Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ reboot of King Kong is not bad—it’s an entertaining way to pass two hours plus, and the monsters are properly monstrous. Samuel Jackson is just parodying himself now—I guess he’ll only bring it for Quentin Tarantino—but the extended hommage to Apocalypse Now is amusing, down to the name of the ex-SAS tracker played by Tom Hiddleston (Conrad). The Marlon Brando-Kurtz character is divided between Jackson who does menacing bonkers and John C. Reilly, who lives with the locals and does benign bonkers. All fine actors, as is Oscar-winning Brie Larson, but the best actor in the movie is Kong, motion capture work by Toby Kebbell. He wins the macho power pose-off paws down. (Kebbell, a memorable Koba in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, is the heir apparent to Andy Serkis’s mocap throne.)
But as those of us who dutifully sat through the end credits were reminded, Kong: Skull Island is the beginning of yet another franchise—I gather Mothra and King Ghidorah are in our moviegoing future. This upteenth reboot was not necessary, it’s just business. The 1933 original by Cooper and Schoedsack is still the essential version, though I have a special fondness for the King Kong remake of my childhood starring Jessica Lange and Jeff Bridges. Lange was so fabulous, as my friend Raul puts it: “Sana ako na lang ang kinidnap ng unggoy.”
A very old man wakes up, thinks he is in the afterlife, finds his body is young again. A woman tries to get her passport renewed, is told her head in the photo is the wrong size. When she was a child she was great friends with the old man, who lived next door and collected “arty art”. Now he lives in a hospice, where he is expected to die, and she visits him regularly and reads to him. The Brexit vote has just happened, and a pall has descended over the land.
These are some of the elements of Ali Smith’s latest novel, part of a series on the seasons. It’s been called the first great Brexit novel, and it captures the queasy aftermath of that event but is so much more. Like her previous novel How To Be Both, Autumn is about time itself. It’s astounding. Every other page there’s a paragraph, a turn of phrase that seems to open up a portal to another place, another era. It’s time travel disguised as a novel. I love it. I would work for free as Ali Smith’s typist, just to read her work before everyone else does.