Monday 4 March 2024

What Happened to Monday (2017)

Norwegian w
riter director Tommy Wirkola was in charge of this project following some violent fun previously with the likes of Dead Snow (and Dead Snow 2: Red vs Dead), Violent Night and Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, but if you don't like that genre, don't be put off of watching this outing, which is much more a Sci-Fi action film and well worth your time.

The star of the show is Noomi Rapace (Black Crab, You Won't Be Alone, Stockholm, The Secrets We Keep) who plays 7 roles in the film! That's right, and this forms the basis of the Sci-Fi bit as we join the story in two eras, 2043 and 2073. In the former, we're shown glimpses of a world where human overpopulation of earth is using up all the planet's resources far too quickly, so the authorities clamp down allowing only one child per couple/family. Woe betide anyone stepping outside of this regulation!

Those who do so, have their subsequent offspring taken away, the authorities setting up cryogenics chambers so that the kids can be brought back at a later date when things have settled back on earth to an equilibrium. These measures are enforced by military means as squads of professionals infiltrate the population with a green card to pretty much do what they like to enforce it and have set up digital check-points all over the place.

Anyway, back to Noomi's characters' tale and we witness 7 identical little girls being looked after in an apartment by their grandfather, played by Willem Dafoe (Inside, Poor Things, Tom & Viv, Nightmare Alley), teaching them the dangers of being caught and learning survival skills to use if and when they are exposed. By the way, the reason everyone is having multiple births like this is because the genetically modified food that scientists are creating to combat the population problem has that as a side-effect - all pregnancies produce big litters!

Grandfather disappears as we leap 30 years forward and now spend time with the Seven Sisters (which, incidentally, was the original title of this film) named after the days of the week. Out in public, at work, facing other people, they assume the name of their mother (Karen Settman) who, incidentally, died during the birthing of the kids. There's no mention of the father, I don't think. So each day, one of them goes out, dressed up to look the same, so each of them gets freedom from the apartment one day per week. They have to share their day with each other at the end of it so as to make sure the other 6 don't get caught out not knowing something from the days when it's not their turn. Keeping up at the back?!

One day, Monday goes out to work and doesn't come back. Then Tuesday goes to find her the next day and here begins the thriller bit with plenty of action as the authorities appear to have worked out what's going on. Throw in an officer who seems to have fallen in love with (at least) one of them, willing to bend the rules in his personal quest, a nasty politician, played menacingly by Glenn Close, seeking re-election by fair means or foul, a nasty bloke at the head of our hit-squad in focus and it turns somewhat into a bit of a thrill-ride!

This is very much the Noomi Show with her in the 7 roles in pretty much every scene. It's edge of the seat stuff often and she holds the film together in a fabulous performance. The special effects are pretty much seamless when time and again, we're in amongst the 7 sisters and they are all interacting together. Beautifully executed and shot. Close and Dafoe are really not in it very much at all, but what they do, as we'd expect, they do very well.

It's a great idea for a story which could easily have become a bit daft in the wrong hands, but production values are high and what we've ended up with is a real cracker of a thriller which nobody'll nod off in, during the 2 hour runtime. Yes, there are plot-holes for those looking for them, but for the rest of us it's great fun, totally absorbing and engaging. Highly recommended.

Friday 1 March 2024

PodHubUK Podcasts for the Month of February 2024

 ...a roundup of our month of podcasting. Links to the team, communities and podcast homes on the net at the foot, so scroll down!

Phones Sho
w Chat
Episode 787 - More Duos, More Flips and a Nexus
Saturday 3rd February
Steve and I bang on about the stuff we like at great length 😂 So yes, another catch-up show as we continue to swap hardware and yarns!

Tech Addicts Podcast
Tuck, Fold and Roll
Sunday 4th February
Gareth and I 
are back, looking at the Fold and Roll phone, Samsung and Sony's Money, Rugged Phones from Samsung, the Demise of Bullitt, Fossil Calling Time on Smartwatches, Microsoft Making Too Much Money, Ash Tray Designs, Microsoft Edge Being Dodgy, Ayaneo Flip Impressing with Dual Screens, MSI Claw Pricing, ImageFX Rolling Out Slowly, Chromebooks with 16GB RAM and Exciting New Zoom Audio Recorders. All the fun of the fair! Do join us!

Projector Room
Episode 156 - Gorky's Griselda
Wednesday 7th February
Allan, Gareth and 
are here again with our fortnightly roundup of all things film, cinema and TV. This time we Treat on Lee Marvin, grizzle for more Griselda, call an Ambulance with The Family Plan during The Night of the Virgin, work out the Primer Anatomy of a Fall and even shout out for Loudermilk! Plus oodles more, so do join us!

