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Non-Review Review: The Aeronauts

At one point in The Aeronauts, reluctant partners Amelia Wren and James Glaisher open up to one another. High above the clouds, separated from the world below, Wren talks a little bit about her own departed husband and how she has struggled to come to terms with his absence. It isn’t a particularly in-depth conversation, coming about thirty minutes into a hundred-minute movie, so she stops rather abruptly. She is grateful for the tact and restraint of her conversational partner, the socially-awkward Glaisher. “Thank you,” she tells him. “Another would have pushed me further.”

This is more than just a small and inevitable moment of character development awkwardly signposted, a gesture that Wren and Glaisher are not as incompatible and oppositional as even they have come to believe. It is also a statement of purpose for Tom Harper’s The Aeronauts. It is a promise to the audience that The Aeronauts will never push its viewers or its characters in particularly uncomfortable or unconventional directions. Instead, it will offer a much gentler type of story that moves at its own pace and deals with various obstacles and developments well within its comfort zone.

On top of the world…

The Aeronauts is a clean, old-fashioned awards season drama. Two talented young actors are locked together in a confined space, playing characters who see the world in what initially appear to be two very different ways that gradually align over the course of the movie’s runtime. The costumes are spectacular. The music is triumphant. The special effects are impressive. There is tragedy, but it is overcome. There are complications, but they are handled. The Aeronauts is surprisingly conventional for a film that can be described as “the Victorian hot air balloon adventure starring Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne.

This isn’t a criticism. At least, not a particularly biting one. The Aeronauts understands it is pitching itself as broad crowd-pleasing entertainment, so never pushes too hard in any direction that might possibly jeopardise that. Anything that might possible put that at risk is hastily thrown overboard. This is at once the best and worst thing about The Aeronauts. “Your husband pushed too far,” Glaisher warns Wren at one point, both an example of the film’s complete aversion to subtext and an in-text justification for its careful moderation. The Aeronauts is aiming at “charming.” It lands squarely on target.

A triumph of scale.

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Doctor Who: The Greatest Show in the Galaxy (Review)

To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the longest-running science-fiction show in the world, I’ll be taking weekly looks at some of my own personal favourite stories and arcs, from the old and new series, with a view to encapsulating the sublime, the clever and the fiendishly odd of the BBC’s Doctor Who.

The Greatest Show in the Galaxy originally aired in 1988.

Sometimes I think it’s you that’s crazy, not Deadbeat here.

Anybody remotely interesting is mad in some way or another.

– Ace and the Doctor cut to the heart of Doctor Who

It’s very hard to believe that The Greatest Show in the Galaxy aired as the final story of the twenty-fifth season of Doctor Who. Stories like Remembrance of the Daleks and Silver Nemesis were clearly anniversary fodder, celebrating the progress of the show to this point. The Happiness Patrol was a delightfully surreal oddity that has only really been noticed by the general public in recent years, with news breaking in 2010 that Andrew Cartmel had been using Doctor Who to tell politically subversive stories. Which, I suppose, confirms just how few people were watching The Happiness Patrol in 1988.

The Greatest Show in the Galaxy is as concerned with the legacy of Doctor Who as Remembrance of the Daleks or Silver Nemesis, but it lacks the nostalgic shine. Instead, it’s a stunningly bitter piece of television that offers a pretty damning indictment of what Doctor Who had become by the late eighties, a critique of selling out and chasing ratings and living in constant fear that the gods of entertainment – the middle-class families so desperately courted and so carefully catered to – might tune out and consign the show to oblivion.

The Doctor welcomes you to The Greatest Show in the Galaxy...

The Doctor welcomes you to The Greatest Show in the Galaxy…

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Win! Tickets to the Jameson Cult Film Club screening of Intermission!

Brown sauce in your tea? Delish! The Jameson Cult Film Club returns to its home setting of Dublin for an electrifying screening of the gritty Irish crime flick interMission, on Tuesday June 18th.

