Thursday, 9 February 2012

Films on a Plane, I can't complain

Travelling to New York on Virgin Atlantic has made me realise what I'm missing out on every time I've taken a Ryanair or Easyjet flight.  Endless Pepsi's and a huge list of films to choose from on demand to be watched on a little screen embedded in the chair in front of me.  Good times!  Never has seven hours on a plane flown (haha) by so quickly.  And that's coming from the world's most (understandably) nervous flyer. 

I had the choice of Drive, Tintin, The Ides of March, The Inbetweeners, The Skin I Live In, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and many many others.  Some I'd already seen and many more I was desperate to see.  Having waited this long to see Drive, there was no way I was going to have it spoiled by interruptions from the pilot, a crappy small screen or one of the 31 students on board freaking out and requiring assistance.  Instead I went for films that I hadn't hyped out of all proportion and that would hopefully not lose much of their impact on a very small screen.  So on the way way to New York, here's what I watched and a short review:

Contagion (Steven Soderbergh, 2011)
Killing Oscar winning actresses left, right and centre is one way to make a story unpredictable and Soderbergh does his fair share here.  When a deadly virus sweeps the world, an ensemble of acting talent deal with the threat of infection in different ways.  Winslet tackles it head on, Paltrow just dies, Damon protects his daughter by locking her indoors and Law blogs about the possibilities of a cure.  Realistically creating the near-apocalypse and the government response but also finding time for quieter, sweeter moments as ordinary people struggle to survive, Soderbergh makes a pretty conventional movie that is both entertaining and engaging.

Martha Marcy May Marlene (Sean Durkin, 2012)
Another indie with a bit of a non-ending (see also Like Crazy), this demands to be seen for Elizabeth Olsen’s brave and committed performance as a young girl, Martha, who is struggling to come to terms with her former life in a cult.  With a wonderfully non-linear narrative that flashes back and forth in time between Martha’s life in the cult and the time she spends later with her sister, it never feels confusing and finds consistently excellent ways to cross the time gap.  Olsen is perfect and the script is ambiguous in its portrayal of the leader and members of the cult and the more ‘normal’ characters that Martha ends up with.  Haunting and beautiful with great performances, the final scene might annoy even the most devoted indie fans of open endings.

Tower Heist (Brett Ratner, 2011)
Deeply average caper about the service workers in a tower block who are scammed out of their pensions by the rich bastard who lives at the top of the tower.  Rarely funny enough to warrant belly-laughs and not emotional enough to make you really care for the characters, it is predictable and mildly entertaining.  However it is a total waste of the talent (Stiller, Affleck, Alda, Sidibe) and a disappointing ‘come-back’ for Murphy.  At least while in New York we got to see the Trump tower which was used for the exterior shots of the building where the heist takes place.  So that was nice.

Then on the flight home I was too knackered to watch anything except Moneyball.  Great film but what a shame I wasted free access to all the other films I wanted to watch.  Overall what I have learnt is that if you are a nervous flyer, go with Virgin and enjoy all the cinematic fruits that they have to offer!

And is it me or do they not cut films for planes anymore? I thought they all had to be PG rated when shown on planes but this seems to no longer be the case or I just made that up in my head.  You decide...


  1. I am certainly flying Virgin Atlantic when I go to America.

    Anyway I've seen all three of these films, my feeling for MMMM you already know.

    Contagion was mildly fun, confused by Jude Law's accent throughout the entire film, so that got on my nerves, but for all the big names I found it disappointing.

    Tower Heist has very little brains (but this being a Brett Ratner film this is not entirely surprising) but however this means that it is not funny enough to be a good comedy or slick and cool enough to be Oceans 11 style crime caper.

  2. Also you need to fix the MMMM image.

  3. @Myerla Nice, I highly recommend it! The choice of films made me want the journey to never end! Yes Jude Law had an odd accent and strange teeth but it all helped make his character an annoying creep. Completely agree about Tower Heist. And thanks, pic fixed!

  4. I actually have not seen any of these, but good reviews my friend :D

    1. @Matt Thanks buddy, top two are definitely worth a look, Tower Heist, not so much!

  5. I guess the ending of Martha Marcy May Marlene would have made many dissapointed but I found it more realistic as I feel no matter what they try Martha is broken and beyond saving,just like a broken glass,you can stick it with glue but the marks will be I guess the director instead of showing a negative ending just left it without stating what will happen to her..Elizabeth was superb in this film ..too bad she got snubbed by Rooney Mara for the Oscars

    1. Elizabeth was amazing. Haven't seen Rooney in TGWTDT yet but I'm sure Olsen may well deserve the nod more. As for the ending, I didn't want a happy or tragic one, I just wasn't ready for it to end quite yet. I just like a little bit of closure. Not everything has to be wrapped up but I like a film to leave me with a gut punch rather than a gasp of eh?

  6. Wow, that sounds like a pretty awesome deal to get your choice of so many big films right now. I actually wasn't blown away by Contagion. I thought the cast was incredible, but I didn't think of the film as anything to write home about.

    However, I have been DYING to see Martha Marcy May Marlene. It was in the theaters for such a short time over here, that I never got the opportunity to see it. I've heard great things about Elizabeth Olsen in it and look forward to seeing that! And also, just reading a little bit of the comments - I would probably agree that Mara shouldn't have been nominated. They made way too big a deal out of Mara in TGWTDT and if they cared so much about that role, they would have nominated Noomi Rapace 2 years prior.

    Also, you will have to let me know what you think of Drive when you see it!

    1. Good call, I find it hard to believe Mara is any better than Rapace was in the original. MMMM is a greta watch, tough and haunting but very good! Yeah Contagion surprised me because I don't really get on with Soderbergh's films usually. So I like this much more than expected but it's still little more than an OK film. I'll be telling the world when I finally see Drive, fear not!


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