Seen quite a few movies over the last couple of weeks, whether on a plane, on holiday in Derbyshire or back here over the Bank Holiday weekend. To sum up –

Frost/Nixon – Great little thriller, with Ron Howard pulling the Apollo 13 trick and making a story with a known ending still be entirely gripping. Brilliant performances and pleasantly subtle in its politics. Kept me awake from Gatwick to Cincinnati, which is saying something.

3:10 to Yuma – Seen it before, but watched it again with Nadia and Hena in our little cottage last week. Really old fashioned and with a fascinating portrayal of hard men and men trying to be hard. Bale trying to win the respect of his son gets me every time.

Monsoon Wedding – Brilliantly colorful film full of memorable characters. The paedophile subplot seemed a little unnecessary, in that there was already more than enough drama in the wedding preparations/affairs/etc without needing something so overtly melodramatic – although it did give the uncle a chance to show how he prioritised family above his financial needs (though I do worry about what happened with his debts after the film ended!). Best thing about the film was Dubey and his comedic – and heart-warming – antics.

Wanted – This has officially replaced Casshern as the most ridiculous film I’ve ever seen, and has arguably dethroned xXx as the worst film I’ve ever seen. Although xXx was woefully terrible, it at least had the good sense to recognise its own b-movie silliness, embracing it for maximum effect. It didn’t capture that fun, 80s-style escapism that Rob Cohen nailed in the first Fast & The Furious, but it knew what it was, to a degree. Wanted is seemingly completely unware of its shitness and stupidity. Having glanced at the comic, it would seem that they completely misinterpreted it, heightening the ludicrous action sequences while discarding the superhero setting that acts as the necessary justification for the hijinks. Also, they quite clearly missed a trick by calling it the Loom of Fate instead of the Loom of Doom.

The Golden Compass – Again, seen it before, but watched it for the 2nd time last night. I stirred up a bit of a storm on Twitter and Facebook by claiming to really like it, incurring the wrath of both fans and non-fans of the book. To clarify, I’m well aware that it completely misses several of the points of the books and I’m aware that it is very kiddified, absurdly rushed and a complete mess in its final third due to studio interference. However, when it gets things right – Oxford, London, daemons, zeppellins, Mrs Coulter, Scorseby – it gets them really right. As such, it works as a kind of visual compendium of memorable elements from the book. As a standalone adaptation it doesn’t work: as a scrapbook of visual elements it’s exciting, as long as you bring all the story and significance from your knowledge of the book itself.

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