Tenet


Viewed – 26 December 2020. Bly-ray

I tend to approach a movie directed by Christopher Nolan with a degree of expectation. Over the years he has earned his place as one of the most skilled directors around, with acclaimed works such as Inception, Interstellar and of course The Dark Knight trilogy. This latest has him attempt the spy / espionage sub-genre and you do get the impression he’d make a helluva Bond movie – but this gives the genre Nolan’s own unique spin. So how does it fair?

Time, but not as we know it…

Before get to that let’s go into the plot. A CUA operative (John David Washington) gets embroiled in a complex plot to over throw a Russian arms dealer (Kenneth Branagh) who seems to have stumbled upon a top secret weapon that could mean the end of the world. This weapon has something to do with time inversion, where objects or people can be inverted so they work in reverse of perceived time, therefore manipulating the world as it see’s fit because it’s already happened. The movie has us grapple with this high-brow concept whilst delivering exhilarating, unique action set pieces (the freeway heist) I felt only a director of Christopher Nolan’s calibre could pull off. The plot is confusing at first as our protagonist tries to stop a mad man whilst grappling with the fabric of time itself. Yet it’s a time travel movie done in a way I don’t think we’ve seen before, … that’s head-scratching but also awe-inspiring, with all the necessary ‘aha’ moments when certain details fall into place. This is rather ingenious writing that I’ll admit to not really being clever enough to unravel on first viewing.

Beyond the complex ideas at play, there is also the matter of stunning IMAX photography, which is more plentiful here than in the director’s previous work aided by a reliance on large-scale stunt work, practical effects and grandeur. The movie globe trots from eye catching locale to eye catching locale and it all looks lush. Performances ranging from Washington’s cool as ice Protagonist to Brannagh’s scenery chewing villain are decent, even if plot exposition can get lost in line delivery that’s often mumbled (and occasionally drowned out by the movie’s score) The fact this movie is hard to follow is really it’s only failing. Otherwise it delivers action, scale and imagination that’s on a different level. Perhaps not Nolan’s best, but certainly up there with some of his other movies if given the attention it deserves.

Verdict: Recommended

Maps To The Stars


Viewed – 06 February 2015 online-rental

I’ll generally watch anything directed by David Cronenberg, that former horror auteur responsible for such titles as Scanners, The Fly, as well as thrillers like A History Of Violence and Eastern Promises.  Going into this I felt echoes of another David’s work, namely David Lynch especially with his dark-side-of-Hollywood opus Mulholland Drive. 

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A physically and emotionally scarred young woman, Agatha (Mia Wasikowska) arrives off a coach seemingly intent on discovering Hollywood and befriends a chauffer (Robert Pattinson).  Soon she is hired by struggling former star Havana (Julianne Moore) as her personal assistant.  Havana is trying to land the role in a remake of her deceased mother’s most famous film, whilst at the same time struggling with her own personal demons.  We also get a child actor with over-barring parents (including a self-help guru John Cusack).

Think ‘The Player’ meets ‘Mulholland and you’ll get an idea of this dark but interesting drama.  Wasikowska is, as always excellent as the troubled and manipulative Agatha and Moore is daring and tragic playing an actress way past her sell by date.  It perfectly showcases how fake and artificial the movie industry can be, and especially how throwaway it is with young and ageing actors.  Cusack, one of my favourites is fairly wasted here not getting much chance to be anything more than a money hungry scumbag, and the kid playing the child actor is quite unlikable also.  Well, all the characters here are unlikable, but that’s clearly the point.  Cronenberg observes them like insects waiting to be trod on, but the occasional lapses into surrealism and brutal violence (death by academy award?) or explicit sex (gotta hand it to Moore … she’s fearless!) at least livened up what is otherwise a fairly downbeat and depressing tale.  For Cronenberg this was fascinating but ultimately quite limp for such a provocative and challenging film maker.

Verdict:  3 /5

Cosmopolis


Viewed – 29 November 2012. Blu-ray

David Cronenberg is one of my favourite directors, responsible for such masterpieces as Videodrome and Dead Ringers.  So naturally I will seek out anything by him … even this curious oddity starring Twilight actor Robert Pattinson.

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Pattinson plays a young billionaire living in Manhattan on-route to getting his hair cut whilst travelling in a stretched limo. However for a man who has it all, the beautiful wife, the sexy mistress (Juliette Binoche) and more money than he knows what to do with … he craves something more, something that might make him feel alive again.

Interesting concept, based on the novel by Don Dellilo, this has more in common with Cronenberg’s baffling Naked Lunch than any of his other work.  Filled with impenetrable dialogue that is more a series of phylosophical statements than people actually talking one another – I found this both beautiful to look at, and cold and alienating … meaning gleaming much enjoyment was near-impossible.  Cameos by Samantha Morton & Paul Giamatti were welcome, but even smatterings of sex & violence couldn’t pull this out of the doldrums, and I almost nodded off at times. Pattinson also continues to be one of the most navel-gazing actors I have ever witnessed, and I remain firmly on the fence as to his appeal.

One to avoid then, even for seasoned Cronenberg fans.

Verdict:  1 /5

Twilight New Moon


Viewed – 11 June 2010  DVD

I liked Twilight.  It may be undeserving of the media and fan frenzy that followed in wake of the books by Stephenie Meyer, but the simple love story between a quiet girl and a cool Vampire was never going to be boring.  Yet that movie lacked a bit of attitude and pace, and well, not a lot happened.  Still with the sequel I went into this expecting many of the themes hinted at in the first installment to finally get some screen time and things to start happening.

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