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It’s not every day you see a guy get his ass kicked on two continents – by himself.

Gemini Man (2019)
(SPOILERS) Ang Lee seems hellbent on sloughing down a technological cul-de-sac to the point of creative obscurity, in much the same way Robert Zemeckis enmired himself in the mirage of motion capture for a decade. Lee previously experimented with higher frame rates on Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, to the general aversion of those who saw it in its intended form – 48, 60 or 120 fps have generally gone down like a bag of cold sick, just ask Peter Jackson – and the complete indifference of most of the remaining audience, for whom the material held little lustre. Now he pretty much repeats that trick with Gemini Man. At best, it’s merely an “okay” film – not quite the bomb its Rotten Tomatoes score suggests – which, (as I saw it) stripped of its distracting frame rate and 3D, reveals itself as just about serviceable but afflicted by several insurmountable drawbacks.
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Ice cream, Cherryade and chicken nuggets, liquidised.

The Kid Who Would Be King (2019)
(SPOILERS) Joe Cornish generated such goodwill with Attack the Block – admittedly, I wasn’t its greatest fan – that I suspect no one really wanted to admit The Kid Who Would Be King, his belated follow up was a bit of a damp squib. This modern-day Arthurian retelling but with kids in the key protagonist roles may appear to have sufficient reconfigured cachet to appeal, but it’s mostly rather derivative, and that’s without even considering the patchy lead cast.

You’ll just have to face it, Steed. You’re completely compromised.

The Avengers Season 6 Ranked – Worst to Best
The final run, and an oft-maligned one. It’s doubtful anyone could have filled Emma Peel’s kinky boots, but it didn’t help Linda Thorson that Tara King was frequently earmarked to moon over Steed while very evidentlynot being the equal Emma and Cathy were; the generation gap was never less than unflatteringly evident. Nevertheless, despite this imbalance, and the early hiccups of the John Bryce-produced episodes, Season Six arguably offers a superior selection of episodes to its predecessor, in which everyone became perhaps a little too relaxed.

Dude. You’re my hero and shit.

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (2019)
(SPOILERS) I was going to say I’d really like to see what Vince Gilligan has up his sleeve besidesBreaking Bad spinoffs. But then I saw that he had a short-lived series on CBS a few years back (Battle Creek). I guess things Breaking Bad-related ensure an easy greenlight, particularly from Netflix, for whom the original show was bread and butter in its take up as a streaming platform. There’s something slightly dispiriting about El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, though. Not that Gilligan felt the need to return to Jesse Pinkman – although the legitimacy of that motive is debatable – but the desire to re-enter and re-inhabit the period of the show itself, as if he’s unable to move on from a near-universally feted achievement and has to continually exhume it and pick it apart.

I just hope my death makes more cents than my life.

Joker (2019)
(SPOILERS) So the murder sprees didn’t happen, and a thousand puff pieces desperate to fan the flames of such events and then told-ya-so have fallen flat on their faces. The biggest takeaway from Joker is not that the movie is an event, when once that seemed plausible but not a given, but that any mainstream press perspective on the picture appears unable to divorce its quality from its alleged or actual politics. Joker may be zeitgeisty, but isn’t another Taxi Driver in terms of cultural import, in the sense that Taxi Driver didn’t have a Taxi Driver in mind when Paul Schrader wrote it. It is, if you like, faux-incendiary, and can only ever play out on that level. It might be more accurately described as a grubbier, grimier (but still polished and glossy) The Talented Ripley, the tale of developing psychopathy, only tailored for a cinemagoing audience with few options left outside of comic book fare.

He’s got all the nerve in the world, but none of the nerves.

Elmer Gantry (1960)
(SPOILERS) Richard Brooks was something of an Oscar regular by the time he made Elmer Gantry, with The Blackboard Jungle, The Brothers Karamazov and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof all getting attention; he’d continue to keep that up during the ‘60s. Gantry receiving the nominations it did (five, including Best Picture), in some ways feels like a surprise, though: that the Academy would recognise material so overtly critical of religion, or by implication, through broadsiding those treating it like a business. That may be partly because its source material dates back to Sinclair Lewis’ 1927 novel, so there’s a literary pedigree, however current and controversial. It may also help that, while the film starts out with uncompromising zeal to expose and critique, by the conclusion it has become a much more recognisably traditional affair.

