31/08/2020

Watching - August 2020

Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989)
Saturday dinner time family viewing, mainly for K who hadn't seen it before. A classic, obviously: silly but fun, lots of great lines ("strange things are afoot at the Circle K") and nice and short.
The American President (1995)
In my mind, this goes with Dave, which we watched a couple of days ago. It's a superbly made film, touching, funny and realistic - at least, in the trivial respects. Aaron Sorkin wrote it, and it seems fairly obvious where his sympathies lie - with common sense, to anyone who's not a right-wing, gun-fetishising nutjob. Sadly, watching this only points up the sorry state of affairs in US politics right now, which makes this film something of a fantasy - but I think it always was, really. Sorkin went on to create The West Wing, which also starred Martin Sheen, and Michael J. Fox's next project was Spin City, so this film was pretty influential, I think.
Moneyball (2011)
I haven't read the source book, although I mean to, as Michael Lewis's other books are really interesting. Since this is a dramatisation of a true story - the Oakland Athletics baseball team's 2002 season - I'm guessing it's pretty true-to-life. I didn't understand the baseball scenes at all, but as with Remember The Titans, it doesn't really matter, I still enjoyed it. Maybe I should watch some films about more English sport to balance things out though!
Groundhog Day (1993)
K was the only one of the kids who hadn't seen this, for some reason, so that needed to be rectified. Pleasingly, it managed to foil even her usually unerring ability to predict what would happen. I can remember C and I going to see this, in Harrow, when it came out, and it's still great. The fact that I can recite most of the lines doesn't spoil it at all (well, not for me, possibly this isn't true for anyone watching it with me).
The Holiday (2006)
High-grade, star-studded schmaltz. Pulls all the right heart strings, but as predictable as getting wet in rain. Maybe I am prejudiced but the British actors are superb (special mention for Rufus Sewell as a smarmy, two-timing cheat), while the US actors play things a little by numbers, particularly Jack Black who is mis-cast (or at least should have been told to act and stop playing Jack Black), although Eli Wallach is very good. Overall, a nice piece of fluff which I had seen before but didn't mind watching again.
The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (2004)
Family choice while eating pizza. Not the most amazing film ever, but undeserving of "near-universal critical disdain" (according to Wikipedia) - it's perfectly nice, and the presence of Julie Andrews and Anne Hathaway make it very watchable.
Jumanji: The Next Level  (2019)
We started watching the first (second? I mean the remake of) Jumanji but I didn't finish it, for various reasons, until after we'd watched this. As a sequel, it has enough different to make it worth watching, while keeping the same enjoyable formula. Yes, it's a bit too similar to the first one in places, but if I'm honest, the main difference (that the avatars are inhabited by different people) felt a bit odd in some way, and I wished that they were all the same people as before - something the makers clearly realised, as they had them all swap back half way through. All good fun though and a great family film (although B & K bailed half way through for some reason).
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)
Any film with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson in it isn't usually on our radar, but we took a chance on this anyway, and just as well - we really enjoyed it. I haven't seen the original Jumanji, so I don't know how it compares, but the ideas here are good and handled well, and the actors look like they're having fun being avatars with other people's personalities inside them. There's plenty of action, lessons are learned and there are some very sweet moments too (I'm a sucker for a little sentimentality). And in fairness to Mr The Rock, he's very good.
10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
Superb, quick-witted and fun teen romcom. Played for K, since I knew she would like it.
Le Mans '66 (2019)
Really enjoyable drama about the Ford GT40 win in '66, and the people who made. I knew some of the story (enough to know this film is something of a simplification), but hadn't appreciated the amount Ken Miles contributed to the design and engineering. Christian Bale is superb as Miles, and the driving scenes, while a bit fake, are wonderfully staged and a great opportunity to spot old classics.

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