The Dead Don’t Die (2019)

deaddontHere we go, another zombie flick- do we really need another? Well, I liked the setting, and its offbeat, rather kooky feel, which was a little like a Zombie Twin Peaks. If that sounds great to you, then its possibly worth a watch- it certainly appealed to me; oddball characters in a rural, remote setting, there was a lovely mood there. But it doesn’t hold together. The weird thing was, the gentle, almost affectionate tone of the place (“Centerville”) and its laidback characters (this film has a great, albeit terribly wasted cast- Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Tilda Swinton, Steve Buscemi, Danny Glover etc), seemed quite at odds with some of the grisly, graphic gore, feeling rather like two different movies.

The problem for this film was, if it was a comedy, it wasn’t particularly funny; certainly amusing rather than hilarious, and if it was intended to be a horror film, well, it stumbled throughout. In all honesty, it has all been done before: Dan O’Bannon’s Return of the Living Dead was both more knowingly arch regards commentary on zombie flicks and also much funnier, while George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead was far better with the social commentary. Director Jim Jarmusch is rather heavy-handed here with the zombies returning to favourite old haunts and habits of when they were alive, commentating on consumerism and waste – its fine but it was old years ago, and Romero was much more subtle with it. 

I was also confused by some of the plotlines, as characters seemed to come and go- three children, for instance, escaping from a zombie-infested child detention centre find a house for shelter and aren’t returned to again, its like the screenwriter forgot them and left that arc completely hanging. Other characters are followed for awhile -the three ‘Cleveland Hipsters’- and then we find later them dead, their grisly fate occurring offscreen which may have seemed an arch commentary on horror tropes but just left me feeling… not frustrated exactly, but so many of the cast are just thrown in and then wasted. And I’m still not certain there was any point to Tilda Swinton’s creepy funeral director turning out to be samurai sword-wielding alien who calls a flying saucer to come pick her up. 

In the end, I was left wondering “why?”, you know, what was the point of the whole thing? There’s certainly some reward from the kooky feel of the place and the characters but its all quite wasted- I suppose its a case of the director not really being the right guy for this particular genre mash-up. I don’t think I’ve seen anything else Jim Jarmusch has directed, but I gather his background is more arthouse, indie material than this kind of thing: I suppose how this turned out would be akin to someone like Terrence Malick making a horror film or a sci-fi film- an intriguing idea but not necessarily resulting in a successful movie. Maybe Dan O’Bannon was more of a genius than anybody gave him credit for. 

The Dead Don’t Die has recently arisen from its box-office grave and shambled onto Netflix here in the UK. Possibly worth a shot at Halloween, maybe.

 

Love, Death & Robots Vol.2

ldr2bThe first season (or ‘volume’ as Netflix would have it) of Love, Death & Robots, an animated anthology show apparently curated by David Fincher, remains one of the highlights of everything I’ve ever seen on Netflix. Its eighteen shorts were so varied in subject matter and animation style that, while there were some duds amongst the average and the great, there always seemed something worthwhile in each instalment. 

One never knows how popular a show is on streaming services, or how decisions are made regards greenlighting more seasons, especially with something as intrinsically weird as Love, Death & Robots, but the news a second season (ok, ‘volume’) was getting made filled me with joy. So news of this second volume getting dropped this month was pretty exciting, although that was tempered by disappointment at there being just eight episodes this time around. I guess this is due to production issues from the Covid pandemic and quite understandable, and news of a volume three coming presumably means that the original second volume has been split into two to facilitate dropping episodes now before a fickle public forget all about the original.

As was the case with the first volume, there are hits and duds even amongst just eight instalments, but again at the very least each is visually arresting. There is still a suspicion that the show is more of a tech demo from animation wizards let loose than a properly scripted anthology like The Twilight Zone– the series it most closely resembles- indeed it reminds me a great deal of the Japanese anime Genius Party films. Even the best episodes feel like the scripts need more polish, but as in the first volume, their advantage is their brevity; I think the longest is just 17 minutes and some run just about 10. Ironically, that’s possibly also a disadvantage, as the brevity means a lack of context and character is a weakness common to all. Once the ‘wow’ factor of the visuals drops, one realises there is often little else.

