The Dark Crystal
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
Watched The Dark Crystal (1982) with the boy in preparation for the pending Netflix series. Found myself drawing comparisons between it and Brian Yuzna’s deeply unsettling and utterly graphic satirical body horror b movie, Society, from 1989. I clearly need to reflect on this somewhat. Unsure of where exactly the similarities lie between Society and Jim Henson’s seminal muppet fantasy, nor what my brain was doing during the time when I was watching it.
Followed this up with a family cinema trip to watch Toy Story 4 (2019). Not as funny as the first three, or smart, though Woody’s mid-life crisis and subsequent struggles to adapt are endearingly depicted.
Key characters such as Buzz Lightyear have less to do, which is a shame, and the likes of Jessie et al, voiced by the woefully under-appreciated Joan Cusack, are relegated to occasional bit part players.
Still, there’s plenty enjoyment to be had as Woody embarks on a side quest with former love interest Bo-Peep, missing presumed deceased, who has been eking a living out as a lost toy without a kid to play with.
There are some fun new additions, Keanu Reeves voices a stunt toy, Duke Cabooom, and Jordan Peele adds humour as a stuffed prize toy at a travelling fairground. However, the film is best viewed as a warmly rendered addition to the original trilogy, rather than a continuation, an adventure with old friends that is neither tiresome nor exceptional. Directed by Josh Cooley.
Followed this up later the same evening with Your Name, an impossibly beautiful Japanese anime from 2016, which is basically a body swap movie about a girl and boy separated by tradition, gender, geography and time who come together in the most imaginative and creative fashion to share their experiences both psychologically and physically.
There’s a comet. There’s some mystical stuff about time as a woven thread. There are a bunch of comedy moments involving body swaps. There’s romance and magic and a smattering of existential angst. One-part love story to two parts fantastical, the film is a feast for the senses, and one I will return to again once my brain has processed the dazzling force of its visual sensuality. Directed by Makoto Shinkai.
Watched Nightflyers on Netflix, which is a TV 10-parter based on a novella by George R. R. Martin. A curious sci-fi horror wrapped around an interesting space concept of the Event Horizon (1997) variety that stumbles about a bit in its initial episodes but finds its feet as the body count starts to rise. SyFy cancelled the expensive show after one season. A shame in retrospect, as the season finale hinted at an interesting future for it on its return.
Watched Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019), with the clan at the cinema and was reasonably pleased with the movie overall. It’s not as rich as its predecessor, nor as funny, but there’s still enough well-orchestrated Euro flavoured mayhem and web slinging action, mixed with the teen banter of a John Hughes Greatest Hits collection, to carry the film through.
Jake Gyllenhaal as Mysterio is impressively shouty, Jake channels a bit of his Nightcrawler (2014) performance to get the most out of the comic book illusionist. The supporting cast of idiot teachers, family members and hormonal teens, meanwhile, are fun to be around. As with Ant-man and The Wasp (2018) this one is lighter and swifter than the three hour long dramatic comic book opus Avengers: Endgame (2019), and all the more enjoyable as a result. Tom Holland, meanwhile, is still the best onscreen Spiderman ever. Directed by Jon Watts.
Watched Overlord (2018) on streaming which proved an enjoyable, deadpan straight up World War 2 flick that starts life as a riff on the classic b movie boys own adventures of yore, but which veers off-piste somewhere around the midway mark into gore and body horror territory with a vengeance. Demented Nazi doctors, mutant human guinea pig experiments and brutal, bloody violence abound. As the craziness escalates and the mostly unknown cast of disposable semi-recognisable TV players that makes up the American and Nazi contingent dwindles, it’s hard not to revel in the lunatic outrageousness of it. Directed by Julius Avery. Starring Jovan Adepo, Wyatt Russell, Mathilde Oliver, John Magaro.