Wednesday 30 June 2021

Rob's Movie Night Roundup - L (Lost Girls, Logan)

At the beginning of the year, my wife and I decided that we'd like to watch more movies. There are 52 weeks in a year, 2 of us, and 26 letters in the alphabet. What better way to choose some movies than to go alphabetically? The only rule: Where possible, it should be a movie that one or more of us had never seen before. Oh, and ideally it should be part of one of the copious online streaming services we're already subscribed to, because why bother paying for a rental when we're not short of options?

Incidentally, if anyone from the big online streaming service providers is reading this (your Notfluxes or your Prims, for example), please make it easier to search for/sort movies alphabetically. Thanks.

Also, fair warning: There may well be movies that appear on this list that you'll find hard to believe I haven't seen before. It happens.

Previous letters are here: A B C D E F G H I J K


Director: Liz Garbus
Stars: Amy Ryan, Thomasin McKenzie, Gabriel Byrne

Synopsis via IMDB: When Mari Gilbert's daughter disappears, police inaction drives her own investigation into the gated Long Island community where Shannan was last seen. Her search brings attention to over a dozen murdered sex workers.

As a quick aside, irrelevant to the film, can I make a request of the people who run movie sites please?

Get over yourselves. If you didn't create a movie poster, protecting it like it's your art is just a dick move. I went through numerous websites looking for one copy, and a number of the sites I visited have some sort of mechanism in place to stop you downloading an image version. Netflix get to do that; they made the film, and all associated artwork and promtional material. Some jumped-up chump with a website *about* Netflix just looks like a tit. And don't get me started on people who watermark in the same situation. Ugh.

Right, to the film then.

With a few exceptions, I generally don't have a lot of time for the whole "average member of society manages to spectacularly outshine a whole department whose job it is to literally do the thing for a living" trope. It's often overblown to the point of ludicrous.

A wrinkle affecting my interpretation of Lost Girls, then, is the assertion that it is based on true events. Of course, the phrase "based on true events" is subject to a fair bit of interpretation, and the filmmmakers here seem to have taken a few creative decisions that either veer from the historical events or ignore them completely (though that could also easily be a choice of the writer of the book on which this film is based). Indeed, when doing a bit of cursory research, I found that one person of interest in the case was nowhere to be found in the film even by name. Whether that person appears in the book or not, I have no idea. I haven't read the book.

Indeed, were this movie to be the entire unvarnished truth, it'd be horrendously sad really. Every lead not uncovered by the protagonist is by pure happenstance or accident, and only the single mum struggling to make ends meet is the one who can save the day etc. To frame it as such makes a lot of sense given the subject matter, especially given the fact that both the film and the book on which the film is apparently largely based are centered around the mother of a specific lost girl.

There's nothing fundamentally wrong with this film on a technical level; it looks excellent and is well-directed, and the performances throughout are solid. It's just...fine. It's not as frustrating as something like Kidnap, and significantly easier to follow than something like Killers Anonymous, to use recent examples. It's a serviceable film that does a decent job of adding the Hollywood touches to a sad course of events.

In short, Lost Girls might be worth a watch for a few decent performances if you enjoy movies based on true events, and certainly seems more interesting and twisty-turny than the real story, but ultimately is unlikely to amaze you beyond all measure.

Director: James Mangold
Stars: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen

Synopsis via IMDB: In a future where mutants are nearly extinct, an elderly and weary Logan leads a quiet life. But when Laura, a mutant child pursued by scientists, comes to him for help, he must get her to safety.

I hadn't seen Logan before this. I cannot explain why. Perhaps I just wasn't doing many cinema trips at the time.

How in fuck's name was this only a 15? This film is *brutal* in places, and how are kids who were born in 1996 going to appreciate just how significant it is to watch Sir Patrick Stewart say "Fuck"? Are the BBFC just phoning it in, or as a culture have we just become so desensitised to this stuff that it's gradually getting more and more permissible to include this stuff at the lower age ratings?

A bit of both, most likely. Ever since the 12A rating made it clear that some stuff is apparently fine if you're 6 as long as your parents are in the room (which jars a bit, given the embarassment factor some 11 year olds might feel at some gross-out or sexual innuendo stuff that might find its way into a 12A), it's felt to me like we've made our way that way gradually. But I digress.

My surprise at the seemingly low age rating notwithstanding, this movie was really enjoyable. The tone it sets is dystopian throughout, and it does a really good job of conveying a bleak world for mutants despite life seemingly going on elsewhere. It's probably quite a tough thing to achieve that. I especially loved how they handled the Xavier elements of the plot, just giving you enough information to piece together what happened without being too blatant about it all.

As I mentioned at the top of this bit, this movie is *brutal* in a way that fits the character of Logan/Wolverine really well; the action is high-octane at the right times, well-paced during the slower parts, and there's an appropriate amount of gore and guts for the subject matter.

Performance-wise, Jackman is obviously top-notch, because he always is when it comes to Wolverine, and he is given a little additional challenge on the performance front by the very nature of the story which he accomplishes really well. Equally importantly, the cast around him is all really well-chosen and does their bit expertly. The special effects are superhero-style, but not so absurdly over the top as to appear completely incredible even for a comic movie. There *appears* to be pretty minimal use of CG, which is usually a sign that it's done well if it's there.

It's a great movie, I really liked it. And that ending? Wow.

What a mixed bag L was. At this point I could be delivering a random aside about Netflix's Death Note adaptation, but I digress. From a movie to fill the time, albeit a well-executed one, to a really enjoyable romp and different take on the comic book format, this one feels like a decent round of

Did you enjoy the roundup? Let me know! If you have thoughts on the movies chosen and their respective writeups above, you know where to find me. Maybe you don't, but there are buttons everywhere to make that happen. Comments, Twitter, you name it. Moreover, if you want to make use of this movie night format, bearing in mind you're a few weeks in and might have to double up to get up to speed, feel free to do the same - I'd love to know what you chose too!

Rob Wade

Rob Wade blogs about stuff he likes. Whether it's video games or geek media for Emotionally14 or writing about speculative theories for future films on Talk Star Wars, the focus has always been on the stuff that brings the most pleasure to his life within media.

Rob is the editor of Emotionally14, and showrunner of the E14 podcasts "The Crazy Train", "The E14 Gamecast" and "Talk Star Wars", as well as the host and guest of a number of pieces on E14's Youtube channel over the years.

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