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The Kid Who Would Be King (2019)
Joyous English fantasy for the right age kids
My 11yo absolutely loved this movie, as did I. Pretty sure my 14yo would find it boring and lame.....
Joe Cornish has captured the spirit of classic English 20thC fantasy (Narnia, Bedknobs+Broomsticks, Dark Is Rising etc) wonderfully, and brought it into the modern era. It's by no means perfect, but if you just suspend your disbelief willingly this film has enormous charm, excitement, magic and humour. (Could the kids really train to take on an army of undead warriors that quickly?? No, of course not. Now shut up, hold your child's hand and Eat Your Popcorn),
Nice to see Tintagel again, although the scenes shot in North Cornwall were over too quickly for me.
Soderbergh does Bourne - in a good way!
I like espionage-y action thrillers. And the Bourne movies have breathed new life into the genre with a more realistic fight scene ethic (more realistic than quick-cut edited shlock, not actually REALISTIC). So it was great to see Stephen Soderbergh do his own take on a Bourne-ish movie.
Soderbergh is a genuinely excellent director - I absolutely loved The Limey, Contagion was superb in its attention to medical detail, and he's done a number of quite different and usually good films over the years. So for me, "Haywire" was a pleasure from start to finish. Exceptional cinematography and pacing; a nice twisty back-stabbing plot in exotic locales (parkour on the rooftops of a soggy Dublin!); and some heart-stopping fight sequences and stunts.
There are - as others have commented - some well-known actors in this flick turning in highly enjoyable performances, but the unknown Gina Carano is actually rather excellent too. She's out-acted by most of the other veterans (although not that woodentop Channing Tatum), but she's pretty good nevertheless. And she can really FIGHT. I mean, properly fight. Check her bio, and you will understand why.
I thought the big fight scene between her and the always excellent Michael Fassbender was one of the best I've seen since John Cusack and Benny "the Jet" Urquidez kicked the crap out of each other in Grosse Pointe Blank.
There's a decent plot going on in the background, but you have to pay attention and listen to the dialogue. And it doesn't have a slam-bang action sequence inserted every 3 minutes for the ADHD generation, so it's probably been downvoted by a lot of people raised on a steady diet of Bourne and Bad Boyz II. Ignore them, and watch this gem of an action movie. I doubt Soderbergh will make something like this again - he rarely seems to do retreads.
Let the Blood Run Free (1990)
A joy to finally watch this in its entirety
Matron: "Happy, happy, joy, joy.... Oooohhh, my beloved Administrator's office"
If you like pantomime ("Oh yes we do!!" "Oh no we don't!!"), comedy improv, student review theatre, or - as a previous reviewer astutely pointed out - Bottom (or the Young Ones), Let the Blood Run Free is well worth your time to track down.
Every minute is packed with gags: slapstick, gore, visual gags, crap puns, and some joyous Australian slang. "You dribbling warpo!!"
Now that S02 has been released on DVD, I have finally managed to purchase and watch all 26 episodes in the order in which they were made.
Back in the mid-90s, Channel 4 in the UK used to broadcast this show to the post-pub crowd in the wee small hours of Friday and Saturday nights. They also used to constantly dick about with the times, making it very difficult to watch this show on a regular basis. As a result, I always assumed I'd missed an episode or two when I used to catch it and the plot seemed to have veered off in bizarre tangents.
Thanks to the miracle of DVDs, I now understand that this was entirely intentional on the part of the scriptwriters. Sorry, Channel 4.
Claymation for the post-pub generation
Bodily fluids, slapstick violence, toilet humour and dinosaurs. Gogs was simply brilliant.
10min episodes each containing two short 5min stories, shown at odd times as fillers on BBC television in the early 90s. I never get tired of watching Gogs, and it still makes me laugh - the clay figures lend themselves wonderfully to cartoon violence and exaggerated expressions. The plot lines, such as they were, revolved around an ordinary family of cavemen dealing with ordinary issues - dinosaurs, bears, earthquakes and.... er... horrible snotty colds.
Basically, if you like Tom & Jerry - you'll love Gogs. And if you're a parent, you'll get a huge laugh out of the hideous, manipulative, vomiting, crapping baby.
New York Doll (2005)
Absolutely first-class rock documentary from an unexpected source
Wonderful. This is a great, non-judgmental movie about the life and times of a somewhat sad, sweet, messed-up rock'n'roller who finds salvation with the LDS church. Paints a (perhaps flattering) picture of just why the NY Dolls were so important to a certain generation.
The thing that speaks most in its favour is that even though the documentary was made by a Mormon director about one of their flock, I wasn't aware of the director's affiliations until reading about the film afterwards. The ending was unexpected, bittersweet and somehow fitting.
Oh, and even in half-assed rehearsal with crappy sound, the music still shines through as something special.
Dog Soldiers (2002)
On careful consideration - pretty much the best werewolf film ever.
Why is Aliens the best action SF film ever? One of the reasons is because James Cameron took the time to build up the characters in the squad to the point where you actually cared when the grunts started to get shredded.
Dog Soldiers does exactly the same, and features some great Brit dialogue to boot.
The region 2 DVD features an extra commentary not found on the Region 1 DVD - basically this consists of the director, the co-producer, Kevin McKidd, Sean Pertwee and Liam Cunningham getting hammered on Stella Artois and producing a brilliantly funny commentary which sounds like a bunch of mates getting drunk while watching the movie. Which was exactly what it was, except that this particular bunch of mates actually made the movie. Genius!!! Liam Cunningham - spectacularly stiff upper-lipped and evil in the film - turns out to be a very droll Irishman with the gift of the gab. "The Uamhunn.... The Uamhunn....."
One of the film's strengths is its gritty portrayal of British infantry in action, both in word and deed. I particularly enjoyed the cast commenting on how much they relished dumping those "crappy plastic guns" (the SA-80s the squad carries at the start) and getting a chance to charge about with MP5s. As Kevin McKidd put it: "So, you want me to run about the woods with a machine-gun, firing it all over the place. And I get PAID for this?!!"
Val Kilmer's finest moment
Classic Western, in every sense. Some elements of the film which may jar or seem cliched are very much in homage to older films - you just have to settle into that "Western-style" suspension of disbelief and enjoy. Kurt twitches a remarkable fine moustache and gives a stand-out performance, Val easily steals every scene he's in ("Nobody move!!" "Nonsense! Feel free to move...."), all the lesser players over-act hugely and enjoyably, the cinematography is fantastic and the gunfight at the OK Corral is the definitive, nail-biting version.
A close tie with the Outlaw Josey Wales for Greatest Ever Western.
Good hard-edged cop movie, with a jaundiced view of America
Nope, the movie with that amazing stunt mentioned above is "Stick", not "Hustle". "Hustle" is a nice little film, though - a fairly predictable TV cop movie plot, lifted well above the ordinary by some intelligent well-written dialogue and a nice, world-weary performance by Burt Reynolds (honest!).
Around the same time, the director also made "Ulzana's Raid" and "Twilight's Last Gleaming", both of which are deeply critical of the Establishment. True to form, in "Hustle", Reynolds' cynical detective takes some savage swipes at American society. Best line - "Can't you smell the bananas? We're living in f*cking Guatemala. With colour televisions." (The screenwriter also wrote "Save The Tiger" - with a very similar moral).
Well worth watching on late-night telly - NOT worth watching for Catherine Deneuve, who's remarkably wooden in English.