Hank Pym forces ex-con Scott Lang to become ANT-MAN (2015) and reclaim Pym’s shrinking technology before former protegé Darren Cross can use it to create Yellowjacket, the ultimate killer. While I didn’t care for the drawn-out origin in Doctor Strange, this takes almost as long and it works, perhaps because Scott’s character arc is stronger. The cast includes Michael Douglas as Hank, Paul Rudd as Scott, Evangeline Lily as Pym’s daughter Hope and Corey Stoll as Cross (the villain from the first Scott Lang Ant-Man story). A real winner — I’ve rarely seen a film do so well with shrinking special effects.“I’m just destroying everything that gives your daddy’s life meaning.”
Errol Flynn’s classic THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (1938) made a double-bill for both Ant-Man and last week’s viewing of Sherwood. Rewatching the story shows why Robin endures as a legend and symbol — the fight against tyranny and corruption and 12th century England’s 1 percent is probably always going to be relevant. Plus Flynn’s laughing swashbuckler makes being a rebel and an outlaw look like the most fun in the world. Alongside Flynn we have Basil Rathbone’s sneering Guy of Gisborne, Claude Raines coolly evil Prince John, Una O’Connor as a flirty servant, Alan Hale as Little John and Eugene Pallette as Friar Tuck. Olivia deHaviland plays Maid Marion who like countless movie heroines has to be awakened by the hero to what’s right (you could also look at it as checking her Norman privilege). Given I just finished a book about Technicolor (review tomorrow) I was very aware of how gorgeous the movie’s colors are. “You’ve come to Nottingham once too often!”
THE LONG KISS GOODNIGHT (1996) which starts with Geena Davis as a school teacher afflicted with amnesia for everything beyond the past eight years — why that’s right, the missing years do contain a dangerous secret! It turns out Davis is a CIA hitwoman who’s unwittingly believed one of her cover identities is the real her — and she’s regaining her memories with the help of sleazy PI Samuel L. Jackson just at the point her former bosses are up to something very nasty (“Budget cuts? Is that what this is about?”).
This is a wildly over the top film (the protagonists take damage that would kill anyone without healing factor), but it’s also thoroughly entertaining. While Bourne Identity would be a logical double bill, the clip of 1973’s The Long Goodbye shown on TV makes me think that would make sense as well (even though I hate it): another story of someone faking their death, and Elliott Gould’s seedy PI, matching Jackson’s. With G.W. Spradlin as the president, David Morse as a sadist (“A woman is never as beautiful as when her face contorts in pain.”) and Craig Bierko as a smirking nemesis. “I was busy coming up with that ham sandwich line.”
After a disappointing fifth season, THE AMERICANS managed to finish its run with a bang. It’s a year or two after S5; Paige is now a spy in training, Philip’s working full-time at the travel agency (which is slowly collapsing) and Elizabeth, spying without him, is beginning to crack under the strain. Now with the US/USSR START arms-reduction talks in progress, the KGB assigns Elizabeth to spike negotiations if Gorbachev gives away too much; Oleg returns from the USSR to ask Philip to stop her. Will the marriage survive? Will Stan finally catch on to what his neighbors are up to? Will Paige find happiness? This leaves enough loose ends I wonder if they have a sequel in mind, but it’s still excellent. “You’re my best friend — the only friend I’ve had in my whole shitty life.”
#SFWApro. Cover by Jack Kirby, all rights remain to current holder.