It serves me right for saying that this next entry would be about in-flight movies -- a subject I've avoided for the last two years, but one that used to be a regular feature when I crossed the Atlantic more regularly. On this trip I only managed to view two on the outward leg and a scant one on the return, but I've committed myself to their reviews:
Machete: This is a film that I would have been quite happy to view in the cinema, had it not rapidly disappeared from most screens apart from the odd late-night showing. Developed by the multi-talented director-cum-everything Robert Rodriguez from one of the cod trailers featured in "Grindhouse", it can best be described as a definite guilty pleasure. Nowhere else would the plug-ugly and aging Danny Trejo be given a lead role which he carries off with great bravado and aplomb. Rodriguez has managed to collect a eclectic powerhouse cast to underline his pet TexMex concern about so-called illegal immigrants. There are meaty parts for Robert De Niro (playing a nasty Bush-like politician), Jeff Fahey, Cheech Marin, Michelle Rodriguez, Lindsay Lohan, Steven Seagal, and Jessica Alba, most of whom end up violently dead, with the most ironic fate of all saved for De Niro's slimeball. I never thought I'd see the day when Seagal allowed himself to play a villain or to actually lose in a macho fight. Maybe the fact that he now lumbers about like a pregnant elephant is the reality. Trejo's avenger acquits himself well and even gets to make love to the nubile, young Alba. He even mouths a line that could well go down in film history: "Machete don't text!" The end credits promise two sequels -- loosely 'Machete Kills' and 'Machete Kills Again', but I think it is fair to assume that this is another of Rodriguez' little jokes.
Shrek Forever After: Since I have been something of a fan of the first three films in this series, albeit with diminishing amusement returns, I thought I should have a look at this one as well. It's probably an improvement on the third entry, but lacks most of the adult-friendly wit of the earlier films. Still it is entertaining and undemanding enough for children of all ages. With a plot stolen from "It's a Wonderful Life", Shrek begins to regret his so-called domestic bliss, yearns for the days when he was a fearsome ogre, and enters into a Faustian pact with the evil Rumpelstiltskin. He ends up in a parallel universe where all of the familiar characters have morphed into other destinies -- Puss-in-Boots is literally a fat cat and neither Donkey nor his beloved Fiona knows him. The movie probably worked well in 3-D (not that this is a remote in-flight possibility when one has enough trouble viewing even two dimensions on the minute screen), but I think the franchise is beginning to outstay its welcome. Enough already!
Cyrus: I was hoping for something vaguely amusing on the return flight before trying to sneak in some needed shut-eye, but I can honestly report that I hardly saw this movie. The seat in front of mine was occupied by a younger version of Two-ton Tessie O'Shea and when she reclined her seat, not only was her seatback nearly touching my nose but the screen became dark and barely visible. Add to that some inordinate engine noise and turbulence and you can begin to picture the scene. Fortinately I vaguely knew the film's plot or it would have been even more of a wasted effort. As is, I think the would-be talents of John C. Reilly, Marisa Tomei, Catherine Keener, and Jonah Hill were probably wasted anyhow. Divorced and lonely Reilly thinks he has met the woman of his dreams in Tomei, but soon discovers there is another man in her life, her needy, super-polite son, the chubby Hill. Hill doesn't want to share her with anyone -- in fact their relationship is so close that it's spooky -- but I guess everything works out in the end. I'll never know unless I see the film again some time in the future, because if the truth be told, I didn't really view it this time around.
So I can promise that there will be no more in-flight reviews in the foreseeable future. This is probably just as well, since as we all know it is hardly the best way to actually see a film, but only a means of trying to fill in those slow, boring hours.