Went to see this because the reviews compared it favourably with Under the Skin . . . as I keep saying, one of my favourite films of recent years but there is no comparison to be made. One is a genius piece of writing and directing and the other is an excuse for some soft-porn teenage imaginings, with in my view absolutely nada by way of any redeeming features. Thin, thin story; low budget [there are only four actors] studio-bound; some okay effects but honestly nobody goes to the cinema for effects and a plot and a violent ending that wouldn’t have even half-filled the back of an envelope. Never engaged for even a minute with any of the characters.
Reviewers who liked it say that the pleasure derives from working out what exactly is going on. It’s not the many full-frontal shots of beautiful naked women or the one-note performance from lead actor, Oscar Isaac. No, it’s a puzzle which needs our close attention and the naked women and the Isaac character are a mere distraction.
I must say, I thought cinema had moved on from these dated male conceits.
More conceits, female this time. This is about an aeronautics engineer played by Helen McCrory who is on screen for 99% of the time. She is designing drones somewhere in Bristol and meets an Arabic student at one of her lectures [why is she lecturing?] who seems to be attracted to her, despite the fifty or so years difference in their ages. The drone work is highly sensitive and it isn’t long before the suits have her in to warn her that her new lover is an illegal alien.
The eroticism and passionate sex continue however [although the director never shows us McCrory’s ancient body naked] and the audience is encouraged by this reckless behaviour to think that perhaps it is the real thing and that no, just because he is an Arab alien and she is a lonely woman in a sensitive defence job, doesn’t necessarily mean he is a terrorist or that he is up to no good. She takes an opportunity to investigate his laptop, left on a table without any password and when she opens it no it doesn’t bring up Tesco Click ‘n Collect, it has a screen full of black flags and Islamic militants. He offers her an explanation before accusing her of helping bring death and destruction to his country with her drone work. She then asks him how he can justify the callous murder of 57 innocent commuters on a London tube train or the burning to death of a Jordanian pilot locked in a cage and he takes out his Koran and reads her the relevant passage . . . no he doesn’t. They have sex again.
This has 2* on Rotten Tomatoes and the Observer generously gives it 3*. It’s like polishing a poo.
HELL OR HIGH WATER
This has a lot of buzz going for it, largely because it was scripted by the same guy who wrote the screenplay for Sicario. I quite liked it. It’s set in the present and is about two brothers who rob banks. The younger of the two has to raise $50,000 by Friday to pay off the debts on his ranch. As the film progresses, we find out that the ranch is sitting on top of an oil well but if they lose the ranch, they will lose the oil well.
Set in West Texas it has a strong and deliberate road-movie look about it; this is underlined with that rarest of things, a specially composed musical score. An early scene where they encounter a herd of cattle blocking the road was very redolent to me of a similar encounter we had, but not in Texas, and the little speech the ranch-hand makes from up on his horse about hoping his son wouldn’t have to do this kind of work was just terrific, and one of several scenes that lifted the film above derivative.
Jeff Bridges is in it and he brings a lot of charisma in fact if he wasn’t in it, I wonder if they would have got finance for it.
Its good. Only fault I would find would be the violence. I recognise that cops and bad guys get shot and killed but we need to see the consequences, weeping families and some measure of punishment. But this is Trump’s Amerika where all problems can be resolved with a gun.