Here we go again wiith a swift appraisal of our latest batch of movies over the past couple of weeks.
Captive State (2019)
A Sci Fi movie directed by Rupert Wyatt and starrting John Goodman, Ashton Sanders and Vera Farmiga. The movie is set in 2027 in Chicago, which, like the rest of the world, is under the control of aliens who landed in 2019 and subjugated all humans. Well most humans because there is the resistance of course. The aliens are known as the Legislators and they conscript people to build underground bases for the aliens, that can only be accessed by government officials. John Goodman is Special Branch Commander William Mulligan tasked with finding the resistance, known as Phoenix, and Ashton Sanders is Gabriel Drummond, the young son of Mulligan’s deceased partner, and the brother of Rafe Drummond (Johnathon Majors) a member of Phoenix. Vera Farmiga plays Jane Doe, a prostitute running a brothel who has bugged her appartment in order to glean secrets from her governmental clients. No spoilers, but obviously it’s about taking the world back from the aliens.
Fraggle rating: well, it was OK though we were disappointed the aliens didn’t appear very often. It’s filmed to look dark and murky and really it wasn’t as exciting as you’d want a sci fi to be, but I can’t find fault with the committment of the actors. They haven’t re-invented the wheel here, but if you fancy riding the bicycle of alien invasion & resistance, there are worse choices you could make.
The Outpost (2020)
A war movie directed by Rod Lurie and based on the 2012 non-fiction book The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor by Jake Tapper. Starring Scott Eastwood, Caleb Landry Jones, Milo Gibson, Orlando Bloom amongst others, it recounts the Battle of Kamdesh in the constantly at war Afghanistan. In 2006, Combat Posting Keating was one of several US Army outposts established in Northern Afghanistan. Located in a remote valley surrounded by the Hindu Kush mountains, the base was regarded as a deathtrap; the troops stationed there faced regular attacks by the Taliban culminating in one of the bloodiest American engagements in Operation Enduring Freedom. The film tells the story of the 53 U.S. soldiers and 2 Latvian military advisors who battled some 400 enemy insurgents at the Battle of Kamdesh. Eastwood plays Staff Sergeant Clint Romesha a real person who was in the battle and wrote a book about it, and Landry Jones plays Specialist Ty Michael Carter also there at the time- he also has a cameo in the movie.
Fraggle Rating. An excellent recount of the battle, with all involved giving of their best. I felt old seeing Clint Eastwood and Mel Gibson’s sons in starring roles, both look and sound like Dad and though neither is quite as handsome, the acting chops are apparent . This is a Rorkes Drift situation for the Americans, and Lurie has been very careful to represent the situation faithfully, the film was praised by veterans, including those who fought in the battle, for its realistic depiction of warfare, everyday soldier life, and the looks of the base. The Battle of Khamdesh left 27 Americans wounded and 8 dead, and Romesha and Carter each received the Medal of Honour, members of what became the most decorated unit of the war. All good!
Wag The Dog (1997)
I chose this movie as it was mentioned in glowing terms by Eddie or Alex, can’t remember which. It’s a political satire black comedy, directed by Barry Levinson and stars Dustin Hoffman, Robert De Niro, and Ann Heche. The plot centres on a spin doctor Conrad Brean (De Niro) brought in by presidential aide Winnifred Aimes (Heche) to sort out a scandal with the US President as he’s been caught in flagrante delecto so to speak, in a cupboard with an underage girl and it’s two weeks before his next election is due. Brean decides the best thing to have to distract the American public from the scandal is a war. He meets with a hollywood producer Stanley Motts (Hoffman) to create the fictional war which is to be set in Albania, and this includes a theme song (enter Willie Nelson) and fake footage of an escaping orphan refugee (Kirsten Dunst). Dennis Leary is in as the ‘Fad King’ (wasn’t sure what he was doing for the movie and he talked at 90miles an hour so didn’t get much of whatever he said either), Woody Harrelson as a criminally insane Army convict, William H Macy as a CIA agent, and a few other famous faces pop up here and there. I won’t do spoilers but I will leave a link to Eddie’s review as he liked it more than we did.
Fraggle Rating. A clever movie still relevant in the fake news world we now live in, and as it coincided with the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky affair was often compared with all the shenanigans around that. Although we appreciated the cleverness we found the acting too cartoonish, Hoffman in particular seemed to be hamming it up, although he was nominated for an Oscar so what do I know? Heche seemed a bit OTT and De Niro more or less phoned it in. For a more in depth and worthy review visit Eddie here, https://film-authority.com/2021/06/09/wag-the-dog/ .
Sexy Beast (2000)
Jonathan Glazer could not have picked a better movie for his debut directing gig if he tried. A crime film starring Ray Winstone, Ben Kingsley and Ian McShane. Winstone plays retired criminal Gary ‘Gal’ Dove living high on the hog in a Spanish Villa with his wife Deedee (Amanda Redman). His best friend Aitch, and Aitch’s wife, Jackie live nearby. Not longafter the movie starts Ben Kingsley turns up as Don Logan, an old criminal associate and a complete psycho/sociopath and tells Gal he has to go back to London to do a job for the crime lord Teddy Bass (McShane). Gal tries to decline but things go tits up at the villa and he has to go to London to do the job. That’s it for spoilers!
Fraggle Rating. I can’t recommend this film enough, it really is a good watch. We’ve seen Winstone many times as a London gangster/criminal but this is his piece de resistance in our view. Kingsley knocks it out of the park in a part you would not expect from the esteemed luvvy, and the interaction between these two is electric. No idea why it’s called Sexy Beast, there’s no sex in it and no beast. There’s not much violence in it, but what there is is quite visceral, but also cathartic :).
That’s it for now, will be back in a couple of weeks with some more (hopefully) good movies!