No One Gets Out Alive (2021)

noonegetsoutGood lord. Well the title rather gives the game away, but its dubious (does she? doesn’t she?) finale only exacerbates a thoroughly reprehensible and pointless film. Maybe its a trendsetter of some new horror genre called the Horror Panto, because about the only fun watching this film is giggling “its behind you!” every time a ghostly apparition appears behind the witless and unknowing heroine. 

This is one of those horrors that proves the genre is well past its sell-by date but like every undead corpse its a genre that just doesn’t know that its done. A title sequence throws visual clues in the background- several decades ago some excavations in Southern America unearth remains of an ancient city and artefacts are unearthed, in particular an odd-looking box. That’s about the only explanation/excuse that we’re going to get for everything that then occurs.

A young Mexican immigrant, a pretty young woman named Ambar (Cristina Rodlo, much better than the film really deserves), who has smuggled herself across the border and is trying in vain to buy papers with which she can get a ‘proper’ job and place to live, is forced to work in a sweatshop and take lodging in a terribly run-down boarding house, where the shady owners turn a blind eye to legality and take anyone in in order to get some cash. Well, its not just cash they’re after, because it transpires that their clientele don’t usually get to leave while still breathing. Its a thirty-minute plot stretched to just shy of ninety so as you might imagine, there’s plenty of padding by way of moody atmospheres and sly jumps and pointless b-plots. 

And most of those moody atmospheres are of those “its behind you!” moments where we can see spooky apparitions which our heroine is quite oblivious to. My wife Claire laps this stuff up, hiding behind her  fingers thoroughly creeped out, so who knows, maybe there is an audience indeed for such low-rent horror trash as this. But really, its pretty dire and further evidence that the Netflix quality-bar is set pretty low. Like some damn fool who should know better (but never learns) I was expecting some explanation or narrative twist to explain exactly what was going on and why, but the film seemed more concerned with busting the majority of its budget and effort in realising some patently CGI monster in the basement which, again, is not explained or anything. The film was based on a book (by Adam Nevil, who’s no Stephen King on this evidence), so I expect there is some internal logic that explains things in the book that the screenplay couldn’t quite wrangle- probably the producers assumed the title sequence would be enough. Well, lets be honest, they probably didn’t really care. Its really not very good and deserves to be absolutely forgotten, which I’m sure it will be.

 

Into the Night Season Two

in2oNetflix’s Into the Night, a Belgian apocalyptic thriller, was something of a surprise when I saw its first season last May, although I didn’t get around to posting a review of it so, er, take my word for it- it was pretty good. The premise is one of those which… well its either interesting or ridiculous, depending on one’s own ability to stomach it- for some unfathomable reason, radiation from the sun causes a global disaster, killing anyone caught in sunlight, and the series focuses on a bunch of survivors on a flight from Brussels racing ahead of the sunrise, knowing they have to stay in the night to survive. Its one of those dramas with people caught in a crazy, pressure-cooker situation, and it worked very well in season one, albeit its success depended upon the viewer ‘buying’ into its bizarre set-up and forgiving some strange acting.

Unfortunately the series completely jumps the shark with season two. I don’t know if the writing team was entirely different or if perhaps it was only greenlit subject to a reduced budget, but it now feels like some other show entirely. This sometimes happens to television shows between seasons (The Walking Dead?), and of course happens to films with successive inferior sequels (the Christopher Reeve Superman films), so its hardly anything new, but it remains frustratingly disappointing when it happens. Maybe there’s logic to delaying successive seasons to two-year gaps (like Westworld seems to do) rather than rushing into it in a race to capitalize on surprise success. Admittedly even after just over a year it can be hard to pick things up, I always seem to struggle returning to shows, possibly because there is just so many of them and they tend to be quite complex with multi-season arcs. But right from the start of this season its clear something is off. Its like some other show, with characters behaving very oddly, very stupidly, and twists and turns coming out of nowhere just for shock value, as if the sudden nonsensical twists of fate and unexpected deaths are the only thing that will keep people watching. Consequently the show is always on edge, and there’s little faith in investing with characters who can be gone by the end of the next episode, or plotlines that can seem undermined by another writer in another episode. 

