A weekend to suspend your level of disbelief
This ended up being a weekend where I was able to catch up on a few movies both in theatres (which was a treat) and then on the TV.
In the theatre I started Friday with The Shallows. I wanted to see this for the shark really, and it had nothing to do with orange bikinis – but despite that I enjoyed this more than I thought that I would. I don’t know much of Blake Lively’s work (having never seen Gossip Girl nor Green Lantern nor others.) I did see her in The Town where I thought that she was decent as a tough, street person with a son. Here like Tom Hanks in Cast Away she IS the movie. If you don’t believe her, it falls apart. She is a medical student taking a hiatus on a beach after the recent death of her Mother and trying to “find herself”. That is the basic premise. She seeks an out-of-the-way beach where her Mom was when she was pregnant with her. She likes to surf, and is out with just a couple other locals. That and a sizeable shark that stakes a territory there. It becomes a tale of survival and wits where at times that level of disbelief has to shine through. Like the timing of a calm swimming shark as it passes by and her thinking that she can time how long she has before it comes back. What is lost in the logic is that the shark can also swim faster, and be there sooner. And the level of smarts for a shark that can presumably be hunger-satisfied in other ways that are readily apparent. But never mind. There is some real tension, and questions about how this woman will ever get through this. There is a cheesey last few minutes that could have been left out.
On Saturday it was Finding Dory, the much hyped, well attended sequel to the beloved Finding Nemo. This isn’t as good. Despite getting us re-acquainted with some old friends (like the sea turtle Crush, and Mr Ray the Manta Ray teacher and of course Dory, Marlin and Nemo – the same energy is not there nor the strength of story. Dory’s quest here is to find her long lost family. Apparently they live in California – now WHY California was chosen rather than some place in Australia or even New Zealand is beyond my comprehension. How did Dory ever get to Australian seas to begin with?! Can a Tang actually swim that far? How old does a Tang really live? Her parents are a curiousity. How does a Tang with Short Term Memory Loss remember anything long term? Is that even possible? We explore all these head scratchers. Then we go beyond this through introductions to new characters like a Whale Shark, a beluga whale with his sonar on the fritz and Hank the Octopus. Hank’s story is introduced (something scared him and he doesn’t want a repeat performance – but we have no idea what). And he is an octopus that can change colour as a chameleon to things around him but to degrees that are unrealistic. Further he can climb up and out of the water and by the end he is doing things and moving places that make little sense. It was Hank and his character that took away from the story for me, and my daughter. We both felt a little cheated and the story went way beyond where it really needed to go. Yes, in the first a pelican carrying two fish in it’s mouth into a dental office was far fetched, but it flowed. Here not so much. So there are some cute gags, and some interesting conversations. There are some genuine touching moments, but it was not on the same level as the original. The theatre was packed and sold out on a Sat night! Plenty of little kids, plenty of chatter throughout. Not sure just how engaged youngest son would have been for this one. It was still good to see, and if you do make sure that you stay to the very end of the credits (like Ferris Bueller).
On Netflix I caught Trumbo last night which I had been meaning to catch since TIFF and the Oscars. A known story of the Hollywood blacklist. I find it interesting that Ronald Reagan was the head of the Actors Union with reviewing Un-American activities. He and John Wayne both did not come across as being very good people – at least in this fight!! I also had not realized that Edward G Robinson was such a key figure as well, who decides to sell a Van Gogh painting (!!) to fund Trumbo and his team of Communists. This was a good performance on a number of fronts including Diane Lane, playing his Wife and also from the children. Interesting how the writer keeps writing and the almighty dollar and writing scripts for movies that sell ultimately eliminate the blacklist. Kirk Douglas comes out on the right side and Spartacus is an important movie for fighting the good fight. It was a sad part of American history and important to show how lives and careers were destroyed for the paranoid few. Tricky Dick takes another shot in the nose to his lasting legacy.
Finally I had read a while back Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett and stopped watching the episodes to read the book. The book was memorable and enjoyable and I liked it better than the series here (with Canadian content like Donald Sutherland and Gordon Pinsent). Eddie Redmayne too is here, but fresh from the Jeff Bridges School of Speaking with Marbles in Your Mouth. His early speaking is garbled and hard to understand. Amazing he becomes this Oscar Winning actor – although not for speaking!! Anyway, there is a great deal of Game of Thrones feeling here although this is more based in truth and history. There is a lengthy battle for the throne of England after a mysterious shipwreck with a royal member aboard. Many stories and people are impacted and all these stories eventually come together. The church building to me is fascinating – although the religious undertones can be a challenge at times. Anyway, it was an 8 episode series that I enjoyed watching.
Finished Homeland Season 4 – in Pakistan and thought that this was well done.