Saturday, February 10, 2018

Seen in… January 


Harold Lloyd doing what he does best - creating an iconic movie moment. Image via The Movie DB.

Britain's darkest hour may have been in the spring of 1940 but for Canadians it is deep in the heart of winter. Winter can be a wonderful and magical time of year – if you are between the ages of five to ten years old. Unfortunately the rest of us have to shovel and plow our way to work and back. You wake in the bleak darkness and arrive at your place of work with what can be best described as a brightening greyness. In Toronto, winter is a time when the sky is an even and unbreakable grey. It's time to go home when you glance at the window only to see your own face staring back from the blackened glass. You wake and go home in the same unforgiving dark. It's a surprise I left the house at all, but between volunteer engagements, meetings and advocacy bike rides I did manage to get to the theatre and see a few films at home.


Gary Oldman poisoning himself.Image via The Movie DB.

Darkest Hour

This film is about the dark days of May 1940 when Nazi forces had advanced so quickly through Europe they simply shocked their foes and the majority of Britain’s army were trapped on a beach in France without any way out. Within the British government Winston Churchill had just been appointed prime minister and was being pressured to negotiate with Hitler via Italy. Churchill sees no way of winning as he rightly argues you can’t “negotiate with a tiger when your head is in its mouth.” When the near miraculous evacuation of Dunkirk offers a spark of hope Churchill delivers his famously rousing speech in the House of Commons: “We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender” which led one parliamentarian to quip that Churchill had weaponized the English language. The speech led to support of Churchill and a turning point that led to the Battle of Britain. The thing about this film is, that not for one second do you think, “Wow Gary Oldman is really a lot like Winston Churchill”. You simply forget there is a Gary Oldman at all as he so completely inhabits the makeup and mannerisms of someone so iconic and renders him full of doubts, resolve and humanity. If this performance doesn’t win Oldman the Academy Award then nothing will. The film is surprisingly gripping despite being a war movie set almost entirely in smoky rooms of government offices and war rooms. Having seen Christopher Nolan’s taut rendition of the Dunkirk evacuation only heightened the urgency playing out behind large dark oak doors of the British establishment.

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency Season 2

Despite bingeing through this series like a starving man at an all you can eat Mandarin buffet, it really wasn’t as profoundly quirky or holistic as season one. In a strange way it seemed almost too fantastical. I think this series works best when Dirk and the gang fall into the weird little coincidences that are too weird to be just a coincidence but at the same time might just be the only way to explain what’s going on.

I don’t feel at home in this world anymore

I watched this Netflix original about a woman who takes vigilante justice to the next level after her home was robbed, mostly because Elijah Wood appeared to be playing the same lost loner as he plays in Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. He was so similar that I briefly thought this movie was a cross-over with the other show, also a Netflix original. Melanie Lynskey is Ruth who reaches a type of tepid simmer and tired of being knocked about by life sets out to take back a single iota of control. Her neighbour, Tony, played by Wood is so purposeless that he jumps at the opportunity to do anything at all. What seems at first to be perhaps a quirky mystery or buddy movie morphs into something less funny and more dangerous which is what makes the movie interesting. Beneath the humour is a menace and yet the fact that the people who are so menacing are also so pedestrian is what makes it all the more creepy. So this movie is quirky, funny and creepy… if that helps at all.
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