This Week in Geek (24-30/08/15)


Got a couple of DVDs this week: Inherent Vice and Blackhat. That is all.


At the movies: I'll preface by saying I've never seen more than a few minutes of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. TV show, so if you wanted me to actively compare the new film to it, I can't help you. It shouldn't matter. I thought UNCLE was a terrific entertainment, both exciting and funny, and making good use of its Cold War setting. It's Guy Richie's follow-up to Sherlock Holmes, basically. Same mix of slickness, fun and convoluted storytelling applied to the spy genre. Henry Cavill as Napoleon Solo is basically how I'd want a Silver Age Superman to be played, essentially untouchable even when he's clearly lost. He's as cool and controlled as Armie Hammer's Illya Kuryakin is on the edge of losing; the contrast holds a lot of (yes, realized) potential. And Alicia Vikander's Gaby as the third member of this three-hander is full of surprises as well. Somehow, Hugh Grant's Waverly still gets all the best lines. It's set up as UNCLE's origin story and primed for a sequel, but I hear it didn't do great at the box office, which is a damn shame. Don't know why they didn't market it more around Richie's name...

DVDs: As part of my I-MUST-CheckMovies 2015 Project, I'm watching 52 movies everyone seems to have seen and liked, and that I have not. Next up: Chinatown. I have severely mixed feelings about this 1974 classic, and I can't decide why that is. While Jack Nicholson is properly magnetic as a period private dick who stumbles upon a municipal conspiracy while investigating an adulterer, and the mystery itself keeps one's attention all the way through despite a certain deliberateness, I had a difficult time getting into Roman Polanski's tribute to film noir. For one thing, he is way too precious about laying in period detail - that 2-dollar bill, for example. For another, the lurid third act twist is way over the top and unnecessary, and I'm not sure what it brings to the picture exactly. Well, I guess I do - it makes the ending even darker and more depressing - but still feels a step too far (you could still have the threat of abuse without it). And while I understand that "Chinatown" is a stand-in for the protagonist's oft-alluded to past, it seems a shame not to fulfill the title's promised exoticism. I mean, what, not pulp enough?! Well made, well acted, an interesting mystery, good use of pulp/film noir plot elements, but left me a little cold an in no hurry to watch it again.

I've finished with Millennium Season 2, and if you're interested, just look back through the last 3½ weeks of daily reviews. I will say that it was a hard road, because new showrunners Morgan & Wong completely revamped what was a dark and literate crime show into a supernatural conspiracy series, and I didn't appreciate that until the middle of the season. Still, it wasn't what we originally signed up for, and you can just tell in Chris Carter's face in the making of the season that he had one of his babies taken away from him and raised in another faith. He's very gracious, mind you, and not at all bitter, but the fact Morgan & Wong actively refused to be interviewed for the documentary (says so at the end) perhaps speaks to some acrimony in the production team. Who knows. The DVD also includes another segment with the group that served as the Millennium Group's inspiration and Millennium's consultants, though they swear they're not an artifact-seeking cult; and commentary on a couple of episodes.


Michael May said...

I'm just going to co-sign your Man from UNCLE review.


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