Film: Interstellar (2014)

Interstellar @

After the ‘teaser’ I tend to avoid trailers for films that I want to see.  I know that I want to see them so what’s the point of seeing a collection of the good bits?  And it pays off.

Interstellar is an enthralling piece of cinema.  It harks back to the vintage sci-fi of ideas and pioneer adventure and is full of giant vistas, high drama and breathless set-pieces.  It’s got dystopia (interestingly, what we see seems to have an Orwellian leftist flavour rather than the usual right-wing stooges – this is Nolan after all) and natural disaster because if you’re going to go big make sure you go big.

It’s also, despite Nolan’s usual detachment and thanks to an incredible cast, a touching human story focusing on parents and children.  In this respect, McConaughey, Chastain, Hathaway and Mackenzie Foy are the stars but the likes of Jon Lithgow and Bill Irwin, the latter bringing real character to one of the most fascinating movie robots in a long time, make this movie solid… and William Devane is in it.  William Devane!  If there is one criticism it’s that the appearance of ‘names’ did occasionally disrupt the immersion… I guess that’s my fault for not watching those trailers etc, but those few moments are worth the trade of seeing such stunning images for the first time.

Highly Recommended.

TV: True Detective (2014 – )

There are two things about True Detective that should disincline me towards it.  The first is that I’m tired of watching police shows in which the starting point is a dead, mutilated, often raped woman.  This is isn’t a feminist thing (although the point remains) but rather a variety thing, and there are just so many police shows and rape has always been the cheapest of cheap fall backs for easy drama.  Secondly, when these conspiracies get reduced to a monster in a maze it often lets real power, those that run things, off the hook.  The implication being that the smart elites must keep the wretched poor on a leash and all for the sake of a visceral finale.

True Detective was great TV because it did these things but did them well and knew exactly when to make the implied literal.  Of course, the central pairing of Harrelson and McConaughey didn’t harm it either with both actors perfectly cast to embody the show’s back and forth on the drift between the real and the uncanny (for several episodes the opening credits seemed like a misstep then they suddenly made sense).  Then, on the technical side of things, there was that bravura unbroken take during the robbery which passed by almost unnoticed as if to boast about the sure and perfectly judged hold that director Cary Fukunaga had on proceedings.

This was treat of a TV show.  Plus it gets extra points for actually finishing instead of trailing on and on inevitably off.

Film: The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

With Goodfellas, Scorsese not only made one of the great genre pictures of all time but also a pitch perfect indictment of the ‘American Dream’ and no holds barred capitalism which leaves The Wolf of Wall Street feeling slightly reheated, especially when many scenes and arcs parallel the earlier film.  What the latter film effectively does is make the implied message literal which, well, you know.

But that’s not to say that it’s not a ‘good’ film because the 180 minutes went by quickly enough and it is funny throughout.  It also boasts a bevy of very strong performances (although McConaughey is so good in his brief appearance that you really miss him in the following 170 minutes) and, obviously, Scorsese knows what to do with a camera.

File under ‘Scorsese having a good time’.  Still kicking after all these years and that makes me smile the same guilty smile I made when I watched the Farrelly’s The Three Stooges movie; another movie that I wont be revisiting any time soon.