RRR 23 Her, How I Live Now, Iceman, The Tomorrow People

By Roy Mathur, on 2014-01-12, at 00:19:18--19:55:00 GMT, for Roy's Rocket Radio, Listen

Walking Around London

Not because I really need to, but I just like walking around!

See Central London Walking Map.

Captain Phillips (2013)

Tom Hanks plays Richard Phillips, a freighter captain, taken hostage by Somalian pirates.

It shows how fully piracy is connected to being poor without actually excusing it; a tricky feat.

Outstanding, and widely acclaimed performance by American-Somali actor Barkhad Abdi, who completely dominates the movie and eclipses the rest of the cast.

The Great Gatsby (2013)

Based on F. Scott Fitzgerald's a novel capturing the roaring 20s with flappers, boot-leggers, and noveau riche; given the Baz Luhrmann treatment.

Leonardo DiCaprio plays Gatsby, a wealthy as a Roman emperor parvenu, and Tobey McGuire is the narrator/enabler/go-between between Gatsby and his paramour.

Some problems include the whole thing getting that too-samey Luhrmann glitz, that I loved in Romeo+Juliet, tolerated in Moulin Rouge, but is now getting a bit old and cloying. The other thing that bothered me is the supposedly riotous party scene looked far too well choreographed.

But, all-in-all still worth watching because I'm a sucker for these Monte-Christo/Tiger Tiger/Great-Expectation-type stories of poor boy made good, but not quite fitting in. I also loved the technicolour onslaught on the eyes. Oh, and The Bachchan (Amitabh) is in it! Go watch it. Oh, and the last thing in its favour; I was never able to get into the Robert Redford version when I was a kid. It seemed a bit, well, boring, so well done, Luhrmann, for getting me into this great piece of 20th century fiction.

Her (2013)

Creepy bloke works for (Googlish) BeautifulHandWrittenLetters.com, writing letters for people who can't be bothered, though why this is set in the states rather than the inevitable call centre abroad is beyond me. Anyway, this bloke falls in love with his AI based OS. You just know where this is going once I said that. Yes, she dumps him!

What's up with chest-high Joaquin Phoenix's trousers?

This is myth-based SciFi, rather than hard-SF because the tech just isn't anywhere near that point, despite this movie being set in the near future. And one other thing, do you really want a romantic relationship with an AI who is in charge of all your data. Can you imagine what fun a divorce would be? Also, why does everyone in this movie look sooo Birkenstocky?

Okay, despite that unfavourable review, it is actually a good movie, not least because of Scarlett Johanssen's great voice acting and Phoenix himself (despite the pants). Still, I think i was a bit too long for what is essentially a very simple story about a dysfunctional berk who gets dumped a lot.

How I Live Now (2013)

Soairse (Sir-Sha) Ronan's spoiled American comes to live with her wild British cousins in a cusp-of-war Britain. Initially uptight, she falls in love with her eldest cousin, but the family is torn apart by a major conflict/civil war (only vaguely realised). There are other elements at play that are also not fully explored, like Daisy and Isaac's telepathy. I do get the strong feeling that both the war and telepathy could have been left out and it would still be the same story.

Based on a Youth Fiction, SF novel by Meg Rosoff, published in 2004, the film does deliver, primarily because Soairse is a brilliant and versatile actress.

Iceman (1984)

Pre-historic iceman dug up in by scientists in the Arctic. Fails to adapt. Kills himself.

Okay, there's much more to this film than that, but I'm not one for weepies (which completely destroy me) even if they are well done, and this one really is soaking with pathos verging on the poetic.

Excellent, but not for me, unless I have an enormous dose of Prozac floating in my bloodstream.

Mandela (2013)

I hesitate to review films like this because, quite frankly, given the importance of Nelson Mandela's life to me, I'm not sure that I can deal objectively (at all) with big, important topics like this. The same can be said for Ghandi (1982) and Malcom X (1992).

Idris Elba is great as Mandela, not because he looks like him or sounds like him, but because he seems to have captured what I imagine to be the essence of Mandela. Remember, this guy in his younger days was the political face of the revolutionary ANC and a co-founder of its para-military wing, the MK. Although he shares the same charisma of his later kindly grandad persona, in this movie we see him as vital and younger. This is great because it is something that many of us have never really seen. Naomie Harris is possibly even better as Winnie Mandela; hard, uncompromising, and holding it together on the outside while Mandela is incarcerated.

Incidentally, in appearance there is a lot of resemblance to Ghandi, with newsreel voicerover narration and the big protest scenes against khaki uniformed officials.

I have to stop now because you could spend a long, long time talking about this stuff, but in conclusion an excellent movie.

Also, I guarantee that this is not the last big movie about SA that we will see.

Finally, that Xhosa speech about manhood at the begining of the movie had the hair at the back on my neck standing on end!

Saving Mr. Banks (2013)

Tom Hanks is Walt Disney trying to convince Mary Poppin's creator, P.L. Travers, to sign off on his adaptation. Given the personal and emotional baggage Travers has invested in Mary Poppins and her utter naivety in dealing with movie studios (fairly common with us insular writers) she is, understandably, reluctant to let go.

Walt is played by Tom Hanks, who seems to be playing Tom Hanks, though Emma Thompson's portrayal of P.L. Travers is strangely endearing, despite her grumpy, eccentric exterior. Though my interpretation might be somewhat skewed because I am myself from a fairly grumpy, eccentric family.

Great movie.

Hannibal: Rome's Worst Nightmare (2012)

Siddig El Faddil plays Cartherginian General Hannibal Barca in this bloody historic docudrama from the BBC.

Hannibal's strategic military prowess against the Romans is portrayed well, as well as his scientific knowledge in a particular scene where he clears a blocked mountain pass. He cracks the offending boulder by heating it, then drenching it in wine. (Apocryphal?) It also doesn't shy away from the brutality of the times.

But if there is one thing writers of historical fiction can take from this, it's this: never trust a Roman!

The Tomorrow People (2013)

Bah... so another reboot.

My gripes are that it is a competitive field out there. A half decent cast, acting, and effects aren't nearly enough. Quite simply I got bored when I realised this was another us against the man.

I'm pretty sure the original British show (though there was a later reboot before this; so this makes this a reboot of a reboot, eh...?) often featured aliens! Where are the damn aliens?

The Big Bang Theory, Doctor Who, Sherlock

What I'm watching: The Big Bang Theory (2014), Doctor Who (2014), Sherlock (2014).

BBC Science Podcasts, RadioLab

What I'm listening to: mainly science podcasts from the BBC and WNYC's RadioLab, some creative writing podcasts, and a couple of genre-based amateur podcasts like my own.

Too Many Books

Too many to mention, none of which I am reading because I have way too much work lately. Admitedly, because I waste so much time watching movies.

Too Many Comics


Too Many Games


Too Many Toys


Gmail Undo (2010)

There is an old Gmail Lab add-on that will undo a sent mail.

Yes, I Still Use Email

If you want to contact me, please email. Yes, I still use email. It's the one thing a regularly check on a daily basis.