RIP David Warner (1941 – 2022)

I don’t know why I’m so upset by this. Obviously, he was a huge, huge actor, his IMDB has got 228 acting credits. I’ve loved so many things that Warner turned up in and made a possible 7/10 a 12/10.

He made everything better. Even if it’s one voice or a passing bit, David Warner made it stick and made you think about it often years after.

He felt like family.

Everything Everywhere All At Once (2022)

Years ago I worked out how to travel between universes. I was pleased but not overly so, thinking, ‘well, this is a normal skill, like riding a bike or getting cold butter to spread.’ Turns out, no it’s not and if you talk about it too much, people will start thinking you’re a nutter and edging away from you. And then you have to move universes again.

How happy I was, then, that on Thursday, my bestie and I went to see Everything Everywhere All At Once. EEAAO stars the fabulous Michelle Yeoh as a beleaguered business owner drowning in a sea of receipts, familial dyspepsia and unfulfilled dreams.

I’m not going to put any spoilers in this review, I’m just going to waffle on about how it made me feel.  I’d also advise you not to watch the trailer before seeing the film as it gives too much away. But I can say this: EEAAO starts off with a family struggling to keep their laundromat business going. Add to that an increasingly estranged daughter and a father who feels unvalued for who he is.

That’s the setup. What breaks that ordinariness is the multiverse poking its infinite heads into the story and, before long, the audience is being slapped with the most transreal, unhinged imagery that’s ever been seen outside of celebrity colonoscopies.

Unlike the tragically impoverished version of the multiverse that Marvel has slung our way, EEAAO’s vision is horrific, funny, sad, poignant, ridiculous and everything between. If the MCU multiverse is the infinity of integers (yawwwnnnn), EEAAO’s multiverse is the infinity of all real numbers. It’s wilder, it’s bigger, it’s cheerfully irrational. Thus, the ways in which it can twist the central characters of the story are exponentially more powerful than merely guesting actors from an earlier film or, failing that, inserting a pointless CGI puppet.

Speaking of CGI – Marvel et al should take another lesson from EEAAO here. All the VFX were apparently done by a core of five people who were self-taught. The directors pitched in too. The resultant CGI is supportive, appropriate and, above all, it doesn’t subsume the entire bloody story. The centre remains Michelle Yeoh, Stephanie Hsu and Ke Huy Quan giving exceptional performances that integrate perfectly with the fantastical elements while always retaining the human scale. Yeoh owns this film, she is incandescent and I could not tear my eyes away from her even if I wanted to. Her grace and power course through every moment, not just the fight scenes. Props also to Jamie Lee Curtis who has to cover an impossible range in her character(s) and does so with verve and total ferocity. I hope that other directors take note and she gets more work like this.

In the company of this cast, we travel to universes that, in lesser hands, could have reduced the pain of the film, there were certainly enough preposterous premises. But under the Daniels’ (Dan Kwan, Daniel Scheinert) sure direction, everything is made to serve the central interleaved stories. Personally, I would love to live in Wong Kar Wai verse if I could, who wouldn’t want that dreamy, super-saturated romance? But the Daniels use it in the most exquisitely painful way. Even now, it’s making me tear up to think of Ke Huy Quan’s speech and just how handsome he looks. But that’s the point, to poke at the audience and bring out our alternates, every what-if or if-only-I’d-been-brave-enough.

This human heart is what makes the audience care about all the crazy shit popping off onscreen. Without it… well, I think we’ve all seen enough CGI-snoozefests without me having to name and shame them. I cared about the family, I cared about their fates, their loves, their dreams, no matter what the universe. This is a film that made me cry about a falling rock. How good a storyteller do you have to be to achieve that? Well, you have to be the Daniels, apparently.

Every now and then, I’d look at my friend in the cinema and we’d both have tears coursing down our cheeks but be grinning like howler monkeys on a log flume. This film is a fucking ride, it is art, it is cinema, it is everything that 9/10 films that clog our multiplexes are not. It is not bland and therefore it will alienate as many as it thrills. You might see it and totally hate it, which is fine. But you can’t sit with us.

