Continuing a look through the first few months of the year…
16: Kingsman: The Secret Service
An enjoyable cartoonish succession of guns, suits, fights, explosions, suits, quips, gadgets, suits, secret lairs, more suits and a delightful top hat. Kingsman was throwaway fun, but it was nice to see Colin Firth really enjoying himself… and in the middle came the best single fight scene of the year so far. Seeing Firth lay waste to an Alabama church congregation is surely one of the highlights of the year. B-
Winsomly cute. My favourite part was the lovely riff on Edwardian explorers at the beginning. It had the lovely Sally Hawkins in it, and Nicole Kidman as a mad taxidermist with a tranquilliser gun, spitting out the line “You’re stuffed, BEAR!”.
In fact, Evil Kidman is so good I wish she was the antagonist in more films. I predict a rich autumn in her career playing twisting snarling porcelain nightmares. B-
14: Life Itself
A wonderful warm, humane biopic of film critic Roger Ebert. This moves from his early days in crusading journalism to his move into movie reviewing, to his fractious bitchy relationship with co-reviewer Gene Siskel, to his late-in-life marriage and final battle with cancer. Yes, I cried at the end, of course. B
13: White Bird In A Blizzard
I reviewed this last year and loved it right up until the throwaway revelation at the end, which I felt was a cheat. So I gave it a C+. Having seen it again (it got a proper cinema release this year), I don’t mind that ending so much. On repeat viewings movies are always more about the journey than the destination, and this journey features an awful lot of Eva Green crazy-face flashbacks. You’ve got to love any movie that basically asks Eva Green if she could maybe act just a little more delirious. Turn it up to eleven, Eva! Really go for it! B
12: Inherent Vice
This adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s death-of-the-hippie-dream novel had great performances, great design, great music, great cinematography, but it just didn’t flow. Is that what happens when you start your adaptation by just typing out the novel, scene-by-scene?
You could feel a lot of reviewers trying really hard to like it. A lot of them said it would be appreciated “in the future”, which is never a good sign. Well, maybe it’s like White Bird In A Blizzard, a mystery where the mystery’s not the important thing, and focussing on the destination just gets in the way of the journey.
Likewise, Inherent Vice got a lot of comparisons to that other post-hippie shaggy-dog neo-noir, The Big Lebowski. The similarities are mostly just skin-deep, but there may be one point of connection – I remember when Lebowski came out, most people didn’t like it. It got bad reviews. Again, people didn’t like its central mystery’s silly throwaway resolution. So maybe this will prove a movie to come back to, one day. B
11: Force Majeure
Wryly comic evisceration of gender roles within relationships, and the ability of people to lie to themselves and the people they love. When a family on a skiing holiday are faced with what might (possibly) be an oncoming avalanche, their split second reactions cast a very long shadow. Before long everyone’s self identities are starting to unravel.
More “grinning nods of recognition” than belly laughs, this is a film of quiet chuckles in the darkness. Wonderfully observed! B
Films 10-7 (Grade B+!) can be found here.