Blakeson - Writer

Cardiff-based film, theatre and gig reviews, cultural ramblings, whingeing, short films, etc.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

My Month on Amazon Prime

Having accidentally signed up to a month-long free trial of Amazon Prime, I decided to make the most of it; not only catching up with music old (Bowie, Kraftwerk, Frank Zappa) and less old (Christine & The Queens, Richard Ashcroft, Laura Mvula, Chvrches, Royal Blood), but also checking out some recent films which I never got round to seeing in the cinema. These being:

  • Paddington (Paul King) - very amusing, warm-hearted take on Michael Bond’s Peruvian bear with an emphasis on inclusiveness, and excellent performances, especially from Sally Hawkins as Mrs Brown

  • The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller) – visually impressive spin on Thurber (and Danny Kaye) but sloppily scripted and not as interesting as it should be

  • Bill (Richard Bracewell) – the “Horrible Histories” version of Shakespeare’s life; reliably witty and irreverent

  • It Follows (David Robert Mitchell) – much-praised indie-teen horror with an unsubtle STD/haunting metaphor, which is well executed but fails to stand up to logical scrutiny

  • The Lego Movie (Phil Lord, Christopher Miller) – very clever tribute to the imaginativeness unleashed by the classic toy bricks, only slightly marred by sentimentality towards the end

  • Veronica Mars (Rob Thomas) – a seamless adjunct to the TV series, with many of the cast returning, primarily Kirsten Bell, relishing a disappointingly rare juicy leading role

  • Live, Die, Repeat aka Edge Of Tomorrow (Doug Liman) –  Groundhog Day meets Independence Day, with Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, and a largely British supporting cast; surprisingly funny, even if it does sink into hard-to-fathom sci-fi action visuals

  • Begin Again (John Carney) – featuring the same plot as Carney’s other films, Once and Sing Street, in which a man finds joy in music thanks to a beautiful woman, but none the worse for that; with winning performances from Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo, it even manages to survive a prominent role for that bloke from Maroon 5

  • Carol (Todd Haynes) – a beautiful if somewhat leisurely version of Patricia Highsmith’s lesbian-themed novel, with cleverly contrasting lead performances from ice-cold Cate Blanchett and naïve Rooney Mara, and the author’s cynical view of human nature dialled down a notch

  • Mr Holmes (Bill Condon) – a twinkly Ian McKellen as the aged Sherlock Holmes haunted by an unsatisfactorily concluded case; focussing on the man more than the detective, it is more likeable than many reviews suggested

  • A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (Ana Lily Amirpour) – vaguely feminist-themed black and white tale of drugs and vampirism; moody and intentionally opaque

  • Girlhood (Céline Sciamma) – a rare look at the lives of French African girl-gang-members; compelling and gritty, even if they do all look like supermodels


  • The Tribe (Myroslav Slaboshpytskyi) – self-consciously stylised tale of teen crime, told in long takes, and entirely without dialogue, set as it is amongst students at a Ukrainian boarding-school for the deaf; very accomplished but extremely bleak

In addition to these, there were the exciting, exclusive “TV” series – a blank-faced Riley Keough transitioning into high-class prostitution in The Girlfriend Experience; season 1 of high-tech nerd-anarchism-and-paranoia drama Mr Robot; and most impressive of all, the first two seasons of Transparent, in which Jeffrey Tambor’s retired professor comes out as transsexual, and manages not to be the most confused or confusing member of his family.

Plus, I got a discount on a Kindle Fire tablet, which was also handy.

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