The dread condition known as “being a parent and having two jobs” continues to cramp my film watching style. Although there weren’t that many films I desperately wanted to see that I didn’t get a chance to. Perhaps “The Lobster”. Although I I may have misunderstood what it’s about. Certainly the scene with the giant lobster destroying Chicago didn’t seem to make the trailer.
There were two stand out films for me this year. There were also several films I saw with my son, as usual. I am not the demographic for these films. I understand I should not venture an opinion on these films. All I will say is that there is no way even a large pterosaur could carry off a full grown woman, the biomechanics of it just don’t work. Oh, and Inside Out is a bastard film that hit me emotionally right in the voolnerables.
So what did Marvel get up to this year? Aside from win all the awards with last year’s Guardians of the Galaxy, which I don’t begrudge because it was an extremely good film. This year the Avengers had their second outing, and… I was a bit ambivalent in the end. I liked a lot of it, but it felt as though it was suffering from the dread character bloat that’s presumably going to be a problem with any future grand team up superhero film . Effects were as impeccable as always; there were a lot of good scenes and performances; not sold on the Widow/Hulk match; would very much have liked to see more of Vision and Scarlet Witch.
Also this year was Ant Man which came to the screen as Marvel Studios’ problem child after various issues in production. And I liked it, and not just for the ants. It pulled off a very nice heist movie, the characters were interesting (Douglas’s Hank Pym was suitably misanthropic especially). The lack of the Wasp as an active character was a huge lampshaded hole in the film, and for a variety of reasons (including how good Lily was), but even so it was a fine offering. In particular it benefited from the smaller scale and more personal stakes, and in this it foreshadowed Marvel’s new TV offerings for this year, of which more below.
I wrote an entire blog post on Mad Max: Fury Road. This was an absolutely storming film, no pun intended. I enjoyed every moment of it on multiple levels – the world building, the visual beauty, the non-stop action and characterisation. Max’n’Fury are topping a lot of lists this year, I’m sure, including that of the National Board of Review, but for me it was pipped to the post very narrowly by another fascinating movie.
Ex Machina had a somwhat misleading trailer. It certainly made the film look interesting, but it tweaked my expectations, leading me to expect something that would be way more by the numbers (beautiful robot prisoner, love between man and machine etc etc.). Ex Machina is a fearfully tense and claustrophobic story about truth and lies, identity and artificial intelligence. It’s a four-hander, mostly taking place underground where nobody is quite what they’re supposed to be, and it twists and twists, and has an ending which is… complex. I had strong opinions. I must thank David Tallerman for hauling me out to see it back in January, I think. It’s not a perfect film, but I don’t think they make those any more. It is, after some agonising, my best film of the year.
And wait – what’s that? Isn’t there another film of some SF significance this year? Coming out in just a few days, you say? Well yes, and that’s why I’m doing this post now, so that if it betrays all that glorious promise in the trailers I won’t be tempted to go off on one in a way I might regret. But it’s going to be fabulous. Just keep saying it. It’s going to be awesome lalalalalanotlisteningtothenaysayers…
TV? We got Netflix so there was some TV. I am now a firm convert to Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, for which thank you the Newmans. I also saw the first series of Scandinavian crime drama The Bridge which was phenomenal (especially Sofia Helin’s Saga) but so, so, so bleak. I watched Daredevil (truth be told a major reason I ended up with Netflix in the first place) and Jessica Jones from Marvel, and they were very, very good. Vincent D’Onofrio made the former as Wilson Fisk – a phenomenally sympathetic character who just happened to be an utterly amoral villain. I loved his relationship with his henchman, Wesley, because it’s nice to see a criminal mastermind who actually values the help. Jones, I think, was even better than Daredevil (as with all opinions, strictly imho). Tenant’s Kilgrave was not a sympathetic villain but he was a terrifying one – from way before we properly meet him, even. He’s a character begging to be turned into moustache-twirling demon king, and instead gets a subtle, believable performance that is all the more creepy for it. Krysten Ritter matches him scene for scene, and again the overall cast is extremely strong. And it’s a series with a great deal to say on abusive relationships. And it’s grim as hell.
Aaaaaaaand I’ve also just finished Capaldi’s 2nd series of Dr Who which was, I think, the best of the new Who series, taken as a whole – more solid episodes, very few weak moments, and the 2-parter structure let a couple of the stories rescue themselves from apparent pits they jumped into in the first half. Especially I thought there was some of the best writing the series has had. My personal favourite episode? The Woman Who Lived.