CRRRaSh! 385 Cruel Good

By Roy Mathur, on 2021-06-02, at 23:27:44--00:10:55 BST, for Captain Roy's Rocket Radio Show, Listen

No More Non-Review Reviews

I keep saying I don't do reviews, because I make no pretence of being objective. But that just makes me seem like I'm being precious. Let's now just call what I do with the culture I consume, reviewing, and leave it at that.

Sorry for being preciousss... No, actually, I'm not sorry. Move on!

Reassuringly Incompetent

After a recent visit to a garage, with a creepy mechanic who completely failed to repair my clunking car, I went to a second garage about a different matter and was told that the thumping noise was a dangerous MOT failure. This was confirmed by a third garage. Like medical diagnosis, always get a second opinion about your car because there are too many cowboy mechanics out there.

The reason I was at that second garage in the first place, was to fix a problem with my engine going slow. That turned out to be a camshaft sensor, which they told me couldn't possibly be the case. Like all civilians, I googled and was right! Ahhh... the smug satisfaction. The moral of this story? Everyone in the universe remains reassuringly incompetent.

I've also had my oil changed, which is great, but the expenses add up, and now that summer's here, the aircon needs recharging with Freon. Wunderbar.

World Podcast Statistics

No matter where you look; Forbes, Podcasting Insights, etc., all are saying podcasting has overtaken radio and podcasters are making millions. Hah! I continue to not make a single penny. Tips, i.e. small denominations of cash, can be made to CRRRaSh! via https://roymathur.com/podcast.html#support

The Woman in the Window

Rear Window again, as Amy Adam's sense of reality is inverted in this Netflix thriller about an agoraphobic who witnesses a murder.

The clumsy early spoiler and Gary Oldman seemingly playing Dracula in his dotage again is, however, contrasted with a few nice touches of Hitchcockian head spin.

Cruella

In the film, a young Cruella sets out to avenge the death of her mother, while making it big in the London fashion scene, and reclaiming her aristocratic birthright. This is a Disney 12+ rated, campy black comedy, that clearly references Catwoman in Batman Returns and The Devil Wears Prada.

Utterly awful cliched soundtrack. I'm not kidding: Nancy Sinatra's These Boots were Made for Walkin', The Rolling Stone's Sympathy for the Devil, etc. Did a committee come up with this? Shoot them.

The dialogue is peppered with out of place Americanisms like "shakedown" and "duck and cover". The thing's set in London for god's sake.

Emma Stone's occasionally dodgy, though laudable attempt at RP, falters slightly when the tail end of her words sometime disappear under a slightly wobbly stiff upper lip. No ADR re-re-takes, or a pitch change in the audio editing suite? What happened?

Aside from that, proto-Vivienne Westwood, Stone is fabulous in the One Hundred and One Dalmatians live action prequel, in which Disney does much the same with Cruella de Vil as they did with Maleficent. They cast her in a far more favourable light and as a much cooler character.

I liked how the film dealt with the Dalmatian conundrum I talked about before. That is, how do you empathise with a woman who wants to skin them to make a coat? Disney also managed to make a revenge flick denouement appropriate to a 12+ film, without making it too tame. Kiss my oxymoron, Cruella is cruel good, and her garbage banana slice scene has now become a household meme.

In short, despite my nitpicking (I'm a reviewer after all) I enjoyed this funny and fun film. Oh, and look out for the baroness's hilariously nasty PA Jeffrey played excellently Andrew Leung. Finally, one thing that hasn't changed between this and the old classic animation is that Cruella still can't drive.

Last Night in Soho

According to its trailer description, "Edgar Wright's Psychological Thriller Has Time-Hopping Terror".

I've heard it described as a modern take on giallo, an Italian 60s--70s multi-format horror/crime/exploitation genre that I love and have talked out on this pod several times. I can see echoes of that in the trailer; the otherworldly walk through the crowds, the sinister colour palette, and the screen shatter, for example. But giallo is far more than that. I don't want my enjoyment of this film spoiled if I'm expecting that and it turns out to be good, but not giallo at all.

