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Showing posts from 2018

You look like an angry lizard!

Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)
(SPOILERS) I can quite see a Queen fan begrudging this latest musical biopic for failing to adhere to the facts of their illustrious career – but then, what biopic does steer a straight and true course? – making it ironic that they're the main fuel for Bohemian Rhapsody's box office success. Most other criticisms – and they're legitimate, on the whole – fall away in the face of a hugely charismatic star turn from Rami Malek as the band's frontman. He's the difference between a standard-issue, episodic, join-the-dots narrative and one that occasionally touches greatness, and most importantly, carries emotional heft.

It was one of the most desolate looking places in the world.

They Shall Not Grow Old (2018)
Peter Jackson's They Shall Not Grow Old, broadcast by the BBC on the centenary of Armistice Day, is "sold" on the attraction and curiosity value of restored, colourised and frame rate-enhanced footage. On that level, this World War I documentary, utilising a misquote from Laurence Binyon's poem for its title, is frequently an eye-opener, transforming the stuttering, blurry visuals that have hitherto informed subsequent generations' relationship with the War. However, that's only half the story; the other is the use of archive interviews with veterans to provide a narrative, exerting an effect often more impacting for what isn't said than for what is.

The virus is airborne. It's inside the walls.

Maze Runner: The Death Cure (2018)
(SPOILERS) Purely by dint of having no outright terrible instalments – see the Twilights – and through actually finishing its story – see Divergence – without the succumbing to inadvisable hacking in half of final chapters– Hunger GamesMaze Runner ends up as one of the more consistent YA adaptations. Which isn’t to say it's ever been outright great; the premise is much too wonky for that. But director Wes Ball has lent the trilogy a degree of consistency that's relatively rare. Indeed, the biggest problem with the final instalment is that it doesn't know when to quit.

I am so sick of Scotland!

Outlaw/King (2018)
(SPOILERS) Proof that it isn't enough just to want to make a historical epic, you have to have some level of vision for it as well. Say what you like about Mel's Braveheart – and it isn't a very good film – it's got sensibility in spades. He knew what he was setting out to achieve, and the audience duly responded. What does David Mackenzie want from Outlaw/King (it's shown with a forward slash on the titles, so I'm going with it)? Ostensibly, and unsurprisingly, to restore the stature of Robert the Bruce after it was rather tarnished by Braveheart, but he has singularly failed to do so. More than that, it isn’t an "idea", something you can recognise or get behind even if you don’t care about the guy. You’ll never forget Mel's Wallace, for better or worse, but the most singular aspect of Chris Pine's Bruce hasn’t been his rousing speeches or heroic valour. No, it's been his kingly winky.

If this is not a place for a priest, Miles, then this is exactly where the Lord wants me.

Bad Times at the El Royale (2018)
(SPOILERS) Sometimes a movie comes along where you instantly know you’re safe in the hands of a master of the craft, someone who knows exactly the story they want to tell and precisely how to achieve it. All you have to do is sit back and exult in the joyful dexterity on display. Bad Times at the El Royale is such a movie, and Drew Goddard has outdone himself. From the first scene, set ten years prior to the main action, he has constructed a dizzyingly deft piece of work, stuffed with indelible characters portrayed by perfectly chosen performers, delirious twists and game-changing flashbacks, the package sealed by an accompanying frequently diegetic soundtrack, playing in as it does to the essential plot beats of the whole. If there's a better movie this year, it will be a pretty damn good one.

It is the greatest movie never released, you know.

They'll Love Me When I'm Dead (2018)
(SPOILERS) They'll Love Me When I'm Dead, Morgan Neville's documentary on the making of Orson Welles' long-gestating The Other Side of the Wind, is much more interesting than the finally finished article itself, but to be fair to Welles, he foresaw as much as a possibility. Welles' semi-improvised faux-doc approach may not seem nearly as innovative nearly fifty years on – indeed, in the intervening period there's a slew of baggage of boundary-blurring works, mockumentaries and the whole found footage genre – but he was striving for something different, even if that "different" was a reaction to the hole he'd dug himself in terms of bankability. On the evidence of the completed film, he never quite found the necessary rhythm or mode, but the struggle to achieve it, as told here, is fascinating.

