It seems to me as if prophecies of Trump have been built into the culture, perhaps by the aliens who seeded us on Earth

Can it be only last year that I was making the out-of-touch liberal elite laugh, in publicly subsidised theatres throughout pre-Brexit Britain, by saying that Donald Trump sounded like the kind of name Walt Disney would come up with if he was asked to invent a fart that could speak?

Happy times.

It seemed then that Donald Trump was destined to become little more than the answer to a pub trivia question, fondly and foolishly remembered, and filed alongside Faith Browns Rusty Lee impression, Spike Milligans sitcom Curry & Chips, and an almost heroically offensive sentence my dad shouted at a woman on a gangplank near Greenwich in 1997 as an example of the dying light ofa distant dark age.

And can it be only last year that Brexits bogus cheerleader Boris Johnson, who remains incomprehensibly at large like a clever piglet, was reassuring us that we could leave the EU and stay in the single market, as his policy was having cake and eating it? Where is your cake now, fatty? Or, as Pliny the Younger might have said, Ubi nunc est subcinericius panis, sterculus?

And can it be only two days ago that a cakeless Theresa May, desperate to proffer illusory options before forcing through article 50 with the compliance of an immolated opposition, went lamb-like into the Playboy-encrusted office of Donald Trump? Friendless in Europe, she began trade negotiations with the kind of rogue state we might once have proudly imposed sanctions on. We didnt buy Apartheid oranges. Henceforth let us boycott Dunkin Donuts, hardcore pornography and Adam Sandler movies, Americas mostchoice exports.

Article 50 was not designed to be triggered; nuclear weapons were not built to be used (which is lucky for us, because ours dont work); and postwar western democracies werent supposed to vomit up people like Donald Trump, who appears to have reignited a war against the Native Americans, a conflict historians might reasonably have assumed was now settled. Things have learned to walk that ought to crawl.

Events defy analysis. Sometimes it simply isnt enough to just keep on drawing Nazi moustaches on Donald Trumps face by which I mean on pictures of Donald Trumps face. Not his actual face. If you so much as approached Trumps face with a marker pen you would soon be wrestled to the ground by the rubber-hands of his bodyguard, and then waterboarded until you agreed to disputed inauguration audience figures. To analyse Donald Trump we need better tools than felt tips. It seems to me that prophecies of Donald Trump have been built into the culture, perhaps by the very alien scientists that seeded us on Earth in the first place.

Before I seek Donald Trump in cinema, I am aware that my film buff credentials are in doubt. In last weeks column, I ignorantly mixed up two Dirty Harry movies. To be fair, it has been a hard month for fans of Clint Eastwood, whose endorsement of Donald Trump has finally meant we must face the fact that the violent reactionary characters our hero portrayed in the 1970s were not intended as satires of violent reactionary attitudes, but as blueprints for a dystopian future.

Indeed, I am now wondering if Eastwoods touching portrayal of a weird loners dysfunctional relationship with a servile orangutan in the haunting visual poem Every Which Way But Loose (1978) was actually intended as a misogynist endorsement of traditional marriage.

Fans of fake news will be pleased to know that my Dirty Harry error has been erased from history on the Observers website. As regular readers will know, the only films I have really watched these past few years are Italian spaghetti westerns of the 60s and 70s. I have now seen 112, and sheer weight of numbers makes it seem like spaghetti westerns make sense of every human problem. Like Donald Trumps tweets, they are often tasteless, incoherent and badly written, and yet somehow seem to offer exactly the answers people need.

illustration
Illustration by David Foldvari.

Last weekend I sat up late alone, eating some nuts, and watched Joe DAmatos micro-budget 1972 shambles Pokerface, a spaghetti thats hard to recommend, even to genre stalwarts. Variously also known as Run Men Run, Trinity in Eldorado, Stay Away from Trinity When He Comes to Eldorado, Run Men Eldorado Is Coming to Trinity, and, rather brilliantly, Go Away! Trinity Has Arrived in Eldorado, the movies very titles, like spellings of Theresa Mays name, are post-factual, alternative names telling alternative truths. The same shot of a laughing Mexican eating something outdoors is repeated over and over again, at different points in the film, to fill empty space. The movie itself lies. The images cannot be trusted.

Pokerface stars Stelvio Rosi, last heard of as the line producer of the 1997 Ice Cube/giant snake vehicle Anaconda, as a magician-cum-conman involved in a series of unfunny scrapes in a blandly anonymous borderland. But just as I was getting ready to hit the hay, the last third of the film changed gear, and loomed like a warning from history.

