▶️ I Just Watched (Film reviews) ...
It's a remake of a very recent Swedish film. I like Hanks, but I just avoid US remakes of new(ish) and perfectly fine foreign films on principle.
Gran Turismo. The second worst car racing film I've seen, possibly (I don't think anything will top/undercut Stallone's Driven). I knew I'd watch it regardless as I bought a PS5 and VR kit 7 months ago, and could count on the fingers of one hand the days on which I haven't had Gran Turismo 7 on for at least one race. So I was a captive audience. It's also your typical sporting underdog tale, a genre I do have a soft spot for.
It does have a toe in real life as it's based around a young gamer who actually did progress from virtual cars to real ones. It ticks all the boxes you'd expect with no originality at all - of course his parents frown on the countless hours he spends on his games, and everyone in the racing world he progresses to regards him with scorn and wants him to crash and burn; there are tears and cheese, and there is no doubt at all about the outcome. It's competently filmed for the most part with decent (but definitely not noteworthy) performances or characterisation (Orlando Bloom's character is 'marketing man', David Harbour is 'burnt out ex-driver looking for a shot at redemption', etc etc. There's also some awful casting with the kid's parents played by Djimon Hounsou (fine actor, just miscast) and Ginger Spice (um...) and it's partially set in a Wales where nobody sounds Welsh.
But where it fails completely, and crucially in a racing car film, is in its exciting race sequences. There aren't any. There are plenty of swooping drone shots and cut-to-ribbons snippets of cars on tracks, but... you know how action cinema virtually died a few years ago with editing like this? Yup. I've watched a few gamers streaming racers in Gran Turismo 7 since I've been playing it, and you could honestly pick any one of those, watch a race - there are new ones every day - and experience more racing thrills in ten minutes than you'll find in this entire film.
Flora and Son. From the director of Once and Sing Street, so it's got music and it's set in Ireland. Dublin, to be precise, and because it's about a divorced mother and wayward son, it's 'feck this' and 'ya big bollocks that' every minute. It's also a bit of a romance with Flora finding a battered old guitar in a skip and taking online lessons with rumpled Joseph Gordon Levitt while trying to patch things up with Son, who idolises his once-almost-a-pop star dad. And it's utterly charming; can't recommend it enough. Currently on Apple TV.
Who was the DVDF guy who used to watch a horror film each night during October, on the runup to Halloween ? Anyway, I thought of him last night :
Evil Dead Rise (2023) - on a par with the 2013 film for enjoyment (but very different from it). It starts off well enough, but then the location changes (permanently) and we get way too much exposition and a drawn out, boring and illogical 'origin story'.
There are a few good bits, and the cast/acting is OK (the lead is great), but the setting is wrong, and it's not really tense, scary, gruesome, or confidently cheeky like Ash. The lowish budget is occasionally evident - not in a good cheesey way, but by some jump-cuts, and the finale CGI just made me sigh. Disappointing overall, 6/10
Stick with the excellent TV series Ash v Evil Dead which is highly recommended, mostly a 9/10.
We Have a Ghost (2023)
A family (led by Marvel's Anthony Mackie) buys a run-down house ("but why is the price so low?") to discover they have a resident ghost. David "Stranger Things" Harbour is the sad but aware spirit, Ernest. Story is about the youngest son trying to find out who Ernest was and how he died.
Nothing too scary or overly dramatic, I enjoyed it.
Mission Impossible Dead Reckoning. It's been a bumpy, but generally worthwhile, series and I think the last one is the best so far. I enjoyed this one but still felt slightly disappointed and it could easily have lost some of its 163 min running time. The expected high production values, globe-trotting set-pieces and rubber masks are all there, but I wish I'd had a quid for every time the words 'key' and 'entity' were spoken. It got to the point where it felt as if the most important they all had to do was have long, serious discussions about 'the key'; to the extent that I almost didn't care who wanted it, and why, as long as they just stopped talking about it. So I'd knock a star off for that, if I did stars. I don't.
Equalizer 3. Mrs and I really enjoyed this. Felt a little old school in how it played out. Not wall to wall action, just slow build up to a satisfying end. Seems to be quite polarising on IMDB, with some being bored as it's not John Wick, and some loving it. Lovely Italian scenery too. 8/10 for us.
