Documentaries that follow an ordinary guy doing something that turns out to be extraordinary (within a given area of excellence, anyway) always fascinate me – not only because of the great human story they tell, but because, like, how do you know that THIS is gonna be the guy who does the thing? I always wonder how many documentaries get planned or footage gets shot that never actually amount to anything because the guy didn’t end up doing the thing. Anyway.
In this case, “the thing” is beat the high score on Donkey Kong, which was set by Billy Mitchell in the ’80s, and “the guy” is Steve Wiebe (“wee-bee”, not “weeb”, as he has to correct people multiple times), a regular dude who decided to spend some unemployment downtime by getting freaking awesome at an old console of Donkey Kong he got.
Gangsters are very murdery, I just want to get that out there.
In this breakthrough film for Bob Hoskins, he plays a crime boss who seems to have everything going for him – his properties are making money, he’s about to make a big deal with some Americans, and he’s sitting pretty on top of his empire. Until his associates and friends start getting killed by who knows who for no apparent reason. I mean, there’s kind of always a reason when you’re a gangster, but, you know. Hoskins goes on a somewhat bewildered rampage to find out what’s going on before his whole operation is dismantled all in a single day.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way upfront. This movie is gorgeous. Even when what’s on the screen is dirt and filth (like much of the beginning, set in the poorest areas of a French fishing village), it’s beautifully lit, shot, and framed. The music, too, is a high point, bringing an epic feel to what is actually a fairly repugnant story. I should expect nothing less from Tom Tykwer, whose films are consistently full of beauty and use music very well, from this classic-esque score to the pumping techno of Run Lola Run.
The story involves Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, a child abandoned at birth by his mother but survived the orphanage despite being an outcast for his weird superpowered smell. An encounter with a beautiful redhead led Grenouille to make it his life’s mission to capture and preserve women’s scent, which he finally learns to do through a process that involves…killing them.
I can’t talk TOO much about this without spoiling it – in this case, it’s very much recommended to go in totally blind, which I did, aside from knowing that it was something of a mindbender and had some horror and possibly sci-fi elements.
It all hinges on a young woman on a yachting trip with some acquaintances who ends up in some very unusual, confusing, and horrifying circumstances. It kept me guessing and trying to figure out what was really going on throughout, and it did a good job of laying clues and following up on them later. Every time I thought I had a handle on it (and thought the lead character did, too), it turned out to have another layer.
What a fun little adventure espionage movie! Woodrow Wilkins is a cartoonist who likes to test real-life costumes for his comic book character Condorman. Also, his best friend is a CIA desk agent who ends up asking Woody to do an innocuous civilian exchange for the agency. Only Natalia, the other civilian, is actually a KGB agent and when she decided to defect, she requests “Condorman” as her liaison.
The whole thing is very silly, but silly Cold War-era espionage movies with a ton of fun gadgets is very pleasing to me. I mean, it’s James Bond but with the cheese factor knowingly turned up way higher. There are quite a few cliches, especially in how Natalia is written, but that’s pretty much all made up for when you have a chase with a gypsy wagon that turns into a car that turns into a hydrofoil, all at the push of a few buttons.
I…really can’t think of much else to say about this. I can definitely see it being something I return to in the future because of how fun and silly and endearing it is.