My theory is that the producers/writers completed season one not really knowing where they were going afterwards, having set up something of a cliff-hanger and not having a clue how to get out of it. Maybe I’m being unfair to that writing team- as I have noted, budgetary or time constraints may have affected it.  Naturally this second season would have been made during the Covid pandemic too, so production difficulties may just be being reflected in the sudden drop in quality of the show.  Maybe we’ll see this over the next year or so with other shows, maybe we’re seeing it already, and maybe it excuses some of the films and series we’re seeing of late which thoroughly underwhelm. I guess Covid’s just the gift that keeps on giving. At any rate, not only am I not sure Into the Night deserves a third season, I also doubt that many viewers will even care.

Bloodbath at the House of Death (1984)

bloodbth2This really isn’t the film the title suggests that it might be, and the oddest thing about it is that I had absolutely no idea that this film even existed until I stumbled upon it watching Netflix a few nights back. Some films slip into an obscurity so total its like they were never even made, and to be brutally honest, some of them deserve that too. Which is the case with this one.

Released way back in 1984 this British comedy-horror film stars a bunch of British television actors/comedians of the time and is thus something of a time capsule for those of us who lived through the 1970s/1980s. Kenny Everett, Pamela Stephenson, Gareth Hunt, Don Warrington, Cleo Rocos, Sheila Steafel… you might not know their names but if you were watching television here in the UK back then you’d remember their faces, possibly with nostalgic affection. The film even features a minor role (albeit important to whatever constitutes a plot role for horror favourite Vincent Price who, like Peter Cushing, had a peculiar penchant for appearing in any old rubbish as long as there was a pay check. 

But strike from your mind any thought that this might be some long-lost classic, because this film is terrible. It isn’t funny, it isn’t scary, its just appallingly bad. Most of the cast listed above are playing a bunch of scientists investigating alleged paranormal goings-on at Headstone Manor, a creepy old building with a history of death and violence, and none of them convince as actors never mind scientists: the acting wooden to the point of being inferior to a Gerry Anderson puppet show, and the direction woefully perfunctory and lame. Its a chore to get through and I winced most of the way through -partly out of embarrassment for those onscreen, partly through the jokes landing with repeated thuds. Its a cringe-worthy ordeal to sit through during which one frequently wonders, “what were they thinking?” 

The film was written by Barry Cryer, something of a legend in British television comedy, who worked on several comedy shows of that era like The Two Ronnies, Morecombe and Wise and many others, but most notably The Kenny Everett Video Cassette, which was Everett’s hugely popular comedy series airing between 1978-1981 that I loved growing up, and likely landed him this gig which proved to be Everett’s one ill-fated foray into movies. Lampooning horror tropes of the time, this could have been quite fun, but it fails to hit the mark of aping the style of the 1960s Hammer horrors that its supposedly making fun of. It feels more like a television comedy sketch stretched too far, too much a thing of the early 1980s when it should have been more of the gothic horror of two decades before with an affectionate comedy bent. This film doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be- at least the infamous Carry On films knew what they were, and Carry On Screaming is some kind of golden classic compared to this and far more successfully nails its horror-comedy balance.

bloodbthIt probably doesn’t help that the budget must have been pretty dire;  there’s indications that much of it was shot under considerable time-pressure, resulting in blatant continuity errors and a disjointed story that really makes no sense whatsoever. Vincent Price for instance, nominally playing the major villain evidently filmed his scenes quite apart from everyone else. It has the effect that his scenes seem from some other movie just edited in-between scenes featuring Everett and company exploring the manor (which Price never enters, and with whom Price never shares any screen-time). Worse, Price is written out suddenly as if they literally ran out of time (was he available for just three days or something?) so he just seems to disappear midway through. I accept that in a horror-comedy lampooning horror tropes the last thing one should expect is a sensical storyline or anything approaching genuine horror, but all the same, when you have a guy as canonical as Vincent Price in a film, you should use him as such. Price was always so larger-than-life that part of the pleasure of any of his horror films was his tendency to play things big, almost parodying the very horrors he was starring in (whereas Peter Cushing would underplay roles, not drawing attention to himself). Mind, there is some pleasure in seeing that Price was clearly enjoying himself as usual, so at lest some good came from the film.