Jameson Cult Film Club - Intermission

This event promises to transport the audience right into the world of this cult classic for an unforgettable viewing experience.  Attendees lucky enough to nab tickets to this event will be treated to much more than a typical screening, as actors, live theatre and special effects timed perfectly with on-screen action help to create an electric atmosphere throughout the screening.

Re-live the suspense, comedy and drama of this crime caper from the moment you arrive at Dublin’s ‘Mega Mart’ – the secret location revealed only to ticket holders.

Check out www.jamesoncultfilmclub.ie for more details and register to win FREE tickets to the screening on June 18th.

For your chance to nab one of two pairs of tickets to the screening, then simply complete the below quote from the movie and fill out your name and contact details.

Entrants must be over 18 years of age. Contact details will not be used for any purpose other than to contact the winners. Good luck!

The Competition is now closed. Winenrs will be notified shortly. Thanks for entering!

cultfilmjameson drinkaware 1 line 18pt

Star Trek: The Next Generation – Haven (Review)

To celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and also next year’s release of Star Trek: Into Darkness, I’m taking a look at the recent blu ray release of the first season, episode-by-episode. Check back daily for the latest review.

Haven is… not as terrible as I thought it would be. There have been select episodes I’ve been dreading on my re-watch of this awkward first season. I was right to fear Code of Honour. I had perhaps been a tiny bit too harsh on The Naked Now. I am quaking at the prospect of watching Angel One and Too Short a Season again. However, Haven wasn’t nearly as bad as I feared that it would be. Don’t get me wrong, it’s filled with plot holes and it is as dull as anything, but it’s not actively that bad. If it sounds like I’m damning with faint praise, then I probably am.

Safe Haven?

Safe Haven?

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A View to a Bond Baddie: Max Zorin

To celebrate James Bond’s 50th birthday on screen, we’re going to take a look at the character and his films. We’ve already reviewed all the classic movies, so we’ll be looking at his iconic baddies, and even at the character himself.

An interesting thing about Roger Moore’s Bond films is the fact that the best baddies tended to pop up in the worst films. Okay, I have a soft spot for Julian Glover in For Your Eyes Only, arguably the best of Moore’s outings as James Bond, but I’m thinking of Christopher Lee in The Man With the Golden Gun and Christopher Walken in A View to a Kill. In particular, Walken’s Max Zorin stands out – in my opinion – as one of the best villains of the entire franchise. He’s a character who really stands at the half-way point between the classical Bond villains and the characters we’ve seen since, positioned half-way between Auric Goldfinger and Franz Sanchez. It also helps that Walken is having a whale of a time, and that fun is contagious.

Hang on in there…

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A Film By Any Other Name: The Art of Stupid Movie Branding…

I have a confession to make. I did not go to see The Avengers. I went to see Marvel’s Avenger’s Assemble. I didn’t mention this before because… well, that’s a stupid name and people aren’t idiots. If I talk about “The Avengers” and mention details like a “giant green rage monster”, “Nick Fury”, “box office records” or even “enjoyable”, odds are that you will know the film that I am talking about. I’m normally quite reluctant to attack particular movie practices as silly or illogical, if only because I’ve no direct experience of how the industry works.

To be fair, I’ll generally assume that the studios know what they’re talking about when it comes to making movies. However, when it comes to slapping silly names on their posters and insisting that the audience refer to a movie by a convoluted, generic and awkward focus-group-crafted title, I do feel like I have an opinion. The Avengers is the most recent high-profile example, but I’ve found myself increasing irritated by this somewhat pointless branding.

Silly titles make Darren angry!

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Non-Review Review: Critters 3

I have a confession to make. I have never seen a Critters film before. They were always sitting there on the lower shelves of the horror section in the shop where I used to rent DVDs, but I just never picked one up. I can’t quite explain why – that sort of trashy horror-comedy would probably have seemed right up my street, but I guess I was probably more fascinated with the more iconic horror monsters and menaces. Anyway, my better half has always had a bit of affection for Leonardo DiCaprio, and when we discovered that his first big screen role was as a kid in Critters 3, I suggested that we could watch both watch it. And, I’m surprised to admit, it was nowhere near as bad as I thought it was going to be.

Laugh it up, fuzzball…

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