Movies: Wind River Review

September 10, 2017

It seems as though the point I made about the challenging length of Detroit struck a chord with some of you.

It did just seem to go on forever, and like me, others seem to agree that the running time took it beyond the point of being an enjoyable watch and into the realms of a chore.

Well the good news is that Wind River has no such issues.

Checking in at a reasonable one hour and fifty minutes, this crime thriller about a murder on an Indian Reservation in the vast emptiness of Wyoming hits the spot.

There’s plenty to enjoy about it, from a gripping plot to the unusual setting, and the acting is on point throughout. I should note that I especially enjoyed the performance of Graham Greene as Ben. I don’t think there’s any question that he’s the least well-known of the main characters in the movie, and in part that will be because his heritage will limit the roles he is offered, but he was excellent.

Gong back to the movie as a whole, the biggest thing going for it was that nothing was wasted. Every scene had a purpose, whether that was for character development or to move along the plot and therefore it felt brisk even though it was by nature slow in pace, if that makes sense.

And it’s because of that that I would consider Wind River one of the best movies I’ve seen all year. Sure, the pickings have been slim, but this was still a very enjoyable watch on its own merit, and I’d recommend going along to see it.


Movies – Detroit Review (or “Apparently You Can’t Tell A Good Story In Under Two Hours Anymore…”)

September 4, 2017

A movie can have so much going for it, but then after the fact if one thing goes against it, that’s what you dwell on.

On Saturday I went to see Detroit; a movie that has received much acclaim from critics and the general public at large, and yet when someone asked me this morning if it was any good, my brief summary was “It was good, but it went on too long”.

That’s what I fixated upon.

If I was going to expand on my thoughts I would say that it was a tense, well acted affair that highlighted – in a way that it admitted was over-dramatised and used creative license – how bad things were during the Detroit riots of 1967. It was well shot and it did a good job of setting the scene for what was to come in an introductory history lesson at the start of the movie.

But I just can’t get past how it could probably have cut a good 45 minutes out and nothing would have been lost.

Though this was about the infamous police raid on the Algiers Motel where three black men were killed and nine others were beaten and humiliated by racist police, it took at least an hour to actually arrive at this point. Before it did, I had thought that perhaps the movie was a collection of unrelated stories about people who were caught up in the riots.

Then the Algiers stuff – as well as it was acted – also went on too long, and began to lose its impact.

And finally, after all of that, it briefly turns into a courtroom drama, at which point I was just desperate to get up and go.

Now reading that back, it looks as though I didn’t enjoy it, and yet I did.

But it’s that one thing – the length of the movie – that I’ll remember the most.

Apparently you can’t tell a good story in under two hours anymore…

TV: The Fall Review

August 31, 2017

Sometimes you’ll watch a show and persevere with it either out of loyalty or reputation.

Other times you think “That’s enough” and just stop.

And that’s what happened with me and The Fall.

Put simply, after an initially decent first season, things began to slow down so much in the second that whole hour-long episodes would go by without anything happening. After one episode of the third and final season, the entirety of which was spent with people hanging around the A&E department of the local hospital, I could face no more. Yes, there were only five instalments left, but that would be five hours I could be spending doing something else.

So I just read what happened in the last episode – my fears vindicated by reviews suggesting the final season as a whole was one gigantic waste of time – and moved on.

Maybe I’m spoiled by having already seen the superior-in-every-conceivable-way Line of Duty, meaning that the pace and acting would never stand up? After all, in place of the mighty Ted Hastings, we had that guy with the beard who looked like he was going to burst into tears every time he was on screen. Or it could be that I was put off by sub-plots that went nowhere and paper thin characters who would routinely acted in an unbelievable manner?

Whatever it was, I couldn’t face any more of it and I would implore you not to bother with it.

In a world with so much content available to the viewing public, this just isn’t worth your time.


Movies: To The Bone Review

August 15, 2017

In the absence of there being anything at the cinema worth going to, I’ve been spending time revisiting movies I’ve seen before and trying out newer efforts available on the likes of NetFlix and Amazon Prime.

Mhairi and I tend to go turn about on picking movies, and last night on her turn we selected the NetFlix exclusive, To The Bone, which is about a 20 year old girl who has signed herself in to a group therapy clinic in a bid to overcome her potentially life threatening anorexia.

Now I’ve never had an eating disorder and subscribe to the belief system of ‘Exercise as much as you can to allow you to eat as much as you want’, so I found myself struggling to empathise with any of the characters. Indeed, as harsh as it sounds, I just felt myself getting frustrated and saying “Oh just swallow the food for fuck’s sake”.

But is that down to me lacking sensitivity on the subject because I can’t get into the mindset of the characters, or is it down the team behind this not doing enough to make me understand?

A quick internet search will provide you with plenty of reviews that criticise the way the subject matter is dealt with though, so maybe it’s not just me.

But putting that aside, the main question is whether or not it was an entertaining movie.

And it wasn’t really.

I mean…it wasn’t terrible, and I did manage to sit through the whole thing without checking my watch or demanding it was turned off, but it was one of these bland movies where nothing exciting or even noteworthy happens.

The characters seemed one dimensional, you could – and I did – accurately guess the entire flow of the plot after 15 minutes and the acting was unremarkable. But then it did have Keanu Reeves in it.

