Spider-Man: Far From Home
Toy Story 4
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JJ Abrams, or as he now known. 'the new Spielberg' offers the second re-boot of the tired Star Trek franchise and sends it forward at warp speed. Unlike his excellent first edition, this one gets into the real action from the start, and once started, never lets up. A return of an old favourite, Khan, helps propel the plot at warp speed. Played by the ridiculously named Benedict Cumberbatch (aka Holmes in Sherlock) he is a good villain that does not overpower the plot (as Bardem did in Skyfall). The two leads, Kirk (Pine) and Spock (Quinto - who looks a good deal like Cumberbatch) are both great, so there is balance and interest in all sides. Though it is full of other good performances and is pretty well written, the real star is the director.
JJ Abrams seems to have the magic touch. The movie moves like a train, not always in the predicted direction, and has a humanity about it that dwarfs the effects. One critic in the London Times complains that it is too contemporary - that Khan is a terrorist, and the moral dilemnas are discussed. All I can say is that is what drove Star Trek even in the TV series - the arguments about right and wrong, how to use power, etc - were always part of Star Trek. I personally can't wait to see what Abrams does with Star Wars. I think he will make great Star Wars films.
Almost a perfect sci-fi from the material.
The ulitmate star vehicle for Robert Downey Jr., Iron Man 3 is a hoot. It is fast, funny and totally dumb all at the same time. I think that Shane Black, the screenwriter and director this time around, must have had a whale of a time making this. No matter what else happens on screen, you're eyes are on Downey Jr - he is just compelling to watch. His has a natural way about him that makes you think he is not acting, that he is deeply disturbed and it's all true. He illustrates the truth that if your central character is made of wood, your film is made of shit. No other actor could fill his shoes on this, he is Iron Man, as he is so proud to claim.
The rest of the movie is fun enough, but total crap really. One exception - there is a star cameo from Ben Kinglsey as 'The Mandarin.' Kingsley's role as a Bin Laden type illustrates the irony of the Christopher Nolan school of fake American heroes so perfectly, I wanted to laugh out loud. I will laugh out loud - it was a brilliant touch. The best scene in the film is when Iron Man rescues 16 people thrown out of Air Force One at 30,000 feet. It is so unreal as to be.... well, unreal. But memorable as anything else in the two hours.
So hail, hail, Robert Downey Jr. He makes paint drying fun, and this movie would be a shambles without him.
Your Cock Up, My Arse!
I know it's crude, but so is this riduiculous film about making a film. Imagine. Alfred Hitchcock is not the genius we all thought he was (wasn't) but old horny Alma, his mousey wife. Yes, it was she who discovered and married him, she who helped doctor scripts, etc. Yet these real snippets are transformed to re-write history. It's like saying, I don't know, Mussolini was the real brains behind Hitler, or some such rubbish.
But we know what's really going on here, right? All men are useless, perverts, ego- fuelled dolts! I mean, the other Hitchcock movie about the Birds has Toby Runt as a class A lecher, groping Tippi Whatshername in the back seat of a Packard.
This film'ssecond worse crime is boredom - it is an invented tale, over-hyped by bull and with an agenda I would call misandrist. Look it up, if you don't know what it means. And poor Danny Houston! What a waste of an actor.
And Hopkins looks nothing like Hitch and Mirren even less like Alma. Only Scarlet catches the eye, like she was in all 90 something minutes of Psycho instead of the opening act.
Reachers the heights
Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher? Isn't that guy, like a foot taller than the incredible shrunken Scientologist? But surprisingly, Cruise carries it off. giving you an impression that he is as fearful a fighter as the amoral knight in the Lee Child novels.
There is something single minded and menacing about a good Cruise performance that we have seen throughout his career, like in the Mission Impossible films. Trace elements of real anger and feeling erupt from time to time, and he does it here in spades. Of course, the plot is pretty creaky - some old Georgian psycho is corrupting cities with bad buildings and stuff - yeah, right? But it plays like a decent thriller - it's not Tell No One. There is a veneer of emotion in this work, but not enough genuine emotion to tip the balance. If they made a sequel, I'd watch it, but I would not salivate at the prospect.
Silver Linings, Golden Statues
If anyone doubts how good Jennifer Lawrence and Brad Cooper are, check out this David O. Russell rom-com with a bi-polar edge. Both give Oscar worthy performances, and Robert de Niro also comes to life in a way I haven't seen in years as Brad's rather shady Dad.
Something wonderful gets into Russell's head every decade or so, and his script and direction are near perfect. There is not a bum note, despite the ridiculous female-friendly story of love transformation, as Lawrence and Cooper find redemption from illness in eachother's arms.
But is it Oscar worthy? Yes, I think, especially if you compare this to The Artist. I watched this film the other day, and although technically excellent, this is a much more moving story. So well done all and write another this good, David.