Although I’ve done presentably on the movie front this week, what I really need to dedicate this intro to is 13 Reasons Why (2017). The Netflix series caught my attention (I knew it was for me as soon as I read high-school drama) and I ploughed through it during the weekend – a proper binge, after many binge-less years. Based on a hugely popular YA novel I never heard about, it feels like a mix of Donnie Darko (2001) and Veronica Mars (2004), with more than one musical cue taken from the former. The gist of the plot: a seventeen year old girl commits suicide, leaving behind several cassette tapes explaining why and pointing fingers. While some suspension of disbelief is required, the solid cast, lead by a likable Dylan Minnette, builds some good drama on top of an otherwise atmospheric existential run through the old-school/new-age American high-school. Recommended.
Movie of the Week:
- Life (2017): On what turned out to be one of the most awesome days of my decade, I managed to squeeze in a trip to the cinema for some Alien rip-off. Sorry, homage. Although starring quite the actors (Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Reynolds, Rebecca Ferguson), the sci-fi horror turned out to be quite the disappointment. The movie looks good and feels unnerving, which is great, but its enjoyment hinges, as is often the case with the genre, on accepting some terrifying ineptitudes in the story. Someone put it really well in a comments section around the interwebz: “The story of one of the smartest living organisms in the universe, and the six dumbest human beings to ever enter space.” God, are those characters irritatingly daft. If you’re wondering what about, let’s just say they are sent on the ISS to recover and analyze a Mars soil sample, which supposedly includes a biological thingy. Well, after the thingy is sort of brought to life, the researcher in charge of, I don’t know, understanding it? becomes disassociated with mankind and bonds like a brother with his new buddy. When excrement hits the fan, nobody is surprised – except for those on board the ISS, of course. Anyway, it’s such a shame, as the movie actually manages to be creepy as hell, but all is spoiled by an underused Gyllenhaal and all this other stuff that pissed me off. So, with this in mind, imagine how awesome the day must have been for me to have still rated it so highly. 5/10
- Fences (2016): Directed and starring Denzel Washington and based on the eponymous August Wilson play, Fences offered Viola Davis a platform for her first Academy Award. The story of a disgruntled, middle-aged man in the 50s and 60s laboriously paints a bleak picture of its protagonist: a hard-ass, cynical, arguably self-obsessed father who, in spite of hating his own paternal figure, only manages to emulate it. Verve is probably the best word to describe what most of the dialogue brings with it, managing to bridge a rather lengthy run-time of over two hours. Washington effectively builds up to a finale that is both depressing and somewhat hopeful, which nonetheless made me cry my eyes out for a bit – before I manned up real quickly. It’s just an emotional film, that might take a while to grow on you, but offering a decent payout in the end. 8/10
- Prevenge (2016): Alice Lowe took on all responsibilities as she starred, wrote and directed Prevenge. I was familiar with Sightseers (2012), one of her previous films in which she merely had the lead and co-wrote the script, and knew to expect some dark twists in this one. Unsurprising, given the synopsis: Widow Ruth is seven months pregnant when, believing herself to be guided by her unborn baby, she embarks on a homicidal rampage, dispatching anyone who stands in her way. To be fair, it isn’t just anyone, there is some pattern to the homicidal rampage, which fleshes itself out along the way. What I really took away from the movie was the ironic anti-parenting jabs, the dread of what is to come, of ones own imperfections in facing such a life-changing abomination – sorry, baby. The sense that you are on your own grows into you, as friends and strangers alike fall into certain behavioral patterns in dealing with the situation. So yeah, pretty fun. 7/10