Saturday, 27 August 2016

I have done some desperate, foolish things come 3 o'clock in the morning.

Sea of Love
(1989)

(SPOILERS) It’s difficult to imagine Sea of Love starring Dustin Hoffman, for whom Richard Price wrote the screenplay but who bowed out over requests for multiple rewrites. Perhaps Hoffman secretly recognised what most of us don’t need telling; there’s no way he fits into an erotic thriller (I’m not sure I’d even buy him as a cop). Although, he would doubtless have had fun essaying the investigative side, involving a succession of dates on the New York singles scene as a means to ensnare a killer. Al Pacino, on the other hand, has just the necessary seedy, threadbare, desperate quality, and he’s a powerhouse in a movie that, without its performances (Ellen Barkin and John Goodman may also take bows), would be a mostly pedestrian and unremarkable entry in the then burgeoning serial killer genre.


Well, I say unremarkable. The rightly most-remarked-upon aspect of the murder mystery side is how unsatisfyingly it’s resolved. Sea of Love is so scant of red herrings that it almost has to be Ellen Barkin, in that Jagged Edge/Basic Instinct suspicious protagonist “Is she/he-isn’t she/he, ah, what the hell I can’t help myself” vein. That it isn’t, and that it turns out to be Barkin’s loopy ex, played by none other than Henry out of Portrait of a Serial Killer (Michael Rooker; that movie ought to have been a clue, and would have been if anyone had seen it), announcing himself in double-take fashion, having been confined to a couple of early scenes as the cable guy who gives Pacino’s Frank Keller a bum lead, is disappointing to say the least.


It also means that, on revisiting the picture, it’s singularly evident how completely unreasonable Frank’s paranoid/loaded suspicions of Barkin’s Helen Cruger are (even the surname cues deadly antics). About the only time the movie properly puts her in a position that suggests serial murdering mood swings is when she shows up at Frank’s apartment with the Sea of Love 45.


But the upside of a revisit, without a fixing on how it turns out (although I’ve seen it a number of times before, not for about two decades), is that the quality of the performances really sinks in. Pacino’s is a tremendous portrayal of a functional alcoholic, one who spends his nights reeling uncontrollably, making rash choices and beset by crazed fears, but by day is a shrewdly competent police detective, and one given to sudden deductive leaps (admittedly, some of those also come while he’s on the sauce).


There’s a lot about Frank that isn’t terribly likeable; he’s self-involved, manipulative, and tries to turn his own errors into Helen’s. He’s a particular arsehole to Richard Jenkins, who is now married to Frank’s ex (an unseen Lorraine Bracco; her scenes were deleted). But Pacino carries his character and us along by dint of sheer charisma. It’s as if he had all that energy backed up, having been on four-year big screen hiatus from following the slaughter Revolution received critically and financially. We’re witness to the loose, freewheeling charm that comes naturally to the actor but was more frequently buried beneath an ultra-serious method approach.


He’s just great when paired with Goodman and indulging in buddy banter with fellow cops. In some respects, even more so than the intensity on display when he’s running through his drunk act or working himself into a state of extreme nervous tension over what Helen is doing with that gun in her handbag. Certainly, we also see the first signs of a tendency that would come to define his post-‘80s career: Shouty Pacino. Although, at least here it isn’t a lazy crutch, and his “Ho-ly cow!” Is both shouty and a comic highlight of the movie. Frank’s outburst about how,“Come the wet-arse hour, I'm EVERYBODY'S DADDY” is less laudable, however, so it’s swings and roundabouts. Perhaps the clincher, on the credit side, is his final scene with Barkin, where wee Al gets barged by a passer-by and just carries on acting. What a trooper!


Ellen Barkin oozes sultry, decked out with a salacious squint, crumpled smile, boxer’s nose and a similarly pugilistic attitude to sexual encounters. She’s every bit as perfect for this role as the unhinged Glenn Close and the impossibly-aspected Sharon Stone are in Fatal Attraction and Basic Instinct respectively, offering a grounding to the drama, whether she’s sporting a ridiculously movie-exotic red leather jacket or strolling panty-free for a liaison with Frank in a supermarket (Frank spends a lot of his time in supermarkets). She promotes just the right kind of smoky lustfulness. Barkin is possibly the least bland actress who ever rose to the ranks of leading ladies, which may be why she didn’t stick: too unconventional (she’s also great in The Big Easy, a couple of years earlier).


