Sunday, March 06, 2016


The movie that ended up #10 on my year-end list kicks off the 2015 Muriel Awards countdown to Best Feature Film at #65, and given my enthusiasm for Guy Ritchie's splendid spy picture, the movie that was everything Spectre couldn't (or wouldn't) be, Paul Clark asked me to write about it. I accepted this duty. Here's a taste:

"Given the ugly hash he’d previously made of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective in two misconceived, cluttered and cacophonous features, the last thing I expected from Guy Ritchie’s The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was anything that could be remotely described as visual wit or elegance. But maybe even more so in this age, when bloated and degraded blockbusters are the multitudinous coins of the realm, a big-budget spy picture conceived initially as just another nostalgic cash cow has the capacity to surprise us when it looks to classic forms and attitudes not as something to be slavishly, crassly replicated but instead to be used as a comment on where the genre is now, and why it’s so often no longer as much as fun as it could be. Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes movies missed the point entirely by failing to trust that modern audiences could respond to Doyle’s characters without being bashed over the head with superfluous technique. But in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. he’s figured out a way to make technique speak and interact with the story, to use visual flourishes and strategies to enhance the comedy and the thrills that are part of the genre his movie lives in." 

Read the entirety of my essay on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. at Our Science is Too Tight, where you can keep up with all the Muriels Best Feature Film postings, one each half hour till we get to the top of the list.


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