Random Mutterings #1: They Don’t Know Jack About Taylor

…. Looks like they are turning one of my favorite fictional tough guys into a pussycat. They’ve even given Jack Taylor (played in the TV series and the movies by Iain Glen …. I guess they couldn’t afford Liam Neeson) a girlfriend. (Siobhan O’Kelly has replaced Nora-Jane Noone but the movie has kept the character’s name, Kate Noonan, and presumably used the replacement as an excuse to involve Jack and Kate in a relationship.)

Author Ken Bruen is obviously so chuffed they are making his novels into TV and movie stuff that he doesn’t care whether the screenplays take radical turns away from his novels. He even refers to Iain Glen in one of his novels and has a cameo role in a movie based on  a book.) One thing hasn’t changed from the novels, though. Jack is still letting people down. (He promises to be there to lend support prior to Kate’s cancer surgery and arrives late. Sure, he has a good reason. There is always a good reason. Isn’t there? )

Reviewers who have praised the books as “hard-boiled fiction” are not just whistling an Irish jig. The novels may be too dark for the movie and TV types. But, yes, at the risk of using the cliche, I liked the books better.

Jack Taylor
Iain Glen as Jack Taylor -A Real Pussycat



When Elle Wanted to Be Un Homme

I have always regarded Elle Fanning as the youthful essence of cinematic femininity (check out The Beguiled or Somewhere) but in  3 Generations she depicts a teen-age girl who for reasons of her own wants to transition into a boy. (The film was originally entitled About Ray).

3 Gens - Elle 3

Director Gaby Dellal says she got the original idea for the film from a man who was moving furniture for her sister. “I said, ‘How are you?’ and he said, ‘It’s been a tricky day today because my daughter’s just told me she wants to become my son,” the director told NYLON magazine. ” I had never come across any transgender people at that point, not directly, and so I was fascinated. Not only was he open, he was very adjusted by it…. He was so proud of his child and so positive about him, and that’s what really inspired me.”

3 gens Ray
Elle Fanning as Ray

3 Generations also explores the effect of Ray’s decision on the adults around her, including her single mom (Naomi Watts) and grandmother (Susan Sarandon).

Ms. Dellal defends her choice of casting Ms. Fanning in the title role (“I’m so proud of her characterization and her enormous amount of work and sensitivity to the character that she was playing …. NYLON) but the UK-based filmmaker told VANITY FAIR’s online newsletter HWD DAILY that if she was making 3 Generations now (the film bowed at Cannes in 2015 but was probably shot much earlier) she would have cast a trans actor in the lead role.

3 Generations is not without its flaws (scoring 47 out of 100 on Metacritic) but, as Darren Ruecker writes in wegotthiscovered. com the film “will hopefully inspire discussion and reflection among people who may have never been exposed to trans issues, and that alone makes it valuable.”

3 Gens - poster

GUILTY PLEASURES: It’s Bloody But Not Simple

Think of an Australian version of Blood Simple (one of the Coen Bros’ early films) and you’ll have a vague idea of what’s going on in this pitch black comedy noir from first-time scripter James McFarland and budding Aussie auteur Kriv Stenders.

Add an Oz A-list cast (Bryan Brown, Teresa Palmer. a pre-Westworld Luke Hemsworth) and Simon Pegg as a cheerfully homicidal hitman (really!).

The film was shot in 2014 and remains obscure. (I signed out my copy from the local library, curious about the cast) but if this sounds interesting to you, hunt for it. Could be a cult film in a few years.

kill me - poster



No, This Film Is Not About the Explorer or the City in Ohio: COLUMBUS

Funnyman John Cho, of Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle infamy in a serious role ?(You’ve got to be joking!)

Columbus - John Cho

Haley Lu Richardson (The Bronze) proving she is much more than just another Young Hollywood pretty face.

Columbus - Haley

Trust me, it works in this soulful film with arcane subject matter (two people bond over their love of architecture and in the process from a most unlikely friendship) written and directed by singularly named Korean-American filmmaker Kogonada.

Columbus - poster
John Cho and writer/director Kogonada discuss a scene

Columbus, to me, represents the best in independent filmmaking, or “indie for short. Indie filmmaking usually means that it was not produced or financed by big studios, who seem more concerned with characters in costumes these days. That means no focus groups and no bean-counting studio suits in the editing room. Indie film-makers are free to develop themes and relationships between characters at their own pace. Of course, that usually means the kind of minimal box office in an economy that judges a film that earns $92 million a flop (The total domestic gross for Blade Runner 2046).

