Sunday, February 11, 2024

Seen in January 

The dangerous dames of Joy Ride.

Winter is a time for hibernating, which apparently is quite separate from the weather. There have been no ice or snowstorms to barricade us indoors, yet indoors we stayed. My apologies to the theatre owners but even if I only had to cross the street to get there, I may have still chosen to stay on my couch. The view was good, the sound was good, the in-house food service was good and there was a cat to keep us company so it's kind of hard to beat.

Joy Ride
At its heart, this is one of those R-rated, gross-out, explicit, road trip, journey of self-discovery comedies. The difference here is the predominantly female and Asian cast. It might sound like I'm dismissing this movie, but I'm not. It is very funny. If you've found yourself put off by the likes of Judd Apatow comedies then this might not be for you. That's OK, you'll just be missing out on one of the funnier movies made in a while. The movie revolves around two best friends who grew up as the only Asians in their very white town. Lolo (Sherry Cola) grew up knowing the language of her Chinese parents and her extended family, while Audrey (Ashley Park) was adopted by white parents, and overcame racial biases by putting energy into her aspirations by working to be the top of her class. A work trip takes the overly ambitious Audrey to China, which Lolo sees as an opportunity to find Audrey's birth mother. The real twist in the film is what Audrey actually discovers about herself and her past.

Doctor Who Specials 1-4
For anyone worried that The Doctor had become too woke, you might want to maintain your head-in-sand position while the rest of us enjoy another invigorating reset of this long-running Sci-fi series. In the fifteen years or so since David Tennant was The Doctor, the character had been re-incarnated as an old-ish Scotsman (Peter Capaldi), a handsome chap who appreciated a bow tie (Matt Smith) and a woman with a charming northern accent (Jodi Whittaker) – all of whom remained decidedly British despite being an ancient time-travelling alien. For this special limited series, the creators brought back Tennant as The Doctor to reunite him with his companion Catherine Tate, for perhaps nostalgic reasons. The result is as fun as it ever was. By the end of this series The Doctor has reformed yet again to be replaced by a charismatic young, Ncuti Gatwa, who you might recognize from the Netflix series Sex Education. I wondered if the charm of this series might wear thin due to it having improved special effects and higher production values, but in truth, the show's stories and characters are the engine that makes the show run and the Tardis, the spaceship in the shape of an anachronistic police box, take flight.

I avoided this adaption of a Disney classic short (which in turn was an adaptation from a children's book) for three reasons: could they make a short film feature length, John Cena voicing the main character, Ferdinand the Bull, seemed dubious, and my own cynicism. It turns out all those reasons didn't add up to much as of course Disney knows how to tell a story, no matter what the source is. Then, after seeing John Cena in Peacemaker, I realized he was more than a one-trick pony. Cena does well here as the oversized bull raised to fight in Spain's bullfighting spectacle, but is more interested in flowers and friendship than fighting. In the end, Ferdinand proves the best way to overcome "bullying" (pun intended), is to not be one and to ask the ones who are, why they are. There are plenty of other lessons to learn in this family-friendly animated film but maybe the main one is not to judge a film by its poster art.

Keanu Reeves is John Wick.

John Wick: Chapter 4
Do I really need to explain what and who John Wick is? Keanu Reeves as John Wick, excels at this kind of fantasy, highly choreographed violence. The fight sequences really are like a ballet. A ballet where the lead dancer shoots a hundred guys in the face. Visually, this series of almost plotless action is both without rival yet also the child of a million music videos and ad campaigns. It is slick and moves at a tireless pace. Like accepting that Superman is an alien who can fly, you must be able to leave logic, reason and common sense behind before entering a world of highly paid assassins who abide by ancient rules of conduct, while simultaneously breaking those rules only moments after saying how unbreakable the rules are. Are the action scenes fun? Sure. Is the fighting style coined as 'gun-fu' as riveting as any dance performance? I suppose so. Then what's the problem? For me, whenever the film stops to take a breath, which isn't often, you have to wonder why any of it was worth it?
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