Lady Bird (2017, Greta Gerwig)
Set in Sacramento (apparently not the place to be), in 2002, in a post 9/11 USA, this comedy drama tells the story of a rebellious young woman who insists on being called ‘Lady Bird’. She’s pink-haired, eats communion wafers (“They’re not consecrated”) and desperately wants to move to New York (the place to be).
Not just the umpteenth coming-of-age movie thanks to great performances by Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalff (as the girl’s mother) and witty dialogue, occasionally of almost Woody Allen proportions. Some of the peripheral characters flirt with caricature, but both Odeya Rush and Beanie Feldstein are enchanting as Lady Bird’s two best friends, the first one hot and popular, the second one overweight and insecure.
War for the Planet of the Apes (2017, Matt Reeves)
The final part of the reboot trilogy . Good old Caesar, the most intelligent (man-like) of the apes, has become a Moses who must try to bring his people - sorry apes - to safety after a mad Colonel has led an attack on the apes’ colony outside San Francisco. But he also wants revenge on the madman …
The first part, Rise of … managed to breathe new life in what looked like a worn-out idea, the second, Dawn of … was not as good as the first, but still okay, so the inevitable question was: will the downward trend be reversed in the closing act? Well, opinions vary. Some have called the script morally complex and resonant, but to me it sounded above all ponderous and preachy. The film looks great and with its biblical influences and visual references to movie classics like Gladiator (the attack on the Apes colony!), Aliens (the foster ape child!) and several others, it sure is ambitious, but apes discussing their war traumas around the camp fire is not really my idea of intelligent entertainment. Nor is Woody Harrelson playing a cross between Marlon Brando and Donald Trump (he’s even building walls!)
Robin Hood (2010, Ridley Scott)
Not really the classic Robin Hood tale, but not the revisionist approach it was supposed to be either. Allegedly Russell Crowe wasn’t happy with the shady type of anti-hero he was supposed to portray, therefore the script was re-written a couple of times, in order to make Robin look more like the rebel from Sherwood Forest we all know. The movie tries to do what King Arthur did with the legend of the round table: telling us not what happened, but what could have happened (if we assume that Robin is a historical character)
Crowe is called Robin Longstride at the beginning of the movie, an archer in King Richard the Lionheart’s army, and the movie is mainly concerned with the question how Longstride became Hood. Not a great movie, but lavishly produced and wonderfully shot. Medieval Britain (and France) never looked better. The large-scale action sequences don’t have the intensity of similar sequences in Gladiator and Kingdom of Heaven, but some scenes set in taverns or around the campfire, with people dancing and drinking, are almost hypnotic
Outland (1981, Peter Hyams)
Sean Connery is a space marshal (space as in universe, not as in cake) who discovers that things are rotten on one of Jupiter’s moons. His wife begs him to go home with her and none of his deputies is willing to support him, but of course Sean refuses to forsake his duty.
High Noon on a moon. Connery is in good form and the production design is great, but the script is paper thin and predictable. And look at those computer screens …