T2 Trainspotting: Why or Why Not?

There was a profound opportunity to tell the story how heroin addicts who barely survived their respective early struggles were faring 20 years later.  That’s the story I believe Danny Boyle was trying to tell.  In my book, he failed miserably — that rocket sailed sky-high over his head.  T2 Trainspotting should by all rights have been a deep and powerful film that stood firmly on its own.  Instead, he made a picture utterly pointless without the original.

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I’ve always paired Trainspotting and Pulp Fiction as the two great, seminal, earth-shattering films of the nineties.  The movies that were so utterly transformative.  Quentin Tarantino never tried to remake or produce a sequel to Pulp Fiction, and I hope he stays true in this regard.  Danny Boyle, a vastly inferior filmmaker, didn’t have the same self-restraint.

So it sounds like I’m bashing the heck out of Boyle’s follow-up.  But I liked it just enough for a thumbs-up.  Why?  I love the original so much, and T2, for all its many shortcomings, works well as a vibrant homage to the groundbreaking original.  Kind of like when a rich kid goes off to run the business his father built from the ground up, and is able to at least keep it afloat a few more years.  Put another way, dumb down “massively entertaining” and see what you get: something not nearly as entertaining, but still not a bad trifle.

Marginally recommended, with a heavy dose of all the standard caveats, plus add: an adoration of Trainspotting, and that you see it on a big screen with big sound.  Both trailers included below not by accident.  6/10

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Seasons of Spring 3 by 3

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“She’s dead.  Wrapped in plastic…wrap.”

Three television series will see a Season 3 premiere this Spring: the Showtime redux of Twin Peaks — god I hope it’s good, Fargo on FX, and Better Call Saul on AMC.  Dates:

Twin Peaks: Sunday, May 21

Fargo: “sometime in mid-April”

Better Call Saul: Monday, April 10

Fargo will feature Ewan McGregor and be the most modern Fargo yet, set in 2010.  I hope it’s good in spite of McGregor’s presence.  Same goes for the Trainspotting sequel set to release next month (egad!).

Season 2 was entertaining, though not up to Season 1 form.  There was so much violence that the National Guard would have been called in by about episode 5, so my incredulity will be alleviated if they dial it back a bit.

If previous patterns hold, AMC will air the first two seasons of Better Call Saul in marathon style leading up to the premiere.  That same pattern dictates availability of Season 2 on Netflix one week prior to the premiere; Season 1 is available now.  Certainly hoping it continues to be (among) the most entertaining shows ever aired.  Gus Fring will be part of the story, and I’d be surprised if we don’t at some point see Walter White, as the inevitable crossover into the Breaking Bad era takes place.

As for Twin Peaks.  Without going into it, let’s just say that Twin Peaks was a revelation when it first aired.  Not only did I think it was an incredibly great, ground-breaking show, but it made a significant cultural impact on my life ever since.  The cast list is 200 miles long, including Kyle MacLachlan and a number of other original cast members, and newcomers Michael Cera, longtime Lynchite Laura Dern, Ashley Judd, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Matthew Lillard, rock frontmen Trent Reznor and Eddie Vedder, Naomi Watts, and A-Lister Amanda Seyfried.

Such a massive cast is a lot to juggle, so I hope this doesn’t become another Dune.  David Lynch and Mark Frost are producing and writing, as they did originally, and Lynch will be directing.  My concern is that Lynch hasn’t made a film since Inland Empire, and was seemingly retired from dramatic presentation, content to make damn fine coffee and avant-garde music.

Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul and Fargo have set a new standard in television.  I hope Twin Peaks can live up to that standard while capturing the spirit, and the spirits, of the original series.

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Film Brief: Beginners

I haven’t seen Ewan McGregor in much, so in consideration of his wasted efforts in the Star Wars trifecta, and after watching the abysmal Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, I was wondering if he was going to carry off a good performance in something other than Trainspotting.  In Beginners (2010), he is perfectly capable, but I’m still waiting for him to do something great again.

Beginners strikes an interesting tone, certainly not comedic, but there is a smidgen of lightness.  There’s also sentimentality and  gimmicks the likes of which have tripped up many a lesser movie, but not this one.  This film works — but just barely.  A marginal recommendation: watch the preview — if you think this movie would appeal to you, go for it, but you won’t be knocking yourself if you miss it.  6/10

Film Brief: Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

After watching Saturday night that “disappointingly clunky, bombastic” (CNN) movie The Dark Knight Rises, I was hoping last night for a refreshing, delightful indie, so I chose Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (2011), starring the charming Emily Blunt, and Ewan McGregor as something of a square.  Well I was not refreshed.  I probably should have been scared off by the description, which touts ties to Chocolat and Slumdog MillionaireSalmon Fishing was completely bland and utterly boring, charmless and an insipid waste.  This movie starts badly, but I kept hoping for something a little greater that it would reach for.  Instead we are given even greater stupidity and lameness, and what natural affinity the actors bring in has been somehow stripped bare.  Makes bad ’80s made-for-TV movies look sophisticated by comparison.  Truly horrible; 1/10.

If you would like to be charmed by Emily Blunt, she teamed up with Amy Adams and Alan Arkin in Sunshine Cleaning (2008).  More on this one later, but for now: 9/10 and charming up the ying yang.