The Maltese Falcon (1941)

It looks like just another day at the detective agency for Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart) when Miss Wonderly (Mary Astor) walks in requesting his assistance in tailing a man believed to have run off with her sister, but when Spade’s partner Miles Archer (Jerome Cowan) is shot and another body shows up later that night, Sam soon finds himself under question by the police. His gift of the gab can only talk himself out of so many predicaments, as he becomes entwined in a desperate search for a priceless artefact that everyone seems to crave.
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My Week in Movies, 2016 Week 47

Within this year’s major blockbusters there seems to be at least a small theme of damage control. The likes of Batman V Superman and Captain America: Civil War have had their plots propelled from the outset by a need to atone for past destructive sins, and others, such as X-Men: Apocalypse, Doctor Strange and more recently Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them have at least made an effort to rectify the destruction wrought within their time-scales. This is fine, I’ve got no problem with it at all, but when I came home from seeing Arrival the other week and I saw my partner had made the mistake of renting X-Men: Apocalypse it got me thinking of the final scene, [mild spoilers, but not really if you’ve seen Days of Future Past] which sees Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) rebuilding the mansion after it was destroyed in an explosion. Visually it’s a cool-looking scene, but from an engineering perspective it makes zero sense as the two mutants use their powers of telekinesis and magnetism to rebuild a structure as though it were made of Lego bricks, instead of actual mechanically bonded components. There are bricks that are just placed on top of one another with seemingly no concern for any kind of cement between them. Similarly metal structures are erected but not welded together, as I’m fairly certain that’s outside of the power-range of either of these mutants. At this point a mild bout of rough-housing between two of the smaller students, one being knocked into a wall by the other, will cause the majority of the building to collapse. Hell some areas probably wouldn’t stand up to a strong wind. So yes, whilst it’s good that film franchises are taking it upon themselves to not abandon their wanton destruction of the world, they should at least attempt to rebuild them using registered and recommended contractors instead of making piss-poor attempts to do it themselves.
rebuildThis is all a failed attempt to hide the fact that I didn’t do a lot this week. I finally got around to starting WestWorld, and it got me more than a little hooked (I’m five episodes in, in just as many days), so my watching and reviewing has taken a significant downward turn once again. Anyway, here’s what I did watch this past week:
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My Fortnight in Film, 2016 Weeks 45 & 46

This has been my most productive film-watching (and reviewing!) fortnight in a long time, even if none of the films I watched were for reviewing purposes. Aisha and I had a couple of sickly weekends (we’re both still under the weather now, but less so than before), and much of them were spent wrapped up warm in the familiar embrace of Pixar. Speaking of which, as there’s a lot to discuss this week, let’s get straight into what I’ve been watching recently. I’ll most likely be keeping it brief on the films I’ve discussed before, and focusing more on the new stuff:
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Day of the Dead

Some months after the zombie outbreak, an underground science base has been established with hopes of developing a solution to the epidemic. Tensions fray between the scientists, civilians and military personnel living there, not helped by the lead scientist, Dr. Logan (Richard Liberty) attempting to “train” a chained up zombie he has named Bub (Sherman Howard).
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Night of the Living Dead

When siblings Johnnie (Russell Streiner) and Barbra (Judith O’Dea) visit their father’s grave to lay flowers, they notice a strange man ambling towards them, who attacks when he arrives. Johnnie appears to be taken down protecting his sister, who flees and finds shelter at a nearby house after discovering dozens more mindless attackers. Soon Ben (Duane Jones) shows up at the house too, and reveals this outbreak of unprovoked attacks seems to be happening everywhere. Ben safe-guards the house from the attackers, but it’s when they discover five more people hiding in the basement that the real problems arise.
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My Fortnight in Film, 2016 Weeks 43 & 44

