The Cineworlds

I suppose the big event of the week in terms of mainstream cinema was the opening of Dune. I went to Cineworld Cheltenham on Thursday, which was the opening night, and saw it in 2D (nearly £12) at the 18:20 screening. The auditorium was only two-thirds full, despite the hype. The picture was out of focus and there was insufficient brightness and contrast to make much sense of a lot of the action. The sound was absurdly loud, and yet the dialogue was not entirely clear. True, I could have put my hearing aids in, but if I had, I would have been risking damaging my lugholes.

There was either something wrong with the equipment (not beyond the bounds of possibility) or with the competence of the distributors. The idea that anyone would be able to watch this film on a normal television at home is risible. It is also a rotten movie. It’s on all week in various formats.

There’s also something called Dear Evan Hansen. This is a musical based about an American high school boy with something called ‘social anxiety disorder’, dreamed up by disability-mongers, who learns to triumph over it in suitably cinematic fashion: i.e., by making a spectacle of himself. The ‘songs’ are by the idiots who wrote La La Land and The Greatest Showman, which is not a recommendation. The teenage victim of the syndrome is played by Ben Platt (27), which really couldn’t be more Hollywood, and Amy Adams and Julianne Moore have also been roped in. Wild horses wouldn’t drag me to this one. I ask myself: who benefits?

If you like witless animation sequels, take a look at Boss Baby 2. I really can’t be bothered to explain this one, except that it is part of Hollywood’s continuing efforts to extol the virtues of greed and power while agonising about how demoralising they are. Apparently in the original, a baby becomes the CEO of a company. In the sequel, the baby has grown up, or something. With a whole raft of voice talent, including Jeff Goldblum, Eva Longoria, Lisa Kudrow, Amy Sedaris and, in the lead role, Alec Baldwin, whose career has probably just ended thanks to some stupidity with a loaded firearm. Apparently it has taken $122m worldwide, but I don’t believe it.

There’s also Halloween Kills, latest in an interminable line of sequels about murderous masked Michael Myers (not that one), but I wasn’t able to watch the trailer on Cineworld’s site without logging into Google and verifying my age. I’ve provided a link to IMDB, and you can watch it there. Doh!

On Tuesday there is a reissue of a Disney live-action called Hocus Pocus (1993), in which three witches, played by Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy, come back to Salem, Massachusetts, after 300 years and restart their mischief.

On Wednesday, there is a piece of Event Cinema: The Great 80 Tour, a live relay of a Cliff Richard concert. I’d like to tell you how much Cineworld are charging for this, but the link on their website doesn’t work. Nothing new there. I wonder if Cliff has found the right girl yet.

On Thursday, there’s another Event Cinema thing: The Rocky Horror Show Live 2021. Again, I can’t tell you the price. Rumours that Event Cinema is changing its name to Non-Event Cinema can probably be discounted.

On Friday, there’s a 20th Anniversary screening of Harry Potter & the Philosophers Stone. Really?

I’d like to say that the forthcoming offerings at Cineworld are enticing, but I’d be lying. The only non-sequel, non-franchise offering in the trailers was Spencer, directed by Pablo Larraín, and shot in Germany. He has made, and continues to make, interesting films, such as No, The Club, Neruda and Ema, but he discovered the Hollywood cash-dispenser with his Mrs Kennedy biopic Jackie (2016) and Spencer looks like one of those. Yet another account of the Charles/Diana marriage disaster, it stars Kristen Stewart as the sacrificial lamb, plus Tim Spall as Old Scrotum, the Wrinkled Retainer. I lie. He plays an equerry, Major Alastair Gregory, but it amounts to the same.

Stewart has, at least, mastered the art of putting her head on one side and looking winsome, but otherwise the trailer reveals certain failings on the looky-likey level. Jack Farthing doesn’t resemble Charles, Stella Gonet doesn’t resemble the Queen, Britain doesn’t resemble Britain, etc. Watching and listening, I was shocked at how similar everything seemed to Netflix’s version of the Royal soap. Then I noticed in IMDB’s ‘trivia’ section that Stewart (five inches shorter than the actual Princess) prepared her version of Lady Diana by watching The Crown. On that basis, I’d be a shoe-in for the Heir to the Throne. I met him once for about five minutes. (Details on application.)

The Tivoli

After much moaning, the Tivoli seems to have smartened up its website. It now lists its forthcoming Event Cinema, beginning with the Bolshoi Spartacus on November 7 at 15:00. I might give that a go, especially if I can find someone to come with me and designate them as my carer. Free tickets for carers, at least according to the website, so half-price entry.

Cliché is French for ‘snap’. But then you knew that.

As far as films go, I’m delighted to say it has found something interesting. There’s a new Wes Anderson film, The French Dispatch, with an amazing cast of Indie-circuit thesps, including Benicio del Toro, Adrien Brody, the unavoidable Tilda Swinton, Léa Seydoux, Frances McDormand, Timothée Chalamet, Lyna Khoudri, Jeffrey Wright, Mathieu Amalric, Stephen Park, Bill Murray and Owen Wilson. (I cut and pasted that, except the ‘unavoidable’ bit. That was mine. Sorry Tilda, I love you really.)

It’s apparently built around three stories based in a fictional American magazine in France, told in all sorts of inventive ways. I don’t much use the word irony, but it’s extraordinary that America now spends so much time celebrating the spirit of radical, independent journalism, having killed it. Anyway, I may have to see it. I see as many journalism films as I can, especially the deliberately funny ones, and this looks entertaining, if you can stand Anderson’s obvious mannerisms.

The Sherborne

Nothing to report.

The Guildhall

Boss Baby 2, No Time to Die, Annette. Annette might have been interesting, but I’ve seen it and it’s a disaster.

The Roses

Nothing new to report this week. On Sunday October 31, Patrick is putting on a special event. He’s showing Censor, a new British horror set at the height of the video nasty scare of the 1980s. An academic is coming up from Bristol to introduce it. Tickets are £9.50 for adults, which is optimistic in my view, but Patrick has offered me a few free tickets for people in the 16-25 age range who might like to come along at 18:00 and talk about setting up a young people’s programming group for The Roses. That’s a really good idea. Not doing any audience research, I have no idea who reads this newsletter, but if you are in that age bracket, or know anyone who is, put them in touch.

The video nasty scare is something I know a little bit about. When I was editor of Time Out, in about 1989 or so, a young bloke who’d written a Ph.D thesis on Snuff Movies turned up wanting to do some reviewing. He wasn’t much cop, and didn’t know about many other films, but he was keen. One day he came into my office and asked ‘John, can you teach me how to write?’ I told him to copy Brian Case, then our best writer on film and lots of other stuff, although a martyr to drink. Anyway, he wandered off and I didn’t think much more about him. Now that raw beginner seems to be in charge of the British film industry.

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