Thursday, 15 September 2016

The summer of '16: fine

Top Cat Begins not included

Prickled by a nagging suspicion that the summer of 2016 was going to be one of the worst times to be in a cinema since the day someone cracked one off watching Skyfall, I made the decision in May to take a semi-earned sabbatical from this year's blockbuster season. This accounts for The Incredible Suit's sole remaining reader having to look at a still from X-Men: Apocalypse every time they visited the blog in the last four months, and for that I apologise.

It didn't last, though. Like when you pass a horrific car accident on the motorway so get off at the next exit and come back for a better look and a few selfies (come on, we all do it), I couldn't resist finding out exactly what was so grim about this summer, so I binge-watched much of it in the last couple of weeks. Turns out it hasn't actually been apocalyptically bad, so much as just stultifyingly average. Not a single one of these films has improved my existence, and only one of them made me want to scoop out my eyeballs, although I have thus far avoided Suicide Squad. So here's a look back at some of the humdrummery that's passed for entertainment in cinemas recently, which might come across as an exercise in futility but does at least get rid of that X-Men: Apocalypse still.

The Nice Guys
If I could wish for the movie of my dreams, it would probably be a '70s-set buddy action comedy written and directed by Shane Black and starring Ryan Gosling and Hugh Jackman. Eh, four out of five ain't bad. So it's kind of upsetting that I didn't care much for The Nice Guys: an unexceptional plot, precious little action or comedy for an action comedy (although Gosling at last gets to prove he can do funny), damp squibs of dialogue that should have sparked fireworks and a general sense of low-key mediocrity. Struggling to remember anything about it now, except for one hilariously sick shot that was in the trailer so doesn't count. Not terrible, but way short of the movie of my dreams.

The Neon Demon
This isn't a film, it's a Fuck You, with NWR finally (and quite deliberately) becoming the thing his critics have been accusing him of for years: a vain, surface-obsessed director wanking himself silly over the beauty of horror at the expense of logic and plot. It's a celebration of superficiality, as pretentious and vacuous as its subject matter... or is it? As monstrous greed and ambition plague an industry where purity has a brutally short shelf-life before it's devoured by envy and success from within and without, The Neon Demon might just stand as one of the most honest semi-autobiographies ever filmed. I just have no idea if I like it or not.

Ghostbusters
Personally I'd have preferred a sequel set in the original films' universe 30 years on to a remake, but taken on its own terms Ghostbusters: The XX Generation acquits itself admirably. Feig and co-writer Katie Dippold cherry-pick the sturdiest structural beats from the '84 vintage to establish their team and, if anything, improve on the rest: the villain here, while thinly sketched, is far more satisfying than Gozer and the ill-defined Zuul. The cast are delightful, with Leslie Jones making the most of her character's better thought-out integration into the team compared to Ernie Hudson's token tacking-on, and Kate McKinnon licking her proton whip-gun doohickeys is a sight I won't forget in a hurry. As always with Feig, some of the humour doesn't land, it's too long and there's some downright sloppy editing, but if Ghostbusters (2016) is ultimately a ramshackle romp that sometimes doesn't work, then it can at least hold its head high and proudly claim to be the equal of Ghostbusters (1984).

Star Trek Beyond
What a difference a JJ makes. The man who boldly went and rebooted Star Trek for the 21st century may not be perfect, but he could direct Justin Lin under the table any day. Lin's Trek is a baffling, disjointed mess: characters have to yell screeds of expository dialogue to explain what's going on in the action scenes, and the fun that permeated every frame of Abrams' first film has been blown out of the airlock along with Gene Roddenberry's founding principles. There's little sense of camaraderie, tension or what's at stake, and it's so gloomily-shot for the most part that it's more deserving of the title "Into Darkness" than its predecessor. Thematically and aesthetically desolate, the only thing this Star Trek is Beyond is hope.

Jason Bourne
With Jason Bourne's arc neatly tied up in the first film, and then again in the third, a fourth excuse to have him efficiently beating up civil servants while avoiding CCTV cameras was always going to be a bit of a push. Greengrass and co-writer Christopher Rouse toss off a humdrum truth for Bourne to uncover this time, and pack him off through all the same motions to the point where he's become as clich├ęd as that other JB guy, but without the fun. The film moves like a shark (few people shoot tippity-tapping on a PC as thrillingly as Paul Greengrass) and it's great to see Vincent Cassel on villainous form, but this is an unmemorable instalment that squanders the chance to push the genre like its predecessors did. Furthermore, it has been unacceptable to accompany your end credits with Moby since 2002. Like its permanently brow-furrowing hero, the Bourne franchise simply cannot move on.

Finding Dory
It's a sign that Pixar have spoiled us too much over the years by repeatedly and flawlessly executing the search and/or rescue plot blueprint, when even something as delightful as Finding Dory feels like a stop-gap between better films. The lack of novelty value here means stronger character arcs are required to deliver another masterpiece, but both Dory and Marlin's inner journeys feel underdeveloped and forced. That said, there isn't a character that isn't exquisitely realised, and the ante-upping of the bonkers final act pretty much papers over the cracks in the formula. It's Pixar by numbers, but what beautifully arranged numbers.