Maybe they just couldn’t afford him to be around sufficiently enough to use him to the films advantage. In defence of the film, one cannot appreciate the pressures when making a film, the money and time constraints at the time. Which sounds like I’m making excuses for a film being woeful, but its obvious that a British film such as this is an entirely different enterprise to a $200 million Hollywood blockbuster that turns out appalling. Some scenes such as a flashback of Everett’s character messing up a surgery is a blatant one-camera piece of schtick that looks like something direct from his television sketch show. I can imagine in some film projects a director shooting retakes until he can say “that’s perfect!” whereas I imagine director Ray Cameron here would just say “that’ll do!” and then move on to the next (likely unprepared) scene. Its just the reality of low-budget film-making, particularly back in the early 1980s here in Britain, when we hardly had any film industry at all.

So really one to avoid then, unless the sheer curiosity of this strange oddity overwhelms you, as it did me. Its really something of a time capsule for those of us who grew up back then, albeit perhaps one that shouldn’t have been dug up yet. I wonder how on Earth Netflix got a hold of it? I suppose its just further proof that Netflix will stream anything and everything.

Kate (2021)

kateKate is a beautiful and deadly assassin and although she has killed many people in the past, we can be fairly confident they were all bad guys who deserved it. We are not actually assured of this, but she seems to demonstrate some reticence regards killing a yakuza leader in Japan when the guy’s young daughter is seen alongside him. Kate’s pressured by her handler to pull the trigger anyway, and she does, but it doesn’t sit well with her seeing the bad guy’s blood- splattered daughter screaming at the sight of her father having had his brains blown out.

Maybe a more interesting film would have demonstrated Kate to be a cold-hearted killer without any conscience or remorse and over the course of the film changed her, shown her the error of her ways and then sought atonement for her sins. Not that this would have been particularly original, but this isn’t that film.

No, this is further demonstration of the considerable impact of John Wick on action flicks, because this is a John Wick-is-a-babe film with nods to Kill Bill -and maybe, at a stretch, Black Rain too, if anybody’s memory can stretch that far back (1989 being like Ancient History to many). There is also a very definite nod to noir classic DOA, although probably not the 1949 original (who remembers THAT far back?) but rather the 1988 remake featuring Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan, which was something of a misfire but one I quite enjoyed. Kate, you see, wants to quit after the events at the start of the film featuring the blood-splattered child, but nobody quits: instead she gets betrayed and poisoned with a radioactive substance leaving her with just 24 hours to live. This could have been the premise of a film with an interesting noir vibe, of a doomed assassin trying to exact revenge for her own murder, an examination of a murky world of crime, violence and murder and the futility of a wasted life. But nobody makes films like that these days. 

kate2What people want to see is an indestructible killing machine making the bad guys pay, and Kate does this in spades; its as deliriously violent and gory as the John Wick films and just as daft, existing in a parallel universe of bloody carnage that never seems to attract the cops (although considering the number of police I ever see, maybe these films are actually more realistic than one would initially think). And you’ll believe a fairly slight pretty woman can snap bones, smash faces, throw brutes around etc even when outnumbered ten or even twenty to one, although when the film nears its climax and the numbers get hysterically close to small armies she at least gets the help of an honourable Yakuza and his own troops to back her up. One’s suspension of disbelief does start to wane though considering some of the antics she gets up to whilst we are assured her insides are rotting away and her skin turning black with what’s presumably gangrene or something (thankfully her pretty face is the last part to go gangrenous, so hey, she’s always a sexy killing machine). 

