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

Everything, Everywhere, All At Once


Viewed – 08 June 2022 Cinema

I was quite hyped going into this. This tells the story of Evelyn, a middle aged Chinese woman who runs a laundromat with her husband and father, who is in spiralling debt and being leaned on by the local IRS. However during one meeting to work out her finances, another version of her husband contacts her and tells her he’s from another universe, explaining that there are many more multiverses where Evelyn’s life turned out differently and that he needs her to help him stop a looming threat.

We’re probably accustomed to the concept of the multiverse with movies like Doctor Strange and Spider-Man No Way Home. However this movie takes that idea to the extreme, creating a chaotic and quite bonkers experience. Hong Kong Cinema veteran Michelle Yeoh delivers a commendably demanding performance, that although her grasp of English isn’t great, physically she’s put through the ringer in many dazzling and intricately edited sequences. With all the multiverse stuff the movie jumps rapidly from place to place as Evelyn adopts various abilities, including Kung Fu. The various action scenes are imaginative, well choreographed and often hilarious. The ideas here clearly come from a pretty out-there mind as we get fights with dildos, and at one stage a Chihuahua used like a whip! Jamie Lee Curtis proves memorable as the IRS lady, and movie legend James Hong also makes an extended appearance.

I did feel this got a bit much after a while. The concept means that the possibilities are endless but doesn’t mean a movie need go that far. Also why things were happening got a bit muddled – at times it’s simply odd for the sake of being odd (a multiverse with everyone with hotdogs for fingers!). I was entertained though, just maybe a little restraint would have gone a long way.

Verdict: Good

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+

Dr Strange in the Multiverse of Madness


Viewed – 17 May 2022 Cinema

It would be remiss of me not to say I’m kind of burnt out on these comic book movies. How many have there been now? Yet the quality is (mostly) always so high they’re an easy option when there’s not much else to watch. This sequel has Dr Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) finding his dreams invaded by a young girl called America Charvez, who it transpires can jump between other universes. When demons come chasing her though to claim her power, Strange has to step in to prevent a multiverse catastrophe.

Directed by Sam Raimi (Spider-Man, Evil Dead) this is energetic and chock full of imagination and at times jaw-dropping CGI. However, with its reliance on having a good knowledge of previous movies in the MCU, including TV show WandaVision, with its references and plot elements – this is not a movie for newcomers. Also America, a likeable new character felt under-developed. That being said the various set-pieces impress, mostly down to Raimi’s flamboyant style that he’s always been known for. He brings not only super-hero spectacle, but also his outlandish brand of horror, and it works. A stand-out Elizabeth Olsen also brings us a malevolent Wanda / Scarlett Witch more ferocious than we’ve ever seen before. Lastly, Cumberbatch is again great in his role and remains one of the most nuanced Marvel characters we’ve had.

Fans of MCU and Dr Strange will eat this up. It’s a great deal of fun. The plot is a bit simplistic and it’s too reliant on what came before. I also thought they could have gone much further with the multiverse concept than they do … but overall it was hard not to enjoy this.

Verdict: Recommended