A week in film – 2016, week 19

So, I spent my Saturday night with my housemates snacking and watching Die Hard, and that’s a pretty solid indicator of the calibre of this week in film. Die Hard, guys. Need I say much more?

Moving on, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is on its seventeenth episode of the 22-episode series now so obviously bad stuff is about to go down (it does do particularly dark season finales). This is probably not helped by Hive – I knew I was supposed to remember who he was! – is off ‘infecting’ any Inhuman he comes across with mind-control. As you do. Anyway, in a SHOCKING turn this revelation comes at the same time as Daisy’s Secret Warriors (I didn’t know they had a name before this week…it’s pretty cool) come across him, so naturally they all end up under S.H.I.E.L.D surveillance, suspicion and, obviously, a traitor is revealed. This all happens pretty fast, as if the writers forgot how few episodes there were before the finale, but the reveal itself leads to some grim stuff. This all seems insignificant, though, compared to Fitzsimmons – they’re back! They’re goddamn adorable! I’m still all about those two, you guys.

A rainy Bank Holiday afternoon and Empire’s list of the 50 best movies on UK Netflix meant dipping into The Apartment. Billy Wilder’s follow-up to Some Like It Hot is a great film, dealing with adultery in a way that few films of that time period would have done (it was well regarded but, unsurprisingly, controversial when it was released in 1960). It’s also funny, and Jack Lemmon is really, really good in it as an insurance rep trying to work his way up the ladder in his firm by lending his apartment to senior management as a place for them to conduct their affairs. Still, for a film that doesn’t have a lot of good things to say about marriage, it’s surprisingly romantic and you want to believe that the central couple would last after the end of the movie. Also: tennis racquets as spaghetti strainers. Seems obvious now.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is another Bank Holiday (or any holiday…or any day) classic in my house, and apparently it’s been too long since I’ve last seen it as I’d forgotten two of my favourite sequences: Nick Fury’s car chase/Winter Soldier debut and the fight in the lift. What an idiot. While the third act might be a little bit too smashy ‘splodey, The Winter Soldier is basically perfect – its central concern with surveillance and eliminating threats before they occur is none more relevant, and really effectively draws the relationships between Steve/Bucky, Steve/Sam and in particular Steve/Natasha. From its opening moments and the first ‘on your left’, I was so happy to be watching it again and I don’t think the grin slipped from my face throughout.

Off in the DCEU, The Flash, ironically (and unoriginally), was a little slow this week. Caitlin’s now on Earth-2, the prisoner of a creepy, lovestruck Zoom – because she reminds him of his murdered mum? Grim. Anyway, her encountering evil doppelgänger Killer Frost was probably the most entertaining, and simultaneously the most eye-rolling, arc of the episode. Come on, Caitlin, SHE CALLS HERSELF KILLER FROST. Otherwise, I suppose there is a limit to what you can do when The Flash isn’t currently so flashy, but I’ve never been particularly invested in either Earth-1 or -2 Wells and an episode in which his kidnap is the main event isn’t going to be much my cup of tea. Also, if you’re going to put certain scenes in your ‘previously on’, at least make them generally relevant to the episode (I’m looking at you too, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.). Somehow, unexpectedly, I am now waiting for Barry and Iris to finally get together. I never thought I’d say that when the series started.

Supergirl was keeping things especially on the nose this week, with the dubious ethics of Supergirl’s decision to keep Maxwell Lord imprisoned in the DEA base playing alongside a Robocop-wannabe dishing out his own form of justice to prisoners of the former Fort Rass. There isn’t much else to say other than I actually understand why Kara’s co-assistant at Catco got all shirty when Kara left her alone, to do her job, for apparently a whole day. That seems like a legit reason to dislike a colleague. This show is dumb.

Needing something funny to counteract all the serious hero stuff going on, I’ve finally started Silicon Valley. Two episodes deep so far and it is the funny I’m looking for – good, sweary, smart comedy – even if I only understand about half of the tech talk going on. I can really get behind its structure, too, as it seems to rely more on an actual arc – as its lead starts to set up a tech company based on a compression code he’s designed – than a seemingly random bunch of episodes. I like it a lot so far.

It’s over thirty minutes long, so it’s also worth mentioning that President Obama’s final White House Correspondents’ Dinner speech appeared in my watchlist this week. I am an Obama fan anyway, but the White House Correspondents’ Dinner is always good value – an opportunity to talk politics and throw some obvious shade, but generally do it with a smile. There are moments in which Obama himself also takes time to laugh – which is fair enough, because it is a funny speech (‘Nah, just kidding, I’ve GOT to talk about Trump!). He’s a great public speaker and I’ll miss the opportunity to see him talk. Also, every year that the WHCD happens I remember the scene in The West Wing where they’re trying to punch up the jokes, and that is never a bad thing.

Also, on a slight detour from the norm, I’ve read two articles this weekend that I really, really enjoyed: Bim Adewunmi’s Chris Evans’ Version of Masculinity is What We Want Right Now, and Robbie Collin’s Why Hollywood went method acting crazy. They’re both very different articles, but equally interesting and talk film and culture much, much more effectively than I do. Definitely worth reading.

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