If you want to see some giallo of the period, check out the comic book series by Angela and Luciana Giussani, and it's weird and crazy and fun Mario Bava film adaptation Danger: Diabolik (1968), or Dario Argento's The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970).

Last Night in Soho comes out in October 2021.

Highlander

For years we have been threatened with a reboot of Highlander. Apparently this is greenlit to go and to star Henry Cavill. (Deadline)

I like Henry Cavill's work, but this again? The original 1986 film is pure, unadulterated 80s... You can't reboot that. You know how I know this? Because, "I am the one, the only one, I am the god of kingdom come." Besides, Cavill actually looks like he'd make a better villainous Kurgan than a heroic Connor MacLeod-type, but who knows whether this will be a direct reboot or something new.

Expect lots of fans like me trolling with, "There can be only one."

Debris

This is a NBC sci-fi show about the struggle to control potentially dangerous, but valuable alien technology that is arriving on Earth.

They were obviously aiming for a The X-Files/Fringe setup, with a female and male agent team investigating the alien anomalies.

While the premise is intriguing, we learn too much too early, spoiling any sense of mystery.

Production values are also low, especially the quality of the video, which looks as rough as something filmed 20 years ago.

Mr Inbetween

I am no stranger to Antipodean drama. From my childhood, I remember gems like Boney, The Outsiders starring Andrew Keir (Professor Quatermass), and more recently, the excellent The Code.

FX's Mr Inbetween (2018--) is an action-packed, very violent, very funny, morally dubious 20-or-so minute episodic Australian thriller about Ray Shoesmith, an ex-army hitman working a cover job as a bouncer. Mr Inbetween (the eyes I suppose) is created, written, and stars Scott Ryan. It is clearly influenced by films like Chopper, and in it, we follow the day-to-day life of the hitman as he casually disposes of targets, tries to avoid getting disposed of himself, and looks after his young daughter and disabled brother. Ahhh...

There's a frisson of extra tension and wish fulfilment seeing him handle police in a way I wish I could when I was younger. Not that I was a ne'er-do-well, just brown and poor, but man, if only I could repeatedly say, "I don't answer questions." right to the face of a copper. Of course, even if he is a criminal, he's a white male criminal, and that privilege makes it a lot easier for him to handle interactions with the long arm than it is as a law-abiding working class minority, and an easy target, as we know from the news, and as I am telling you from my own personal experience. While I don't wish to tangent this review into being all about me, some ethically challenging shows and movies, like The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, Judge Dredd, etc., are empowering, even if for the wrongs reasons. I've talked about this before past pods too if you're interested.

In this case, the really wrong reasons. This is where the show rubbed me the wrong way. I was annoyed by the way it tries to win your approval by saying, this is what any person would do in a similar situation. No, I beg to differ. We might fantasise about killing someone evil, or beating the shit out of a bully, but it is a fantasy, and I'm certainly not going to cheer on the sidelines like the ghoulish hoi polloi at Tyburn.

In summary, fighty chaps with a chip on their shoulder like Mr Inbetween are a pain in the arse in real life. Also, unlike Cruella, he is cruel bad/insane. However, he did strike a chord. A very discordant chord perhaps, but a chord nonetheless.

Aside from my mixed feelings, the way this series was produced was interesting and inspiring to fellow creatives as an example of a creator willing a thing to life after a long struggle through years of development hell.

Creepshow

I have continued from season one and into season 2 of Shudder's delightfully silly and gory horror show.

It originates with George A. Romero and Stephen King's first and second films, as well as subsequent films and TV shows by others. It is inspired by horror and mystery comics, like those produced by EC (Entertaining Comics) in the 1950s.

If you have nostalgia for old-time cheap and cheerful thrills, then this is for you.