Talking Movies

March 13, 2021

A Journal of the Plague Year

It’s hard to believe it’s been a full year since things got serious and a Friday the 13th appropriately marked the beginning of paranoia, restrictions, and hygiene theatre.

The End now appears to be in sight. Perhaps. I’m in no mood to get Churchillian playing about with this rhetorically. But even if we vaccinate everyone and stamp out all variants and finally declare the virus dead, will things ever go back to the way they were? Will certain habits persist? And will certain activities just never return? After all if one gives credence to the 21/90 rule then we have all very much habituated ourselves to the new behaviours foisted upon us by the coronavirus. Which means it will take quite a conscious effort to break those habits and return to the way we were. And an all new consideration of risk and reward will impinge on our consciousness during those moments of decision.

  • Will we really want to go back to the cinema? Yes, there is the big screen. But sitting with a crowd of strangers in a dark confined space will unnerve us now, rather than simply annoy us as in the past when people talked obnoxiously and lit up the place with their phones, because no film is worth getting the coronavirus for just to have seen it on a big screen. And even if that risk is miniscule it will be still play a subconscious role in our decision-making, along with the obvious comforts a year of Netflix has hammered home – you can riff on the film with your friends and family in the comfort of your own home, you can rewind it when you miss something, you can pause it, and you can eat inexpensive snacks and not overpriced popcorn. You can even stop watching The Devil All the Time and watch an episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine to restore your flagging energy.
  • Will we really want to go back to the theatre? I have a certain nostalgia for the buzz of the interval, drinking tea hastily with a club milk biscuit and speculating where the action is going to go in the next act, and from watching several filmed theatre shows I know that being in the presence of live performance adds a je ne sais quoi of ephemeral magic that cannot be captured on film. And yet I can’t say I have been desperately missing theatre during this year. My theatre-going had already been in steep decline as I had found less and less shows of interest. The high price was already complicating the risk/reward ratio, as spending the guts of 40e on something like the Gate’s Look Back in Anger travesty leaves far more of a bitter taste than wasting 10e on a bad movie.  If the risk/reward calculation involves a crowd of strangers and coronavirus, well, I can continue to not theatre-go.
  • Will we really want to go back to the concert hall? Now, this does not concern rock concerts. Something which I gave up on for good after suffering thru the distracted audience at St Vincent’s Iveagh Gardens gig in 2015. I have previously fretted hereabouts regarding the future of the National Concert Hall and the potential nature of its altered programming in trying to operate under various levels of lockdown restrictions. But after a year of listening to classical music on BBC Radio 3, YouTube, Spotify, and CD, I now think that an equal problem might be my own 21/90 inertia. I have in the past fallen completely out of the habit of going to concerts because of life crises. And it took years to return to the habit. Will that prove to be the case for many other people who have simply found a different way to listen to the music they love?

February 28, 2021

Any Other Business: Part LXVI

As the title suggests, so forth.

The Sound of 2001…

I recently rediscovered a cassette tape from the 2004/5 academic year, and what a nostalgic blast it was listening to it. But along with the expected Morrissey, Killers, Franz Ferdinand, U2, Auf Der Maur, and Gwen Stefani tracks there was also a clutch of Smiths songs and Simon & Garfunkel. Because discovering those albums were equally a part of my experience musically speaking of that year. Which led me to thinking about 2001, and how my musical memories of that year are largely the latter kind of listening: the Pixies B-Sides being released was really the only ‘new’ music that connected. The rest was finally listening to Bowie’s Scary Monsters and U2’s Rattle and Hum, rediscovering Talking Heads’ Stop Making Sense, David Byrne’s Uh-Oh and the Doors’ first album. Because… in a world of Limp Bizkit were rollin’ rollin’ rollin’, where the White Stripes and the Strokes were being feted for doing not very much at all, it has to be said that 2001 was a pretty bad year for music. As it was, as has been noted previously hereabouts, also a pretty bad year for film. 2001 – what the hell was that all about? Some sort of psychic collapse or exhaustion from the anticipation of the new millennium?

