Blonde


Viewed – 01 October 2022 Netflix

I won’t say I’m an expert on the career or life of legendary Hollywood star Marilyn Monroe, yet I approached this movie with some caution as I’d heard it was more an ‘Inspired by true events’ take than a full on biopic. However it wasn’t long until I began to get a feel for the woman and her image as actress Ana De Armas (Knives Out) stepped into her shoes and truly became the iconic sex symbol.

Charting the life of Norma Jean Baker, who would eventually transform into Marilyn Monroe, this details a troubled childhood with a mentally ill mother, through to her attempts to become an actress and eventually super-stardom. Along the way we have Hollywood producers sleazing over her and making her do ‘things’ just to get a part, a ménage a trois relationship with Charlie Chaplin jr, through to her marriages with ex-baseball star Joe DiMaggio & play-write Arthur Miller (even though names are changed here).

Having read up on the life of the actress since, in many ways, this gives a good interpretation of Marilyn’s life (with some deviations), and other than sections detailing abortions and sexual abuse, both of which are not exactly stretches to imagine happening, I came away feeling I’d had an education. Director Andrew Dominik has delivered a haunting yet absorbing experience with a stunning & uncanny central performance from Ana De Armas (who surely deserves an Oscar nom). His creative approach to editing, camera work, the use of various types of film stock, aspect ratios and camera lenses all helped convey the fragile psychology and tragedy of Marilyn – and for me raised this movie into something rather mesmerising. It doesn’t cover everything, and I’d have preferred some of the more gratuitous aspects were toned down, as it can get quite graphic … but overall this was powerful viewing.

Verdict: Recommended

No Time To Die


Viewed – 13 October 2021 Cinema

The latest outing for Ian Fleming’s famed spy, Daniel Craig reprises his role as the iconic James Bond for the fifth and reportedly final time. Following on from the last movie, Spectre – this finds a now retired Bond living life with new wife Madeline. However after choosing to help out old CIA friend Felix – Bond unexpectedly uncovers a new threat to the world.

Shaken, not stirred…

What we get here certainly follows the usual blueprint … the tricked out car, gunfights, beautiful women, stunning locales. However we also get a great deal of character moments, with Daniel Craig impressing in not only the role of the hero, but as a human being. It’s probably his most layered performance as the character. He’s also aided well by a very good Lea Seydoux as Madeline, Ralph Feinnes’ M and a scene-stealing Ana De Armas as a plucky fellow agent. However a particular stand out is Rami Malek’s very creepy villain.

The main plot is fairly typical and Malek’s motives not all that interesting – and certain bold plot developments didn’t sit right with me. Also Billie Eilish’s theme song is just awful. Yet with a greater focus on character and emotion than I think there’s ever been previously, as well as a fun subplot surrounding a rival female agent… this delivered a great deal of heart and personality amongst the pyrotechnics. A worthy swan-song for Craig as the famed spy and a highly enjoyable, often surprising Bond movie at same time. Check it out.

Verdict: Recommended

Knives Out


Viewed – 25 April 2020. Online rental

Despite what my opinion may be of the choices made by director Rian Johnson with The Last Jedi, I remain a fan of his earlier movie ‘Looper’ and so sat down to this latest offering with optimism. The trailer certainly name dropped a few famous faces and add to this a Cluedo-esque murder mystery premise and positive word of mouth. A wealthy family are brought together following the apatent suicide of the eldest member, famed crime novelist Harlen Thrombey (Christopher Plummer). So enters renowned detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) who suspects there may be foul play at hand.

A strong cast and an immediately intriguing set up quickly drew me into this. It’s put together expertly by Johnson who free from the restraints of a franchise can really show off his directing chops – aided by eye-catching cinematography, great atmosphere and a tongue-in cheek tone. The story, initially a who-dunnit which gradually develops into a back stabbing family drama … is full of twists and turns, but with good use of flashbacks never felt confusing like similar movies can. Daniel Craig is great, camping it up as the Southern speaking slueth, but the real star here is Blade Runner 2049’s Ana de Armas, who delivers the most complex and layered performance as Harlen’s nurse, and carries the movie.

Support cast such as Jamie Lee Curtis and Don Johnson are a bit wasted, and because the movie doesn’t exactly play by the who-dunnit rule book, it loses a little bit of it’s momentum around the middle (but hits its stride again in the final act). Clever and highly entertaining. Check it out.

Verdict: Recommended