The Round-Up #13 (Mar 23)
So that was March. It flew by like a rat up an aqueduct (yes, it's a thing, just shut up) and the ending of a few seasons of tv greats is either gone or already upon us. I know this from the number of other movies I've managed to get through that haven't featured (see below) their own page and having also binged all nine seasons of How I Met Your Mother (again). It's always a major pleasure (the in-crowd will get it).
Time for the song of the month again. No surprise this month. It's been on repeat all month, practically. I'm in love with this! See you in May, Buffs :)
A Stitch In Time (1963) - Odd to think that this knocked 'From Russia With Love' off the top spot upon release. Norman Wisdom at arguably his best, feature-wise, playing hapless butcher's assistant to, yes, Mr Grimsdale. His boss ends up in hospital which makes for a sweet story of a little recently orphaned girl who needs to learn to smile again after the death of her parents. Cue hijinks and crossdressing tomfoolery that only the British could expect to get away with at the time. Aah the good old days.
The Importance of Being Earnest (1952) - Personally, my favourite adaptation of Oscar Wilde's story. Having enjoyed at least three screen versions (so far), nothing else quite captures the pomp and privilege required. Great performances from Michael Redgrave and Margaret Rutherford makes this an evergreen treat for cinema lovers everywhere.
The Million Pound Note (1954) - A wry look at both class divides and the differences between the British and Americans at the time. Gregory Peck spent too little time in the UK making movies in my humble opinion, proven here by his perfectly acceptable performance as Henry Adams, the penniless ne'er do well from Mark Twain's novel. Satirical without being too cutting, this is acceptable channel-hopping Sunday afternoon cinema fodder that won't offend anyone.
Missing (2023) - I was mighty curious to see what could be done with this idea that 'Searching' hadn't already done. And to be fair, what's offered is a different take on a now already familiar idea - entertainment by technology. Played out almost entirely on a computer screen, iphone or security camera, this twisty and often inventive story uses all of the tools at its disposal to develop an unsettling drama. I had great fun with it, and best of all, found a few new computer tips for myself while watching. Thrilling and useful. Can't say that every day.
Unwelcome (2022) - Respect the little people. Probably not what the Irish Tourist Board were rubbing their hands in anticipation at the release of. There's a good reason that there aren't more goblins in cinema. They shouldn't be this much bother and a swift launch with one boot should really sort out any problem. Suburban Londoners are bequeathed a cottage in Ireland by their dotty aunt and keen to get out of the capital, they jump at the chance. If only they knew that their troubles would become much more acute. Acting isn't bad at all, but it doesn't save the terrible story and ridiculous premise. Very silly, to be sure, to be sure.
Please Baby Please (2022) - Mostly tiresome and pretentious, if we're really honest. I also found this to be alarmingly familiar in places and the script was often inspired. The performances are as curious as they are often repellent and transparent, yet still convincing and obvious in a way we never normally see. Unapologetically stagey by design, Kramer's vision is a fever dream of wanton gender perfectionism and by its very nature, complicated and ungraspable. Sublime and ridiculous all at once.
65 (2023) - So alien Adam Driver crash lands on earth 65 million years ago only to be greeted by the Jurassic Park franchise. The exciting bits are exciting but the rest is a real drag. Lack of any real emotional or character depth, this is screaming our for some humour in what seems like an extremely formulaic project. Some decent CGI, but even the stabs at story are lost.
Cocaine Bear (2023) - Not as iconic as the trailer wants it to be, this is no 'Jaws' for furry woodland creatures. Elizabeth Banks (p.g.a. thankyou very much) does admirably with this half-truth tale of a black bear off its tits on cocaine that had dropped from an airplane onto its little patch of mountain. The eclectic bunch of locals are most often unceremoniously dispatched by Yogi, but in some quite inventive and often very funny ways. Banks has great form for comedy as we all know and puts it to great effect here, maybe a smidgen too graphic than we might expect, however. A bit too polished for B-movie ignominy, but fully and purposefully aiming in that direction.
The Mormons Are Coming (2023) - No coffee, no tea, no alcohol, no masturbating, no swimming, no movies? No chance. All of the those featured seem like lovely people, who think and believe in a completely different way than I understand, but I wish them all the best, even if it is from the other side of the road I have just crossed in order to avoid them.
Shazam: Fury of the Gods (2023) - So apparently I didn't imagine it. Annabelle did indeed make an appearance, after all. Well, it makes about as much sense as everything else here, if we're honest. Having thoroughly enjoyed the first film, one of only a handful of inarguable DC successes, both creatively and critically, in recent memory, this was as inevitable as it is superfluous. The most family-friendly thing you'll probably see this year, it is often funny as well as admirably presented, both cinematically and with enjoyable, if predictable, performances. Consistently entertaining throughout, just don't expect high art.
I Wanna Dance with Somebody (2022) - A colour-by-numbers, box-ticking exercise made for television and it shows. Lacking a certain amount of soul that it really needs and her biopic deserves. Whilst never a big fan, aside from the huge hits you just couldn't avoid, I wasn't personally invested and this whole experience left me mostly unmoved. Some decent performances from Ackie and Tucci make this worth sitting through nonetheless, but there is a palpable absence of magic.
You People (2023) - Offensive on almost every level. Concerned that this was probably on purpose. Dreadful characters with unrealistic development, an unbelievable story with a bloody awful script. It's like Netflix took a shit and threw it at the nearest wall. Shame, because the cast are better than this in every instance.
The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse (2022) - For a story about enduring hope and healing from tragedy, this is beautiful and inspiring stuff, universally meaningful, with delightful and simple, effective animation. It's probably a little trite for the naysayers, but catnip for the soul. As one that is still in that storm, it's nice to be reminded that too will pass.
Boston Strangler (2023) - Just how much trust are we supposed to put into the journalist that is so focused that she can't do her own job? Too long to keep up with the local news, apparently. On another note, just how long does it take to review a toaster? Inspired by the true story, this apparent exercise of entertainment in the form of female empowerment is admirable, if only displaying a taste for career progression over uncovering the truth, it would seem. Overlong, dull and sometimes painfully slow, Keira Knightley fails to really pull off the leading role convincingly, making this more of a trial than a thrill.
Slut (2014) - From Chloe Okuno's (Watchers) back catalogue. This twenty-one minute short has alot going for it, even nearly a decade later. A sixteen-year-old girl that wants to turn the boys' heads at the local roller-disco in Anytown, Texas gets more direct attention than she bargains for when she throws on some lippy and a pair of cut off jeans.
Murder Mystery 2 (2023) - Never saw the first one but got the general gist from the 'previously on' flashback at the beginning. All very Netflix really. Lots of money spent and some waning (sorry, let's be honest) stars after what is little more than a non-too-taxing payday. Knives Out it isn't, I'm afraid, lacking most of the class, but enjoys at least a couple of moments of genuine humour and great lines delivered mostly by Sandler. Mindless, unchallenging fun. Aniston still has great legs that won't quit, but she clearly knows that already, by the looks of the producing credits.
Tetris (2023) - Enjoyed this much more than I expected. To be fair, I wasn't hoping for much. "How are they going adapt Tetris for a movie audience?" I wondered. But this was something quite different and a great piece of entertaining shenanigans that I'm still baffled by, with all of the goings-on even afterwards. "So that's how Tetris ended up on my new Gameboy" was something I had never once wondered, but the story of how it got there was complicated, performed excellently and worth the watch.