A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon
A Middle Aged Movie Blog. Being the periodic journal of a film loving middle aged independent science fiction writing father of two and his ongoing adventures in cinema and home video
Visited the Printworks in Manchester to watch A Shaun The Sheep Movie: Farmageddon (2019) with the family. Loved the first outing for Shaun et al in 2015 so I’ve been looking forward to this and so have the kids. Turns out it’s a worthy sequel. Basically, think of the plot of ET, apply it to Shaun The Sheep, lump it in with a bunch of hilarious Aardman sight gags and knowing science fiction japery, and that’s about the sum of it. The animation is excellent. The comedy is of a kind everyone can laugh at. Stop motion silent cinema never had it so good. An uplifting experience, packed full of fun and warmth. Directed by Will Becher and Richard Phelan.
Watched Hostiles (2017) on streaming, a revisionist western of sorts, that opens with a gut punch raid scene that is utterly devastating and terrifically uncompromising. The American-Indian Wars come under the hammer. America’s genocidal role in the extermination of a race comes under scrutiny. The indigenous population is put under the magnifying glass for their role in contributing to the mess. Institutionalised racism masquerading as how the west was won and what it cost us, is considered in gritty detail.
Handsomely shot and wonderfully acted by all involved, this is the sort of film that will pop up again in the future, possibly as a lost genre classic, once folks get around to watching it in greater numbers. Wes Studi is the epitome of gravitas. Bale, as compassion fatigued US Army Capt. Joseph Blocker, tasked with transporting Cheyenne War Chief Yellowhawk (Studi) from New Mexico to his Montana homeland is as intense as he has ever been. The tone is reflective and downbeat. Not an easy viewing experience, but one that I would advocate for, nonetheless. My favourite western in quite some time. Directed by Scott Cooper. Screenplay also by Scott Cooper.
Finally sat down and watched The Coen Bros Netflix effort The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018), a Western frontier anthology made up of six different tales, featuring an array of acting talent and some seriously impressive tonal and narrative changes. Of particular merit is Tom Waits out in the country digging for gold and also the final wagon trail short featuring Zoe Kazan in a short-hand Coen classic. They’re all good though. By turns dark, whimsical, tragic and peppered, as you’d expect from the brothers with smart violence and knowing humour. Never a dull moment with The Coen Brothers. Starring Tim Blake Nelson, Liam Neeson, James Franco, Brendan Gleeson, Zoe Kazan, Tyne Daly, Harry Melling and Bill Heck.
Watched Hereditary (2018) for Halloween and was mildly disappointed by Ari Aster’s inaugural effort. Handsomely shot and well-constructed, the film features one of the most shocking moments in recent horror cinema and is worth watching for this reason alone. Unfortunately, however, the film’s final act doesn’t deliver on its initial promise. Two thirds of an excellent, increasingly unsettling meditation on loss and grief gives way to sub Ira Levin pagan horror shenanigans, which called to mind Hammer’s Dennis Wheatley adaptation To The Devil A Daughter (1976), which is not an unduly glowing comparison, given the Peter Sykes film is an average Hammer production from the back end of the studio’s glory days.
The performances are worthy of mention as they are uniformly excellent throughout. Big shout due to Toni Collette, who does a fine line in unhinged matriarchs. Starring Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro, Ann Dowd and Gabriel Byrne.
Brief trip to Manchester to meet an old friend for a brew. Trip to Piccadilly Records to pick up the new Steve Mason album. Went for a run, picked the kids up, visited the chippy and spent the rest of the day and night watching movies. Watched Sleepy Hollow (1999), Tim Burton’s impressively bloody take on the Washington Irving tale about a headless horseman, summoned from the dead to seek vengeance on corrupt local officialdom. There’s a lot of decapitation. There’s a decent amount of blood. Emmanuel Lubezki’s cinematography is delightful. The ensemble cast, fronted by Johnny Depp’s queasily rendered Ichabod Crane, is a hoot. An under-appreciated Tim Burton gem. Pay it a visit, as it has aged rather well.
Followed this with an evening home viewing of David O. Russell’s 2015 release, Joy. Jennifer Lawrence develops a revolutionary mop head to go with her head for business. She has to generate enough cash to make it in bulk and sell her idea on to a bunch of patriarchal corporate suits. They struggle to take her seriously, despite her obvious intelligence.
Not Russell’s best movie by any stretch of the imagination, but there’s a lot to admire, not least of all the story of a determined young woman making good on her potential. Isabella Rosselini, Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro provide co-starring scaffold.
Finally, watched Tom Ford’s directorial debut, A Single Man (2009), based on the Christopher Isherwood novel of the same name. Colin Firth is excellent as a suicidal professor struggling to come to terms with the loss of his partner. His grieving process is made all the more difficult by the fact he is a closeted gay man and the film is set in 1962, 7 years prior to the Stonewall Riots in 1969. The support players are excellent. The photography is astonishing. The editing is awesome. A genuinely stylish film, where the costume department (as you’d expect) plays as much of a role in the film as the players. Starring Julianne Moore, Matthew Goode and Nicholas Hoult.