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Showing posts from 2015

And A Happier New Year.

The Avengers 3.18: Dressed to Kill
Before The Avengers unwrapped its Christmas episode (Season Four’s Too Many Christmas Trees), it saw in the New Year. Both are inventive, but Dressed to Kill has the edge, a fancy dress whodunnit set on a train (well, mostly a station; Badger’s Mount, no less), in which Steed and Cathy Gale attempt to root out a typically far-fetched plot to instigate the apocalypse.

Steed’s “very good” Christmas party is interrupted when business calls; Britain’s early warning radar stations picked up a missile which then faded away (“The third World War broke out… Another few seconds and you and I would be mutating now”). The beyond tenuous strands of plot contrivance enable Steed to be in on the situation in advance, such that he has already purchased a plot of land adjoining the sole unaffected radar station, at Smallwood on the Cornish coast (he later recounts the whys of this; it was realised land was being bought up strategically close to early warning radar stat…

What beastly luck!

The Jungle Book (1967)
(SPOILERS) The greatest Disney animation arrived soon after Sir Walt had pegged it, but, given its consistency with, and progression from, Wolfgang Reitherman’s previous Disney entries during the decade, its difficult to believe he wouldn’t have wholeheartedly approved. The Jungle Book is a perfect Mouse House distillation of irreverence and sentiment, of modernity and classicism, of laidback narrative cohesion and vibrant, charged set pieces. And the songs are fantastic.

So much so, Jon Favreau’s new version will include reprises of The Bare Necessities and Trust in Me, in a partially motion-captured world that seems (on the surface) entirely at odds with the goofy, knowing tone Reitherman instilled in Rudyard Kipling’s classic. That wouldn’t surprise me, as Favreau’s sense of material has been increasingly erratic since the giddy high of the first Iron Man. Andy Serkis’ competing Jungle Book: Origins (despite the abject misery of its title) will be entirely perfo…

Boo! Pick a plotline!

Inside Out (2015)
(SPOILERS) The near-universal acclaim greeting the all-but latest Pixar offering is mostly warranted. It’s certainly their best feature in years, years that have been replete with a cash-in sequels and not-quite-there, increasingly rare, original outings. I have to admit I was sceptical, with Inside Out’s familiar high concept premise having been explored before, in movies, TV and animation, and what appeared to be a dubiously patronising approach to the workings of the mind (you know, for kids!) Yet, while Inside Out is sometimes a little rocky in terms of structure and plotting, it is mostly persuasively irresistible in character, and often hearteningly inventive. It might not be quite up to the standards of Pixar’s peak period, but Peter Doctor’s animation suggests such days aren't yet behind them.

Initially, the distillation of emotions into the handful that comprises Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust seems reductive and arch. Added to which, there’s a sense…