Month: April 2016
Breakfast on Golgotha
Jesus Christ and a scooter, sometimes one wonders how it can possibly happen, amidst so many Marvels, that a movie has the guts for a “But far away in Palestine… (Divine presence to be shot)” card. Welcome to the Billy Wilder forties, with the brightest imbecile in the room, namely George Clooney, the royalty Hollywood does NOT deserve, playing movie star Blair Whitlock playing Caesar in some prestige Christian epic.
This movie is hilarious, and its comic range is so impressively broad that telling the tale would spoil the viewer’s pleasure. Blair Whitlock is abducted from the soundstage and studio fixer Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin), having a crisis of faith as in any Coen movie, has to get there back on time for his Oscar moment. That will prove difficult and desperately simple in equal measures. Enough said about the plot.
With “The Future” being a recurring theme of an intrigue set in the past, the movie has a thing or two to say about the present. From an œcumenical meeting featuring the various confessions the movie in production may or may not offend (“The Nazarean was not God!” tersely states the rabbi), to rumour-mongering gossip columnists (SWINTON, larger than life and twice as funny), the Coen spotlight is merciless. Did things change that much in 70 years?
Wonderful comedy moments erupt from scene rehearsals, with lobotomised extras waiting their cue for the next take of Merrily We Dance, the parlour piece painstakingly shot by Laurence Laurentz (Ralph Fiennes). Scarlet Johansson has a deliciously vulgar turn as a pregnant Esther Williams. To one’s astonishment, Channing Tatum steals the show as a sailor doing a flawless Gene Kelly routine filled with gay innuendo, singing “We might see some octopussies”, in a bar/brothel called the Swinging Dingy, no less.
The nefarious plot concocted by Hollywood’s communist writers (all nine of them) is based on “accelerating the dialectics”, something of a Coen brothers’ trademark. Things get hectic by way of a near-death by Moviola, a lasso demonstration and a make out scene that so far only Walt Disney’s The Lady and the Tramp had managed to pull off. Lord, they even manage to sneak in a Dutch angle, which made one spit his drink.
Gloriously ending on the stupidest possible scene involving a Soviet submarine, a lapdog and an attaché case full of dollar bills, Hail, Caesar! is a non-stop giggling feast. Caesar finally delivers his Oscar monologue on Golgotha, but he blanks on the last word. This last word – or the lack thereof – wraps things up ideally. Bravo, bros!
When in Rum…
This third installment of the series does not progress at breakneck speed. A lot of coming and going occurs, the plot firmly trusting two ingredients to thicken: adulterous sex and a villain of the week whom Emily destroys without flinching, even though an initial nightmare scene suggest she lives in fear of being identified as the mastermind behind the support cast’s demise. One wonders how many weeks she has left before it becomes obvious than the wagon started losing its wheels at her arrival and that, in Ten Little Indians fashion, the number of suspects steadily diminishes.
What’s on the social agenda this week? Rich and poor still have their respective problems. Jack and Declan, the restaurant brothers, aren’t not hungry for breakfast and Queen Victoria is not overwhelmed by the diamond pendant her husband gives her in the morning. One guesses that too much of a good thing makes anyone shrug at it.
As a plot hinge, dry-cleaning is replaced by a labrador, the dog apparently knowing his way from the boat to the villa but not the other way round. It allows Emily and Jack to get closer to each other, the fact they both lost their father helping at forging this bound. Awwww.
Frenemy Nolan helps Emily hacking a US Senator’s tablet and pressure him via a surveillance tape establishing that he was somewhere doing something at some point. The guy was the District Attorney at her father’s trial, see. He’s crowd-funded by the Hampton’s Grayson clique and the plot reaches a dramatic climax when he announces his retirement from politics after his adulterous liaison and lovechild have been leaked to the press. One more villain bites the dust.
Nolan lives in a penthouse with a lot of bottle water. A LOT. He accesses a remote webcam and lend his laptop to Declan, who refuses to check the cam at first but of course does 10 minutes later, to discover than some guy has sex with the rich girl he likes – or something. Once again, one does not keep track of who’s banging who, which would require a flow chart.
