My notes include things like “Ives leads red team splinter group to recover algorithm,” which didn’t even make sense at the time, so I’m skipping the attempted plot summary of this cinematic Sator square. Branagh is an arms dealer helping execute attacks from the future, smuggling in reverse-kinetic objects and backwards-moving people. His abused wife is Debicki, the helpless woman only concerned for her child’s safety while the real men do all the work. Those men are serious spy-dude Washington and his chill buddy Pattinson. Bits of exposition via Dimple Kapadia, Michael Caine, and Martin Donovan! I took some advice and just watched the hell out of this (with subtitles) without insisting that it make any sense – though I guessed early on that anyone half-glimpsed in the first half of the movie would turn out to be our reversed heroes in the second half – and had a good time. It never stops talking utter nonsense for 150 minutes, and none of the action scenes were as impressive as expected. Michael Sicinski on Patreon: “But then again, I’ve never seen a building un-blow-up on the top, only to re-blow-up on the bottom. That was cool.”
Probably my favorite Christopher Nolan movie. I have no urge to revisit Memento anytime soon, so I guess The Prestige would be my second favorite – I think that makes me a weird Nolan fan, since most are bonkers for Inception and the Batman movies. Anyway this was a very personal but still very epic time/space/dimension-travelling movie about keeping families together and saving all of humanity, a way-too-ambitious premise that was actually pulled off.
Pilot-turned-farmer Matthew McConaughey leaves his kids with Grandpa Lithgow since Matt’s the only maverick who can pilot NASA’s secret spaceship (hey you can’t make a movie this ambitious without leaning on a few time-saving cliches) through a wormhole to find a habitable planet, alongside Anne Hathaway (daughter of NASA head Michael Caine), David Gyasi (Cloud Atlas), Wes Bentley and two awesome robots. First landing is on the giant-waves planet, where Bentley dies, then on to the frozen-wasteland planet where crazy Matt Damon kills Gyasi, then into a black hole where McConaughey sends interdimensional coded messages to his daughter (who grew up to be Jessica Chastain, dating former scientist Topher Grace and fighting with stubborn older brother Casey Affleck), then is picked up, still the same age as when he left, by the human-exodus spaceship containing his dying, elderly daughter (now Ellen Burstyn).
I would’ve liked to see the 70mm super-imax version, but settled for at least going to the dumb local theater and not waiting for blu-ray.
Bob Hoskins (between Brazil and Roger Rabbit) is a cheap gangster who gets a job driving for expensive call girl Cathy Tyson (The Serpent and the Rainbow) after release from prison. He acts shitty and ignorant, hates his job, but finally warms up to Cathy, helps her search for her old friend, the two of them going on a sort-of Taxi Driver underworld revenge spree, getting in trouble with head gangster Michael Caine.
Hagrid plays Bob’s rat-faced friend. I didn’t recognize Detective Lester Freamon, so young and with few lines or close-ups, until his death. Hoskins won best actor at Cannes, Baftas, Golden Globes and a bunch of film critic groups, but lost the oscar to Paul Newman. DP Roger Pratt worked with Terry Gilliam through 12 Monkeys.
Bob watches Lester Freamon on TV:
Bob’s idea of a disguise:
Animated, Machinery-Themed, John Turturro-starring Sequel Double Feature at the Drive-In
Cars 2 (2011, John Lasseter)
In the first movie, Turturro plays a hotshot open-wheel race car named Bumblebee, I think. Larry the Cable Guy gets mixed up in a Man Who Knew Too Little super-spy plot with Michael Caine and Emily Mortimer, while Owen Wilson is off having a biggest-dick contest with Turturro. The guy who developed the so-called green alternative fuel turns out to be the bad guy, because green fuels are fake and ultimately cause more environmental harm than fossil fuels. As Ruppert says in Collapse: corn! don’t make me laugh. Katy and I loved the Barbie & Ken short. This sequel was more exciting than the predictable first movie.
Transformers 3 (2011, Michael Bay)
Then Turturro, having learned humility and the value of friendship in the first movie, uses his money and influence to help Shia The Beouf fight Megatron and Shockwave and revive Roddimus Prime, whose ship crash-landed on the moon (Katy says there is no “dark side” since the moon rotates, and that the man in the moon is a myth). Frances McDormand was an army guy, I think, and John Malkovich was his usual Malkovichy self. Patrick O’Dreamy from Katy’s shows played the evil human who’d stop at nothing to defeat Turturro’s and The Beouf’s schemes because the Decapitrons have promised that he’ll be king of the humans after they win using some Fifth Element columns to bring an entire planet into Earth’s orbit, or something along those lines. More comprehensible than part one, with the masturbation/embarrassment jokes easier to take since I saw them coming this time. Oh, and the Spanish teacher from Community.
