Spling reviews The Pale Blue Eye, House of Gucci and Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness as broadcast on Talking Movies, Fine Music Radio. Listen to podcast.
Good morning – welcome to Talking Movies, I’m Spling…
This week, we’re talking about a period mystery drama, a biographical crime drama and a sci-fi action adventure.
Starting off with a film now on Netflix…
World-weary detective, Augustus Landor, is hired to investigate the murder of a West Point cadet.
Writer-Director: Scott Cooper
Stars: Christian Bale and Harry Melling
The Pale Blue Eye is a haunting period detective mystery drama, set in the time of Edgar Allan Poe, adapted from the 2003 novel of the same name by Louis Bayard. Led by Christian Bale, his fiercely independent spirit as a retired world-weary detective helps compel the slow unfurling of this Gothic mystery with the aid of a young Edgar Allan Poe, played with fragility and purpose by Harry Melling. Set before Poe’s writing took flight with a focus on Landor, his presence in the story is a way to inform The Pale Blue Eye’s overall mood and tone, serving as a low-key origin story with many references. A dark period piece drama, the wintry setting, wardrobe and styling gives The Pale Blue Eye a sombre mood, moving at an old world pace using natural lighting and void of the modern affectations of crime scene investigation. While the beautifully realised period mystery drama and slow-creeping Gothic horror is stylish, stellar and intriguing, it really is a case of ornate bookends, starting and finishing with vigour but finding a sluggish no man’s land in between. It has enough acting calibre, veiled intrigue and style to power through with a twist that redeems some of the more plodding moments. However, as much as it upscales what comes before, the big twist in the tale doesn’t seem hard-earned.
A satisfactory 6 on the splingometer!
Moving on to a film now on Showmax…
An ambitious outsider marries into the Gucci family and legacy with disastrous consequences.
Director: Ridley Scott
Stars: Lady Gaga, Adam Driver and Al Pacino
Based on the true story, House of Gucci offers a fascinating behind-the-scenes tale of the Gucci brand, its origins and rise to becoming one of Italy’s most sought after product lines and recognised brands on the back of a dysfunctional family. A stellar ensemble, Lady Gaga is in fighting form as a go-getter who marries into the Gucci family with ulterior motives. Playing opposite her is Adam Driver as Maurizio Gucci, giving the two an awkward yet believable chemistry as orchestrated romance leads to betrayal and finally murder. It’s wonderful to have the likes of Al Pacino and Jeremy Irons in the wings, while the Jared Leto show adds to the comic relief with a performance bordering on clown as the eccentric Paolo Gucci. An ode to the style empire and its far-reaching influence, it’s not surprising to see this quality carry through in the mis-en-scene with an attempt to be period accurate and timeless. Checking in at well over two hours, The House of Gucci is mostly entertaining in spite of its epic runtime, possibly trying to draw loose parallels as a style house version of The Godfather. While a noble effort, Scott’s film has a stronger resonance with American Hustle, masking an undercurrent of unintentional comedy through its flamboyance and some inconsistent accent work. The film’s star power, committed performances, good pacing and crumbling fashion empire add up to a larger-than-life atmosphere with enough entertainment value to persevere.
A satisfactory 6 on the splingometer!
And finally a movie now on Google Movies…
Doctor Strange travels across multiverses to battle multiple threats with the help of a mysterious teenage girl.
Director: Sam Raimi
Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen and Chiwetel Ejiofor
One of the more unconventional superhero films from Marvel has been Doctor Strange, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr Stephen Strange. Picking up where Scott Derrickson left off, Sam Raimi and composer Danny Elfman concoct a universe-hopping superhero turned horror.
Best-known for The Evil Dead, it’s not surprising for those familiar with his work to see the sequel veer into Raimi’s wacky horror dimension. A Marvel superhero film, the visual effects are ever-present and spellbinding, and whilst the cast aren’t pushed to the limit – they’re classy enough to give it their all. A visually and tonally dexterous comic book movie, The Multiverse of Madness is designed to be exhilarating and eye-popping, captivating through its interdimensional horseplay and wild flights of fancy. While the visual effects are of a high standard, able to establish this multiverse, the overall effect can make you question the realism of every environment. The channel-flipping style storytelling keeps this otherworldly road trip movie moving hell for leather, offering connective visual tapestry over a coherent narrative with Raimi’s signature elements shining through.
A solid 7 on the splingometer!
So just to wrap up…
THE PALE BLUE EYE… while slow in parts, it remains a stylish, stellar, intriguing and haunting period mystery drama… A satisfactory 6!
HOUSE OF GUCCI… a fine cast and fascinating true story compel this inconsistent, overlong yet entertaining crime drama epic… A satisfactory 6!
DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS… while muddled, it remains an entertaining, mesmerising, genre-bending and surprisingly dark sequel… A solid 7!
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