Tuesday, January 2, 2018


From the team that made Spring and Resolution which showed again that passion and resourcefulness can fill gaps that budgeting can't. A further foray into a kind of DIY Lovecraft this is even more accomplished than the priors. We're still lacking a little tightness in the plotting but I'll be in the queue for the next one.

Well executed historical tale of civil rights hit its notes without issue but still left a little too routine.

Highly immersive and on point with a clever management of time expansion. I left the IMAX screening in silence but as days went by (this was mid MIFF) the impact faded and I wondered if it would feel the same in a standard cinema. While it is a return to form for a director whose blockbuster films have become increasingly bloated and overrated, this lean and intense piece at best exposes how wayward Nolan has become. That's a good thing but probably will count for nothing with the next release.

The kind of social issue rivernovel that can get skewed by incidental quirkiness here is given a good strong helming. Perhaps an even stronger direction might have given it the adventurous lift it needed to make it great.

Extraordinary idea form a filmmaker who is good at them (Timecrimes and Open Windows) but not so great with pacing character development. The middle act sags before a big finish that feels like its addressing the problems of that rather than flowing toward a conclusion. Nevertheless, good performances and some real wow moments keep it afloat.

Some very effective oppositions between characters unaware of their own privilege and one who cannot escape awareness of her lack of same. Very solid performances throughout but perhaps that ending is too joltingly out of pace.

A darkened version of The Moonlit Road story (or a bleak Groundhog Day) in which an uber-popular girl must work out why she has come to a tragic end. Some strongly realised moments of teenage life but lacking real teeth towards the very end.

Groundhog Day meets Scream plays its routine redemption story with style and energy, getting the strong lead it needs. Feels featherlight beside Before I Fall which begins with a near identical premise.


In a year when the phrase "the sequel no one asked for" kept appearing in  reviews this one hit the cinemas with a shrug. It's perfectly competent but carries a problem: it reminds anyone who remembers or sees the original around the same time that the source was only really OK. Boyle's Trainspotting felt whizbang and stylistically cheeky the same way Tarrantino's movies of the time did and those don't play that well anymore, either. Not a bad film but not a great one, either.

A fun exercise in Wes Craven style culture twisting ends up feeling like a satire on Trump's America. It just needed a little push further into darkness. That said I'd watch it again and readily recommend it.

From TV

Speaking of DIY the queen of choose your own writing/acting adventure, Brit Marling brought her most ambitious offering yet with this long form tale of atrocity, survival and the forces beyond (whatever they might be). Right up to the characteristic it-all-makes-sense-now climax it intrigued without fail but the climax itself overreached what viewers might have tolerated after living through so much beforehand.

Both seasons of this long form horror series began impressively with slowburn plotting and truckloads of atmosphere and both felt too stretched to be fully effective at six episodes a piece where four would have packed more of a punch. Nevertheless, there is another season and I will give it a go as the overall quality improved between the first and second. What is really on show here is sharp genre thinking that harks back to the sci-horror of early UK tv and the kind of ethereal dark folklore of the internet. That alone is worth the try to see if it can also learn from its own shortcomings.


Mostly effective YA adaptation suffered from a dragging uniformity of the parts, possibly following the source novel. This left the central act without plausible motive and, when shown, wildly disproportionate violence (however highly effectively done).

Very funny parody on true crime serials this high school whodunnit was so engaging and deftly orchestrated that the tension of suspicion overtook the satire. The denouement suffered because of this as it had a point to make despite the drama. It was meant to be banal in context but just felt ...  banal.

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