But what visuals. This show is constantly gorgeous, endless eye-candy. Some of the photo-realistic animation hints at where genre film and television may eventually go, with impossible vistas and pretty convincing… what do you call them, synthetic thespians? I guess its mostly motion-captured performances anyway but goodness, the tech has moved on since that Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within movie amazed me years ago. What I tend to enjoy most though are those incredible vistas, the impossible places, the sense that I’m watching what could easily have been branded ‘Metal Hurlant / Heavy Metal’ and it would have just fit perfectly (albeit the branding meaning nothing to most Netflix punters). I loved that magazine back in its 1970s heyday, and this just looks like the mag transformed into this new medium (that mags weakness, artwork over narrative, is carried over too).

And hey, we even get a Christmas episode this time around, a cautionary morality tale reminding kids to be good or Santa’s presents might not be what they’re expecting/hoping for. That ones quite fun and typically gorgeous. 

Army of the Dead (2021)

army1Zack Snyder’s return to the zombie genre is as loud and dumb as anyone could have hoped for or feared (some people love this stuff, like some guilty pleasure) – I just wish it could have been more tense. Its the one thing that’s quite unforgivable about this film – the utter lack of any tension. There really isn’t any. In a zombie movie. Its violent and gory but it isn’t in the slightest bit scary, there simply isn’t much of any sense of threat- possibly because the core set of characters are so by-the-numbers and familiar that we don’t really care about any of them. I swear the woman who doubles as Aliens‘ Vasquez, from wardrobe to final death, it is so obvious its a wonder James Cameron isn’t knocking on Snyder’s door for a credit, but we’re past the point now that genre fanboys feel more clever about spotting these ‘homages’ than they do feeling pissed off at yet another bloody call-back to a better movie. They’ve even got a ‘Company man’ who pulls a double-cross and a rooftop escape that is thwarted by the transport having fled early… (oh no we’re screwed, its not here its gone no wait no its not, here it is we’re saved) yeah they even pull THAT Aliens gag, I’m almost surprised they didn’t use James Horner’s music cue.

Once the action starts and the deaths start to mount up, we’re watching almost passively, utterly uninvolved. Its like everyone involved got obsessed with the technical stuff- the visual effects, the stunts etc- that they (and I guess when I write ‘they’ I’m really referring to Snyder) forgot the script. And the characters. And yet this thing is about 150 minutes long. 

Its style over substance. Nothing new there, its Snyder after all. Its competently shot and generally looks pretty great, with some quite arresting moments, but its so dumb and predictable. Its such a shame. Technically, Snyder is some kind of genius, he has this eye for this kind of stuff that can’t be denied, and he’s marshalled a team of excellent production designers and make-up artists and visual effects teams, and the premise of a zombie-infested Las Vegas as the setting for a violent heist caper is some kind of genius, especially when you can throw in a certain few Elvis Presley songs. But where’s the tension, where’s the scares, where’s the surprises? Why all the familiar genre tropes and nods to earlier movies?

Not a crushing disappointment but nowhere near as good as it might or should have been. Snyder desperately needs someone standing at his shoulder whispering “hey, hang on, lets think about this for a minute…” but at this point in his career that’s apparently long gone now. Studios get a lot of beef for interfering with creative visions but with Netflix its surprisingly routine for projects to suffer from the creative teams having too much freedom, and such is the case here. But hey, its a popcorn movie.

The 2021 List: April

So there goes April. and I watched all of eight ‘new’ films/TV shows. Yeah, I’m still re-watching ‘old’ stuff, but my general apathy/weariness continues.