On the other side, Goodman is an absolute delight in the partner role (in a year where he also ruled in a partner role in Spielberg’s somnambulant Always), exuding effortlessly charm and confidence as he launches into a rendition of Sea of Love and throwing off casual quips that make Al look great (“What are you, a fucking cop?”: “Sometimes”); they have an easy, instant rapport. He’s also great, as if it needs saying, in the dramatic scenes, such as his one-night stand with lonely Lonely Heart Gina (Christine Estabrook).


Of which, Richard Price may have had a patchy time getting screenplays to theatres without being tarnished by hacks, but he creates some marvellous little scenes throughout that further underline how well observed this is character-wise. Harold Becker is in no way one of the great directors, but he services the material diligently. Gina’s initial encounter with Frank, garlanded with balloons (“They’re the only things keeping me up”) is matched by interviews with unhelpful potential victims (“I swear on the eyes of my children” one protests, lying that he hasn’t been playing away; in the next scene he is discovered dead).


The string of dates is both hilarious (“If you’re a printer, I’ve got a dick” assesses one of Al’s alleged profession; curiously the same profession as Jack Nance in Eraserhead – well, only curious because I watched them on consecutive nights) and heart-breaking (Patricia Barry’s older woman, who Frank makes his excuses to, and who he then sees observing him with later dates, is awful for her and awful for the heel it makes Frank feel). There are also memorable spots for William Hickey (as Al’s dad) and John Spencer (his lieutenant). Samuel L Jackson also gets one scene as “Black Guy”.


Thematically, of course, the picture comes at the tail-end of AIDS-panic ‘80s, and it’s worth considering how it distinguishes itself from glossier fare like Fatal Attraction and the later, knowingly-ludicrous Basic Instinct. It’s stating the obvious that this is a movie where sex with strangers can lead to death, and more particularly the death of men.


Allied with this, there’s a very evident homoerotic aspect; Terry Cruger makes a great play of having his victims undress and mimic sexual congress before killing them, suggesting repression and panic on his part. This is paired with the (often very funny; “Roses are red, violets are blue I’ve got one yay long and it’s all for you”) macho-hetero banter between fiercely straight cops; there’s an underling theme of sexual insecurity throughout, one that doesn’t only manifest in Al’s drunken fumblings and terror (it’s also interesting that Sea of Love comes at the opposite end of a decade where Al last played a cop, cruising gay bars in search of a serial killer).


Complementing the whole is a fine Trevor Jones score, a masterpiece of insistent, sleazy liaisons, rising tension and hot sax. It ought to be corny, but it absolutely works, and again I think that’s down to the greater whole being stapled to a cast who make it work. Slip Michael Douglas into this role, effective as he was as the go-to, sexually corrupt guy of that era, and the whole thing looks ridiculous.


It’s also worth noting that this saw the advent of the sub-sub-genre of the serial killer’s favourite song accompanying their homicidal sprees, something that would run nearly a decade and take in the likes of Striking Distance (Lil’ Red Riding Hood), The X-Files (Beyond the Sea) and Fallen (Time Is On My Side), the latter also featuring Goodman.


I well remember the release of Sea of Love, coming as it did a week before Black Rain, which at the time I was much more enthused over (Ridley Scott! Yes, I was young and foolish). Not really very similar, except in as much as both were cop thrillers starring 40-something stars released in September 1989. Sea garnered the critical applause, by and large, and also beat Rain at the box office. Well, in the US; worldwide, Black Rain made $134m to Sea of Love’s $111m. But that was a nice earner for Pacino’s comeback; he would continue to pick bankable (and qualitively very variable) fare for the next decade.


The aspirations to serious character drama are both to Sea of Love’s credit and disarray (the cop-out ending looks that much worse after such invested work, but even early on you’re left slightly askance; it took the old lady next door two days before she banged on her unlocked neighbour’s door and ask him to turn the record down?) They ensure it’s well above average, but the crudeness of the procedural aspect means it can never rise to the status of a classic.



Agree? Disagree? Mildly or vehemently? Let me know in the comments below.

God didn’t intend for us to play football.

