Three to do this week so I will try and be succinct.
First up is another Jack Ryan tale, Shadow Recruit (2014) starring the incredibly blue eyed Chris Pine as Ryan, directed by Kenneth Branagh and he also stars as the baddie, Viktor Cherevin. This movie kind of precedes our previous one starring Ben Affleck, as in this one we see how Ryan becomes a marine, the injury and subsequent long recovery he has afterward, and his recruitment into the CIA. Kiera Knightly plays the med. student helping him to walk again, and Kevin Costner is Harper, the guy who recruits Ryan. The plot jumps 10 years and is one of financial skullduggery by the Russians, who are about to collapse America’s financial system after blowing up Wall Street. As always I checked out the critics reviews, it got a mixed bag but this one by Kyle Smith of The New York Post most resonated with how I felt about it. “Despite the occasional hard-to-believe moment, the reboot of the 1990s franchise is soundly structured, smart and fast, with a plausible central scenario, several gripping moments and well-wrought dialogue. If it isn’t quite as gritty or intelligent as the Jason Bourne movies, it is close enough“. We did enjoy it a lot, it’s sleek and well paced, and the acting is convincing.
Phil’s Thursday retro movie is Flesh and Bone (1993) starring Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan, and this was just marvelous to watch. Written and directed by Steve Kloves ( he also did The Fabulous Baker Boys and all but one of the Harry Potter movies). It’s quite a dark movie, and I’m leaving spoilers out completely, seriously go into it fresh if you haven’t seen it. Quaid and Ryan work together beautifully, the whole movie hinges on their performances and they are well supported by James Caan with a debut by a young Gwyneth Paltrow. The scenery of the Texas plains is put to good use by Kloves. It’s a a riveting film about the way the sins of the fathers are visited upon the next generation, and refuses to capitulate to any glib summations about human nature.
Our final film was my choice for Saturday after I’d read a review for an Amazon Prime movie which sounded right up my street. The Vast of Night (2019) is a science fiction story, but no aliens/superheroes running around, at least not in person, and not even scary! Andrew Patterson makes his debut as a director and films the movie as if it were a TV episode of something like The Twilight Zone. The plot is not complicated, or really original. Set in the 1950’s and revolves around two characters, a 16 year old switchboard operator, Fay, played by Sierra McCormick, and a radio D.J, Everet played by Jake Horowitz. One night Fay hears a strange sound coming through the radio and her switchboard, she interrupts Everit’s show to play him the sound, he puts it out on air to see if anyone will phone in to say what it is, and from there the pair investigate the sound. Stopping there for no-spoiling-the-plot purposes.
This was filmed so differently from what you usually see, and the cinematography by M.I. Littin-Menz is quite amazing. There are bits where it seems like you are watching the TV episode, a mile-long, low one shot take, even a blank screen in a couple of places so you have to concentrate on the voice that is speaking. The 50’s fashions and cars are always good to see in a movie, and the cinematic toning of these scenes is lovely. The two main characters carry the movie, Fay is plucky and eager, Everet is all faux cool and swagger, and they are just great together.
I enjoyed immensley how this was put together, and the fact that I didn’t recognise any of the actors made them more believable. Phil was more underwhelmed, I think he expected more crash bang wallop or spectacle (which my movies usually provide!!) but I had seen the trailer so wasn’t that surprised at it’s intimacy.
Mixed views from the critics, though 92% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and it won a shed load of awards at film festivals.
If you have Amazon Prime, this is definitely worth watching, and at 1hr 30 mins, won’t eat up your night!