Phones Show Chat
Episode 788 - Just Clip on a Stylus
Saturday 10th February
Ben Wood joins Steve and I this week as we natter about all things mobile phone and catch up on the latest from Ben's museum. Plenty of time left to talk about Flipping and Folding, the Magic of Honor, the NXT thing in paper-like screens, Moto mayhem, Sony's short support, a bygone Sony Ericsson beauty and oodles more. So do join us for an hour!

Phones Sho
w Chat
Episode 789 - And in a Packed Programme Tonight...
Saturday 17th February
Jim Fowl joins Steve and I this week again as we focus on all things mobile. I unfold my thoughts on 5th Generation Sammy clams, Jim can't decide between a Duo (or more) of devices and Steve has hands on with the latest Xperia beauty! Lots more besides, including a trip to London, Sweden!

Tech Addicts Podcast
Publisher Perished
Sunday 18th February
Gareth and I are back with another scoop up of techy stuff including a highly recommended Acer Chromebook with a great screen but short battery life, the Samsung re-released the Galaxy Tab, Microsoft’s PC Manager app, BitLocker’s vulnerability, the Pixel Fold’s alleged new design and loads more including UK tech bargains! Available in the usual places, so do join us.

Whatever Works
Episode 202 - Rented Rug Rubs!
Monday 19th February
Aidan and I are back with another 
therapeutic hour of jolly japes and frantic fiddles as we wonder about Whatever Works for you and us! Brian Eno makes an appearance alongside my parents (so make what you will of that!), Microfibre this, Fluorescent that and we're sure you won't tyre of our self-inflation!

Projector Room
Episode 157 - One Day, Day One
Wednesday 21st February
Allan, Gareth and 
are here again with another of our fortnightly roundups. This time it's Intouchable Beekeepers, a Wonder Wheel outing with Juno Temple, a Night Swim in Loudermilk and a Bricklayer Ride Along aside the usual highlights. So do join us!

Phones Sho
w Chat
Episode 790 - Dark Side or Light?
Sunday 25th February
Andrew Manning joins Steve and I this weekend as we explore more of our marvelous mobile merits! The goodness of Sony is up-front and centre, as is living a world between the main OS contenders left! Nostalgia galore, classifieds and even Photo of the Month. What's not to abandon all else for?!

The Podcasts
PodHubUK - Phones Show Chat - The Phones Show - Whatever Works - Chewing Gum for the Ears - Projector Room - Tech Addicts

Tuesday 27 February 2024

Poor Things (2023)

If you appreciate the work of Yorgos Lanthimos (The Lobster, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Dogtooth, The Favourite) then you'll likely lap this one up too! It's a seemingly chaotic, Victorian-era, gothic, dark and bizarre romp with a feel of Frankenstein at the core.

Bella Baxter is the creation of mad scientist/doctor Godwin, having snatched up a pregnant woman who had committed suicide by plunging into the Thames. She died, but the child survived, so Dr Fruit-loop (calling himself 'God' by the way) takes the brain of the infant and puts it inside the head of the woman and what we end up with is the woman, dubbed Bella by him, for he knew not who she was, with a child's mind, outlook, behaviour and sense of adventure and discovery.

Willem Dafoe (Inside, Tom & Viv, Nightmare Alley) as the monster scientist plays it beautifully, only upstaged by the fabulous performance of Emma Stone (Magic in the Moonlight, The Favourite, Irrational Man, La La Land) as Bella. The pair of them transform into the characters required of them and are clearly having great fun depicting this off-the-wall story. They are a delight to watch (and for those wanting to see more of Stone, she certainly reveals plenty of herself)!

Yes, there's loads of sex as Bella explores being an adult, gets into all sorts of adventures, looks for her place and what she should be doing. The doctor is too past-it to consider coupling up with the young Bella, so he grooms one of his medical students, Max McCandles, played by Ramy Youssef (Mr Robot), lining him up to be her partner and eventually, husband. Bella finds him boring though and is much more turned on by the attentions of the doctor's wild lawyer, himself wanting to grab all life can offer, Duncan Wedderburn, played equally slickly by Mark Ruffalo (All the Light We Cannot See, Dark Waters).

Wedderburn whisks Bella off on a tour of Europe, having his way with her in various cities, situations and onboard boats, showing her how to make the most of her adult body, she milking the pleasure it can bring her! Eventually, the wild lawyer falls for Bella though, against his better judgement at the outset, and is most upset when she wants more than just him. More excitement with more people!

But it's not all sex and soft-porn! This is a delightful arthouse outing which is directed beautifully, the most being made of bright colours and lavish, creative, fantasy-based sets. So yes, the cinematography is perfect and the sets and costumes from a creative mind (and world). When you see the boat they are on at one point from afar, this all becomes very clear - that it's a creation of a mind going wild with design and ideas. And the who thing's a whacko idea, but clearly Lanthimos is having fun creating, in an almost Tim Burton way at times.

