Oh, Tom Cruise… I really want to dislike you, although I admit it’s mostly due to your Xenu-linked weirdness and strange series of divorces once your wives turn 33 (seriously – it’s a weird fact). But hot damn, if Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation isn’t a thrill ride from beginning to end. The movie throws you into the action and death-defying stunts (most of which are done by the expensively-insured Cruise himself) with real aplomb and when you see the aeroplane scene at the intro, you know you’re in for an unexpected great ride. Alec Baldwin comes in just after that scene to close down the IMF (Impossible Missions Force), claiming that it is a fraud and waste of time and money. This ushers in the remaining agents as CIA guys, and the beloved Ethan Hunt goes into hiding. The chase to reveal the authenticity of The Syndicate following one lone, blonde man in glasses is now the situation at hand, mostly because CIA/FBI sources no longer believe in the organisation’s existence. Enter in the stellar cast of Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, Jeremy Renner, and double (triple?) agent Rebecca Ferguson, playing ex-MI6 Ilsa Faust, and this movie in the franchise is even better than the two previous efforts. Note to reader: this franchise is really America’s answer to James Bond. I refuse to take sides here, although I must say that anybody looking for an action fix and a good film could do far worse than this piece of class. Quite frankly, after Mad Max: Road Fury, this is 2015’s best action-adventure film so far. Enjoy! ###-½
While I was watching My Old Lady (Mi casa en Paris), there is something that I realised I quite missed in my life. It was Kevin Kline. ‘Jopetes,’ I thought. ‘Where the hell has he been?’ I also thought about how much I like him in movies set in France, like French Kiss, and even the vapid Pink Panther reboot. It was great to see him again in a city I love so much, however, the film was rather slow to get going, to be honest. We’re in luck though, as a fantastic cast slowly imbues the film with a sense of knowing. The film plays as though it were intended to be a piece for the stage, and although the direction by Israel Horowitz (daddy of Beastie Boy’s Ad-Rock no less) feels slow, the writing is fantastic. The plot centres on a down-on-his-luck American (Kline, playing protagonist Matthias Gold) who inherits a large, stately apartment in Paris after his father’s death, only to discover that the Life Estate tenant whose husband originally owned the building still occupies the flat. That would be the old lady of the film’s title, Mathilde Girard, played as always with impeccable precision by Dame Maggie Smith. Acting alongside her is Kristin Scott Thomas as her daughter, Chloe. When Mathilde reveals the truth behind her connection to Kline’s father, an unlikely healing begins. Not the strongest film in any of the actors’ careers, but still a small delight to be sure. ###
So going into the release of the following film, the lead actress/top model/annoying ex-best friend to Taylor Swift had a bit of an awkward moment in a slightly cringe-worthy interview with a local TV morning show in Cali about a week ago. Apparently, her rather sarcastic British attitude set off some drama with the US media and Cara Delevigne became a persona non grata for a hot minute. Then she fell down or something, quien sabe? That said, she’s not unlikeable in the new film Paper Towns, the name of which is a reference to cartographers placing fake town names on maps. The film continues in the long summer tradition of teen flicks for the angst-ridden or heartbroken over unrequited amore. Here we get a bit of both, as neighbours Quentin (Nat Wolff) and Margo (Delevigne) become fast friends after discovering a dead body as kids. Then, montages reveal that time doesn’t make their hearts grow fonder, even though they remain living across the road from each other… And yes, Quentin still has feelings for Margo, of course. All of a sudden, Margo needs his services after an ex breaks her heart and the movie turns into a quest for getting that aforementioned love back via a road trip with his teen friends after Margo disappears. I dig how they establish another FL-NY connection, and as this comes via the same people who gave us The Fault In Our Stars, the script and acting are well done. It’s hard not to have a throwback; an emotional tug towards your teen days… but I still prefer a bit more comedy. The good soundtrack also gives this movie another plus! ###
Lastly this week comes a little-seen Richard Linklater piece called Bernie starring the director's favourite, Jack Black, in the title role, and telling a true story from deep in the heart of Texas. On a side note, as the film came out to a few US screens in 2011, I had the pleasure of watching this some years back and am happy to see that it’s finally getting a wider, European release. The film tells the story of Bernie Tiede, the cherished mortician of a small Texas town. When he befriends the much-despised yaya of the village, Marge (here played to perfection by Shirley MacLaine) everything seems great for a while. After some time though, friction in this strange friendship leads to a momentary lapse of reason, and when Marge turns up dead, only one suspect comes to the minds of the sheriff and DA. Most people in town are happy that Marge is dead, and they rally behind Bernie despite him possibly being the culprit. This film is hilarious and in no way a hoax – the real story rocked US news back when I was still in high school. Enter in McConaughey as the local DA, and Linklater has given us a truly engrossing, funny, creepy look into the lives of small town America. Too much and so good! ###-1/2
Have yourselves a merry little weekend (and week). Let your hearts be light and keep yourselves cool and sun protected, children! See you next week!