Well, someone saw it because Columbus earned nominations at the Film Independent Spirit Awards (Best First Feature for Columbus, Best First Screenplay for Kogonada and a well-deserved nom for cinematographer Elisha Christian) and placed on  the year-end Top Ten lists of rogerebert.com, L.A. Times, Time Out New York, Esquire and IndieWire, among others.

Columbus - poster 2

Viewers accustomed to the adrenalized pacing of most big studio efforts may find the film not to their tastes but those willing to exercise some patience and understanding will find the film has much to offer, not the least the eye-pleasing architecture of Columbus, Indiana.

columbus - church


Music Biz Expressions That Should Be Retired …

“This is my most personal album to date.”   

(And I still couldn’t understand the lyrics.)

“I don’t care if anyone buys it. This album’s for me. “

(But I bet you’re not paying for it.)

“It was like we had never split up.. It felt so good, so right that we decided to reunite the group after all these years and go on tour again.”

(In other words, they need the money)

SACRE BLEU! VALERIAN and The City of a Thousand Planets.

I signed out a Valerian and Laureline graphic novel from the library so I figured I knew what to expect. Big mistake. Sometimes the critics (who widely panned this movie) are right!


Dane DeHann (A Cure for Wellness, Tulip Fever, Two Lovers and a Bear) as Valerian can add this to his list of poor choices (or get a new agency.)  Model/actress Cara DeLevingne isn’t a model of models who have tried their hand at acting, she is a bad example.

But the chief culprit is Luc Besson. who wrote and directed this movie. Hard to believe the man who brought the world the modern classic La Femme Nikita is turning into a French Michael Bay (Michel Baye?) before our very eyes.

My take on this: think of a goofy Star Wars parody on acid. (But I’m sure you can find much more clever headlines from American critics who pummelled this movie.

Rix Flix 5: CYCLO and CARTELS

Yes,Virginia, there is a Vietnamese-French arthouse film. In fact, there are probably several. all written and directed by Vietnamese-French filmmaker Tran Ahn Hung. The one I saw, 1995’s CYCLO (signed out from the local library) is the second entry from the film-maker and the eagerly awaited follow-up to his Oscar-nominated The Scent of Green Papaya.

Cyclo - poster

Apparently (I write the word “apparently” because I am not sure of  may be the plot) a young guy (Le Van Loc)  driving a rickshaw (rickshaw drivers are known as Cyclos) has his vehicle stolen (I can see the comparisons to The Bicycle Thief  but as far as I am concerned the similarities stop there) and he is forced to turn to crime to help support his impoverished extended family.

Tony Leung plays a would-be poet who is also a pimp (Sensitive soul!). Some of his character’s poetry is on the soundtrack. Onscreen he seems to speak very little. That’s okay, though, because Mr. Leung has one of the most expressive faces in Asian cinema. (My favorite performance by Mr. Leung is still In the Mood for Love  with John Woo’s Hard-Boiled a distant second.)

Unbeknownst to the Cyclo his sister (Tran Nu Yen-Khe, the filmmaker’s wife in real life) has volunteered to be a prostitute in the poetic pimp’s stable.

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Tony Leung in CYCLO

The paper thin plot seems to be a vehicle for shots of Saigon (now known as Ho Chi Minh City) and its residents at the time of filming. Mr. Hung has a good eye for images. However, the film’s running time (over two hours) and pacing may try the patience of some viewers. Nevertheless, it is refreshing to see modern day Saigon and its residents (for better or for worse)  written and directed by a Vietnam-born film-maker. (Enough with the American-made Vietnam War movies, already!)

cyclo - wife
Tran Nu Yen-Khe in CYCLO


Steven Seagal’s name is above the title but he leaves most of the rough stuff to up-and-coming  B-movie hunk Luke Goss (he came all the way from Blighty for flicks like this)

As long as there are guys like me watching junk like this, there will be a market for movies like this.

Oh, and btw (in text talk), if you are wondering about the title, it doesn’t refer to Mexican cartels (the reason I naively signed on – I plead guilty!), it’s about cartels in eastern Europe (where most of Mr. Seagal’s color-by-number action pics are shot.)

Cartels- poster

(CARTELS is streaming on Netflix at the time of this writing.)