He's a rough magician, isn't he?

The Other Side of the Wind (2018)
(SPOILERS) Sometimes it may be better notto get what you want and to carry on dreaming about how splendid it would be if you had it. The Other Side of the Wind has been one of those elusive grail items; "Wouldn't it be amazing if we finally got to see Orson Welles' great uncompleted masterpiece?" The critical response to getting it at last has been generally kind, but generally kind in the sense of considering it would be churlish to rip it to shreds after all the effort that has gone in to getting it out there, and out of respect to the fat man. Really, though, it's a bit of a mess.

Oh man, they wronged you. Why they gotta be like that? You exude a cosmic darkness.

Mandy (2018)
(SPOILERS) Sometimes you're left scratching your head over a movie, wondering what it was about it that had others rapturously raving while you were left shrugging. I at least saw the cult appeal of Panos Cosmatos’ previous picture, Beyond the Black Rainbow, which inexorably drew the viewer in with a clinically psychedelic allure before going unceremoniously off the boil with a botched slasher third act. Mandy, though, has been pronounced one of the best of the year, with a great unhinged Nic Cage performance front and centre – I can half agree with the latter point – but it's further evidence of a talented filmmaker slave to a disconcertingly unfulfilling obsession with retro-fashioning early '80s horror iconography.

How are you, Mrs Gale? I’ve been unravelling the intricacies of your drinks cabinet.

The Avengers Seasons 1 & 2 Ranked - Worst to Best
I didn't get around to providing a worst-to-best ranking of the first three seasons when I revisited through them, so this is to remedy that. Obviously, there's a slim surviving selection from Season One, but I opted not to include it with Two. Both represent a show gradually finding its direction, first with the pairing of Keel and Steed, the gradual evolution of the latter from mysterious hard guy to the laidback toff we know, and then the patchy partnering with King and Venus before the groundwork for The Avengers' best-known format is established with Cathy. In this capacity, a handful of classic episodes point the way for the show’s high-water mark to come.

We need to fail. We need to fail down here so we don't fail up there.

First Man (2018)
I was ambivalent about the need for First Man. The space race movie had already been made in The Right Stuff, and couldn’t possibly be bettered, and the “tribulations in space” movie had been one of the better Ron Howard pictures (still only solid, rather than great, though). Was another Hollywood production promulgating the official history of NASA needed? Probably not, as there's nothing very new here on that score, but what impresses about First Man is rather the perversely unglorifying approach it takes – which isn't to say it’s anything other than in awe of the risks taken by the risk takers – resulting in a piece that's almost the opposite of Philip Kaufman's film in scope, scale and design, despite sharing some of its iconography; it could even be seen as an anti-epic.

That kind of nonsense can come back and haunt you down the road. If you killed her, I mean.

Suburbicon (2017)
(SPOILERS) I wonder what the Coen brothers really thought of George Clooney (and Grant Heslov) rewriting their long-on-the-shelf screenplay. Clooney’s record with such tampering isn’t exactly spotless (Charlie Kaufman was most unimpressed with the changes he made to Confessions of a Dangerous Mind), and his decision to mash up their '50s-set crime story with their own segregation drama, as a reaction to Trump, is only deleterious to the whole. Apparently the Coens gave him their blessing, but they were probably just being polite.

I don’t catch wolves looking where they might be. I look where they’ve been.

Wind River (2017)
(SPOILERS) Taylor Sheridan's second feature as director sees him continue tapping a vein of political-toned genre writing that informed his two breakout successes, Sicario and Hell or High Water. He's a bit of a plodder as a helmer on this evidence, however, lacking the energy or flair Denis Villeneuve and David Mackenzie brought to those screenplays.

Why can’t it just be about the skating?

I, Tonya (2017)
(SPOILERS) The conflicting accounts that I, Tonya wears as a badge of pride, courtesy of screenwriter Steven Rogers' decision to wallow in the distinctive points of view of its protagonists rather than attempt to sift through them to reach some level of ostensible truth, are both a stroke of genius and the picture's Achilles' heel. Because once that choice has been made, it lends the proceedings an archness that, while entertaining and often very funny, is distancing.