Rosi arrives in a deserted, whitewashed town, ruled over by an eccentric gold-hoarding demagogue named Eldorado (Craig Hill), who rides around on an ostentatiously decorated nag, in a generals uniform one suspects he is not entitled to wear. Frightened Mexican peasants bow to Eldorado as he rides past, and then he spits theatrically upon them from above. His garish throne is flanked by semi-naked women, instructed to laugh at his jokes and applaud his thoughts. He cries out, My gold, my beautiful gold! and is easily distracted by nudity and card tricks. Its 2am, I am full of nuts, future sexploitation director DAmatos broad-brushed caricature of crazed power is Donald Trump, made flesh in a cheap 70s western, and I claim my 5.

But were DAmatos sticky fingers guided by a godlike power, warning us of our future? There are more antecedents for Trump, as if some unseen hand had threaded cautionary archetypes into our collective consciousness, perhaps the finest being the Golem of Jewish folklore. The rabbi of medieval Prague, Judah Loew ben Bezalel, conjures a compliant monster to defend the ghetto. But he forgets to remove from its mouth the rune that brought it to life, and the Golem begins an indiscriminate rampage.

Some critics believe the story to be a 19th-century German literary invention. Fake news, folks! Fake news!! But little America has unleashed a monster of its own making, which it thought would do its bidding, and now no one knows how to bring it to a halt. Somehow I dont think Theresa May is about to put it back in its box.

Stewart Lees Content Provider is now touring, see stewartlee.co.uk for details

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jan/29/donald-trump-70s-western-america-future-stewart-lee-pokerface

The Harry Potter star has refused to rule out resurrecting the Boy Who Lived, while Hathaway is keen to pull on Catwomans leathers once more. Both should proceed with caution

When a 53-year-old Sean Connery resurrected the role of James Bond in 1983 after a 12-year break, even the title of the movie in which the debonaire Scotsman strapped on his Walther PPK and took on the forces of Spectre one last time seemed to hint at the projects questionable nature. Never Say Never Again turned out to be a decent enough revival for Connery; certainly preferable to Octopussy, the official Eon-produced Bond film that emerged the same year with an even older Roger Moore as 007. But the history of Hollywood icons digging up the roles that made them famous and applying spark plugs hasnt always been as laudable.

Harrison Ford gave Star Wars: The Force Awakens a kind of gnarly, yet soulful gravitas last year as the returning space scoundrel Han Solo. But he wasnt quite so good when nuking the fridge in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Sylvester Stallone won widespread praise, and an Oscar nomination, for his return to the role of aged blue-collar brawler Rocky Balboa in Creed, but fans of the one-time heavyweight champ had to sit through at least three featherweight Rocky instalments before being treated to one last knockout uppercut.

It is therefore entirely understandable that Daniel Radcliffe continues to play it safe, like a newly arrived Hogwarts student who asks the sorting hat to place him in Hufflepuff, when asked about the possibility of returning to the role of an all-grown-up Boy Who Lived in a mooted future movie adaptation of JK Rowlings stage play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Im never going to close the door; that would be a stupid thing to do, he told the Hollywood Reporter this weekend. But I think Ill be happy enough and secure enough to let someone else play it.

Theres a part of me thats like, some things are better left untouched, added Radcliffe. If we went back to Potter, theres a chance wed make what Star Wars: The Force Awakens was to the original Star Wars, but theres also the chance that wed make Phantom Menace. So I dont want to go back to anything like that and maybe sour what people have already loved.

The casual observer might wonder what Radcliffe could possibly have to lose should Warner Bros and right now reports hinting at a new Potter film are merely rumours decide to move ahead with a new instalment in the second highest grossing movie saga of all time. But the 27-year-old actor has carved out a quietly impressive film career since shedding his Hogwarts uniform, even if his CV so far lacks even the barest sprinkling of true awards season magic dust. In wizarding terms, hes bumbling along rather nicely as a sort of Hollywood version of Neville Longbottom ever-present, strong in supporting roles and with the occasional moment of personal glory to celebrate, even if hes unlikely to ever win the Hogwarts house cup.

And yet Voldemort-levels of danger surely loom should Radcliffe decide to dig out the stick-on lightning scar one last time. The nature of the Potter sagas remarkable achievement, in maintaining the same young cast throughout eight movies and a decade in filming time, rather masked the odd wooden scene from its key trio. But critics and fans might be less forgiving were they to drop their wands as fully mature actors. Is it any wonder Radcliffe views the prospect of a new instalment with suspicion?

On the other hand, by the time the Englishman has matured enough to play a middle-aged Potter in a decades time and should that one great role that establishes him indubitably in the Hollywood firmament fail to come his way in the meantime its hard to imagine him continuing to play hard to get.

