Watched 21 Bridges (2019)

I can’t think of much to say about this. It was good, as in technically well made, but not inspired. There was nothing that made me think I want to see this again. It has the feel of an early nineties action movie. Lots of chasing and shooting and of course a deadline, but more grounded. None of the crazy hyper-real action set pieces they cram more contemporary rides. It’s all very simple. Our heroic policeman is tasked with capturing two cop killers on the run in Manhattan. On the way to capturing the bad guys, he uncovers more evil men doing bad things, and does the only thing he can, brings them to justice.

Watched The Assistant (2019)

A searing indictment of the damage to your soul that’s caused by working in an abusive environment. Here it’s the movie industry, but it could just as easily be any other work place. Abuse of power is corrosive to your mental wellbeing.

Watched Extraction (2020)

There’s a lot to like about the full throttle, close quarter, carnage that accompanies the troubled mercenary Tyler Rake as he tries to save the kidnapped son of a drug lord. There’s not much in the way of plot, but what’s there is just the rails for the mayhem to speed along. There’s a ferocious car chase, done on streets doubling for Dhaka, that makes the one in The French Connection (1971) look like a go cart race. This sets the pace for the real action. Tyler moves like lightning, loves the double tap, and the multi stab. Meaning the body count is off the chart, dispatching an assortment of anonymous paramilitary types who just keep coming. I put this in the category of popcorn film, even though I watched it on Monday and not as it should be seen on a Saturday evening with a few beers.

Watched Paradise Hills (2019)

Rebellious young women arrive at a mysterious island to be re-educated, turned into the perfect ladies each of their families wants them to be. This all happens in a world that’s somewhere between a Disney fairytale and Portmeirion, the Village in The Prisoner (1967–1968). There are inconsistencies in the plot, that leak a vicious morality. One for an audience who haven’t seen enough to realise the silliness of it all.

Watched The Divide (2011)

It’s a long time since I watched this, and I’d forgotten just how brutal it is. A nuclear attack on Manhattan leaves a small group of survivors trapped in the basement of their building. Things go from bad to nihilistic as the worst impulses of people socialised in a rat race assert themselves. There’s a madness to it all that makes it truly horrifying.

Watched Lake Mungo (2008)

A ghost story told as a documentary. The tragic drowning of a teenage young woman unsettles a sleepy town in Australia. Playing with a narrative that’s shifts between tragedy and revelation, the film never breaks character. To its credit I found myself wondering if this actually happened. It builds on the genre of found footage horror films like The Blair Witch Project (1999) and Paranormal Activity (2007) and shows the cracks in their conceit.

Watched Leave No Trace (2018)

A veteran battling personal trauma, lives with his daughter in the wilds of Oregon, until they’re discovered by the authorities. Pushed into the care of social services, the thirteen year old Tom is given a taste of domestication and slowly realised the trauma her father is living with. After escaping back into the wilderness with her father, Tom has to choose to follow her father’s path or take a road of her own. From the writing and directing talent that brought you Winter’s Bone (2010) everything about this is strong. Ben Foster is superb as the traumatised veteran doing his best to keep his daughter safe. Thomasin McKenzie is phenomenal as the soft spoken daughter trying to understand the pressures of normalising society. In lesser hand it could’ve been all about anger and trauma. Here it’s about love and understanding, and trying to find peace. You might be able to tell I liked this a lot.