Good Kill: follows a former fighter pilot turned drone operator as he struggles with the morality of killing people from 7,000 miles away. A wide variety of opinions on drone warfare are expressed through the torn protagonist, the objectionable (token female) co-pilot, indifferent Colonel, and pro war Generation Kill meatheads – the opinions however are all just dumped on the table for balance, and never really used or explored further. The Colonel (Greenwood) absolutely steals his scenes with an intense and assured performance (he also gets all the best lines); Hawke on the other hand struggles to truly convey inner conflict and remorse, leaving his character less sympathetic than he needed to be. The biggest let down is that the story doesn’t really go anywhere, there’s no consequences, and very little changes between the start and end of the movie – it’s just strike after strike after strike. There’s also a crowbarred in in family melodrama; an unexplored love story; pointless policeman side, and plenty driving up the Vegas Strip – just to perk the visuals up. As you’d expect from Andrew Niccol, this feels well shot and directed, and although it looks great, there’s a lot of dry yellows and cold turquoise filter to ‘moody up’ the settings. Good Kill is less impressive, ambitious, or thought-provoking than Niccol’s previous works like Lord of War, In Time, Gattaca etc. Overall, it boils down to a simplistic “drones are bad… mkay. The CIA is also bad… mkay” overly liberal, and somewhat empty, undergrad political statement.
“Drones aren’t going anywhere. In fact, they’re going everywhere.”
Unknown: After a nasty car crash Dr. Martin Harris appears to have been replaced by an intruder, but nobody believes him. Liam Neeson is losing his shit in Europe again – this is deliberately and unfairly marketed as Taken 1.5 (just swap mentions of “my daughter” to “my identity”). The film itself consists of three main parts: the first 1/3 was the slow setup, second 1/3 is a fairly strong unveiling of the mystery, and the final 1/3 is just fucking stupid. On the casting front, Neeson continues his storming re-invention as an action man, Betty Draper is Betty Draper and the thunderous European stars are all criminally underutilised in generic bitpart roles. Berlin tourist board will most likely be suing as it makes the place look a proper shithole. While it’s certainly not a terrible film Unknown feels like a second-hand idea, and makes you really, really want to watch Taken again.
Mad Men (Season 1): Follows Don Draper, an advertising manager in New York circa 1960s. This is critically acclaimed beyond belief, universally loved, and is currently in its fifth season… To me however, this is less of a TV Drama and more of a banal, prolonged observation on the changes in attitudes, taboo, what was acceptable, and foolish ‘it will never take off’ hindsight comments: including but not limited to –
- Male chauvinism / alpha male
- Debunking psychology and technology
- Smoking 100 cigarettes a day, wherever you want
- The crazy mind of women – lol!!!
- Drinking at work
- Rampant adultery
- Drink driving
- Smoking / drinking while pregnant
- Smacking (other people’s) kids – and general bad parenting
The main character is Don Draper; a distant man who seems to be living the American nightmare in picturesque suburbia, which he makes up for by putting his tongue and dick in anything he can. He’s an asshole of a colleague, as sexist as they come and appears to have suicidal thoughts. I also seem to be the only person in the world that thinks Hamm can’t act… For being 13 episodes long nothing really happened; I could find more drama in walking to the shops and back than there was in 585 minutes of season 1. Every time something interesting or remotely dramatic occurred it was diffused and mellowed out within 2 minutes. It didn’t help that there was zero non-diegetic / atmospheric music. It’s technically proficient, a good insight into marketing, and the heavy focus on values is interesting to a point. Maybe married people can sympathise with Draper’s situation more? Maybe it’s got the nostalgia factor for those that grew up in the 60s/70s? But for whatever reason, I can genuinely say that Mad Men was one of the worst TV show’s I’ve watched.
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada: a modern western that’s divided between the ways of the old Wild West and the attitudes towards immigration in present America. It’s an outstanding directorial debut by Tommy Lee Jones, who also put in a fine performance: this was probably the biggest factor for his casting in No Country For Old Men. Barry Pepper’s personal journey is also powerful and believable, shame he’s never grabbed a decent leading man part. Although it’s quite slow, the story is so simple and powerful that it draws you in completely, and as the film goes on it all comes together quite nicely. The scenery on offer is magnificent, taking you from a tiny town in West Texas over the border, deserts and down to a Mexican paradise. It’s also got some of the driest humour you’ll find, with the highlight being a corpse comedy side story – morbidly dark but bizarrely funny. Simple and well executed story but the no-frills approach won’t be for everyone.