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MV5BMjA1MjYyNDkxN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTgxODAwOTE@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_What’s Morgan all about?

A corporate risk-management consultant must decide whether or not to terminate an artificially created humanoid being.

A very bald statement there, IMDb – no subtlety at all.

Why did I want to see it?

I saw the trailer on a visit to the cinema to see something else ages ago and thought it looked interesting, then a friend and I talked about going to see it and that didn’t work put, and so I forgot all about it. Then my friend Silvery Dude watched it on a flight back from Dubai and said I had to see it, so I got a hold of the DVD and presto, one Sunday night the Book God and I sat down to watch.

What did I think of it?

I thought this was a very good example of the good old sci-fi thriller, just close enough to what’s possible now to not seem totally ridiculous but still far enough away from what we can do to be disturbing and unsettling. Morgan herself is played by Anya Taylor-Joy, and actress I’m becoming very interested in, having seen her in (the disappointing to me) Split; she is very compelling to watch.

There’s a really good ensemble cast here, with Toby Jones being all mad-scientisty, and Paul Giamatti being all shouty, and Kate Mara being cold and calculating and totally up to the job of dealing with everything that goes wrong with this assignment, because of course everything goes wrong. Rose Leslie is also excellent, though it’s going to take me a while to stop muttering “You know nothing, Jon Snow” whenever I see her in anything these days.

I was rooting for Morgan as much as I was for Kate Mara’s character; it seemed very clear to me that she wasn’t the problem, but the humans around her who had forgotten what she was and treated her like a child/young person they saw as a member of the family. Because as you won’t be surprised to learn, the military-industrial complex was behind her creation.

There’s a reveal at the end which was a bit Basil Exposition and I had guessed 90% of it about three-quarters of the way through the movie but it was nicely done and quite satisfying. I only have a couple of quibbles with the film – insufficient Brian Cox and why do people keep on saying it’s a horror film? But still enjoyable and I expect to watch it again.


MV5BMTk1NTA1MzM2OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDMzNTcxMTE@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_What’s it all about?

A security pro finds his past coming back to haunt him, when he and his unique team are tasked with retrieving a particularly important item.

Why did I want to see it (again)?

Too Many Secrets.

I have always had fond memories of Sneakers for some reason and when I realised that my husband had never seen it I got a hold of the DVD. And it seemed a nice movie to watch on my birthday, when he’d be forced to watch it all of the way through even f he didn’t like it because it was my birthday choice. (Disclosure – he enjoyed it.)

What did I think of it this time round?

It holds up in terms of plot (well, as much as it ever held up in terms of plot!) but boy has it dated – not just the technology stuff (which I expected) but the clothes! And the hair! Ben Kingsley in particular is not served well sartorially. Redford looks magnificent as always and it’s a strong cast giving great performances but you can look at this film and guess almost exactly when it was released. Great fun though, and some of the issues are more than relevant today……

SpectreWhich I keep on wanting to type as Sceptre……

What’s it all about?

Spectre is the 23rd or 24th (I’ve sort of lost track and am too lazy to check) James Bond film. in which:

A cryptic message from Bond’s past sends him on a trail to uncover a sinister organization. While M battles political forces to keep the secret service alive, Bond peels back the layers of deceit to reveal the terrible truth behind SPECTRE.

Why did I want to see it?

It’s James Bond, didn’t you hear me?

What did I think of it?


I reported back to Silvery Dude (and there will be more from him later, you’ll see) and others that there was much to enjoy but it was a good 25 minutes too long. So that’s the short version. The longer version is a bit more complicated.

