Director Adrian Lyne, who made the Eighties his erotic, thrilling playground with Flashdance, 9½ Weeks and Fatal Attraction, returns with the erotic thriller Deep Water, his first film in twenty years. Repeatedly delayed and eventually denied a cinema release due to COVID, it’s available on Hulu in the US and Amazon Prime everywhere else, and is easy to recommend – until the last act kicks in.
José contends that Ben Affleck has never been better as the quietly but increasingly jealous husband of a wife who publicly and aggressively displays her unfaithfulness to him – as whom Ana de Armas gives a star-making performance. We discuss their interplay and how it grounds the film, as well as the use of setting and lighting – that dank, grimy shed in which he spends time with his snails, buried within the vision of his perfect mansion, is a wonderfully expressive metaphor for Affleck’s character. We put the film’s mixed reviews down to its abysmal ending, which Mike finds it hard to ignore, but don’t let them put you off enjoying this otherwise fabulously entertaining, extremely watchable thriller.
Don’t believe the trailer, which gives a poor impression of what’s in store: Ridley Scott’s latest historical epic is lighter on the action than you’d expect, and, for a blockbuster, formally adventurous. Based on true events that took place in 14th century France, The Last Duel tells the story of a lifelong feud and a sexual assault… then it tells it again, and then once more. Three perspectives are brought to bear on the events, those of Jean (Matt Damon), a soldier and vassal; Marguerite (Jodie Comer), his wife and the daughter of a treacherous lord; and Jacques (Adam Driver), his oldest friend, and squire to a count – each controls a third of the film, shaping the story as they understand it. It’s an ambitious project, drawing consciously on narratives and discourses around patriarchy and sexual assault whose importance to our cultural conversation have become increasingly established in recent years – but does it work?
In 2017, Justice League, DC’s answer to Marvel’s continuing Avengers crossovers, flopped. Director Zack Snyder had left the film several months before release, his role taken over by MCU regular Joss Whedon, and significant changes were made in an attempt to lighten the tone of what had so far been a rather bleak series. Immediately, talk erupted of a director’s cut – the so-called Snyder Cut – that would represent Snyder’s true vision, uncompromised by studio executives’ fears and directives. Initially no more than a meme responding to that film’s quality, it was given oxygen by Zack Snyder’s insistence that it did actually exist, and it now reaches us via online streaming in the age of Covid-19. There’s perhaps no other set of circumstances in which it would have been made real – on top of the original budget, the creation of this director’s cut cost some additional $70m – but what an opportunity to compare and contrast two versions of the same film.
At four hours in length, this is a version of Justice League that would never have seen a theatrical release, but the time it affords its characters to develop is welcome, and a huge improvement over the sketchy treatment some of them received in the original film – particularly Cyborg, played by Ray Fisher, who arguably becomes the central character in the Snyder Cut. We discuss and disagree on the decision to change the original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 to 1.33:1, which José loves but Mike considers a mistake, and look over a few key scenes and shots to explore the differences between Snyder’s and Whedon’s aesthetics.
And we discuss that new ending, additional scenes which help the Snyder Cut conceive of the overall story as epic, mythological fantasy, and more.
It’s a surprise to us both that we enjoyed Zack Snyder’s Justice League as much as we did, but there you have it. The four hours flew by and if this leads to the studio’s renewed interest in completing Snyder’s planned series, we’re up for it.
The podcast can be listened to in the player above or at this link.
The costumes are atrocious, the look busy and garish, few of the jokes land, Wonder Woman is reduced to mothering the boys: there’s little to love in Justice League. We, however, have a hoot pointing out its many, many faults. Join in the laughter.
There are so many good movies to see at the moment — great ones — that this has been overlooked. Maybe rightfully so as Ben is a big blank on screen and he doesn’t quite control the material as a director. But it’s a progressive film that tries to speak to our times through a noir vernacular and Affleck is as good at directing other actors as he’s bad at directing himself: Brenda Gleeson is great as his Dad, Elle Fanning plays an Aimee Semple McPherson-type tent-revival evangelist addicted to heroin and she’s really fine and Sienna Miller has never been better than here as a traitorous gangster’s moll. It’s a film that doesn’t quite work but that has stayed with me all of this week.