“Detroit” is a new film from Katheryn Bigelow (the director of the original Point Break, Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty, and many others) about the Detroit (unsurprisingly) 12th Street race riot, and in particular the Algiers Motel incident.
That incident is (yet another) one I didn’t really know anything about until seeing the film. I don’t believe it’s one that has gone into ‘common knowledge’ – while I’m no expert on these things, it’s not one I’ve ever heard even mentioned, and I don’t honestly think it’s even left a large imprint on American history.
Anyway, the film is an interesting one – but (in my opinion) tries too hard, telling too many stories in one film. There could have been a film about the riots themselves, the causes, the people, the effects. There could have been a film about just the Algiers incident – although I suspect that the conclusion of that would’ve been deeply unsatisfactory. And there could’ve been one about the aftermath, the court case(s), the people, and what happened to them afterwards.
But trying to do all of those within the scope of one film – admittedly, a bloody long film at 14o-odd minutes – is difficult, at best. It starts with the riots, and we don’t even really meet any of the “main” characters for a good half an hour. Then we go to the Algiers, which is as bad as it could be – and probably pretty truthful, as one of the people involved was on set every day, advising and providing input. And then for the final half hour or so, we’re in the court case, the details, the results, and the aftermath.
If the film had been longer, it might’ve gelled better, become a whole story. As it is, it feels overly-edited, almost like a ‘greatest hits’ rather than a full story. It’s still a good film, and a story that should be told. It’s just that the story deserves to be properly told, not in a hodge-podge of setpieces.
Last night, I went to see the new Guy Ritchie film, “King Arthur – Legend of the Sword“. It is, to be charitable, a bit of a mess.
I wasn’t expecting high-art, or a high-brow version of the Arthurian Legends – it’s a Guy Ritchie film, so anyone expecting that would be sorely disappointed anyway. But I was expecting a Guy Ritchie film – a significant portion of silliness, snappy and smart dialogue, and some impressive visuals/shots. This is the man who brought us “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels”, “Snatch”, “Sherlock Holmes” (and its sequel) and “The Man From Uncle” – all of which qualify on all those things, and all of which I like.
But this one… well.
It’s got silliness – but in this case it veers more towards the ridiculous. Yes, ridiculous even within the pantheon of Arthurian stuff. The mage-driven war-elephants larger than mountains were a particular “high” point in this. But at least they were visually impressive. Which leads me to…
Visuals – it’s got some gloriously shot scenes and set-pieces. But the rest is a mess. Even some of those setpieces, there’s just too much going on for it to make sense. It needs to convey the speed and fury and chaos of battle – and in some ways I guess it does that, as no-one has any fucking clue what’s going on. But it’s also a film, and you should be able to at least see what’s happening. There are bits that are visually brilliant, but then the rest just detracts from those pieces.
Dialogue – it’s got it. But again, like the silliness, it feels forced, and it doesn’t fit with the characters, or the time. There are a couple of larger pieces that are definitely meant to be “Lock, Stock and Broadsword”, but they simply don’t work, even with snappy camerawork to accompany them.
Some of it may also be down to the cast – I like Charlie Hunnam in most things, but he does come across as being more of a supporter than a star. So having him as the main character doesn’t necessarily help things – but it does seem far more like the script is a complete dog-egg, and they’ve all just done what they can with it. And if that’s the case, then it’s really Guy Ritchie who’s primarily responsible, as he’s the writer of the original screenplay too.
All told, the nicest I can say is that it’s a mess. Not one I’d go and see again, it’s fair to say.
[PIDU = People I Don’t Understand]
There are many, many types of people I don’t understand – or at least whose thought processes are beyond me. That’s the theme of the PIDU posts (as mentioned here, although I’ll probably repeat this a few times) and may also become a bit of a throwback to the rants of yore. It may also just fade out. We’ll see.
Anyway, one of the many things that are beyond me are the people who turn up for a concert – indeed, a performance of any kind, really – or a film, and then keep on going out, or chatting, or really doing anything that doesn’t involve focusing on that main act.