The situation regarding Anne Hathaways suggestion that shed be keen on slipping into Catwomans slinky leathers once again in the new DC expanded universe of superhero movies seems more complex. Hathaway has complained in recent times that shes not getting the roles she once was thanks, she believes, to Hollywoods systemic ageism towards even those female stars who remain in their early 30s. But would she really want to damage the legacy of her wonderfully vivacious turn in The Dark Knight Rises, filled as it was with old school Hollywood poise and seductive, femme fatale elegance, by reprising the role in a very different era that has so far failed to convince the critics?

Where Christopher Nolans Batman trilogy pitched a Gotham City closer to reality than any previous big or small screen iteration, the recently released Suicide Squad suggests Warner Bros wants its new universe populated largely with larger-than-life, mega-powered meta-humans. These films draw their energy from video game tropes and thoughtless CGI carnage rather than the sumptuously plotted, Michael Mann-inspired gangster noir of Nolans The Dark Knight, or the camp yet menacing supernatural stylings of the Tim Burton era. It is therefore a little hard to see where Hathaways stunningly effervescent yet relatively understated Catwoman fits in.

The other way to look at it is that Warner/DC might benefit from sprinkling a little Nolanesque magic on its faltering shared superhero universe. We should not forget that the studio allowed Superman to be reimagined with real world stylings as a direct consequence of the Dark Knight trilogys success in Man of Steel, though that template has been conveniently jettisoned for subsequent films. But just as Hathaway would be well-advised to think carefully before milking (sorry) one of her best-known roles, Warner probably knows it has come too far with its new, as yet rather fractured comic book vision to suddenly change direction now.

In the early 1980s, Connery was forced to roll back a 1971 promise that he would never again play the role of Bond when the opportunity arose to return to Her Majestys Secret Service for one last adventure. Both Radcliffe and Hathaway have sensibly learned from the Scotsmans mistake: given the right circumstances, returning to past glories might just send both actors careers to new levels.

And yet theres a reason the phrase Never Say Never Again is part of the English lexicon purely for its Bond associations. The rather better-known adage is the less ostentatious but rather more trenchant never look back.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/filmblog/2016/sep/12/daniel-radcliffe-anne-hathaway-past-glories-harry-potter-catwoman

Image: Sony Pictures/Screen Gems

Don’t Breathe buttoned up a sweet, little $26.1 million (estimated) opening weekend box office the final of the summer and it was enough for a dominant #1 finish.

The movie, directed by Fede Alvarez, features few stars Avatar villain Stephen Lang is the most established and came together around a relatively tiny $10 million budget. And yet it’s already a moneymaker.

A mix of high critical praise and efficient Sony marketing definitely played a role in that. Don’t Breathe earned an impressive 87 percent “Fresh” rating from RottenTomatoes, and trailers have prominently featured hyperbolic pull quotes.

It’s the third success story this summer for horror. The Conjuring 2 opened on June 10, surpassing its $40 million budget after one week and rising to $319.5 million worldwide in subsequent weeks.

The Purge: Election Year followed on July 1, immediately tripling its $10 million budget in one weekend. That total grew to $105.6 million worldwide in the weeks that followed.

Summer is traditionally a good time for horror, but it’s more apparent in 2016 because of all the high-profile busts. Blockbuster sequels like Indepedence Day: Resurgence, Star Trek: Beyond, Jason Bourne and Alice Through the Looking Glass have largely fallen flat during this year’s spring/summer months.

These films are all designed to fill theaters, but audiences are opting for more niche-centric fare like horror or comedy (Bad Moms, Neighbors 2, Sausage Party). Family-friendly movies like Finding Dory and The Secret Life of Pets have brought in the crowds as well, but that’s normal for the school-free summer months.

Trailing well behind Don’t Breathe is Suicide Squad, now in its third week of release, with an estimated $12.1 million. The DC Comics anti-superhero flick faltered quickly after an opening week surge. It’s now just a little bit shy of $600 million worldwide, and likely won’t climb much higher than that.

After Suicide, the rankings get a lot murkier. Five weekend box office totals for Kubo and the Two Strings, Sausage Party, newcomer Mechanic: Resurrection, Pete’s Dragon and War Dogs are all estimated in the $7 million range.

That makes the weekend’s final lineup hard to predict, though the numbers are small enough that the final order isn’t very relevant. The biggest takeaway from the weekend’s box office middle ranks comes from Mechanic: star Jason Statham clearly isn’t as bankable as he once was.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2016/08/28/dont-breathe-box-office-opening-weekend/