There’s little wrong this film, as far as testosterone-fuelled action flicks go. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is very good as the titular Kate- she’s a good, charismatic actress with decent physicality for the action stuff. Marvel possibly missed a trick not seeing her potential for one of their own comicbook movies but there’s no reason why she couldn’t be announced for one: Spider-Woman, maybe, or a female Captain America? Her supporting cast is very good, but by now Woody Harrelson has been seen in too many similar roles and the eventual twist re: his character is seen a mile off: at this point his casting in stuff like this is surely a red flag that ruins any possible surprise (its frankly diabolically lazy casting).

The Japanese setting is visually arresting and as beautiful as one might expect, everything drenched in eye-popping neon that melts the screen in Dolby Vision. Its not a bad film, and its not a boring one, either; the stunts are always good value (only a silly CGI chase scene that looks like a Tron outtake messes things up with cartoon car-play). The problem is, we’ve seen all this before and eventually the familiarity of these John Wick knock-offs will inevitably breed contempt, if it hasn’t already. I enjoyed Atomic Blonde much more if only because that came out back when these things still seemed a bit fresh; there’s a distinct whiff of decay hanging around at this point.

Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal and Greed (2021)

happyaccThis new documentary on Netflix about Bob Ross is an illuminating and largely affectionate documentary – its best moments are those in which his son Steven and some of Bob Ross’ friends and colleagues talk about the artist’s life and career (it may actually be a surprise to many that Ross, whose art show “The Joy of Painting” always seems to be airing somewhere in the darkest corners of the cable-channel universe -its been airing again here on the BBC recently- actually died back in 1995). Ross was a charming, charismatic man who was able to make a real connection with audiences quite independent of his (substantial) artistic ability- its a talent as natural as his artistic prowess. The gentle innocence of his television show inevitably reminds one of the American children’s show “Mr Roger’s Neighbourhood” and its presenter Fred Rogers, recently immortalised in A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood, which featured Tom Hanks in the title role of a guy who like Ross seemed a genuinely ‘good’ person in a world where hero-figures usually falter and let us down. It also reminds me of the likes of Carl Sagan, who was able to connect with layman audiences not usually taken with science documentaries, in just the same way as Ross could enthral viewers usually not in the slightest bit interested in art. Presenters such as these seem natural and the connection with the viewer feels real, without artifice; we are caught up by their passion and share it.

But director Joshua Rofé’s Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal & Greed, as the title likely suggests, has something of a dark side. Thankfully this is, like Fred Rogers, one hero/inspirational figure who doesn’t let us down with a shadowy real-life tarnished by grubby real-world human weaknesses: its not a film targeted with tearing down the image of Bob Ross. No, that’s left for other people largely left unknown to us until now. So while it is heart-warming learning that Ross seemed a genuinely nice fellow, and seeing Ross’ life story and road to success, the documentary is also quite depressing when it shows what happened following the artists untimely death at the age of just 52.  The film alleges that his business partners acted quite legally but in morally dubious ways, ensuring they owned and profited from Ross’ likeness, brand and television show following Ross’ death, subsequently earning millions while Ross’ son apparently earned nothing, all clearly contrary to Ross’ own wishes. Its the dark side of the American Dream writ large and really quite distressing. The film also reveals that many people were afraid to speak on the film for fear of litigation, and its unfortunate (albeit possibly quite telling) that Ross’ business partners Annette and Walt Kowalski declined to appear and defend themselves (so inevitably damned in their absence, you might say). 

It all rather leaves a bitter taste in ones mouth. Its a very interesting film, and very pleasant when it describes Ross’ background and family life and his artistic pursuits leading to “The Joy of Painting” and its huge success, but its only likely to leave his fans (of which there are still obviously very many) feeling that a great injustice has occurred, albeit quite legal and above board (oh, justice in America is so very noir). Its unfortunate that something as sweetly innocent and joyous as Ross’ television show, which ran for eleven years and over four hundred episodes, will now always be blighted by the shadow of the story behind it.

I don’t know, maybe its perfectly symptomatic of the American Dream that a nice feel-good story like Bob Ross and his “The Joy of Painting” becomes tarnished by greed and corruption: money the root of all evil, yet again. All I know is that I went to bed feeling angry and frustrated: sometimes the bad guys win.

