Aside from A Star Is Born, November was a real B grade month for me. Plenty of enjoyable viewing but nothing else that really astounded me. Without further ado…
Bohemian Rhapsody (Bryan Singer, 2018)
A Star Is Born (Bradley Cooper, 2018)
When the fourth and latest version of A Star Is Born was announced with Bradley Cooper making his directorial debut and enlisting superstar singer Lady Gaga as his eponymous leading lady, I was apprehensively intrigued. When the trailer came out I thought it looked like it had real potential to actually work. Then it screened at the Venice Film Festival in August to some pretty emphatic praise it was time to finally take it seriously.
First Man (Damien Chazelle, 2018)
As I have previously discussed, biopics are far from my favourite genre and a tricky sell at the best of times. The best ones tend to be about well-known people who have an air of mystery or eccentricity about them (Patton, Lawrence of Arabia), lesser known events (The Fighter, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly), or somehow capture the zeitgeist (The Social Network, Goodfellas). More often than not, they fall into middling, all too familiar exercises in hitting every beat. What we with First Man is an extremely well known event about a clean-cut do-gooder 50 years ago. However, we also have the 33-year-old wunderkind director Damien Chazelle in charge, and in this case, it has made all the difference.
One of the later Game of Thrones aping, medieval themed TV series to emerge since the GoT phenomenom began in 2011 is the Netflix co-produced The Last Kingdom. Along with British company Carnival Films, the streaming giant brings us this densely layered look at life in 9th Century England, when the country was not yet unified and Viking Danes remain a constant threat. The eponymous Last Kingdom is Wessex in the south, where the Anglo-Saxons are led by King Aethelred and managing to hold off the viking warriors who are hell bent on conquering the entire country. The series is based on historical events but liberties are understandably taken and various timing of events may have been shortened or lengthened for effect.
In 1995, there was tremendous anticipation around the pairing of acting titans Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino for the first time in their storied careers. Of course, they are both in The Godfather Part II, but in different timelines and never sharing the screen. So Michael Mann bringing them together as protagonist and antagonist, cop versus robber, good versus bad; the excitement levels were understandably high. The film did well, critically and commercially, but it hasn’t been until the last decade that it’s worth has truly been made clear.