THE GREAT WALL (2017) is the historical fantasy in which medieval sell-swords Matt Damon and Pedro Pascal arrive in China to steal some gunpowder, only to be caught in the middle of a clash between monstrous horrors swarming the Chinese border and the “Nameless Order” that guards the Wall against them. I wasn’t planning to catch this until several reviews convinced me it wasn’t just a movie set in China that’s all about a white guy (e.g., Forbidden Kingdom). Damon’s character is definitely the star, but the Chinese warriors have more to do than just support his heroics. It’s also a beautiful, visually delightful film, with some great supporting performances (Pascal is particularly fun as a much more weaselly mercenary than Damon). Both TYG and I enjoyed it. As the somewhat reptilian horrors swarm like ants and are controlled by a queen, I’m inclined to suggest the Charlton Heston vs Army Ants film The Naked Jungle as a double feature. “I have been training my whole life for this shot.”
THE SQUARE (2013) is a documentary on the Egyptian pro-democracy movement as it moves from fighting Mubarak through a series of street protests to locking horns with the military and then the Muslim Brotherhood (both of whom are happy to position themselves as the Real Revolutionaries). Impressive in the Egyptian reformers determination to keep fighting despite the odds (“One night, you will call for my son, and his mother will tell you he is not there.”) but grimly sobering in showing how much harder “set up a democratic new government” is than kicking the old one out (not news to me, but it’s still unsettling to see it demonstrated). A good job. All rights to image reside with current holder. “It makes me happy that ‘Protest’ is now a children’s game.
GILMORE GIRLS: A Year in the Life was Netflix four-episode reunion series for Gilmore Girls, bringing back pretty much everyone (except Ed Herrman, now deceased). Just like in our world, a decade has passed since the series ended: Luke and Lorelai are together, Emily is coping with her grief over her husband’s recent demise, and Rory’s writing career is suddenly falling apart (we catch up on a lot of other characters too). Creator Amy Sherman-Palladino still has a great flair for her bantering, pop-culture referencing dialog, but it’s not up to the level of the original (which I’m a fan of). After ten years, why is Rory suddenly so inept at managing her career? What did Lorelai’s attempt to hike the Oregon Trail do other than pad the running time? This may reflect that Palladino got yanked off the series before the last season, so this reunion is her chance to do her own solution — that is, things like Rory’s career woes might have worked better when she was 22 instead of 32. But now that I’ve heard Palladino’s famous last words for the series (which she had in mind from the get-go), they really don’t work for me. So I’m not one of those clamoring for more, especially as Palladino (or so I’ve read) never had plans for anything further, so who knows what we’d end up? Still, I’m glad I caught up with the characters for a little while. “I’ve been injected by anthrax and the antidote is in my other pants!”