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.

Eye in the Sky

2017.49: Eye in the Sky (2015)

It’s a ridiculous comparison, really, I know it is, but it’s so telling to compare the traditional warfare depicted in Saving Private Ryan with the hi-tech, almost detached warfare of Eye in the Sky. Although the whole point of Eye in the Sky is to show it isn’t really quite as detached as one might think, shooting bad guys via joystick from thousands of miles away. Whatever the other merits or cons of this film, it is fascinating to see this new kind of warfare and appreciate it isn’t as science fiction as it might seem. Distressingly so, really.

In any event, this film was surprisingly watchable, as I wasn’t expecting very much going in (the beauty of random rentals/choosing films on a whim). It was tightly directed, fairly well-cast (caveats below) and quite tense too and it thankfully took a few welcome twists and turns- turning out to confound my initial expectations.

Perhaps a little dry, it’s hindered a little by the casting of Helen Mirren as a British Colonel in charge of the military operation. I like Mirren but sometimes her familiar, charismatic persona from earlier films impacts on her appearances, as I think it does here. It feels like casting-by-numbers, her performance rather phoned-in, almost as if she’s still in some old Prime Suspect episode. It is a joy, though, to see the late Alan Rickman in something ‘new’ again.

A pretty good film though, and certainly well worth a rental.

Hitchcock (2012)

hitch12016.22: Hitchcock (Network Airing, HD)

Strange one this. It purports to be an examination of Alfred Hitchcock and the making of his classic 1960 shocker Psycho. But it didn’t really come across like that. Instead it seems a very revisionist drama with a largely pro-feminist agenda; I know full well that Hitch and his wife Alma were a team, and that Hitch relied on her for her fine judgement, but this film seems to exaggerate this, almost to the point of stating that Hitch was an overweight, leery old goat who relied on Alma’s creative genius to actually make the movies. Hitch seems to be reduced to supporting character with Helen Mirren’s Alma being the focus of attention. Mirren is in fine, dependable form as ever, but her sheer charismatic force dominates every scene and threatens to sink the enterprise, dominating everything; maybe Mirren is just too good. Make no mistake-this is Alma’s movie.

That said, the film is a fine easy-going, lightweight drama of making movies in Old Hollywood- ‘Mad Men in Tinsel Town’ maybe. But it doesn’t really feel convincing. If there was a darkness to Hitch (his preoccupation with his leading ladies for instance) that informs his best movies, like Vertigo, then it’s largely unexplored. Hitch here is more preoccupied with raiding the fridge and drinking too much, and flailing at recreating his former film glories until Alma steps in and saves Psycho. It feels like fantasy- maybe it’s all true, but I very much doubt it; it always feels like fantasy, a lightweight Sunday afternoon drama. There’s no grit. In a film about Hitchcock, no less.

Anthony Hopkins does fairly well but he never becomes Hitch; buried under all that make-up and the fat suit he approximates the ‘look’ but the script always seems reduce him to something of a caricature, accentuating that tendency in the make-up design. Scarlett Johansson does surprisingly well as Janet Leigh and James D’Arcy’s is excellent as Anthony Perkins; both actors deserved more screentime and hint at what the film could have been. Jessica Biel doesn’t really convince as Vera Miles but she doesn’t have much to work with unfortunately. The problem is simply that the focus is never really the making of Psycho but rather the Hitchcock’s marriage and ‘fact’ that Alma was the real genius behind the scenes.  It feels like revisionist history and that rather grates to be honest.