So does anyone have another question, not related to Hill House?

The Haunting of Hill House (2018)
(SPOILERS) Throughout the early episodes of The Haunting of Hill House, I nursed a creeping suspicion that the horror element was really so much window dressing. Partly because Mike Flanagan’s loosest of adaptations of Jane Shirley Jackson’s 1957 novel seemed far more concerned with Lost-esque personal narrative juggling than scares – which were, let’s face it, inserted on a formula basis to keep the thing ticking over. That suspicion seemed to be confirmed with the centre-piece funeral episodes (Six and Seven), where however entwined the familial strife of the Crains was with Hill House, it was much less engrossing that the actual emotional fireworks. And then, the climactic episode served to underline the point, seemingly throwing away any notion of horror in favour of a rather sappy, jaundiced depiction of a house that will actually in some way protect the souls it eats.

It's sort of Charles Foster Kane meets The Munsters or something.

The Haunting (1999)
(SPOILERS) I somehow expected time wasn’t going to improve The Haunting miraculously, but returning to it rather underlines the idea that Jan De Bont somehow just got lucky with his first foray into directing – and, to an extent second – while everything subsequently proved him rather tragically incompetent. To such an extent, he effectively retired from the business after his fifth film. The Haunting suggests not only that he didn’t have the faintest clue how to make a scary movie, but that he wasn’t even trying. Or about as much as the makers of Scary Movie.

It ought to be burned to the ground and sowed with salt.

The Haunting (1963)
(SPOILERS) Is it bad that, as far as the haunted house subgenre goes, I prefer The Legend of Hell House to Robert Wise’s very respectable, mature adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s then-recent novel? Both are based on a team of investigators setting up shop in a famously haunted abode – Nigel Kneale’s The Stone Tape does something similar – but John Hough’s film of Richard Matheson’s novel simply wants to have unapologetic fun with the premise. The Haunting goes for a less tangible vibe – night and day compared to the recent Netflix incarnation – but I’m not sure it quite pulls it off.

This sucks! It sucks the biggest mega balls in the history of shitty ball-sucking!

Happy Death Day 2U (2019)
(SPOILERS) The biggest failing of this sequel to the surprisingly witty 2017 Groundhog Day horror is that it stops short of fully embracing the out-there potential of invoking Back to the Future Part II. Instead, writer-director Christopher Landon opts to coast somewhat on a what-if scenario in which returning protagonist Tree (Jessica Rothe) gets to experience an alt-reality where her mum never died, and she must decide whether to give that up to get back to her own universe.

Why do all my generals want to destroy my bridges?

A Bridge Too Far (1977)
(SPOILERS) Deliberate and measured – some might say ponderous – was always the hallmark of Sir Richard Attenborough’s directorial career, but for the most part, that works to the benefit of A Bridge Too Far. It offers a liberal smattering of both personalised and cast-of-hundreds action sequences, but essentially his recounting of Operation Market Garden is all about talk, deliberation and a cavalcade of miscalculations, hubris and outright idiocy. Yes, there’s plenty of spectacle (and cinematographer Geoffrey Unsworth, of 2001: A Space Odyssey fame, is no slouch in that regard), and the expense is all up there on screen, but its effectiveness comes from following William Goldman’s wordy screenplay.

An invasion of Normandy would be against all military logic. It would be against any logic at all.

The Longest Day (1962)
(SPOILERS) It certainly felt like it. Three interminable hours that even playing “spot the star cameo” couldn’t relieve. It’s salient to note that both this and A Bridge Too Far were based on epic accounts of epic wartime operations by Cornelius Ryan, but whereas William Goldman managed to turn the latter into a surprisingly remarkable screenplay and Richard Attenborough into a surprisingly good film, here Ryan, adapting himself (with additional material credited to four other writers), induces mostly lethargy. He never finds an effective means to thread the various incidents and beachheads and responses together into a coherent whole, so you’re left with material that feels rather formless and directionless.