Nefarious. Young Indy plays a man on death row who claims to be possessed and a psychiatrist is sent in to evaluate whether he's sane enough to be executed. Sean Patrick Flanery was excellent but the film was just ok; I never really felt unsettled by what was going on. 6/10.
The Mitchells vs the Machines (2021) - Finally watched this, and it didn't disappoint ... excellent ! The poster doesn't do it any favours, as the animation is gorgeous - so rich in visual details, and despite getting very frantic at times, it's still easy to follow. Best of all, it's very funny visually, and has a snappy modern dialogue for all ages ... lots of genuine LOLs, and I had tears of laughter at one point!
Watched with kids aged 10-14, and already plan a re-watch with my missus. If I was to nitpick, it's occasionally too frantic, and on a couple of occasions the feels don't land. But honestly, don't miss, a rare 9/10
Spoiler-free 16s teaser >
If you've already watched it, check this out > Small Details You Missed In The Mitchells Vs. The Machines
The Battle of Britain. A largely true-to-fact epic in which, if you need to be told, the beastly Jerries got soundly trounced by Tommy (and various other nationals, but mostly Tommy) and had to revise cocky 1940 invasion plans. I don't think it's one of the absolute all-time great war films but I watch it frequently anyway because of the planes, little plastic facsimiles of which I used to assemble, paint and hang from my bedroom ceiling. There's more model work than I remember from old viewings, but it's generally of a very high standard. And this film will always have a huge advantage over any to come featuring historical military aviation - they got to use a lot of real planes, with some dazzling aerial sequences that these days can now only be approximated (usually badly) with cgi. Even Nolan could only rustle up one or two Spitfires for Dunkirk, and he had to cheat a bit.
Mission Impossible Dead Reckoning
Watched this too, and as you said - disappointing after the last 3 in the series, which are great (especially the last one, Fallout, a rare 9/10 from me). And yes, they keep going on about those bl00dy keys ... we GET IT! (But honestly don't care).
There's a good car chase around Rome, but they failed with the motorbike jump as it looks fake despite apparently being real ! (Obviously too smooth on the runup). Didn't feel original like an MI installment should, with too many seen-before scenes ... a fight on top of a moving train, OHRLY?!
Barbie (2023) - Another disappointment, although our expectations were very high.
The first 30 mins are good, and it looks gorgeous on the big screen, but it just wasn't hard-hitting enough for me apart from that 1 monologue by Ugly Betty. I'm not a fan of (recent) Will Farrell, and all his scenes were cringey. Brits do this whole kind of satire/parody much better. In fact, afterwards I was reminded of Don't Look Up - again, so much potential to right the world's wrongs, but all too feeble in execution.
Disappointing, and even a bit boring towards the end, scraping a 6/10
Two currently appearing on the Netflix:
Pain Hustlers. An 'inspired by true events' tale of ruthless peddlers of cancer pain-relief drugs (i.e. fentanyl), featuring an excellent performance by Emily Blunt as the top pusher who grows a conscience when the drug turns out to be not exactly as advertised. It's entertaining enough but should have had sharper teeth. Good cast all round, but Blunt carries it and don't be surprised if she ends up in the usual awards season lists.
Bull. I like a good revenge tale, but I'm not so keen on no-budget Brit geezer-gangster films that all look as if they star Craig Fairbrass, even when they don't. I gave this one a look after stumbling onto a positive review. And lawks a lawdy, I agree with it. Neil Maskell is the hero who puts the anti- into hero, and it's evident from the many flashbacks that he's every bit as nasty as the unlucky buggers he's tracking down, years after they done 'im over and left him for dead. Maskell is scary - not as scary as Paddy Considine in the definitely very similar Dead Man's Shoes - but not many are. David Hayman is a close second, but he's always scary. Lean, mean, and with most of the budget (I'd guess) going on prosthetics, it's a niftily cheap (but absolutely NOT in any way cheerful) way to spend slightly less than an hour and a half. I rather think I'll watch it again soon. Contains 0% Craig Fairbrass, if you're wondering.