Director Adrian Lyne, who made the Eighties his erotic, thrilling playground with Flashdance, 9½ Weeks and Fatal Attraction, returns with the erotic thriller Deep Water, his first film in twenty years. Repeatedly delayed and eventually denied a cinema release due to COVID, it’s available on Hulu in the US and Amazon Prime everywhere else, and is easy to recommend – until the last act kicks in.
José contends that Ben Affleck has never been better as the quietly but increasingly jealous husband of a wife who publicly and aggressively displays her unfaithfulness to him – as whom Ana de Armas gives a star-making performance. We discuss their interplay and how it grounds the film, as well as the use of setting and lighting – that dank, grimy shed in which he spends time with his snails, buried within the vision of his perfect mansion, is a wonderfully expressive metaphor for Affleck’s character. We put the film’s mixed reviews down to its abysmal ending, which Mike finds it hard to ignore, but don’t let them put you off enjoying this otherwise fabulously entertaining, extremely watchable thriller.
Daniel Craig’s Bond bids us goodbye in No Time to Die, the culmination of his fifteen-year tenure as the gentleman’s spy – but is it really Bond? The character, and the films in which he appears, have changed in tone and attitude in recent years, in response to several factors, including criticisms of misogyny and the cinematic influence of the Bourne series, all of which results, for José, in a film that while good, just isn’t Bond any more. We consider what makes No Time to Die‘s Bond different, discussing his clothing, the intensity of serialisation from one film to the next, and the Bond girl – and, as Mike suggests, the character’s key change in attitude: Craig’s Bond takes things seriously and is capable of being outraged.
Although we pick at these things, the film is easy to recommend. The action is well-executed, Rami Malek’s villain beautifully played (if lazily written), and the entire affair is hugely enjoyable. Where Bond goes from here, who knows, but No Time to Die is a good send-off for Craig’s incarnation.
Writer-director Rian Johnson’s playful, knockabout whodunnit Knives Out has been receiving praise for its screenplay that we feel isn’t quite warranted, and isn’t much to look at either – but it’s a lark, and one that carries some unexpected sociopolitical commentary. José argues that Johnson doesn’t learn enough from the films upon which his pastiche is based, making too little of both the wonderful cast he’s assembled and the wonderful sets he’s had assembled for him, though the film isn’t devoid of flair or structural neatness. Mike was with the film more or less all the way, though suggests that it won’t play as well in the distracted environment of the home, the minutiae of the countless plot details easy to lose track of as one tries to make sense of them. So it’s worth a watch, but it’s neither as elegant nor as charming as we’d like.
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