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  • Writer's pictureSteve

The Round-Up #26 - April 2024

Updated: May 27

Hello there Buffs, hope you had as least as satisfactory an April as mine was. I feel like I haven't got through as much stuff this month for one reason or another, but I think I've hit most of the big hitters of any real worth (and some that are most definitely not). In May I'm starting Sugar, Apple's first season starring Colin Farrell, and the second Season of MGM's Beacon 23, which has come around all too quickly for comfort. Earwigging this month is this annoyingly catchy number from Dasha, which apparently the whole of the internet is dancing to. Anyway, enjoy, and I'll see you next month. Lots and lots of love and slop, Steve xxx

These Final Hours (2013)****

A young Angourie Rice stars alongside Nathan Philips in this end-of-the-world apocalypse drama on the day global obliteration comes-a-calling to Perth. Pitched very firmly in the "what would you do?" scenario, Director Zak Hilditch focuses his attention on these two characters thrown together by tragic and often brutal circumstances. As you can imagine, there isn't bags of laughs to be had, but the performances are very strong and the direction measured to provide the human story instead of the unavoidable impending fate. An altogether accomplished piece of work that never got the attention it deserved at the time.

Good Time (2017)****

There is alot of testosterone enthusiastically fist-punching its way through the crowd to be absolutely sure its voice is heard in regard to Good Time. Whilst this is very good for several reasons, I wonder if opinion is fully rounded, based on all of the available options.

It is a grim rollercoaster indeed that the Safdie's are presenting us, a story of family, desperation and self-imposed tragedy that is borne from every bad decision that Connie (Pattinson) makes. Great performances and a powerful script, even if our leads are improvising most of the time, go a long way to give the authenticity demanded by its savvy audience. Hold your breath for an hour and forty and let the chaos reign.

Scoop (2024)***

Given that this is the re-telling of a well-known event, where plaudits were hurled at Newsnight and particularly Emily Maitliss (still waiting on that Facebook friend request to be approved, Emily), it seems odd to concentrate on Sam McAllister, played by Billie Piper. When asked why they felt the need to tell this story, still fresh and agog in the memory, we were told, with a straight face, that they wanted to tell the story of the process of getting to that sit down in Buckingham Palace in the first place. This is sleek, very well made and delivered, even if the argument about its existence is still yet to be proven. Anderson has the trickiest job, and comes out of it, if not smelling entirely of roses, there is certainly a whiff of them.

The Standoff at Sparrow Creek (2018)***

Half decent pearl that passed me by completely the first time around. If the writing was better, I'd be harping on about how similar it is to another slow-burn, multi-handed theatrical thriller from Tarantino, which could easily find itself on a stage rather than a screen. This doesn't mean it was bad, only that Tarantino is better at this type of thing. Strong performances pretty much throughout keep it real and the tension is maintained despite the verbal to and fro which takes up most of the runtime. It makes you pay attention, as you really want to see the outcome. Worth a watch, certainly, but once will be enough, I'd wager.

Shattered Glass (2003)**.5

Okay, it's not All The Presidents Men, but I enjoyed this more than I thought I would. The story of Stephen Glass, a likeable writer for The New Republic magazine and his eventual unravelling, caught out fabricating stories to further his career. Like I say, not Watergate or anything like it, but more an interesting study of one man, delivered better than expected by Hayden Christensen between Episodes II and III of Star Wars, who I have never been a real fan of. He had some great support too, with the likes of Hank Azaria, Rosario Dawson, Steve Zahn, Peter Sarsgaard and Chloë Sevigny, which he really benefitted from. Not as hard-boiled as I would have liked or as the story deserved, but worth a watch on streaming.

Housebound (2014)**.5

More darkly comical than horrible, Housebound did make me laugh at the right times (she really does pee inordinately loudly, doesn't she? My ex-wife would have baulked at the power of her pelvic floor, however) but then fell at the horror elements, with a cliched plot and a lack of tension you wouldn't really expect from Gerard Johnstone (M3GAN), though we could excuse it as still finding his feet. Decent performances and a simple quippy script keep it entertaining, but given this was a recommendation, I was honestly expecting better than average.

Sleeping Dogs (2024)**.5

Fairly affable dark thriller that is really beneath the talent that turned for up for it. Australia's richest Leeds United fan continues to make some ecletic role choices, choosing this time to represent an ex-cop with dementia chasing up a worn out murder case believed to be closed, as the allegedly guilty party is about to be executed. As you can imagine, everything is not as it seems. Performances are strong but the exposition is tiresome at times and it lacks real tension, but I'm guessing, again, that this is not the Russell Crowe you've been looking for.

Miller's Girl (2024)**

Ortega really needs to get over herself, along with the casting department that would imagine her anything other than a pretty face. But muse, she ain't. An often told tale of the weaknesses of the middle-aged heterosexual male when confronted with a pretty young thing and the foolishness that goes through her largely empty head, despite her 4.6 average. Still, you only really have to be sixteen to count as 'a woman scorned' and there is nothing we like less than a pouty teenager that doesn't get their own way, even if all common-sense suggests that it isn't good for them. Freeman is great but he's wasted on this pile of tosh.

The Listener (2022)*.5

What was the point of this? A day in the life of a therapist (not sure she is qualified or not) during COVID who can't leave the house, but still needs the money to pay the bills (not a volunteer then)? I have often wondered what motivates these people that sit dutifully on the end of the line, listening to others air the hopes, fears, grievances, secrets etc, just what prompts this seemingly altruistic behaviour or their holier than thou attitude to taking the call in the first place. An odd project with no reason for being in my opinion, performed admirably by the whole cast (including the voices). If there was a message, however, I'm afraid I missed it.

My Sex Doll (2020)*

My goodness, how on earth did we end up here? Thai sex comedy is not a genre I am familiar with, honest. Not quite porn enough to avoid telling your mother about, but saying that, you probably wouldn't recommend it to her either. It has the odd stab at being funny but falls mostly flat in its simplicity, but this is largely lost in translation beyond young pretty things being young and pretty in various alluring outfits. Genuinely pointless nonsense really with the occasional overtly misogynistic guilty snigger. Now, please fart lightly as you leave. Lars & The Real Girl it definitely isn't.

Kung Fu Panda 4 (2024)**

The speed of this review following the release tells you more about my feelings for the franchise in general than the quality of the film. I was in no hurry, essentially, and after seeing it, this reason was proven perfectly justified. Dreamworks have crafted (yet again) a beautiful piece of work which simply doesn't stack up against the films that came before it. This is the most sanitised episode so far, with an obvious and twee script bolted onto an unimaginative narrative. It's all very, y'know, meh. Unchallenging but handy to the keep the kids entertained with the action sequences and pretty colours, but this is wearing thin these days.


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