Wonder Woman

A lot of good things about this, even though I didn’t love it quite as much as others obviously have.

The opening section is one I loved. The colours and action put me in mind of Christopher Reeve’s Superman, and took me back to my childhood. The training sequences set up Diana’s combat ability for future events, showing us that she hasn’t just inherited a range of superpowers, but she has also worked damned hard to be able to fight with such skill. We learn about her inherent belief in right and wrong, which underpins her choices later in the story. And we learn the backstory to her community via a really creative exposition sequence in which, for once, the voice over didn’t get in the way.

The second act has a good mix of cultural commentary (on women’s position in the early 20th century, on the rights and wrongs of war) and action, and the sequence in which Diana climbs out of the trench and into the battle is outstanding. Her naïveté is both comical and understandable, in the same way that Thor is – their interest in this new world and the trials they face to comprehend it and assimilate are charming, funny and genuine.

But the third act is where everything began to fall apart. The colours darkened, the Big Bad is revealed, and the showdown reverts to DC mayhem *yawn*. Even before this, I’ll admit to struggling with the relationship between Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor and Diana – something about it just didn’t convince me, and I think on reflection it was Pine, or the writing of his character at least. I haven’t seen him in too many things, but I am a Star Trek aficionado and think he was far too Kirk most of the time. And by the time we reached the finale, all that “I believe in love” stuff had me cringing.

But I adore Gal Gadot, and I love what she’s doing with this character, and this is definitely going to be rewatched.

The Christopher Nolan thing

I’ve long believed that Christopher Nolan has no clue as to how to write female characters.

But it seems he’s solved this problem by choosing to make a film with no female characters in it.

OK, I lie.  IMDb lists two female characters. TWO. The first is 24th on the cast list, and she’s a nurse. The other is 43rd on the list and she’s … a nurse.

So at least he won’t have to worry too much about writing interesting dialogue for two military nurses who are clearly less-than-minor characters.

Fine. Just don’t expect me to have any interest in seeing it.

 

Umi yori mo mada fukaku – After the Storm

Another slice of domestic Japanese life seen through the lens of director Hirokazu Kore-eda.

In many ways this is nothing new from the Japanese director, yet at the same time it is a different domestic arrangement which provides the backdrop for the narrative.

Uncontrollable natural elements force together a broken family and we end up completely understanding every single person’s point of view by the end.

The two stand out performances for me were the father (Hiroshi Abe) and his elderly mother (Kirin Kiki). He is a loveable, shambolic failure – his career and marriage floundering, he is out of place everywhere both emotionally and physically; he is unusually tall and appears squashed in the doorways of his mother’s apartment.

His mother is perhaps one of the most authentic characters you will see on screen – physically ageing but with the wisdom of longevity, she reminded me so much of my own grandmother, who died before I was advanced enough in years to begin to understand what it is like to get old.

And this is the essence of Kore-eda. His films return repeatedly to every day life, to situations and people who we can instantly recognise. It’s a shame that only those with the patience to allow him into our lives benefit from his observations.