Movie Reviews – August 2019

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SO you’re back from your FIFO stint at the mines, and wondering what to watch at the movies? Here are some of the current and recently-released films you might want to catch at the cinemas or on a DVD.

ANGEL HAS FALLEN

Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman

THE third in the ‘Fallen” franchise has hit the screens, indicating there’s an audience out there for the adventures of a White House president constantly trying to avoid assassination.

The “angel” in the title refers to the American leader’s guardian angel, Secret Service agent Mike Banning, played as always by Scottish slugger Gerard Butler, with his best American accent.

This time around, the plot concerns an attack on Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman), who’s become POTUS after serving as speaker and vice-pres in the first two chapters.

After a well-staged hit kills off an entire presidential defence team except Banning, he is charged with the attempted murder of Turnbull, who is left in a coma.

If anything, the movie suffers from predictability: it seems as if the identities of the people who have framed Banning have been telegraphed from the start, and it comes as no real surprise when they are revealed.

Based on the strength of this film though, we can expect more in the series — at least until the box office has fallen, of course.

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ONCE UPON A TIME … IN HOLLYWOOD

Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt

ACCLAIMED director Quentin Tarantino’s latest offering recounts the days in the life of a fading TV star in the flower power era of 1969, half a century ago.

But while some have chosen the occasion to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing or commemorate Woodstock, Tarantino chooses to spend the summer of 2019 revisiting the Charles Manson killings, a crime that shook the show business community in Los Angeles.

Indeed, the theme of violence recurs throughout, with many of the sundry characters glorifying bloodshed and brutality, and allying it to the free-killing culture in which they were brought up.

In the movie, Tarantino ratchets up impending carnage and then releases the tension in a gorefest of stabbing, shooting, chomping, bashing, and even charbroiling.

The central characters are actor Rick Dalton (DiCaprio) and his stunt double Cliff Booth (Pitt), who have to contend with washed-up careers, while the spotlight also shines on the sweet and innocent starlet Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie), who in real life was a Manson victim.

All in all, as the film’s title implies, the movie functions as a fairy tale, as a wistful tribute to a bygone era and an analysis of a time in which guys like Rick and Cliff are about to be swept aside by a future they can’t comprehend.


LATE NIGHT

Emma Thompson, Mindy Kaling

PLAYING a haughty British late night host who scoffs at lesser mortals from her podium of privilege, Emma Thompson is Katherine Newbury, a woman whose show is a television fixture that has been on the decline for a decade, and the poor ratings show it, forcing the network to consider a replacement.

Blindly led by an apathetic assortment of white male writers on autopilot, Katherine caves in to criticism that there are no women staff members, demanding that a female is employed to inject new life.

Cue Molly Patel (Mindy Kaling), a young Indian-American chemical plant worker with aspirations to be a comedienne but without experience in network television, who gets fortuitously hired because the indolent chief writer can’t be bothered to interview anyone else.

Somewhat predictably, Molly imbues fresh ideas which succeed, including getting Katherine to become more social-media savvy, and forcing the peremptory presenter to get over her dislike of leaving the studio.

There are many other twists and turns to the story, of course, but the winning factor here is the chemistry between Thompson and Kaling, which makes them a lovable pair as they conspire, clash and come together to help restore Katherine’s popularity.

While her co-star supplies the kindling, it’s the veteran actress, flitting between arrogance and affection, who bellows the flames of the movie into something that’s slightly more than just an average sitcom.

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