Bad Times at the El Royale

Chris Hemsworth as Billy Lee

The “who’s zooming who” thriller of the 1990s rides again in 2018’s Bad Times at the El Royale, one of those epics where, by the end, almost everyone is dead and the building is in flames yet barely a spark of emotion has been generated. That is probably the intention. Instead writer/director Drew Goddard wants us to admire the spectacle, and gasp as he piles dialogue on top of plot on top of wayward characters and vainglorious allegory, switching timelines, digressing, flashing back, hopping from one “lead” protagonist to another as he goes – oh no, he’s dead – and generally having a fun old time in a big, kitsch, faintly ridiculous but very enjoyable … Read more

Confess, Fletch

Jon Hamm as Fletch

A confession about Confess, Fletch. I was quite a chunk in before I realised that the character of Fletch, played here by Jon Hamm, was the same Fletch that Chevy Chase played in 1985’s Fletch and 1989’s Fletch Lives. Prejudices readjusted, I continued, noting that Hamm’s Fletch is now a retired investigative journalist (Chase’s was still on the job), and that Hamm is trying to dignify the character up a bit. A touch of Cary Grant in his portrayal, or maybe even Gregory Peck – especially when Fletch is riding around Rome on an old-school scooter, Roman Holiday style. From the opening credits – that big blue Miramax ident of yore – and the … Read more

Wild Mountain Thyme

Anthony and Rosemary at the gate

From the very first shot of Wild Mountain Thyme I was thinking “Good god, surely people aren’t still making films like this!” The opening shot being an overhead of the lush slopes of rural Ireland while the soundtrack twiddled away in madly shamrocky fashion. It got worse. A beejaysus-Irish voiceover announces “I’m dead”, by way of an introduction. The whimsy-ometer starts climbing into the red zone. And then I realised it’s Christopher Walken doing the bad Irish accent. The letters W, T and F start to appear in the air. What the actual, it actually gets even worse, as we’re introduced to one Oirish character after another. Enter Walken as old farmer Tony … Read more