Watching - June 2022

Ocean's Eleven (2001)
I'm not quite sure why I chose this, which I have already seen, over any number of other films, but it is a superbly over-the-top example of the heist movie, as explained so succinctly by Mark Kermode. The plan is way too complicated, there's too many people involved, there are some moments when it looks like it will all put in jeopardy and yet it all works. Great fun though (if you leave aside the whole moral issue of making crime look so glamorous), George Clooney is masterful and Brad Pitt cheeky. Shame Julia Roberts has so little to do other than look pretty, but I suppose that was kind of why Ocean's Eight was made. I'd quite like to watch the original now though.
The Good Liar (2019)
Not my usual sort of thing, a suspense/thriller. Helen Mirren and Ian McKellen are excellent, as would be expected, and although it was obvious there was going to be some sort of twist where Mirren's character wasn't who we thought, I didn't predict what it was. Unfortunately, what it actually was, was not particularly believable. Kept my attention though and was very involving, although there were a couple of scenes I could have done without - but then, this isn't my usual sort of thing, as I said.
The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (2019)
Still full of good ideas and fun moments, even if the moralising and message is a little bit more obvious. Nice to watch with the family
The Big Short (2015)
Probably even more simplified than the book (which I can't remember much about, as I read it over eight years ago), but still depressing. The story is told in a very stylish way, in a pseudo-docudrama format with multiple breaking of the fourth wall, and kept me gripped until the end, when it becomes apparent that all the main characters will have a) made a ton of money, and b) realised how broken the system is. The real scandal, of course, is that not only did no-one get prosecuted, but that it's being done all over again.
Murder on the Orient Express (2017)
Melodramatic and overly fond of the big scenery, in an attempt to dress up what is essentially a very static locked room mystery. Perhaps the people making it thought that a faithful retelling would be too boring. And so they force poor Poirot to become an action man of sorts, chasing after someone, getting shot (conveniently in the upper arm, which doesn't bother him at all after about two minutes) and going for a classic Branagh Oscar nomination scene at the end (although Michelle Pfeiffer's almost matches it). Still, an entertaining couple of hours. And a cute lead-in to the next film (Death on the Nile, recently released I believe), which presumably was already planned.
Who Do You Think You Are: Matt Lucas (2022)
I don't like Matt Lucas's comedy much (Little Britain was awful, I thought), but as a person he seems very nice, and although I don't actually know him, there is a connection: he was at school with a girl I knew through summer camp, a long, long time ago. Karen Morris very sadly died of leukaemia in her early twenties, and her parents set up the Karen Morris Memorial Trust to continue the fund-raising she started in her last year; Matt Lucas is one of the charity's patrons. And his background is very similar to mine: a north London Jew, his grandmother came to the UK in the 30s from Germany, just like mine. So I was interested to watch this. It wasn't easy viewing - nothing concerning the Holocaust is - but it was a sobering reminder that, for so many of us, for every relative that escaped the Nazis, there were four or more that didn't.
Top Gun: Maverick (2022)
The boys (B & Z) and I went to see this at our local Vue - prices much reduced from what they were pre-pandemic means it's very good value (the same can't be said for the popcorn ...) I told them to watch Top Gun first but they didn't; it does work as a stand-alone film but all the nods to the first one are fun to spot. Most of all though, even though it's clearly a preposterous plot, it's easy to get involved with and I found myself thoroughly engrossed and even a little teary at times (although I'm a sentimental old fool so this isn't hard). The action scenes are incredible, Tom Cruise is superb and I'm reminded of how watchable he is. Great fun.

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