Carroll Shelby and Ken Miles collaborate on a car to take on Ferrari for Ford at Le Mans. Old-fashioned, well-made and undeniably stirring, this is nevertheless a conventional sports drama that can’t quite convince in its attempt to tell an underdog story. Still, it’s fun, has a great if showy Christian Bale performance, and is blokey as hell.
Month: March 2020
Knives Out (2019, dir. Rian Johnson)
A famed mystery writer is killed; an unconventional detective arrives. Sharp, witty and well-constructed comedy-thriller, a love letter to Agatha Christie and to the likes of Deathtrap and Sleuth. Bags of fun, with a game cast of character actors all enjoying themselves. Recommended.
Color Out of Space (2019, dir. Richard Stanley)
A meteorite causes hallucinations and mutations to spread across a New England farm. Well-made adaptation of the HP Lovecraft short story. A slow burn that earns its weirdness well, accumulating details carefully, and playing properly with madness. Played commendably straight, though with many subtle genre nods for horror fans.
The Thing (2011, dir. Matthijs van Heijningen Jr)
Members of a Norwegian Antarctic research base find an alien specimen. Prequel/remake of the 1982 John Carpenter-directed movie. Okay as far as it goes, but perfunctory plotting and reliance on CG over practical effects mean this doesn’t really compare, despite good efforts from the cast.
Another viewpoint wanted? We got you.
Feats First: The Life and Music of Lowell George (2015, dir. Eliot Riddle)
A documentary exploration of the life and music of Little Feat frontman Lowell George. Overlong and reverent but still engrossing overview of the career and life of George, linking him and Little Feat to the LA of the 60s and 70s. Niche, inevitably, but well-researched and with plenty of input from the likes of Van Dyke Parks.
Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor (2013, dir. Nick Hurran)
The Tenth and Eleventh Doctors face their past, personified. Splendid movie-length episode made in 3D and cinema-released to celebrate the show’s 50th anniversary. A witty time-travel adventure typical of its then-showrunner, made with both love and a keen sense of the show’s heritage. Recommended.
Frozen II (2019, dir. Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee)
Elsa and Anna have to leave Arendelle to find out the secret of Elsa’s powers and their family history. Overly-complicated sequel with OK though derivative songs, and reliance on goodwill from Part I to see things through. Some good moments, but second time around, this is no classic.
Doctor Sleep (2019, dir. Mike Flanagan)
Danny Torrance, now an adult, is compelled to help a teenage girl hunted by a vampiric clan. Episodic but smart balancing of the Stephen King novel, its predecessor and the Kubrick movie, in a 2001/2010 style. Few concessions to newbies, but this is clever, respectful filmmaking with great performances and nods to Near Dark along the way.
Zombieland: Double Tap (2019, dir. Ruben Fleischer)
Ten years after the events of Zombieland; tensions split the group, but new threats emerge. Horror-comedy z-sequel that offers pretty much the same as before, though with inevitably diminished returns. Fine for those who liked the first one, though there’s little here for anyone else.
VFW (2020, dir. Joe Begos)
A group of veterans defend their bar from a violent drug gang. Gory, well-cast homage to early John Carpenter flicks (and by extension Rio Bravo). A game cast have fun, everyone’s in on the joke, and it’s good to see these vets have meaty roles. Doesn’t overstay its welcome, neither.