In a series of elaborate set-pieces, Cate Blanchett speaks glorious, declamatory words, fragments of manifestos.
It starts with a spark, in darkness. A fuse burns elegantly out of focus to the words of Marx, Tzara and Soupault. Who is Soupault, one might ask. Well – a Dadaist turned Surrealist; 1920s. And so starts a daisy chain of intellectual and artistic movements, in no particular date order.
What’s James Bond doing here as a blond-white beefcake, and redneck to boot? It takes a gulp and a little intake of breath to calm that sense of dissonance. And so the fun starts. Nothing in this film is at it seems.
That moment in Ocean’s Twelve when Matt Damon is picked up from a jail by an FBI agent and you realise the ‘FBI agent’ is his mom? Logan Lucky is a succession of those neat surprises. Eventually. Logan Lucky is a slow burner, and Soderbergh directs magisterially – setting up the story at his own pace. It starts as a bit of a shaggy dog story then speeds up towards the end, picking up multiple strands into a rather satisfying conclusion. It all pays off.
It’s all in the eyes. When Queen Victoria meets Mohammed Abdul Karim in June 1887, he quickly makes a strong impression. The Queen writes about him in her diary, that same day, mentioning that he is tall, with ‘fine serious countenance’, and is lighter skinned than his compatriot and fellow servant, Mohammed Buksh. It’s a droll story, as the film tells it; the pomp and formality of Court is displayed with quite some irony.
Edie is a surprising film. It sets out in a quietly unassuming way and then develops into something moving and powerful. It tells the story of a widow in her early eighties, Edie (Sheila Hancock), who did not marry well. She quietly mourns; not her husband, who had been unkind and had stifled her, but her dreams. One day, clearing her attic, she finds the remnants of an old, unrealised wish. Old hiking gear, and a postcard.
You’re on a barrel roll, on a wild plane ride with a pilot playing fast and loose. American Made is that plane ride, and Tom Cruise is the pilot. That engaging and somewhat reckless Tom Cruise we know from his early film, Risky Business – wide-eyed grin, ever so slightly amoral, and irrepressibly charming. He’s back.