The House with a Clock in its Walls
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
Finished off watching Season 2 of Legends of Tomorrow, which was every bit as silly and fun as its predecessor. Neal McDonough and John Barrowman are hilariously kitsch as members of criminal underworld team Legion of Doom, and replacement characters Steel (Nick Zano) and Vixen (Maisie Richardson-Sellers) are less irritating than the Hawk folk who preceded them in Season 1.
Crossover episodes remain an irritant for me as I never watch these CW shows in tandem, or, indeed, at the time of their release, and have no idea what the hell has happened or is happening in the other shows when the crossover episodes are supposed to be taking place. Still, this minor quibble aside, I enjoyed the show immensely. Colourful, fast paced and not too lengthy at 45 minutes a pop.
Started to watch Titans on Netflix, which, considering it features Dick Grayson (Brenton Thwaites), onetime primary coloured sidekick to The Dark Knight, it was a damned sight less teen orientated than I expected it to be. Flirting with horror conventions on occasion and featuring wince inducing violence to go with themes of child abuse and neglect, the show is tonally a bit unsure of itself, something that will resolve in subsequent episodes, no doubt.
Watched The House with a Clock in Its Walls with the clan, which was the retro Amblin flick released in 2018 starring Jack Black and Cate Blanchette. Eli Roth on directorial duties is refreshingly restrained, though he doesn’t skimp on the horror when the narrative of the film calls for it. A couple of silly CG choices as the film nears its conclusion aside, this is a fun gateway fantasy for all the family, featuring an interesting array of warlocks, witches, zombies and flatulent hedge animals. Worth seeing if only for the fact it’s a nice antidote to the last two decades of Harry Potter.
Followed this with a viewing of Philomena (2013) a film that’s been languishing on my shelf for years, but for some reason I never got around to watching. I chalk my reluctance up to the fact it deals with similar themes as The Magdalene Sisters (2002) and I’d had quite enough of that following Peter Mullen’s harrowing depiction of fallen women treated as slaves by hypocritical Catholic fundamentalists with a penchant for brimstone.
The film is lighter in tone than Mullen’s movie, and peppered with wry comedy due to the presence of Steve Coogan, on fine form here as mild to moderately depressed misanthrope Martin Sixsmith, who is going through a period of professional adjustment following a cock up at work. Judie Dench, meanwhile, is her usual excellent self as Philomena, as good at the funny stuff as she is with the serious stuff. Directed by Stephen Frears.
Arrived back home from a day out and was immediately coerced into watching IO (2018) on Netflix by The Lampshade Maker and this is what I have to say about the experience.
IO starts off with a brief expositional voiceover. The viewer is informed that the world has been poisoned, humanity has fled to IO, one of the moons of Jupiter. Everything is a mess. The last transport is due to leave soon.
Cue colour rinsed photography, a young woman in a gas mask wandering in a post-apocalyptic setting. Cut to a tent on a hill followed by bee keeping and some other random activities. Cut to Anthony Mackie’s hot air balloon landing on the hill. Now observe from a distance as the film grinds spectacularly to a halt.
From here on in, nothing much happens. The plot inches along. Audience interest wanes accordingly. Given the world is screwed and the last interstellar taxi is about to leave you’d figure there would be some urgency from the two leads. However, the only urgent thing about this movie is the opening credit sequence and possibly the end credits, depending on whether you watch them or switch off in favour of a decent book to read.
There’s a lot of hand wringing, characters quote philosophy and poetry quite a bit, the central romance is as flat as a punctured tyre and there’s very little humour to alleviate the earnestness. This means that even the most dedicated sci fi nerd will feel sleepy come the climax. Directed by Jonathan Helpert. Starring Margaret Qualley, Anthony Mackie and Danny Huston.
A day late but… RIP local legend Albert Finney. For Gumshoe (1971), Miller’s Crossing (1991), Charlie Bubbles (1968), Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960) and everything else, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
The Lampshade Maker and boy went off to The Lowry Theatre to watch some David Walliams production so me and the daughter were left at home to watch Sing (2016), Garth Jennings’ hilariously fun CG animation.
The movie, unexpectedly for an animated movie about a struggling theatre owner’s attempts to make good on his failing dreams by hosting a talent competition for singing animals, is a joke a minute slam dunk of a kid’s flick with some brilliant song choices and chuckle inducing slapstick. Smart, slick, and totally uplifting, features a piano playing ape and dancing pigs. Directed by Garth Jennings. Starring Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Seth MacFarlane, Scarlett Johansson, John C. Reilly, Taron Egerton.