The film could be considered absurd, but I loved it as a reworking of the Frankenstein tale. The 2 hours and 20 minutes runtime simply flew by, the performances from pretty much all the players was great - but particularly the four leads, headed up by the impeccable Emma Stone. It's a wild ride, so strap in, get lost in it and you'll enjoy!

Sunday 25 February 2024

Miller's Girl (2024)

I won't quite flop it, but it's not far off, on first viewing. Certainly don't pay your hard-earned if you have no points or whatever to get it for free. Martin Freeman (who seems to pay an embarrassing lack of attention during accent-training) plays a failed writer, so now teacher, in an American college. Mr Miller.

Jenna Ortega's 18 year-old character Cairo (what a great name) starts to take his class and demonstrates to him that she has a special writing talent, so he singles her out for special attention. He sees nothing wrong with that. Until it gets out of hand and they're clearly falling for each other.

It's all very arty-farty throughout and we're not really ever very clear about what has happened between them, if anything, and what's an artistic projection of what she's writing about, but whatever it is, it raises concerns amongst the college's leadership, his wife, his friend and well, pretty much everyone really. So plenty of trouble ahead!

Add into the mix Cairo's tart of a friend who's trying to bed one of Mr Miller's colleague male teachers, but states that she's a lesbian, a drunk of a wife who makes him feel like an inadequate failure and we have the elements for potentially a good story and film. Sadly, it's really not.

It is, of course, nice to see the two high profile lead actors here, though sex and nudity there ain't - in case you were wondering - this film rather tries to artistically make suggestions of wrong-doing alongside some life observations about rejection, regret, failure and ambition. Sadly it gets caught up in itself trying to be something more.

It's generally nicely shot with very thoughtful camerawork, use of soft focus and close-ups - yes, very arty, the cast do well (apart from Freeman's accent) and it's, well, OK I suppose. I did find myself getting bored with it at times and wondering where it was going - and it doesn't really go anywhere. It's a short 90-minute film so perhaps if it were longer it might have been better. Don't know. Anyway, wait for it to come to streaming. It feels a bit like a direct-to-video outing to me.

Friday 16 February 2024

Laced (2023)

The film that desperately needed a twist. And it didn’t come. But it keeps you expecting one and OK if you don’t know (I’ve spoiled that for you now)! Well actually there is one small twist, I guess. But anyway, I quite liked this little thriller.

It’s quite claustrophobic and felt as though it could have easily been a stage play with the whole shoot inside one house whilst outside a snow storm is in motion.

It’s the story of Molly who is living with her husband, Charlie, who abuses her (though we don’t see any evidence of it). She’s fallen in love (before we join the story) with a woman called Victoria.

Victoria has encouraged and facilitated Molly into bumping Charlie off by poisoning him, which she tries to do. Victoria is the apparent brains behind the plan and has it all worked out regarding disposal of the body.

In the middle of all this, Charlie’s friend Austin (who is also Molly’s brother) turns up unexpectedly and finds himself in the now-getting, complicated mix. It could well have been turned into a comedy (of errors) but no, it sticks to its guns as a thriller!

Three of the four actors, particularly Dana Mackin as Molly, are very good and Kyle Butenhoff playing Charlie is also the director/writer of the yarn. Hermione Lynch as Victoria is the one out of her depth as she goes about her task in a wooden manner.

But most of it is fun and stitches together nicely as a well-paced thriller. It keeps the viewer’s attention with some suspense and gore here and there. Worth a watch. It just really needed a twist!

The End We Start From (2023)

There’s a major climate disaster here as a backdrop to a survival (and love) story involving a nameless man and woman, she at the outset, heavily pregnant with their child. Rain is the problem here and London is getting more and more flooded by the hour.

The population is trying to flee to higher ground but the armed forces have been engaged to prevent overcrowding and the resulting drain on limited (and dwindling) resources for everyone to stay alive. As we approach the birthing scene, we are offered plenty of nudity and a fairly explicit, but brief, exposure to more as the sprog comes out.

The early scenes of the film depict a quiet, isolated existence for the pair and this only changes as they try to get away from London and join his parents in rural England (presumably) somewhere. We’re not really very sure where’s where in the film - at one point we seem to end up on a Scottish-looking island, but that’s a long way from London. And there’s no mention at all of any shortage of petrol for cars. Or indeed where they’re getting their cigarettes from which seem to be in plentiful supply!