Books are good. I’m currently reading J W Rinzler’s excellent ‘The Making of Planet of the Apes’, which I bought from Amazon for £18 a week or so ago- at that price its almost giving it away, considering what magazines cost these days. With its on-set photographs and old-fashioned (pre-2001/Star Wars) pre-production paintings/storyboards, its really evocative of the 1960s and something of an escape to the myth of simpler times. I’ve really enjoyed the fascinating story of its long gestation period. I’d never really appreciated what a hard sell it was in the early 1960s to sell a film project featuring talking apes. In hindsight it seems a perfectly natural premise for a series of films but when one considers it in an time pre-Star Trek, even, its quite remarkable the film ever got made. Great book- its a lovely reminder of those retrospective articles in Cinefantastique, Fantastic Films and Starburst that I enjoyed reading (albeit with its 300 pages, this book is much more detailed, Cinefantastique‘s in-depth articles notwithstanding).

Hey, we had the Oscars this month. More nauseating than ever. Privileged and pampered millionaires preaching some more. I’m not sure they ‘get it’, after the year so many of us have had. I suppose its all true that the rich just get richer and the poor poorer because looking at their expensive gowns and suits and haircuts the pandemic and its economic woes doesn’t seem to have affected them very much. Instead I rather think it has put into sharp focus just how much of another country/planet Hollywood really is, and how increasingly distant it is. Those Planet Hollywood restaurants have a very apt name indeed, indicative of a truth I didn’t really appreciate. 

Or maybe I’m just getting old, and tired of the game.

Television

46) The Flight Attendant

Film

41) Chelsley Bonestell: A Brush With The Future (2018)

42) Secret Behind the Door (1947)

43) The Tunnel (Tunnelen) (2019)

44) Anti-Life (2020)

45) Stowaway (2021)

47) Voyage of Time (2016)

48) The Heist (2013)

Stowaway (2021)

stowI’m not sure why exactly, but there was something of Michael Crichton about Stowaway, something about how the high-concept premise was grounded by realistic characters/scientists trying to survive a dangerous situation against mounting odds. The title says it all really: a three-man mission to Mars is scuppered by a fourth person being accidentally stowed onboard. Its a neat premise even though eminently unlikely- the kind of thing that might work for a thirty-minute Twilight Zone as a neat idea (thinking about it, wasn’t it the plotline of the 1960s Lost in Space?). Stretched to a full movie though its hard to suspend the element of nagging disbelief. Indeed it almost ruined the whole thing for me, as I kept on expecting some major revelation towards the end that would answer my doubts and questions. 

Just how does a launch platform engineer get trapped inside a space capsule bulkhead, without anyone realising he was missing, and then only retrieved from said bulkhead by unscrewing the panel trapping him inside like some kind of space age reversal of The Cask of Amontillado? It didn’t make any sense to me, and the characters plea of ignorance/amnesia too convenient to really convince, either. I maintained doubts and a hope that my questions would be answered, but they never were, so consequently it was a constant distraction that almost ruined the whole thing for me and left me frustrated at the end.

So I suppose one’s entire enjoyment of the film is predicated upon how easily one can accept its premise and lack of explanation. Certainly there is plenty to enjoy- the art direction is absolutely top-notch, its as convincing a setting as I can remember in recent space films (perhaps taking a nod or two from Ad Astra) and the characters are just as convincing too.  Ships commander Marina Barnett (Toni Collette) is an astronaut veteran of previous Mars missions, calmly reassuring and nudging her two crewmates, scientists Zoe Levenson (Anna Kendrick) and David Kim (Daniel Dae Kim, who quietly steals the show). Both Kendrick and Kim are rather endearing and most importantly quite convincing as scientists trying to prove themselves and validate their research (possibly the Crichton element I referred to). Stowaway Michael Adams (Shamier Anderson) is a prospective applicant for a later mission who seems to have inadvertently circumvented the application bit until its realised that having an additional consumer of ship consumables endangers everybody.