Victoria still knows everything, including what she could not possibly know. She takes a bit of a backseat in this episode, while her “politics as black magic” approach underlines she’s the Evil Queen to a particularly vicious Snow White.
Hampton’s fun fact of the week: one who does not like conjugal diamonds in the morning will enjoy adulterous ones in the evening. Ha!
Luci, as Demon Amenadiel keeps calling him, does his best not to succumb to boredom in contemporary LA. He punishes a charlatan, screws his shrink and plays The Police on the piano in his empty Lux club (get out of the 80s, already!). This ennui is existential: rubbing against humans is changing him, but he’s in denial even though three secondary characters tell him so in 15 minutes.
As in the first episode, the best scene involves Chloe’s daughter and the Devil’s awkwardness around children. Also, not only we get a peep at the Hot Tub High School DVD sleeve but we learn that at its most hilarious Chloe “pukes into a guy’s hair”. And Chloe’s mother Penelope was “the queen of the 80’s cheeseball scifi”! One just hopes this character will be developed.
Oh, some guy dies in a car crash caused by a paparazzo vaguely inspired by the Weegee-inspired character played by Jude Law in Road to Perdition. There is a sad bit part by Jeremy Davies, a gifted actor whose performance in Solaris was great. The man deserves better than playing the occasional scumbag in TV series.
Maze finally gets to rough up a perp, Nadi (Amenadiel is far too long) does bullet time and Chloe gets confirmation by a third party that Luci is the Devil. Well, that’s what he keeps repeating her, but apparently being immune to his charm is based on not listening to his bullshit. Simple at that!
Duckling, You’re Not A Swan
Titled the way a roadside motel could name itself The Ritz (the French title, Bus 657, is spot on), Heist is all consequences with no cause to speak of, if you except Cancer Child, that is. I mean, come on, CANCER CHILD? This, ladies and gentlemen, is a feel-good movie disguised as crime caper, so know that no one will get hurt but spectacularly dumb villains, that all included support cast will act unexpectedly smart/brave/noble, and that Robert de Niro has super powers. Oh, and Cancer Child will survive to her much needed operation. What?!
Family here is both royal jelly, his secretive support and surveillance system dripping sustenance, and proletarian Jell’O, a compact morass, wobbly but unshakable. On one side Cancer Child, on the other Poor Rich Girl.
In the middle stands Robert the Niro, accomplishing any Italian American’s dream by playing a father and the Pope, ruling his empire (a steamboat casino called Swan) by crude rules, of which we are told three, a far cry from the Ten Commandments. Not in the Holy See yet, Bob.
Commenting on his e-smoke as if his main minion has switched flavour from menthol to sodium sulfate, Bob pouts a lot, wears a ring the size of a coffee table and a neck chain which he doubtlessly uses to anchor the Swan when he leaves the premises. On the side, he launders dirty Chinese money with clockwork regularity, which has never drawn attention to the police before but hey, comes to the Chinese, mafia and dry-cleaning go hand in hand, eh?
Us, the audience, are treated to a collage of scenes heisted from all kinds of superior movies, Ocean’s Eleven and Speed being the more obvious. Bob can stay cool smoking in a gasoline-saturated vehicle, he’s that good. Sweet Jesus.
The brainpower not allocated to plot reigns supreme on christening characters so there is no need to develop them. Around Pope gravitates Mr Tao (Mao, come on, too obvious!), Dante (who goes through hell) and Cox (who, well, sucks). More cryptic is Detective Bauhaus, or it is an elaborate joke at form over function?
33% action, 33% drama, 33% nothing and only 1% its titular genre, Heist is nevertheless aiming at getting the money. Yours.
Two of Hearts
A superfluous origin story for Igor, Victor Frankenstein’s toy boy, this movie of sorts will definitely be best enjoyed by the rough trade, dungeon and S&M crowd. The only woman involved, a trapezist named Lorelei, a name which firmly establishes her in a fantasy realm, acts as a beard for an elderly gentleman who enjoys the company of men.
