Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Recent Movies: Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2, Beauty And The Beast and more...

Hello blogosphere. ( Hello yourself. ) First of all, my apologies to the approximately two and a half people who still visit this 'ere blog  -  the frequency of posts here has yet again slipped to a level somewhere in between pathetic and non-existent. Anyway, for my sins I'm going to test the waters of the blog-ocean again by quickly running through some recently-watched movies, starting with...
Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2
The first outing for these interplanetary A-holes was a surprise hit and one of the freshest, funniest and most colourful takes on the super hero genre in a long time. This sequel, while inevitably short of the novelty factor of seeing talking raccoons and anthropomorphic trees in outer space for the first time, is still loads of cosmic fun. There's little in the way of plot  -  our anti-heroes again save the galaxy, while at the same time managing to piss off just about everybody around them, and Star Lord's dad turns out to be a psychotic living planet ( it's that kind of film )  -  but most of the enjoyment comes from the sheer, exuberant spectacle and the priceless interactions of the bickering but lovable main characters. And it's great to see Karen Gillan and ( especially ) Michael Rooker getting a chance to flesh out Nebula and Yondu. Hopefully we may get some similar character development for Rocket in the inevitable threequel. The only real let-down for me is the obligatory third-act CGI-fest, during which my mind started to wander back to the boring old real world, resulting in me giving the movie a still pretty cosmic Three And A Half Out Of Five...
Beauty And The Beast
Disney's programme of live action remakes of classic cartoons reaches 1991's Beauty And The Beast. The original was the immediate successor to The Little Mermaid, Disney's return to greatness after years of mediocrity, and I can well remember seeing it in the old Gloucester cinema with Sarah. It became an instant favourite, winning us over with its charm, colour and memorable songs. So,what of the new version?
Well, technically it's a triumph  -  the sets, costumes and effects ( apart from a couple of dodgy "Beast" moments ) are all superb and the songs still retain all their charm ( there's that word again ) and vibrancy. Luke Evans enjoys himself hugely in full-on Panto mode as bully Gaston, Dan Stevens acquits himself well from behind his CGI shell and there's twinkling support from Kevin Kline as Belle's father. Ah yes, Belle. I must say I'm always a fan of Emma Watson and her ongoing journey from the over-enunciating moppet in the early Harry Potter films to the educated activist and occasional actor of today. But I think she's miscast here -  not "wooden" as she's been rather cruelly dubbed in some quarters but a mite too subtle for what is basically a cartoon character. Much as I hate to say it, but the projecting-to-the-back-of-the-theatre Emma of old may have been more suitable.
Beauty And The Beast is good, old-fashioned fun but there is a niggling feeling that this remake ( where most of the creative decisions were made over a quarter of a century ago ) is pretty pointless. I'll give it a beastly Three Out Of Five...
Moonlight
( Could you get any two more contrasting movies? ) This is the Oscar-winning story of a young African American's struggles as he grows up a victim of prejudice in a crack-riddled Miami ghetto. And it's not as grim as it sounds, honest. Moonlight is often quite moving and profound, while also surprisingly beautiful, considering the brutal upbringing of its main character, Chiron. He is portrayed by three different actors through three different stages of his life  -  childhood, adolescence and mid-twenties manhood. The two younger actors ( Alex Hibbert and Ashton Sanders ) are both astonishing, often working with very little dialogue, communicating Chiron's joys and pains mostly with their eyes. The oldest version of the character, played by Trevante Rhodes, is the least successful, mostly because Chiron at this point has sunk into a stereotyped "Gangsta" lifestyle and his struggle to reconcile this with his long-suppressed sexuality seems beyond the ability of the movie-makers to convey. And, to be honest, the last third of the movie really drags. Anyway, it's always good to see something slightly out of your comfort zone, so thanks to my good friend and fellow blogger Tom Wiggins for dragging me along to this film, which I will have to give an aspirational Three And A Half Out Of Five...
La La Land
Purely by chance I saw this and Moonlight back to back  -  the two films at the heart of that ridiculous Oscar ceremony cock-up. La La Land ( in case you didn't know  -  where have you been, on Mars? ) is a wonderful, pitch-perfect tribute to classic Hollywood musicals. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone play two Dream Factory hopefuls  -  him a musician, her an actress  -  who meet in a car jam on the LA Freeway and, after the inevitable distrust and irritation at first, eventually fall in love. This is a bittersweet tale of success and failure in the unforgiving entertainment industry, where a happy ending is never guaranteed. Gosling and Stone are endlessly watchable and have an almost superhuman chemistry which fizzes from the screen when they're together. Everything about this movie  -  the songs, the routines, dialogue, cinematography  -  is a delight and it became an instant favourite for me, Sarah AND James on just one viewing. La La Love It!
A dazzling Four And A Half Out Of Five
( I'm only docking it half a point because our viewing experience was marred by our local Cineworld's inability to project a film in focus. It looked fuzzy when it should have been pin-sharp, which really annoyed. A few other people mentioned this too, so it wasn't just my fading eyesight. I complained to the staff but nothing was done. Grrrr! Maybe when I see the movie on Blu-Ray I'll award it the full Five... )

Soundtrack: loads of songs by the amazing Robyn Hitchcock, including stuff from his new, self-titled album. I really need to buy that.


6 comments:

John Pitt said...

Hi Simon, count me in, as part of that two and a half and, no need to apologise, my own amateur effort has also taken a cut thanks to stuff going on in real life!
Anyway, I don't go to the movies myself, but I value your reviews if I am unsure whether or not to watch a particular movie on the telly, as my time seems to be in such short supply these days, as I don't want to waste it watching a turkey.
So, keep on blogging, my young friend and hope you're all well!

cerebus660 said...

Thanks for your support, John... and for calling me "young" - does 50 qualify as young? :-)

Kid said...

No wonder you don't get much blogging done, Cer - you spend all your time at the bloody pictures. Right, let's hear your thoughts on the new series of Dr. Who so far.

cerebus660 said...

Worst series ever! Moffatt must go! Bring back David Tennant! Unlimited rice pudding!

Sorry, I was possessed by the spirit of a random YouTube troll there. I'm really enjoying this season but I'm ridiculously late in posting about it - four episodes to write about! I will correct that soon :-)

John Pitt said...

I'm with Kid on that! Look forward to your take on the final Capaldis!
Don't forget us, now!

cerebus660 said...

Okay, okay, I get the message ;-)

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