EEAAO is hugely, unfashionably emotional and it says things that are un-approved by committee or viewer survey. It is the greatest of joys to leave the cinema feeling so alive, so fizzing with questions and jokes and observations and puzzles.

Everything Everywhere All At Once deserves all the Oscars for everything. All at once.

Metal Lords (2022)

Watched this today – it’s a lovely film and has some deft twists and turns which I’m certainly not gonna ruin with spoilers. However, if you’re a fan of hunky werewolves, be prepared to do a little squeal at one point.

This is Adrian Greensmith’s first feature and he’s definitely deserving of a future in acting, if he desires one. That’s no to knock the rest of the cast who manage to dodge every teen drama cliches without being all poe-faced about it.

Check it out!

Kate (2021)

So, I just watched ‘Kate,’ an action flick on Netflix (not bad, I’d give it a solid 8.5/10) and I thought I’d pop and see the score. Hmmm… seems quite low… I wonder why?

Then I see this review:

(REVIEW ON IMDB) 
Here we go again. Another stupid movie where the female can do anything males twice her size can do. Well in real life if you look at the murder rates of women it's shows this isn't the case and no matter how much sillywood tries to push this nonsense on is it is just a joke. And it's leave poor females with more self esteem problems as they relasi as that they can not and will never be able to do what men can do.

And using Winestead who is a terrible actress and couldn't pull off this role if she was the only female around. Basically a useless skin bag. This female would be killed before she could decide how stupid she looks trying to do something she obviously can not.

Males and females are different and it's what makes them BOTH special. Stop forcing us to watch this garbage which has negative effects on RL females. Today's females have big mouths and weak bodies. Not the ideal combination when dealing with the confrontation that they stir up complaining about what VICTIMS they are.

In the real world women are victims. The movies won't change that. It'll be changed when females are treated the same as males from birth. Meaning, at school they are shouted at and made to do the hard chores that males students have always had to do like moving tables and picking up stuff. It must start from birth.

And secondly, only when women are forced to do national service or be signed up to the draft LIKE men have been forced to do. Men lose their lives in the thousand for females to moan and whine. About time females lost theirs too for pointless wars.

There’s a load of reviews like this, sometimes the woman-hating is better disguised than this, mostly not.

But, wow, this man is a walking lake of toxic masculinity. Hoo boy!

ANYWAAYYYYY

Kate‘ is a finely-crafted, atmospheric action film that mixes up many aesthetics; there’s obviously some John Wick in here with very unrealistic but well-choreographed fight sequences, some weeb-baiting with big dollops of TECH-NOIR-ZAIBATSU-NEON and many, many perfect assassin tropes.

What ‘Kate’ does better than most films is that it actually has great actors at the emotional cruxes of the plot. Harrelson and Winstead have a great chemistry as Handler and Asset respectively which grounds what could otherwise dissolves into a sea of squibs and gory, weightless deaths.

The central premise of Winstead’s race through the night also makes it all the more fun (I won’t spoil it here, obviously) and it’s almost Columbo-ish in that we know the end but we still want to see how she gets there.

There’s not one hammy turn, everyone lends a heft to, let’s face it, comic-book level unrealistic action scenes. And that helps sell it, at least on the emotional level. Props particularly to young actress Miku Patricia Martineau for a nuanced performance that has to cover a huge gamut of emotional situations. Look, it’s an action flick, you have to suspend your disbelief a little. In real life, even hardened soldiers can suffer from PTSD for years. But the characters in action films – BLAM! BLAM! BLAM! No worries.

So, within those genre confines, ‘Kate’ is a fine film with some beautiful moments of stillness in between the raining shards of glass and gouts of Kensington Gore.

Go get a bag of popcorn and a huge slurpee, settle back and be prepared for a tear or two to go along with the thrills and spills.