This train’s freakin’ me out!

The Commuter (2018)
(SPOILERS) I've found the previous Liam Neeson/Jaume Collet-Serra collaborations entertaining for the most part (Unknown, Non-Stop, Run All Night), but there's definitely a cumulative sense of them punching below their weight. Indeed, instead of solving dastardly deeds on a plane (Non-Stop), this time the actor and his director are on a train doing likewise.

People are going rabid!

Train to Busan (2016)
(SPOILERS) Perhaps I just had my expectations raised too high, based on all the praise lavished on Train to Busan, but this South Korean zombie flick, largely situated – surprise, surprise – on the titular train, is merely adequate. Sang-ho Yeon offers perfectly serviceable zombie action – albeit without the resort to freneticism so common in the US versions – but rather falls down when feasting on lumpen and obvious social commentary.

All in favour of Chief fighting the robot dog, say ay.

Isle of Dogs (2018)
(SPOILERS) I didn’t have very high hopes for Isle of Dogs. While I'm a big Wes Anderson fan, give or take the odd picture (The Life Aquatic just doesn’t do it for me), the trailers almost felt like they were intended as a patience-testing parody of his quirky tableau style. Plus, I wasn't enormously keen on The Fantastic Mr Fox, although that may just have been my wanting a respectful adaptation of Roald Dahl's story, rather than one Wes'd up to the max. Yet this, his sophomore animation, is as a very pleasant surprise. Perhaps because it allows him free rein, without impressing himself on someone else's material. Most of the criticisms aimed at the picture have some validity, but they're very much outweighed by its significant merits.

Of course, I’m not all right, you idiot. I’ve just been massaged by a pig.

Early Man (2018)
(SPOILERS) This ought to be a sobering lesson in what happens when an auteur is given a free hand and no one has the bottle to tell him he's come up with a stinker. Sure, Early Man had generally sympathetic reviews, but that’s really because Nick Park – rightly – has built up an enormous amount of goodwill over the years. Sometimes, though, you have to be cruel to be kind and call a turkey a turkey.

Wasn't it her brother who murdered all those babysitters?

Halloween (2018)
(SPOILERS) Proof that you can keep going back to the same crumbling well and there'll still be a ready and willing (nostalgic) audience to lap up the results, at least for the first weekend. The critics seemed to like this sequel to the first movie, though, which expressly wipes out Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later – which also retconned out of existence everything aside from the first two movies. Mind you, the makers would do that, since both cover similar ground, while this Halloween ends up not being noticeably all that superior.

No one understands the lonely perfection of my dreams.

Ridley Scott Ridders Ranked
During the '80s, I anticipated few filmmakers' movies more than Ridley Scott's; those of his fellow xenomorph wrangler James Cameron, perhaps. In both cases, that eagerness for something equalling their early efforts receded as they studiously managed to avoid the heights they had once reached. Cameron's output dropped off a cliff after he won an Oscar. Contrastingly, Scott's surged like never before when his film took home gold. Which at least meant he occasionally delivered something interesting, but sadly, it was mostly quantity over quality. Here are the movies Scott has directed in his career thus far - and with his rate of  productivity, another 25 by the time he's 100 may well be feasible – ranked from worst to best.

You can’t just outsource your entire life.

Tully (2018)
(SPOILERS) A major twist is revealed in the last fifteen minutes of Tully, one I'll happily admit not to have seen coming, but it says something about the movie that it failed to affect my misgivings over the picture up to that point either way. About the worst thing you can say about a twist is that it leaves you shrugging.

Well, you did take advantage of a drunken sailor.

Tomb Raider (2018)
(SPOILERS) There's evidently an appetite out there for a decent Tomb Raider movie, given that the lousy 2001 incarnation was successful enough to spawn a (lousy) sequel, and that this lousier reboot, scarcely conceivably, may have attracted enough bums on seats to do likewise. If we're going to distinguish between order of demerits, we could characterise the Angelina Jolie movies as both pretty bad; Tomb Raider, in contrast, is unforgivably tedious.

