Miscellaneous Films 1

A round up of films watched at various points.

The Babysitter

By the same directory as The Lost Boys and it shows. Not particularly original or clever, but definitely tremendous fun.

JCVD

Wow. This is a really interesting bit of cinema: Van Damme exploring his career, his fame in his home country, the way that people confuse character and actor, and his own feelings about his messy life. This is a surprisingly smart and interesting film, and well worth the time.

Bond. James Bond

I went on a bit of a spree here.

Quantum of Solace

I don’t know why people don’t like it. No, it’s not as good as Casino Royale, perhaps, but it’s pretty flash. The central conceit of water wars seemed to attract quite a bit of negative comment at the time it was released, much like the idea of media moguls as an international danger back with Tomorrow Never Dies, but I tend to the opinion that time has made the bad guy look more credible in spite of critical reservations.

Skyfall

Really liked it right up until the overdone “look at me, I’m the monster now!” moment. It didn’t seem to be sure from here on in whether it wanted to be Olde Bonde with overblown monster-villains and improbable scenarios or Casino Bond with realism up the wazoo.

SPECTRE

Oh god it’s all a bit Roger Moore isn’t it? The Jaws flavoured henchman? The plane losing its wings and crashing through the barn? It’s overall a decent film, but I feel like the efforts to “bring fun back to Bond” have veered back into the excesses of 70s Bond.

(As an aside, the reason I’ve never really seen the point of the Austin Powers films is because, well, why do you need to parody Moonraker or Octopussy? You don’t, because they parody themselves.

Edward Scissorhands

I hadn’t really noticed, when I first watched this as a 17 year old, but the mother is so genuinely good and lovely.

I also hadn’t noticed that there’s the genesis of a thousand “nice guys”, with the dynamic of Depp and Ryder’s romance and the bad jocks in here, but it’s not quite that simple as far as that’s concerned. Edward’s destructive tantrums are a more realistic assesment of that sort of personality.

Machete

Robocop, but for Latin American relations. The defining moment of this film has to be a character standing on the bonnet of a car hollering “We didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us!”

El Mariachi

One thing you can answer any criticism of this film with is that it cost $7,000 to make. Camera work is shaky? Seven grand. Acting is uneven? Seven grand.

But that’s unfair, because much, much worse B-movies have been made with the benefit of much better budgets and professional crews and actors.

Desperado

Is it a smart, emotionally complex film? No.

Is it a fun film? Most definitely yes, so long as your fun includes spectacular violence, Mexican music, and sexy leads.

Black Panther

A good film, some nice riffs on classic arguments around what to do about opression, and a cultural event.

Deadpool

Three jokes away from perfection:

  1. At the end. Really, you couldn’t have her look at Deadpool’s scarring and say, “Are you like this everywhere? Does this mean you’re now… ribbed for her pleasure?”
  2. Come on, no follow-through on International Women’s Day? I am disappointed. I guess Mr Reynolds isn’t quite as bold as he’d like us to think.
  3. The tired, pathetic trans joke for Angel Dust. Really? You want to do a fresh new spin on superhero comedy films and you pull your jokes out of shit bits of Crocodile Dundee? Boo. Stupid, unoriginal, and mean-spirited in all the wrong ways.

The Death of Stalin

The blackest and most hilarious comedy I’ve seen in some time. Manages to communicate both the awful horror of the end of Stalin’s reign, while keeping me in stitches; it’s definitely the kind of thing where you laugh, then think: “wait, that’s *really fucked up*”.

It’s also a great example of truthiness in based-on-a-true-story film. It plays with the timeline on which things happened, but it keeps the core truths of people and events in a way that lets you tell a story; if you care enough to see how it corresponds to the facts of what went on in this era, there are changes, but those changes are not ones that are likely to leave you feeling mislead.

The other great thing about this is that it’s a great riposte to people who moan “oh you can’t make edgy comedy any more”. Like, if they haven’t bothered with this movie and they’re banging on about about it you know that they’re just upset that the cheapest “making fun of people for their accent/being a woman/whatever” isn’t enough to score a big budget any more.

Logan

Tragedy is an ever-present part of Logan. In fact, tragedy is so pervasive that events which would, in another film be perhaps a defining moment fade into small tragedies, observed in passing: the fate of Caliban, the horrific events visited upon the Munson family, Xavier killing most of his own pupils in the Westchester event, a future in which it seems that Magneto rather than Xavier has been proven correct, the terrible treatment of the children…

As well as the obvious tragedy - that Laura and Logan share only a moment of peace at the end of his life - there are two great, under-remarked upon, tragedies in Logan:

  1. All Logan’s work to keep the truth from Charles ends in vain. Charles learns, ultimately, that it was his illness that killed the last of the X-Men, destroying his own life’s work.
  2. When Charles realises this, he finally understands his last year with Logan: the poorly supressed anger, the hiding, the drugs, all of it. Logan is no monster, and Charles understands how unfair his own rage against his pupil - not a disappointment, not a monster, but a man desperate to shield his paterfamilias from the horror of his own illness. And Logan never knows - he never hears Charles apologise for the bitter words and accusations.

There have been a lot of good superhero films in the last decade, by which I mean movies that are well put together action films in the cape genre, but in spite of the frankly overblown claims of the fans of same, they are not great cinema, they’re solid popcorn movies. Logan is probably the only one that rises above being a generic good cape film and into something that’s genuinely good outside that niche.

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