FLICKS. RIFFS. AND OTHER BITS.

Talking movies, music and other close encounters of the social media kind.

FIVE MOVIES IN 5 MINUTES.

Here’s my review of a five movies I’ve seen in the last couple of months. It will only take you five minutes to read this.

WONDER WOMAN

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Gal Gadot is indeed a wonder in this role – her stunning look mixed with total naivety is fun to watch as she shows off her best intentions of saving the world. The film does channel the old hollywood romantic movies of the 1940s giving Chris Pine and Gal Gadot scenes to spark their romance. Sure, the movie is very good but it’s not great. The villain wasn’t convincing at all – looking like a drab old man that totally lacked a menacing presence that would match the gravitas of the greek God of War. At least the DC Cinematic Universe have come back after the dismal Batman v Superman.

WAR OF THE PLANET OF THE APES

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I enjoyed the second film ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ – it had great action sequences, a brilliant Andy Serkis giving Caesar more acting chops, and Gary Oldman (who’s always bloody good). So I was really excited to watch the final instalment and it starts off brilliantly – and then it just drags. The slow pace of the middle act tries to be solemn and serious and the final act of the film channels Apocalypse Now and WW2 concentration camps and in some respects the heavy burden lets the movie down. Woody Harrelson playing both a Kilgore and Kurtz like character also felt contrived. I dunno, the film reviews rave this film as a masterpiece. I didn’t see that. The second one was much better. Disappointed.

SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING

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The movie jumps off the screen and spins itself silly –  much like the wired-hyper energized character of the webbed hero Peter Parker himself. Tom Holland is as hyper as drinking a mega size can of Red Bull, but for me (compared to Tobey Maguire and Allen Garfield) is the weakest of actors who’s played your friendly neighbourhood superhero. But it’s a fun romp no less, from the classic punk music of the Ramones to the English Beat and The Rolling Stones (even Flock of Seagulls), the movie rides on a wave of energy that’s great in parts and not-so great in others. Example. Peter’s sidekick friend who’s suppose to bring the laughs really doesn’t.

As usual Tony Stark and Happy played by Robert Downey Jnr and Jon Favreau are a hoot – but it’s Michael Keaton as ‘The Vulture’ who brings the real menace to proceedings.

DUNKIRK 

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This is one of the more unique War films I’ve seen. Even though the scenes take on a visceral quality similar to ‘Saving Private Ryan’ I thought this film took more of its direction towards Terrence Malick’s ‘The Thin Red Line’ – especially with the cinematography (brilliant work by Hoyte van Hoytema) and the abstract plot narrative.

Dunkirk is not so much a battle as a rescue operation – when in 1940 over 400,000 British troops were left on the beach in Dunkirk – exposed to german bombs and airplanes-waiting to be rescued.

Under the capable Director Chirstopher Nolan, this film plays more like an action thriller, where it’s a race against the clock to rescue the stranded British soldiers on the beach from relentless German Stuka fire and bombs. Right from the opening frame there is no respite – the movie’s visceral pace never lets up, and that can be put down to one hell of a soundtrack from music composer Hans Zimmer, who holds that tension throughout the whole film.

At under two hours, you don’t feel for the characters as a normal film narrative might take.  The characters are not named and there’s very minimal character development during the film. It’s just the rescue mission and how they react to the situation. And that’s it. And that’s all it ever needs to be.

And then there’s the stellar cast. On the land – Kenneth Branagh is great playing the tense commander on the dock, and on the sea – Mark Ryland also as the stoic father, who with his two sons sail to Dunkirk to rescue the stranded British Troops.

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And flying up in the air – Tom Hardy plays the heroic spitfire pilot who doesn’t say as much as four sentences throughout the whole film, yet shows enough in his eyes. He’s had enough practice though – after wearing masks in the movies The Dark Knight and Mad Max: Fury Road, this is a walk in the park for him.

It was great to see this at the Embassy with the dolby sound and if you get the opportunity to watch this on IMAX – take it.

BABY DRIVER

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With music being the most important element in this film – where the main character lives his life as a getaway driver while listening to his iPod, ‘Baby Driver’ is more a musical than a fast & furious driving action flick. From the opening sequence when the whole car chase is synced to the tune of ‘Bellbottoms’ by the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – there’s a freedom and abandon that’s fresh and original on the big screen.

With a sizzling soundtrack of Retro Soul, Rock, Funk and R&B tracks that’s so hipster-cool you’ve never heard of them – like ‘Harlem Shuffle’ by Bob & Earl, ‘Egyptian Reggae’ by Johnathan Richman & the Modern Lovers, ‘Bongolia’ by the Incredible Bongo Band (yes that’s is a real band) to Queen’s underestimated ‘Brighton Rock’ and the hippy 70’s hard (prog) rock of Focus and their great track ‘Hocus Pocus’. Hearing these classic tracks play out on the screen was sheer fun. Director Edgar Wright sure has good taste when it comes to selecting music.

And playing against all this is a brilliant cast – Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm, Elza Rodriguez  all lend a hand to young actor Angel Elgort who plays ‘Baby’ – who makes the cars screech, break and dance when he’s behind the wheel.

Dancing aside, it does lose its way in the end and the romance stops the momentum at times, but this film is best when the music is playing full blast, foot is on the accelerator, and in top gear. It’s a wild ride.

So there you have it. Five movies in 5 minutes.

You can now go back to your regular scheduled programming.

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