In the cinema, it boggles my mind. People will rock up late, when the film’s already started. They’ll sit for a bit, eat their sodding popcorn, slurp their bastard drinks, and before you know it, they’ve got to go to the toilet. (I assume. They never come back having purchased more food or drink, anyway) Seriously, what the hell is wrong with people, that they can’t manage to control their bladders for a couple of hours so they can sit and watch a film they’ve paid good money to see? Personally, I don’t think I’ve ever had to walk out of a film in order to have a slash. Even in the five-ish hour Alien/Prometheus double-bill the other week.
I get it, some people have bladder issues, or continence issues, and there are other complaints along the way. But I haven’t been to a film in years where no-one walks out at some point in the showing, and then comes back. Yes, those issues exist, but a) so do preventive measures and things to cater for those issues, and b) I truly don’t believe that the issues are so prevalent that it affects that many people in Milton Keynes.
And then, of course, we get to the fuckknuckles who go to concerts and performances, and chat to their mates all the way through – a lot of the time barely even looking at the stage. If they are looking, these self-absorbed vacuous twatwoggles are filming the performance/act on their bastard phones and tables, and screwing things up for everyone behind them.
What’s the point? Why would you pay £20-50 per head to go to a concert and then not bother watching/listening? If all you want to do is drink beer and talk bollocks, you might as well save the ticket money, and fuck off to the pub. Let more people in that want to see the actual gig, rather than making them listen to your braying laugh and piss-awful “banter”. (speaking of which, anyone who uses the word “banter” or “bantz/bants” to describe their interactions with friends is a fuckwitted jizzwizard by definition) Just cock off and spend your money on lukewarm piss at a Wetherspoons round the corner.
At some point, it’s all going to annoy me enough that I walk up to one of these spaffbuckles and just ask what went through their minds, why they decided to go to a gig and then ignore it all, and just chat. It’s happened before, and all I got in return was a look of blank incomprehension (I’m pretty sure it was their default expression, in fairness) but it fascinates me, I want to know why they’ve decided that those actions are a good plan.
Maybe one day I’ll find out. But I can’t see it being any time soon, because those doing it don’t have the introspection or self-awareness to be able to explain those processes.
It’s a superhero/comic-book film that doesn’t work to the normal stereotypes. Most importantly, it’s one where you don’t need to have seen any of the other X-Men or Wolverine films before seeing Logan. It’s more a stand-alone film that just happens to occupy the same space as some of those movies.
In many ways it’s actually more of a Western than a superhero film, and that’s no bad thing in my book. They make a lot of connections with Shane, but it could just as easily have been Unforgiven. There’s a kind of bitterness to the whole film, both an anger at getting old, and an acknowledgement that it’s happened – and also a huge sadness about it.
In the case of both of the major characters, age is hitting the things they’re most valued by – Charles Xavier, always valued for his intelligence/genius, is suffering from dementia (among other things), and Logan’s regenerative ability is fading, leaving him sore, scarred, and hurting in ways he’s never had to get used to.
The next generation is ably served by Laura (AKA X-23), played by Dafne Keen, who is frankly awesome. She doesn’t speak for the greater part of the film, but the emotion and feeling she conveys in a glare and an eyebrow is nothing short of stunning.
Obviously, if you hate superhero and comic-book films, Logan won’t change your opinion. If you’re open to them, it’s one that is well worth seeing.
It’ll be interesting, as pretty much all the films starring Wolverine have been rotten, but I’m still willing to give this one the benefit of the doubt- it’s being sold as more of an independent film, looking at how these heroes have aged, how they’ve been treated by time, and the like. So yeah, I’ll be interested to see how it works out.
On a geekier note, the preview starts at 22:23, which is amusing. Why? Because it works out as 10:23(pm) , which works out as X:23 (we’re being geeky, so one roman numeral will have to do) because the X23 programme is the programme/code for one of the successors to Wolverine
I’ll probably write more about it in the next couple of days.
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…