Here’s another ramble about films I’ve seen recently. As usual it’s a mixed bag and there are some spoilers contained within this post.
Blame! (Netflix) has been hanging about on my list since its global release in May 2017. The anime is set in the far future where the remains of the mankind live within a huge machine-controlled city. The action revolves around the mysterious and powerful character Killy, intent on beating the killer robots and restoring humanity’s control over the machines. That control was lost when an infection caused the automated Safeguard defence systems to act autonomously and turn on their masters.
The hungry Electro-Fishers live in a safe corner of the mega-city and go out on perilous missions to tap into pipes carrying nutritious sludge. However they are having to go further and further afield to find food and when a small team of scavengers run into trouble Killy appears and saves them. He has been wandering the vast city on a quest for the Net Terminal Genes, the key to saving humanity.
It’s rather standard stuff in sci-fi, but it is nicely animated with lots of original touches alongside the tropes you’ve come to expect from anime. I felt that the source material, a manga series with the same title written and illustrated by Tsutomu Nihei, probably had a far richer story than that portrayed on screen, but it was an enjoyable film to watch and I’m glad I finally found myself in the mood for some anime.
Hitman Redemption (Netflix) is not a sequel to any of the other Hitman films but rather the story of an aged hitman (Ron Perlman) whose latest job goes wrong and forces him to question his future. The hitman’s name is Asher and I found that this is an alternate (and imo better) title in some regions.
Asher lives alone and seems happy enough to drink nice wine, cook himself tasty meals and polish his shoes. However, he’s getting on a bit and not in the best of health. He passes out just before assassinating a target and is helped out by the target’s neighbour, a ballet teacher (Famke Janssen of X-Men fame). The age difference is rather worrying, but at least not as bad as in the Luc Besson’s comparable film Leon.
Asher takes a shine to Sophie and goes on a few awkward dates with her. His job gets more complicated and he realises he is marked for assassination himself. The film offers no real originality compared to other similar films and I can’t really recommend it, despite being a big Ron Perlman fan. I think it might have been better reworked as a comedy film to be honest especially since it features another death by toilet while Asher is supposed to wooing Sophie at a fancy restaurant.
The Lobster (FilmFour) is a very peculiar film by Yorgos Lanthimos who directed The Favourite. In a parallel world, or dystopian near future (is there any other type of near future?) depending on how you want to look at it, single people have to stay at a hotel for 45 days to find a partner. If they don’t manage to find someone in that time then they are transformed by some undisclosed process into animals. The title refers to the choice of David (Colin Farrell) makes when asked by the hotel manager (Olivia Colman) what animal he chooses. She approves criticising those that ask to be turned into dogs.
Single people and escapees are hiding out in the woods around the hotel and the residents regular go out hunting armed with tranquilliser darts to round them up. Darting these outsiders earns them extra days in the hotel. One resident, referred to as the heartless woman, is an expert hunter and so has extended her stay at the hotel. David tries to partner up with her by pretending to be equally as heartless but his plan backfires when she commits a heinous act to call his bluff.
David escapes into the woods and joins the rebels who live by their own set of rules. No sexual relationships are allowed and inevitably David falls in love with Rachel Weisz’s character who suffers from the same short-sightedness he has. It is important in this strange society that people pair up with people with similar distinguishing characteristics – so for example another couple team up over their nosebleeds (although the man is also faking it). When the rebel leader learns of their clandestine affair, she fixes the problem by blinding the woman. This leaves David with a frustratingly unresolved choice to make.
It’s a very interesting and bizarre film, the peculiarly unnatural performances, akin to the conversations of children with mental health issues, are excellent throughout the cast, but I found the ending very unsatisfying.
El Camino (Netflix) plays out like an extended episode of Breaking Bad. The two-hours run time of this sequel speed by and it was great to see what happens to Aaron Paul’s character Jesse after the amazing finale of the TV show. Siggy and I watched a 15-minute YouTube video to remind us what happened in Breaking Bad and it reminded me how bloody great the show was.
El Camino isn’t particularly novel compared to the TV show, but it is really very enjoyable. Jesse seems to be making the same stupid mistakes as he did in the show working alongside Walter White but eventually turns a corner and takes control of his situation and rises above various hurdles placed in his way before he can escape the police and his old life.
There a plenty of cameos from fan favourites and Bryan Cranston briefly reprises his role as Walt. In a way the film is a very heartwarming story and I think that it was a good thing that writer/director Vince Gilligan stuck to the formula of gritty, realistic and mostly low-key action and pithy dialogue that characterised the TV show. It’s certainly a must for any Breaking Bad fan, a well-handled extension of the story which certainly doesn’t feel like a cash-in by Netflix.
Spider-man Far From Home (Amazon) feels like another episode of the extended TV show that it the Marvel Cinematic Universe since it dwells very heavily on the story of Thanos’s ‘snap’, the subsequent ‘blip’ and death of Tony Stark, Parker’s mentor, from the last two Avengers films.
As you might expect for Marvel’s very much youth focused franchise in (a very rocky) partnership with Sony Pictures, the film is full of humour and lines written to appeal to a younger generation. There’s a lot more action with Parker out of his suit and the film often times feels like a teen road movie more than a superhero film.
The one bright light in an otherwise iffy MCU bookend is Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance as Mysterio. He totally outshines Tom Holland’s performance as Spidey and I would go so far as to say that he is one of my favourite MCU villains so far, fishbowl helmet and all.
It was nice to see some of the Spider-man suits I have seen in the PS4 game and also I did applaud the Assassin’s Creed homage in Venice when Parker free-runs over some wooden posts in the water, in fact I’d say I enjoyed the film more than Homecoming but it just suffered from following such a huge film as Endgame.