Its a dramatic film and really quite impressively made, technically- I wasn’t entirely convinced by some of the science, as the MTS is set to revolving in order to maintain an artificial gravity reminiscent of how Christopher Nolan did it in Interstellar and then an extension rolls out like some kind of counter-balance and solar array but surely the centre of gravity was subsequently wrong (surely the MTS would continue to be the centre of gravity, but instead this shifts to the Solar array instead). I watched external visual effects shots of the ship on its journey and it just seemed at odds with what I’d seen earlier but never mind, maybe that’s just me missing something, or I saw it wrong, but this coupled with my nagging doubts about some guy being somehow sealed/screwed-in behind an important bulkhead panel left me troubled.

I suppose this film is the very definition of a flawed film, then. Maybe another viewing would alleviate my suspicion/disbelief, and likewise I had to wonder about how healthy a canister of oxygen would be having been blasted by deadly cosmic radiation, but that latter point is really the lesser of my concerns. When the central premise of  film, the crux of the whole drama, is predicated on something that just did not satisfy me at all, then I guess the film’s in some trouble. Either I missed a central piece of dialogue that answered everything or the film deliberately rushed past everything bluffing its way through (I suspect it was the latter). But its definitely well worth a watch, and no disaster.

Anti-Life (2020)

antiThis was hilarious, its utterly bizarre that people are still hellbent on ripping off Alien all these years later, and doing it so ineptly. Everything in this film was so diabolically poor- the awful script, the wooden/cardboard sets, the woeful CGI… its like a masterclass in how NOT to make a sci-fi film and looks worse than any fan-flick that might surface on YouTube. It would be embarrassed by most student films, I’m certain (if it WAS a student film, I’d suggest the film-makers change career paths and go work in a grocery store instead).

But the film was also disturbing- what in the world are Bruce Willis and Thomas Jane doing in this rubbish? Being in this film must be the absolute nadir of both careers and I cannot understand their thinking, appearing in something as bad as this must be some kind of laughing-stock in the industry that could only harm their careers and reputation. Considering the budget this film must have had – something in the region of 1970s Doctor Who, by the look of it- I cannot imagine they appeared in this for the money. Okay, Willis has been slumming around for years at this point and never fails to amaze me how deep he can dig the hole his career is falling into (Willis spends the film sniggering and taking sips from his hip-flask like he KNOWS he’s in something akin to Plan 9 From Outer Space– maybe he thinks in fifty years this thing will be deemed somehow cool for being so bad), but Thomas Jane? He has his detractors but he’s surely better than this (The Expanse must seem so faraway). 

I honestly think this film has no rights being released, in my opinion its quite un-releasable in the state its in with no redeeming features at all. Nothing works on any level – I haven’t seen anything quite as bad as this in a long, long time. You’ll note I haven’t mentioned anything of the plot. I’m not sure it really had one, and if I were to jot it down here now… well, I’d be spending more time on this post than this film deserves.

Streaming services like Netflix (how I watched this film) are so desperate for new content they will buy and stream ANYTHING and this film proves it. Its like any kind of quality control has been dismissed for the sake of having something, anything, new and Willis being attached to it is just another example of the cynicism behind rubbish like this. Films like this make me despair at the where the film industry and artform is going, now. There used to be a time when you had to have talent to be able to make films, but that isn’t the case these days. Seems any idiot can write and direct and produce a film now – they don’t even need an idea, they just need a DVD collection they can rip off (sorry, ‘homage’).

Anyway, that’s quite enough. Its past time I started trying to forget this film exists. 

 

 

News of the World (2020)

news1There is an argument here regards expectations, and the talent behind a project skewing them- initially seeing the names Paul Greengrass, Tom Hanks and cinematographer Dariusz Wolski, I expected something new, some fresh angle on that hoary old genre of the Western. New of the World, it turns out, is more of an affectionate nod to the Westerns of old – which is no bad thing, certainly, but it did take me a little while to re-adjust to. There is one sequence in the films episodic narrative in which three bad guys threaten our hero and the child that is his ward and it feels like a descent into cliché, the lead thug and his silent companions coming out of nowhere and so obviously up to no good its like they have flags on their backs. Its very black and white, and lacking any nuance at all, really, and possibly that sequence is my real issue with what is otherwise a pleasant and entertaining film.