First, the good stuff:

  • Daniel Craig is still very cool in a suit
  • Q is glorious and should have his own film, he’s lovely (I heart Ben Whishaw)
  • Moneypenny – just beautiful and should be in the same film as Q (and let’s throw in M as well, he was also good value and what a trio that would make)
  • Mexico City at the beginning was the best bit by a country mile
  • Bond has a romance (however brief) with a woman his own age, the lovely Monica Bellucci
  • The main Bond girl (Lea Seydoux) had brains as well as beauty and a reasonable amount of agency
  • I do like Christoph Waltz, he is so cheerfully evil


  • Craig was so enigmatic at times he appeared detached from what was going on around him
  • Andrew Scott was always going to turn out like that
  • Dave Bautista was wasted (he was brilliant in Guardians of the Galaxy but the most he got to do here was grunt and kill people, although he did both very well)
  • Insufficient Monica, bedded for info, gives the traditional warning to Bond and is never seen or heard from again
  • Lea may have had brains but she still throws herself at Bond even though he is IMHO far too old for her
  • Christoph Waltz was always going to be that character (did they learn nothing from what they did with Mr Cumberbatch in Star Trek?)
  • The action sequences went on forever.

So, to sum it up, when it was good it was pretty good but for the rest of the time it was a bit meh. Wouldn’t go out of my way to watch it again but might be drawn in if I came across it accidentally on TV.

Silvery Dude was significantly more brutal (as typed and with a wee spoiler so fair warning):

Spectre….oh my god.  what a massive cliché   so disappointing

The Rome bit was pretty, but was basically Top Gear

Why give bond 3 minutes to stop the clock at the end?  rubbish

If you want a more nuanced view then have a look at ‘Spectre isn’t a great Bond movie – but at least it’s an interesting one‘ over on Flavorwire.

I wonder if Daniel Craig will make another one or if that’s it for him. We shall see…..

MV5BMjA5NjM3NTk1M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzg1MzU2NjE@._V1_SX214_AL_What’s it all about?

An idealistic FBI agent is enlisted by an elected government task force to aid in the escalating war against drugs at the border area between the U.S. and Mexico.

Why did I want to watch it?

I didn’t really know anything about Sicario in advance but I saw a couple of trailers and there was good word of mouth and the idealistic FBI agent is Emily Blunt, one of my girl-crushes, so on the list it went.

One day I will make a list of those crushes, for reference purposes 😀

And that’s the last smile you’ll see in this post because look at the subject matter of this film.

What did I think about it?

I really admired and appreciated this movie but it is not a film that you can say you enjoyed (well, I couldn’t, anyway). Well cast, gripping, with everyone acting their socks off (but not in an actorly way if you understand me), the main feeling I took away from this was that it was grim, unrelentingly grim.

The film opens with a hostage rescue that goes wrong, there not actually being a hostage but a house stuffed full of bodies and a bomb which kills a couple of officers. This fires Emily Blunt up and she agrees to become part of a task force to bring down the people behind the atrocity she has just witnessed. But of course it isn’t as simple as that and the task force turns out to be more of a black op and it is clear that she has got herself into something much darker than she anticipated and her involvement has been requested for reasons she is not made aware of.

I’ve seen some criticism of her apparent naivety and whether that would have been the same if her character had been male, but I didn’t get that sense at all. She came across as a strong woman who wanted to make a difference and she is also our way into the story; she learns things at the same time we do, and I liked that. She didn’t just take things at face value, she did question, but perhaps her need for resolution meant that she didn’t question enough, and by then she was entirely complicit.

The body count is very high but it does give a real sense of the horrors of the drug trade. Someone said it reminded them of Zero Dark Thirty and I think that’s a good comparison.

Josh Brolin and Benicio del Toro are both excellent as the leader of and adviser to the task force respectively, with the latter particularly strong as a man driven by his own agenda which the US is using in a pragmatic if rather cynical way, but I don’t think he really cared.

But make no mistake, this is definitely Emily Blunt’s film.

MV5BOTQyODc5MTAwM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjMwMjA1MjE@._V1_SX214_AL_What’s it all about?

A soldier introduces himself to the Peterson family, claiming to be a friend of their son who died in action. After the young man is welcomed into their home, a series of accidental deaths seem to be connected to his presence.

I beg to differ. Anyone who thinks those deaths were accidental simply wasn’t paying attention. The other characters may not have twigged who the killer was but being shot int he head from a distance in a wide-open space while you are running is NOT an accident.

