brother just trying to do the right thing, and Eiza González as a straight-talking paramedic also proves decent. Gyllenhaal of course steals it though and is manically charismatic throughout.

This felt like Speed, being mostly a never ending chase sequence and is both exciting and rather intense. The action decent and well executed. The movie movie is let down slightly by a ton of overly stylish camera work, using I’m guessing drones to capture even the most mundane of shots. It gets a bit much. It also felt too long, due mainly to the intensity. Overall though this was good fun and had enough character and energy to make this worthy of your time.

Verdict: Good+