Welcome to this monthly movie round up. Surreal times right now. With the cinemas shut down since mid-March, there’s not a lot to go through. And even worse, there’s not a lot to look forward to in April either. However, this is only the third edition of this column and I don’t want to abandon it yet!
Review: March 2020
Movie Of The Month
A triumphant return for Pixar. It’s set in a world that used to be magical, but over time that magic has faded to the point where it’s barely remembered. The introduction to the world shows lots of fantasy elements that make me wish Pixar would do a pure fantasy film.
This story follows two very different elf brothers, voiced by Chris Pratt and Tom Holland, which seems like a very obvious and natural pairing. Barley (Pratt) is a fun-loving elf who loves history and longs for the magic to return whilst Ian (Holland) is shy and awkward.
On Ian’s 16th birthday, his mother gives him a gift from his late father. A chance to bring him back to life for 24 hours. As a result, the brothers go on a quest to make this happen. Their mother gets her own sidekick and is one step behind her boys the whole way.
Pixar has a habit of giving you the feels. How much that impacts you I guess depends on your own circumstances. This one got me more than most and it was a weird feeling. Almost took me out of the movie and taking my thoughts away from the film to other places.
The more I think about this movie the more I like it. It’s funny and fast with lots of heart. A worthy addition to the Pixar canon.
If you missed it at the cinema it will soon be available on Disney+.
Firstly, this film seemed to come out of nowhere. A big star in Vin Diesel, based on a comic, seems like it should have had a lot more build-up. I don’t remember ever seeing a trailer for it.
Diesel plays an enhanced super soldier, under the direction of a scientist played by Guy Pearce. Eventually Diesel realises that Pearce is a slightly crazy scientist (who’d have thought it?) and together with a fellow disgruntled employee, attempts to bring him down.
Fun enough, if not particularly memorable. Has some cool action scenes and a nice twisty narrative.
And that’s it, just two cinema trips in March.
Preview: April 2020
Every major release for April has now been delayed, except for Trolls World Tour which will go straight to streaming. In the current circumstances, I’m not optimistic cinemas will reopen next month. Even when they do, I imagine the line ups will be a bit all over the place for a while, especially if studios wait until the whole world is ready to see new films at the same time.
In 2011, Steven Soderbergh directed a film called Contagion, about the global spread of a deadly virus. It had a strong ensemble with Matt Damon, Marion Cotillard, Laurence Fishburne, Kate Winslet, Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow in the cast. It was reasonably well-liked at the time and grossed $135m from a $60m budget. You’d probably describe that as a decent return for an original property.
Now amid the Coronavirus pandemic, the film is getting a second life. It’s been roaring up the streaming charts. Here in the UK, it got an airing on ITV2 this week to a mixed reaction, with some viewers deeming it insensitive.
It’s a little scary how many events that occur in the film are now happening. The rapid spread of the virus around the world. The work of multiple scientific and medical organisations desperately trying to get a grasp on it. Public disorder caused by panic buying in grocery stores. The phrase “social distancing”. It’s all here.
In 2011 everybody who watched this will have seen a decent thriller and no doubt considered it very much a work of fiction. It could never happen. Yet eight years later, this is real life.
This month we rewind 15 years to the release of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. This is a science fiction comedy directed by Garth Jennings, adapted from the work of Douglas Adams. It’s one of the weirder films you’ll ever see, especially if you’re not familiar with the story.
There’s humans (Martin Freeman) and aliens (Sam Rockwell) along for adventure through space, seeking the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything. By far the most entertaining thing in the movie is Marvin the Paranoid Android, voiced by Alan Rickman, who has all the best lines. If you want something silly and quirky to pass a couple of hours this is worth a go.
This month we say Happy Birthday to Russell Crowe. New Zealand’s most famous actor is 56 on the 7th. Crowe has been in a lot of great movies, here are five of my favourites, with a quote from his character:
1. L.A. Confidential (1997) – Plays cop Bud White, “LAPD, shitbird. Get the fuck outta here or I’ll call your wife to come get you!”
2. Gladiator (2000) – Plays Maximus, “My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions and loyal servant to the TRUE emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life of the next.”
3. Master and Commander: The Far Side Of The World (2003) – Plays Jack Aubrey, Captain of the HMS Surprise, “England is under threat of invasion, and though we be on the far side of the world, this ship is our home. This ship is England. So it’s every hand to his rope or gun, quick’s the word and sharp’s the action. After all…surprise is on our side.”
4. State Of Play (2009), plays journalist Cal McAffrey, “Yeah I know…I’m overfed, I’m too expensive and I take way too long”
5. The Nice Guys (2016), plays private detective Jackson Healy, “Marriage is buying a house for someone you hate”
See you next month, when hopefully the future will look brighter. In the meantime check out our recommendations for what to do during lockdown!
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Shaun is FinalBoss’ most prolific cinephile. If he hasn’t seen it, it ain’t worth watching. You’ll find him writing about everything from blowout blockbusters to small-screen splendours as he waits impatiently for Lord of the Rings to be released by Amazon. Catch up with Shaun and see what he’s been watching on www.letterboxd.com/shaun_1982.