Anyway, they find the parents’ house but eventually run out of food, so have to go out looking. One thing leads to another, tragedy galore, until the three of them end up in a shelter - but in doing so, get separated. She’s allowed in with the brat, but he, not. She befriends a woman in a similar situation whilst there and they decide to trek off together and away from everyone. Eventually, getting a tip-off (from a character played by Benedict Cumberbatch) about the aforementioned island where there’s a kind of self-supporting, Kibbutz, hippy community.

A lot of the film is about trekking around - sometimes aimlessly, sometimes with a target and purpose - it’s during these scenes where we see the survival part come into play with the child needing feeding and mother scrabbling around to find food for herself. It’s all quite laid-back though and there’s often no real feel of urgency about their plight. Part of the reason for this is that she often stumbles into good fortune on her travels, which is probably a little unrealistic.

And so, there’s great potential to pick holes in the plot here but I think that rather misses the point of the film being an artistic, poignant, beautifully shot, stylised (almost) apocalyptic yarn, which often comes across in near dream-state. Even the scenes which would ordinarily end up as being 'moving' or emotional are presented differently. I think it’s supposed to be removed a bit from reality, expectation of close scrutiny and such critical questioning. More of a go-with-the-flow affair. Like the Kibbutz!

Laying all that aside, the film is totally held together by the fabulous performance of Jodie Comer (The Last Duel, Killing Eve) - she's in pretty much every scene (and we see plenty of her!), ably supported by Joel Fry (Trollied) and a bunch of other Brit names who all perform very well. It's nicely produced and shot with controlled views of the effects needed for the flooding - but more so, the rural countryside backdrop to much of the story. Recommended very much, but take the above into account and don't be expecting something that it's not.

Monday 12 February 2024

Witness for the Prosecution (1957)

This is a film by writer/director Billy Wilder (Some Like It Hot, Sabrina) taken from an Agatha Christie book of the same name, made, as I write, 67 years ago, in true Hitchcockian style! Some films of the era seem embarrassingly badly made now but this is a clear exception.

Leonard Vole has been accused of murder and is to stand trial for the crime he claims not to have committed. He appeals to famous barrister Sir Wilfrid Robarts and his team of solicitors to reveal the truth and save him from a hanging. Vole is married to a German lady, Christine, and we're served up with a flashback as to how they met in Berlin, when she was an actress/entertainer and he, just finishing duty as a soldier in WWII.

Leonard has recently befriended a charming lady, Emily, who is the victim of murder. She lives in a posh London house with her cantankerous old live-in help, Janet. Janet takes an instant disliking to Leonard, but Emily is charmed by him and enjoys his attention, having lost her husband some time back. We spend some more flashback time getting to know how the two met and a little insight into their friendship.

Turns out that Emily had recently changed her will and left a huge lump of cash to Leonard, which was previously going to Janet - so we can, by now, see the first of many complications which lead the prosecution to believe that he bumped her off, having gained her confidence, for the loot.

As usual with Agatha Christie stories, there are characters written in with comic elements and Sir Wilfrid Robarts is mainly the one here. The ageing barrister is decidedly unwell, the medics have told him to retire, he has a live-in nurse who keeps badgering him to stop smoking, drinking and generally enjoying himself but he can't resist getting involved in this, apparent, one last case. He's played by Oscar-nominated Charles Laughton very engagingly - like a Winston Churchill-a-like!

The films then turns into something of a courtroom thriller with Robarts' side-kick John Williams (Dial M for Murder) defending the man, whilst Torin Thatcher goes at them as prosecutor, Mr Myers. We spend quite a lot of time in court as the case unravels, unexpected turns of events happen, people not quite who we think they are or at least not with the agenda we think they might have, truth and lies to unpick and see through - there's plenty going on and I really shouldn't spoil anything more here - as it's such fun to be a part of the unfolding, twists and turns, heading towards the finale.

Tyrone Powers plays Vole charmingly, straight out of 1950's post-WWII England and Marlene Dietrich, his wife, who we get to hear sing, watch dance and act in amongst all the chaos, blood, alibis, mystery and thrills. The players all do very well and the 'wooden' appearance of their characters genuinely feels like it's a reflection of the era, not lousy acting! Nor should it be, with a cast like this for the day.

It's a rip-roaringly fun mystery thriller which is just shy of two hours, but those two hours fly by as the director totally engages the viewers, even all these decades later. Thoroughly recommended if you haven't seen it and can enjoy the twisty-turny. Suspect everyone of everything! It's very funny during the end credits where there's a comically threatening audio announcement that people having seen this film are not to tell any of their friends who haven't, about the outcomes - very Mouse Trap!

What Happened to Monday (2017)

Norwegian w riter director Tommy Wirkola was in charge of this project following some violent fun previously with the likes of Dead Snow (an...