Class Rank (2017)

“Annihilating an ecosystem for political appearances is not my modus operandi.”

So, how do you know when you’ve just watched a great film? Not a good film but a great film? Film is such an accretion of magical sleight-of-hand, such an array of hidden talents that I think you have to feel it. In your nads. It hits you precisely because you didn’t see that punch coming, you didn’t notice a setup. If you do notice something like editing or acting or the EQ on a microphone, that most usually means that the film has failed, unless it’s deliberately going for some neo-Brechtian questioning of form, of course.

The first time I watched Class Rank, I didn’t notice any of the technical aspects, I was way too immersed in the story. So, firstly, let’s say that Class Rank is magnificent from a technical point of view. Whoever worked on this film, from sound to set to edit to make-up to grips to costume, every single person who lifted the tiniest of their tiny fingers, you get a fucking A+. And a gold star. You’ve helped create a hyper-naturalistic story that feels like I’m watching a documentary about my most awkward moments at secondary school. Artifice invisible, I’m left with raw emotion.

As ever, no spoilers here but the basic premise is of hyper-geeky Bernard (Skyler Gisondo) and over-achiever Veronica (Olivia Holt). She has her eyes set on Yale and higher but this appears stymied when she only achieves a class rank of second, instead of first. Shenanigans then ensue when she realises Bernard may be able to help her if she in turn helps him with his campaign to replace French with Chinese on the school curriculum.

This may all seem very generic and, looking at the bald words, it is. If this were another rites-of-passage movie, many high jinks would line up to be ticked off, all present and correct. But Class Rank doesn’t do that. Instead, it does a deep dive into the characters of Veronica and Bernard, one that drags your heart along with it. Even as you laugh at the undeniably funny lines they trade, you know you’re not laughing at them in a cruel way. When Bernard asks, “Surely the melting of your dairy products is not more important than the future education of your child?” I giggled but he’s actually right. Like most of us geeks, both kids are well aware they’re out of step without it being simplified into your classic ‘jocks versus geeks’ or other high school comedy cliches.

Filling out their world is an ensemble of characters who are equally real even if they get much shorter screen time. No character is under-written or unimportant here. The gentle banter between Bernard’s Grandpa (Bruce Dern) and the editor of the local paper (Kathleen Chalfant) is sweet without ever being that special ageist sickly of ‘oooh, look, old people holding hands, aww!’ Veronica’s Mom (Kristin Chenoweth) is similarly un-caricatured and, again, I forgot she was acting… she was just her Mom in a tender and loving way. Then there’s Nick Krause’s insouciant grace as the shop bagger, Mike, watch out for him. I’m not kidding when I say the final scene with him made my eyes sting. Damn this hayfever.

Let me also take this paragraph to congratulate this film on having A GREAT SOUNDTRACK. In this respect, it’s the antithesis of most Hollywood in that there’s space and beats and it never intrudes or de-stabilises, it supports and helps tell the story. Y’know, like scores are meant to do? Well done, Brian Byrne. In a cinematic world overflowing with the same threadbare martial beats and monotonous pitchbent braaaaams, his score is a cold glass of water in a bloody desert.

It’s the final act of the film that left me stunned enough that I’m writing this review. When the complications happen, Holt and Gisondo are stunning, I was on the edge of my seat. There is such rawness and honesty here that it hurts, built as it is on how we’ve come to know and love both characters during the film. Nothing is overdone, everything makes emotional sense. It’s so rare to see scenes like this in film and even more amazing when you realise the actors were nineteen or twenty when they filmed them. These two motherfuckers played keepy uppy with my heart and I’m a cynical, fat old man. Be forewarned!

Finally, I have to praise writer Benjamin August and director Eric Stoltz for a brilliant story, perfectly delivered. This film could have settled with being farcical, it could have been throwaway, it could have been silly. Instead, there is such heart and candour here, about love, friendship, about the human condition at every age. As soon as the credits finished, I started writing this review and re-started the film from the beginning. I’m enjoying it even more second time around. Thank you for giving me this wonderful film.