One has the feeling that Tom Hanks could play these roles in his sleep, and that he has to make very little effort these days other than just turn up on-set, which may well be doing him a disservice. He just seems to fit these kinds of roles like a glove, as if the character is written specifically for him alone, which is patently not the case here as the film is based upon a book, but that sense of familiarity and ‘coasting’ remains. I suppose its simply that he just so very good at playing parts such as this, some kind of blurring of screen personas settled over decades of roles and films, in which real-life nice guy Hanks and on-screen good-guy Hanks are one and the same. Here he plays Civil War veteran Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, who wanders the Western landscapes travelling from town to town reading passages from newspapers to townsfolk who are too poor and busy to read or unable to read the news of the bigger world that lies beyond their immediate daily concerns and small worlds. A chance encounter during one of his journeys leaves him taking a 10-year-old girl, Johanna (Helena Zengel), across Texas to her aunt and uncle. Johanna had been ‘rescued’ from a Kiowa tribe that had murdered her parents and family some six years prior, and is caught between two worlds, having forgotten her original German-settler heritage and adopted the traditions and language of the native-American tribe that had ‘adopted’ her. Now having neither, she is lost and confused, something that is mirrored in Kidd’s own sense of nomadic disenfranchisement and haunted past; references to his old life pre-Civil War and photograph of a wife that he looks at longingly. Both characters are ungrounded by events in their past and through each other have to find their new places in the world.

Young German actress Zengel is absolutely wonderful, and its her character and performance which largely lifts the film to a higher level. It may well be that the sense of Hanks in his ‘comfort-zone’ is largely because he is allowing Zengel to shine and steal the scenes they share- that he is in ‘supporting actor’ mode here contrary to the billing of the film. This is clearly a creative decision deliberately shared by Hanks and Greengrass and its exactly what saves the film and lends it a definite emotional weight that pays off at the conclusion (which is surely inevitable from the start of the film).

New of the World is possibly one of those films that won’t shake the foundations of the cinematic world by offering anything particularly new but may over time become something of a… not ‘classic’ by any means, but its an effective film, albeit it suffers from having such a largely familiar narrative. I can’t say I was disappointed by the film – its clearly exactly what it is intended to be and not every film can stretch the boundaries of its chosen genre. That being said, while it could actually become tiresome if every film DID shake things up, its a little underwhelming to watch a film that feels quite this comfortable throughout, as if it does not feel the need to really stretch itself at all.  Is it cynical of me to note the time of year this film has been released (I think it got a very limited theatrical release in the States in December), and it being such a non-controversial film so very close to Awards season?

The Dig (2021)

the digSelf-taught archaeologist Basil Brown (Ralph Fiennes) is hired by Suffolk landowner Edith Pretty (Carey Mulligan) to investigate large mounds on her property in Sutton Hoo. Brown’s suspicions that it may be the site of an Anglo-Saxon burial rather than of the Viking-era are eventually vindicated, but time works against them as Britain nears the outbreak of war.

As Netflix Originals go, this might be the best I’ve yet seen (admittedly I may have missed a better one somewhere, but if I have, its well hidden). This is a great  little movie; perfectly cast with superb performances, excellent art direction and simply gorgeous cinematography. Its gentle and languid regards telling its story and maintains a sense of the intimate throughout, with genuinely interesting characters caught up in truly fascinating/life-changing events while a wider canvas of general history (the beginning of the Second World War) plays out around them.  Its based on a true story and is respectful and fairly authentic in telling that story: its nod to dramatic license (a fleeting romantic interlude between supporting characters) being the films weakest link.

