Some Super-Brief Movie Reviews

Since I’m still fried from a cross country trip, I won’t go into great detail on any of these, but here’s a batch of movies worth checking out, some recent, some old:

Old Henry (2021) – a very well made old fashioned straight-forward western, with a nice reveal that I’m ashamed of myself for not spotting earlier, and a terrific shoot-out at the end.

Last Night In Soho (2022) – another Edgar Wright entry that showcases both his strengths and weaknesses (my pet peeve is how he over-drags out his climactic payoffs, and that’s true here) but there’s some wonderfully creepy haunting imagery in this one which features Diana Rigg’s final screen appearance. A decent psychological thriller where a young fashion designer uncovers some rather unsavory secrets left over from the swingin’ ’60s Carnaby Street scene of yesteryear.

I got a bunch of Czech films from a friend of mine and am working my way through them – I started with Kolya (1996), a sweet comedy about a terminal bachelor who gets stuck with a kid after an arranged marriage for immigration purposes goes awry. The impressive thing here is how well this material is handled versus typical Hollywood formula where some dirty old man becomes superdad when getting stuck with a kid, etc. The same actor (Zdenek Sverak) and director (Jan Sverak, they are father and son) also made a wonderful film in 2007, Empties, about a teacher who quits his job and works in a market recycling used bottles while trying to keep his longtime marriage together. Both movies give you a great visual tour of Prague as well. Then I checked out Closely Watched Trains (1966), an excellent (if depressing) film set in World War 2 focusing on a train dispatcher’s apprentice and his experiences growing up during the war and what it did to Czechoslovakia. All 3 are worth checking out.

The Electrical Life of Louis Wain (2021) – with CUMBERBATCH!!!! as artist Louis Wain, everyone’s favorite crazy cat man. Most of this film focuses on Wain’s mental illness and tries to present some sort of theory of the source of his issues from his family life and the death of his wife. The performances are good, but the film is very repetitive in Cumberbatch’s various breakdown episodes (as much as I like this guy as an actor, he’s getting typecast a LOT as mentally troubled geniuses), and it practically pushes his art into the background, whereas I went into it hoping that his art would be the focus. In case you don’t know about wain, he produced a ton of silly humanized cat characters doing silly human things, but has he got sicker, his art got more abstract and nearly psychedelic, yet still always based on cat designs. The fascinating thing about Wain is how he kept his artistic skills or even got better at them as his mental illness worsened.

Hmm… I wrote the most about the cat one…. that figures.


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