On Screens: Genre that enables Richie McFly to revisit the success of his past
If something’s bad for us, we ban it. Pesticides, guns, drugs with fantastic side-effects – the legislators catch up in the end. Films are a different kettle of fish, though. The authorities tend to ask whether the film is bad for them, often ignoring the true evil lurking in the cinema.
McFly away time travel!
First off, I’m talking about mind-rotting franchises. Fast & Furious: Hobbs and Shaw (Not Released Worldwide; Aug 1) is the ninth film about cars that go quickly – a ladies-only one is planned soon for female fans smitten with a series that treats all women as trophies – and the box office receipts keep on growing.
wayne Johnson and Jason Statham are chief eyebrow-raisers in this one.
Second off, let’s ban time travel films. Of course, I’m not proposing we go back in time to wipe the Back to the Future sequels from existence, particularly as the fate of Biff Tannen foretold the equally unlikely rise of Donald Trump, but maybe we could do that to About Time, a horrendous 2013 film directed and written by Richard Curtis.
This film was only made so they could put “From the writer of ‘Four Weddings’ and ‘Notting Hill’” on the poster. Had any aspiring writers produced this drivel, it would have been spat on, but Curtis, who ran out of ideas last century, simply reached for the option that never fails established creators. And now he has done it again with Yesterday (54; June 27), in which a musician wakes up to realise he’s the only person alive who has heard of the Beatles.
Of course there are going to be a few funny lines, along with amusing cameos courtesy of the ever-grateful cast of Love Actually, but producers are optioning this nonsense at the expense of quality that will never see the light of day.
Once upon a … cock-up
Going back in time is fun if you want to read negative reviews of masterpieces. The BBC recently wrote a howler about the new Quentin Tarantino film Once Upon a Time in … Hollywood (88; Aug 15 – preview in next issue), which looks set to be the best film of the decade. Some 25 years ago it was left to the LA Times to play fall guy in its write-up of Pulp Fiction (94; July 25 – anniversary re-release), which it decried as “creative desperation” by a director “scrambling for any way to offend sensibilities”.
The Washington Post called Disney’s The Lion King “downright strange” back in 1994 – and now it’s back in live-action with James Earl Jones, now 88, retained to voice the part of Simba’s father. With Donald Glover, Beyonce and Chiwetel Ejiofor, there are far more black actors involved in this version of The Lion King (NRW; July 17) than previously.
Three of the four ‘mixed’ reviews of The Sisters Brothers (78; June 27) – a 2018 dramedy western starring Joacquim Phoenix and John C Reilly as bounty hunting siblings – were handed out by British broadsheets.
And also arriving late to Danish screens is the promising teenage skater drama MID90S (66; July 11), the debut film of Jonah Hill, who used to work at a skateboard shop in Santa Monica.
Conjuring up shite
Most dramas fail these days, or at least they’re outshone by the rich character motivation of television. Cinema-goers prefer quick shocks, which might explain why there are four horros this edition. Anabelle comes Home (NRW; June 27), from The Conjuring universe looks like a rip-off of Child’s Play (NRW; July 18), which returns with Mark Hamill voicing Chucky, the killer doll who so badly wants to be as frightening as the last minute of Don’t Look Now.
Much more promising are Midsommar (73; July 11) and Scary Stories to tell in the Dark (NRW; Aug 8). The former stars Florence Pugh as a troubled American on holiday in northern Sweden to celebrate the longest day of the year, with no idea she’s the main course. While the latter is another of those ‘don’t touch/take/read that book!’ films, but it doesn’t look too bad. Guillermo del Toro is among the contributing writers, and Norway’s André Øvredal (Troll Hunter) directs.
Poms (36; Aug 8), the tale of a bunch of pensioners who form a cheerleading group, is a horror of sorts, and presumably The Angry Birds Movie 2 (NRW; Aug 8) has a few Hitchcockian nods, but life’s too short to care. Do you have time to watch the entire Marvel Universe collection before Spider-Man: Far From Home (NRW; July 2), because that’s the asking price. But there are no spoilers in Apollo 11 (87; June 27) – it’s not one for the conspiracy theorists.
That might disappoint Homeland’s Israeli creator Gideon Raff, as he likes a bit of intrigue, and with Michael K Williams and Ben Kingsley onboard for his latest venture, The Red Sea Diving Resort (Netflix; July 31), the true story of how Mossad agents tried to rescue Sudanese-based Jews in 1981, we have high hopes.
Point Blank (Netflix; July 12), a remake of the acclaimed French film A bout pourtant, looks passable as well.
Over on TV land we’ve got lots of big series returning, and beyond the obvious choices – Stranger Things (S3; Netflix; July 4) and Orange is the New Black Black (S3; Netflix; July 27) – we would recommend you get with the program with Snowfall (S3; HBO Nordic; July 11) and Succession (S3; HBO Nordic; Aug 12). The same can’t be said of Glow (S3; Netflix; Aug 10), which had a lacklustre S2 after a solid opening.
Also coming back for more are Workin’ Mums (S2; Netflix; July 25), You Me Her (S4; Netflix; July 12), Yummy Mummies (S2; Netflix; July 3), Queer Eye (S4; Netflix; July 19), Divorce (S3; HBO Nordic; July 2) and Sweetbitter (S2; C More; Aug 4).
That leaves us with five new series, of which The Loudest Voice (HBO Nordic; July 1) is the clear pick. Russell Crowe has slobbed on the pounds to portray Fox News’s founding chief executive Roger Ailes, and the result is a top notch depiction of our recent past that couldn’t be more relevant to today’s Trumpian troubles.
The documentary series I love you, now die (HBO Nordic; July 10) details the disturbing case of a woman who convinced her online boyfriend to kill himself, while garish looking pair Grand Hotel (C More; Aug 15) and Another Life (Netflix; July 25) are probably best avoided. That leaves futuristic drama The Rook (C More; July 10) in which the main character has amnesia – another plot device I’m tempted to ban.
Maybe Richard Curtis’s previous endeavours (most particularly Blackadder) have earned him a free pass, but really Richard, it’s time you retire so we can all shout ‘About Time’ together.