Don’t Call Me …

Shirley (Josephine Decker,  2018)

The first rule of biopics is that they are not biographies of their subjects — in this case we have Shirley Jackson (1916-1965), best known for the inexplicably thought to be frightening “The Lottery” and the twice-filmed The Haunting of Hill House. She clearly had some issues with smoking and barbiturates and other meds and an unfaithful husband.

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Deception

Inception (Christopher Nolan, 2010)

Nolan is one of those directors who flatters his audiences into thinking they are intelligent — at least in the half of his output which tries to be thinky, rather than the superhero tosh which somehow gets away with have a Gotham City that is so male that Batman and one of the villains are dating the same woman.

Oh, and gotta kill those wives.

With the possible exception of The Prestige (which flattens its source material), it’s been downhill since Following and Memento. (I confess I’ve not seen Insomnia, as I suspect it is not in the same league as Erik Skjoldbjærg’s original.)

Part of me is happy to see Michael Caine in anything, but as with Bill Nighy and Tilda Swinton, sometimes I suffer for their art.

I had seen Inception before — on DVD — and, appropriately, I’d forgotten most of it, aside from the criminal underuse of Ellen Page. So, the big screen rerelease to drum up interest in Tenet seemed like a good reason to see it large. And inevitably, I have to talk about the ending. Continue reading →

Infrequent strong language, discrimination, moderate comic violence

An American Pickle (Brandon Tros, 2020)

So, this must be a first in certification terms: 12A because of discrimination.

Although, when you think about it, what might be balance is anti-Semitic. The sexism, on the other hand, is perhaps invisible. Continue reading →

Per Aspera

Ad Astra (James Gray, 2019)

This is a bit spoilery in some of its gestures.

You know that you are going to be in for a bumpy ride when the near future setting epigraph to a film crossfades from a line about humanity’s future lying in the stars to the title Ad Astra, in case we can’t translate the Latin. Then the film goes into voiceover, wannabe Blade Runner, but the point of a voiceover is surely to mess with the visuals not to mesh with them. There is no point in him telling us that he is looking for a door and then showing us a door — later he tells us that he feels that he in the dark, holding onto a rope, as he is in the dark, holding on to … well, you get the idea.

Trust the audience.
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The Dead Don’t Do Subtext

The Dead Don’t Die (Jim Jarmusch, 2019)

Jim Jarmusch is evidently one of those low budget indie auteur who both builds an ensemble around him and persuades A-List stars in search of artistic credibility to work for him (presumably for scale). A couple of years ago he cast the divine Tilda Swinton in a misjudged vampire film, Only Lovers Left Alive and now he shifts to the zombie film to pastiche.

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Peter Parker’s International Vacation

Jake Gyllenhaal has a strange look in his eyes for the first half hour — “I was nominated for a Oscar,” they say, “I used to do low budget quirky cult hits.” He’s a superhero from a parallel dimension, here to do battle with four Elementals that want to destroy this Earth as they destroy his. And it just so happens Water hits Venice when Peter Parker is on his school trip.

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Hey Ho, Van Gogh

At Eternity’s Gate (Julian Schnabel, 2018)

If you need to know — I didn’t know — At Eternity’s Gate is a late painting by Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh, of an old man with his head in his hands, based on earlier designs. Van Gogh didn’t get to be an old man, having (spoiler) shot himself in the stomach whilst not in a fit state. He is the poster boy for artist as mad, tortured genius, seller of a single painting in his life time and now worth millions per canvas.
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Impeccably Liberal

On the Basis of Sex (Mimi Leder, 2018)

This is the story of Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Felicity Jones) struggling at Harvard Law School because of discrimination against her even by those who admitted women to the university, struggling to get a job as a attorney or lawyer because she might get pregnant or make her colleagues’ wives jealous and then struggling to bring a sex discrimination case that could uncrack the whole canon of sex discriminatory laws. At one point Dorothy Kenyon (a cameo from Kathy Bates) tells her it will take a generation.
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