Thursday, February 20

Film: 1917 Click for more info

So let's deal with the gimmick straight away. The "single shot" (well, actually, two) was laudable and a great demonstration of technical skill. Yes, there were glaring flaws, with CGI and green screen abound. The depth of field was all over the place too. And yet having such a film like this in obvious real time DID add to it and changed what would have been an okay film to something much, much more.

Because, yes, the film is good. The story is straightforward, and so relies on both the micro drama and characterisation, the winner of which was clearly the former. I felt like there were some audio issues, with most of the film feeling like it was badly dubbed (this may have just been my screening), but then again the musical score was magnificently noticeable. The acting was good enough, and it's a credit to the main roles that they managed to do their part in the whole single shot presentation.

I'm generally ambivalent about war films, but this was one that pulled me right in. Whether it needs to be experienced on the big screen or not, I'm not sure, but a must watch it is.

Sunday, February 16

Karachi 2020

Uncannily it's exactly a year ago that I wrote about my last trip to Karachi, cementing the fact that we have now visited so regularly that our flying dates have been optimised. A case in point - despite having been quite chilly during our stay, it was due to be 34c the day we left. Phew!

Other observations: I have now visited Pakistan three times in a rolling year, which is almost certainly some kind of personal best. Despite that, I still don't see a downside to visiting so frequently. A case in point - two deaths in our close family during and around our stay.

Each year we see changes in both Karachi and the people who live in the city, and every year the rhetorical question arises of whether we could actually live here or not... the question becoming a little less rhetorical with each visit, a little like how our flippant jokes about being chucked out of the UK are becoming less and flippant.

Otherwise it was business as usual in the Karachi sun.

Saturday, February 8

Book: Misborn: The Final Empire, Brandon Sanderson Click for more info

Above all else it appears that Brandon Sanderson is just plain reliable. Mistborn brings in a world quite different to Elantris, while sharing the accessibility, class subthemes and world-building that made that first title so great. Needless to say I enjoyed the book throughout, enough to convince me that, yes, fantasy is indeed my new sci-fi.

Apart from the magic and lore, the book is well put together too. Sanderson introduces the right things at the right time, while making sure any implied or hanging threads are dealt with in time. In that sense the book is a pleasure to read since you don't have the burden of keeping mental notes or overwork to get to the real juice such world building brings. In short, its rewarding without any of the effort.

I've jumped straight into the next part of the trilogy, The Well of Ascension, so look out for my thoughts on that next.

Tuesday, January 21

Film: Bad Boys for Life Click for more info

The first two Bad Boys movies were not good. You'll have to have had some laser etched rose tinted contact lenses if you still remember them to be. The often cited defence of "it was 25 years ago" also doesn't wash, as there are many examples of films released then which have held up (not to say Bad Boys was even good back then).

Needless to say, I went into BBFL with low expectations.

There's been a bit of a backlash against reboots and nostalgia recently as people finally realise that more often than not how our memories are being exploited as bait. Films which take that approach have no incentive to do better, and so tend to end up pretty poor. That's not to say that fan service isn't important - perhaps see the MCU to see how it can be done.

So believe me that when I say I enjoyed BBFL, it wasn't because it took me back to my school days. It was actually a pretty decent film - and that in its own right. In fact apart from a single cameo you could have gone into the movie with no knowledge of the first two with no danger of missing any inside joke. It had some decent action, decent comedy and even - check this - a half decent plot. It was all very decent.

I can't imagine there being a better pick to watch in this cold final week of January, so in that vacuum I suppose it comes recommended. That might sound like a low bar, but believe me when I say its legacy was even lower.

Wednesday, January 8

Film: Jojo Rabbit

Jojo is very good, but not great. This is a big shame, because it appears to have all the ingredients required for a modern classic - a good story, some great acting and bags of superfluous charm and smarts. But where a real classic would always be greater than the sum of its parts, Jojo doesn't quite manage to go farther than its own great production.

I guess that all a fancy way of saying that it lacks depth, and fails in fulfilling the promises that it makes. Take Adolf, the imaginary friend, for instance. Such a vehicle should have either been made a core part of the story or character - but here its actually just a bit of timepass comic relief. It's an example that's representative of the film as a whole.

But this isn't to say that the film is a failure. No, as I opened with Jojo is very good, and I'd recommend it to anyone. It's just hard not to consider the wasted potential it represents.