St Vincent: Fear the Producer

Only three months to go until St Vincent releases a new album! And yet I am not doing the dance of joy, because I fear that bad production may have mangled outstanding songs. Listening to Masseduction and MassEducation in the last few days, along with a YouTube performance of ‘Savior’ and my DVR recordings of her appearances on Later…with Jools Holland with piano and band for ‘Los Ageless’ ‘New York’, ‘Masseduction’, and ‘Slow Fast Disco’, it has become apparent to me that the finest version of all of these twice-recorded tracks are actually the live ones. Annie Clark had produced Masseduction alongside Jack Antonoff, and MassEducation alongside pianist Thomas Bartlett, so I am at a loss to what exactly went on that allowed drama and emotion to be swamped. But I still remember the dismay and shock I had when, after her appearance on Later… in late 2017 I heard ‘Los Ageless’ on the car radio, and didn’t recognise it till I made out familiar words in the chorus.

January 31, 2021

Hopes: 2021

Filed under: Uncategorized — Fergal Casey @ 5:44 pm

The French Dispatch

Wes A writes solo

50s expats en Francais

Whimsical New Wave?

Bergman Island

Mia Hansen-Love

mixes art and Scandi-life

Her English debut

Fast & Furious 9

Hmmm, no Rock, no State

Theron is back, Cena new

Can this hit the mark?

Top Gun: Maverick

Tom Cruise feels the need

The need for speed, and danger

Who needs damn stuntmen?

Last Night in Soho

Edgar Wright does horror

But it’s also time travel

Which means Mrs Peel!!

Free Guy

Ryan Reynolds is…

An NPC in a game?!

Pikachu 2 much?

A Quiet Place 2

Clap your hands, say yeah!

Wait, don’t do that – certain death

Silent excitement

The King’s Man

Where it all began

Ralph Fiennes is M, his own alpha

World War Silliness

Death on the Nile

H. Poirot returns

But will the plot stay bloody?

Watch this moustache

Ghostbusters: Afterlife

Save us, Reitman’s son

You’re our only hope. Well, plus

Egon’s grandchildren.

Purge 5: Final Night

We saw things kick off

Now we’ll see how it melts down

Go Cady Longmire!

C’mon C’mon

Mike Mills rides again!

(Not the muso) We know nawt,

Save Joaquin P stars

Loveland

Ivan Sen sci-fi

Hugo Weaving back in fold

MegaCity, not Outback

Fears: 2021

Filed under: Uncategorized — Fergal Casey @ 5:39 pm

Godzilla v Kong

Wingard blockbuster!

But will he get lost in fog?

Does shroud Godzilla…

Black Widow

She’s already dead!

Talk about your bad timing

A badly missed chance

The One and Only Ivan

Mike White writes for kids?!

Sam Rockwell: gorilla voice

This could be damned odd

No Time to Die

“Bond’s too old” – AGAIN??!!!

Rami Malek has a mask

Does script have a clue?

Chaos Walking

Doug Liman’s folly

Is it unreleasable?

Daisy Ridley ‘stars’

The Many Saints of Newark

Sopranos Begins

But so long since that hard black

Does anyone care?

Morbius

Jared Leto’s back

As comics supervillain

They can’t cut the lead!

Coming 2 America

Now a twice told tale?

After 32 long years

Who wanted sequel?

West Side Story

Spielberg musical!

Of Bay’s fave, but why did Steve

cast Ansel Elgort?

In the Heights

It’s Hamilton man!

But not doing Hamilton

Odd, eye on China?

Dune

Its Achilles Heel?

Lead Timothee Chalamet…

Not a patch on Kyle!

January 22, 2021

Top 10 Films of 2020

10) Vampires vs the Bronx

The Lost Boys meets Attack the Block? Sorta… This was a deliriously entertaining and knowing slice of genre nonsense as teenage heroes realise the gentrifying property company forcing them out is actually run by vampires.

