peteg's blog - noise - movies

White Hunter Black Heart

/noise/movies | Link

A jag from The African Queen. In 1990 Clint Eastwood tried to become John Houston as he chased his white whale (elephant) in the Congo while filming his Kate/Bogey classic. Clint set a few people straight on the need to fight for what's right, and not be ugly racist bitches; what he lost in fisticuffs he mostly won in verbal sparring. I was a bit surprised that Timothy Spall took on the minor role of the japing pilot. Jeff Fahey looked about the same as he did when working for ex-Ms Eastwood, as did George Dzundza. Some of it is funny, most is farcical. Apparently some was filmed onsite-ish in Zimbabwe and Zambia.

Roger Ebert. Janet Maslin.

Watchmen

/noise/movies | Link

Apparently fourth time around. Roger Ebert. A. O. Scott. Dana Stevens.

Us

/noise/movies | Link

With Dave at the Odeon 5, 8:30pm, $17.50 each. Stuck for choice: I hadn't seen Jordan Peele's previous Get Out and everything else screening seemed worse. It's a horror movie. The kids were the best, particularly Shahadi Wright Joseph who has some great comic timing. Lupita Nyong'o worked hard. I didn't really get into it, but was sufficiently engaged to be unimpressed by the switcheroo when it arrived.

Manohla Dargis reckons it's heavy on the symbolism. Dana Stevens.

Topsy-Turvy

/noise/movies | Link

A Mike Leigh effort from 1999, and one of the last of his features for me to see. Many of his usual cast (Jim Broadbent, Timothy Spall, Lesley Manville, also Trainspotters Kevin McKidd and Shirley Henderson) participate in this portrayal of what may have been a pivotal point in the creative partnership of Gilbert and Sullivan. It's not at all my thing but there are loads of fine details to enjoy and the performances are uniformly excellent.

Grindhouse: Deathproof and Planet Terror

/noise/movies | Link

Second time around with these ultra-trashy Tarantino/Rodriguez exploitation flicks: it's just like From Dusk Till Dawn but more so. This time around I noticed Michael Biehn (Kyle Reese from The Terminator).

Notorious

/noise/movies | Link

A black and white Hitcock from 1946. Second time around apparently, but I don't remember a thing. Daughter Ingrid Bergman is supposedly everyone's but she's only got eyes for party crashing Cary Grant, who plays the straight G-man until he can't. In between she gets hitched to Claude Rains in a plot to bust open a uranium-fueled Nazi plot in Brazil. It could have been 50-100% longer and I would still have been there.

He Died with a Felafel in His Hand

/noise/movies | Link

More Brisvegas completism. Apparently third time around. The soundtrack is 2001-nostalgia for the early to mid 1990s. It'd be a total bust if it wasn't for Noah Taylor's occasional outbursts. Director Richard Lowenstein has some form for this kind of thing: the canonical Dogs in Space and Autoluminescent: Rowland S. Howard which I still have to dig up. Here Howard covers Iggy Pop's The Passenger, and I finally got around to listening to Moby's Play, which I bought on CD in late 1999.

Praise

/noise/movies | Link

Third time around, I think — last seen about a decade ago. I'm still amazed by Sacha Horler's efforts here, and there's even more to Peter Fenton's passivity now than then. I'd forgotten that Joel Edgerton plays the mate. The rating at IMDB is low with few votes, which goes to show exactly how many people want to re-slum early-90s Brisvegas. I expect all the old boarding houses are gone.

Elvis Mitchell at the New York Times. David Edelstein. Both loved it.

This was Andrew McGahan completism; he wrote the screenplay and I'm too lazy to re-read the novel. I rank his output roughly as follows:

  1. Last Drinks
  2. Praise (the movie anyway)
  3. 1988
  4. The White Earth
  5. Underground
  6. Wonders of a Godless World

McGahan is far more comfortable in the past than the future (four are either personal- or Queensland-historic, one was futurism when written, the last is inspecifically present-day). Characters he lacks personal experience of are typically tendentious stereotypes. Four and five show that he could get worked up about politics (at the pub at least) but did not think of himself as an agenda-setter. The first three show his non-judgemental attitude towards libidinous hedonism; he probably took all he could get. The last two warn against writing about what you don't know, or in McGahan's case, haven't lived.