If you want to have a staring contest with me, you will lose.

Phantom Thread (2017)
(SPOILERS) Perhaps surprisingly not the lowest grossing of last year's Best Picture Oscar nominees (that was Call Me by Your Name) but certainly the one with the least buzz as a genuine contender, subjected as Phantom Thread was to a range of views from masterpiece (the critics) to drudge (a fair selection of general viewers). The mixed reaction wasn’t so very far from Paul Thomas Anderson's earlier The Master, and one suspects the nomination was more to do with the golden glow of Daniel Day-Lewis in his first role in half a decade (and last ever, if he's to be believed) than mass Academy rapture with the picture. Which is ironic, as the relatively unknown Vicky Krieps steals the film from under him.

Prepare the Heathen’s Stand! By order of purification!

Apostle (2018)
(SPOILERS) Another week, another undercooked Netflix flick from an undeniably talented director. What’s up with their quality control? Do they have any? Are they so set on attracting an embarrassment of creatives, they give them carte blanche, to hell with whether the results are any good or not? Apostle's an ungainly folk-horror mashup of The Wicker Man (most obviously, but without the remotest trace of that screenplay's finesse) and any cult-centric Brit horror movie you’d care to think of (including Ben Wheatley's, himself an exponent of similar influences-on-sleeve filmmaking with Kill List), taking in tropes from Hammer, torture porn, and pagan lore but revealing nothing much that's different or original beyond them.

The whole thing should just be your fucking nose!

A Star is Born (2018)
(SPOILERS) A shoe-in for Best Picture Oscar? Perhaps not, since it will have to beat at very least Roma and First Man to claim the prize, but this latest version of A Star is Born still comes laden with more acclaim than the previous three versions put together (and that's with a Best Picture nod for the 1937 original). While the film doesn't quite reach the consistent heights suggested by the majority of critics, who have evacuated their adjectival bowels lavishing it with superlatives, it's undoubtedly a remarkably well-made, stunningly acted piece, and perhaps even more notably, only rarely feels like its succumbing to just how familiar this tale of rise to, and parallel fall from, stardom has become.

I love robbing the English, they're so polite.

A Fish Called Wanda (1988)
(SPOILERS) It’s probably fair to suggest A Fish Called Wanda was the last time John Cleese felt he had something to prove creatively. Certainly, the belated "sequel" Death Fish II/ Fierce Creatures seemed designed to squander the massive amount of good will its predecessor engendered. Post-Python (and Fawlty Towers) he'd become better known for having his head examined and profiting from the world of corporate training videos than building on his comedic legacy. His one stab at headlining a production, Clockwise, had met with mild success at home but complete indifference everywhere else, and he was only showing up there as a performer. So the challenge he set himself, to break the difficult US market and pass himself off as a romantic lead, was no small one.

Outstanding. Now, let’s bite off all the heads and pile them up in the corner.

Venom (2018)
(SPOILERS) A 29% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes can't be wrong, can it? To go by the number of one-star reviews Sony’s attempt to kick-start their own shred of the Marvel-verse has received, you’d think it was the new Battlefield Earth, or Highlander II: The Quickening. Fortunately, it's far from that level of ignominy. And while it’s also a considerable distance from showing the polish and assuredness of the official Disney movies, it nevertheless manages to establish its own crudely winning sense of identity.

There's something wrong with the sky.

Hold the Dark (2018)
(SPOILERS) Hold the Dark, an adaptation of William Giraldi's 2014 novel, is big on atmosphere, as you'd expect from director Jeremy Saulnier (Blue Ruin, Green Room) and actor-now-director (I Don’t Want to Live in This World Anymore) pal Macon Blair (furnishing the screenplay and appearing in one scene), but contrastingly low on satisfying resolutions. Being wilfully oblique can be a winner if you’re entirely sure what you're trying to achieve, but the effect here is rather that it’s "for the sake of it" than purposeful.

