What I’ve been watching


I thought I’d start doing a series of posts on here that cover my viewing habits outside of reviewing. I’ll offer brief thoughts and cover a number of titles, which at least doesn’t leave some movies without an opinion or two. So let’s get started…

This weekend I watched two movies that I have in my collection, starting off with believe it or not, a Buster Keaton movie. I have been inspired of late by various YouTube channels (shout out to Luke at Razorwire Reviews) that cover movie collecting, and some have covered the silent era. I’ve not watched any of Keaton’s movies before and recently purchased a 3 movie set. So I started off with 1928’s ‘Steamboat Bill Jr’ one of his most famed that I enjoyed quite a bit (and loved the last ten minutes). It was quite different and fun to experience a silent movie, with a very entertaining piano / orchestral accompaniment which I’m guessing was newly produced for the restoration. Keaton is certainly very likeable and the stunt work in this one is impressive. I can say this certainly made me thirsty for more.

Steamboat Bill Jr

I’m not sure what it is, but I’ve been attempting to revisit my past love of Hong Kong cinema but can’t say they are having the effect on me they once did. I suppose I’ve changed a bit. It may also mean I won’t rush to get the Blu-ray releases that are coming out lately … but those I have purchased, I do intend to watch. One such title is ‘Mr Vampire’ from 1985, a fantasy comedy-horror set in a small town that seems quite used to the presence of vampires and ghosts. The comedy is amusing but very silly and isn’t as enjoyable as the various vampire encounters where the main action takes place. Director Ricky Lau certainly knows how to film action and the stars here are very skilled in Kung-fu and acrobatics. Effects work, make-up etc is dodgy and the story is weak, but overall I still enjoyed this.

Mr Vampire

I also finished season three of Ozark on Netflix. A solid season with a powerful ending. Ozark has easily become one of my favourite shows of late. I also finally began watching the third season of The Handmaid’s Take – a great opening episode, as intense and brilliantly acted as ever. Can’t wait to continue with this.

Well that’s me for now. Expect more reviews as well as similar blog posts to the above, soon…

Craig.

John Wick


Viewed – 22 April 2015  Cinema

During the nineties I had a bit of an obsession with Hong Kong action movies, everything from Jackie Chan to the two-handed gun-play of John Woo.  Hollywood quickly followed up on this and the action genre became infused with the influence of far eastern cinema, spawning the likes of Face / Off and The Matrix trilogy.  There we come to Keanu Reeves, perhaps not the first person you may have thought of to deftly wield guns and kick ass considering he came from Bill & Ted, but this good looking and decidedly cool actor soon garnered a reputation as the go-to guy for such movies.

john-wick

He’s been fairly quiet for a while so this come-back vehicle seemed perfectly suited.  He plays the title character who following the death of his wife, lives out a peaceful existence with his sleek muscle car and pet dog.  However an unfortunate brush with a Russian gang causes a break in at his house, his car getting stolen and his dog to get killed.  Only thing is, the gang had no idea who they were messing with.

Perhaps an unintentional homage to classic movie franchise Death Wish albeit with ultra-stylish action that borrows (to an extent) from John Woo … this also feels like it’s own beast, and is carried well by Keanu on ice-cool form as a non-stop killing machine.  I sometimes think he’d have made a great Terminator.  Support comes in the shape of Willem Dafoe’s seasoned veteran as well as a sultry, sexy Adrianne Palicki.  On villainous duties is Michael Nyqvist (Ghost Protocol, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) who proves a more than suitable if clichéd mobster.  The set-up is simplistic and the characters slight and under-developed … but for this kind of movie where action is king, we get several stylish, well-edited and gripping encounters, all with a little tongue-in-cheek humour thrown in.  I also loved the backdrop of the ‘agency’ that looked after Keanu and his kind (featuring a cameo by Ian McShane) … certainly an idea that could be further developed in sequels.

As the directing debut of former stunt co-coordinator Chad Stahelski, this shows promise for a new visionary in the action movie field.  Roll on the already announced John Wick 2.

Verdict:  4 /5