The Lion King (2019

When I told one of my friends I was waiting for “The Lion King” to start; she said “really?” In a voice so laden with doubt that she might as well have added, “You’re fucking kidding”. She was honestly shocked, as well she might have been .

I have never seen the original film, even on video, and I didn’t see the live show, even though the giraffes’ heads come right out over the audience. I never saw the sequel to the original film, the sequels to the sequels, or any of the spin-off television shows. Likewise I had never purchased, (or used) “Lion King” themed toilet tissue, and had in short done my level- best to avoid the entire franchise right from the start.

Why? I’ve always seen “Hamlet” set in a pride of lions as a rather tacky idea, but from what I saw of the publicity of the first film, I thought the animation looked really naff and things kinda snowballed from there. I fought off the advice of friends that frequently crossed the line into brow-beating and remained “Lion King” free for the last twenty-five years.

I liked the look of the trailers; simple as that. Off I went. Somehow I was 3 rows from the front row on the first session on opening day; either perfectly qualified to be a consumer of the film, since as a complete virgin to the franchise, I would not be distracted by niggley, trivial differences to earlier versions. And the short review is simple; I absolutely loved this film! From the ghastly cartoon drawings to this – I am sure I have never seen more perfect artificial lions. From the first I simply marvelled at the fact that these animals were not living, breathing, pooping animals at all, but creations of CGI and more than being “simply” animals they were called on to act as well; and did so too, not as humans wearing lion faces either but as lions, somehow using cat mannerisms to express completely understandable and moving emotions – and notoveracting either. In recent years a plague of coarse acting has overtaken the American film industry and scenery chewing has become the order of the day. No. The lions deliver precise and economical performances , that frequently had me wondering how the top- priced human talent on display elsewhere gets away with their frequently Academy Award winning melodramatics.

Seriously. I’ve no idea what you call the skill but there must be an academy award for people who coax performances from computer simulacra, and, in my opinion the person or people responsible here deserve one – and an extra Cola at the party afterwards.

“The Lion King” made me cry once, right at the end, so I was caught, tears running down my face, just as the lights came up. Filthy trick. But I liked the rest of the film so very, very much, I was more than prepared to forgive.

Verdict: The magic of cinema does not get more magical.

(C) Alex Rieneck 2019

Parasite

Parasite.

World cinema is an interesting pursuit, after awhile you start to understand the world in almost unfashionable ways. Indian films are very Indian and Definitely an acquired taste, French films have a particularly piquant taste all their own. The French sense of humour is frequently very twisted and, when you get the wavelength, sometimes exceptionally funny. German films are never funny. Their comedies are worse. The Japanese have made some of the best films ever, and also some of the craziest shit in history. In fact the Japanese probably provide the widest spectrum of cinematic quality of any nation on earth. From Akira Kurosawa’s “Ran” and Nagisa Oshima’s “In the Realm of the Senses”; all the way through to “Godzilla versus Frankenstein” there is something for everyone.

Right next door to Japan, almost within a stone’s throw(her her) is Korea. With a very much smaller Film industry, they have an utterly different outlook on life, and maintain a remarkably high quality standard in their recent output.Mostly.From “The Host” (which is probably the best “giant mutant creature film ever made )through to fascinating independent films like “lies” and the OTT bloodstorm war movie “Brothers in War” their industry stands on the horrendous trauma of the Korean War, which simply cannot be ignored as a major formative influence on the culture, and by extension, their film industry. In this film “parasite” it does not take much effort to see the formative influence of the trauma of war, on their culture and this subtext adds another layer of meaning to an already very interesting film.
Synopsis: A family of subterraneans live off the grid in a semi basement area in a stinking alley. Their windows provide close-up views of drunks pissing and puking in the street The group like like alley rats, eating what they find, stealing what they need; if they have “hope” it is a very short term proposition; since the concept of “having a future depends entirely on the prospect that you will be able to eat both today, and tomorrow.
Against all expectation however the grown son of the group, has managed to get an education, and has, indeed, graduated school with prospects. This is an amusing point at which one can diverge from the actual film itself and wonder athwart the plot line might have been if “parasite” had been made in different countries. The U.S is dead easy. If it had been made their the family would have been black since it is a commonly accepted trope that the only people horribly grindingly poor in the U.S are black. The clean -cut son, probably played by Denzel Washington, would, graduating school attempt to secure gainful employment. Here, apparently for the first time in his life, he would encounter the affront of white racism as an obstacle to his path. He would meet this challenge nobly, perhaps unburdening himself of some rhetoric at some applicable point, and roughly at the same time conflict would enter the plot! Black hoodlums would attempt to bully him into selling drugs for them! Or get shot! This plot section would form the major impetus for the films climax (usually involving tragically gasped last words from a bullet-riddled body cradled in the street by an alternately crying and screaming mother.
You can rest assured “Parasite was not made in the U.S; it was made in South Korea, and the Korean worldview is entirely different to that of the Western world. In fact, to someone brought up on a diet of American Media, the Koreans are downright weird. So “Parasite” trundled along towards its uniquely Korean and very satisfying ending I was left simultaneously aghast, and post cathartically almost shocked at the way I had found the ending uproariously funny. This is a bloody good albeit niche film that has the makings of a cult sleeper hit all over it, if such things exist anymore,
Copyright(C) Alex Rieneck 2019

All is True

This film is an odd kind of treat, but far more than a morsel. It sees Ben Elton revisit the scenario of his remarkably good TV sitcom “The Upstart Crow.” That of the tiresome home life of Shakespeare the man as opposed to the literary icon.

But before you start heading for the hills, “All is True” is far more than the cash-in movie of a hit Tv series or like a triple-length episode of “On The Busses” on better film stock with a censorship rating that allows more in the way of tit. “All is true” allows the writer Ben Elton to produce a bobby-dazzler of a script that examines most, if not all, of the serious issues that the series simply side-swiped as one-liners. Not that the film is dour or Po-faced, far from it, it is frequently funny, sometimes laugh-out-loud-so; but it also manages to be far more serious and propel itself well into the mandatory viewing list of anyone studying Shakespeare at either school or Tertiary level.

The film is very ably directed by Kenneth Branagh, who also stars in the part of Shakespeare – and to my eye he does a particularly fine job of the part too, – not a sign of his usual word mouthing or scenery chewing to be seen. Indeed the wretched man seems to have redeemed himself and almost had me in tears at one point.

1/ if you’re studying Shakespeare this film is compulsory
2/ If you’re educated and have a brain this film should be very high on your “to see” list
3/ If you love the English language, run, don’t walk to the nearest showing Go!

4.9999/5

Copyright (C) Alex Rieneck 2019 All rights reserved