Monday Night At The Movies

Yes, yes. Buses. Nothing for ages then two in one day. Go on, say it.

Actually, due to my infrequent/non-existent posting of late, I’m late posting this. I thought the Oscars were on tonight, but it turns out they were on last night so I’ve missed the chance to look cool and clever and ahead of the curve on the film I want to write about, which is up for five awards, including Best Picture. As I write this (early Monday morning), it’s won Best Original Screenplay; I’ll update this post should that be added to as I’m writing. (PS: it wasn’t.)

There was talk a couple of years ago about whether Netflix original content, which had never been shown in movie theatres, should be recognised by the Oscars, but now, with the event of Covid – where pretty much nothing has been shown in cinemas for over a year, along with two other massive media corporations – Amazon and Sky – joining in the fun, there wasn’t really any way this content could be ignored anymore.

And it’s a film from Sky’s output that I want to flag to you today, specifically Promising Young Woman. If you’ve not seen it yet, redress that as soon as possible (if you can) before some idiot spoils it for you. I’ll try to avoid giving you any major spoilers.

We first meet central character Cassie (played, brilliantly, by Carey Mulligan – married to a Mumford as she is, her choice in life-partner is questionable even if her keen eye for a great role cannot be faulted, and man alive can she act – she’s done lots since but those of us who remember her breakthrough in an episode of (Tennant era) Dr Who – Blink, also often referred to as the episode the Doctor barely appears in, have known for long time what she is capable of) seemingly passed out in a bar. Three male office types at the bar see her; one, claiming chivalrous intentions, approaches her, offers to make sure she gets home okay. Home becomes his home rather than hers, and before you know it, he is taking advantage of this drunk woman, unable to resist, protest or fight him off.

Except Cassie isn’t drunk. She isn’t vulnerable. She’s very much in control, and she’s teaching guys like this a lesson.

As well as learning that invaluable lesson (which I would hope most of you knew already), we learn that Cassie is in her early thirties, works in a coffee shop and still lives with her parents, who needless to say keep dropping very unsubtle hints about wanting her to move out. Props to the casting crew here for picking Jennifer Coolidge – Stiffler’s Mom from the American Pie series as Cassie’s mother and Clancy Brown – perhaps best known as the evil bastard warden in The Shawshank Redemption (yes, that’s where you recognised him from) – who both play against type and are brilliant. When nerdy but determined love interest and paediatrician Ryan (Bo Burnham) shuffles awkwardly into her life, they are delighted, and we also learn that Cassie used to be a promising medical student, until she dropped out.

For a while it seems Ryan is going to be the catalyst to shake her out of her rut, and in a way he is, just not in the way expected. If this were your standard rom-com, then meeting Ryan would ultimately end up being the life-changing event which makes her stop her one woman correction-centre ways. Instead her focus switches to gaining some semblance of vengeance against those she considers culpable for the gang rape, subsequent cover-up and then suicide of her best friend at medical school, Nina. This, it transpires, has been the impetus behind her actions all along, it just took Ryan’s appearance – and his own back story – to make her become more focused in her actions.

I’ll venture no further plot-wise for fear of spoiling things. Suffice it so say that this film comes with a massive thumbs up recommend from me.

And, as you would expect from something I’m recommending, there are some great musical moments in the film too.

For a start, there’s the inclusion of this song, and a sequence which, just for a few moments, makes it okay to like it:

Paris Hilton – Stars Are Blind

And then, at a point where you fear just how dark this film is prepared to go, you notice the strings on the soundtrack, wonder how long they’ve been playing for and then suddenly you recognise them and know: bad things are about to happen.

Anthony Willis – Toxic (Score)

An honorable mention for this:

FLETCHER – Last Laugh

And then, at the end, there’s this, a song which I could have sworn had popped up on these pages before, but I can’t find any such post now. When it arrives in the film, it’s just so perfectly placed because…no, no spoilers. Let’s just say that the whole thing had me standing up and applauding.

Juice Newton – Angel Of The Morning

Dammit, I want to watch it again now.

It would be easy to characterise Promising Young Woman as a #MeToo movie, but it’s so much more than just a hashtag. It’s smart, funny and shocking in unequal measures. It’s a film which every man needs to watch to learn a valuable lesson, and every woman should watch to confirm they’re not alone in their experience.

