Eternals (Chloé Zhao, 2021)
Spider-Man: No Way Home (Jon Watts, 2021)
The Eyes of Tammy Bakker (Michael Showalter, 2021)
I’ve general felt the non-central Marvel adaptations were the best – or I liked a couple of the previous Spider-Man movies and the first Guardians of the Galaxy – but my patience in running short.
Eternals – which should be called Eternity – features a bunch of protecting the Earth superheroes who we haven’t previously been told about and some big bads which haven’t gone extinct after all. There’s some nice local colour of Camden Lock and they seem to have confused the Natural History Museum with the British Museum is Bleeding Obvious Sequel Easter Egg. One of the Eternals might be a baddy or not. You might even care. There’s some nice diversity, but I’d rather see Nomadland again.
Meanwhile, the third in a franchise often features the hero as the enemy – Superman vs. his Doppelganger and so on – but this Spider-Man goes the Three Doctors route. Peter Parker (Tom Holland) has been framed for murder and mayhem and decides that Dr Strange (Bongodrums Candypatch) can cast a spell to make every one forget his secret identity, so he can get into college. The spell goes wrong and ends up summoning Alfred Molina from career doldrums from a different universe. Then other big bads and then Spider-Man (Tobey Maguire) and Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield) show up. There’s a neat in-joke about Spider-Maguire’s bad back and he’s the last to done the suit – I thought he might have refused to wear it – and Garfield is as interesting as he always is. The moral and parable is as pointed as the rest of the re-reboot series and you can’t help but feel the whole film is a trailer for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
Garfield is much better, however, in The Eyes of Tammy Faye, although it feels as if Jim Carey has been cast as Prior Walter. By coincidence, an episode of Jon Ronson’s Things Fall Apart featured an episode with Steven Pieters, a gay minister living with HIV, whom Tammy Faye had featured on one of her televangelism shows and who is portrayed her, possibly a little anachronistically in the rise and fall of two of the most significant television preachers. Tammy Faye (Jessica Chastain) is a bundle of energy, seemingly always performing, wanting to spread the Word and sceptical of the patriarchal and homophobic philosophy of the flavours of Christianity around her, whilst being quite happy to embrace the trappings of wealth. These trappings are fraudulently taken – and the film is never quite clear how much she knows this. It plays her religion straight, although it might have been a reason to be accepted. Chastain is in every scene, if not every shot, and it is an Oscar worthy performance. We can’t quite follow through a suspicion that her husband is a closeted gay, but we do get to see that other preachers are using the Bakkers’ fall for their own ends. At times, it feels as if it could have been another GoodFellas, but Scorsese would have fetishized the period detail.