Concussion
(2015)

(SPOILERS) I rated Kill the Messenger, scripted by Concussion writer-director Peter Landesman, who seems to be magpie-ing his way through a variety conspiracy-related material, expressing either an anti- (Parkland; one would almost think he was trying to be controversial in suggesting JFK’s assassination was purely, solely and entirely down to Lee Harvey Oswald) or pro- (Messenger, the upcoming Felt, where he goes to the well already partially explored in All the President’s Men, by throwing a light on Deep Throat). Here he covers pathologist Dr Bennet Omalu’s diagnosis of CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) in NFL football players, and he’s aided by sterling work from a fine cast. Unfortunately, as both director and writer he rather lets the side down.


In terms of pluses, Will Smith offers an impressively immersive turn as the Nigerian-born Omalu, not so much because there’s anything particularly astonishing about the emotional journey (and the requisite love story with Gugu Mbatha-Raw is laborious Hollywood gloss, however much it may be based on fact), but because he abandons the usual Smith crutches of showboating charm and irrepressible charisma. It’s also just plain rewarding to see Smith rising to the challenge of peers who up his game, notably Alec Baldwin as the conscience-stricken former physician for the Pennsylvania Steelers and the ever-wonderful Albert Brooks as Omalu’s mentor. There’s a lovely little cameo from Eddie Marsan, and David Morse is strong as the former centre star whose suicide invites Omalu’s suspicions of something seriously awry with a game that habitually inflicts enormous damage on the brains of its players.


Omalu’s a real straight arrow, and a corpse whisperer (infuriating perhaps the most overtly hissable character in the movie, co-worker Mike O’Malley) who puts his money where his mouth is by funding vital tests himself. With his religious convictions, it’s perhaps surprising Concussion wasn’t sold to the faith-based crowd. Although, its negligible box office generally suggests a difficult movie for the real religious faithful, American Football fans themselves. And I’m suspect there’s enough crossover in competing fervours for it to be a problem case generally.


Landesman gets the conspiracy play down pat, aside from an obligatory, pedestrian “thriller” sequence in which pregnant Mbatha-Raw is pursued by persons unknown. The one-man-against-the-system nature of the case is solid movie material, from the dismissiveness of Omalu’s findings to the attempts by the NFL to whitewash the results of its nominally open, cards-on-the-table investigations, to the FBI bringing charges (eventually dropped) against Brooks’ character (although the timeline for this appears to have been jiggled in the picture’s favour to suggest a more express closing of ranks by the various powers-that-be).


Unfortunately, the director comes up looking rather crude and basic in other areas. An opening scene introducing Omalu’s diligence in a court case is borderline inept, as Landesman entirely distracts from the testimony by jumping around the delivery and intercutting random close-ups. It’s an attempt to underline the man’s attention to detail. but he succeeds only in kyboshing the intended representation of Omalu as a force to be reckoned with.


There are also many scenes in which the doctor needs a pep talk, stating that he doesn’t understand why people would behave this way (cover things up, not want to hear the truth), and being told the cynical reality, and that what he is doing is worthy. The most misjudged element is the “We’ve got another one” progression of the condition, though, which Landesman depicts as a virus on the loose; players break down, threaten their families or blow the brains out as punctuation points for Omalu’s dawning diligence. It’s histrionic, unfortunately, and it would have been better to entirely avoid this aspect, except as reported speech, than handling it in such a clumsy fashion.


Concussion would survive much better without these clichés, but Landesman seems intent on beating the viewer about the head to the point where any suggestion of subtlety and underplaying is lost. At one point a character draws an analogy between the denial of the NFL and that of the tobacco companies concerning the dangers of cigarettes, and a comparison might also be drawn between Concussion and Michael Mann’s big tobacco whistle-blower film The Insider. Landesman seems intent on tackling the kind of subject matter thoroughbred filmmakers like Mann and Oliver Stone have run with to great acclaim. Unfortunately, so far, he’s only revealed himself to be in the little leagues.


Agree? Disagree? Mildly or vehemently? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday, 26 August 2016

We're all obscene. Everyone's obscene.

A Bigger Splash
(2015)

(SPOILERS) This remake (of 1969 film La Piscine) didn’t quite work for me, mostly due to a third act narrative lurch that feels disproportionate and (relatively) unmotivated. Combined with a cryptic quality that tends to the annoying rather than intriguing, A Bigger Splash lends itself to a bigger let-down than I had expected.


