By: Henry J. Fromage –
Nothing says Memorial Day Weekend like watching Scots waste themselves on heroin for four straight hours. Yep, it was a Trainspotting kind of weekend.
Finally able to give the sequel a watch, I figured I should revisit the original, which I haven’t watched since my University days… now a decade ago, dammit. Anyway, Danny Boyle’s big breakout still retains the verve and junkie insanity of both the material and the filmmaking choices, with the slight caveat that some of the devil-may-care worldview feels a bit more, well, immature these days. Still a damn classic, and that baby on the ceiling will continue to guest star in many a nightmare to come, I’m sure.
133. T2 Trainspotting
In some ways, this film feels like exactly what a 20 years later revisit of these characters should be- strangely depressing and oddly out of tune in its anti-consumerist, “live life” speechifying. Twenty years have brought these characters essentially no further on their existential journeys, which feels both accurate and not much of a justification for this film to exist. There’s some good comedy here still- my particular favorite an oddly specific heist of an anti-Catholic society still reliving the battles of the 1700s that ends in Ewan McGregor bursting into tongue-in-check song- but Boyle is far too comfortable making easy references to the original film for no overt purpose beyond nostalgia-baiting the audience into becoming the exact consumerist ‘Live-lifers’ the boys didn’t want to become.
134. War Machine
I can certainly understand the negative reviews for this Netflix original- David Michod clearly has an issue deciding whether he wants to go with a heightened, In the Loop tone or a more conventional dramatic one, with half of his characters stranded on the cartoon side, and the other half the gritty realistic one. The scope of this thinly-veiled Stanley McChrystal story also seems oddly limited- did the supreme commander of the Afghan War really get fired over a single drunken busride across Europe reported in a magazine article? Wolf of Wall St.- level debauchery this ain’t. Still, Brad Pitt’s strange, deeply committed performance and the political wheeling and dealing were enough to hold my interest for the whole run time, and I’d say this satire hits as many of its marks as it misses.
135. Free Fire
Speaking of cartoons, Free Fire is like a hyper-violent Tom & Jerry cartoon, except with a warehouse of heavily armed ringers portrayed by a killer cast, trading barbs as deadly as the almost unending stream of bullets. Armie Hammer, as a cool, collected, and utterly witty assassin, and Sharlto Copley, as a motormouthed South African gun dealer, in particular dominate the screen in every minute they’re on it. If you don’t like gunplay and wordplay, this won’t be your speed, but if you like either or both, this is 90 minutes of pure entertainment.
It’s been described as such elsewhere, but, yes, this movie is exactly as advertised. If the trailers made you run screaming for the hills, then keep running, but if you thought, “This cast usually makes me laugh, I’ll give it a roll”, then you’re unlikely to be disappointed. Yes, it’s thoroughly, thoroughly dumb (every single time a character mentions, “just call the cops!”, they’re entirely right), but the cast really sells the material and, dodgy CGI aside, the action scenes usually get the job done pretty darn well. Sure, probably a rental, but not one you’ll regret once you’ve made the choice.
The recent announcement that this season of Fargo may be its last makes me realize how damn lucky we are to have gotten even three seasons of top-flight prestige television out of a concept that should never have worked- a sequel TV series to the Coen Bros masterpiece that they appeared to have no interest at all in being involved in. Noah Hawley’s made this world his own, though, telling tales of intricately connected crime and punishment full of Midwestern awkwardness, criminal incompetence, and strong policewomen while adding layers of pathos, resonance, and even, oddly, science fiction absurdity that nobody could have predicted. This season’s shaping up to be as good as the first two- here’s hoping Billy Bob shows up and ties the perfect bow on everything.