More soon.

Promising Young Woman is available on NOWTV and Sky.

Monday Night at the Movies

I’ve just got home from the cinema (fourth time this year! I’m really making use of this “Unlimited” use monthly subscription, right?), and this time it was to see Edgar Wright’s “Baby Driver”.

In case you’re unfamiliar with Edgar’s work, he’s most famous for the TV sitcom Spaced”, and the subsequent Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy, “Shaun of the Dead”, “Hot Fuzz” and “The World’s End”, all of which are great, Spaced” and Shaun of the Dead” especially.

“Baby Driver” is the tale of a young getaway driver who, due to a medical condition, permanently listens to music on one of his many iPods. I’ll not give away any more than that it has one hell of a soundtrack.

Put it this way: the first song you hear is this raucous corker:

orange digipak

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – Bellbottoms

I settled back into my chair, knowing just from this, that I was in safe hands.

Moments later, there’s this:

bob-and-earl-harlem-shuffle-vocal-london

Bob & Earl – Harlem Shuffle

And then, within what seems to be just a couple of breaths, this, which is included for fairly obvious reasons:

Carla_Thomas_Baby_Cover_Art

Carla Thomas – B-A-B-Y

When the lead character first hears this, he doesn’t recognise it, and has to ask the person playing it what it is. Now, it’s on occasions like this that I wish I wasn’t such a dad old loner, sitting in the cinema on my own with popcorn and Coke Zero spilled down my shirt, for what I wanted to do next was turn to my companion and say: “It’s “B-A-B-Y” by Carla Thomas, it’s on Stax Records, and it’s wonderful, as is the version Rachel Sweet released on Stiff Records in 1978″.

rachel-sweet-baby-stiff

Rachel Sweet – B-A-B-Y

But as I leaned in to impart this knowledge, I realised that I didn’t know the person sitting next to me, and that maybe revealing my inner nerd to them wasn’t a great idea. That’s what this place is for, after all.

Another record that I adore also features:

knowhow

Young MC – Know How

So yeah, a pretty darned diverse soundtrack which, if I didn’t already own about 90% of I’d be rushing to buy right now instead of writing this. I’m quite literally having to stop myself from posting every song from it that I own.

Anyway, what’s especially impressive about the movie is that it’s all choreographed to fit with the music being played; so guns are fired and reloaded to the beat, car gear changes are synced to chord progressions.

Oh, and Jamie Foxx, John Hamm and Kevin Spacey are all in it, which gives a fair indication as to the quality on show here. Jon Spencer also gets a brief cameo (as do Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Big Boi from Outkast. And probably loads more I didn’t spot.)

Midway through the film, a track appears which is just so incredibly well placed, so perfect for the moment, I reached down into my bag, pulled out my own iPod, and scrolled through to line it up ready to listen to, loudly, on the way home.

Now, ordinarily this would probably have gone unnoticed. I like there to be an exclusion zone around me when I go to the cinema, so I had reserved my seat in advance, this morning, and had made sure I picked one as I usually do: aisle seat, towards the back, with nobody either in front of, alongside (and preferably behind) me. But, as I already mentioned, someone was sitting next to me, a group of three lads, who I didn’t know, and who must have booked their tickets after I did, the cunning swines.

The one sitting next to me, who so narrowly escaped having me whisper about Carla Thomas and Rachel Sweet to him earlier on, clocks what I’m doing and leans over to me.

“Mate, do you know what this tune is?” he asked.

Ah shoot. You had to ask, didn’t you?

“Do you not know what this tune is?” I replied.

He shook his head.

“It’s…

focus-hocus-pocus

Focus – Hocus Pocus

…” I tell him.

He gives me a look.

“Are you taking the piss?”

I show him my iPod, Dutch prog-rock track cued up ready to go.

“Nope. Deadly serious.”

“Fair enough,” he says, before leaning back to his mate sitting on his right, presumably, to pass on the knowledge.

The film finished, I left the cinema, and listened to “Hocus Pocus” several times on repeat as I walked home.

What I’m trying to say is: if you love music (and since you’re here, I assume that you do) and great films, especially ones with more than its’ fair share of car chases, do yourself a favour and go see this.

More soon.