That may be a spoiler. Sorry (not sorry).

Why did I want to watch it?

I must have read something somewhere that suggested this might be of interest. I certainly had nothing to do with wanting to catch up what Cousin Matthew (I think) did after he died on Downton Abbey (which I have never watched so this may all be wrong. Also may be a spoiler, again sorry).

What did I think of it?

I really enjoyed The Guest. It doesn’t take long to twig that “David” is not what he appears, and the way he insinuates himself into a grieving family is really quite implausible but whoever said this sort of thing had to be realistic?

His gleeful use of violence to help out the younger brother who is plagued by bullies was much more enjoyable than it probably should have been (seriously fit soldier beating up young teenagers not a suitable lesson for us all) and the ridiculous back story, enhanced by the presence of the wonderful Lance Reddick (I adored him on Fringe) is just so much nonsense, but I liked the way they didn’t try and explain too much and just went with it all.

Dan Stevens is great in the lead role, and when it veers into horror-lite territory at the end, and anyone with half a brain can see where it’s going to end, it doesn’t really matter because it’s all such a hoot. I will definitely watch this one again 🙂

MV5BMTQyNTk5MTMxN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTc0ODI1NA@@._V1_SX214_AL_What’s it all about?

A psychological thriller about a man who is sometimes controlled by his murder-and-mayhem-loving alter ego.

I’m not sure controlled is the right word really. Egged on? Encouraged? Goaded? Forcefully persuaded into indulging his need to kill after a break of two years Earl Brooks, Man of the Year, gets a wee bit careless and finds that not only has his most recent kill been witnessed but there is a tenacious detective on his tail and his daughter has dropped out of  college with a big secret.

Why did I want to watch it?

I’ve had the DVD of Mr Brooks for ages, I think I must have bought it the year after the film was released but I can’t for the life of me work out why. I may even have asked for it as a present. Anyway, I don’t remember reading any reviews or anything. I wonder if it was just the idea of Costner as a serial killer? But here we are, finally got around to watching it.

What did I think of it?

Why have none of you told me about this movie before? I loved it, so sharp and clever and, yes, OK, a bit horrible in that you are (or at least I was) rooting for the serial killer guy to get away with it, but brilliantly done and clearly (as one of my friends said on Facebook when I posted I was  going to watch this) underrated.

So why did I think this was so cool?

  • Costner playing against type. I have to confess that I have never really liked our Kevin, I’ve always found him a little bit to full of himself and even the films of his that I have enjoyed have largely been despite rather than because of him (The Untouchables being a case in point), and his films are so long and seem so worthy and what’s great about him here is that he is in part so gleeful about his murdering skills. But I’m not going to get carried away and re-evaluate him just yet; this may simply be the exception that proves the rule
  • Demi Moore was also pretty good, and she’s another actor I have never really warmed to, but I liked her attitude in this, she was pretty convincing.
  • William Hurt as the alter ego – it’s William Hurt, ’nuff said (I have loved him since The Big Chill which is possibly my most favouritest film of all time)
  • That house. I really covet that house. Especially Marg Helgenberger’s closet. Also she was deeply glamorous in a realistically wealthy not at all over the top kind of way.
  • Even guessing the real secret behind his daughter’s stated secret didn’t spoil it, I just wanted to see what would happen. Also Danielle Panabaker.
  • The plot. It made sense.

I watched it on my own but have been annoying the Book God by suggesting he might like it as well (he does appreciate Costner but that’s because he likes long films, especially if they are Westerns; do not get me started on Wyatt Earp vs Tombstone).

If you like your movies dark and clever then this is worth a couple of hours of your time. I think this is going to become a real favourite.

1-UK_Ava-AW__Close-Crop_28198-Ex_MachinaWhat’s it all about?

A young programmer is selected to participate in a breakthrough experiment in artificial intelligence by evaluating the human qualities of a breathtaking female A.I.

Why did I want to see it?

