Greetings fellow Outposters! Apologies that I have been off the site for a couple of days. I was flying three quarters of the way around the world, primarily to visit my in-laws who live in some far flung corner of the planet. This gave me an opportunity to enjoy some movies at 39,000 feet while drinking heavily in a pressurised container.
I am sure the guys have been doing their best to give you plenty of entertainment news to discuss, or plenty of Hollywood insanity to laugh at. As I sit here now, in the dusky and tropical East, with my children being entertained by grandparents, I had some time on my hands and reflections on the movies I saw on the trip over.
Just as well we have a website to share this kind of crap on!
I used to make this trip in business class, but not anymore. Two small children travelling with us that both required their own seats means that is pretty much out, so I had to deal with a transcontinental flight in coach.
Without a fully flat bed to sleep in, overly attentive service and free flowing champagne at the posh end of the aircraft, the in-flight entertainment became vitally important, so I sat down to pick what I was going to watch first.
Choosing movies to watch in flight, on a 13” screen in the seat in-front, liable to be interrupted by in-flight announcements, is harder than it looks. You are going to be distracted by service, children, bathroom trips from too much in-flight wine. So anything that requires too much focus is out.
You don’t want special-FX laden, super-sound designed blockbusters you are watching for the first time, so anything you really need to see on the big-screen is out, or it’s wasted through shitty headphones on a tiny LCD screen.
When you set yourself rules like this, it is amazing how quickly the choice comes down. Add to that a vast intake of in-flight alcohol and your movie judgement becomes impaired. You make some weird choices. However before things got too weird, and as the French coast passes underneath me while the first drinks service begins, it was time to get started.
Kids suitably buried in games on their iPads? Check. Mrs Stark suitably calm and relaxed? Check. Large glass of red wine in front of me? Check.
Bring on the Cage!
The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent
I completely missed this when it came out, even though I really wanted to see it. Just couldn’t find the time. This was a perfect movie to start with. No big special FX, but funny and breezy. A relatively new release I hadn’t seen yet.
It is immediately apparent just how much Cage has opened himself up to make this movie. He’s totally fine with mocking himself and his situation, with the constant refrain of:
”We’re back! …not that we went anywhere.”
It also nicely mocks a lot of Hollywood as the two-faced, desperately unhappy town of snakes in the grass that we frequently think it is here at the Outpost, as Cage plays a hyper-real version of himself.
Neil Patrick Harris is excellent as his agent, coping with the new reality of his clients financial situation and the man who brings him news of an offer. To go and hang out with a billionaire super-fan in Majorca, Spain for a week for $1 million.
So begins an adventure featuring genuine warmth and pathos, a CIA plot, guns and explosions and expertly woven very funny references to Cage’s entire career… but mostly Face/Off and Con Air, to be honest.
More glasses of wine are served as I delve deeper into this magnificent movie. We arrive at the excellently observed LSD sequence that needs chuckles to be stifled, and I am all in on this.
Pedro Pascal is superb as the co-lead and everyone is so clearly having so much fun it’s totally infectious.
Buoyed up by this strong start, and now a few glasses of wine into this movie adventure 39,000 feat up in the air I have a quick check of the sky map. We are over Eastern Europe, heading south to avoid flying over Ukraine, with our nose pointed at Istanbul.
It must be true what they say about alcohol when on a plane having more effect, and faster. That is the only possible excuse for my next movie selection.
Wonder Woman 1984
I know what you are thinking. To be honest, you are probably right. In my defense, I wanted something disposable. Gal Gadot is very nice to look at. I hadn’t seen it before and you all tell me it’s completely awful. As a wine fuelled experiment I thought I would see just how awful it could be.
Maybe it was the Pedro Pascal link that made me select this. He was great in the last movie, could he save this?
Dinner is served, along with some more of this rather excellent flying wine, and I hit play.
What happened during this movie was quite strange. I found myself enjoying it in places, but overall you have to admit it’s really not very good. The strangeness happened when I realised there were almost two modes to watch this movie in.
The first is my natural mode. Massive movie fan, cynic, middle-aged and grumpy. On this level the movie is objectively awful. Lazy. Riddled with plot holes, weak villains and questionable choices.
However when I started to think about the movie in a completely different way, it became something else entirely.
Viewed as an anthropological observation of 21st century women’s cinema – made by women, for women, produced and written by women, starring women – it becomes utterly fascinating. It’s not a movie, it’s a science experiment.
This movie, then, is a text book example of everything wrong that has been done to 21st century Western women, predominantly white Western women. It reflects where many forces, including 3rd wave intersectional feminism and a constant drip feed of consequence free “You go girl!” messages have got them.
We often talk about “Princess Syndrome” in modern female-centric Western entertainment. You have all seen it.
In a male-centric movie there is the transitional heroes journey and at some point the hero will have to acquire skills to help him on his quest, either by assembling a crew or by study, training and hard work.
In a female-centric movie in the 21st century there is no need for hard graft. The power was always inside our heroine all along, if only she could learn to believe in herself then she could just let it out!
This entire movie is basically a HUGE example of that for the entire plot that simply involves wishes and, by accidental default, tells you absolutely everything of the state of mind of all involved.
Anything can be wished for, or wished away. Regrets? Simply wish hard enough to solve them. Go too far? Simply wish it all away. Have a lost love? Wish them back. Realise your mistake, wish them away again. It’s all inside you, you just have to want it hard enough! You go girl!
In other wonderful examples of 21st century western white women-centric thinking, there are no real villains in this movie. They are just misunderstood and downtrodden. Again, their evil can be forgiven and all can be returned to normal simply by being womanly about all this.
The Caspian Sea has now disappeared behind us and we find ourselves over the mountains of Iran, heading for Afghanistan. I realise I have peaked way, way too soon at this. I am pseudo-scientifically dissecting a Wonder Woman movie. So after the post credits stinger, I decide I need a palate cleanser.
A man movie. A stupid movie. Something so lightweight and entertaining and so full of explosions that the only thing needed to accompany it is yet more wine from the rather attractive stewardess. With tiredness creeping in, the kids and wife completely asleep, and things starting to go a bit blurry, I make another selection.
Hobbs And Shaw
I saw this once before. I remember I enjoyed it, but I remember nothing at all about it. I must have watched it drunk. Well, bad news for this movie, I am about to watch it drunk again.
This movie is impossible to classify. On every level of plotting and narrative it’s objectively awful.
It is like a 1980s Roger Moore Bond movie had an illicit one-night stand with the Fast And Furious 5, 6 and 7 in a dirty motel that rents by the hour and is themed entirely on 1990s John Woo at his most excessive.
And it’s fucking brilliant!
It’s never going to win any awards, but you get the impression it simply doesn’t care in the slightest. Neither do I. The sheer charisma of The Rock and The Stath together, antagonising each other with jokes and barbs straight from a Quip-O-Matic 5000 while everything explodes around them in slow motion, is completely irresistible.
Helen Mirren has a memorable cameo, Vanessa Kirby is great fun, Idris Elba has the time of his life chewing scenery, and stunts so stupid they will make you grin from ear to ear will happen. The whole thing culminates in The Rock playing tug-of-war with a helicopter and by then you just don’t care.
As a pure “man” movie, and coming hot on the heels of Wonder Woman 1984, my scientific study gains another chapter. I am witnessing, right in front of me, evidence to demonstrate why men seem generally happier than women.
Now, as I drain my last glass of wine and Bangladesh slides past our port wing, I really, really, really must get some sleep…