Tuesday, May 16, 2023



Don't Worry Darling and Last Night in Soho have been the most intriguing and indisputably visually arresting psychological thrillers of the last several years. Oddly, they're about the same thing, just in different eras. The former concerns the ring-a-ding Rat Pack glamour of the 1950s, the latter Swinging 1960s London (I lived through both-- they get the details right.) Both explore consequences of the deliberate diminishment of women in these otherwise dazzling eras, with extreme, gory vengeance resultant in their respective plot twists. '50s and '60s cognescienti are going to love the music: great, non-formulae choices in both. Having just the right music was as important to director Edgar Wright as it is to, say, director Martin Scorcese. And both Soho and Darling sidestep any obvious choices. 
For those who've followed pop culture fashions/music/sociology of the last half of the prior century, you'll enjoy the correct details and continuity choices as well. Soho's director Edgar Wright specializes in making sure all music placed in his films is important and contributing to the overall zeitgeist without ever being pretentious about it or calling attention to itself (Example: he directed Baby Driver with the best music accompanied car chases ever.) And director Olivia Wilde let her imagination roam quite free once she got a hold of this script that is a VERY unusual take on a previously well known horror theme. 

Screen captures from Don't Worry Darling's cool retro auto scenes, with a Corvette in the 2nd pic carrying the protagonist Florence Pugh, and the top pic crowd scene containing a Nash Metropolitan, '54 Ford, '57 Chevy Nomad among others. Their stunt doubles come a sorry end in the big chase scene (last 2 pix.) My better half adored all the cars! Younger viewers will adore co-star Harry Styles for his deft handling of a real love/hate acting role.
Best of all, the three young female leads, AnyaTaylor-Joy and Thomasin McKenzie in Soho, Florence Pugh in Darling, are astonishing strong. They seem like A list from the get go. Their assured performances caught me by surprise. Pugh has been garnering "next big thing" plaudits lately, but don't be put off by this spin: she nailed this one. You never don't care about her character for even one second. And both films are, hahaha, feminist despite all that violence.

Screen captures from Last Night in Soho, Anya Taylor-Joy in first encounter with Matt Smith, all joyful dancing and running through the night streets of mid-1960s Soho; Thomasin McKenzie and (from the actual '60s) Terence Stamp in present day Soho; Eloise channels Audrey Hepburn; the two time travelers merge.
Trivia: this was the very first production to feature the interiors as well as the exterior of the famous Richard Neutra Palm Springs Kaufmann mansion (the same client who commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater!!) and for long, extended scenes in and out, not just establishing shots. I presume the huge collection of wonderful mid-century architecture in Darling is a millennial's wet dream. And don't worry: Soho features boomers' wet dreams of 1960s London, ground zero of coolness in all things pop cultural and otherwise, particularly in its amazingly filmed initial introduction to time travel.
Above, fair use photo from the sales site from 3 years ago for Neutra's classic Palm Springs residence. To see all pix, click LINK (or https://digs.net/richard-neutras-kaufmann-house-in-palm-springs/)

Don't Worry Darling and Last Night in Soho should eventually be deemed classics. Both came out in our oddball, constricted covid era, yet still are sensational. There just hasn't been a lot of the promotional hoo-ha that usually accompanies such great films. If you enjoy one you should enjoy the other: I sure did! 

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