We're carrying three cases each. One is enough to blow out your fire, six cases will blow out the whole field. That means you don't think all the trucks will make it, one of us is a backup.

Sorcerer (1977)
(SPOILERS) By the time it was easily available, I didn't feel any great urgency to check out Sorcerer, mostly because I’d already seen Wages of Fear by that point, and really, how could it possibly compete? Which wasn't wrong. William Friedkin can't equal Henri-Georges Clouzot's classic, although in fairness, he does produce a picture that isn't to be sneezed at, that's very much of its era and that has its own undeniable qualities.

I hope nobody else is going to make me cross today.

The Witches (1990)
(SPOILERS) Nicolas Roeg making a kid's movie? Why, that would be tantamount to… someone as twisted as Roald Dahl writing children's stories. What's strangest is that it should have dropped in Roeg’s lap at this point, after a decade of making wilfully uncommercial movies even by his idiosyncratic standards. The last time he'd flirted with anything the public might go and see in any numbers had been Flash Gordon, before Dino de Laurentis decided not to give him a huge budget for something that would probably go straight over people's heads (more's the pity), with its "metaphysical messiah", and be unsuitable for family viewing with the intended sexual innuendo (although, there's a fair bit of that in the Mike Hodges version we got). That lack of attunement with fashioning hits might explain the financial failure of The Witches, even though it’s generally regarded as one of the best Dahl adaptations. It's exactly what you'd…

Don’t fight it, Mrs Peel. We’re inseparable.

The Avengers Season 5 Ranked - Worst to Best
Season Five is arguably The Avengers season where the show achieved its greatest visibility – now in full colour, Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg returning as its most formidable partnership – but also one that experienced a slight slip in quality from what is rightly regarded as the previous year's pinnacle. There’s little in the way of outright turkeys here – it has that much in common with Season Four – but fewer outright gems too.

You kind of look like a slutty Ebola virus.

Crazy Rich Asians (2018)
(SPOILERS) The phenomenal success of Crazy Rich Asians – in the US at any rate, thus far – might lead one to think it's some kind of startling original, but the truth is, whatever its core demographic appeal, this adaptation of Kevin Kwan's novel taps into universally accepted romantic comedy DNA and readily recognisable tropes of family and class, regardless of cultural background. It emerges a smoothly professional product, ticking the expected boxes in those areas – the heroine's highs, lows, rejections, proposals, accompanied by whacky scene-stealing best friend – even if the writing is sometimes a little on the clunky side.

They make themselves now.

Screamers (1995)
(SPOILERS) Adapting Philip K Dick isn’t as easy as it may seem, but that doesn't stop eager screenwriters from attempting to hit that elusive jackpot. The recent Electric Dreams managed to exorcise most of the existential gymnastics and doubts that shine through in the best versions of his work, leaving material that felt sadly facile. Dan O'Bannon had adapted Second Variety more than a decade before it appeared as Screamers, a period during which he and Ronald Shusett also turned We Can Remember It For You Wholesale into Total Recall. So the problem with Screamers isn't really the (rewritten) screenplay, which is more faithful than most to its source material (setting aside). The problem with Screamers is largely that it's cheap as chips.

The possibilities are gigantic. In a very small way, of course.

The Avengers 5.24: Mission… Highly Improbable
With a title riffing on a then-riding-high US spy show, just as the previous season's The Girl from Auntie riffed on a then-riding-high US spy show, it's to their credit that neither have even the remotest connection to their "inspirations" besides the cheap gags (in this case, the episode was based on a teleplay submitted back in 1964). Mission… Highly Improbable follows in the increasing tradition (certainly with the advent of Season Five and colour) of SF plotlines, but is also, in its particular problem with shrinkage, informed by other recent adventurers into that area.

My pectorals may leave much to be desired, Mrs Peel, but I’m the most powerful man you’ve ever run into.

The Avengers 2.23: The Positive-Negative Man
If there was a lesson to be learned from Season Five, it was not to include "man" in your title, unless it involves his treasure. The See-Through Man may be the season's stinker, but The Positive-Negative Man isn't far behind, a bog-standard "guy with a magical science device uses it to kill" plot. A bit like The Cybernauts, but with Michael Latimer painted green and a conspicuous absence of a cool hat.