It’s been another two weeks since the last update, and in that time I’ve watched the entire first series of The Night Of, so here’s my (spoiler-free) thoughts on it.
the-night-ofIf you’re not familiar, The Night Of sees Naz (Riz Ahmed), a generally decent, awkward kid who borrows his Dad’s taxi one night to go to a party in the city, but ends up picking up a fare in the form of Sofia Black-D’Elia’s Andrea, heading back to her home, doing some drugs, getting drunk, playing the knife game from Aliens and waking up in the morning to find her stabbed to death 22 times. In a disoriented panic, Naz flees the scene, but in the most incriminating manner possible, ends up accidentally getting caught and things get worse from there. The series covers his trial, with his lawyer (John Turturro) attempting to coach Naz and find out what happened on the night, and whether anyone else could have possibly committed the crime, whereas the police (led by Bill Camp’s Detective Box) see the orgy of evidence in front of them and understandably assume Naz is guilty. Meanwhile, Naz and his family try to cope with the ordeal, with Naz attempting to survive in prison under the wing of Freddy (Michael K Williams) and Naz’s parents struggling to get by outside, with the taxi impounded as evidence and the shame of their son’s arrest hanging over the family. I loved the opening episode, especially the look-through-your-fingers car crash TV that is Naz doing everything as perfectly wrong as he could, and the cranking of tension as he sits as yet undiscovered in the police station, and was genuinely intrigued for the first few episodes. However around about halfway through the season the character of Naz takes an abrupt and jarring change that felt necessary for his situation, but entirely too sudden. Ahmed is terrific though, someone I’d only previously seen in Nightcrawler, and I’m now looking forward to Rogue One a little bit more due to his involvement. I think a bit too much time was spent on Turturro’s skin issues – his character has fairly serious eczema and allergies – given they don’t pay off a great deal with the overall plot, simply adding background flavour to his character and why at times he is more nervous, stressed or out=of-place than others. Finally, I was a little disappointed with how the finale turned out. Some very relevant aspects were only introduced in the final episode, so it would have been impossible to make any kind of prediction as to who the eventual culprit was, and it was all lacking in the last couple of degrees of closure, so whilst it wasn’t exactly unsatisfying, I could have done with just a little bit more. Still, I was gripped throughout the show, and apparently a second season has been commissioned, so I look forward to it.

Anyway, here’s what I’ve been watching recently week movie-wise:
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Forbidden Planet

This review was originally written for Blueprint: Review.

In the 23rd century, mankind is undergoing a widespread mission to colonise other planets. Twenty years before the story begins, a ship arrived on the planet Altair IV and now a new crew, captained by Commander John J. Adams (Leslie Nielsen, back in his serious acting days), has been sent to see what has become of this quest. Upon arrival they are warned off by Dr. Morbius (Walter Pidgeon), but decide to go anyway, only to discover that Morbius is the only surviving member of the original crew, along with his daughter Alta (Anne Francis), who was born on the planet and knows little of the outside world. Her presence causes friction amongst the crewmen who haven’t seen a woman in months, and the addition of Morbius’ assistant, the giant Robby the Robot, doesn’t really help matters either.
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Little Children

Sarah (Kate Winslet) is a stay-at-home mother whose life is already feeling rut-like and unfulfilling, something that is exacerbated when she catches her husband Richard (Greg Edelman) masturbating in his home office with an unfamiliar pair of women’s underwear tied to his face. Part of Sarah’s daily routine involves going to the park with her three year old daughter Lucy, where Sarah sits slightly apart from the other mothers, due to their constant judgement at how much better they are at caring for their children than Sarah. They all idolise a man named Brad (Patrick Wilson), their male equivalent who brings his young son Aaron to the same park. On a bet, Sarah introduces herself to Brad, and the two soon find the company of the other fulfils something missing in their own lives. Meanwhile, convicted sex offender Ronnie (Jackie Earle Haley), who was arrested for exposing himself to children, has been released from prison and moved back in with his mother, May (Phyllis Somerville). Many members of the community are uncomfortable having Ronnie living in such close proximity, especially former policeman Larry (Noah Emmerich), who makes ruining Ronnie’s life his own personal obsession.
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October 2016 Update

So October was my least productive month in possible my site’s history, amassing a total of just four posts, two of which were weekly updates. Needless to say, I didn’t hit my targets. Wedding preparation stepped up a gear, as did day-job commitments dealing with the fall-out from last month’s China trip, plus my TV viewing is far exceeding my movies, with season 2 of The Wire, season 7 of The Walking Dead and season 1 of The Night Of all being part of October’s obsessions.

Out in the real world, October saw me at least partially embracing an annual event I normally shy away from, Halloween. It’s a significantly lesser holiday here in the UK than elsewhere in the world, but a friend of mine holds an annual party regardless and, despite living pretty damn close I’d never gone before, with this being at least his 8th year hosting one. I’ve always been busy or exhausted or away, but this year I had nothing going on, plus he’s moving soon so it’ll be his last party, so the plan was made and I sorted out a Dr. Alan Grant costume that absolutely no-one recognised until I produced the paper mache velociraptor claw, and even then I’d say less than six people got it. Philistines. Anyway the party turned into a late on, or rather an exceedingly early one, as I drank rather too much alcohol (I had almost an entire litre of amaretto to myself, plus numerous whiskies and rums) so my decision to walk two hours home at 4am without a jacket was probably not my best, and might explain the stinking cold I have now. Still, I had a good time, regardless of how much of a waste the following Sunday was (I’d set aside the morning to get some writing done, this did not happen).

So as mentioned, brace yourselves for a truly meagre list of October’s blogging accomplishments:

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