Ex Machina is one of those films that I knew very little about in advance, but an article in Empire magazine and their strong review, plus a cool trailer and poster campaign and a real interest in AI and associated matters meant this was one not to be missed.

What did I think of it?

Wow. I know we’re only at the end of January but I will be very surprised if this isn’t one of my favourite films of the year. I thought it was fantastic, well-written, beautifully performed and very very clever.

So in terms of the set-up, what we have is a young man, Caleb (Domhnall Gleason) who works for a tech company and wins a competition to spend a week with the reclusive owner of the company, Nathan (Oscar Isaac), at his fabulous retreat in the middle of nowhere. When he gets there it’s clear he’s not just having out, but is expected to carry out the Turing test on Ava (Alice Vikander), designed to assess whether an AI has consciousness. What’s unusual about this case is that Caleb already knows that Ava is an AI (in fact a cyborg) and the question isn’t just does she have conscious awareness but can she develop affection. Of course there is much more to it than that, and in the claustrophobic setting it becomes clear very quickly that things aren’t quite what they seem.

It’s quite a wordy film in that all three of the main characters discuss the nature of being human and other philosophical concepts at length, but this doesn’t detract from what is also a very tense thriller.

As I said, all the performances are great; Alice Vikander in particular uses her training as a dancer to give Ava a very particular means of moving which feels slightly other. The film lingers on her physical appearance in a voyeuristic way which would be uncomfortable in other circumstances but makes sense in the context of what’s actually going on here. Gleason is very personable and our way into the story, the person we’re connect with the most easily, but Nathan is the most interesting character of all in terms of his motivation and his ability and desire to manipulate others. I actually rather liked him, though I suspect I wasn’t supposed to, because there was something attractive about his total self-absorption and confidence. However, I imagine if I met him in real life I would run very quickly in the opposite direction.

I have already pre-ordered the DVD as I know this is a film I will want to watch more than once. Loved it. Highly recommended if you like intelligent science-fiction.

I will count this towards Carl’s 2015 Sci-fi Experience.

1406298971_Sin_City_2_Final_1_Quad-600x450What’s it all about?

Some of Sin City’s most hard-boiled citizens cross paths with a few of its more reviled inhabitants.

Which tell you absolutely nothing at all about this film. TUT, IMDb, and I say again TUT. Useless.

What it’s actually about is three (or four, I lost count) interlocked stories over a vague timeline, all very much like the first film, in which there is indeed no justice without sin, though I would say there was more of the latter than the former.

Why did I want to see it?

I saw the first Sin City when it came out and really enjoyed it, though it was BTB (Before the Blog) so I have no review as such. But it was violent and stylish and astonishing (and probably ripe for re-watching now I think about it).

What did I think of it?

Hmmm. I didn’t hate this but I found it a really very disappointing and spent some time after watching it talking it through with the Book God (who seemed to feel the same), just to pin down where it had missed.

First the good things. A Dame to Kill For looks fantastic; there seemed to be a greater use of colour this time round which, though not excessive by any means, did seem to lose its impact because it appeared more frequently, but still cool. It had a strong cast, Powers Boothe and Mickey Rourke being the standouts but Joseph Gordon-Levitt was also good, and of course my girl-crush, Eva Green, was astonishing in a very mannered performance (which to be fair totally suited her character).


But I found it a really cold film and more exploitative than I remember from the original. The female characters (other than Eva Green) seemed significantly less effective, especially Jessica Alba. Nudity is not normally an issue for me but it did seem to be over-used and therefore lost its impact. And the film just had no moral centre, largely because of the loss of a character similar to that played by Bruce Willis in the first film, and this becomes very noticeable on the short appearances he makes in the sequel/prequel/what-have-you. I just didn’t feel that I had anyone to root for, and although that isn’t always fatal for a film, it’s a problem here.

So, glad I saw it but unlikely that I’ll watch it again. Shame.

nightcrawler posterWhat’s it all about?

When Lou Bloom, a driven man desperate for work, muscles into the world of L.A. crime journalism, he blurs the line between observer and participant to become the star of his own story. Aiding him in his effort is Nina, a TV-news veteran.

