This week it was announced that, in honour of Chadwick Boseman’s death, his film 42 would be released in cinemas again. As cynical as I might be about the move, it is a wonderful way to celebrate his work as an actor. It was also a great excuse for me to watch it for this review. I have to be honest, I’m no fan of sports movies. Well, aside from The Mighty Ducks, Little Giants and Space Jam. It’s mostly because I don’t really care about sports. I can think of thousands of things that I’d rather be doing than sitting down and watching people kick/throw/hit a ball around a pitch. It’s not so surprising that one of those things isn’t sitting down and watching a formulaic film about people kicking/throwing/hitting a ball around a pitch. And I don’t know anything about baseball. It’s just complicated rounders. However, it felt like the right thing to do.Read more
It’s only my third month of being part of a virtual book club but it’s already given me an excuse to read books that I’ve always wanted to. This month’s selection is another that I’ve been interested in but would never have read off my own back. Mostly because I always thought it would be a letdown. When this was suggested as a possible book, it was picked by someone who had seen the film. Now, I enjoyed Spike Lee’s adaptation of the book as much as the next person but I also knew that a lot of the plot had been made up. The bomb plot, for example, was not part of Ron Stallworth’s story but had been added for the film. I suspected that the person who put it forward was under the impression that the film was accurate. After all, she had described it as “shocking content (of the film was anything to go by)”. When it came to the vote, I went with another choice but was outvoted. I’m not complaining, merely stating a fact. I got my copy of the book and started to read. Boy, was it a bit of a slog.
One of the things I’m tired of hearing about George Floyd is when people keep bringing up the fact that he had a criminal record. As if that, in some way, makes his death acceptable. That the fact that he was once in prison makes it okay that a police officer put his knee on George’s kneck for almost 8 minutes. Why does it matter who George was or what he was doing at the time? Nothing should be able to justify the death of a man regardless of what they’ve done. And what about all of those white men who were arrested for mass shootings? How many of them are still alive in prison despite murdering people? I mean Nikolas Cruz shot 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February 2018. He was arrested “without incident”. Without incident? All George Floyd was arrested for was allegedly using a counterfeit $20 note. Allegedly. And he was killed. A 19-year-old white kid shot 17 other kids and was arrested “without incident”. And people still don’t think systemic racism exists? It’s bullshit.
Did you see the super cringe “I Take Responsibility” video that the NACCP made starring several Hollywood actors. It was well-meaning, yes, but another kind of mis-judged entry to the “we’re all in this together” folder. The video is just tone-deaf and completely misunderstands what people need to hear right now. This is a time when a lot of people are angry and they don’t need a bunch of actors showcasing their white guilt for all to see. God knows, Hollywood has an awful lot to do to make up for their lack of representation for Black actors. It’s going to take more than just Stanley Tucci and Julianne Moore getting all actory in a black and white video. Thankfully, to counter this, several films have been made free to stream in the US. One of them is this 2019 film that lays bare the prejudice that exists at the heart of American law enforcement. It only felt right to watch it for my review this week.
As far as I’m aware, Mr Rogers was never a thing in the UK. I’ve heard of him but only thanks to references in American TV and movies. This lack of awareness would normally have caused me to miss a film like A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. It is based solely on the proposition that Fred Rogers is one of the greatest things to ever happen to children. I’m sure he probably is but films like this tend to rely on a certain nostalgic sentimentality that I just don’t have. It wouldn’t hit on all of the levels that the filmmakers intended. But, thanks to Tom Hanks being Tom Hanks, it was an Oscar-nominated film that I had to try and watch before the ceremony.
Do you think anyone out there hates Tom Hanks? Yes, he’s done some dodgy films over the years but he seems like a nice guy. And he bloody loves acting. But I guess his reputation probably has a few negatives. He’s never really going to get the chance to play a villain. Okay, he’d probably be happy with that but he must have severely limited the range of roles he’s offered. The only time he’s even veered toward villainy and it’s not really gone off. Nobody even saw The Circle and Road to Perdition was more complicated than good or bad. Tom Hanks trying to play a bad guy would be as disconcerting as seeing a film where Christopher Lee played a moral upstanding gentleman. It’s why he was the perfect choice to play Mr Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (review coming soon) and why he was the perfect choice to play Sully, the pilot responsible for the Miracle on the Hudson.
I don’t often like to admit it but I was wrong. I had no faith in the Academy to give Bong Joon Ho and his basically flawless film the recognition they deserve. But, at the 2020 Oscars, Parasite became the biggest success of the night. It genuinely couldn’t happen to a nicer person. 1917 is a technically brilliant film but, in terms of narrative, it doesn’t exactly break new ground. Parasite did everything and it did it well. It brought together so many ideas and genres without ever getting overwhelmed. Bon Joon Ho is one of the greatest filmmakers of our time and I’m chuffed the Academy actually saw it too. But let’s not look back too long. After my massive Oscars week viewing, I am now a few weeks ahead with the films I need to review. I thought about doing them this week just to get them out of the way but, honestly, I need a break. So, get ready for my next few Tuesday posts to be a little behind the times.
Sometimes, the best thing about a film is just watching great performers do what they do best. I imagine that is part of the reason why Netflix’s The Two Popes got such a positive reaction at the Telluride Film Festival. Two of Britain’s finest actors come together to retell a piece of recent religious history. Anthony Hopkins and Jonatha Pryce play Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis respectively in a film that explores their uneasy relationship. It’s essentially a film showing two old white dudes having a back and forth about religion. On paper, it shouldn’t work but it turns out to be unexpectedly engaging. And, I’ll be honest, this wasn’t a film that I was necessarily going to watch despite the positive reaction it got. I love both actors but the story just seemed a bit much. Considering what we know about the Catholic Church, it all just seemed a bit too twee.
I had to Google John Lithgow after watching Jay Roach’s film depicting the story about the women who exposed Fox News’ CEO Roger Ailes for sexual harassment. Why did I Google him? Because it’s been a long time that I haven’t seen him in a fat suit. What with him playing Winston Churchill in The Crown and then playing Ailes, John Lithgow must have spent a lot of time in a make-up trailer. Bombshell has been nominated for Best Hair and Make-Up. It’s not an award that I usually pay much attention to because who am I to say what is good or not? But Bombshell is in another world. Not only did I legitimately think that John Lithgow had piled on loads of weight but Charlize Theron does not look like Charlize Theron. If she didn’t have such a distinctive and sultry voice, I’d never have known it was her. Who are these make-up magicians? Given them a fucking Oscar and be done with it.
After reviewing The Irishman this week, what else could I watch for this week’s TBT post? So many people have given Martin Scorsese’s latest film the title of his “best film since GoodFellas“. It was the perfect excuse to back and watch the classic film. GoodFellas is one of those films that will always stand the test of time. This year marks its 30th anniversary and, though it has 2 years on me, it has held up much better than I have. And, on the plus side, Robert De Niro looks like a real human being. Of course, he was only in his 40s at the time. It also features a wonderful performance from Ray Liotta who was last seen having a fun time as a smarmy lawyer in Marriage Story. Yes, The Irishman may have Al Pacino going for it but, I’ll be honest, I’d rather watch Scorsese’s earlier work than his latest. After all, you could watch it twice in the time you’d spend watching uncanny De Niro’s creepy eyes.