Nolan is going for auteur status, taking his mega-budget action comic Batman movies and his multi-layered reality-questioning Memento and making a mega-budget multi-layered action comic reality-questioning super-movie. Seems to have paid off for him – this is in the IMDB top ten at the moment, barely above his own The Dark Knight.
We’ll miss you, Pete Postlethwaite
I should have known Inception wouldn’t be as awesomely complex as I’ve heard it is. It’s not my love for Alain Resnais that makes me feel like a condescending art film snob, it’s breezing through a movie like this one, which the whole world thought was so confusing. I was never in doubt as to what was happening, or which level of dream/reality our heroes were haunting, and thought the ending, while somewhat emotionally satisfying, was the most obvious one possible. Does that make me an asshole?
Why does this shot look so familiar?
Anyway, it’s a fun action dream flick with bang-on performances by Leo DiCaprio and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, good support by Ellen Page and Marion Cotillard and Ken Watanabe, and some overqualified actors wasted in minor roles.
Opens with grainy shaky videocam footage of cussy drug addicts in an alley who then shoot a girl while on a hectic motorbike ride – meaningful cut to black with the words, in tiny print, “a film by daniel barber,” signaling that this will be an Important Film About Urban Problems (see also: the overbearing music throughout). That’s how Michael Caine treated it in interviews also. Normally Caine wouldn’t be into this sort of grimy personal revenge story of course, but this is an Important Work on a Meaningful Topic, not just some action catharsis. And some viewers even treated it that way – it won a couple of best-film awards – but me, I wanted some action catharsis and found that the movie delivered that well.
Also: Emily Mortimer plays a cop:
MC’s violent spree kicks off (after he has Lost Everything He Had, of course) with a parody scene of extreme urban decay. Caine visits an illegal dealer who sells him a gun while shooting up heroin into his leg while firing a pistol and smoking crack out the barrel while growing pot in his basement while sexually exploiting a young girl while threatening his partner and swearing up a storm and playing loud electro music. Predictably, that scene doesn’t end well, with Caine killing the dudes, taking the guns and burning the whole fucking place, which explodes behind him as he drives the girl to safety. There’s a long action-movie history of vigilante violence by One Man With Nothing Left To Lose Who Couldn’t Take It Anymore, and I don’t see why Sir Michael and crew have to deny that proud tradition and fake like they’re making some documentary expose about the streets, especially when their baddies are so cartoonishly evil. They could do with a few viewings of The Wire. Or hell, maybe street life is really this shitty in England – if so, I’ll take Baltimore any day.
Okay, okay, billions of rabid fans, you win. It’s a good movie, and Heath Ledger is great in it. He plays insane like no one else, and when he walks out of the hospital in a nurse’s uniform stabbing at his remote control prompting a cliched huge explosion while he casually keeps walking, it’s one of the awesomest things at the movies all year. But… top-selling film of all time and #1 on IMDB or not, I still find it the third-best Batman movie. Full of episodic cliffhangers (maybe as tribute to the comic books?), which is the only way in which it reminded me of Fantomas. Batman/Wayne, as a character, is almost absent, replaced by gadgets and friends and a dead girlfriend (Maggie G.) whom he mourns for all of four seconds before going on to kill two-face and take the blame for two-face’s crimes himself, so the sucker public will go on believing in Harvey Dent, the district attorney who almost cleaned up this town before going insane and killing a buncha people. Some role model. Now Batty is on the run from Commissioner (finally) Gordon and I think Morgan Freeman quit his gadget-man job and neither of us can remember if the Joker died (which is a bad sign – nobody forgets how Nicholson’s Joker ended up – and while I’m in these parentheses, the soundtrack was no Batdance neither) and the Hong Kong financier is dead (burned alive on a pile of money = irony) and I guess the mob is in control of Gotham again, just with less money.
Batman has banding issues:
I dunno, might have to see again sometime when expectations are gone. I spent a lot of the runtime complaining about stuff, either in my head or directly to Katy.
Watchmen trailer looks cool, anyway.