JANUARY 15 ― At long last, things are starting to feel like they’re back to normal in local cinemas.
It’s been a while since I last found myself in the position of not having enough time to catch all the new movies that I wanted to see in Malaysian cinemas.
And that’s exactly the position I found myself in as work commitments and booster jab side effects meant that I simply had no time and energy to catch the latest films opening here like Nightmare Alley, House Of Gucci and Belle, so I probably have to save those for next week, or the week after.
But even after missing out on those three, I’ve still seen enough new movies that are currently playing on local screens to even decide to not write about a few of them this week.
With the Oscar season coming up soon, surely there’ll be even more movies slated to open here in the coming weeks, which should make things even more interesting and hectic.
For now, let’s jump straight into these three new movies, shall we?
The King’s Man
By now, I may be the last person you should trust when it comes to writing about any new movie in the Kingsman franchise as I’m such a huge fan of the first two movies that I even own multiple copies of their Blu-ray releases so as to collect as many different editions and cover art variants as I can get my hands on/afford.
The franchise’s latest movie, The King’s Man, a prequel telling the tale of how the Kingsman agency came to be, is further proof that director Matthew Vaughn is simply a master at making naughty, exhilarating popcorn entertainment, and you can be sure that I’ll be on the hunt for multiple editions of this film’s eventual Blu-ray release in the near future.
Set during the World War 1 era, imagine a Matthew Vaughn take on what Quentin Tarantino did in Inglourious Basterds and Once Upon A Time In Hollywood ― ie. based on actual historical events/characters, but freely taking liberties with them ― and you won’t be far off.
With characters like Rasputin, King George, Kaiser Wilhelm, Tsar Nicholas and the Archduke Franz Ferdinand involved, and with a tone that’s part 1917 and part Kingsman, this is one gloriously deranged action movie that’s begging to be seen on the big screen.
If you’re able to not take things too seriously, please go see this one; it rocks.
Resident Evil: Welcome To Raccoon City
Almost everyone I know (at least those in my film circle) will have been alerted to my deep, unironic love for the Resident Evil films directed by Paul WS Anderson, especially Resident Evil: Afterlife and Resident Evil: Retribution.
Not being a gamer, and clearly never having played any of the Resident Evil games before, my appreciation for those Resident Evil films came strictly from my love of pure, kinetic cinema, which the aforementioned films have plenty of.
Judging from online chatter, this new Resident Evil film, a sort of reboot to launch a new series of films, is the one that’s most closely/directly inspired by the storylines/characters in the video games.
Much beloved video game characters like Jill Valentine, Leon Kennedy, Claire Redfield and Albert Wesker all make their appearance here as writer-director Johannes Roberts (finally graduating to the big leagues after years of steady B-movies like Storage 24, The Other Side Of The Door and the 47 Meters Down movies) adapts the stories from the first two video games, but the movie is let down by a strange lack of excitement and tension, despite its many horror/action set-pieces.
Maybe trying to combine the plot of two video games into one movie has resulted in a lot of it feeling undercooked? Or maybe Roberts is just not as skilled a filmmaker as Paul WS Anderson yet when it comes to action staging and just laying out the geography for viewers in order for them to know where the creatures are coming from, where our heroes are, and who’s shooting who and in what direction.
It’s all a blur indeed here.
The French Dispatch
This being the 10th feature film from writer-director Wes Anderson, I think by now people should already know what to expect, and what not to expect from a Wes Anderson joint.
No matter what you think the merits of this film may be, it’s quite clear from the first few minutes that this might just be the most beautifully shot Anderson film yet, and that is already reason enough to soak this one in from the big screen, as it’s quite simply a joy to marvel at the film’s framing, composition and the incredible production design and mise-en-scene on offer.
In fact, in purely technical terms, I think this is definitely Anderson’s most accomplished film yet.
A love letter to The New Yorker, specifically during the era of founder/editor Harold Ross and his stable of dazzling writers like James Thurber, AJ Liebling and James Baldwin, this film’s version of that publication is called The French Dispatch, with its editor being Arthur Howitzer Jr (a typically wonderfully morose Bill Murray) and writers with names like Herbsaint Sazerac (Owen Wilson), Lucinda Krementz (Frances McDormand) and Roebuck Wright (Jeffrey Wright), focusing on a wild variety of stories involving characters like a genius artist serving a life sentence in prison (played by Benicio Del Toro), a legendary chef (played by Steve Park) and a student revolutionary (played by Timothee Chalamet).
A bit like reading a magazine, but in film form, this one lacks the clear emotional throughline that can be found in his previous films like Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums and The Darjeeling Limited, but it’s just such a funny and visually dazzling marvel that it offers a different kind of pleasure, and is no less enjoyable.
* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.