This week it was one for catching up on Netflix. Netflix and HBO Crave.
Netflix it was seeing the film Life, starring Ryan Reynolds, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Rebecca Ferguson. I will admit that this movie for me was watched solely to see Rebecca Ferguson. She who was a standout in Mission Impossible Rogue Nation (she in the yellow dress) and then came back for more in Mission Impossible Fallout. I had looked to see what else she had been in a little while ago, and seeing the forgettable Girl On A Train and The Snowman listed, and The Greatest Showman and Florence Foster Jenkins. Some good and some bad. This was the latter and in spades! Life is terrible. Basically it is a retelling of the Alien storyline, but just not as effectively and with a creature nowhere near as terrifying. A spacecraft returns from Mars and then studying the sand particles adds water, re-heats it and then watches it move around and grow. It’s more like a bad recipe for an 11-year old than for a film. There are ridiculous things that happen including the newer, badder creature (which kind of looks like a starfish) moving and floating around in space. All the while we are told, this “creature needs air”. Well if that’s the case, then the vacuum and cold from space might prove to be a problem! Apparently not. It’s laughable and silly. I wish I could say that there was something, anything redeemable in it but I can’t. Even some smart ass quips from Reynolds aren’t all that funny. So pass.
Next I watched after spending the afternoon with two sons at a local rock climbing gym the documentary The Dawn Wall. Ironically and interestingly the picture with the route maps for El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. It’s the story of Tommy Caldwell and him making a remarkable (and unbelievable) trek which he researched and found up a sheer cliff on this 3200 foot wall. It is a story about resilience on an elite level, where one can imagine the self-doubt and questioning of skills which must occur as you sit with your own thoughts for days at a time trying to traverse the impossible. At least the impossible for YOU. Having climbed up beginner climbs at the gym, you see the insane climbs in the film. Wow. The upper body strength, the finger strength and ability to grip and hold onto razor sharp rock was hard to believe. There is real drama that takes place. There are real plot twists and turns that couldn’t have been written any better. In the end I want to see Free Solo even more with Alex Honnold. Another World Class climber who’s film just won The Oscar. Incidentally, Free Solo also takes place on the same cliff.
Finally I watched Leaving Neverland. This is 4 hours of going through the young boys and Michael Jackson and the alleged abuse that took place. Certainly the young men who are primarily retelling their stories from their days of early introduction with Michael Jackson and what happened believe. And they tell a compelling story. They are very similar. The one young man gets wrapped up in the fame, the money, the opportunity and doors that can be opened as a dancer and choreographer. The other was a Super Fan who was just brought into the inner circle for a while. And it is really just for a short period of time. Michael seemed to be the odd little man who was confused and a product of his celebrity and fame upbringing. It doesn’t take away from the musical talent and his legacy in the music industry, but it does paint the man and his humanity in a different brush. To me it is an indictment on the parents, and more specifically the mothers. It was the Mom’s who were star struck along with the very young boys (7yo). But there is a wake of suffering and bodies behind this story. Does any of this surprise me? Were there real revelations? Not really. I think the stories of the Moms are surprising the level of change that they introduced into their families (like moving from Australia to LA to make your little child more available to this guy). Anyway, it takes too long to cover what in essence is a simple story. The detail is there. The overall message to me is that everyone is human. No matter who they are, no matter the level of fame, and sometimes (maybe most times) you shouldn’t meet your heroes, because you might find out just how ordinary and messed up that they are.