I just didn’t find myself entertained, sympathetic to characters or invested in any of their issues or plights.

Really, the only thing that could have saved this was for the last line of the movie to be for a character to say “Come on, let’s all go for a bhuna”.

But alas it was not to be.

I’d chalk this up as one to avoid.

Movies: Dunkirk Review (or “An Artistic Demonstration”)

July 24, 2017

While it’s true to say that a good movie doesn’t necessarily have to have a strong story, I think it’s also true to say that if it doesn’t have a strong story, it can’t be considered as the best movie of the year.

And that’s where I am with Dunkirk.

To me, Dunkirk is an exercise in visuals and sound. It’s an artistic demonstration.

The idea behind it seems to be to immerse the viewer in the sights, sounds and struggles of the British evacuation of Normany during the Second World War, and it certainly does that.

It’s very loud, visually stunning – with some quite superb direction and camera shots – and remarkably tense thanks to its unrelenting incidental music.

I just saw it at a regular cinema but I imagine it’s best seen in an iMax.

But I don’t think it’ll be my favourite movie of the year – and in fact I can already tell you that it’s not – because it lacked enough of a story to hook me in.

The gimmick – presenting three converging timelines – didn’t seem to add up entirely, and even though there was a good reason for it, the lack of dialogue early on became slightly wearing.

So like I say, as an artistic demonstration, this was absolutely top notch, but it failed to capture me from a creative point of view.

Much like Gravity, I think this is one for the cinema that might not translate as well beyond it.

And because of that it can’t be movie of the year.

Movies: Spider-Man: Homecoming Review

July 21, 2017

I’m a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to comic book characters, so I’ll hold my hands up and say that when it became obvious in the pre-credits sequence of Spider-Man: Homecoming that the Vulture would just be Michael Keaton in a some alien tech wing suit, I was disappointed.

I wanted an old bald bloke in a green leotard with wings.

But hey, you can’t have everything, and as it turned out, Keaton made it work, although that shouldn’t come as too much of a shock considering he’s been good in everything he’s appeared in since his career revival. For me, he was one of the best parts about the movie, along with Jacob Batalon as Peter Parker’s always-amusing best friend, Ned.

And it was a good movie.

Rebooting the Spiderman series yet again in such a short space of time was a risk, and thankfully they took a different approach, casting and writing him as a younger man living in a world not populated by the same school-friends as we’ve seen in previous films. It was fresh.

It also felt a little less CGI/action-scene heavy compared to most other Marvel efforts, which is no bad thing.

In fact, unlike most superhero movies, this felt like a story from start to finish, including a terrific twist towards the end that I didn’t see coming.

If I was to criticise it for anything, it would be that it presumes knowledge of the existing Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, so f you’re coming in with a fresh pair of eyes, it might be a little confusing.

That though wasn’t a major issue for me, and so on the whole I enjoyed it.

Thoughts On The Casting Of Jodie Whittaker As The Doctor (or “I’m Unsure; I Hope That’s Ok?”)

July 16, 2017

I’ll preface this by saying that no matter who took the part of the new Doctor, they wouldn’t inspire me. Peter Capaldi is the best actor ever to have the role in my opinion and I’m disappointed to see him leave. There were no outstanding/obvious replacements.

And I won’t lie either; I’ve spent my life associating the character of the Doctor as a man so I never had any burning desire to see that change. It seems to me that lots of people – including those who don’t watch the show and never will – are heralding this as the most amazing news not because of Jodie Whittaker’s acting prowess but because she’s a woman. That’s equally daft to people hating on her for the same reason.

But me; I’m just…unsure. Is that ok? Or is the blanket reply that it’s not ok and I must be a sexist, misogynist pig?

Why am I unsure? It’s not because I don’t think the part should be played by a woman – the outrage and sexist jokes we’ve seen so far have been very poor if not unexpected from certain quarters – but rather how a woman playing the part will affect the show itself.

The New Doctor

  • What will it mean for the casting of a companion? Are we going to get some strange dynamic of a young bloke desperately in love with an older woman? Or Bill Potts suddenly besotted with her? I think we’ve seen enough ‘Companion Loves The Doctor’ sub plots in recent years. The stuff with Martha and especially Rose was terrible.
  • What happens when she leaves the show? Going back to a male Doctor at the first time of asking might end up suggesting that she’s somehow been seen as a failed experiment, resulting in female Doctors being cast for a while with no men being considered for fear of backlash. ¬†And that is positive discrimination.
  • Does the casting of a female Doctor limit the setting/scope of stories set in the past? That might sound ridiculous but – even though most episodes would work regardless of the gender of the Doctor – there are definitely situations and stories that the character has found himself in that couldn’t have worked if he was a woman.
  • Will the writing focus on the fact she is a woman more than it does on actually writing good episodes of Doctor Who?

This all remains to be seen.

I’m always an optimist, so when the time comes for the new season to start next year I’ll be as excited as ever.

Change can be good and hopefully this will be a good change. Michelle Gomez was excellent as Missy but felt like a completely different character to the Master.

How will Jodie Whittaker do then? Who knows. I haven’t seen enough shows she’s been in to know how good an actress she is. I’ll certainly give her a chance; the sort of people who won’t are pathetic.

Ultimately it’s the quality of the writing that counts the most.

And it’s chiefly because of how the writing might change to take this into account that makes me unsure.

I hope that’s ok?