The Round-Up #16 - June 23
I hope you're enjoying the sunshine everyone! Summer is about to go full tilt at us in the northern hemisphere, which means blockbusters (nods sagely at Tom Cruise). This month has been quite busy and we've added a 'shorts' round up for films that didn't quite (or got nowhere near) feature length run times. There are some pearls in there, so go and have a look. Most of them you can find for free online. Although it was squeaky bum close this month, our most played song is below, which is ironic, when you think about it. Anyway Buffs, keep the factor 50 on and we'll see you at the end of July. :)
Robots (2023) - Jack Whitehall's continued assault to win over Hollywood comes across as little more than an unsophisticated come-on from a convicted sex pest.
Written badly and performed by the numbers, this is not remotely worth your time and Whitehall is clearly going to struggle if this is the standard he hopes will win the favour of Hollywood.
Reality (2023) - Whilst a small amount of knowledge of events certainly helps, it isn't truly necessary to get the most out of this story of a young woman's surprise visit to her home from a group of FBI agents with a warrant to search her home, her car and herself.
All of what you need to get your head around this unlikely event becomes clear throughout the interview, which was recorded in reality and then regurgitated verbatim here for all of us. Sydney Sweeney gives a great performance as the whistle-blower refusing to be scared into silence.
Blackberry (2023) - The rise and fall of Blackberry doesn't really have a lot going for it, purely on the face of it. Most decent tech biographies are usually a little more, well, current. Few deal with the entrails of a long-dead corpse. Still, this rags to riches and back again is well delivered and Matt Johnson does a good job with what may not be immediately enticing. Granted, it's not exactly sexy-time and Jay Baruchel is still too young to be so old, but credit to him for trying,
One Ranger (2023) - By the numbers thriller starring Thomas Jane as the titular Texas Ranger, tasked with catching an Irish terrorist and travelling, ten-gallon hat and all, to the UK to do so. Curious only for its fish out of water premise, the script is not up to much and the performances are mostly dreadful everywhere. Horribly generic and uninventive, this will engage intermittently for a while, but you're likely to forget you've even watched it in no time.
Transfusion (2023) - Slow-burn drama more than thriller, but still employs some action elements, but this is more poignant character study with a tidy moral than bullet and bloodfest. Sam Worthington plays an Aussie Ex-SAS back on civvy street after being shot on duty and raising his son alone after the accidental death of his pregnant wife. Some decent performances make the laborious plotting bearable, which jumps about all over the place at times, but still none too shabby, despite that.
Sisu (2022) - "Get off my laaaand!!!"
Wolfenstein's Grandpa finds some gold in Lapland near the end of the war he has nothing to do with or interest in and the Nazi's try to pinch it off him, but get much more than they bargained for. Gritty, barren and not the least bit friendly, it's probably not for everyone, but the portrayal is cinematically displayed very effectively here.
Fast X (2023) - Having not clapped eyes on even one of the previous (I assume) nine movies that came before, I wasn't holding out much hope for getting my head around this. And I didn't, of course, but it wasn't maybe as confusing as I'd imagined. I audibly sighed disappointedly when I saw Brie Larson, but guessed that for every sunny day, you occasionally have to put up with the rain. Jason Momoa was the reason for watching and he didn't disappoint once. Awful movie, lots of bangs and whistles, a bit like getting a Big Mac on McDelivery only to find there was no secret sauce on it and the fries were cold and floppy.
97 Minutes (2023) - Not sure exactly where the seven million-dollar budget went, but the end titles were pretty. Long gone are the true greats of disaster movies, like in the seventies when it was a genuine lottery if the plane even got off the ground, but this is a bit of a meandering mess, all told. Largely dreadful performances and horrible scripting, all neatly wrapped up by having cinematic pariah Alec Baldwin in one of the main roles.
Master Gardener (2023) - From the same man that brought you the Taxi Driver script and yet also the absurd Exorcist prequel, Paul Schrader, comes another angsty, navel-gazing male, Narvel Roth, played adequately here by Joel Edgerton, who works for Sigourney Weaver (excellent) in her Garden estate. Like many of Schrader's characters, there is a complicated backstory involved which he takes his own sweet time getting around to, which becomes even more complicated when Maya (Quintessa Swindell), the mixed-race grand-niece turns up and Narvel is forced to babysit the feisty young woman who strayed to the wrong side of the tracks.
Fear The Invisible Man (2023) - Yep, another version of the HG Wells story, this lower-budget, action-lite bash by Paul Dudbridge is far removed from previous efforts, which many have been drawn to. The story is horrifying by its existence. How grim any adaptation these days becomes is largely down to intention. The performances are fine, as is the Direction, even if originality is wanting and the plotting and script uneventfully predictable.
Extraction 2 (2023) - Give the people what they want. This appears to be an overarching philosophy at Netflix and it makes perfectly legitimate common sense, assuming you know what the people want. So the fact that they spent the money on this would suggest that the last one generated enough revenue for them to bother. Unsurprisingly, this is much of the same, Chris Hemsworth as Tyler Rake, globetrotting on this occasion to Eastern Europe to save damsel and fight the baddies. Plenty of action and stuff blowing up, but really, this no more memorable than the first.
Solaris (1972) - I've watched the Soderbergh version a dozen times and this version only once, for the purposes of curiosity more than anything else and have to say that I probably won't sit through this version again. I can feel Tarkovsky fanboys turning in their graves and cinephiles everywhere spitting out their iced tea in apoplectic ire at the very thought of such a conclusion, but yes it's true. I was bored and had to have two goes at getting from beginning to end.
That isn't to say that Soderbergh's version is exactly a thrill a minute, but honestly, if I hadn't seen that first and loved it, then this may have been a more riveting experience, even if it did come with a free reminder of why Stanley Kubrick was so revered. One for the purists certainly, and required viewing if you want to be able to lock horns with your peers, I imagine, without being scoffed at for your implied ignorance.