Monday, 18 April 2022

Deep Water (2022)

This Amazon project was on my radar for two reasons. I'm guessing you can work out the first - the adorable Ana de Armas in action in an erotic thriller(!) but also that this is an adaptation of another of Patricia Highsmith's novels, which I've spoken about before and always seem to come up trumps.

I previously admired her work here in my blog in the shape of the excellent Carol (2015) starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, the Hitchcock delight Strangers on a Train (1951) and the 2014 thriller The Two Faces of January. Fabulous storytelling made into generally excellent films - and this is no exception.

There's a rich couple who live in a posh house with their daughter, living a privileged existence but within a strange marriage setup. They love each other deeply but Miranda, the wife, is hot-blooded and passionate, wanting to live life to the full whilst Vic, the husband, is very traditional and conservative in expectation. Miranda takes lovers and although deeply stressed and jealous, Vic goes along with her behaviour because he so deeply loves her (and knows she does, him) and has no intention of any talk of divorce. The arrangements work for her and he is able to tolerate things.

The two or three men we know about in the confines of our story presented in this film have mysteriously disappeared one by one, or in one case drowned in front of a gathered group. There are parties after parties going on - Vic and Miranda have a rich and full social life with an extended group of friends. Suspicions are raised regarding the men leaving the scene but although Vic teases about having bumped them off, few take him seriously and certainly Miranda doesn't entertain it as she knows that he has no passion in him to consider the option.

Ana de Armas is excellent (and we see plenty of her) in the lead but Ben Affleck plays Vic charmingly. He's cool, calm and collected and gives off an air of self-control and measured response, always apparently doing the right thing to keep things afloat. I really didn't think he'd be the right person for the role, but he does indeed pull it off! The daughter Trixie is played by Grace Jenkins and is cute, engaging and perfect for the cheeky role.

The story becomes complex in the hands of Highsmith with regular injections of humour and shock. I really enjoyed it and shall refrain from giving anything more of the plot away here so that you can tune in and see how it evolves. It's steamy and erotic in places, cold and calculated in some, whilst warm and engaging elsewhere.

The film has got mixed reviews out there so depending where you see those you might be swayed either way. Good idea to watch it for yourself and make up your own mind. I give a thumbs-up here as I found it thoroughly entertaining and the time flew.

Nightride (2021)

Nightride is a real-time one-shot thriller as we join an intimate portrait of a man trying to do one last drug-dealing job in Northern Ireland before he goes straight, planning a less stressful life with his Ukrainian lady. It's a white-knuckle ride in the night. A nightride!

Some will have seen the Tom Hardy film Locke a couple of years back where a very similar approach had been taken in terms of shooting a (relatively) low-budget thriller using dialogue, intrigue, suspense and the threads of a strong storyline to snag the viewer. Here, director Stephen Fingleton (The Survivalist) shoots the whole film in one take, start to finish. Thoughts of Sam Mendes' 1917 come to mind with similar ambition but here, we're dealing with a much more dangerous potential outcome in the criminal underbelly of people on the wrong side of the tracks.

Moe Dunford (Dublin Murders, Vikings) plays Budge, the lead character, up against the clock in near real-time as he races around Belfast pulling together the activities of his team, watching out for the authorities, dealing with a tail, problem-solving on-the-fly when things go wrong and people let him down as he tries so hard to get the drugs from the seller to the buyer, collecting cash and moving it all around.

It does turn into a thrilling ride as the camera for a lot of the time is attached to the bonnet of his car and the audience lives the stresses and anxiety that he goes through, one minute thinking about giving up with nothing going right for him (and accepting that he's for the 'whack') and the next, with a new opportunity and path opening up to get him out of the mess he's in.

The nastiness of these criminals is on display throughout with human life secondary to the business of making money and saving face. There's an unseen but ruthless-sounding Mr Big character called Joe (voiced by Stephen Rea) who we hear via phone calls. He's willing to unleash his Rottweiler Troy to do his dirty-work at the drop of a hat if anyone crosses him or threatens his objectives. Budge is living on the edge and relying on his instinct and good decisions to save his skin.

It's real edge-of-the-seat stuff as the viewer get onside with Budge, willing him to win out regardless of the criminal activity he's involved in, a bit like getting onside with Walt White doing very wrong things in a world of other people doing very wrong things in Breaking Bad. Watching the events play out really is a thrill-ride and it's a film very well made. The single-take experiment actually comes off because the material and execution is so well done. As I write, it's available on Netflix in the UK.

Friday, 1 April 2022

Zero Fucks Given (Rien à foutre)

It seems that titles of films are becoming looser as time goes on and here's an example! It's a 2021 French film which borders on a documentary really and almost the whole 2 hours is shot with hand-held camera.

It's the story of an air stewardess who's a young plucky thing trying to negotiate the start of her career following the death of her mother. It gives an insight (who knows how accurately) of the lack of glamour for people in that position heading off to see all parts of Europe in their working life (with a fictitious airline company, but low-budget, like EasyJet or similar).