Netflix Bebop?

cowboylivea (2)

Ha ha those crazy buggers at Netflix, I thought they were joking, you know, the way Hollywood keeps fooling around with the dangerous idea of a live-action Akira movie. They talk about it but they’re never fool enough to actually do it. But no, it looks like Netflix is serious. Its coming in November. My God, I’ll never be ready for this.

About the only thing that really has me excited here is Yoko Kanno returning to handle the soundtrack duties, which certainly gives the project some credit – at least it will SOUND like Cowboy Bebop, and Kanno wouldn’t associate herself with a turd, would she? Oh Ghost you are so gullible.

See you November, Space Cowboy.

The 2021 List: July

There goes July- the past few weeks have been rough at work due to sickness and leave, both within the office and nationally as a business ‘out in the field’ so I’ve been neglecting my blog somewhat (what do you mean, you didn’t notice?). Must try and fix that, and I’m wary of a backlog of reviews piling up, even if I’m struggling to find time/energy to actually watch anything.

So what have I been watching? Well, other than what is on the list below, I have been re-watching some old discs/films, some connected to films on the list below. Watching Herbert Lom in Hammer’s version of The Phantom of the Opera got me watching the Indicator disc of Mysterious Island that I’d bought a few months back (in which Lom plays a very impressive Captain Nemo), and seeing the lovely Barbara Shelley in The Shadow of the Cat resulted in me bringing down Indicator’s first Hammer box from a few years ago and watching The Gorgon again. There’s something both familiar, comforting and sometimes revelatory about returning to films having not seen them in awhile, and I’m kicking myself for not at least dropping a paragraph or two here regards those two in  particular. I’ve also been trying to watch Arrows 4K disc of True Romance that came out a few weeks back but the time never feels right or I’m just too damn tired to give it the attention it deserves. I was one of the few that saw it back during its first theatrical run and have always loved it, so watching it in 4K is something I’m really looking forward to.

While there were a few clunkers in July, I did watch some particularly fine films, notably The Killers and Criss Cross, two astonishingly fine film noir. The first led me to the second, and I love that about films, how one can lead to another, some being fresh discoveries of films I’d never heard of before. Amazingly, I’m of a mind that Criss Cross may actually be a better film than The Killers, even though the former clearly had more impressive visual ‘noir’ flourishes, there seemed something more complete and efficient regards Criss Cross, a film that quite took my breath away, it seemed so perfectly formed. I really must work on a review of that film.

Lately I’ve been watching the German epic series Babylon Berlin, which has been on my watchlist for a long time now and will get a review in August when I’ve completed the first sixteen episodes (confusingly, they were ‘sold’ to foreign markets as two seasons of eight episodes each but I understand that in Germany it was one run of sixteen). Its astonishingly good, up there with the very best shows I’ve seen like The Wire etc (yep its THAT good). Its depiction of 1929 Berlin, during the last years of the Weimer Republic is so vivid, there’s a tactile feel to it which is almost quite horrifying. I’ve often said here that good period dramas are almost like science fiction, positing worlds as alien to us as anything envisaged for the future. I think that’s quite true of something like Babylon Berlin, which is not just depicting a world of a century ago, but one quite foreign as regards culture and politics (its really quite mystifying, but fascinatingly so).

Television

79) Superstore Season Four

86) Ratched Season One

Films

77) The Tomorrow War (2021)

78) The Killers (1946)

80) The Shadow of the Cat (1961)

81) The Phantom of the Opera (1962)

82) Nightmare (1964)

83) Synchronic (2019)

84) Saint Maud (2019)

85) Fast & the Furious Presents Hobbs & Shaw (2019)

87) The Sting (1973)

88) Between Midnight and Dawn (1950)

89) Chernobyl 1986 (2021)

90) Blood Red Sky (2021)

91) Criss Cross (1949)

The new Dune trailer

Oh this looks good. This looks so VERY good. Anyone else get a tingle watching those Ornithopters flying over the sand dunes?

