Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Seen in March, 2014 

Wes Anderson's Grand Budapest Hotel, image via Uncut

In like a lion, out like a lamb? How about in like winter with continuing cold, freezing rain, snow and strong winds? March was a hateful, mean month this year but unfortunately I was travelling and being too forlorn to find much solace in nature, I looked to film or television to soothe the savage beast. Here is what little I managed to see.

A Young Doctor’s Notebook
Daniel Radcliffe plays the young doctor of the title who, having graduating top of his class in revolutionary Russia, is sent to a rural and very remote hospital. This four part series is told from the same doctor’s viewpoint from pre-war, post revolutionary Russia some 20 years later. Jon Hamm portrays the “senior” version of the doctor looking back at his days as a novice fish-out-of-water city mouse doctor, exiled to a country clinic. The novelty is that the senior doctor appears at the hospital to his younger self and attempts to offer advice and (sometimes) encouragement that maybe he had wished someone had given him so many years ago. For some reason it doesn’t see to matter that Radcliffe is several inches shorter than Hamm, or that Ham’s British accent sounds forced. The conceit is set and we buy it. There is plenty of bleakness and darkness but also plenty of humour which makes for some of the darkest comedy I’ve seen in years. An exhausting amputation begins as horrific but as it wears on becomes gruesomely funny.

House of Cards Season 2
First episode in and already a shocker. Frank Underwood is as evil and cunning as ever in this Washington based drama but now he’s become the Vice-President of the United States. The extreme level of deceit and scheming seems frightening, fictitious, and fascinating all at once. Claire Underwood has already proven the lengths she too is willing to go to achieve her own agenda. This season also sees Molly Parker as an equally steely and clever protege of Underwood enter the fray. Unlike other fans, I’m not “bingeing” on episodes but more like an masochist, I’m doing my best to extend and draw out the pleasure, no matter how painful.

The Grand Budapest Hotel
This may be the most “Wes Anderson” Wes Anderson film yet. M. Gustave H. is the legendary concierge of the legendary hotel, The Grand Budapest Hotel, located in a fairytale European country in a time when the world is on the cusp of war is full of bijoux dioramas and eccentric set pieces that remind you of a perfectly light macaroon. It’s a caper movie and a jail break-buddy-road movie all rolled in powdery icing sugar as sweet and pink as any precious cake that was ever made. It’s a lot of fun and there certainly is Anderson’s trademark bittersweetness that we’ve come to know but I didn’t feel that tinge of sadness you get when you really care about the characters. Still, I miss them already. I’ll have to see it again to be sure.

The Armstrong Lie
We all live with little white lies. “These jeans still fit.” ”I’m not losing that much hair.” but imagine living with a lie as big as the one Lance Armstrong did. Cortisone, testosterone, EPO, HGH and blood doping were all methods Armstrong used to maintain his dominance in pro cycling at the Tour de France. He just didn’t dope a little bit, he doped a lot. Of course he wasn’t the only pro cyclist doping. Many cyclists claim to have been coerced by their own teams into using performance enhancers just to stay in the competition. But nobody took the science of doping to the levels of Armstrong and his team. And no one was a more vociferous defender of his “clean” record than Lance Armstrong. He vehemently and viciously attacked his critics by bullying, slandering and legal action. In this documentary completed after Armstrong attempted his so-called clean comeback in 2009 you occasionally find yourself getting caught up in the Armstrong Lie yourself but by the end what you’re left with is what an incredible asshole Armstrong is. I use the present tense because no matter what contrition he shows you really can’t believe anything he says including any words of regret or remorse.

Thor: the Dark World
This made a lot of money, right? A lot of people liked it, right? I guess it’s just not for me. I especially hate the faux Shakespearean dialog and operatic fight scenes mixed with the corny humour and nods and winks. I’m a fan of these entertaining though formulaic Marvel films, but not this one. Thor teams up with his rogue brother, Loki, to combat an evil and vengeful blah blah blah who has control of a yadda yadda yadda that could end our universe as we know it. I’m not questioning the basic science but more the confusing and convoluted storytelling.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home