Thursday, September 28

Film: Kingsman: The Golden Circle Click for more info

The first Kingsman was a surprise for almost everyone I know. The general transformation would be something like: "oh look, it's a British Teen Agent" to "did he just say/do that?" while frantically figuring out what the age rating is. Of course it's precisely this juxtaposition which made the first Kingsman such a great film - the brashness, the charm, the acting talent, the acting... even the roughness of the cut and less than polished production values added to the overall appeal.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle, is, thankfully, more of the same. It's funny, it's mature, it's engaging without over promising... its a film of little surprise and is stronger for that purity in scope. Just watch it.

Wednesday, September 20

Film: The Villainess Click for more info

It's difficult to say whether The Villainess's incoherence is its favour or to its disadvantage. On the one hand, the layers upon layers (upon layers) adds a certain, albeit implausible, depth that will keep you engaged throughout. On the other hand it does make the film a bit of hard work, and not really something to enjoy if you wanted an easy time.

That said, the best way to enjoy the film is to just lie back and let it wash over you - it does a decent job of leading you through its maze, even if it does take a while to understand the storyteller's language. The wonky subtitles didn't help, and neither did my shameful inability to tell some of the actors apart (I'm happy to say that by the end of the film I had warmed up enough for this not to be a problem). Still, I'm not afraid to admit that the film was much more clever than I was, and again I'm not sure if I enjoyed it more or less because of that.

The film has action, comedy and, oddly enough, romance - there were times when I thought I was watching a South Korean soap for instance. The camera work is adventurous if not a little too experimental; I can't say that the film managed to pull all of it off, but these rough cuts added to the charm of the film rather than to its discredit.

So perhaps not a great film, but definitely one to check out. It's currently on very limited release here in the UK so chances are you'll have missed it if you haven't seen it already - but you're probably better off watching with pause and rewind buttons in hand anyway.

Tuesday, September 12

Film: It Click for more info

For most of us born in the 70s and 80s, Pennywise was a real thing. This is in spite of none of us having actually watched all of the 1990 mini series, but I certainly do remember the scary clown in the drain, coaxing poor little George with his paper boat. Stephen King claims that clowns were always scary, but for me it was always his fault.

But I digress. It (the movie) is both an attempt to revisit the town of Derry (because, you know, nostalgia) and present it in a new format - this isn't just a remake as (possible spoilers!) the film only covers the first half of the chronology; that is the protagonists as youths. This is probably a good thing as you end up with a scary movie dripping with that Goonies (and now, Stranger Things) vibe that we all love.

It's scary, but not too much. The plot is alright, relying on the thrill to prop it up. Overall the film is very normal, if not passable, but enjoyable nonetheless. On balance a recommendation then, if only as a way to finally put those Pennywise nightmares to bed.

Tuesday, September 5

Film: Detroit Click for more info

I'll be honest: I hadn't even heard of the Detroit race riots until the opening of this film. But I was sold on Bigelow taking the helm, having thoroughly enjoyed her last two flagship movies - Detroit was guaranteed to at least have impact, but I was also expecting some great acting and production values.

I wasn't disappointed. As is becoming a staple for Bigelow, the film was clear in both its objectives and storytelling, leaving me gripped and engaged throughout. It was in its final moments, however, that I did feel a little let down; the conclusion of the movie (the accused police being cleared by a jury) betrayed the authenticity of the rest - can a film really claim to tell us the truth of the matter after a court (which should, in theory anyway, have a better grasp of the facts) has told us a different story? The question is a rabbit hole, and for me at least unravelled quite a bit of the story.

As a film however, Detroit was a good one and despite the meta-conflict I'm left with I can also easily recommend it.

Saturday, September 2

Book: A Memory Of Light, Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson Click for more info

It may be a little ironic how long it took me to finish this book, the fourteenth (2014) and final in the epic that is the Wheel of Time. I'd like to say it was due to a recent change in lifestyle that has resulted in my reading less, but the truth is that after reading about Rand, Mat and Perrin for so long, WoT has become such a part of my reading habits that having it finish would just feel weird. And here, after almost exactly four years of starting on this journey, it does.

Any ending to such a series of books would always seem too pacey, too quick, and A Memory Of Light is no different: it was almost entirely focused on a single event spanning no more than a few days, and in terms of plot progression there was none. I don't think I felt too cheated - I certainly wouldn't have the right to - but given the glacial pace of some of the books that came previously (particularly before the arrival of Sanderson), I do think that it's a bit of a shame that it happened so relatively quickly. And then I remember that I've only reached this finish line three years after those who would have started decades ago.

But an ending it was (ha ha), to an epic that I'll keep with me for a while - I'm sad that I probably won't have the time or inclination to read it again, particularly seeing as how certain I am that I missed 20-30% of what was going on. That's probably my biggest complaint about the book; the investment required to solve the almost puzzle like elements that needed to be solved in order to follow, and so enjoy, the story to its maximum. I certainly wasn't equipped to deal with that, and it kills me to know that I've only scratched the surface.

On the whole though it was a brilliant ride over four years and one I'll remember when reading other books of all genres. How I'll fill the gap that the Wheel of Time has left I'm not quite sure... but I've been told Sanderson's Cosmere series will keep me going for a while at least.