Midnight Special, Hardcore Henry, and The Last Man On The Moon Who Knew Infinity
This latest mumble core Sci-Fi from Director Jeff Nichols, following on from Take Shelter and the amazing Non-Sci-Fi Mud, is pretty much a quintessential example of both genres, particularly Sci-Fi. From the story beats, character archetypes and themes, 90% of this film plays out as expected. But that is not to say that the film is dull and predictable by any means, it is simply methodical, deliberate and driven. From beginning to end the audience are left to their own devices to discover the narrative, which is unfortunately, now a rare sight in widely released modern cinema.
However this lack of clear explanation does almost derail one moment of the film involving Adam Driver’s character, where the character seemingly makes an impossible leap of logic, without much evidence to support his conclusion. On the other hand it is the one film in recent memory to end perfectly, based on the rest of the film, most others continue on for an extra scene or two, Midnight Special just ends on a perfect shot. With such stunning heavy hitters as Michael Shannon, Kirsten Dunst and surprisingly Joel Edgerton, the young child actor Jaeden Lieberher both literally and figuratively out shines them all, with his character being believably wiser beyond his years.
ONLY SEE if you are REALLY looking for a new Sci-Fi with a very interesting and intelligent re-working of ideas and tropes that you’ve probably seen before.
The Man Who Knew Infinity
There’s one key, inescapable flaw of the biopic, all of the depicted events will undoubtedly feel predestined, unnatural, and bordering on disjointed, as that’s how the screenplay will undoubtedly have been written, following the notable moments of the central characters life, ready to be ticked off the list.
This film is no exception, but since the film allows its audience to become wholeheartedly invested in the story and the characters, this flaw is slightly mitigated. This investment is mostly due to Dev Patel’s typically earnest performance, and also Jeremy Irons doing the best Jeremy Irons impression that he could, which was perfect for his role as Ramanujan’s mentor and colleague Hardy (All praise to the Casting Director).
The one gripe that this film could earn is the writing of exposition of and from Jeremy Irons’ character. On easily P(4) or 6 separate occasions is a variation of the line “I’m an Atheist” used to describe and effectively sum up his character, which frankly is rather lazy and sloppy writing for the basis for the central conflict at the end of the Second Act.
Despite that, this film is still one to MAYBE SEE. If you have any connection to Mathematics or the story of Ramanujan, or simply enjoy stuffy cultural dramas set during The First World War, this might be worthwhile.
The Last Man on the Moon
Very effective documentary following the life of Gene Cernan, the last of the Apollo mission astronauts to walk on the moon. His views on his work life, personal life, and the world are a simply a delight to witness.
The documentary itself is a brilliant combination of the as-expected talking head interviews from all surviving Apollo Astronauts and Mission Control operatives, Gene Cernan “thinking aloud” at numerous emotional locations (or most wonderfully, just ‘hanging out’ on his ranch with his old Navy Buddy ‘Baldy’), collages of his family photos, stunning Moon vistas and original footage from the Apollo Missions. All of these disparate elements are perfectly and intricately drawn together, to form a narrative that smoothly and comfortably draws its audience along a genuinely emotional roller coaster.
While admittedly it does take a while to become fully engrossed by the film, by the end of it all, it would be almost impossible to not have been affected in some way by the lives of these astronauts, through the eyes of Gene Cernan. DEFINITELY SEE, documentaries of this calibre deserve all the support that they can get.
Just by describing this movie is to understand it in its entirety. HARDCORE HENRY is a mad-cap Sci-Fi ACTION MOVIE shot entirely from the main characters first-person perspective. From that what we get is a hell-ride of a jerky camera mount for just over 90 minutes, going from location to location and killing a bunch of faceless video game bad guys.
Every single stunt is undeniably amazing, however before long the fight sequences will becoming exhausting just due to the in-built frenetic nature of the camera. When it does come to the film’s story, there are some cool little details from the telekinetic main bad guy to Sharlto Copley’s character, this is all you need to know about them, the movie won’t care if you know more or less and neither should you. Beyond that the story never goes any further than “GO HERE AND KILL MORE GUYS!” then we get a massive frenetic action scene, followed by a little bit of exposition as a breather, then “GO HERE AND KILL MORE GUYS!“, repeat until the credits begin to roll.
MAYBE SEE if it is on in the background when you’re getting drunk, preferably with friends, just for the stunning action scenes, and you can turn away from the screen if any potential motion sickness starts to kick in. Watching this with a serious critical eye is simply too tiring.