Right! Let’s restore some bloody logic!

It Couldn't Happen Here (1987)
(SPOILERS) "I think our film is arguably better than Spiceworld" said Neil Tennant of his and Chris Lowe's much-maligned It Couldn't Happen Here, a quasi-musical, quasi-surrealist journey through the English landscape via the Pet shop Boys' "own" history as envisaged by co-writer-director Jack Bond. Of course, Spiceworld could boast the presence of the illustrious Richard E Grant, while It Couldn't Happen Here had to settle for Gareth Hunt. Is its reputation deserved? It's arguably not very successful at being a coherent film (even thematically), but I have to admit that I rather like it, ramshackle and studiously aloof though it is.

Well, we took a vote. Predator’s cooler, right?

The Predator (2018)
(SPOILERS) Is The Predator everything you’d want from a Shane Black movie featuring a Predator (or Yautja, or Hish-Qu-Ten, apparently)? Emphatically not. We've already had a Shane Black movie featuring a Predator – or the other way around, at least – and that was on another level. The problem – aside from the enforced reshoots, and the not-altogether-there casting, and the possibility that full-on action extravaganzas, while delivered competently, may not be his best foot forward – is that I don't think Black's really a science-fiction guy, game as he clearly was to take on the permanently beleaguered franchise. He makes The Predator very funny, quite goofy, very gory, often entertaining, but ultimately lacking a coherent sense of what it is, something you couldn't say of his three prior directorial efforts.

Anything can happen in Little Storping. Anything at all.

The Avengers 2.22: Murdersville
Brian Clemens' witty take on village life gone bad is one of the highlights of the fifth season. Inspired by Bad Day at Black Rock, one wonders how much Murdersville's premise of unsettling impulses lurking beneath an idyllic surface were set to influence both Straw Dogs and The Wicker Mana few years later (one could also suggest it premeditates the brand of backwoods horrors soon to be found in American cinema from the likes of Wes Craven and Tobe Hooper).

I can't explain now, but I've just been murdered.

The Avengers
5.21: You Have Just Been Murdered
Slender in concept – if you're holding out for a second act twist, you'll be sorely disappointed – You Have Just Been Murdered nevertheless sustains itself far past the point one might expect thanks to shock value that doesn't wear out through repetition, a suitably sinister performance from Simon Oates (Steed in the 1971 stage adaptation of the show) and a cartoonish one from George Murcell (1.3: Square Root of Evil) as Needle, of the sort you might expect Matt Berry to spoof.

It’s the power that excites me. I want to be ill-mannered, and rude, and uncouth.

The Avengers 5.20: The £50,000 Breakfast
Another week, another remake. This one reworks one of my favourites of Season Two, Death of a Great Dane, but the results are almost entirely uninspired. Indeed, it jostles for one of the weakest episodes of this season.

High octane stuff, eh?

The Avengers 5.19: Dead Man’s Treasure
One of my very favourite episodes, such that I even like aspects others find profoundly irritating. What makes it such a hit? It might partly be a fondness for the comedy race/rally genre (Monte Carlo or Bust leads that small but distinguished pack) or possibly it’s the supremely jaunty Laurie Johnson incidental score that accompanies the jaunty jalopies. The summery scenery adds something too (Bowler Hats and Kinky Boots notes it had more location filming that any other British film series episode produced during the '60s); the concoction as a whole is irresistible.

It’s great you’re helping all these random people and everything, but it’s not going to fill that hole in your heart.

The Equalizer 2 (2018)
(SPOILERS) I was going to suggest The Equalizer 2 is to The Equalizer (2014) as Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is to Jack Reacher, but then I remembered Jack Reacher is pretty good, and The Equalizer is just okay. Denzel broke his no-sequels rule for this?

It smells like ass in here.

