Norse gods, Arabs, Maggie Smith and San Francisco mysteries: movies and TV

The first Thor movie drew on Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the second on Walt Simonson’s 1980s run, and now THOR: Love and Thunder (2022) draws on Jason Aaron’s work but to much less effect. Christian Bale plays Gorr, the God Butcher, dedicated to destroying all deities after his own gods laugh off his pleas to save his dying daughter. When he reaches Asgard’s Earthly colony, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) understandably object to genocide and get surprise support from terminally cancerous Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) whom Mjolnir chooses as a second Thor (“Call me the Mighty Thor!”).

That’s all the ingredients for a great Marvel movie but as with Ragnarok, Taika Waititi piles too much humor onto it, as if he were terrified we’d start taking it seriously. This made it a slog for me to finish despite the presence of Sif (Jaime Alexander), the Guardians of the Galaxy and Kat Dennings’ Darcy. ”Maybe your arm is in Valhalla.”

Continuing my viewing of Howard Hawks’ work brings me to FAZIL (1928) starring Charles Farrell as an Arab prince whose instant connection with a free-spirited Parisienne leads to marrying in haste, then repenting in leisure as it turns out his misogyny and her independence are incompatible. This culminates in what’s meant to be a tragic suicide pact but looks more like murder, as the dying Fazil takes his wife’s plea they never be parted as an excuse to slip a poison needle into her. Not a winner. “If a woman wants a man to do as she wishes, she must be worth it.”

After a terrorist attack, Maggie Smith invites her fellow survivors to recuperate at MY HOUSE IN UMBRIA (2003), including sidekick Timothy Spall, a mute girl, a grieving lover and a widowed general; when the girl’s uncle Chris Cooper shows up Smith gets the itch to seduce him, mixed with a worry he’s not the right caregiver for the girl. The cast performs well but the movie feels like it’s just going through the motions of being serious drama. “Hell is where people like you wake up.”

The fourth Season of MCMILLAN AND WIFE (click for my reviews of S1, S2 and S3) doesn’t do well by Susan St. James as Sally, wife to the San Francisco police commissioner: one episode makes her unusually ditzy, another couple have her as little more than a cameo. This presumably reflects St. James having a kid in real life, reflected by pregnancy on-screen and a baby in the final episode (though we never see the boy and don’t even hear him). The mysteries are the usual fun, even so, with great guest casts, but without Sally everything feels off (I won’t be catching the final season sans St. James, when it was just McMillan). “Every McMillan since 1837 has been married in San Francisco except three — one was hung as a horse thief, one died on the Titanic, and one moved to … New York.”

#SFWApro. Cover by Simonson, all rights to image remain with current holders.

1 Comment

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One response to “Norse gods, Arabs, Maggie Smith and San Francisco mysteries: movies and TV

  1. Pingback: Women in black break the criminal code! One book, two movies | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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