Posted by Ali Gray
at 23:30 on 19 Nov 2017
It wasn’t evil aliens that defeated the Justice League: it was facial hair.
It's time for a brand new installment of the feature we can't believe no one else is doing: talking about Marvel movies! After kicking off with Iron Man
and seriously questioning the format with The Incredible Hulk
, we're officially into sequel territory with Iron Man 2, the first movie that knew it was part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Or should we say... Cine-CHAT-ic Universe? No. No we shouldn't. We should use the correct terminology.
Posted by Ali Gray
at 13:30 on 04 Nov 2017
If it wasn’t immediately obvious from the impenetrable wall of dialogue that looms over the opening scene, Molly’s Game was written by famed fast-talker Aaron Sorkin
. If it wasn’t immediately obvious he directed it too, the clues are there to be found: scenes that smash cut through shot lists like a machine gun play home to worldly and wise characters who spew dictionaries of insightful dialogue. Molly’s Game is adapted from the biography of a poker hostess who ran high stakes games for big game players, but the movie has more of Sorkin’s fingerprints on it than his own typewriter. Often if a writer-director can’t remove their own ego from the equation it can be problematic, but thankfully the story of Molly’s Game feels tailor-made for Sorkin’s style: though occasionally weighed down by sheer volume of dialogue, it’s nonetheless smart, slick and - thanks to a towering Jessica Chastain performance - more than a bit sexy.
Following on from 2015's A Bigger Splash, Luca Guadagnino continues his fascination with swimming pools, sultry Italian summers and dancing men with a heartbreaking coming-of-age tale set in 1983. It's a film so alluring and luminous it almost makes up for the fact I never experienced a holiday romance of my own. Who knows what could have happened had Armie Hammer's family ever decided to holiday during the late 90s at Rockley Park, Bournemouth's premier caravan park? While I lament the life that could've been, I'll have to content myself with this transcendental account of first love that is the very definition of bittersweet. It's seductive, sensual, and at one point someone ejaculates into a peach. It's got everything.
By now the central premise of Armando Iannucci's recent satirical output is clear enough, or has maybe just about been done to death: in politics, everyone's a chancer, making it up on the fly and looking out for number one. In The Death of Stalin there's an extra layer of irony, too: under Communism, there isn't supposed to be a number one to look out for. It's kind of the point.
There’s a lot that could be said about Taika Waititi being hired at this stage of the MCU. Is it a risk to give a giant special effects blockbuster property like Thor to a director known for off-kilter, low-budget comedies? Is it merely a cynical move in an attempt to mimic the quirkiness of the hugely successful Guardians Of The Galaxy
films? Can a unique creative tone even shine through within the confines of the strict Marvel model? And does Waititi’s brand of humour even translate to the big-budget world of EXCEPT IT TOTALLY FUCKING DOES AND YOU CAN FORGET ALL THESE THINGS BECAUSE THIS FILM IS SO MUCH FUN.
You would think that a film about shrinking people down to miniature size would primarily be about doll houses and hilariously oversized pencils – and there is a lot of that here – but mostly Alexander Payne’s new 'short' film is concerned with socio-political issues and climate change. It’s a film that says you should be doing more for your fellow man and for the environment. Basically, it has the power to make you feel very small indeed.
Did you know you can kick a man’s head off? Like, clean off his shoulders? Or witness what a face looks like after it’s been stomped by a pair of size 10s? Have you ever seen a jaw literally, literally drop to the floor? How about enjoying funny guy Vince Vaughn in a prison movie with brains, but those brains are frequently splattered across the concrete ground? Before I saw Brawl In Cell Block 99, I wasn’t aware of any of these things. God, I was a different person back then. It is, as a colleague described it, the Citizen Kane of facial trauma movies. It’s Grade A Grindhouse. It’s V For Vaughndetta. It’s not like anything you’ve ever seen before.
Time was, you could get a bit of a reaction by saying Adam Sandler was a good actor. You'd be the toast of the cognoscenti, lauded for your brave and rare insight, or at the very least one of those professional contrarians who make film Twitter such a rich and challenging environment. These days the evidence is there and the idea's not controversial: everyone knows he can do it when he can be bothered changing out of his tracksuit. Maybe it's time to think of him a bit differently.
Posted by Ali Gray
at 14:00 on 12 Oct 2017
Murder mysteries exist in a weird sort of critical stasis while you're watching them, because any story that hinges on an explosive final act reveal floats in limbo until it has shown its hand. Such a reveal - a surprise identity, a killer motive, a shock twist - may cause you to reassess everything you've already seen. The best films of the genre do just that: they cleverly subvert what you think you saw, fill in plot gaps you didn't know were there and, like a smug serial killer, flaunt the fact that they've been one step ahead of you the whole time. Yeah, The Snowman does not do any of that. You watch attentively and wait patiently and cross your legs and twiddle your thumbs but come the crushingly disappointing final act, the only dawning realisation you have is this: The Snowman is a bad movie and it turns out it had been all along. Twist!