The Hitman's Bodyguard (2017)
(SPOILERS) An unabashed '80s/'90s throwback antagonistic buddy action movie, albeit lacking the finessing and sharp dialogue of the master it aspires to, Shane Black. Samuel L Jackson, who appeared in a few of those movies, is the loud, outgoing, emotionally-contented hitman Darius Kincaid, Ryan Reynolds the careful, measured, reserved bodyguard Michael Bryce. And, given the title, you can tell how it will escalate from there.

Never tangle with a Cybernaut.

The Avengers 5.18: Return of the Cybernauts
Avengers sequels not featuring Brodny are a rarity, and as obvious a no-brainer as this follow-up to last season's crowd-pleaser is, it rather underlines that the show was never at its best when returning to past glories (not least by churning out straight remakes). Return of the Cybernauts at least boasts a couple of elements that put it above its predecessor, however, even if the improvement is very much relative.

Welcome, to Nightmare Alley.

The Avengers 17: Death’s Door
By this point, it goes without saying that, with Sidney Hayers calling the shots, Death's Door is very stylish, which is an enormous boon to the dream sequences, taking a conscious leaf out of Spellbound's book for how to do these things; if Too Many Christmas Trees previously plundered the manipulated mental state in not wholly dissimilar fashion, Philip Levene ensures this one keeps ticking along, with a proper howdunnit for Steed and Emma to solve.

Some clown just tried to kill me!

Married to the Mob (1988)
(SPOILERS) With The Silence of the Lambs, Jonathan Demme became a bona fide mainstream director, and I don't think it really suited him. Apparently, he'd been courting Tom Cruise for Married to the Mob, so I guess he was gradually shifting towards "Hollywood player" territory anyway, but I can't imagine the picture being nearly as loose and fun as it is with the then biggest star in the world attached. Because Married to the Mob is shambolic and freewheeling, disinterested in anything you'd call classically Hollywood, even by comedy standards. And its enormously, infectiously uplifting.

My cigars. He’s been smoking my cigars… And he’s… Bitten the end off. Bitten!

The Avengers 5.16: Who's Who???
As much as the series would fall back on remakes of earlier episodes when the producers were in a tight squeeze and pushing deadlines, necessity could also be the mother of invention. While The Prisoner made the worst possible fumble of the old body-swap scenario with Do Not Forsake Me Oh My DarlingWho's Who???, borne from the twin challenges of Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg wanting time off (her departure from the series was announced during filming) is largely a success.

Our very strength incites challenge. Challenge incites conflict. And conflict... breeds catastrophe.

The MCU Ranked Worst to Best

It's the end of the world here, so nobody stays for long.

The Avengers 5.15: The Joker
It seems this remake of Don’t Look Behind You, the second redo of the season following The Correct Way to Kill reduxed as The Charmers, is generally highly regarded in relation to its Cathy Gale era original. I have to admit, I can't really see it, and coming after last season's also-leading-Avenger-lady-trapped-in-an-isolated-house near-remake (The House That Jack Built), it comes across a bit like flogging a dead horse. What The Joker has in spades is production value, cleverly directed by sure-hand Sidney Havers and draped with a level of plushness the Cathy Gale era couldn’t muster. It isn't enough, though.

Now then, you show nanny where you keep those pretty little missiles.

The Avengers 5.14: Something Nasty in the Nursery
Once Upon a Time, the penultimate episode of The Prisoner, sprang to mind more than once while rewatching Something Nasty in the Nursery, with its regressed adults and distorted guitar twangs announcing the sinister. It's very nearly a great episode, the only thing letting it down being the lack of any rug pull or shift in perspective beyond the initial setup.

In my day, those even endeavouring to fly were accused of witchery.

Warlock (1989)
(SPOILERS) Hero REG? Scottish hero REG? This could only have happened before anyone knew any better. As Richard E Grant himself commented of a role Sean Connery allegedly turned down ("Can you do a SKUTTISH accent for us?"), "How could they have cast a skinny Englishman to play this macho warlock-hunter?" And yet, that incongruity entirely works in Warlock's favour, singling it out from the crowd as the kind of deliciously-offbeat straight-to-video fare (all but) you could only have encountered during that decade.