Don’t See How They Run.

I haven’t been to the cinema much lately. To be honest I’m starting to lose faith in the big screen. It seems there are just too many films that can’t be bothered to be good anymore. Not that there weren’t loads of bad films before, it’s just that there seems even less of a reason to make an effort now. A cinematic malaise has well and truly set in. In fairness, ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ was pretty good, but to balance that out there was third-rate slapstick, star name reliant drivel like ‘The Lost City’, a film that even Sandra Bullock in a shiny pink catsuit couldn’t redeem; the only reason I didn’t walk out half way through was because I’d dropped a bag of Revels on my lap and hadn’t quite found the last few before they melted to my shorts. Then there was the new Thor film, for which I had high hopes. Those high hopes were dashed like a clubfooted Spartan baby on the cliffs. The action was limp, the CGI cheap and the jokes too few and too slender. If this is what Marvel are paying for then I’m not sure how much longer I’m prepared to pay for Marvel.

You’d think it couldn’t get any less inspiring but, hey presto, piff-paff-puff, along has come another stinking pile of a film, the most disappointing film I can remember for quite some time. I speak of ‘See How They Run’, a murder mystery of a specifically Agatha Christie nature, no doubt hoping to feed off the vapour trail left by ‘Knives Out’ (a far better film, though not quite as great as it would like to think). On paper, and through a perfectly bearable trailer, it looked like it might just pass muster: quirky, camp, comforting and with a solid, interesting cast. More than that, in fact. It is a film starring Sam Rockwell, of whom I am extortionately fond (you could try to tell me about a film he is bad in and I just wouldn’t believe you) but even he seems a shell of himself, and not simply because he is trying to play a man who is a shell of himself. If this film was slightly better I would pity it, but I didn’t even have the energy or goodwill for that small act of charity.

All through ‘See How They Run’ you can sense the film makers glowing with pride at how clever and funny and ironic they are, but it just doesn’t work. At all. I was sitting in a pretty full screening and the only person laughing at anything was a woman a few rows back, who I had to logically conclude either had difficulties of some kind or had recently ingested a shit load of drugs. When I wasn’t struggling to stay awake I was trying desperately to fill in the gaping plot holes and keep up with the parade of not-so-great gags and an endless introduction of semi famous faces, all of whom seem to have been assembled on the false promise that they were going to be appearing in something worthwhile. It felt lazy and tired and rushed and by the end the entire cast could have been mown down by a Gatling gun and it would have made for a more satisfying conclusion. Possibly the best thing in it is Saorise Ronan; literally because everything is worse than her. ‘Sleuth’ it ain’t. It isn’t even ‘Clue’.

A crucial part of this abject dullamoth of a film was that the plot was based around ‘The Mousetrap’, amongst the most famous (as well as being, mindbogglingly, the longest running) stage plays ever. That play is also one of the least satisfying ways to fill two hours of your life. It is a tedious slice of whodunnit which continues to exist because it still manages to pull in plenty of confused American and Japanese tourists and anyone left in Britain who has more money than sense. Tradition demands that at the end of each show the audience is reminded they are now part of the secret and therefore not to reveal the murderer to anyone, but that is only because the theatre knows the play is irredeemably naff and wants as many people to pay for tickets before the rest of the world finds out. And I should know – I’ve seen it (I only have more money than sense because I have no sense at all) so I know that what should have been a worthwhile and enriching experience rapidly begins to feel like a very dull, very drawn-out mugging.

The only hint that this may not even be the worst film of the year is that the trailers offered prior promise of even greater cinematic faecal density. Coming this autumn – ‘Ticket To Paradise’, a romantic comedy of sorts featuring George Clooney and Julia Roberts, which looks excruciatingly bad: potentially a two headed career nadir in which all sense of dignity and professional self-respect has been left at the studio door in exchange for a fat pay check and profit options. Or you could try ‘Mrs Harris Goes To Paris’. Apparently it’s based on a very successful novel, but it looks like it comes with a tissue thin premise and the hint of a suspicion that success may rely on the dedication of an audience demographic that good taste forgot and a goodwill earned from the fact that the title rhymes. There were two other trailers but they were for films that looked so mind-bendingly unforgivable that I have since rinsed them from my memory by drinking a shot glass of bleach every hour, on the hour. Some say the cinema has lost its way, and some may well be right. I can only hope something worth watching will come out soon; I’m getting tired of paying good money for a recliner, Revels and rubbish. Until then I’d better cobble something together about little Queenie. May she rest in peace. I wonder what her favourite film was.

G B Hoodunitt. 14.09.2022

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