4 STARS (out of 5)
Watching this movie is like taking a trip to an Adult Disneyland where Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride includes neon-lit malt-shops, Go-Go bars and blood-splattered surgical theaters.
It is a highly-stylized, pop-art, film noir whose archetype can be traced back to Frank Miller’s “Sin City” (2005) and Alan Rudolph’s “Choose Me” (1984).
A creepy mix of 5 plots all intersecting through a shabby railroad terminus and all featuring an omnipresent femme fatale who’s always several stiletto-heeled steps ahead of the other players.
Margot Robbie as the enigmatic, platinum-blonde anti-heroine was born for this role. Her character wears many hats: waitress, stripper, assassin, nurse…and each of them involves costumes that fit the art-deco-noir motif. Her Lana Turner-esque seduction of Alfred (Max Irons) is terribly smooth. He’s so over-matched (Life can be so unfair!) but we eagerly endure his erotic pain.
Mike Myers impressive as the Terminal’s idiosyncratic Night Manager. Limping to-and-fro pushing his garbage cart, he’s decades removed from SNL, Shrek and Austin Powers…but he may have found a terrific new career in horror films. I’d love to see more.
Simon Pegg as an emaciated, terminally-ill, English scholar. We’ve never seen him look this old, frail and mature. Gone is the jovial round-faced zombie fighter from “Shaun of the Dead” or the effusive Scotty from “Star Trek”. He articulates quite reservedly, like any erudite dialectician would. This is a more restrained role for Mr. Pegg and we hope he tries this again. I can almost see him taking on Rex Harrison roles like p Captain Gregg (“Ghost and Mrs. Muir”) and Professor Henry Higgins (“My Fair Lady”). Bravo, Simon. You are growing by leaps and bounds.
The sub-plot involving Dexter Fletcher and Max Irons as bumbling hitmen is yet another literal allograft from Harold Pinter’s “The Dumbwaiter” (also poorly concealed and uncredited in John Favreau’s “Made” and Martin McDonagh’s “In Bruges”). These two gents are stuck in Pinter’s hitman quandary and grate on each other as expected. Fletcher is the more seasoned actor and you’ll recognize him from many character roles throughout his career, the best of which was as Tony the Concierge in BBC’s “Hotel Babylon” series from 2006-2009.
Max Irons is a relative newcomer but has a strong family pedigree with Jeremy Irons as his father. He’s over-matched by both Robbie and Fletcher, but he doesn’t cave in, so we root for his survival.
GENRE: Mystery, Horror, Noir, Crime, Comedy
DIRECTOR: Vaughn Stein
WRITER: Vaughn Stein
CAST: Margot Robbie, Simon Pegg, Mike Myers, Dexter Fletcher.
RUNTIME: 95 Minutes
I finally re-watched Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968) last night for the first time in 45 years.
It was too long and lofty for me as an 10 year old back in the early 1970s to actually understand it–and I almost felt that way again this time around again.
But with the modern technology of FF and REW i was able to really see it in full detail and each scene several times over.
The entire film is actually 5 movies rolled in one. And only the middle section had any real drama to speak of.
It took Kubrick a full hour to finally introduce Dave and HAL, our protagonist and nemesis, respectively.
And their story-line only lasted 50 minutes. I really wished it was longer here.
The film is too long in 2 of the 5 sections: Parts 2 and 4.
Here are the 5 sections:
1) Prologue: Prehistoric man’s encounter with a strange, inert obelisk. Rectangular, slender, tall, ebony and shiny. While inanimate, it exudes an aura that fascinates the cave men. They see value in it. Is it Beauty? Power? Safety? What do those concepts even mean to a cave man? One thing’s for certain: Early man’s curiosity is awakened and this prompts the innovation of his first crude tool.
2) PanAm TV Commercial: Dr. Haywood’s trip to the moon is a visual masterpiece, albeit lengthy. It seems more about bragging rights for conceptual designs of future space travel than a movie sequence. Very little drama to speak of. Uneventful and existential. But in the end we arrive at the reappearance of the obelisk.
3) Dave and Frank travel to Jupiter. HAL9000 goes haywire.Bad things happen. Lots of tension and excellent storytelling.
4) Dave’s voyage unexpectedly jettisons past Jupiter to the far reaches of the universe. Very psychedelic and trippy. Way too lengthy.
5) Epilogue: Dave’s arrival at the end of his trip. The end of life (his life?) yet also a (or “the”) beginning. Did he discover life’s meaning?
This is the most fascinating sequence. I’ve had it memorized for over 40 years and seeing it again gave me the old familiar chills.
Kubrick had an agenda to demonstrate what our future would look like on an existential level…so he was stingy with compelling, forward-moving plot points. But it was realism, if only hypothetical. And it made its point loud and clear. It still does. You can count me as one person who is thankful to not be a space traveller because it looks DAMNED boring!
The accuracy in predicting how space travel and technology would look was uncanny. Including the introduction of iPad-like tablets, almost mimicking to their current size in 2018.