The Caine Mutiny

/noise/movies | Link

Queeg! In brief battle-scar(r)ed US Navy captain Bogart is found wanting in a large storm and deposed by his underlings. The latter half is lawyer José Ferrer having some fun, including a Nicholson-esque "you can't handle the truth" conclusion. Like the previous thing I saw him in (Whirlpool) there is much amateur diagnosis of mental disorders. Fred MacMurray is solid as the Judas, a proxy for the book's author. Subplot lead Robert Francis is a bit wooden. The peppy music gets annoying fast. It's a bit overegged and undercooked; the IMDB trivia suggests there was a larger movie trying to get out, and it is likely that would have been superior.

Watching this I realised Bogey would have been perfect playing Nixon.

Whirlpool

/noise/movies | Link

A perplexingly poor Otto Preminger effort. The cast is stellar: Gene Tierney and José Ferrer amongst others. Nothing to see here at all.

Bosley Crowther at the time.

The American

/noise/movies | Link

Second time around. George Clonney goes to Italy circa 2010. The locals fawn all over him. Anton Corbijn tries hard to vary his static style that worked so well in Control.

Heat

/noise/movies | Link

nth time around for large n. Michael Mann's masterpiece. Still #123 in the IMDB top-250.

The African Queen

/noise/movies | Link

More John Huston. Second time around. Apparently Eastwood made a movie about Huston's desire to go big game hunting while making this.

The spy who came in from the cold

/noise/movies | Link

Second time around. More Richard Burton.

Crazy Heart

/noise/movies | Link

Second time around. Prompted by A Star is Born. Hmm.

Heaven Knows, Mr Allison

/noise/movies | Link

A John Huston and Deborah Kerr jag from The Night of the Iguana. Robert Mitchum shares the lead. A U.S. marine and Irish nun find themselves stranded on a South Pacific Island and survive occupation by Japanese troops until the Americans arrive. It's all very proper and things go as expected with no offence given to the USMC or Catholic Church. Reading it another way it's a backhander: the skills of a marine will help you survive but may not get you the girl. There's some great cinematography. It obviously parallels Huston's The African Queen.

Ant-Man

/noise/movies | Link

Marvel completism. Martin Donovan! Why didn't you say? Michael Douglas plays the same old tired note. Paul Rudd is pleasantly low key but I don't find him as funny as the movie needs me to. Evangeline Lilly is all face acting. If they'd made more of the fact most ants are female (the winged ones are typically males or queens) this may have been hailed as the first Marvel movie with a strong pro-female message. It's silly. I haven't seen lurv this strong since Interstellar.

A. O. Scott.

Ant-Man and the Wasp

/noise/movies | Link

Excessive Marvel completism. This one got massively advertised on buses and bus stops in Sydney. Larry Fishburne! Why didn’t you say? Michelle Pfeiffer! Approximately as vacuous as the first one.

Manohla Dargis.

The Great Gatsby

/noise/movies | Link

I read the book ages ago, and that put me off seeing the movie until now. For Carey Mulligan, but ultimately Joel Edgerton who was the only one fully committed to taking this show over the cliff. When are we going to see him in a Marvel movie? DiCaprio leads (like in Titanic? — which I still haven't seen). His "old sport" just doesn't work. Tobey Maguire is the bemused Nick Carraway. I didn't recognise Elizabeth Debicki, which shows how engaged I was. The politics seem dated beyond belief: Daisy has no agency. The music is banal. There are Australians everywhere. It's just another over-egged Baz Luhrmann thing.

A. O. Scott says it's not as bad as other people were saying at the time, but it is that shallow. He's right that shame has gone missing since the 1920s. Dana Stevens. And many others.

Captain Marvel

/noise/movies | Link

With Dave. 3:30pm 3D session at the Odeon 5, $31-ish for us both. Maybe three other people. Released last Thursday. We had coffee/lunch beforehand at Bills Beans.

Low expectations and heavy politicisation made this seem more like a Star Wars episode to me. Dave was adamant that he was there for Jude Law and Ben Mendelsohn. (The latter reverts to his native strine when reunited with his refugee family, a fine rebuke that doubtlessly eluded most American commentators.) An anti-aged Samuel L. Jackson took on something of Larry Fishburne's Clean from Apocalypse Now. Brie Larson might have done her best. Annette Bening tried to make it into something. Arnie decided this was beneath him: the True Lies poster/stand thingie gets blasted and only Jamie Lee Curtis survives. Of course it should've been one for Pulp Fiction.

Reviews are dutiful. Dana Stevens: Finally, Women Have Their Own Mediocre Marvel Movie. Anthony Lane. The dogfight through canyons is what put me most in mind of Star Wars. A. O. Scott. The cat was a bit much.