Plane Triple Bill

A trans-Atlantic flight meant a chance to catch up with some films that had passed me by. You too can see this if you jump on a plane to the US. Or you could just rent them, as they're all recently available on DVD and streaming services. Probably cheaper that way. And you can eat less crappy food whilst watching them.

In Kingsman: The Secret Service (Matthew Vaughan, 2015) Taron Egerton plays a teenage tearaway taken under the wing of suave super-spy Harry Hart (Colin Firth) as they attempt to foil a diabolical plot for world domination by megalomaniac Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson). It's an enjoyable action-comedy, mixing deliberately over-the-top action set-pieces with self-knowing winks at the audience about the spy genre that it is both celebrating and sending-up. That said, there's a slight uneasiness about the casual violence on display and it does all feel like a 15-year-old boy's wish-fulfillment fantasy, particularly when it culminates with a badly-judged attempt to one-up the Bond style sexual innuendo. Bond just about pulled it off (*snigger*), here it's just crass and unnecessary. Let's hope the inevitable sequel shows a bit more class and maturity.

American Sniper (Clint Eastwood, 2015) tells the true-life story of US Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, who racked up at least 160 kills over four tours of duty in Iraq. It's an efficient war movie, with predictable set-pieces assembled together in customary unfussy style by Eastwood. As one might expect, however, it alters some real facts for dramatic effect and plays down the more unsavory aspects of both its main character and the US involvement in the Iraq war, which means it runs dangerously close to glorifying its subject at times. As such, it lacks the intelligence and layers of, say, Zero Dark Thirty or TV mini-series Generation Kill, but view it as just a film and it'll pass the time alright.

Still Alice (Glatzer & Westmoreland, 2015) is the best of the three films here, but it's also the toughest watch, an unflinching look at how Alice (Julianne Moore) and her family are affected when she is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's Disease. It's a story set-up which ultimately celebrates family and love, although in making Alice a celebrated professor of linguistics, therefore suggesting her affliction is all the more devastating, it perhaps over-eggs things a bit unnecessarily. Nevertheless, it's sensitively observed, thanks in part to the input from co-director Richard Glatzer who himself suffered from a debilitating neurological disease which sadly resulted in his death just a few months after the film was completed. Moore, who won a well-deserved Oscar, is typically brilliant as the proud woman slowly losing control over her brain and words, a process which is heartbreaking and upsetting to watch. Indeed, it's almost like a horror film with the disease an unstoppable, implacable foe, but all the more frightening for being something that could affect you in real life. For that reason, it may not be everyone's choice of film if you're looking for some entertainment of an evening, but if you're looking for something affecting that will impact on the emotions and, ironically, the brain, look no further.

No comments:

Post a Comment