That annoying pop-up you received this morning on your phone was the new notification of our latest sporadic podcast episode, begging you for attention like an artificial life form desperate to have its own existence validated.
With all memories of the Ghost In The Shell remake already lost like tears in rain, it's time to leave behind the replicants and look forward to a replican. Blade Runner 2049 is that rarest of sequels: a belated, big-budget blockbuster follow-up that feels like the real deal, not a synthetic knock-off. Not only has Denis Villeneuve managed to capture the essence of what made Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic so captivating, he's expanded the Blade Runner universe, growing the original not just visually and geographically but thematically too. Where the first film felt impossibly claustrophobic and hemmed in, possibly due to it being a good few decades ahead of the curve in terms of budget and effects, here the enormity of Scott's aspirations are unleashed in spectacular fashion.
Please let's not ruin this. We have a great thing here: La La Land is the rare kind of spellbinding, wonderful film that has reviewers like me tripping over themselves to find new superlatives for describing it. It's simply flawless. But that means that there'll be an unholy inclination by some #hot-takers to put it down; to chip away at the film's perfect sheen just to say something "interesting". But can we just not, this time? Can't we just have this one? Don't we deserve to enjoy something this sweet and pure and lovely just for once? It certainly feels like it's been a while.
"I have a feeling that in a few years, the banks are going to be doing exactly the same thing," says despondent financier Mark Baum (Steve Carell) as the world teeters on the brink of economic meltdown. "They're going to blame it on immigrants and poor people." The financial crisis of 2008 is mired in so much Wall Street-patented obfuscatory bullshit you need a shovel to get down to the nitty gritty, but Adam McKay's A-list crib sheet The Big Short boils it down to the essentials: the US banks committed the largest and most audacious case of fraud ever perpetrated at the cost of every man, woman and children in America - and they got away with it.
"Hey girl, I made a surreal scary nonsense film because I’m a tortured, sensitive artist. Want to watch it with me? I think you’ll like it. It’s got loads of symbolism about, like, women and sex and monsters and theatre and street lighting. And there’s funny dancing in it. And lots of fake blood. And fire. And lots of bright colours. And a scene where Doctor Who cuts off someone’s lips with a pair of scissors. Want it see it, girl? Hey girl. Hey. HEY. Aww." (*Looks into the distance with sad, longing eyes while lifting up t-shirt to reveal chiselled abs*)
First things first: let's get all the Drive comparisons out of the way, shall we? 1. Ryan Gosling is in it. 2. Nicolas Winding Refn directs it. Good, that's that done. Now forget about Drive, because Only God Forgives is about as similar to that film as I am to Ryan Gosling. And despite what you may have heard, that is, alas, not at all.
One of the conditions of me joining The Shiznit after closing down my own unbelievably popular and hilarious film blog was that I would become the site's Gosling Correspondent: any and all Ryan Goslingness would have to pass through me before it made it onto the internet. The rest of the team made a bit of a fuss, but when I took my shirt off to reveal my full chest tattoo of Ryan's face, they soon agreed to all my demands. Turns out I didn't need to take my trousers and pants off as well, but still, in for a penny, in for a pound.
It turns out that I have a small issue with a lot of gangster films, which I didn't realise until watching Gangster Squad. For all their sharp-suited, Tommy gun-wielding adventures, most feel the need to bring home the heavy-hitting drama underlying it all. Of course, there's no problem with this, but it seems to me that Hollywood has spent so long trying to tell us the real story behind some of history's most infamous outlaws, that it seems to have forgotten how to tell us the fake, fun, irresponsible version. This is where Gangster Squad chimes in; a film so gloriously cartoony at times that it feels ripped from the frames and pages of a graphic novel. Even though it is actually um... based on true events.
Eastern moviegoing audiences have proved to be a massively untapped market this year, so it's only natural that Warner Bros would want to tailor the marketing for Gangster Squad to make it successful overseas. If you ask me, there's a home run waiting to be hit in South Korea with just a few new tweaks and edits.