The Vast of Night
We are in New Mexico towards the end of the 1950s, in a small town where everyone knows everyone else. Most of the town is off watching the local high school taking part in a basketball game, but over the course of the night Fay, a young woman working on the town switchboard, and local DJ Everett discover a strange audio frequency and decide to investigate.
Among other things they find out that there have been suspicions goings-on over their town for some time, though nobody really noticed (or if they did they decided not to / were warned off from reporting it). Also, in response to a request for any information from listeners, a caller to the radio station at which Everett works makes it clear that the US government has been using African American soldiers to work on Top Secret Stuff because if they ever talked about, no-one would believe them. Fay & Everett end up involved in something they could not have imagined.
I knew nothing about this film before it came out, but I’m really glad I watched it. There is a real low budget Twilight Zone/Outer Limits vibe to it that is lots of fun, and although it’s undoubtedly low budget, the first time director has made a clever and enjoyable sci-f thriller.
Dazzling details: directed by Andrew Paterson, Vast of Night is 1h 29 long and rated 12 for infrequent strong language and brief moderate threat.
Also set in the 1950s but this time in New York, where Edward Norton is a private eye, a proper gumshoe type, who is afflicted with Tourette’s Syndrome and finds himself investigating the murder of his boss, mentor and friend. Cue political shenanigans, wheels within wheels, stabs in the back and a resolution which is more or less satisfying.
Although it has an excellent supporting cast, the film lives or dies by what you think of Norton’s performance. In other hands the portrayal of Tourette’s could be very gimmicky, but I think he manages to toe the line between showing what living with the condition can be like and causing offence.
I thought it was well done; nothing groundbreaking but good and solid.
Dazzling details: directed by its star, Motherless Brooklyn was based on a novel by Jonathan Lethem, is 2h 24 long and rated 15 for strong language, violence and drug misuse.
NB: Drug misuse is an interesting phrase. I know they mean drug use, but it gives the impression that the certification board is looking at what’s happening on screen and thinking to themselves that everyone’s doing it wrong……
The Old Guard
A different take on the superhero movie, based on a series of comics and reportedly sticking closely to the original material, which pleases me.
So, we have a team of near-immortals, led by Andy (Charlize Theron) who has just about had enough. Although not stated explicitly, it looks like she has been around since at least Ancient Greece so she is understandably tired of all of the violence, plus it looks like her team is about to be discovered and for the first time in ages a new immortal has popped up.
Cue a story of redemption (not sure if that’s the right word but it will do), finding your place when your whole world has been turned upside down, the impact of living ostensibly forever and watching all of those you love die, and reinforcing that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
I really enjoyed this. The fight scenes are really excellently done, it’s a female director, Action Charlize is as always the best Charlize, and it doesn’t try to explain how or why these people are the way they are (or why their condition stops when it does), we are just asked to accept it.
They are a heroic bunch, but it takes almost being destroyed to show them the good that they have done hidden underneath all of the destruction.
Also, I knew that Dursley boy was going to turn out to be no good 😀
Really enjoyable and I hope they make more.
Dazzling details: directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, The Old Guard is 2h 5m long and rated 15 for violence and language