One of the stories of the weekend was the cockup at the Oscars on Sunday night, with La La Land initally being declared as “Best Film”, when it was actually Moonlight.
(Supposedly, the auditors/organisers had “mistakenly given the wrong category envelope to the presenters”)
What I loved though, was the speed that companies like Specsavers got in on the act…
So yes, last night I went to see John Wick Chapter 2 at the cinema. If nothing else, it amused me that they were putting on the preview release of this on Valentine’s Day, as it’s just about the absolute antithesis of a romantic film.
I really liked the first John Wick film, which was a bit of a sneak hit that people hadn’t really been expecting. It’s exceptionally violent – as you’d kind of expect from the basic premise of “a retired killer comes back to avenge the death of those important to him” – but also highly stylised and stylish, with stuff shown in ways that hadn’t really been done before. It was also helped by the fact that the directors ( Chad Stahelski and David Leitch ) are both ex-stuntmen, who know what works and what looks good. They brought that experience and energy to the original, and continue to do so for the second chapter. It also made a decent amount of money ($86m from a $20m budget) so a sequel was always likely to happen.
Wick 2 is written and directed by the same primary people (although no David Leitch this time) and managed to keep all the same primary cast, while also adding in some pretty high-powered names along the way.
Happily, it is just as insane and violent as its predecessor – if you’re not into that type of film, just don’t even contemplate going. I have no idea how it got away with being a 15 certificate, but it did, so there we go.
Again, it’s also hyper-stylised, with an individual style and look, as well as building up an ample mythology that will (I suspect) take it into a third (and probably fourth) film with ease. It also looks like it’ll do better than the original – at the time of writing it’s already made $44m on a $40m budget, and that’s before the UK release. Indeed, it only came out in the US on 30th January, so it’s had two weeks there, and made its money back already. Not bad going.
So yeah, worth seeing, assuming you like the same sort of ridiculous rubbish as I appear to…
And here we are, once again, on February 14th, Valentine’s Day – one of the most pointless ‘special occasions’ known to man.
In a break with tradition, I’m being good this year. The last few years, I’ve been an absolute dickhead, but not this year.
What I have been doing is booking a table for two at a restaurant for the evening of Feb 14th, and then going on my own. It really messes with people, to be there, looking sad and abandoned on Valentine’s Day.
If I’m in a particularly cruel mood, I’ve also taken along a ring-box, putting it on the table. That really gets to people.
This year though, I’m not doing it. Instead, I’m off to see John Wick 2. Which will be mental, ridiculous, and hugely entertaining.
Yesterday, there was a bundle of news coverage about Apple’s supposedly-upcoming “Cinema Mode” for iPhones and iPads as part of the next iOS release.
This will (again, supposedly) allow people in cinemas – and other darkened environments, one assumes – to check their phones without disturbing those around them, mainly through use of a ‘dark’ colour-scheme, so the display doesn’t glow like a lighthouse.
In fairness, this annoys me on a regular basis at the cinema – there’s always some fuckknuckle who wants to check stuff while ‘watching’ a film, leaving their phone’s volume up, or some other piece of vacuous self-centred idiocy. But really, a phone mode to cater for that?
It irritates me that so many people now seem to be utterly incapable of sitting for a couple of hours and watching a film. There’ve been a couple of films I’ve seen recently where it seemed like everyone else was eating popcorn (or sweets, or both) from rustling paper bags throughout the film, and/or then sodding off out to the toilet and whatever else.
As has been noted before, I really don’t understand people. I don’t get why someone would pay to see a film, spend even more on food and drink, then either not be able to sit through the film without breaks, or without checking their phones. If you’re going to do all that, why not wait til it comes out on disc/download/TV and watch at home, where you can pause, rewind etc., and not worry about missing bits while you go to drain your microscopic bladder?
Mind you, I also don’t understand why cinemas insist on putting all their food/refreshments in noisy paper bags. Surely there must be another option by now? A fabric version or similar? Or larger bags/tubs that allow hands in and out without touching the sides?
For the birthday weekend, once I’d done Le Manoir on Saturday, and Dinner for lunch on Sunday, it was time to make my way down to the Royal Albert Hall, which was showing Aliens on a big screen, accompanied by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra performing the soundtrack.
Aliens is one of my favourite films, and one I’ve seen far more times than I’d care to admit – both the original release and the Director’s Cut / Special Edition. But I hadn’t seen it on a big screen for a proper cinema-style presentation, and definitely never with a live soundtrack!
And it was great. I’d wondered how they’d do soundtrack/music from the orchestra while keeping the dialogue and other sound-effects, and there’s obviously been a fair amount of work involved in doing this. I assume that the music soundtrack is on a different channel (or whatever) from the other bits of audio, so it’s more a case of ‘not playing’ one track, but I don’t know.
Regardless, hearing the music live enabled me to notice bits I hadn’t appreciated before – subtle in the recorded version, obvious live – such as the drum roll that’s used for all the more militaristic scenes, and other small thematic pieces along the way.
I thoroughly enjoyed the entire thing – well, except for the seats, which were some of the most uncomfortable in Christendom – and now really want to see other films show in the same way. It’s bloody brilliant.
This last week has been (yet again) pretty hectic and chaotic.
Since Saturday’s half-marathon walk, I’ve been…
- out for an Oktoberfest meal with friends on Saturday night
- into London again on Sunday for a meal in the evening at Helene Darroze (with an added 5 miles of walking)
- then cinema on Monday evening to see “The Accountant“
- into London on Tuesday evening to see “No Man’s Land” at Wyndham’s Theatre, starring Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen
- cinema on Wednesday evening to see “Dr Strange“
Today is slightly quieter, Friday I’m in Chesham, and then for the weekend I’m up in Manchester.
I must be bloody barmy.
Last night, I went to see Swiss Army Man – and it’s definitely the strangest film I’ve seen in a long time. I’m glad I got to see it, though.
The first five minutes tells you pretty much everything you need to know – Hank (Paul Dano) is a man alone on a deserted island, trying to commit suicide, and a corpse (Manny, played by Daniel Radcliffe) washes up on the beach. The corpse is loudly deflating, which disturbs his final moments, until he realises that he can use this farting corpse as an escape from the island, and rides him like a jet-ski out to sea.
And that’s just the start.
It’s worth pointing out that if you’re easily offended, just don’t even contemplate seeing this film.
But it’s not just gross-out fart jokes and weird stuff with a corpse. That would be too simple. There’s a *lot* more to this film. It’s strangely emotional, and says quite a bit about modern manners and squeamishness as well as about solitude, loneliness, and how people are.
In truth, I came out wondering what the hell I’d just seen – but also glad I’d seen it. Even having seen as many films as I have, I really have no valid reference points for describing what it’s like. And that’s an even harder task when also not giving anything away about the film.
I liked it, but I didn’t. I could see it again, and I’d come out just as confused as I currently am about it. There’s a lot of good stuff, and certain images will definitely last longer than they perhaps should.
I think it’s too much to call it ‘thought-provoking’, but it’s also not dumb, and there is stuff that keeps echoing back afterwards.
In short, I just don’t know about this film. I’m hard-pressed to recommend it, because it’s just *so* odd. But it’s also not bad, and if it weren’t so odd I’d say yes, go and see it.
A very Marmite “love it or hate it” film, I think.