Category Archives: Movies

Princess Bride

The Princess Bride is a 1987 American fantasy adventure comedy film directed and co-produced by Rob Reiner, starring Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin, Chris Sarandon, Wallace Shawn, André the Giant, and Christopher Guest.

Adapted by William Goldman from his 1973 novel The Princess Bride, it tells the story of a farmhand named Westley, accompanied by companions befriended along the way, who must rescue his true love Princess Buttercup from the odious Prince Humperdinck.

I’m sure I saw this on film when it was originally released, but have not seen it since. I did read the book in 2010 for the Sword and Laser podcast. But I didn’t think much of it. Mainly because the framing story of the Boy and his Grandfather was expanded in the novel and just detracted from the main fantasy story.

The film shows it’s age for a fantasy. Everything is perfectly lit and clean, unlike the modern grittier styles. The witty dialogue remains and this would be the main reason the film is so popular.

The other noticeable thing is the age of the main characters. Robin Wright was 21 and Cary Elwes 26 when they made this. They just seem too old for the characters they play. Nowadays they would have chosen teenagers. My favorite character was Wallace Shawn as  Vizzik, a rouge, thief, and professional liar. He is marvelously evil.

 

 

 

T6

Terminator: Dark Fate is directed by Tim Miller, with a screenplay from a story by James Cameron. It is the sixth installment in the Terminator franchise and the direct sequel to The Terminator (1984) and Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991).

This is a retread of the second film. Again, a killer Terminator time travels back to kill and again another (this time partially human) is sent back to protect.

As a lot of reviewers have complained about, the story undermines everything achieved in the second film. John Connor is killed, and we are now in a new timeline. But it’s the old timeline as the Terminators are the same. Confused ?, probably. There isn’t much that make sense here. And when it comes to liquid Terminators, someone should try separating the liquid so that when it reforms, there is less mass to the Terminator.

Such complaints don’t really matter. As an action Sci-Fi movie it works. There are fights, car chases and the third act just goes on and on… when (and how) are they going to kill the thing !

Some people have very specific problems….

The Post

The Post is a 2017 American historical political thriller film directed and produced by Steven Spielberg, and written by Liz Hannah and Josh Singer.

It stars Meryl Streep as Katharine Graham, the first female publisher of a major American newspaper, and Tom Hanks as Ben Bradlee, the executive editor of The Washington Post, with Sarah Paulson, Bob Odenkirk, Tracy Letts, Bradley Whitford, David Cross, Bruce Greenwood, Carrie Coon, Alison Brie, and Matthew Rhys in supporting roles.

Set in 1971, The Post depicts the true story of attempts by journalists at The Washington Post to publish the Pentagon Papers, classified documents regarding the 20 year involvement of the United States government in the Vietnam War.


Another ‘important’ film to remind Americans about their heritage and the importance of the separation between the Government and the Press.

 

Dark Hour

Darkest Hour is a 2017 war drama film directed by Joe Wright and written by Anthony McCarten.

Set in May 1940, it stars Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill and is an account of his early days as Prime Minister during World War II and the May 1940 War Cabinet Crisis, while Nazi Germany’s Wehrmacht swept across Western Europe and threatened to defeat the United Kingdom.

The German advance leads to friction at the highest levels of government between those who would make a peace treaty with Adolf Hitler, and Churchill, who refused. The film also stars Kristin Scott Thomas, Lily James, Ben Mendelsohn, Stephen Dillane, and Ronald Pickup.


Watched this because of the Mark Kermode review…

and me wondering about the ‘Train Scene’. Yes, it is a bit on the nose and unnecessary. But Oldman does immerse himself in the role (and makeup) to deliver a convincing performance.

 

Okja

Okja is a 2017 South Korean and American action-adventure film about a girl who raises a genetically modified superpig.

Directed by Bong Joon-ho, the film stars an ensemble cast headed by South Korean child actress Ahn Seo-hyun, with  Byun Hee-bong, Yoon Je-moon, and Choi Woo-shik.

Also Hollywood actors Tilda Swinton (in a dual role), Paul Dano, Steven Yeun, Lily Collins, Shirley Henderson, Daniel Henshall, Devon Bostick, Giancarlo Esposito, and Jake Gyllenhaal.

The film competed for the Palme d’Or in the main competition section at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival. It was released on Netflix on June 28, 2017.


This is a satirical film about the food industry, capitalism and vegetarianism. While some may claim it as having an agenda, it manages to balance all the advocates in the film out. Mainly by making them do stupid things and act like stereotypes.

