I know I said I wouldn’t talk about the China trip, but this is only tangential – films watched while flying there and back.
I know that watching movies on the back of somebody’s chair isn’t quite the experience that most filmmakers want for their product, but it’s still a valid way to view them (even if they are full screen and have been edited to remove swearing, violence and sex that might shock some child sitting next to you – as if) and make snarky comments about on your blog.
Having said that, Emirates provide good in-flight entertainment, especially on their 777s, where you can select your film from a huge choice and can pause, fast-forward, etc., whenever you want. So, I’ll talk about the films I saw in chronological order for the sake of some sort of organisation.
I really liked the book, Point of Impact. Seriously. Stephen Hunter wrote one of the best thrillers I’ve read, with a great sense of ‘men doing what has to be done’ throughout the book. I think the book might have been recommended by Garth Ennis in the letter column of Preacher, which should give you an idea of the macho-yet-sensitive vibe.
Mark Wahlberg is a former marine sniper who now lives alone in the woods. He is charmed by Danny Glover into helping them prevent an assassination attempt by scoping out the sniper shot, only for him to be set up and framed for killing of a priest on the same diaz as the president. He goes on the run to prove his innocence and get the men who set him up.
This is a great set-up for a film – Hunter was a film critic himself (winning a Pulitzer prize for it) – and the book reads very cinematically, but without seeming like an embellished screenplay. However, the film misses the depth of the Bob Lee Swagger character by going for the young man able to do the running around – the book has Swagger as Vietnam vet with a hip from his last mission as a marine who is old and bitter and seasoned, living alone with his dog. It grounds the story in experience and regret, rather than the film having Wahlberg’s ‘three years later’ version of the character. As such, it goes for the action stakes more highly but Antoine Fuqua doesn’t create anything special, so it loses on both fronts.
In writing this, I’m desperately trying to remember the film and failing. Shrek was a delightful panacea to Disney’s saccharine output, and Shrek 2 was just plain funny. But this was just awful. Not Shark Tale awful, but it felt worse in comparison to its predecessors. Starting off in dinner theatre probably wasn’t a good start, and it just rolled along clunkily from there. I don’t remember laughing; I might have smirked occasionally. A boring story about Shrek getting Artie (as in King Arthur) to take over the throne because he doesn’t want it, while Prince Charming gets the all the bad folk of Far, Far Away to rebel. Snoozeville.
I’ve never seen Felicity, so the only time I have seen Keri Russell was dying from a bomb in her brain at the beginning of MI:3. Bit of a change – here she plays a waitress in a pie shop (but who also creates new pie concepts as well) with a thoroughly unpleasant husband who gets her pregnant after getting her drunk, and she doesn’t want the baby. She starts an affair with her doctor, the ever-watchable Nathan Fillion, who is also married.
This is a strange little movie, existing in its own world and creating an unusual and unique atmosphere. It looks like it wants to be a traditional romcom, with the two lovers going off together, but it veers away from the cosier ending (although the plot twist that allows our heroine to follow her dream of going to the pie-making contest is telegraphed). However, it does provide a narratively satisfying conclusion for the character, making a positive choice in her relationship with her abusive husband, so you can forgive some of the strange detours the story takes with other characters in the film.
It’s also strange to watch the film knowing that the filmmaker, Adrienne Shelley, who wrote, directed and acted in the film, was tragically killed after the movie was made. Still, she left a mark in this charming film and in the beautiful scene where Russell recognises that Fillion’s odd doctor actually likes her and she smiles no matter what …