The Halloween/All Saint’s/Day of the Dead/Sawaan festivities came and went and there were not many horror movies to mention…and that saddened me! Nevermind…let’s get started, as it has been a couple of weeks.
The main film in the market right now is of course the latest James Bond film Spectre. Right out of the bat, I can say that the film is absolutely fun, exquisitely shot and a perfect notch in the franchise. The film begins in Mexico City during the Day of the Dead festivities, no less and with the best helicopter action sequence I’ve probably ever seen. Gripping. The plot revolves around the closure of the 00 programme under Her Majesty’s order after Bond (again played by Daniel Craig) causes a rather grand international incident in that Mexico City intro. What follows is what could be a very first in major Hollywood cinema. Director Sam Mendes slightly reveals what they call in the film New World Order and what many like to call The Illuminati—a consortium of leaders that control the mandates and happenings of world events. That in its own right made me pay attention because it’s rare that people even enter into the subject. Having Bond fight that good fight is fun if often too formulaic. The Bond ladies are Monica Bellucci (such a gorgeous woman and finally someone Craig’s own age) and Lea Seydoux, who is perfectly believable in her role. The only thing I wish I could change in the MO of the Bond flick is the camp love scenes...I just don’t buy Craig as a suave ladies’ man, something feels rather forced. Still, perhaps not as good as Skyfall, but a fun adventure nonetheless. ###-1/2
While watching The Intern, it was quite clear early on that there was a big moral lesson coming to us and when the film finishes, you’ll be hard pressed not to call your (grand) parents or fave aunt/uncle and tell them you love them and thank you. The film revolves around upstart, successful career woman Jules Ostin who is the head of an e-commerce fashion house and played (as always) to perfection by little Anne Hathaway, who at 32 (I thought she was younger, actually) is no longer a little princess diary writer. She is a young mother, entrepreneur, slight workaholic and also dealing with a distant, nagging mother and a cheating husband. Enter Robert De Niro stage right as Ben Whittaker, an intern thrown into the company as part of a senior outreach programme, but when he is assigned to be Ostin’s intern, she is completely taken aback. Who is this grandpa hanging about? And then De Niro rescues her emotional state and slowly peels back the layers of her young life and reminds her that she is the life source of all the goings-on around her. It’s not an intense movie and being a Nancy Meyers film, it’s aimed at the heartstrings and a tad gimmicky at times, but this film is autumn’s first sleeper hit. Well done, if formulaic. ###-1/2
Oh musicals…there have been quite a few of them reviewed on this site, and let it be said that I am not a lover of musicals. I simply just can not. When a situation is presented and must be sung with little or no dialogue, and I might add mostly in modern musicals, I get turned off in a second. That said, I trudged through the otherwise alright The Last Five Years, mostly because I like Anna Kendrick from the Pitch Perfect series and Into the Woods. Her voice is quite Broadway but I find her engaging as an actress. The film tells the love story and demise of a young writer/actor couple through flashbacks and lots and lots of songs. Let it be said that some of the songs are quite catchy, and director Richard LaGravenese has done a decent job of bringing the stage play onto the big screen. However, when a story like this is told in song and dance, although some might find it enthralling, I prefer the backdrop of their lost love, which touches on the pain of being with a narcissist. That, and some of the tunes sung by Kendrick and the slightly annoying Jeremy Jordan (even that name is kind of ick!…and wasn’t there a one-hit wonder from the early Nineties with that name,? I sweat to G-d there was!), take it to a easily palatable level. ##-1/2
The film title Little Boy refers to the name used for the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. When Pepper Flynt Busbe’s elder brother is rejected from enlistment to fight the Japanese due to his flat feet, his father is sent instead, which breaks little Pepper's heart. I will say that I love watching this little guy on the screen, however perhaps another shot at celluloid stardom might be in his favour. It’s also nice to see ageless Emily Watson playing mum and Michael Rappaport as dad, and it’s interesting that they play roles certainly well below their actual ages. Pepper becomes determined to get his father home and life brings him an aide in an unexpected way, but when his father is listed as MIA, things turn into a different spectacle altogether. Okay then…if you’re close to your dad, it will be quite difficult not to cry through this movie at some point. With that said, the forced Hollywood-tingling on heartstrings affair has very little substance beyond the obvious. Good, yet disappointing. ##
Another new entry this weekend is a documentary that premiered recently at the Sitges Film Fest called Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley, which tells the intricate green-lighting and filming process behind the somewhat ill-fated production of the infamous 1996 remake of The Island of Dr. Moreau, starring Val Kilmer and Marlon Brando. The film revolves around Stanley himself, as he was the first director of the film, only to be replaced by John Frankenheimer, leaving him as a screenwriter with little say. Some might say his strange, quasi power-hungry antics were beyond left of the middle, but when you watch some of his strange attempts as a director, you wonder two things…ok, maybe three. One: what convinced the original studio producers to hire this camp, horror director as the head of all principal photography of a 'Brando' film; two: Why didn’t Stanley pursue something more meaningful; and three: Is he doing anything now? Captivating! ###
The film A Promise is a French-produced, mostly English-language film revolving around a pre-WWI romance that never is, then never was and then is, and oh my nerves, it’s another big screen production of a famous, non-English language, European author’s (Stefan Zweig) work bastardised by having English speakers interpret the roles of Belgians just on the eve of the war. When a young graduate becomes protege to an ailing steel magnate, the elder man unwittingly exposes himself to someone who is stiffly attracted to his daughter, played decently by Rebecca Hall of Vicky Christina Barcelona (everyone’s fave Woody Allen movie) fame…but only decent. When the ravages of war tear them apart and time and distance keep them apart, fate finds a way to re-unite these distant, meant-to-be lovers…It’s just too bad that by then, we couldn't care less! ##-1/2
Lots of movies opening up as the awards season heats up. I’ll be reviewing more frequently now that the autumn has arrived, so see you all in a few days. Enjoy the week lovelies!