Like in a 40s movie, hunchback/clown Igor (Daniel Ratcliffe) hopelessly looks at her flying far above the dirty ground he’s confined to. Enters the titular character (James McAvoy), and the two men instantly spot each other. One thinks it is called doctordar. Oh, did one mention Igor is also a doctor? It takes one to know one, see. After a slowmo escape really worth watching to confirm what depths Hollywood is now fathoming after Van Helsing and Sherlock Holmes, Victor initiates Igor against a pillar with a piercing toy. Their bond is sealed: Igor is now allowed to wear a harness and call Victor “Master”. Good dog.
But back to science and the essence of life and death. Frankenstein delivers a first presentation to the Royal Academy of Medicine, a strictly male club heralded by a blond twink in an astrakhan coat. it is a fiasco and the creature escapes, only to die of misconception. Free from such biological hurdles, the movie goes on. Victor’s father thinks he has made the wrong choice of life. Igor unfruitfully attempts to make out with a zombi baboon. This being shocking even by Victorian standards, the blond twink has him thrown in the Thames.
Victor and Sherlock share their nemesis: Andrew Scott (here Inspector Turpin, there Moriarty, cringe-inducing in both parts). Dialogue goes rhubarb rhurbarb rhubarb, as it is virtually impossible to make a Frankenstein movie without regurgitating at least part of Mary Shelley’s garbage about life and death, God-defying science and the true nature of soul, all things very cinematic. The two nevertheless engage in ethical debate while Turpin has his hand crushed by wheel works.
The second presentation, with the whole Royal Academy of Medicine contributing to the creation of a stronger creature, with two sets of lungs and two hearts, takes place in a tower atop a cliff. It even has a chain bridge for gothic effect. “The storm is upon us!”, urges Victor. Igor climbs up with his bare hands because he really, really needs Master to punish him. They look at each other in rapture. Igor suspects Victor’s attempt at creating a beefcake is rooted in the death of his elder, manlier brother. Victor flinches. “The storm is almost upon us!” he disgresses.
Not unlike in a submarine movie (this long, hard thing full of seamen), most of the dialogue is repeated twice. Last part of the process involves nipple clamps (“Lazarus forks” for the initiated) and a crew of steampunk extras acting busy. “Prometheus ascending!” screams Victor at the top of his lungs. Did one mention the storm is upon us?
The movie grand finale is indeed a s*** storm. Turpin barges in to kill the creature; even though he has a clear shot he keeps yelling “Get out of the way Frankenstein!”. Maybe spatial logic is not the director’s strong suit. There is a fire and a ninja fight; as an angelic choir rolls in all casualties have vanished but the creature. It ends with a letter saying one thing and its contrary. One can only hope Victor and Igor will move to Berlin, or maybe San Francisco, where they can play with beefcakes all they want. Hey, that would make for an interesting sequel!
- You remember the name of everyone you ever met, and their relatives’, too.
- You are number 128 in a list of 100.
- Your hairstyle is confusing, but it reflects your inner turmoil.
- You have to open doors by yourself since the Asian woman whose function it was got assassinated before your very eyes. Damn doors.
- You have a seemingly endless collection of frenemies.
- You are the son of a cop and a cop yourself, very much of a straight arrow. That makes you boring even for the writers, so limited is your range.
- You are pregnant with the child of a contract killer you repeatedly beat up before sequestrating and torturing him. You are swooned when he proposes and you swear to have and to hold him.
- A senior agent, you are prone to venial faults like betraying your agency or nosying into your colleagues’ private life. Everyone involved loves you all the more for it.
- Your inexpugnable glass cell can only be open with a four digit code that even the smartest hackers can’t break.
- You are not the best looking lesbian on God’s green Earth, but you damn know your way with sulfuric acid.
- You can wax rhapsodically about the fate of this world, or donuts, sometimes in the same train of thought.
- You are the boss, so you are sick when you are not and you’re not when you are. It goes with the territory.
- You are vertically challenged and you enjoy making a point how shorter-fused than you taller and more powerful people are.
- You had a mother and a father once. Well, you think.
- You are black and muscular, gifted with a conscience and you mostly are abused, abducted and/or tortured. Also, you can drive.
The KLM disposal bag
Devoted as they are to give their passengers fair warning about some destinations, the KLM design team had the genius idea to list cities most likely to induce vomiting. One mostly agrees with the advice but come on, Roma? Hell, Caesar!