Mainly because, prior to that point, it had me fully engaged, rather than frustrated. The tensions between the isolated quartet on the idyllic Italian island of Pantelleria simmer nicely, as Harry (Ralph Fiennes), ex- of recuperating rock royalty Marianne (Tilda Swinton), gate-crashes her and toy boy Paul’s (Matthias Schoenaerts) the love nest. In tow is petulant daughter Penelope (Dakota Johhson), whose relationship with her recently discovered daddy is fairly unconventional.


But then, everything about the relationships here is fairly unconventional. Harry is revealed to have introduced Paul to Marianne, encouraging their relationship, but he now wishes to rekindle their flame, dismissing her dalliance with Paul as boring and lacking that one true spark. Penelope flagrantly flaunts herself towards the disinterested, uptight Paul, and the jealousies nursed by Harry towards studly Paul suggest the unspoken undercurrent of something more.


The dynamic during the first 90 minutes is intriguing in both what it does and doesn’t say. That said, the use of flashbacks to illustrate the history between Harry, Paul and Marianne is all but redundant (there’s little one would regard as essential there, and some lousy back projection in the stadium scenes to boot), and mischief-maker Penelope is used in such a wilfully perverse manner that she seems like a cynically-imposed plot motor rather than any sort of character in her own right. But Swinton and Fiennes bring such life to their characters that it’s impossible not to become engrossed.


Swinton, despite suggesting the very luvvie-ish conceit of giving her character struggling post-throat surgery (oohhhh, the thematic resonance!) is as indelible as an aging (not that you’d really notice) diva as she is in everything she does, while Fiennes, in a wholly gregarious, obnoxious, exhausting, but entirely self-aware (so much so, he breaks the fourth wall at one point) performance as a provocative rock producer keen on abandon in every sense (including some hilariously woeful dancing), but also very sharp, seizes a gift of a role – not typical of the kind of thing he’s offered – and bear hugs it.


Less successful is Schoenaerts, who too frequently passes from brooding into stolid and unpersuasive. The film needed a performance suggesting something more combustible lurking within, particularly to set to the stage for the final act, and the result is that we never quite believe it when the confrontation with Harry occurs and the latter ends up at the bottom of the pool. Prior to this, Harry’s advances have been decisively spurned by Marianne, while Paul has succumbed to Penelope’s coquettish come-ons, leading to a superb dinner table scene, post-coital conundrums, in which Paul becomes the most animated he has in the movie, and the penny drops for all concerned.


But the picture hasn’t earned itself a murder plotline. It doesn’t have that kind of canvas. Indeed, it feels like a cheat on the good character drama previously unfurled. Added to which, some hugely clodding elements are imposed that fail to mesh; the police chief sweeping the investigation under the rug because he’s a big fan; the ungainly attempt to make this topical by referencing the refugee crisis as a plot resolver; and the “reveal” that Penelope speaks fluent Italian and was 17 all along (I thought I was missing something; the more interesting reveal, which I wouldn’t dismiss even now, although Harry’s comments seemed to suggest otherwise, is that there’s no connection between “father” and “daughter”, and she was merely brought along to help facilitate his stealing back Marianne).


What does the elimination of Harry add to the picture consequently and thematically? Perhaps La Piscine made this scenario succeed more effectively. We are left with pregnant presentations of the remaining characters, Penelope’s veneer slipping (Johnson can play older no problem, but no one is buying her as 17) and the relationship between Marianne and Paul appears affirmed, showing their relief at having got away with it, whatever it was, as there’s no sense the Harry-sized hole in their lives has any real consequence. Which may reflect the characters on one level, but it doesn’t reflect the first three-quarters of A Bigger Splash.


Agree? Disagree? Mildly or vehemently? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

This dinner's getting mighty cold.

Eraserhead
(1977)

(SPOILERS) Long, long ago, when I was but a student, having an Eraserhead poster on the wall represented an attempt to garner instant cachet. It was that or Betty Blue. Which was not to say those displaying it secretly nursed the opinion that perhaps it wasn’t really all that, but it was in such proliferation, like Pulp Fiction a few years later, that it ceased to hold much evidence of anything personality-wise on the part of the bedroom decorator. Lynch’s film is a cult classic of the mainstream, in that it has long since ceased being a hidden picture awaiting discovery; it’s fully out there, nudging the top slots of 100 Cult Movies You Must See Before You Die lists and so inherently weakening their value. It also means it’s weird enough and widely seen enough that it garners polar reactions, with some savages coming away wondering what all the fuss is about. I’m afraid that, generally highly appreciative of David Lynch’s work as I am, Eraserhead has always left me cold. Revisiting it a couple of decades since I last gave it a chance, I can safely say it still fails to persuade me otherwise.