9) Yes, God, Yes

Karen Maine’s directorial debut was uncomfortable but rewarding as Natalia Dyer’s innocent teenager gets victimised by scandalous gossip, and is sent to a religious retreat as punishment, but learns more there than was planned

8) Possessor

Brandon Cronenberg’s second film, after an eight year wait, proved he is quite good at the family business of body horror as an assassin hijacking a mark’s mind finds herself in a fight for survival as the mark and her meld eerily

7) The Boys in the Band

Matt Crowley’s 1968 play gets a second big screen adaptation, with Jim Parsons and Zachary Quinto heading the cast that gathers for a dinner party exposing the complications sinister and farcical of pre-Stonewall gay life.

6) Une Fille Facile

Rebecca Zlotowski makes the best Eric Rohmer film since he died in 2010. Mina Farid is the Cannes teenager at a crossroads who follows her glamorous cousin into high society, but like Pauline a la Plage learns too much.

5) An American Pickle

The dream team of writer Simon Rich and Seth Rogen (flexing his acting muscles) combined for a surprisingly more serious take on the absurdist comic novella Sell Out. Yes, Rogen was hysterically funny as Herschel the pickled immigrant, but he also conveyed the quiet desperation of Ben, leading to an unexpected affirmation of faith and family.

4) Wasp Network

Director Olivier Assayas made a sharp turn from last year’s French romantic comedy Non-Fiction with this multilingual sun-kissed thriller set in 1990s Havana and Miami following the exiles, spies, defectors, and double-agents playing merry hell with Castro’s regime, the CIA, and all points in between. Audaciously structured, this was always absorbing and frequently tense.

3) Spenser Confidential

Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg combined again for a thriller loosely based on the classic Robert B Parker PI creation. ‘Loosely’: because this took place in the sort of chaotic Boston milieu familiar from The Fighter, and seemed every bit as interested in setting up absurdist comedy riffs as it was in actually solving the mystery.

2) Tenet

In a normal year this film would’ve charted lower… The Protagonist’s quest to find pieces of an infernal machine dismantled in the future had a very enjoyable puzzle piece intricacy which will repay multiple viewings, but the Debicki/Branagh emotional motor did not hum, making me question whether this should’ve been a Memento noir rather than a plane-crashing blockbuster.

Cr. NIKO TAVERNISE/NETFLIX

1) The Trial of the Chicago 7

I had the odd complaint about Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut Molly’s Game that it wasn’t Sorkin enough. No such concerns with this courtroom drama, this is a tour-de-force of Sorkin dialogue, once intended for Spielberg to direct. Every speaking part seems to have a zinger at some point, and the political import of 1968 to 2020 leaps off the screen without any need for the occasional anachronism. I watched this twice within a week with no loss of relish for the flashback structure, the fantastic ensemble, and the trademark Sorkin sincerity.

Top Performances of 2020

Filed under: Talking Movies — Fergal Casey @ 4:02 pm

December 22, 2020

O Holy Night

Filed under: Uncategorized — Fergal Casey @ 7:38 pm

This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper.

Good riddance to 2020.

I said good riddance, sir!

Talking Movies will return in 2021.

You Have Been Listening To: Part V – An A to Z of Great Moments in Film

As we throw our hands up in despair and wait for the Grinch-timed return of lockdown it seems a good point to look back at a 2020 project that is nearing completion. There has been a lack of reviews by me of new releases on 103.2 Dublin City FM this year, and what was personally an injury-enforced sabbatical from studio and cinema was made a general cinema sabbatical for all for most of the year. But if you’re eager to explore the back catalogue here’s a list of the films we discussed as the film links morphed into an A to Z of Great Moments in Film that attempted to tip the hat as often as possible to films that had an anniversary of some kind in 2020.

All About Eve

Back to the Future

Cast Away

Les Diaboliques

The Empire Strikes Back

The Falcon Takes Over

Goodfellas

Top Hat

The Ipcress File

Jane Eyre

Kelly’s Heroes

The Lavender Hill Mob

Memento

Nosferatu

Othello

Psycho

The Quiller Memorandum

Rififi

The 39 Steps

Tremors

The Usual Suspects

Vertigo

Westworld

X-Men

Yojimbo

Dr Zhivago

December 21, 2020

Any Other Business: Part LXV

As the title suggests, so forth.