Adèle Exarchopoulos (most famously baring all - and a bit more - in Blue is the Warmest Colour) stars in the leading role - and is in pretty much every frame of the film. She does a very good job portraying the lifestyle of a young girl in that position. She shows how the character relieves the pressures of the job socially when she can, tries hard to do what is expected of her when at work and highlights some of the (apparent) unfairness of the hiring, retention and firing of staff in the industry.

We get an insight into how hard it is for someone in that position to deal appropriately with difficult customers, apply compassion when needed to help people out, even when the pressures from above come down heavily at the merest sniff of someone humanely bending the rules.

It also highlights the industry pecking-order for people in her position trying to make a successful career and how the goal seems to be to head for the money of Dubai and work for some of the more glamourous middle-east airlines instead of budget ones she has had to settle for in Europe. Again, no idea if this is the case or not.

I don't know the directors, Julie Lecoustre and Emmanuel Marre, who seem relatively unknown, nor any of the other actors - it looks like the budget was spent on the star's salary. There's lots of French with subtitles but also plenty of English without, as you'd imagine.

There's not much drama here, though about 75% of the way through she does head off back to the family home and we get an insight in the mother's death and the impact that has had on her sister and father. It's also a tale of hope as through all the difficulties she encounters, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for her.

If you want to see this you'll have to take out a 7 day free trial at the moment with MUBI (an Amazon Prime Video bolt-on) but I'm sure it'll be more widely available soon. Not exactly gripping viewing, but interesting docu-drama with some good insights.

PodHub UK Podcasts for the Month of March 2022

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

Whatever Works
Episode 157 - Illuminated Goose Throw!
Friday 4th March
Aidan and I - back again with another fortnightly roundup of all things that Work and Don't! Toasters on special, wellies to throw at the odd goose, backpacks, Bic biros and Betteries(!) all round.

Phones Show Chat
Episode 683 - Death to Bloat
Saturday 5th March
Steve and I welcome back Malcolm Bryant for a masterclass in coding and programming with a special leaning towards smartwatches. We learn lots, as always, when he's on the show - and still have time for plenty of the usual catch-up stuff, gear we're using and issues of the day.

Phones Show Chat
Episode 684 - Two Blokes, Six Phones
Wednesday 9th March
Steve and I are here with a mid-week special catch-up incorporating audio grabbed from Steve's pub-meet with Jeremy Harpham last week. All good fun as we mop up some loose ends.

Phones Show Chat
Saturday 12th March
Plenty to chew over as always, as Steve and I welcome back Ben Wood to find out what he discovered in the booths of Barcelona. Some very interesting stuff indeed, so why not join us for an hour.

Tech Addicts Podcast
Sunday 13th March
We're back! And itching to get back down to tons of tech! Gareth and I tinker with tapes, consider Chrome, feel sorry for Sammy, go flashing (files with tabs) and offer TLC to TCL!

Whatever Works
Episode 158 - Let's Go Fly a Kite!
Friday 18th March
Episode 158 - Let's Go Fly a Kite!
Aidan and I are back with another hour of fun and frolics, with a tincture of Tromma trauma! Loads of stuff to mull over, once we got past Skype's meddling! As Hazel plays pirates we go on the trail of booze-in-food, food-in-booze and get down and 'board' with the Boogie!

Phones Show Chat
Saturday 19th March
Steve and I are back again this weekend with more phones natter and after a long break, we welcome back Mike Saxon from the USA. We catch up with what he's using, his views on connectivity, the stuff of today, yesterday and tomorrow!

Tech Addicts Podcast
Sunday 20th March
'ere we are then, gents and ladies with another roundup of tech twaddle for the end of the weekend. Gareth and I dive into a pool full of Pros, Phones, Play, PCs, Prisms and Piwigo. And that's just the 'P's. Tons of tech as usual. Enjoy. Or you will be punished! X-X-X

Phones Show Chat
Episode 687 - Ultimate and Off-Grid
Tuesday 22nd March
Steve and I back with another sneaky mid-weeker! We catch up with stuff we don't have time for usually. While Steve prepares for when the balloon goes up, I take a look at the March Feature Drop, we round-up the whole Duo thing for a while and get back to Samsung!

Projector Room
Wednesday 23rd March
Gareth, Allan and I are back again with another look at all things film, cinema and TV. This time we head down-under for some treats, use a Meat Grinder Against the Ice, enjoy 13 Minutes of ranting and look forward to spooks in the cellar!

Phones Show Chat
Saturday 26th March
We're back in our regular weekend slot again as Steve and I welcome Keith Bartlett for the first time on PSC (and 2 out of 3 of us on cellular)! We find out how he's getting on using the Nokia XR20 as his main phone after the 9 PureView, Steve's all Duo'd up for a second round and I'm lingering somewhere between Sony and Sammy still!

Tech Addicts Podcast
Sunday 27th March
Gareth and I back again with more tech titbits. Solar space adventures this week as Netflix Steams on. Fire drones and GIFs galore as Android Pads protrude - and we even delete the last 15 minutes of the fluid, dynamic evidence!

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 (a year late)!

I'm always keen to look at the latest technology, especially in the smartphone world, but more often than not these days, I'm priced...