Though it’s not without its problems, some of which I go into in the following video.
Gerald’s Game, currently on Netflix is a remarkable bit of television because it understands that horror is more than things that go ‘bump’ in the night, but is also a way of working through the most evil of demons, namely those that haunt us in our everyday, waking lives.
And imagine to my surprise to learn that it’s directed by Mike Flanagan (Oculus, Ouija: Origin of Evil) who understands that the best horror is like a satisfying meal in that it sticks to your ribs.
So when you combine Mike Flanagan’s minimalistic direction (with not a jump scare in literally the entire movie) with a story written by Stephen King, the likelihood is that both auteurs will brew a potent, horrible (in the best possible way) stew.
Carla Gugino and Bruce Greenwood star as Jessie and Gerald Burlingame, who we meet when they’re preparing for a holiday (though when Gerald packs two pairs of handcuffs we know that whatever is going to go on will be at the very least, very, very interesting). As the story progresses we learn that much of what we learned about the couple earlier is a facade, revealed by nothing less than a Shakesperean narrative device.
While having more in common with a psychological thriller than outright horror, Gerald’s Game isn’t afraid to scale that fence when it comes to it.
So if you haven’t see Gerald’s Game, consider giving it a spin but keep in mind that some games–once you start playing–are Hell to stop.
I caught James Gunn’s Guardians Of The Galaxy, Vol. 2 last Saturday and what I found so impressive overall was the way Gunn managed so many stories and plot threats in a way that was not only cohesive, but made sense.
Because–and trust me on this–there are so many ways Guardians could have easily collapsed under it’s own weight.
But it never does.
What’s almost equally impressive is the way everyone gets their own arc, without the movie feeling bloated or over-stuffed.
And Guardians Of The Galaxy, Vol. 2 is so gorgeous, as if it’s not only not afraid to admit that the worlds depicted first appeared in comic books, but is proud of it.
And there’s not a cynical bone in the movie’s body, which is why when you see Baby Groot and Rocket you just go with it.
Because you know–on a level conscious or not–that Gunn believes in these characters as much, if not more, than you do.
That being said, I just finished Patty Jansen‘s Shifting Reality, the Book I of the ISF-Allion Series and it was…okay.
The future world the novel depicts was an interesting one, though my biggest gripe is that the book, in an effort by the writer to craft what appears to be a viable future, can be very exposition-heavy.
At the end of the novel, in a section called ‘About the Setting’ Jansen explains that a ‘major disaster’ drove rural people into Jarkarta where the worker population was sourced.
What is never made quite clear is why they were sourced from that region (other than the writer being fascinated with Indonesia and it’s culture).
Another way the book would have been improved would be if more information was provided about the ISF–their origins and how they came to be–as well as Allion–which initially seems like a sinister conglomerate but ends up so much more.
Luckily Melati Rudiyanto, the main protagonist of the novel, is our eyes and ears into this fascinating futurescape because while the narrative may lag on occasion, she was interesting enough to keep me invested.
Overall Shifting Reality is a pretty good read (despite the occasional narrative lag), and worth seeking out.
I discovered Shifting Reality via The Humble Bundle, where you can pay what you like for eBooks that shift regularly in terms of genre, so this week it might be horror, though next week or could be hard Sci-Fi, and so on.
The biggest problem with Gareth Edwards’ ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS Story is that it’s two movies.
For the bulk of it’s time it’s a war movie, and a not very good one. The characters are characters–for the most part–only in the sense that they have names and are played by actors.
It never once invests in the development necessary to make make our heroes anything approaching empathetic, never mind sympathetic–it goes without having saying that the villains, particularly Director Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) fare significantly better though I suspect few people go to a Star Wars movie exclusively for the villains.
And that’s to be expected, though more is required of the heroes; we need to not only sympathize with their plight, but have to actively want them to achieve their goal.
And that doesn’t happen in Rogue One and seeing that it’s a prequel of sorts to Star Wars: A New Hope, you know that they succeed in stealing the plans for the Death Star.
It’s only how that manages to come about that matters.
And the how is what the brunt of what the movie gets wrong.
Which reminds me, why was Gareth Edwards hired to direct? As you could probably tell from Monsters, as well as Godzilla, he doesn’t exactly excel in developing human relationships on screen, which is what Rogue One needed. I don’t care about virtually everyone dying at the end, though what I do care about is not caring about everyone dying at the end.
And the movie also–in a very curious fashion–undermines a small but important sequence from The Empire Strikes Back (which I go more in detail about in my video review).
As much criticism as the three George Lucas-directed sequels received–deservedly so for the most part–at least they felt like Star Wars movies (not very good Star Wars movies, but Star Wars movies nonetheless).
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story? Not so much.
“Visually, Marvel’s Doctor Strange is unlike any movie you’ve probably seen.”
And that’s not hyperbole. Some of the visual effects in Scott Derrickson’s Doctor Strange may have had their genesis in other movies–such as Inception–but he takes them to places that you have never seen before.
Green screen is also nothing new, but the way it’s used to define movement in an landscape often modeled on the work of M.C. Escher, is.
Though like I mention in my review, it feels as if the human relationships weren’t quite as fully-realized as those aforementioned effects (with perhaps the exception of Tilda Swinton’s Ancient One, who every time she turns up on screen the movie takes a moment to catch its breath.
As a result, Doctor Strange is that odd sort of movie that you want to see again not only because of special effects worthy of the name, but to see if the personal and interpersonal relationships in the movie fare as well.
At this point, if you’re a Netflix subscriber you’ve probably already started watching Marvel’s Luke Cage (if you haven’t binged all 13 episodes, that is) so I don’t have any intention of spoiling it for you.
Except to say that the series is damn good television; so good in fact that–which I mention in my video review–you almost regret when a costumed villain is introduced.
Because before that moment, things were tight–which isn’t to imply that the appearance of Diamondback (Eric LaRay Harvey) ruined things because it doesn’t though the action and interplay between the characters was so engrossing that it wasn’t necessary.
And speaking of character interplay, Mike Colter, Alfre Wooddard, Rosario Dawson, Simone Missick, Eric LaRay Harvey and Theo Rossi stick out among one of the stronger casts in television.
The contrast between Marvel Studios’ more fantastical worlds compared to Marvel Television’s more grounded and realistic one is pretty interesting and provides a welcome and refreshing difference in approaches.
Next up, Marvel’s Iron Fist!