It does, of course, have a long list of famous fans. Kubrick loved it, screened it to his cast before making The Shining. John Waters, Charles Bukowski, HR Giger (who claimed Lynch didn’t want to work with him on Dune because he felt the Alien designer had stolen his ideas) and Terrence Malick were all advocates. While there are plenty of debuts I consider justly deserve their hallowed status, and I can completely see why Eraserhead is revered (it’s nothing if not unique in sensibility), I find myself stubbornly resistant to whatever it is that ignites fascination or compulsion in others.


Perhaps key to this is that, while I love Lynch’s brand of peculiarity in the vast majority of what he’s done, here it leaves me listless. I’m not transfixed by the images on screen, nor am I intrigued by the one-note strangeness he conjures. Not dissimilarly to the way Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead, revered by the majority yet without the abundant sense of humour that proliferates later escapades, is an incredibly long 80 minutes (his more recent Oz The Great and Powerful suffers from similar tendencies to tedium).


I will say, however, that given the last time I watched Eraserhead was on ropey old VHS, the Blu-ray transfer looks amazing, entirely selling the quite stunning cinematography from Frederick Elmes and Herbert Cardwell (the latter died in his sleep a year into what became four of production). And the aural design, a double album worth of industrial sound effects, is pervasively mood-setting, uneasy and oppressive and alarming.


As is the case with the majority of the director’s movies, certainly the ones that arise unfettered from the depths of his involved psyche, he is reticent in divulging what anything means, even in the vaguest sense. It’s up to the viewer to interpret. But the general thrust of Eraserhead seems to be fairly transparent, and most first-time viewers will likely pick up that it’s uneasy meditation on the perils of parenthood amid a toxic and foreboding environment. Add in Lynch’s background details at the time, and most of what isn’t covered consists of what have since become signature ticks and quirks. He was a young father at the time, and daughter Jennifer’s birth and early years had been fraught (she was born with club feet that required surgery). He had also been living in Philadelphia, which (something he is quite open about) had a profound effect on his outlook, having previously enjoyed the surface idyll of Montana as reproduced in Blue Velvet’s white picket fences (Philly was an environment of “violence, hate and filth” and “The biggest influence in my whole life was that city”).


So in that context, Henry (Jack Nance, looking impossibly baby-faced) is a stand-in for Lynch, malignantly passive in his disposition, faced with an unhappy marriage and burdensome child, towards whom he nurses both a desire to care and discard. Sex is revealed as a constant source of unease and dread, even as it weaves in with desire (Judith Anna Roberts’ Beautiful Woman Across the Hall); Henry is the recipient of advances from Mary (Charlotte Stewart) and her mother (Jeanne Bates); the man-made chicken leaks blood from its cloaca; the baby is an enlarged embodiment of the sperm-like creatures of Henry’s dreams, and the one opaquely sent to earth by Jack Fisk’s Man in the Planet.


If the Man in the Planet is a source of Henry’s affliction, the Lady in the Radiator (Laurel Near) provides relief, destroying his fear-inducing sperm and eventually taking him to the light, free from mortal bondage; such polarities are common to Lynch’s work, be it white and black lodges or wicked and good witches. One might make a case that Eraserhead offers an inverse of the 2001’s Star Child, the baby a horrific vision of all that mankind can devolve into (and which Henry becomes at one point), as a corrupted, diseased mind and body. It’s certainly, aside from the unsettling radiator woman, devoid of the filtering of later work.


Eraserhead, despite its patches of humour, is unrelentingly oppressive and bleak; there is no grading or shading here. Where other pictures distinguish between realities, or pull back veils, Eraserhead is all undercurrents, and what is fascinating, bizarre or intangible in the likes of Blue Velvet or Mulholland Drive becomes undifferentiated and so less potent. It’s telling that the picture was originally planned as 42 minutes, because it’s really 88 minutes of mood that, as Pauline Kael said, “Pulls you inside grubby, wormy states of anxiety”. The only bit she left out was that it also induces wormy states of lethargy.


