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Poor Easy Breezy.

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (2019)
(SPOILERS) My initial reaction to Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood was mild disbelief that Tarantino managed to hoodwink studios into coming begging to make it, so wilfully perverse is it in disregarding any standard expectations of narrative or plotting. Then I remembered that studios, or studios that aren’t Disney, are desperate for product, and more especially, product that might guarantee them a hit. Quentin’s latest appears to be that, but whether it’s a sufficient one to justify the expense of his absurd vanity project remains to be seen.
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Is CBS Corporate telling CBS News "Do not air this story"?

The Insider (1999)
(SPOILERS) The Insider was the 1999 Best Picture Oscar nominee that didn’t. Do any business, that is. Which is, more often than not, a major mark against it getting the big prize. It can happen (2009, and there was a string of them from 2014-2016), but aside from brief, self-congratulatory “we care about art first” vibes, it generally does nothing for the ceremony’s profile, or the confidence of the industry that is its bread and butter. The Insider lacked the easy accessibility of the other nominees – supernatural affairs, wafer-thin melodramas or middle-class suburbanite satires. It didn’t even brandish a truly headlines-shattering nail-biter in its conspiracy-related true story, as earlier contenders All the President’s Men and JFK could boast. But none of those black marks prevented The Insider from being the cream of the year’s crop.

You know what I think? I think he just wants to see one cook up close.

The Green Mile (1999)
(SPOILERS) There’s something very satisfying about the unhurried confidence of the storytelling in Frank Darabont’s two prison-set Stephen King adaptations (I’m less beholden to supermarket sweep The Mist); it’s sure, measured and precise, certain that the journey you’re being take on justifies the (indulgent) time spent, without the need for flashy visuals or ornate twists (the twists there are feel entirely germane – with a notable exception – as if they could only be that way). But. The Green Mile has rightly come under scrutiny for its reliance on – or to be more precise, building its foundation on – the “Magical Negro” trope, served with a mild sprinkling of idiot savant (so in respect of the latter, a Best Supporting Actor nomination was virtually guaranteed). One might argue that Stephen King’s magical realist narrative flourishes well-worn narrative ploys and characterisations at every stage – such that John Coffey’s initials are announcement enough of his …

You don't find it depressing that Homer Wells is picking apples?

The Cider House Rules (1999)
(SPOILERS) Miramax’s big Oscar contender of 1999 made its finalist appearance largely by default, after hopes for The Talented Mr Ripley bottomed out. The studio had gone great guns during the previous few years, taking both The English Patient and Shakespeare in Love to the top prize and even securing Roberto Benigni Best Actor, but suddenly things didn’t look so bright, and the result was this: a film that put a whole new spin on the – to all intents and purposes – inconsequential nominee vying for the main award. The studio would repeat the trick to almost exactly the same effect with the same director a year later in the form of Chocolat.

My security device is now primed. I will give audible warning of any unauthorised contact.

The Avengers 6.24: Take Me to Your Leader
Terry Nation hits another bullseye – or near enough – with Take Me to Your Leader, in which he shrewdly uses a similar “trail of suspects” approach to previous winner Legacy of Death, as Steed and Tara are required to navigate a suitcase – one that provides the bearer with instructions – to its owner when – in theory – it’s required to be passed from enemy agent contact to enemy agent contact in relay. It isn’t perhaps as uproarious as his previous teleplay, but more than makes up for it in inventiveness.

Extraordinary creatures. I’ve never been able to understand what motivates them.

The Avengers 6.23: Love All
Another quality episode from Jeremy Burnham, with a plot simultaneously both daft and clever (so very Avengers), but the biggest standout is the terrific performance from his wife – and later Children of the Stones lead – Veronica Strong, first seen as an aging, fag-ash cleaning lady with a strange knack for attracting men in the Ministry, and then as her “real” self, a dazzling beauty.

You’re a staring Stanley!

The Sixth Sense (1999)
(SPOILERS) It has usually been a shrewd move for the Academy to ensure there’s at least one big hit among its Best Picture Oscar nominees. At least, until the era of ever-plummeting ratings; not only do the studios get to congratulate themselves for their own profligacy (often, but not always, the big hits are also the costliest productions), but the audience also has something to identify with and possibly root for. Plus, it evidences that the ceremony isn’t just about populism-shunning snobbery. The Sixth Sense provided Oscar’s supernatural bookend to a decade – albeit, The Green Mile also has a stake in this – that opened with Ghost while representing the kind of deliberate, skilfully-honed genre fare there was no shame in recognising. Plus, it had a twist. Everyone loves a twist.

