The Kid Who Would be King
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
Over the weekend, watched The Kid Who Would Be King (2019), Joe Cornish’s belated follow up to 2009’s urban alien invasion London based breakout venture, Attack The Block. Featuring the sort of loopy plot premise that would condemn lesser scripts to the bargain box, Cornish manages to squeeze a bunch of fun out of his Brexit infused Arthurian quest fantasy, blending Time Bandits era Gilliam with a slew of mid-eighties Amblin favourites. Starring Louis Ashbourne Serkis, Tom Taylor, Rebecca Ferguson, and Patrick Stewart.
Lost the Fitbit war to The Lampshade Maker 2/1 and my forfeit was to watch Mamma Mia! (2008) on a Sunday night. Not as bad as I expected though admittedly my expectations were low. The film won me over on occasion with its sprightly blend of mildly anarchic karaoke song and dance numbers and Pierce Brosnan’s woeful singing. I’m not the demographic for this movie, so any comments I make feel redundant. Still, I laughed on occasion. And tapped my foot once or twice, which is not bad going given I’m avowedly Anti-Abba. Written and directed by Ol Parker.
Re-watched Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing (1956), a superior noir/heist movie with an interesting narrative structure, that showcases the brilliance of the young filmmaker (aged 27 at the time) who directed his own script with dialogue dust ups from Jim Thompson. A milestone noir, that set Kubrick on the Path To Glory (ahem.) The heist remains one of the most impressively organised in film history, whose influence can be seen in everything from Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight (2008), to Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown (1997). Starring Sterling Hayden, Coleen Gray, Marie Windsor.
Followed The Killing up with Kubrick’s second movie, Killer’s Kiss (1955), a romantic noir three-hander that differs from the technically astonishing, controlled pictures of later years in that it features genuine location shots and loose and playful camerawork. The boxing match is bruising, whilst the final axe maniac in a room full of mannequins showdown between dance hall sleaze Vince Rapallo (Frank Silvera) and washed up boxer Davey Gordon (Jamie Smith) foreshadows later Kubrick mise en scene. Noir fans will lap it up. Kubrick completists will nod knowingly at developing stylistic eccentricities.
Buckled in, clamped my wireless headphones on, switched all the lights off and settled down to watch… Mandy (2018) on streaming.
Safe to say that as whacked-out, ultra-violent, back-lit, stylised psychedelic revenge horrors go, Panos Cosmatos’s is in a league of its own. The plot, which is standard revenge guff once you’ve got beneath the surface plays out as you’d expect, but the ferocity of Nicolas Cage and the sheer unmitigated weirdness of the hyper red psychedelic visuals, mixed up with the Biker Coenobites and Johan Johansson’s disorientating synth metal score, makes for an extreme cinema gem and cult fave in the making. Not for the light-hearted by any stretch of the imagination. However, I would heartily recommend it for extreme cinema fans and acid horror enthusiasts.
A properly incongruous double bill tonight. Watched Terry Gilliam’s grimy kids adventure flick Time Bandits (1983) off the back of my recent viewing of Joe Cornish’s The Kid Who Would Be King (2018), which remains to this day, the first and last word in how to get the very best out of a limited budget.
Co-written by fellow ex Python alumni Michael Palin and featuring some of the very best scenes from all of Gilliam Land, the film is a veritable smorgasbord of weird fantasy madness. Ralph Richardson as God (kind of) is a delight, whilst David Warner as the second best dressed baddy in all of 80’s fantasy cinema (1st prize goes to Tim Curry for Legend but it was a close call and he didn’t win it by much!), is riveting. The Time Bandits themselves, a disgruntled assortment of celestial employees off on a shoplifting spree are nothing short of inspired. Craig Warnock as the film’s neglected child protagonist Kevin, whose annoying parents are more interested in rubbish game shows than they are the wellbeing of their son, is a revelation. Watch out for Jim Broadbent on early support duties as the TV compere with the creepy smile.
Followed this with a viewing of Stanley Kubrick’s Paths of Glory (1957), banned in France for many a year, starring Kirk Douglas as an idealistic corporal in the French Army, defending three falsely accused infantrymen of cowardice after a botched assault on an enemy position requires a scapegoat or three be tried and put to death.
As stark, ruthless and controversial now as it was on its release, this was the film that really marked Kubrick as the one to watch after a couple of quality noir flicks got the ball rolling for him in the 50’s. Highly recommended.