April 25, 2022

The Northman: What can one say about a movie when the best thing about it was the popcorn in the theatre? For context, I don’t usually eat or drink anything at the movies. But I was given a movie night out coupon which included two drinks and a popcorn. Butter on that popcorn was extra, which strikes me as rude, but worth the splurge! But back to the movie. Alison had sent to me a featurette on youtube describing the Making of the Northman, with the cast, director and others. It seemed that they painstakenly tried to reproduce the Nordic times around 840 AD. There is a decent cast with Alexander Skarsguard, Anya Taylor-Joy, Ethan Hawke and Nicole Kidman. I am NOT a Nicole Kidman fan, which I will state at the outset. From that little featurette they sum up the story as Hamlet in these times, which isn’t necessarily a good thing either because of all the Shakespearean plays that I have seen and studied in my youth, Hamlet was one of my least favourites. For me, the inaction of Hamlet in exacting his revenge on his Uncle just frustrates me. For those who haven’t studied Hamlet, then just think of the story as The Lion King. Same thing. I will add that there are aspects of Macbeth in this storyline too. In short, a young man seeks to avenge the death of his father at the hand of his Uncle. Although the film states it is set in Iceland, it was actually filmed in Northern Ireland, where much of Game of Thrones was filmed. The scenery can be beautiful with the cliffs and the water and the green mountains.

The movie itself is dark, like many movies these days. It is also slow, like Hamlet. It plods along. It is never a good sign when one checks their watch a few times during the film to see how much time is left in the over 2 hours runtime. There is a great deal of time spent showing the spiritual aspects of Viking/Nordic life. They channel animals a great deal while others can be regarded at the time as Christian. But most of all there is fighting and a ridiculously violent game of field hockey. Overall, this was much ado about nothing. Despite the claims that this was “a Gladiator for the 2020s” I cannot agree. Gladiator was a story of vengeance, much in the same way, and they share some wonky CGI between them which is disconcerting, but that is where the comparisons end. Gladiator won a Best Picture, among its five Oscars and Best Actor for Russell Crowe. It also had outstanding music by Hans Zimmer where this movie has strange and unusual music that was more of a distraction than an enhancement. I haven’t watched The Last Kingdom on Netflix which deals with Vikings, but there may be some similarities there. The realistic part of me wonders without any modern medicine how these people could survive the elements and the injuries that they encounter. I do know that I wouldn’t want to live in such a brutal time. I certainly wouldn’t want to live with Nicole Kidman as my mother figure!

Radioactive: On Crave I watched this movie about Marie Curie, released in 2019. It stars Rosamund Pike. Set in the late 1800s, the Polish born Marie was at the Paris based Sorbonne University but getting little respect from her colleagues and the powers that be. They had little time for dealing with a woman in those male dominated times. This woman was demanding, and looking for equal footing in her studies. She meets up with another scientist, Pierre Curie who had a lab of his own and a small team. He recognized her talents, and built upon them. Marie was studying uranium, and its properties and she proposed that there were more elements at work as she looked at the uranium. Ultimately she found two new elements in the periodic table, radium and polonium. Later the older Curie has her daughter, played by Anya Taylor-Joy explain that French soldiers on the front were having their limbs amputated for sprains and minor injuries that a mobile x-ray machine would help to fix. She was a very determined and stubborn woman, as I expect that she needed to be. She was in an all male profession, and she became the first ever women professor at the Sorbonne. Her family, daughter and her husband were together responsible for four Nobel Prizes. The most of any family. In the women, I found it a bit disjointed to be bringing forward images of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs, Chernobyl and also more modern x-ray/radiation machines that looked to address cancer. Curie was instrumental in finding and better understanding radiation and its uses. She is not, of course, responsible for how it was used, and how it has negatively impacted the world. Hers is an interesting story, but as a movie it was just okay. I think that Pike is good for roles like this and she challenges herself with them. I think that she is very talented and has grown way beyond the roles from James Bond or others where her looks were more important. This was interesting and made me look a little further into the life of Marie Curie.

After Life: I finished the third and final season of Ricky Gervais’ series. Sadly he decided to remove two of the actors from the first two seasons. He also in the final act had to rush through addressing the resolutions to the ongoing plots to the supporting characters. It felt a bit rushed and more than a little forced. I note that he decided to go for more of the sentimentality side of things and turn one way versus another for his own character. It was a bit disappointing to be honest. This was a series that dealt with serious issues, and had elements of sadness and laughter. It was profane. There is language that will make some viwers uncomfortable. But there is an underlying message, that usually are delivered by the supporting cast about life in the here and now. Tony has suffered a great loss, with his wife passing on from cancer at far too young an age. He in many ways, which he acknowledges, puts his own loss and feelings ahead of those around him selfishly. That is a valuable lesson. There is further a discussion about elements of the hereafter, as the title suggests which are thought provoking. There was one addition in season 3 that wasn’t referred to in the other seasons which became an easy out for resolving some issues. It was a bit of a cop out. I saw some resemblance to The Office and the banter there. This small fictional town in England with the local free newspaper was a pleasant place to spend some time. Well worth watching, although you may be wishing that the main character Tony would be able to live more looking into the future rather than torturing himself with the past. Life is about choices.