Friday, November 04, 2022

Seen in October 

This Nile looks far too lovely to be deadly.

I'm not a fan of horror as a genre. Horror movies always feel like they are out to deceive the audience, yet I enjoy a thriller and tales of the supernatural. I watched a couple of horror-adjacent flicks to get in the Halloween mood but ended the month seeking the comfort of an old favourite and a war movie as a precursor to November.

Death on the Nile

Another one of those star-studded, luxuriously filmed period Hercule Poirot/Agatha Christie murder mysteries from Kenneth Branagh (who previously did The Murder on the Orient Express). There is an enjoyable ease of this kind of entertainment, a drawing room comfort of a puzzle that will be completed before the night is done.

Bradley Cooper in Nightmare Alley.

Nightmare Alley

A remake of a 1940s noir film from Guillermo Del Toro. Bradley Cooper plays Stan, a man with a secret in his past who has come to find work in a carnie show where he finds love and a calling. He learns/steals a "mentalist act" and despite warnings not to take it too far, he takes it too far. Stan, along with his lady love, played by Mara Rooney, takes the act mainstream where he finds a new kind of crowd, yet as Stan admits, "Same grift, different threads." He isn't the only one playing a grift, he just doesn't know it yet.

Werewolves Within

There was something off about this horror, scare-fest, comedy: it wasn't that horrific, scary or funny. Despite a talented cast this movie-based-on-a-videogame doesn't stray too far from what's expected of it and what's expected of it wasn't too much.

More werewolf and less talky-talky, please.

Werewolf by Night

Like Nightmare Alley, this short horror film about a group of monster hunters finding an unexpected prey, is an ode and homage to the horror-noir films of the 40s and 50s. The production design is almost too big a star in this film, still, it is a fun little bit of adventure and seeing Man-Thing come to life is an added bonus.

Is it a lawyer show or a super-hero show? You decide.

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law

Jennifer Walters is talented lawyer and single gal, who happens to be the cousin of Bruce Banner, aka The Hulk. Through an unfortunate accident, yadda yadda yadda, she got some of her cuz's blood and becomes a Hulk. Yet, Jen refuses to believe her show is a "super-hero action" show but is really a lawyer show. Breaking the "fourth wall" is a technique taken from the comic where Jennifer confronts or confides in the reader to question the very genre she's become a part of. While many have noted some very underwhelming special effects, (there are times when the besuited Ms. Walters as She-Hulk, looks more like a background NPC in a bad video game) which is unusual for a Marvel production, the quality of the writing and characters shine through. Fun cameos from other Marvel characters only add to the whimsy of the show. Casting the diminutive Tatiana Maslany as Jennifer Walters was a creative move and she proves her comedic chops delivering lines that not many could. As added bonuses, one super-hero cameo is a favourite of mine and the lively end credit sequence illustrations are created by local Toronto artist Kagan McLeod.

Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief

The one documentary about Scientology you'll need to see to know all there is to know about this kooky, damaging, yet influential "life-philosophy/religion/cult" from respected documentarian Alex Gibney. Get all the inside scoop on famous Scientologists John Travolta and Tom Cruise and the failure of the IRS to get this pyramid scheme of faith to pay its taxes.

Toad, Mole and Ratty conspire.

Wind in the Willows (1983)

A stop-motion animated classic (in my heart, anyway) of the children's classic book about how three friends, a river rat, a mole, and a badger come together to help their loose-cannon friend, who is a wealthy toad, take back control of his life and his home, the finest house on the river, Toad Hall. I bet Sir Richard Attenborough wishes he could make Blue Planet this much fun (actually an advert airing in the UK with Attenborough navigating, uses these same characters to appeal to Britons to act on climate change).

These two chaps are determined to put the Jerrys on the backfoot and be in Berlin in time for tea and sausages, say what.

Operation Mincemeat

In 1943 the Allies are trying every trick in the book to deceive the Germans about where their initial invasion force would land. They even tried some tricks not in the book. Based on a real campaign of deception, a team is put together to float the dead body of a British national ashore in Spain. The catch is the Allies know Spain is crawling with German spies and if a found body with a mysterious attaché full of government documents were to be discovered, the contents of such documents would be carefully scrutinized on behalf of the Führer. The idea is to plant believable documents indicating Greece would be the Allied landing rather than the more obvious, and fortified Sicily. Through clever and imaginative spy craft, some luck and perhaps some assistance from upper echelon German officers who were working on their dictator's downfall, the plan works.

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