Kindly behove me no ill behoves!

The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990)
(SPOILERS) It’s often the case that industry-shaking flops aren’t nearly the travesties they appeared to be before the dust had settled, and so it is with The Bonfire of the Vanities. The adaptation of Tom Wolfe’s ultra-cynical bestseller is still the largely toothless, apologetically broad-brush comedy – I’d hesitate to call it a satire in its reconfigured form – it was when first savaged by critics nearly thirty years ago, but taken for what it is, that is, removed from the long shadow of Wolfe’s novel, it’s actually fairly serviceable star-stuffed affair that doesn’t seem so woefully different to any number of rather blunt-edged comedies of the era.

What say we unscrew the lid and see what happens?

The Current War (2017)
(SPOILERS) If you didn’t know Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s The Current War had a turbulent history in the editing suite, you’d rapidly reach that conclusion from watching the film. Either that, or assume the director has no idea what he was doing. Aside from an aesthetically inadvisable penchant for low-angle, fish-eye framing, there’s scant design or coherence to Gomez-Rejon’s visual sense; we’re subjected to random cutting (and cutting randomly) from careful compositions to ones bereft of the same, regardless of the requirements of the scene or flow of the overall narrative. As a consequence, it says something for the fascination the Thomas Edison/ George Westinghouse story exerts – their competition for whose electrical system would win out and be adopted en masse – as told by Michal Mitnick that the film is even halfway watchable.

Ice is civilisation! That's why I'm here! That's why I came!

The Mosquito Coast (1986)
(SPOILERS) How different things might have been, had The Mosquito Coast been a hit. Its failure evidently chastened Harrison Ford, who was still opining half a decade later that it was his only film that hadn’t made its money back. For a spell there, with two phenomenal franchises to his name and his star power entrenched by the success of Witness, he felt confident enough to mix things up a little, to put his name to the Peter Weir project that had fallen through due to lack of funding/Jack Nicholson, to work with an out-of-favour European director (in Frantic for Polanski, now even more out of favour), try his hand as the supporting romantic interest in an unfamiliar genre (Working Girl) and work with one of the ‘70s most feted directors in a did-he-didn’t-he Jagged Edge-esque courtroom drama (Presumed Innocent, where more column inches ended up being devoted to his severe haircut than the quality of the picture). At least a couple of these paid off, and it w…

Different skin, same suffering.

Heaven & Earth (1993)
(SPOILERS) All credit to Oliver Stone for feeling a responsibility to portray the Vietnamese perspective of the Vietnam War, after so many depictions of the physical and mental traumas of GIs (even when inflicting suffering on the enemy) but from the evidence of the all but forgotten Heaven & Earth, the final part of his Vietnam trilogy, he wasn’t the guy to do it.

Do you think the world’s ended and they forgot to tell us?

The Avengers 6.21: The Morning After
This one seems to get something of a mixed reaction, which rather surprises me. Along with the not-dissimilar-in-premise 4.15: The Hour That Never Was, it was one of the highlights of my first-run Avengers experience, and revisiting the series stands up even better than its Season Four counterpart. Much of that is down to John Hough’s superb location work and sure feel for suspense, but Brian Clemens also ensures the plot maintains a sense of mystery, while the odd couple/ Midnight Run/ The Defiant Ones handcuffed pairing of Macnee and Peter Barkworth (1.22: Kill the King, 3.16: The Medicine Men, 5.9: The Correct Way to Kill) is an absolute treat.

But let me remind you that the course has already begun. And you can be taken away and interrogated at any time. Any time at all.

The Avengers 6.21: The Interrogators
After the dual-role disappointment of 5.10: Never, Never Say Die, the show finally does right by Christopher Lee, in the role of Colonel Mannering (!), “Head of Interdepartmental Security”, operating a beast of all scams on the intelligence network. It’s a seriously-inclined episode from Richard Harris, rewritten by Brian Clemens (and directed by Charles Crichton), but with just enough of the eccentric to add flavour.