The Round-Up #14 (Apr 23)
Well I don't know about you, but April was a looonnng month, but it ended on a great high personally. It feels like more than six months since I watched a few of these by now. Bank Holiday tomorrow and the Monday after which should allow for time for some fixated cinema glaring. Song of the month by repeat this month is this little earworm from Zara Larsson. See you all at the end of May Buffs, have a great month. I suspect I might too :)
Tree in a Test Tube (1942) - The only Laurel & Hardy short in colour, this was a ten minute propaganda flick about the benefits of wood in wartime, filmed on their lunchbreak, believe it or not. If not for these two stars, this would have disappeared, never to be seen again. Not remotely funny and a real oddity.
The Price We Pay (2022) - Having seen Barbarian do it much better, this was never going to fare so well. I can see why Dorff is involved but Emile Hirsch is slumming it here for some reason. After a pawn shop robbery goes awry, thieves and hostage are forced to hideout in a local ranch. Fair to say they should have gone anywhere else, as thing go from bad to worse. The acting isn't awful but the plot is thin and the gore, whilst not hardcore, is more visceral than it really needs to be, in the circumstances. Forgettable nonsense all round, really.
Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile (2022) - Watched this for the sole reason that it was sitting in my Inbox untouched as the day it arrived. Completionist that I can sometimes be, I just had to get rid of it, which meant watching it first. So here we are. Whilst it must be said that there is an inarguable joy lurking throughout and even a foot-tapping tune or two, this is formulaic, generic stuff. Yes, it's family friendly and suitable for all, but cheesy and too sweet for me. It failed the five-laugh test quite spectacularly too.
Sharper (2023) - Arguably more complicated than it needed to be, but still highly engaging nonetheless. A story in four parts from different perspectives is cleverly done without giving too much away about events until we get to near the end. Slick is being kind to it, but its not far away and those you expect to perform the best actually do, with Sebastian Stan being my particular favourite performance, once I realised what was going on. Definitely worth a viewing, but you might be tempted to watch it twice, just to make sure you didn't miss anything.
The Lost King (2022) - Not quite David and Goliath but it could have been. Ultimately, this is a poignant and well performed tale of the exhumation of Richard III, after being discovered buried in a car park in Leicester of all places. Not funny enough to guess this was co-written by Steve Coogan, who also features onscreen, but is clearly second fiddle to Sally Hawkins' portrayal of enthusiastic amateur historian Philippa Langley, the woman largely responsible for the discovery of the previously lost Royal corpse. Nice pacing and decent acting from all with a plot, inspired by real events, that pits a woman against many official obstacles to get the job done. You go Sister!
Magic Mike's Last Dance (2023) - Lacklustre performances from all concerned, save for Mike, who does as good as he can with what Soderbergh throws at him, but this is more death throe than last dance, lacking any of the steam of its predecessors. Mike flies off to London after getting Salma Hayek all of a dribbling bluster, to create one last performance as Director rather than performer. God-awful character development, unbelievable plot and closure that just doesn't convince anyone, this does entertain in places, but thirsty fan girls (and boys) should not get their hopes up.
The Pope's Exorcist (2023) - When Julia explains to Amy that the only thing her father left to them was this MASSIVE FUCK OFF SPANISH CASTLE, but nothing else, like a bob or two, I actually chuckled out loud. Convenient plot point is convenient.
Entertaining certainly, but not actually any good. This may have been the first time I've watched a movie about possession when the victim really throws their paranormal weight around with real venom, so kudos for that much.
Mummies (2022) - Perfectly engaging for the kids, some nice voice acting from the English cast and the odd catchy tune make this bearable for adults too. A simple love story starring three Mummies of sorts that live in the present day but in a subterranean underworld, forced to travel to London to retrieve a stolen ring. A smidge under ninety minutes means a welcomed but not exhaustive relief from the Easter weekend chaos.
Supercell (2023) - This started out quite promisingly. I got Contact vibes as Dad dies early and the son grows up to be just like his father, chasing tornados, as if by some kind of need, much to the distress of his once far more active and adventurous mother. Unfortunately, wind doesn't carry the same kind of fascination as aliens in my book and I was quickly bored by the chase.
After Masks (2021) - Not great anthology series of shorts regarding and filmed during the height of COVID. Most of the acting in the shorts is pretty dreadful if we're honest, but nice to see a brief cameo from Matt Rife in the first offering, though blink and you'll miss him. Often dull as dishwater and occasionally painful, but not in a good way. Two years since release and this is still an oddity, judging by my peers total lack of interest. Hasn't aged that well already and not the flag-bearer it wanted to be.
The House on Mansfield Street (2018) - Short and unobjectionable really, given its type and budget. Man documents his move from London to Nottingham on a number of cameras which track his movements in his first days at the new property. Things go bump in the night of course, following a very predictable plot, retaining that morbid paranormal activity curiosity. The performances (of which there aren't many) are what stops me becoming immediately dismissive of the whole thing, as our lead is likeable, despite monumental levels of stupidity. Shoestring horror, you get what you pay for.
Acidman (2023) - Every time I see him I wish Thomas Haden Church had been my Dad. And that's no different here, though this version would have been more of a challenge than most. A beautifully told story of the reconnection of Father and Daughter after an extended estrangement in his ramshackle existence in the back garden of 'holy shit, what is this place?' At times, it's a little too perambulatory but lovely cinematography, great plotting, fantastic characterisation and acting from both leads make this an under-the-radar treat.
The Seven Faces of Jane (2022) - Eight short films around Jane, starring Gillian Jacobs, a single mother thrown into experiences of comedy, tragedy, romance and crisis. Not honestly sure that this worked so well. Imagine the old game of drawing a body part on a piece of paper and folding it over so it can't be seen, and passing it to the next person to draw the next bit, and so on...?
Well this is just like that, with each short following on from the next, seeing where it lands. Normally it just ends up looking a bit, well, random. Experimental and a little obscure.