Sausage Party
MAYBE IF I FUCKIN' YELL THIS AT THE TOP OF MY FUCKIN' VOICE AND SAY FUCK EVERY OTHER FUCKIN' WORD AND GENERALLY BE AS FUCKIN' OBNOXIOUS AS I FUCKIN' CAN THEN MAYBE JUST FUCKIN' MAYBE I'LL HAVE WRITTEN THE FUNNIEST FUCKIN' THING THIS YEAR!!!!!!! OR MAYBE I'LL JUST COME ACROSS AS A HORNY DOPE-ADDLED FUCKIN' TEENAGER WHO THINKS THAT REPEATEDLY FUCKIN' SHOUTIN' FUCK IS AN ADEQUATE FUCKIN' SUBSTITUTE FOR, YOU KNOW, ACTUAL FUCKIN' JOKES!!!! AND MAYBE I HAD THE FUCKIN' EMBRYO OF A VAGUELY FUCKIN' INTERESTING IDEA FOR WHAT I WAS WRITING BUT THE FUCKIN' ASININITY OF THE FUCKIN' EXECUTION MEANT YOU COULD ACTUALLY FUCKIN' FEEL YOURSELF GETTING MORE FUCKIN' STUPID THE LONGER IT DRAGGED ON, MOTHERFUCKER!!! I DON'T KNOW!!! FUUUUUCK!!!

10 comments :

  1. Meanwhile, beyond blockbusters the past few months have been an art-house bonanza, provided you can actually find somewhere screening the likes of Son of Saul, Arabian Nights, Mustang, Embrace of the Serpent, Tale of Tales or Julieta.

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  2. think I might be the remaining reader who occasionally visited TIS with baited breath only to be disappointedly being confronted with the XMen pic again. So the fact there is a new post is not only pleasing but exciting! and introduced me to the intriguing gentleman 'relieving' himself to Skyfall story (at what point I wonder did the gentleman engage in the questionable act? Upon seeing Craig in his blue bathers again?)

    what is TISs view on Independence Day 2? That was one of the supposed biggies this summer. But embarrassingly didn't deliver at the box office (bet Big Willie is glad he picked DC over that). Also Tarzan? (didn't see it though)

    Trek Beyond - imho Paramount would've been better off going with the initial story that was scrapped of a Days of Future Past type adventure involving alternate timelines and The Shat as old Kirk interacting with the new crew. Much more of an event movie for the anniversary than crashing the Enterprise (again) into a boring planet inhabited by a boring wrathful villain (again). It sounds like they might be going to do something like that for the next one with Hemsworth.

    Finally I read somewhere an interesting fact that 1984 and 2016 are linked by Ghostbusters, Legend of Tarzan, and Trek 3 (in which the enterprise is destroyed)..

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  3. Hi Mum, good to hear from you. I didn't see ID4.2 sadly, nor Tarzan, but I'm sure I won't be regretting that on my death bad.

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  4. Only films I've watched this summer were The Nice Guys and Star Trek Beyond. Beyond was pretty average for the most part, though I did love the third act. Thought The Nice Guys was ace, though, if a little too convoluted for its own good. Aside from those, the only film listed here that I'd be interested in buying on Blu-ray is The Neon Demon - I'm usually split on NWR's films (adored Drive, wasn't keen on Only God Forgives), but at least it'll be gorgeous to look at in HD.

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  5. If you weren't keen on OGF, chances are you won't go a bundle on TND. Worth a whirl though, for the score at least.

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  6. Excited to see a new post! I also checked this site over the last few months.

    Also, I had a dream that the Bond producers decided to make Jesse Eisenberg the next Bond villain, and am now terrified that will happen.

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  7. a GB3 in the style of The Force Awakens starring Chris Hemsworth, Danny McBride, Kirsten Wigg, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson (with Bill Murray/Sigourney Weaver cameos) probably would've made twice the money..

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  8. Glad to see you're back and the back of that X Men pic!
    Films I've seen this summer;
    Absolutely Fabulous - Absolutely Shit!
    Ghostbusters - Better than expected but the last half hour is a shit storm of CGI.
    Jason Bourne - Good Friday night entertainment but little more.
    The BFG - The Boring Fucking Giant
    Suicide Squad - OMG..............crap!
    Lights Out - Actually a good jumpy movie. Enjoyed that but forgot most of it now.
    Hell Or High Water - Really Really Good!

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  9. I wouldn't say Ghostbusters (2016) is the equal of Ghostbusters (1984). I'd say Ghostbusters (2016) is the equal of Ghostbusters 2. And that's not meant to be an insult, as I rather like GB2. But GB2 and GB2016 have identical faults: a stellar cast tries its best, but is let down by sloppy writing that doesn't provide enough cracking jokes, and that doesn't try hard enough to be different from the first film and be it's own entity. But both GB2 and GB2016 are fun to watch regardless, it's just neither has a script with as much laughter or creativity as the original, and, for a comedy film, that's rather important.

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