1917 (2019)

Watched in HD in Dolby Digital 5.1 on Amazon Prime.

1917 (2019) at IMDb

Two soldiers are sent with an urgent errand to another company to call off an attack which would result in carnage thanks to a German trap.

Hope is a dangerous thing

Colonel Mckenzie

Like Hitchcock’s Rope, Sam Mendes and Roger Deakins have dinner an astounding job of stitching scenes together to give the appearance of a single shot. Between running nose-to-nose with the actors and swinging and flying around the action, you get an intimate and vivid – and often grim – insight into war.

News of the World (2020)

Watched in HD, Dolby Digital+ 5.1 on Netflix

News of the World (2020) at IMDb

Even though I’m not a Tom Hanks fan (strike me down) I still look out for his work.

After the American Civil War a Captain of the army that has taken up the role of a traveling news reader comes across a girl whose family were killed. He takes her with him to find a home across a state still recovering from war and finding its identity where racism, gun slinging and sinister intentions remain.

Whilst it’s disappointing to see the same problems are still evident today (racism, lack of tolerance of others), I think I must have missed the supposed grip of this film. An interesting tale with a fairly obvious conclusion. But still, Tom Hanks, based on his holding the room telling the news I think he needs to work for BBC News 24.. Someone snuck inspiration from Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah in the score, which will serve as an ear worm for the night.

Greenland (2020)

Watched in 4K HDR, Dolby Digital+ 5.1 on Amazon Prime

Greenland (2020) on IMDb

A meteor strike is easy pickings for a disaster movie. A family of three have to make it to a safe area before the inevitable, fighting through panicking people whilst rebuilding their marriage. There’s nothing like a meteor strike to remind you of your wife and kid.

Two hours of ramping up tension, watching people sinking to new lows to survive. A hard watch emotionally, not a great thing to watch at the moment if you’ve got bad nerves, but maybe that’s what humanity needs. Reminds me of what a colleague once told me, “things can always get worse”.

Sunshine (2017)

Watched in HD, Stereo on Rakuten (Chromecast with Google TV)

Sunshine (2017) at IMDb

A second mission is mounted to follow a failed mission to “re-ignite the Sun” and save humanity. Dodgy physics aside (even if Brian Cox was involved), the story becomes personal with tensions and difficult decisions to be made about individuals vs. humanity. A little weird to see Michelle Yeoh almost sidelined by lesser-known British actors but those actors more than made their leads worthwhile.

If the wisdom of calling a spaceship that is heading towards the Sun to save humanity “Icarus” is foolhardy, calling the first one “Icarus I” is pure fortune telling. It is difficult to keep up with the pace of the manoeuvres of the ships, Kubrick definitely got that right. Boyle’s point of the Sun being bright was impressive and tested my retinas to the max. I can now see 256 shades of pure white.

I also discovered that Rakuten doesn’t support anything more than Stereo on my varied and capable set-up so that’s the end of that. Back to physical media.

Life in a Day 2020 (2021)

Watched in HD, Stereo

Life in a Day (2021) at IMDb

Following on from the 2010 version, on 25th July 2020 people from 192 countries filmed over 300,000 hours of amateur footage depicting their lives. Marriages, proposals, births, deaths, racism, break-ups, masks, no masks, protests, homelessness, effects of climate change, solitude, spirituality and some awesome trains.

I’m not a fan of the “day in the life” videos, but this collection of quick edits adds more during the Coronavirus pandemic. You don’t get chance to build a relationship with the characters – people – but their joy, sadness, satisfaction and plight is no less impactful. The close-ups with animals are better than any David Attenborough, the deliberately unfinessed production is certainly authentic.

Saint Maud (2019)

Watched in HD, DTS HD 5.1

Saint Maud poster

Saint Maud (2019) at IMDb

The damage that religion can do to the weak minded and vulnerable. What is experienced vs. what happens in the rational world and the damage that does to her and those around her.

A young nurse with a past of drink, parties and sex had a mental breakdown and a revelation and dedication of her life to God. She carries the arrogance of faith and expects others to feel what she does, meeting people who challenge her beliefs and the authenticity of those beliefs.

Weird camera angles keep you unsettled as Maud unravels. Welsh was spoken by God indeed, sounding amazing with some awesome design. That final frame will stay with you.

Tenet (2020)

Watched in 4K/HDR, DTS HD Neural:X 7.1
Tenet (2020) on IMDb

What feels like the only cinematic release of 2020, and for good reason. Nolan demands big viewing for big experiences. The frames seamlessly switch from vistas to close-ups to examine the feelings behind plot elements with frame resizing to help. A big screen is a must. The sound design is almost threatening with its speed and energy. Ludwig Göransson’s score is a highlight.

What happens happened

Neil (Robert Pattinson)

A weapons dealer has a new weapon, which “The Protagonist” (we never hear his actual name) has to prevent from use and sale. Meanwhile a personal story of blackmail, estrangement and suicide within a marriage wraps the (typically Russian) antagonist’s global evil plan.

Between lack of ability to read lips due to masks, heavy accents and softly spoken lines the dialogue is indistinct – frustrating when you have to hear every word. Shame on you Kenneth Brannagh. There’s so much noise and effects it’s difficult to know what to focus on. This is a film that will need multiple re-watches. There’s a mirroring of time and a progression that is impressive and confusing. It leaves you wondering if this is because of someone else’s assumed genius or you’re not able to “get it”; either way, it got mediocre reviews and didn’t break even in the box office. Multiple plot points occur simultaneously and in different directions. Nolan is messing with time again. Definitely worthy of the time, or was it, or will it be?