Mamma Mia!

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Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

I usually follow the film critics’ advice, and often consult the Rotten Tomatoes website before investing my time at a cinema. But I made an exception for ‘Mama Mia! Here We Go Again’ – the sequel to ‘Mamma Mia’ with an all-star cast and the music of Abba front and centre.

The critics panned it but there was a special showing for charity and Mrs SG and I were invited to go with a group. And how glad we were that we went.

It’s corny and schmaltzy and syrupy, yes, and it shamelessly exploits nost-Abba-algia. But if one accepts it as a series of video clips held together by a flimsy plot, it’s brilliant and thoroughly entertaining. In fact, if one thinks of it as an opera, dragging one dizzily through a steamy emotional jungle set to music, it sits at high table. It even features a dead woman, which adds to the operatic likeness.

Coco

And there’s another thing. As we left the cinema I found myself thinking of the last-but-one Pixar film: ‘Coco’. Both films celebrate and sentimentalise our place in the river of life – the endless flow of generations, each one building on the experience, the achievements and the follies of all that went before, and honouring them. I find that moving.

Spectre

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Mrs SG and I have seen all the Bond films, and we really think ‘Spectre‘ may be the worst.  The song is certainly the worst – an instantly forgettable tune and unintelligible lyrics.  I couldn’t even make out the recurring line ‘The writing’s on the wall‘ until I saw the title on the screen.

I am not only disappointed, I am indignant and resentful.  James Bond is no longer private property, he is part of the global cultural heritage.  Therefore every film must conform to a certain template.  The makers of ‘Spectre’ have misunderstood this requirement.  They have simply mined the archives for a dozen old Bond film clichés and hung them on the flimsiest of plots, like damp sheets on a clothes line.

And in doing this they have managed to brush away almost all the self-mocking humour that we have known and loved for 50 years.  I say ‘almost all’ because there’s a nice bit in the inevitable overlong car chase where he tries to shoot the Maserati behind and finds that the gun’s not loaded.  Even the sex lacks the true Bond’s playfulness with sadistic undertones.

I say this having been telling people for years that Daniel Craig is the best Bond ever.  I don’t know whether to blame the script, the direction, the casting, over-anxious box-ticking, or Daniel’s Craig’s falling out of love with the part.  Something’s not right and I really, really hope it gets fixed before the next one.