But is anyone else concerned that the last ten years of dumbing down blockbusters may have robbed this film of its audience? Nobody turned up to go watch BR2049, and that film wasn’t being dumped on HBO Max at the time either. I don’t know how much of an impact that HBO Max thing will prove to be, or how much Covid will be in the equation come October, but considering the money that Dune needs to make in order to break even/get Part Two greenlit…  My biggest concern is simply that, are audiences going to go in droves to watch a sci-fi epic minus caped superheroes beating the shit out of bad guys while wrecking a city? Are audiences going to sit still for a film with ideas? 

Mind, Dune is an epic story with epic spectacle so maybe that will pull people in. Films are so stupid now though, particularly the ones that make any money. I’m still reeling from the assault on my senses that was Godzilla vs Kong and that Hobbs & Shaw thing. Is that what films are now? While I take some comfort from how Disney’s Black Widow seems to have under-performed recently, that also makes me nervous regards how streaming (and yeah, Covid) seems to have pulled people away from the movie experience, wondering if things have changed forever. Have the weekly drops of content on Netflix and Disney+ so diluted peoples appreciation of tentpole releases (I have to wonder if Disney putting Marvel and Star Wars content for ‘free’ onto subscribers televisions is a kind of self-sabotage) weakened and diluted the appeal of said franchises as regards getting bums on seats in cinemas, like it used to be? We’ve already seen how people don’t seem interested in buying films on disc anymore. Some of the high-end stuff being dropped on Netflix is often poor but production-wise, they are essentially exactly the same thing as is seen in cinemas. I remember when I was kid, I saw The Empire Strikes Back at the cinema on a Saturday afternoon and when I got home Buck Rogers in the 25th Century was on the telly, and funnily enough it was the episode with the asteroid sequence and Buster Crabbe but it was so different in quality, the chasm between home entertainment and cinema entertainment was plain. That’s gone now, and seeing ‘new’ Star Wars and Marvel stuff straight onto the telly…

I’ve noted before that movies don’t seem as important or special as they used to be in my youth, back when Star Wars would be on the big screen only and when you’d wait for years to ever see Jaws again- gradually films have become more disposable. In a world where you can buy Avatar for a fiver, is there any wonder that Avatar itself fails to have any real cultural significance (and I’m really curious how those Avatar sequels will perform in a few years time). Are movies, as we fans remember them as ‘MOVIES,’ essentially dead, and things like Dune simply being made for a world and business model that no longer exists?

One has to wonder if Dune: Part Two will eventually just be a mini-series on HBO Max.

Ratched (Season One)

atchedposterThis was brilliant and appalling in equal measure.

Firstly, and here’s why I waited until now to watch it (this originally dropped on Netflix in September last year) – what’s the preoccupation with prequels and origin stories? This series could be about anyone, they could have written about an original character and told the exact same story, it didn’t need to be Mildred Ratched of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. It could have been any nurse, in any asylum, in any place (in fact it probably is, as the film took place in Oregon, not this series’ California), and the character as far as I recall (its been many years since I last saw the film) was not some super-heroine needing an origin story.

So what gives? Is it all just about having a ‘hook’, a gimmick, to hang a series over, to make ‘selling’ it easier?  Is this where we are now with getting anything greenlit by a studio? Are creatives so bereft of ideas that they have to mine all their film collections looking for any possible narrative hook to spin from? Or is the only thing studios/streamers understand now the Marvel MCU/Disney Star Wars school of carpet-bombing an IP for any possible spin-off?

