Film Reviews by mc

Welcome to mc's film reviews page. mc has written 5 reviews and rated 5 films.

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A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Is it OK to feel bad?

(Edit) 23/11/2020

Mr Rogers is a simple man. He likes rules. He lives by them. And Mr Rogers is a very successful man. He is *loved*. He is loved by people who loved their childhood. By the by; I did not love my childhood.

One of Mr Rogers rules is, “everyone was a child once”, so let’s start there.

I’d never heard of Mr Rogers before seeing the film in spite of being steeped in US culture, like most of us. But, in the UK we had an equivalent in ‘Play School’, and ‘Play Away’. Like the generation who grew up with Mr Rogers in the US, we too grew up with Television. Which were you, a ‘Play School’ kid or a ‘Play Away’ kid, or perhaps neither?

In some ways I was much more ‘Play Away’. I can still picture the twinkle in Brian Cant's eye, and I surprised my friends 30 years later by

knowing all the lyrics to the theme song. (You can give it a great jazz groove!). In retrospect, I think I kind of exaggerated my appreciation as something ‘cool’. I’m not sure love is really the word but in my youth it was books and 'Dr Who' that offered me genuine escape; they are certainly my strongest memories. I don’t remember much else about Play Away.

I liked the village models in the film. But Mr Rogers, with his hand puppets, is everything that was alien to me about ‘Big Ted’ and

the round window, from 'Play School'. Unfortunately, Tom Hanks as Mr Rogers strays for me over the line into Peewee Herman territory. He is weird. He likes repetition the way autistic people are very good with repetition. Indeed Mr Rogers is good with autistic children. Tom Hanks may be doing his best with the real-life character but he is being given no room to manoeuvre, by either the true life story or the movie.

Ostensibly based on the essay "Can you say... hero?" written by an Esquire journalist, the story focuses on the relationship of the grown up journalist with his father. But in telling the true life story it strays freely into supernatural territory. Although the journalist is not terribly sympathetic – you’re supposed to relate to his flaws, I think – the film relies on bullying him rather than persuasion. At one point, he’s shrunk to a tiny size and forced to appear in the show. It is meant to be his redemption, but coercion is still only coercion.

As a result the film is colder than it is warm and left me wishing I had read the original essay instead.

In the end I thought it was a film made by a committee rather than by a filmmaker. It is a 'feel bad' movie - one of those that leaves you disturbed and slightly depressed without quite knowing why.

But hey, it's ok to feel bad, right?

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Irma La Douce

Lemmon Souffle!

(Edit) 27/06/2020

As the Narrators intro at the beginning could clue us in, this is a ‘tall tale’ in the vein of 'Baron Munchhausen' or 'The Grand Budapest Hotel'. From the same creative team behind 'Some Like It Hot', Wilder, Lemmon & Diamond, this takes the successful elements of ‘The Apartment’ and that film and revisits the success of both. The chemistry between the two leads from 'The Apartment', Shirley Maclaine & Lemmon, is as strong here as in the earlier Oscar winner, but with the addition of the sex-appeal and set-pieces of the legendary Monroe smash. This time, a busty Maclaine plays the sexy Gold-digger-with-a-heart-of-gold while the ‘Cary Grant’-alike we remember from Tony Curtis is encore’d here by Jack Lemmon’s ‘English Lord’, right up to the seduction scene. If it is a tour de force, the force being Jack Lemmons personality, it must also be said, the whole is shoe-horned into a slightly overcooked souffle which ends up taking 2 ½ hours to get to the table. Even so, there’s still more to keep us filmically entertained. There’s a rousing musical score under Andre Previn, there are sets from Gay Paree as lavish as any musical, and the flat-out gorgeously coloured technicolour is ‘to die for’ in place of the moody monochrome of both earlier works. Be sure to check out the flashes of emerald green in Lemmons wedding suit! Allow your eye to wander at length over the rich multicoloured paisleys in the hotel room with 'his Lordship'. Irma’s apartment is convincingly up multiple flights of stairs (if you have been to Paris you will know!) but notice the eye-catching bedhead as the centrepiece of a wonderfully modern-looking shabby-chic décor.

Ultimately it is the jokes that one misses, though this third offering has its moments:

Maclaine: (after telling Lemmon to move in) What? Don'cha like the idea?

Lemmon: I like the idea I just had no… idea

Or

Lemmon ( after claiming delay due to fog) is accosted by Maclaine:

Something different about you… wasn’t that patch on the other eye?

Lemmon: Oh yes, right (swaps the patch). No wonder it was foggy!