The word delicate fits this film like a glove. There is a sense of time and place that is quite intoxicating, characters dwarfed by vast English skies and the landscape that surrounds them (there’s something delightfully reminiscent of Malick in this films visuals). Edith’s struggles with her own mortality as her health fails, her doubts about what comes after, strike a poignant chord with their reflections as the centuries-old secrets of the Sutton Hoo find become apparent. What do any of us really leave behind, for how long will we be remembered and why? As news of the find spreads, and professional archaeologists move in and take credit for the find, Brown’s own place in history becomes threatened (“Mark my words…  I won’t receive any credit. I won’t even be a footnote”). Fiennes is wonderful in a subtle, understated performance and Mulligan continues to impress (is it really fifteen years now since she appeared in the BBC’s Bleak House adaptation?).

If only Netflix could concentrate more on films such as this rather than compete with Hollywood with big overblown action films. I just hope that The Dig is popular enough with subscribers that it encourages Netflix to perhaps look at making more films like it. You know, maybe there’s something to films with a fascinating story and realistic, interesting characters and yeah, maybe there’s some traction to having some real drama that doesn’t involve wild stunts and explosions. There’s something delightfully old-fashioned regards The Dig and I really, really enjoyed it. One of the films of the year, I have no doubt.

 

Morning Glory (2010)

morningAh, I know- what in the world was I doing even watching this? I can’t say. Worlds fail me. But its a strange world, you just wind up watching the oddest films sometimes. Hey, sometimes they can surprise, but, er, this one didn’t really. You can easily see why people didn’t race to the cinema to go see this one.  

Girl gets a job as producer of a struggling Breakfast TV show. Girl improves the lives/careers of all her workmates (well, except one guy who she fires, but maybe she was doing him a favour). Girl has faith in childhood hero-figure/cranky old guy. Girl’s faith in cranky old guy is tested but ultimately redeemed. Girl meets perfect guy. Girl gets guy. Girl saves Breakfast TV show. Morning Glory is one of those films that you can predict its every turn, its every beat, and its end is certain from the very beginning. But some people like that in movies. They find it reassuring, maybe. Its not a very reassuring universe really (as evidenced by me somehow watching this film) so hey, its clear some people get their reassurance wherever they can get it. After 2020, good for them.

Rachel McAdams. There was a time when she seemed to be in all sorts of stuff. She was pretty great in that season of True Detective that nobody seemed to like. And she was okay in that Game Night film, although I’m not entirely sure comedy is good for her, whatever her agent says. She’s really wasted in stuff like this.

Mind you, on the subject of wasted- Harrison Ford. Well, one has to remember this was released back in 2010, back during that period of his career when he seemed to have given up, How else can one explain it? He plays this old, surly, cranky “third-worst-person-in-the-universe’ guy in the twilight of his career left behind by his industry and its almost like an ironic casting  statement. Honestly,  it seems like Ford’s not even trying, it hardly rates as a performance at all. Maybe he thought his old natural matinee-idol charm would get him by, but at that point such times were over. Looking at him in stuff like this, its an absolute wonder he was so good in BR2049. I suppose he’d suggest its all about the material, and that Morning Glory warranted the performance it got from him, and who could argue with that? 

The 2021 List: January

I’m back. Well, I’ve not really been away, just side-lined by work and life. I’m sure anyone reading this appreciates just how strange life is getting, and how we’re getting worn down. Its really quite relentless, and most nights now I’m so tired in the evenings I don’t have energy to concentrate enough to even watch a film, let alone write about it. Maybe I just need a holiday (ha, ha) – ain’t that the truth/sick joke (delete as appropriate). Its been  more than two years since my last holiday anywhere, and my booked holiday in May (which was deferred from May last year, for reasons obvious to everyone) is looking as unlikely as Vangelis releasing an anthology of his unreleased soundtracks headlined by a complete Blade Runner. Or him ever releasing that Juno to Jupiter album.