To add a further mix of confusion, this is essentially a remake of Ryan Murphy’s second season of his American Horror Story, which was titled Asylum, and even stars one of that season’s stars, Sarah Paulson, as the titular character Mildred Ratched. Like Asylum, Ratched is full of bizarre characters, crazy situations, gory deaths, violent ends: a delirious cacophony of excess. People are lobotomised, boiled, shot, burnt, impaled, stabbed, smothered…

Not once but several times did I shake my head and comment to my wife “these characters are all monsters.” You could argue there is not one redeemable character or anyone slightly approximating ‘normal’ here at all: a rogues gallery of misfits and oddballs. Indeed it has a pretty formidable cast lining up as these freaks: Judy Davis, Cynthia Nixon, Sharon Stone, Vincent D’Onofrio, Corey Stoll, Amanda Plummer, its a pretty cool bunch of character actors competing in the chew-the-scenery stakes, and I’d argue the show actually gets stolen by Sophie Okonedo who plays a patient with multiple personalities: she is absolutely the best reason to watch this show. She’s a murderous female Two-Face multiplied by ten and I could watch her in a show of her own (hey, maybe this show has already got its own spin-off sorted).

One sequence has a prisoner on Death Row being taken to his execution room, the viewer having been shown in slow graphic detail the process of said execution via lethal injection. Once in the execution room however, the waiting Governor Wilburn (D’Onofrio) gleefully pulls aside a white sheet covering the apparatus to reveal it has been replaced by an electric chair. The prisoner shrieks in horror as he’s strapped in while Wilburn reaches to the power switch and fries his victim- here’s a politician who gets his own hands dirty for the votes.

You either accept the camp, pulpish fun of it all being written in big thick crayon or snort in disgust and reach for the off button: as much Wretched as Ratched. For my part I actually enjoyed it but I admit feeling a little guilty about that- I was watching it aghast at some of the twists and turns feeling I was being had most of the time. A character is shot in the stomach and near death one minute and a few scenes later is up and walking around fine (the scenes in between being about another character on the run from the police and caught the next morning only adding to my confusion re: the passage of time). You just cannot take it seriously as it stumbles over plot holes and characters doing bizarre 180’s just because it suddenly suits the plot (such as there is one). Usually you get an interest in a character just before they get murdered in horrible fashion but the six characters that survive to the end of the finale are thankfully the best and hint at great possibilities for a second season.

I was a fan of Murphy’s American Horror Story show and rate Asylum as its best offering by some margin, so watching a Greatest Hits remake of that show was pretty perfect for me. Murphy would be no doubt horrified at me lazily summarising Ratchet as Asylum MkII but it appears pretty clear to me. I’m just mystified why they likely wasted so much money getting the rights to the Mildred Ratched character at all, any links to the film appear pretty tenuous to me so far and it would be no worse being something wholly seperate, unless the second season ties things up somehow. But tonally, this is definitely more American Horror Story than One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest by a very considerable gory margin.

Speechless; words fail me…

I’ve watched my first Fast and the Furious movie. It was a spin-off, really, or so I’m led to believe- Fast & the Furious: Hobbs and Shaw. My goodness it was silly. In fact, it was so silly I feel rather insulted by the film-makers. Didn’t they think I deserved a decent script, character arcs, drama, realistic action sequences? No? Indeed, apparently not. Coming so soon after Kong vs. Godzilla (or was it Godzilla vs. Kong? Is there even a difference?) a film I’m still trying to figure out enough to write a review… A line from a Pet Shop Boys song springs to mind, What have I, what have I, what have I done to deserve this? 

That joke from Airplane comes back to me, of a news pundit commenting he has no sympathy for the doomed air passengers “they knew the risks, they bought their tickets…” or something like that. In my case, “he knew the risks, he knew what kind of films they are, I say- let his brain explode!”

Perhaps I need to watch some of, if not all, the remaining eight (soon nine, I gather) Fast & the Furious films in order to glean some sense of logic or purpose in the events and characters I watched in that Hobbs & Shaw movie (I mean, what was Helen Mirren doing in it?). All I could gather from its huge body count was that if you don’t have a line of dialogue then you’re simply cannon fodder and that there’s no harm in excessive bloodless, painless carnage as long as everyone is spitting out silly wisecracks and the cars look cool.

I didn’t expect that Idris Elba could mine the depths of his ‘performance’ in that Star Trek film again, but he found a way… I did like Vanessa Kirby though. I don’t think I couldn’t have lasted it out to the bitterly senseless end without her being in it. Oh well, we’ll put my eventual review on pause.