Thursday, November 3, 2022
Mackay and Whitsunday Life
We are living in a world where almost every piece of popular culture is intellectual property adjacent.
Let me explain: Movies and television, for example, are being filmed, shot, and produced that don’t just wear their influences on their sleeves, but have them broadly tattooed on their foreheads. I’ll give you the most salient example: Netflix’s Stranger Things series, something so close to Stephen King without being Stephen King that you can almost taste it. We are in an era of remakes, adaptations, and reboots. The idea that there is nothing new under the sun is being taken to the nth degree.
But is it such a bad thing that Hollywood is tickling that little bit of your brain that likes to say: “Hey, I know this. I’ve been here before.” That tasty bit of nostalgia that we all eat up - nom, nom, nom. Is it disingenuous or manipulative?
I haven’t made up my mind yet, but in the case of director Tom George’s ‘See How They Run’, influenced extensively by famed mystery author Agatha Christie – the most-celebrated writer of whodunnit novels ever (essentially creating the genre), from Murder on the Orient Express to Death on the Nile – it’s not a bad thing.
George and screenplay writer Mark Chappell have certainly dipped into the Christie soup for their film – centering their story of “murder most foul” around Christie’s own play, The Mousetrap, for good measure - but they’ve also dipped into another, more contemporary broth: Wes Anderson’s (director of the recent The French Dispatch, The Grand Budapest Hotel, and more).
Mark and George have mixed the two visionaries together. Anderson’s auteur style of directing and Christie’s exceptional ability to weave a mystery together with larger-than-life characters and intrigue but making it silly.
Here, we find ourselves in the 1950s London, where plans for a movie version of a smash-hit play are halted after a pivotal member of the crew (Adrien Brody) is murdered. World-weary Inspector Stoppard (Sam Rockwell) and eager rookie Constable Stalker (Saoirse Ronan) take on the case, finding themselves thrown into a cast of characters who could all have committed the crime.
The film doesn’t pose as high art, and you’ll recognise things within it as references and nods (and even real people), and that’s where the fun is – the performers are likeably silly, relentlessly camp, and the comedy lands almost every time.
See How They Run (M) is showing from next week at the Bowen Summergarden cinema.
Sam Rockwell and Saoirse Ronan in See How They run