May 13th, 2019

Sally Hawkins for me was really kind of introduced for me with her performance in Blue Jasmine, where Cate Blanchett walked away with the Oscar.  She was nominated in a Supporting Role and did not win.   I had not remembered until doing some research that she won the 2009 Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in Happy Go Lucky (a film I have never seen).   She even defeated Meryl Streep in Mamma Mia.    For me, she reminds me more of Amanda Plummer who was a more quirky actress and known portraying slightly odd and unique characters.    Sally then shot to prominence for her role in 2017 Best Picture Winner Shape of Water, where she was a deaf woman who happens upon a sea creature that was being tortured by his captures for his abilities.  All this to say that until Shape of Water, I didn’t think that she was ready to carry a film, and even then there were strong performances around here.   But I was introduced to the 2016 film called Maudie that she did (and is available on Crave).   This is a film about Canadian artist and native Nova Scotian Maud Lewis.   It also stars Ethan Hawke, who is very strong in his own right in this role.   Maud is an eccentric and person who at first appears not always present and paying attention.  Her brother early on is pawning her off on an Aunt, as the parents have passed and he was not prepared to look after her.   The Aunt isn’t pleased, despite being paid.  She is hurtful and nasty to Maud.   Maud’s life takes a turn that is unexpected as she shows independence and assertiveness that was not revealed before then.    The rest unfolds and I won’t spoil it.    She lives in a small shack, with very modest means near Digby.   She has everyday chores that she attends to, but also she expresses herself through the paints that she finds in the house.   She paints.    Flowers, seaside pictures and things around her.   What at first seems rudimentary is filled with vibrant colours and has a style.   At first she paints mostly small pictures, postcard size or smaller.    A local visitor from New York admires and appreciates her work (and pays her 5 cents).   Hawkins plays Maud incredibly well, from her quiet and jumbled dialog to the physical transformation of her body.   Maud was challenged with arthritis later on in life, but even in early days she had a foot that lagged.    All this is displayed by Hawkins and you get a real sense of the woman and what was driving her.    Hawke too shows evolution in his character and his relationship with this woman.  You can see how one life impacts another.    As little as I knew of Sally Hawkins, I knew even less about Maud Lewis.   The CBC has done interviews with her as she got more notoriety, including then Vice President Nixon wanting a picture from her.   If you wonder, as I did, what are her paintings worth now, well the highest I saw was $22,000.   I liked this film better than I thought I would.  If film can peer into the life of another person, who you wouldn’t have ever met (or maybe you passed by on the road way driving in the country with a Paintings for Sale homemade sign) then this can give some greater insight.   This movie shows that Shape of Water was no mistake, nor Happy Go Lucky.

In looking back upon my reviews, I don’t see a review for the classic space horror film Alien, which has spawned numerous sequences, and prequels.   The original by Ridley Scott is a masterpiece of suspense and horror.   It is filled with jumps, starts and surprises.   It was released in 1979, just a couple short years after Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind in 1977.    But it takes a different tack, but using the by-line “In space no one can hear you scream”.   And there is remarkable costume work in the creation of the creature; both in its earliest form and the larger adult version.   It won the Oscar for Best Effects-Visual Effects, with H.R. Giger there who created the creature.   In short, it changed the game and challenged all others to follow to try and match it, in creativity and fierceness.   This was a horrifying vision.  The plot is simple enough, a mining ship is heading home with a load of minerals, and the crew is awoken early by the master computer (“Mother”) to check out a signal “of unknown origin”.   For those fans of Prometheus and Alien Covenant you see the genesis of the ideas surrounding the creature (or those who came before) having seemingly crash landed on a desolate planet in a massive ship.   There are hints of the Kubrick’s classic 2001: A Space Odyssey in ways that become apparent when the plot turns that way.   A very young and strong willed Sigourney Weaver is introduced and she is the focus of the film eventually, and certainly in those sequels that came after.    Ridley Scott would disclaim any responsibility for these but he eagerly took on the prequels back in 2012 (man 7 years ago already!).   Suffice it to say that if you like suspense, and you like seeing the origins of science fiction thrillers then this is a good place to start.   If you like Ridley Scott’s work, then this a film to see, especially if you liked the more recent prequels in this series.

Saturday May 20, 2017 – Alien Covenant

 Alien Covenant.  Saw this on Thursday.  In short I enjoyed it.  I think it does a very nice job of tying in with Prometheus and making more sense of a story that was quite disjointed.    Girlfriend who has never seen an Alien film thought that there were some “scary moments”.    I would agree.   So no spoilers just sit back and enjoy.  I think the re-watching of Prometheus will prepare you well.

I think that Michael Fassbender was very good here.
I also watched Extras in Prometheus and others (Alien and Aliens) and think there are some parts that could have made aspects of Prometheus more clear.   I will likely see Alien Covenant again or at least get the blu-Ray.
Here are Prometheus extras:

Now that it is Tuesday and Alison has seen AlienCovenant I can add a little more commentary here, without spoiling too much.

First, these deleted scenes would have been helpful in Prometheus.   They provide some colour and background that are necessary to better understand Peter Weiland and his ambitions.   It also talks about the goals to wipe out all human based religion.  The one interesting thread of Alien Covenant and Prometheus that comes through for me is the idea of a God, and what meeting and knowing about the entity that created you can do.  Weiland believes because he can create a living robot, that he has become a God.  In Prometheus, David seems to have a moment of clarity with his Creators (or Engineers if you prefer) when he was speaking to Dr Shaw’s boyfriend, when he was at the pool table.   David seems to be disappointed, and he puts the black goop into this man’s glass knowing that he will be changed forever.
Then the events unfold as they do in Prometheus and David and Dr Shaw leave to go and try and find the Engineers.  Dr Shaw wanted to know why the Engineers wanted to destroy them, David has other plans with his alien ship payload.
Then in Covenant the opening sequence again builds on David speaking with Weiland.  Weiland had believed that by being a God that he would live forever.  This was not the case as he found out.  In Covenant, David in his discussion with Weiland talks about his God (Weiland) dying whereas David would not.  He wondered aloud about that fact, to which Weiland changes the subject for some tea.  David is exploring this whole aspect of being a God, and creation, and what it all means.  His ideas just don’t have the frail human body as the highest level on the hierarchy.
For me, the beauty of Covenant is how this aspect of the story is moved forward.  It was so muddy in Prometheus, but it was picked up and carried forward in a way that made both movies make more sense.   Along the way, sure we had some scary bits and some adventure,  but at the core it was the search for the Divine, and explaining creation.  Interesting too that the James Cameron contribution to the Alien story in Aliens of the Mother Alien is utterly dismissed.   The eggs aren’t created and birth by another Alien.   Ridley Scott keeps firmly to his own vision.
I know that, like Prometheus, I will see Covenant more times.  I will pick up on more to be sure.  I will have questions, for example, why would they need James Franco to “play” the Captain of the Covenant, but I will see and pick up on more details.  But in the end this movie worked for me.  And was enjoyable and I walked away, as you can see, thinking about it further.   Another movie of course is to come.  I look forward to it.