Quick Reviews of This Week’s Movies & TV
Get your nerd on! It’s time to breakdown the weekly roundup of ‘consumed’ films and television.
Here’s a quick hit list with mini-reviews to help you decide what to watch this week based on what I watched last week.
Rated on a scale of 1 – 5 VHS tapes. Retro nerd love!
5 = do not let this slip/through the cracks / worth buying, 4 = worth the price of admission, 3 = worth renting, 2 = worth the risk on Netflix, 1 = let it slip
Dig in and enjoy!
Star Trek: Beyond
Boldly going where 12 films have gone before, the uninspired remake had a few good sequences but was slightly disappointing. The opening roots the tone in camp, the action is over-the-top, and the third act is a mess. Idris Elba is wasted as the villain, and unfortunately finds himself wrestling with genre tropes. That said, when it comes to turn off your brain entertainment, this sequel is worth munching on some popcorn. There is also some humour to enjoy alongside the spectacle, and the FX are top-notch.
Swiss Army Man
An odd little film, that is oddly endearing. Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe approach the goofy material with serious drama, slowly enveloping us in their world. When embraced, the ridiculous juvenile humour only lowers our guard to fall in love with the emotional dimensions of this truly bizarre comedy. Revealing what the story is will only hinder the overall enjoyment. Think: CASTAWAY if Wilson was a dead body… then add some WEEKEND AT BERNIES comedy and a touch of ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND. Yeah. A strange brew. The film purposefully paces its way through an over-the-top concept with a soft heart beating strongly at its center.
Audrie & Daisy
This stylish new Netflix documentary focuses on sexual assault at high school, and the ensuing chaos that brews during the aftermath. Online bullying only deepens the wound, dragging the victims through the nightmare all over again. Two stories converge to reveal the tragic violence young women face every day. Unsettling and essential. A strong character-piece with incredible emotion.
Encounters at the End of the World
Werner Herzog is a legend in the documentary world. He has an unusual view of the world, and a playful sense of humour. Both reveal themselves in this feature, as Herzog travels to the Antarctic. He embeds himself in the lives of scientists, exploring what drives them. A strong emphasis is also placed on the otherworldy scenery.
Into the Abyss
Another Herzog documentary, reveals another side of ‘us’. Here, he explores the darker side of humanity, and its thirst for vengeance. Herzog follows the story of convicted murderers and the victims’ families to form a compelling arc revealing the inner workings of the justice system and the death penalty. Like every good documentary, the film draws you in rather quickly with captivating subject matter and intriguing, complex ‘characters’.
This week’s episode focused on Daryl, held captive with the Saviors. Negan tries to break him down like he did with Rick. Really, the star of this episode is Dwight, as we learn more about his frame of mind. Parallels hint that he is much more like Daryl than we initially thought. Furthermore, seeds are planted regarding a possible future rebellion against Negan. A standout scene features Dwight dealing with a friend who wants to leave the ‘camp’. This was another impressive stand-alone episode, which helps pace the season’s arc with character development.
The best new show on television continues to impress. Like every great JJ Abrams project, this one continues to reveal and open one mystery box after the other, like those little wooden Russian dolls. This time out, the focus was on Thandie Newton’s character who runs the brothel. Let’s say her character gets some upgrades, as she explores the meaning of life and her existence. Another mystery box is opened revealing Anthony Hopkin’s family backstory, with the reveal suggesting how the rest of the story will unfold. Tons of subtle hints fill every scene. Participatory. Engaging. Introspective. Suspenseful. Exciting. This was another episode that ticked every box, making for some of the best adult entertainment around. Truly impressive.
This is Christopher Lee’s introduction to the famous character. This film is also my introduction into the old school Hammer Horror flicks I’ve heard so much about over the years. Initially dismissed as pure cheese, I changed my mind while watching a horror retrospective documentary. The film pushes the boundaries for shock and violence, but also has a lot of fun. Most surprising, the screenplay spins the familiar Bram Stoker tale in new directions, uprooting characters and reimagining them in exciting new ways. The movie was more entertaining than I expected, with a lot of charm. While campy at times, the actors take it all seriously. The horror and story works much better than anticipated. Worth renting on YouTube (as HORROR OF DRACULA).
Blood and Black Lace (1964)
Another classic Mario Bava horror / thriller. The master director influenced the genre forever. His style can be felt in films that followed. This tale inspired many slashers to come, over a decade before John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN. A faceless killer murders fashion models one by one. Mystery fuels the suspense, with a Who Dunnit? guessing game. Shocking violence and mounting tension keeps the audience on the edge of the seat. An impressive retro slasher for fans of the genre.