So what have I been watching? Not included on the list waiting for your perusal below as its not finished until next Wednesday, is Season Five of The Expanse, which has been quite brilliant. As someone who championed this series way back when I had to import the Blu-rays to watch it, its great to see the show having some critical success before it ends next year. Amazon saving The Expanse from its third-season cancellation is the rescue Farscape deserved but never got. Anyway, more on that next week/month/when I get to write about it.

toastJanuary is a hell of a bleak month, and Lockdown is just making it all the bleaker. I’ve been retreating to sitcoms, mostly Toast of London, a show from a few years back that I vaguely recall noticing but never watching. Finally watching it thanks to the Netflix algorithm bringing it back to my attention,  its quite funny and quirky and I enjoyed it enough to binge all three seasons of it, but not enough to write a post about it. There’s that energy-sapping thing again. I don’t know. There was a feeling of biding time watching it; I knew I should be watching something more worthwhile but it was low-effort, making little demand of me. I’ve just moved on to another feast courtesy of the Netflix algorithm, an American sitcom titled Superstore, currently watching season one. There’s five seasons of this show and I never knew it even existed until I started watching it last week. I think this is what’s called Sitcom Hell. I need to find some escape.

Television

Most ill-conceived reboot of the month:

2. Black Narcissus (BBC Miniseries)

Sitcom ‘comfort food of the month’ (lockdown special):

6) Toast of London Season One

7) Toast of London Season Two

11) Toast of London Season Three

Sexed-up Downton Abbey of the month:

15) Bridgerton Season One

Female Space Messiah Award:

9) Star Trek: Discovery Season Three 

Films:

The Good, and the even Better:

3) Proxima (2019)

4. Hidden Figures (2016)

5) The Garment Jungle

8) The Lineup (1958)

16) The Wages of Fear (1953)

The Distinctly Average:

10) The Gentlemen (2019)

12) Sputnik (2020)

14) The Wackiest Ship in the Navy (1961)

The Utterly Woeful:

1) The Midnight Sky (2020)

13) Outside the Wire (2021)

So that’s sixteen titles, split between six seasons of TV shows and ten films. Regards re-watching stuff, apart from the fantastic Millennium Actress that I did actually post about, I did re-watch The Two Towers, the second film of the LOTR trilogy, part of the 4K UHD boxset that came out late last year and which I seem to be struggling to get to actually watch, never mind actually writing about. I watched The Fellowship of the Ring over the Christmas period, and while its proving a struggle, strangely, to get around to watching all three films (possibly its because they are the extended versions which makes it awkward to schedule, in all honesty, with everything else going on) its been very interesting, returning to what is quite possibly the last genuinely great blockbuster trilogy ever made, and seeing how well they have aged (or not).  I intend to possibly expand upon this in a future post once I’ve managed to watch The Return of the King, which, on my apparently monthly schedule will happen in February. Some people managed marathons of the LOTR in a single day, or over three consecutive days- I haven’t even managed it over three weekends.

It has occurred to me that the sheer bravura of shooting all three films back-to-back might be something we never see again, considering the state of theatrical exhibition in this Covid World. We are in a situation now in which traditional blockbusters are not economically viable and are being delayed one or even two years waiting for some kind of stability regards exhibition. Where this leaves Villenueve’s Dune and its ‘will-they-won’t-they’ second film completing its story is anyone’s guess. At some point if things don’t change, more of these films will end up relegated to streaming premieres such as those Warner have announced for HBO Max in America, and what that means for studios cutting their losses and plans for 2023, 2024 etc is really a concern.

So anyway, that’s January. Looking towards February, well, its anyone’s guess how that month will likely turn out. Indicator’s second Columbia Noir set is due out so I look forward to getting into that, having so enjoyed the first set. And I have a pile of unwatched films on the Tivo etc and waiting on Netflix and Amazon, if I can ever muster the enthusiasm to watch any of it. Or indeed the time, due to working at home proving particularly problematic of late. We’ll just have to see. Oh, and its possibly going to include my biggest non-event of a birthday in all my 55 revolutions of the sun. That should be curious, although as a bonus it sees me jump up a group on the Vaccination schedule. Life. Is. So. Strange. Now.

COVID-Vac-priority-tiers