As such, I’m only really inclined to investigate the picture’s meaning as far as it reflects on the director’s oeuvre generally. It does possess something of the desperately “other” co-existing with our realm, something dread and inescapable, of which we humans are blithely unaware since it sits just on the edge of our perception; often we cannot even perceive it even when it stares us in the face. There are also what have become Lynch trademarks, from flickering lights (the intimation of evil), to the everyday made uncanny (Henry’s elbows) and antic admissions (“Look at my knees, look at my knees”). Occasionally it’s very funny (Mary attempting to pull her suitcase from under the bed, the on-the-nose explanation for the title), but the film is too abject to be regarded as a comedy, its absurdity more than counter-weighted by the prevailing despair.


I suspect I’d be more impressed by Eraserhead if it lasted the initially planned 40 minutes. Or better still 20. As it is, it’s an endurance test that drones on self-absorbedly, very much in the mode of the wilfully oblique and tangential student film (for all that Lynch cut it a merciful 20 minutes, it’s just not merciful enough). When I first saw it, my reaction was one of stronger rejection, in proportion to veneration that far exceeded its value. I can certainly see its merit as a piece of filmmaking, but for me it’s easily the least of Lynch’s pictures, as pronouncedly as it is the favourite for others.


Agree? Disagree? Mildly or vehemently? Let me know in the comments below.

Whoa! Check out the moves on that funny-looking kid with a big nose!

The Peanuts Movie
(2015)

(SPOILERS) I was never an enormous fan of the particular brand of melancholy sentiment pervading Charles M Schultz’ Peanuts cartoon, although I did always like Snoopy and Woodstock. Pretty much the same applies to this big screen version, with the caveat that snowballing the characters from an eight-frame strip cartoon to a 20-minute TV version to a 90-minute CGI feature is simply unsustainable, content-wise.


Probably general audiences thought so too, since for all that Mrs Schultz says there’s no hurry to make a follow-up (it took eight years to get this one made, and she considers that’s probably a good amount of time to wait for a sequel), Fox can’t be in a desperate hurry; it cost $100m and grossed $246m worldwide, the least successful of Blue Sky’s animations (that’s including Robots!) I wouldn’t be surprised if the diligence required to keep the Schultz estate happy was something of a strain to boot (son Craig and grandson Bryan are credited on the screenplay with Cornelius Uliano; director Steve Martino helmed Continental Drift and Horton Hears a Who!)


Which may have been no bad thing, all told. Certainly, against the odds, the CGI animation perfectly complements the Shultz strip versions. Unnecessary, certainly, but in no way does it deface the legacy like the horrific live action Garfield that appeared about a decade ago (if there are plans to remount that character for the screen at some point, and there are bound to be, particularly with the success of The Secret Life of Pets, the makers could do worse than follow The Peanuts Movie template).


On the downside, the plotless, easy-going approach of the original version simply doesn’t lend itself to this kind of expansion. Charlie Brown may be the classic frustrated loser (or “an insecure, wishy-washy failure” as he says of himself here, only to be told “You have all the qualities I admire”; not something you hear said to your typical inept sitcom character), but that doesn’t mean his format is endlessly malleable.


The premise, such as it is, finds Charlie enamoured by new classmate the Little Red-Haired Girl, and doing his best/worst to get her to notice him. The results are never less than episodic, with the plot ambling along in an amiable fashion that absolutely doesn’t call for close attention and absolutely does require staying power. Along the way Charlie receives a perfect test score, and we’re subjected to Snoopy fantasy interludes as he woos a damsel dog and acts the flying ace (essentially this is an easy one for Blue Sky, since he becomes the Scrat character, punctuating the narrative but with little purpose in the main story).


Of course, we see Charlie’s essential noble nature, helping out his sister in a talent show at his own expense and owning up to Peppermint Patty being the true test winner when he realises it wasn’t him, and the whole just stays the right side of maudlin, but it rarely elicits any strong emotion at all. Perhaps in that way it’s the perfect encapsulation (or extension) of America’s best loved strip cartoon; inoffensiveness is a great leveller.


There are nice moments; Charlie attempting to read Leo Toy Store by Warren Peace (“Yikes! How long was this war?”), and bizarrely succeeding, and Lucy reviewing Snoopy’s composition (“A dog that flies? That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard!”) but The Peanuts Movie’s greatest virtue is – very similarly to Horton Hears a Who!, actually, although that was top notch – finding a means of translating the style of the original material to a new medium in a way that enhances or complements rather than denigrates or diminishes it.


Agree? Disagree? Mildly or vehemently? Let me know in the comments below.