Watching - October 2021

Schumacher (2021)
Schumacher's dominance coincided with the period when I was most avidly following F1, and unlike some people, I didn't find this unappealing. To see an athlete at the top of his game - and, let's be clear, Schumacher was the best of his generation, by quite a margin - was a wonderful thing to watch. Obviously, in F1, it's not just about the driver and Ferrari used everything they could to get and maintain their advantage, but that doesn't take away from the man's brilliance. Oddly, the film doesn't emphasise this as much as I'd expected, although there's plenty about his driving. Instead, it tries to balance this with more about the man and his family. Given the extensive involvement of his wife and friends, this is perhaps unsurprising. And in fairness, it doesn't shy away from addressing some of his more notorious controversies, giving time to Damon Hill to say that he thinks Schumacher deliberately turned into him during the 1994 Japanese GP, and showing that just about everyone thinks he did the same to Jacques Villeneuve in 1997. An interesting film, but as an F1 fan I could have done with more driving and less schmaltzy background music. 
North by Northwest (1959)
I watched this after seeing Mark Kermode's Secrets of Cinema episode about spies. I can't remember the last time I saw it, although the iconic scenes are very familiar of course. It's surprisingly long at over two hours, and the romantic elements are about as believable as Dick Van Dyke's accent in Mary Poppins, but it's a great plot and a classic film of course. The train going into the tunnel at the end made me laugh - I can't believe that symbolism was ever actually used, but there it is!
Free Guy (2021)
For the last few months, YouTube, that reliable barometer of public opinion and taste (ahem) has been pushing Ryan Reynolds videos at me, specifically ones where he is being sarcastic on chat shows - which he is very good at. So I was primed for this I guess, and it popped up on Disney+ so it was a good one to watch with Z. I really liked it: a kind of cross between Ready Player One and The Lego Movie, with ideas not too dissimilar to Christopher Brookmyre's Bedlam. In fact, so good I watched it twice.
Soul (2020)
We watched this when it came available on Disney+ but the rest of the family seemed to be underwhelmed. I really liked it and rewatching it didn't change my opinion. I think there's a message there but I can't decide if it's "make the most of your life" or "play more music".
No Strings Attached (2011)
Oddly, this and Friends With Benefits came out at almost exactly the same time, with pretty much the same plot idea. This is the lesser of the two though, as Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher just don't go well together, and when you start comparing them with the sassiness of Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake ... well, there's a reason I only remembered that I'd actually seen this before when I was about half-way through. Still, ticks most of the right romcom boxes.
Friends With Benefits (2011)
And just to remind myself - I have seen it before, several times - I watched this again. Sure, you can quibble with a couple of bits and pieces but the whole thing just bursts with life.
Summer of Soul (2021)
Fascinating documentary about the Harlem Cultural Festival in 1969 - something broadly concurrent with Woodstock, but not celebrated for some reason. Lots of great footage: Stevie Wonder about to enter his goldern period; Nina Simone on imperious form and introducing "To Be Young, Gifted and Black" for the first time ever; Sly and the Family Stone, probably the only act to play both this and Woodstock and as awesome as always. Mixed in with all of this is background and context footage, topped of with some very touching interviews with people who were there but haven't seen it for fifty years. Essential viewing.
Martha - Meet Frank, Daniel & Laurence (1998)
Comfort viewing.
Pretty Woman (1990)
It's a classic, but I wonder how many people watching it really think about the realities of Vivian's life? The film attempts to deal with it, but overall it seems very much of its time. There's something very 80s about the way it glosses over the sordid realities of prostitution and presents it as just another lifestyle choice. Would the story have been any less enjoyable - or successful - if Vivian had been working any other low-rent job? Or was the frisson of illegality and sex required? If you can ignore these aspects of the film then it's a nice story.
Black Widow (2021)
Fairly standard MCU fare. If you strip out the fight scenes, there'd be about twenty minutes of actual plot, and I can't say I followed it that closely anyway. One for the fans, I think (who, as I understand it, had been asking for the Black Widow back-story for a long time).

No comments:

Post a Comment