Much like its title (already altered to Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey), Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) contains all the right ingredients but can’t help get in the way of itself.
Following Harley (played by Margot Robbie’s sheer sense of enjoyment), the film centres on a rather basic MacGuffin hunt and simple nasty antagonist (although Ewan McGregor is typically bland especially stood next to Chris Messina absolutely killing it as Mr Zsasz). It also features a couple of outstanding fight sequences that perfectly blend the film’s violence and neon glitter aesthetic. When this film moves, it really moves but where it doesn’t fare so well is in the constant diversion. I understand why it does it, the film is narrated by Harley and she is an erratic storyteller, but it often feels like we are stumbling around rather than moving forwards and there just aren’t enough straight lines for our hero to feel like a genuine agent of chaos.
But the good bits are rather good and if you do like this version of Harley Quinn as much as Margot Robbie does, then I suppose the time spent just hanging out will be just as enjoyable.
There is no doubt that Uncut Gems, directed by Josh and Benny Safdie who also co-wrote the script with Ronald Bronstein, feels like the missing film at the Oscars. Starring Adam Sandler, the film centres on a New York jeweller and gambling addict Howard Ratner as he tries to stay one step ahead of a series of bad debts and terrible decisions.
Not only is this film one of the most anxious and compulsive cinematic journeys of recent years, but it’s also the one of the most complete. Every moment feels integral, as does the city of New York itself with its electric pulse and sea of humanity. On top of this the cast is phenomenal. Sandler, a constant ball of tension, absolutely inhabits the brilliantly named central character but the supporting players are all perfect. Particular praise goes to Julia Fox and Idina Menzel as the two women in Howard’s life, reflecting the conflict that your brain is going through.
This could be the film of the year and it almost killed me.
Directed by Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit tells the story of a fanatical member of the Hitler Youth in the last days of WWII who is forced to question his devotion to the cause when events land closer to home. The gag is that Jojo is a ten year old boy, and Hitler is his imaginary friend. The disappointment is that the film is completely empty.
With an aesthetic that leans heavily on the cinema of Wes Anderson, and Nazi officers that have goosestepped straight out of ‘Allo ‘Allo, the film struggles to find it’s own feel and the few moments of laughter that do pop up have no actual attachment to the context (not hard when there isn’t one). This is also true of the drama. The antagonists in the film are drawn so widely that they have no power and exert no danger whilst one moment of intended heartbreak is so divorced from the perpetrators that is is rendered almost meaningless.
Jojo Rabbit reads like a movie made by a culture so dominated by a comic book sensibility that it is now incapable of discussing actual ideas. A movie where a murderous, nationalist, racial insanity is neatly compartmentalised down to a bunch of cartoon idiots. Of course, cartoon Nazi’s have been done before but spend five minutes in the presence of a film like To Be or Not to Be (1942) and you’ll see the difference. Ernst Lubitsch’s film has a lot of broad strokes, the Nazi’s are preening, idiotic in their devotion, even clownish, the humour is dark, but he never lets us forget the danger. In contrast, Jojo Rabbit just doesn’t seem interested in anything outside of the central conceit and, as a result, there is nothing there.
Based in November 2019, Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (1982) remains one of the most iconic sci-fi movies ever made. As a piece of visual design its impact is still being felt, whilst the story it tells is remains a point of debate amongst fans.
It’s also a film that splits opinion.
On it’s release in 1982 it wasn’t well received by critics and there are plenty of criticisms that are hard to shake; it’s a detective film without much detecting, its sexual politics were old hat when it was released, and one has to wonder where the film would sit if it hadn’t been revised and re-released in different forms (my set contains five versions!)…
…and yet the film endures and, thirty seven years after it was originally screened at The Gaumont Cinema, we are bringing the original theatrical cut (the ‘European Theatrical Cut’ to be precise) back to the big screen in Guernsey.
The screening takes place at Beau Cinema at 7.30pm on Wednesday 27 November.
Our Lords of Chaos episode is now available for listening and downloading on Soundcloud, ITunes and other podcast apps.
The episode features Wynter Tyson, Lizze Loveridge and Mat Walters plus an interview with local musician Brett Stewart. In the ‘Afterword’ section we discuss the explosion of popcorn that is Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw.
Clameur Du Cinema’s January screening is Aleksey Germain’s Khrustalyov, My Car! (1998).
Originally released in 1998 and presented here in a newly restored 4k scan, Khrustalyov, My Car! focuses on military doctor General Klenski who is arrested in Stalin’s Russia in 1953 during an anti–Semitic political campaign and accused of being a participant in a so-called “doctors plot”. It is regarded as an inspiration behind Armando Ianucci’s The Death Of Stalin (2017), and remains one of Aleksey German’s most enduring and satirical films amongst his exclusive body of work with includes the unforgettable Hard to Be a God (2013).
“Khrustalyov, My Car! is relentless and overpowering, yet the film is often poetic in its blend of pathos, freneticism, surrealism and matter of factness” – Time Out
“In this snowbound fever dream, beauty and anarchic humour co-exist with horror” – The Wall Street Journal
All pre-bookers will be entered into a draw for a copy of The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov and The Death of Stalin by Fabien Nury and Thierry Robin, the comic that inspired the movie.
Suitable for ages 18+
The screening takes place at 7.30pm on Wednesday 30 January 2019.
Written and directed by Chloé Zhao, The Rider, based on the real experiences of it’s main cast, tells the story of a young cowboy’s search for new identity and what it means to be a man in the heartland of America after a traumatic head injury.
“Movies that blend real life and fiction usually foreground the docu-style realism, using the poetry as grace notes or punctuation. Zhao privileges both, and in so doing creates a work of heartbreaking beauty.” – Bilge Ebiri, Village Voice
I’ve seen Dune more times than I really should have. I’ve gone through phases with it and in 2013 I wrote the following…
“Although not perfect (what film is?) it’s a great big, weird and ballsy piece of sci-fi. What really feels right is the savage nature of the world in which it’s set both in terms of the political / societal set up and hardness of the dessert planet Arrakis. Everything in this film is life and death. Highly Recommended.”
Having finally seen it with an audience, on a screen larger than my TV, I’ve got to admit that it’s a bad movie. I’ve ended up here because my mind connected a shot of Alia, the young sister of the main character, with Lawrence of Arabia (1962).
It’s hard to believe that the reference isn’t intentional, that Lynch isn’t invoking Lean. Both stories feature outsiders leading desert warriors in military campaigns that are linked to larger political games. The Middle Eastern influences in Dune are front and centre and so is the importance of a precious natural resource. When O’Toole’s Lawrence dances, it’s because he’s infatuated with his robes and his shadow is his partner, he can’t help but check his reflection in his dagger. Alia is similarly lost in herself and that’s why the shot is so striking, it’s the one moment in Dune in which a character isn’t pushing the plot forward or saddled with overly obvious inner monologue. The two texts touch for one moment. The big difference is that Lawrence… has subtext (voiced perfectly in that scene) and is alive, Dune is dead because it has none.