Why did I want to see it?

I knew nothing about Nightcrawler before I came across some clips of Jake Gyllenhaal in the lead role looking gaunt and driven, and that certainly captured my interest. Since then I’ve read/heard quite a few positive reviews so was very keen to see what all the fuss was about.

What did I think of it?

I thought this was an excellent film, and not just because of Gyllenhaal’s astonishing central performance. The whole topic of the drive for ratings (even in news programming) and the need for footage of crime scenes and accidents is always current, and this gives an insight into how that all happens (though I’m hoping that the guys who get this stuff in real life are not like Lou).

The film starts out giving us a view of Lou’s character – driven, wordy, odd; clearly there is something not quite right here. Then he accidentally comes across the (always wonderful) Bill Paxton filming the outcome of a crime and sees a career for himself which he pursues with a level of intensity which  is always unsettling but becomes really disturbing when he crosses the line in one of a number of “he’s not really going to do that – is he?” moments that make you realise that we are dealing with someone who doesn’t operate within societal norms.  Whether that’s because he doesn’t understand them or he just doesn’t care only really becomes clear quite late in the movie in a chilling conversation with his assistant (an excellent Riz Ahmed).

Rene Russo is also convincing as Nina, the TV news director who is manipulated by Lou not colluding with him, something she’s willing to live with because he can deliver the goods.

But this is definitely Gyllenhaal’s film and surely he will get an Oscar nod, not just because he physically transforms himself in the way the Academy seems to love (he apparently lost over 20 pounds for the role) but because he is so convincing as a man with a plan for success which he will pursue no matter what that requires of him.

It’s dark and edgy and sleazy and blackly satirical and I loved every minute of it. Really worth watching.

MG_tri_poster What’s it all about?

According to IMDb:

The story revolves around the passengers of a yachting trip in the Atlantic Ocean who, when struck by mysterious weather conditions, jump to another ship only to experience greater havoc on the open seas.

Why did I want to watch it?

I saw the trailer for Triangle in the cinema when the film first came out in 2009, plus this was the sort of thing quoted on the DVD cover:

It will twist you and terrify you over and over. Five stars.

Says Alan Jones, Frightfest, and he usually knows whereof he speaks. So, irresistible really.

And of course not to be confused with the late lamented British TV series of the same name set on a North Sea ferry and starring the much-missed Kate O’Mara. Not like that at all. Except for the boat. And the sea. Obvs. But no stalking  and bumping off of the passengers, no indeed not.

What did I think of it?

Being serious this was a very interesting twisty-turny not-quite-horror, not-quite-thriller but something a bit more unusual instead.

Our protagonists are on a yachting trip when they get caught in an epic storm and take shelter on a  passing cruise liner which turns out to be deserted except for the person or thing wandering around picking them off one by one, and does our heroine Jess know more about this than it seems, given her creepy sense of foreboding and attacks of deja vu? And how does it relate back to the disjointed beginning of the movie where she’s dealing with her autistic son before setting off for her day out?

The cast was largely unknown to me apart from the lovely Melissa George (who  I remember from her days in Aussie soaps and of course being horrible to Jennifer Garner in Alias) and the Lesser Hemsworth. And that worked for me, because the effectiveness of the film is enhanced by the lack of distracting famous faces, and Melissa’s performance of course which is really excellent given the stuff which her character has to go through.

Not going to say much more about the plot which I’m still wrestling with a little bit if I’m honest. If you want to know more there’s a lot of very detailed stuff on message boards which someone has gone to a lot of trouble to pull together (if a bit obsessively – I had a minor attack of “it’s only a movie”- itis while reading it). There appear to be three main theories about what’s going on in this film, and you can take your pick as to which one, or combination or hey, why not all three, is the director’s intention.

But it was definitely worth watching and the psychological stuff was more interesting to me than the occasional (but very well done) jumpy scary stuff.

I watched this as part of the RIP IX challenge – Peril on the Screen