It’s now one of my favourite films about love. I know I’ll be watching it again many times in the future.

Tomboy (2017)

Source: IMDB

I was expecting this to be quite throwaway and was really only drawn in by Weaver and Rodriguez. But then, up pop Shalhoub, Lapaglia etc. ~ there are no bad performances in this film.

That being said it veers between B-movie with an A-movie cast and arthouse, Looper-esque weirdness. That’s not an insult as I love B-movies and arty indie films. The tone is unique; so much that it’s truly suspenseful. You really don’t know what’s going to happen, despite large parts being flashback. The gender identity themes are very now even though, apparently, this is a very old original script?

I loved the VERY Looper end, it was the perfect little Hammer Horror flourish.

Fight The Power

I just sent this to a mate:

I just watched a not-great action film starring Michael B. Jordan. It's called Without Remorse and it's a miitary US action film, very loosely (ie nothing to do with it) based on a Tom Clancy thriller.
Well, I went to IMDB and the scores looked a bit low. I was gonna give it a 6/10 - it was alirght, bit braindead but it's an action film sooo ¯\_(?)_/¯
But then I read the reviews and guess what - they were all complaining about 'blackwashing' of action films and how dare they have a FEMALE SEAL member (who's also black, btw and amazing).
Yup, it was all racists and sexists giving the film 1/10, that's why the score was so low.
SOOO I gave it 10/10 to drive the average up and wrote a review setting out how it actually is as a film, not eh mewlings of some enraged gammon flipping his wig cos BLACK PEOPLE ARE IN A FILM! ARGHHH!!!
seriously, look at these fuckers:

Here’s an example of the idiotic Tory raving on IMDB:

The picture has reviews criticising the film for having female and black actors in it

Pure racism, pure sexism, pure flagshaggin, Brexiteer, Trumpet bullshit. These are the idiots who complain about black people in fantasy films or books – dragons, no problem. BLACK PEOPLE – HOW DARE THEYYY?

Similarly, military action-type films like this are always full of gaffes and goofs. They are not documentaries, they are pure popcorn. Everything is fake from the sounds of the guns to the never-emptying magazines. And yet… Without Remorse comes in for a kicking for “accuracy.” Yeah, sure, like “ethics in games journalism.” Where were all those fuckheads when CDPR blatantly bribed their way into huge hype for Cyberpunk 2077 before delivering a less-than-half-baked lumpy potato of a game? About as visible as Pro-Lifers on antiwar marches.

So, this is the review I left:

Not brilliant but a good romp, a decent teatime film
3 May 2021
Ignore all the Tories/Trumpets who are sooo triggered at the idea of a female SEAL or the surprise that MBJ is black, this is an *okay* action adventure film. Is it brilliant? No. Is it dumb in places - very. But then, have you seen First Blood? Inaccuracies and goofs galore, that's what the genre is like so why single out this film, hmmm? Ulterior motives...

It's no Predator or Hard Boiled but it's definitely worth more than the politically-motivated voting on here would suggest. There are plenty of tense fight scenes and Jamie Bell in particular puts in a great performance, making you actually loathe his character.

I was gonna give the film a 6/10 but I thought I should at least try to even out all the bile from Tory scum so I gave it a 10 instead. 🙂

Fuck racists, fuck sexists, fuck Tories.

Home Again (2017)

If you want a feel good film that might make you shed a lil tear of awh but leaves you smiling, this should do the job!

There are romances, there are kisses, there are un-requited passions but there is only one really ridiculous sequence, the rest is very lifelike. The film delivers the hardest thing: make drama seem like everyday life while still being drama.

Excellent performances all round, a hugely refreshing absence of 1950s gender stereotypes and.. you know… some realness in the fantasy!

Above all, it’s an ensemble piece and great to watch a group of actors just having such great chemistry with each other, including the kids who are just too sweet!