Film Evening. There's nothing much else to report here other than that on the basis of its first two episodes Agents of SHIELD's continuing its upward trajectory towards being half competent continues with characters you genuinely care about who aren't complete morons and a proper sense of purpose, even if that's essentially Torchwood in Children of Earth. Dodging the government and fighting Hydra creates an extra level of tension which didn't exist when they were some all powerful organisation and multiple Ward replacements are far more interesting figures than Ward ever was, even taking into consideration Ward himself is more interesting than he ever was too. Since The Winter Soldier too, we now in the business of wondering how each new other thing in the MCU will impact on these characters, not least the upcoming Civil War storyline and Avengers before that. Excellent stuff.
All That Matters Is Past
The Lion King
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
For all my stressing about the unconscionable Pocahontas being the last film I watched of my thirties, the first film of my forties was Sinister and thanks to me posting the information here, now, I'm going to have a reminder of the fact forever (or until Google closes Blogger). It's rubbish and the special kind of rubbish in which the story falls apart within about ten minutes of the film starting due to a single point, in this case that Ethan Hawke's true crime author has moved into the house which was the scene of the murder he's investigating and somehow his wife doesn't know. No, and indeed, no, now look I'm sorry but no. Hawke just about keeps it watchable, not least because you know its appearing in rubbish like this which is keeping his Linklater work viable, though as the typically brilliant Sins video notes, there's not one moment when you don't wish Julie Delpy would wander in for a conversation.
All That Matters Is Past is a Norwegian whydunnit with a similar structure to a Columbo episode but from the point of view of the murders. We witness their work at the opening of the film and through an intricate flashback structure which shifts between various time periods we slowly learn the truth of what occurred. Great performances from the central cast and lustrous photography from John Andreas Andersen (who previously shot Headhunters) which oscillates between something akin to the apocalyptic natural collapse of Beasts of the Southern Wild and the blander end of Norwegian Noir keep our attention as does the technique with which writer/director Sara Johnsen parcels out the mystery, wrong footing us throughout. There's also a slightly odd interest in human anatomy, with various physical conditions shown from angles rarely seen on screen (he says desperately trying not spoil a crucial, if eye popping moment).
#disneywatch continues in earnest. Now that Robin's not with us, Aladdin's an intensely difficult viewing especially in the moments when the title character suggests he might not give the genie his freedom, so filled now with metaphoric resonance. The Lion King remains my favourite of all the Disneys; every song is a winner, the anthropomorphism's perfectly judged and the Hamlet connection of course. Plus it's witty. Wittiness goes a long way as is also demonstrated in The Hunchback of Notre Dame in which the jokes pretty much make up for some of Disney's very worse songs, especially the amazingly pias God Help the Outcasts. Ugh. The animation is gorgeous, especially of the human characters, but the general sense of trying to create a preparatory drawing for an ensuing stage musical in the Lloyd-Webber mode is impossible to ignore. Ugh again.
Finally, welcome to Rogue and welcome to 2007 when Sam Worthington and Radha Mitchell were bit players and Michael Vartan, just coming off five years of Alias is the leading man. Directed by Wolf Creek's Greg McLean, this b-movie exploitation flick about a river boat cruise which falls foul of a massive crocodile and at no point veers from any of the expected genre beats or tropes but is still pretty thrilling. Raising it way above expectations is DP Will Gibson's photography, which like All That Matters Is Past is intensely interested in nature, with dozens of cutaways to the species of the outback and the rocky wilderness of such high quality in places it feels like a Bristol wildlife documentary. Often we simply sit in the boat with the doomed tourists watching the scenery and it's almost a disappointment when the tranquility is destroyed. Which, I know, is sort of the point...