'The Apartment' and even more so 'Some Like It Hot' had a verbal quick-wittedness which keeps the first fresh on viewing today and the second central in ones affections over the years. Irma La Douce is required viewing for those who care to witness Jack Lemmon’s talents on full show, but like a souffle, it is unlikely to live on in the memory as one of the great meals, unless as part of a wider confection.

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2012

Film of the Decade

(Edit) 15/12/2019

What is your favourite film of the last ten years? Reading the other reviews it might surprise you to learn, this is mine. Yes, the disaster movie, with John Cusack. Now, before you give up on me completely, let me explain. I know it is far too long. The lead actor, Cusack, who I love, is terrible in it. Danny Glover as the President looks terrified - for all the wrong reasons! The best character (the Indian scientist) gets killed, and the ending is risible.

Against all that, when it comes to destroying the world, I'd argue that there is no better film in cinema from 'The Day the Earth Caught Fire' (1961) to 'Noah' (2014). I loved it from the first viewing and I've seen it three times.

That said, it took me two tries of watching to get all the way to that risible ending. Part of the reason is the enormous glee of the destruction. The moment when, as the plane flies by, desks, chairs and people slide out into mid air from LA skyscrapers falling into the abyss had me laughing aloud too, at the sheer outrageousness of it. The great waves engulfing whole coastlines are a sight rarely even imagined, let alone seen. From 60's let-down 'Krakatoa - East of Java' to 'Poseidon Adventure' whole films have promised the big wave. Even the initial cracks in the streets that alert us to the coming trouble have a delicious frisson, like the scene in the first Terminator film where Arnie's truck parks outside Sarah Connors house and the wheel unthinkingly crushes a child's toy. The film has the same structural inevitability as 'Die Hard' so that no matter how preposterous it gets before the end, you have been drawn in to the limit of your ability to suspend disbelief, long, long before. It repays re-watching.

I stopped watching it the first time as I was surfeited with the spectacle of what I had seen. On a third viewing, it came as a surprise to realise they are Arks not spaceships when I finally saw it to the end. I've looked to see if there are any cinema showings because I'd love to watch it on the big screen, just one more time. True, the ending is just horrible. The Ark doors open; the world hasn't been destroyed completely after

all - Africa! The people walk out into what is supposed to be a new tomorrow, its just none of them was very likable. Possibly any ending would be an anti-climax after what we have seen, but if so what is needed is something more like the end of masterpieces 'Quatermass and the Pit' or 'Where Eagles Dare' where, in the final scene, the lead characters stand or sit in silence, just looking utterly exhausted; completely spent by what they have been through.

I really did not like The Day After Tomorrow or Independence Day, both by the same Director, Roland Emmerich. The first, with its xenophobia

and misapplied technology seemed infantile, while The Day After Tomorrow was a joyless dry-run of this, the real thing. In the earlier version, seeing landmarks as if destroyed in an apocalyptic future brought a sense of shameful prurience (not glee at all), and the lovers quest through a destroyed world just seemed a trivialisation of the subject, so that the whole venture was somehow lustreless.

Predictable and ludicrous as 2012 is, it hangs together all the way through. The 'cynical politician' as the hero's antithesis is note-perfect, even when the heroes are a bit wet (literally as well as physically). The president's daughter is fine. Woody Harrelson as the batty seer gives the film one of its highpoints of humanity. His terrible animated film, so bad it's good - of which he is so proud – is a particular favourite moment!

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Harvey

Five stars - James Stewart out-Hanks Hanks.

(Edit) 14/12/2019

It gets four stars from most reviewers but in my book that slightly underestimates this gem, which stays with you much longer than the slight, smile-worthy story might warrant.

Mostly, that's because it has got integrity. It is strongly cast with each character performing better than they are written, and at the centre is the slow-talking Stewart showing that everyman touch that made him the Tom Hanks of his day. It's in the same mould as Big. Maybe not so laugh-out-loud but there's still plenty to enjoy, from the reply to the wonderfully named Myrtle Mae's enquiry "Do you enjoy your job, Mr Wilson?" (I do now, Miss Myrtle. I do now!) to Aunt Vita fighting off her "white slaver". You may initially have trouble swallowing the premise of Stewart, but for my money, if you do it is a better story than 'Big', having a basis in myth rather than fantasy, a proper resolution, and a wider theme, in the 'childhood friend'.

I could imagine this working rather well as a musical.

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Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (Including Wake-Up, Ron Burgundy)

Be warned!

(Edit) 22/11/2019

Dear God, please! No more Ron Burgundy outtakes at £2.50 per half-hour DVD! Somehow, they've managed to stretch two hours over three DVDs, even with the feature film on the first DVD. At Cinema Paradiso rates that's a tidy £7.50 to rent this "special edition". Be warned!

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