How’s tricks? Apologies for being away for so long without a post. It’s just I’ve been busy helping Siggy gardening, away with work to Norway (my first trip in 3 years) and distracted by the new Lego Star Wars game that finally came out in April. I’ve also been watching more TV shows than films recently, so there’s only a modest haul from April 2022 to write about here.
West Side Story (2021) is by far the best of the films listed on this post. You’d expect quality from Steven Spielberg and he does not disappoint – mixing subtle SFX, quality cinematography and framing, glorious musical set pieces with a classic musical theatre take on Romeo and Juliet. Siggy and I were both surprised how many songs we knew from the musical without ever having seen any other version of it but this. Having nothing to compare it to obviously helped the experience – we were West Side virgins. Finger-clicking good.
Death on the Nile (2022), also available on Disney+, has a strong cast but does nothing to elevate this Agatha Christie tale which sees Kenneth Branagh reprise the role of Hercule Poirot who he played in the equally iffy Murder on the Orient Express. Again, I’ve not read the book or seen previous on-screen versions, but it wasn’t difficult to sus out whodunnit and once I’d done that I spent the rest of the time tutting at the lame-ass SFX.
American Psycho (2000) is a movie I’ve seen at least once before and cemented in my mind what a great actor Christian Bale is. The novel by Bret Easton Ellis is one of those bucket list books I just can’t get around to reading; and I hear it is a real marmite read since Patrick Bateman is such an unlikeable character and the psychotic antics described within it’s pages far surpass the horror in the movie adaptation. I love the ambiguity of the story and it’s a great example of that niche genre I like so much – the unreliable narrator.
Roman J. Israel, Esq. (2017) contains another great performance by Denzel Washington as a back-room lawyer forced by the illness of his partner to take centre stage in the courts. He also has to struggle with fitting in to a judicial system that seems weighted heavily against seeking fair hearings and sentences for many defendants. As a character piece and examination of a broken system it’s a really nice film.
Battle of the Sexes (2017) is a fun retelling of the events around the tennis match between World #1 women’s tennis champion and feminist icon Billie Jean King and ex- men’s champion and unashamed showman Bobby Riggs in 1973. Emma Stone and Steve Carell are great in the lead roles and while I was left wondering how true to the facts it was, it’s a good feel good sports film. It had a bit of a Bohemian Rhapsody vibe to it, perhaps because of its biopic nature.
The Kitchen (2019) is an adaptation of a Vertigo comic, but don’t expect any superheroes in capes or masked vigilantes to come powering across your screen. Instead, this is a 1970s tale of three women married to the Irish mob who take control of the criminal business when their husbands are locked up. It’s an entertaining movie as far as it goes, but I thought the ending was a little flat and the whole premise a little flimsy based on what I know of documentaries about organised crime in New York, Chicago and Boston in that period.
Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish and especially Elisabeth Moss are great as the trio of ambitious women and Domhnall Gleeson is particularly good in his small role as a mob hitman who falls in love with Moss’s character and teaches her to be a bad-ass.