The Death of Patterson

What an emotional few days it was last week catching up with network television shows bowing out… Martin Gero has been on a veritable rampage killing established characters in the final (half a) season of Blindspot: Reade, Brianna, Keaton. But to then take out Patterson in a hail of thermite. Hoist on the petard of her own MacGyver’d cleverness, trapped in Rich’s own mini-Pompeii of a self-destructing server silo, incinerated in falling flames while Rich looked on at her slow motion death helplessly. I had to rewind this a few times to actually believe that they had really killed Patterson, the heart of the show, much as Joss Whedon had enraged fans when he killed the heart of his show Firefly in the resolving movie. I understand that Gero is building the stakes ever higher as Madeline Burke becomes ever more monstrous, but there is a point at which you simply tip into excess, and arguably Blindspot has long passed it with her unpunished supervillainy: did we really need this gut-punch?

The Death of Dean Winchester

And then just two days after Sky Witness had inflicted that trauma on us 4Music aired as a triple bill the final ever episodes of Supernatural. And Dean Winchester; lover of bacon, killer of Hitler, eater of pie, vessel of Apocalypse World Michael to kill Lucifer hopped up on Nephilim grace, Scooby-Doo aficionado, and occasional Batman; died on a sharp piece of rebar sticking out of a barn post… Who knows why exactly showrunner Andrew Dabb chose Medium as his model on how to end a series, but the influence was obvious.

December 20, 2020

Miscellaneous Movie Musings: Part XXXVIII

As the title suggests, so forth.

Stripey Heartbreak

Well, well, well… this was unusual. Watching two 1980s US army movies back to back it suddenly became clear there was a bit too much crossover for a fully sane mind to handle. A hard-bitten old sergeant has to whip some layabouts led by disruptive jokers into proper soldiering shape before an absurdist war in the final reel because you can’t have a movie about the army without there being a war goddamnit. And the one that didn’t get official approval from the military in the end was the Clint Eastwood action flick not the rambling Bill Murray comedy. Clint swore too much for the Marine Corps endorsement. Even though it’s based on real life, even though people die on both sides, the culminating action of Heartbreak Ridge in Grenada somehow feels no more real than the bloodless baloney in Czechoslovakia that ends Stripes, before both sets of characters return home to a heroes’ welcome as they tumble off the plane onto the tarmac. Thinking about this paradox suddenly made me recall the complaint of an officer to George Orwell in Homage to Catalonia: he griped that their Spanish Civil War experience was not truly one of war – this was merely a comic opera, with the occasional death.

Whither Nolan, whither the WB?

Another WB stalwart has been in the wars with his superior officers… Christopher Nolan has been actively biting the hand that feeds him over Warner Bros’ shock announcement that their 2021 slate of films (many of which were their 2020 slate of films) would now be released to stream on HBO Max to get around the collapse of cinemas in America because of the catastrophic response to the coronavirus. Nolan loudly decried this use of the work of the brightest and the best as a mere loss-leader, as people who thought they were working for the best studio ended up working for the worst streaming service. A trenchant statement, that will not have been appreciated by the beancounters, marketers, and management gurus all playing catch-up with Disney’s monopoly status. Where exactly this leave Nolan’s previously untouchable standing with the top brass at the WB is unclear. Tenet failed to entice Americans back to cinemagoing during a pandemic that ‘incompetence exacerbated by malevolence’ perpetuated, but that was hardly a surprise. But Tenet despite being the third biggest film of the year worldwide at $361 million did not make enough money overseas to compensate for only making $57 million of that figure in America. Doing it Nolan’s way has left the studio out of pocket for roughly half its expected takings. If they try it the other way and that doesn’t work either maybe he’ll be forgiven. If not… is it the end for Nolan after two decades working for the WB?

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