September Movie Roundup

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Enola Holmes (2020) stars Milly Bobby Brown (Stranger Things) as Sherlock Holmes’s sixteen-year-old sister, Henry Cavill (Justice League) as the famous detective and everyone’s favourite posh English meany Sam Claflin (Peaky Blinders) as his brother Mycroft. Enola goes on the hunt for her mother (Helena Bonham Carter) who home-schooled her in all sorts of interesting skills prior to her disappearance the night before Enola’s birthday. She soon bumps into a young Lord Tewkesbury (Louis Partridge) running away from home and it’s obvious to all how that bit of the story is going to develop.

Brown, free from the shackles placed on her performance as Eleven, shines as a budding super-sleuth sharing genes with Sherlock. The period story, mostly based in Victorian London, is atmospheric and even a trifle educational and there’s enough action and explosions to keep those pining for a third Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes film happy. There’s some fourth-wall breaking but it’s not overdone and the film is fun without being too silly.

Trainwreck (2015) is actually a lot deeper than the trailer would have you believe, but then that’s hardly difficult. This was a movie I watched with Siggy because there’s only so much science fiction and gangster shit she can take before she wants to watch a ‘nice film’. Trainwreck was written by and stars Amy Shumer as a commitment-phobic young journalist uninterested in settling down with one guy. That is until she is sent to interview a thoroughly nice sports doctor (Bill Hader).

Yes the film is formulaic – so you can expect trouble between the new couple at the end of the third act – but despite this it came across as a fresh take on a jaded format. I think this is down to Shumer’s excellent script and character acting. Speaking of which Tilda Swinton is an absolute blast as Shumer’s intense magazine boss, and it’s worth the cost of admission just to admire her scenes.

They Live (1988), directed by John Carpenter (The Thing), is a classic in the annals of cheesy science fiction films. Much to Siggy’s relief, I watched this one afternoon while she was out dodging viruses. The central premise is simple – aliens are slowly secretly invading Earth, walking our streets disguised as humans by electromagnetic waves broadcast from who knows where and can only be seen through special sunglasses. Roddy Piper’s character happens upon a pair of these specs and the scales are lifted from his eyes. The billboards read ‘OBEY!’ (yes that’s where it’s from) and the bare-fleshed large eyed creatures are revealed walking among us.

It’s a great idea for a story and probably made a great read as Ray Nelson’s short story ‘Eight O’Clock in the Morning’, but as a dark-comedy action sci-fi film it’s a bit of a mess – interesting more as a bucket list curiosity than a sit down and concentrate film. The special effects and acting are quite lame and the plot seems to serve the budget more than logic. That said, I enjoyed it a lot and some of the lines are classic, including – “I’ve come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass… and I’m all out of bubblegum.”

Message from the King (2016) by comparison is some serious stuff. No laughs here I’m afraid. The Netflix film is a dark story of revenge much in the same vein as Taken or John Wick, but harder than the former and less comic book that the latter. I guess if anything it’s more like The Equalizer remakes. The sadly departed Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther) plays Jacob King who comes over to America from South Africa looking for his sister.

It’s no great spoiler to say that his sister has been murdered and so King decides some vigilante justice needs to be meted out on those responsible. First he needs to find out who is responsible and this investigative part of the film feels a lot like an updated Raymond Chandler noir detective story. It’s a tightly directed, tightly written film with an unflinching edge of violence akin to Ryan Gosling’s Drive. Boseman is once again really great and it saddens me to think that there’s only so much of a back-catalogue to enjoy before we reach the untimely end of his work.

Magnum Dopus: The Making of Jay and Silent Bob Reboot (2020) is a feature length behind-the-scenes documentary stitching together previously unseen segments with those videos director Kevin Smith already posted on YouTube while they were in production of the ‘requel’ to Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back the only film Smith really has any real control over after failing to get sequels to Clerks and Mallrats sequels off the ground. I loved Reboot and you can read my fan-boy ramblings about that film in this post.

Instead of a trailer for the documentary, which doesn’t appear to exist at present, here’s a video from Kevin Smith on the making of Jay and Silent Bob Reboot:

Smith’s love for his family, cast and characters shines through in this documentary and it helps you appreciate what might have been called his ‘legacy’ if he had died of a heart attack before making this film. With the View Askewniverse he was there before Marvel in creating a cinematic universe and while in the UK he is still seen as ‘niche’ or even unknown as a filmmaker, I for one am very thankful that he was able to complete his Magnum Dopus.

The Show Must Go On: The Queen + Adam Lambert Story (2019) is a very well put together documentary about the symbiotic relationship between old rockers Brian May and Roger Taylor (the remains of Queen) and American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert. It does very well in being a sequel to Bohemian Rhapsody and for a rather grumbly Queen fan demonstrates very well why Lambert has every right to tour with Queen. Instead of a trailer for the documentary, which I can’t find, here’s a video of Queen and Adam Lambert live at The O2 in London performing the song ‘The Show Must Go On’::

One thing that’s obvious to me is that, unlike Paul Rodgers who did a stint of touring with Queen, Lambert is a brilliant vocalist and worthy of his place in front of the legendary rock band. He is a brilliant singer and has buckets of on-stage charisma – sound like anyone we knew? Queen is still such a money-making juggernaut that it’s no coincidence that the album Live Around the World landed around the same time on Spotify. I’m listening to it now and for once I’m pleased that it’s not money for old rope, and maybe one day I will forgive Queen for doing that god-awful We Will Rock You musical.

Gringo (2018) is a dark action-comedy about businessman Harold Soyinka (David Oyelowo) who finds himself in over his head and crossing the line from a law-abiding citizen to a criminal wanted by the FBI. That’s the gist of how the film is described elsewhere and to be honest I’m not sure what I was doing while I was watching this film, but I obviously wasn’t paying it much attention because I really can’t remember much about it at all, apart from that it obviously stars Charlize Theron as one of the corrupt bosses of a pharma company illegally producing drugs in Mexico.

I vaguely recall Theron being very good in this. When is she not? And it was interesting to see Joel Edgerton in a comedy role too. Apart from that I don’t have a whole lot to say about it. I think I enjoyed it. At least more than…

X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019) is a film which I felt I should have been made a long time ago and I had to watch it because, for my pains, I’ve watched all the previous X-Men films and found Jean Grey to be one of the more intriguing characters. Like X-Men Apocalypse, I expected Dark Phoenix to be quite lame because (and I feel bad about this, but I’m going to say it anyway even though, believe it or not, I don’t like being mean) I think they chose the wrong leading actor to play Jean Grey. That’s not because I have any particular attachment to Famke Janssen in the original films, but more because of all the actors in Game of Thrones I thought Sophie Turner was among the most wooden. There I said it.

Despite James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence’s best efforts, the film was even more disappointing than I expected. Hopefully there won’t be another X-Men film in this studio franchise and Marvel will bring them into whatever phase of the MCU we’re in now and give us something more akin to the first couple of films which I enjoyed immensely, but then perhaps because back then superhero films were thin on the ground.

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