My interpretation would be that it is about our relationship to animals. The Okja character is a large cute animal about the size of a hippopotamus or large cow. While it has been read as a food source, an early scene establishes that it has intelligence. More importantly, it has many characteristics of a dog, especially in behavior and the way it moves.

We don’t eat Dogs.
We do eat Cows.

So what is Okja ?
Clearly the girl who raised it sees Okja as a pet, but the Industry that created it by genetic modification sees it as just a dumb animal.

 

 

 

Colossal

Colossal is a 2016 science fiction black comedy film directed and written by Nacho Vigalondo.

The film stars Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis, Dan Stevens, Austin Stowell, and Tim Blake Nelson, telling a story about Gloria, an unemployed young writer played by Hathaway, who is unwittingly causing a giant monster to wreak havoc halfway across the world.


Well, this has got to be one of the strangest movies I have seen.
It’s a strange mixture of Kaiju and romantic comedy. The monster appears to be a projection of the character’s destructive effects due to alcoholism.

I watched it only because it appeared  on Netflix and I remembered Mark Kermode’s review of the film.

Earth Wanders

The Wandering Earth a 2019 Chinese science fiction film directed by Frant Gwo, loosely based on the 2000 novella of the same name by multi-award-winning author Liu Cixin.

The story follows a group of astronauts and rescue workers guiding the Earth away from an expanding Sun, while attempting to prevent a collision with Jupiter.

The film was theatrically released in China on 5 February 2019 (Chinese New Year’s Day) and released on Netflix with English dubbed dialogue.


It could have been called ‘The Chinese do Armageddon

This is a movie on an epic (solar system spanning) scale of adventure, action, drama with a little science fiction thrown in.

The premise in intriguing, the execution an example of special effects and mind-bogglingly stupid actions by major characters. You have to credit the director for sticking to his vision.

It’s the Chinese film industry trying to outdo Hollywood, and they succeed.

Watch with popcorn and don’t expect much, apart from a spectacle of CGI.

Laundromat

The Laundromat is a 2019 American biographical comedy-drama film directed by Steven Soderbergh, with a screenplay by Scott Z. Burns. Available on Netflix.

It stars Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman, Antonio Banderas, Jeffrey Wright, David Schwimmer, Matthias Schoenaerts, James Cromwell, and Sharon Stone.

The film follows Ellen Martin (Streep), whose dream vacation takes a wrong turn and leads her down a rabbit hole of shady dealings that can all be traced to one Panama City law firm, run by financially seductive partners Jürgen Mossack (Oldman) and Ramón Fonseca (Banderas).

She soon learns that her minor predicament is only a drop in the bucket of millions of files linking off-shore drug trafficking, tax evasion, bribery etc.

The film is based on the Panama Papers leak of 2016.

The main criticism is that it is unfocused and meandering. It just links smaller stories together. The best parts feature Oldman and Banderas as amoral money men.

The ending with the Streep forth wall breaking lecture I could have done without.

 

Ad Astra

Ad astra is a Latin phrase meaning “to the stars”

Ad Astra is also an American science fiction adventure film produced, co-written, and directed by James Gray. Starring Brad Pitt, Tommy Lee Jones, Ruth Negga, Liv Tyler, and Donald Sutherland, it follows an astronaut who goes into space in search of his lost father, whose experiment threatens the Solar System.

This film looks beautiful. The marketing indicates that it is a realistic depiction of space, it probably is (never been there myself). That’s the good stuff. Unfortunately it’s very boring. The story is drawn out with overly long shots of characters walking, looking and standing around.

It also owes a lot to other films, notable 2001 A Space Odyssey and Gravity. And, as Mark Kermode points out, Event Horizon (1997).

Dark Crystal 1982

The Dark Crystal is a 1982 puppet animated dark fantasy adventure film directed by Jim Henson and Frank Oz. It stars the voices of Stephen Garlick, Lisa Maxwell, Billie Whitelaw, Percy Edwards, and Barry Dennen.

The plot revolves around Jen, a Gelfling on a quest to restore balance to the world of Thra and overthrow the ruling Skeksis by restoring a powerful broken Crystal.


Having seen the prequel, I was interested in viewing the original (also in Netflix).

The first thing of note is the slower pace of this film. The story is simple: get the shard and take it to the crystal. There isn’t much deviation from the main plot. It all unfolds like an unveiling of a magical world. And in the final scene is becomes apparent why a sequel to the original would not have worked.

While not a bad movie, it is simpler in story and lighter in tone than the series.