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Lights... Camera... Action...

Usually January is a slow movie month, with the build up to awards season and the post Christmas blockbuster lull there can be a lack of quality movies to make me venture in to the cold night air and loose myself in the darkness of the cinema for a few hours.  However this January has been a little different, there have been a few screenings and a couple of post Christmas surprises.

The Gentlemen - Released 1 January 2020

Guy Ritchie returns to the formula that made him popular with Lock Stock, Snatch and Rock n Rolla, this is the type of movie he does well.  It's a bit of a mickey take on society and what people do when they feel they've been snubbed.

Over a lot of Whiskey and some BBQ wagyu steak, Raymond, right hand of criminal top boss Mickey Pearson, played by Charlie Hunnan who shows he hasn't lost the Geordie twang receives an offer from  Fletcher, the private investigator,  brilliantly played by a rather camp and weirdly accented Hugh Grant.

Fletcher has been hired by Big Dave editor of a tabloid newspaper who is eager to be accepted by the land/property rich cash poor upper classes who are too afraid of what he could do to them in the pages of his paper to fight back.  Only, Mickey an American born in to poverty in the US but a scholar who drops out the top English universities to build a criminal empire selling drugs and using his landed gentry clients and friends to rise to the top, has the balls to snub him at a party for embarrassing a friend and Lord of the manner.

Hilarity ensues as Mickey who has decided to sell of his empire starts to deal with fellow American Matthew Berger so he can retire peacefully with his garage owner wife.  Only things don't go all that smoothly, when Lord of Mannor asks a favour, a upstart gangster tries to muscle in and a rapping band of boxers raid one of his farms.

The mix of Tweed and twists works well in this caper with plenty of aspirational character whom look the part but always seem to be two steps behind where they want to be.

Hunnan and Grant bounce off each other well while Matthew McConaughey pulls off the American Gangster in Barbour tweeds casually and cooly, making his English counterparts look stuffy.

It's a fun romp, that doesn't take itself too seriously and that's what makes it fun.

1917  - Released 4 December 2019

Co-written and produced by Sam Mendes, this World War 1 epic has a lot of Oscar buzz and I can see why.  I'd put it up there to do well this awards season.

George MacCay and Dean Charles Chapman play two soldiers tasked with delivering a message to the attacking force who are doomed to fail as the German's retreat to the Hindenburg Line.  The impressive cast including Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch, Andrew Scott, Richard Madden are all effectively cameo parts and the film is carried predominantly by MacCay.

Crossing No-Man's land seems and easy feat compared to what the two soldiers face as they rush towards their goal made all the more desperate by one of their brothers being on the front line.  Heart breaking in it's brutality but delicately showing compassion in the face of danger, its a film you need to take tissues to.

This will stay with you long after the credits roll as the realism is palpable and we remember to be grateful for those who scarified for our future.

Screening - Like A Boss Due for Release 21 February 2020

Like so many films of it's kind, if you see the trailer you don't need to see the movie.

Childhood friends Mia and Mel run their own cosmetics company, in financial trouble they make a deal with beauty devil Salma Hayek who tries to break up their relationship and steal their work.

And that's about it, for a comedy its severely lacking, the slapstick elements are cliche and the film looses it's self in the first act by concentrating too much on setting up the climax only to rush it in less than a minute, with a poorly timed cameo by Lisa Kudrow that would have paid off much better had the ending not been darting for the finish line.  It's like playing the music while the award winner is still speaking.

Screening - Parasite - Release 7 February 2020

Billed as a mystery thriller this may not be what you are expecting.  I loved Parasite, it was brilliantly dark and powerful exploring greed and class division in Korean society.

Kim Kai-woo an out of work son of the family is convinced by university friend, a cameo by Park Seo-joon to con his way in to a job  teaching English to  the daughter  of the rich Park family.  Once trusted by the naive wife and dating the daughter, he recommends his sister whom he pretends not to know as an art thearapist, for the younger son, and slowly the whole Kim family leave their basement hovel to work leech off the Park family.

When the Park's go away for their son's birthday on their annual trip to avoid the memory of the ghost he saw when they first moved in, the Kim's enjoy the life of luxury.  That is until the house-keeper they ousted by exploiting her allergy to peaches comes calling.
And so initiates a rather unexpected unravelling of all their lives.

Having seen Park So-dam in Cinderella with Four Knights, I was extremely impressed with her range as  Kim Ki-jeong the cunning and sly daughter who plays every person expertly yet still shows a childish side.

Clever, quick witted and brilliantly directed, I hope this film does well at the Oscars - it definitely deserves to.

Screening - Greed  - Due for Release 21 February 2020

Charting the rise and fall of self made British Billionaire Sir Richard McCreadie.  After 30 years ruling at the top of British Fashion retail he is falling from grace and struggling to save his reputation.  In a last ditch attempt to raise his profile once more he hosts a lavish party on the Greek island of Mykonos.

While parallels can be drawn to recent high street events, if this film was aiming to be a sartorial examination of greed, power and wealth it failed miserably.  Told in a weird out of kilter flash back fashion, using the character of Nick a biographer to flip back and forth in McCredie's history it seems this is his only function and it is poorly executed.

The film focuses on too many issues from fast fashion, brutal labour exploration, fraud, the refugee crisis so much so it does none of them justice.  The film bumbles along flicking between the planning and execution of a gladiator themed party in Greece (?) and the retelling of McCreadie's life to this point.

It's really unfurling film, there's not enough comedy to make you laugh or enough focus on the issues to fully expand beyond a nod towards the issue.  The introduction of the refugees, a daughter who is confused about her reality TV Life vs real life and a son with and Oedipus complex all feel contrived and ridiculous with not one story line seeming to have a workable conclusion.

The constant references to Gladiator also seem forced and as ridiculous as the costumes the staff are forced to wear for the party.

Time is precious so I would't waste it on this one.


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