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My Letterboxd reviews for October-November 2018

The Night Comes For Us

A fallow couple of months recorded here, owing to work busyness and lots of late shifts. And only one particularly standout showing in the lot. I can do better than this.

Hannibal:

Ridley Scott’s gothic opera to Jonathan Demme’s more hemmed-in chiller.

Quincy:

Hagiography? Absolutely. It’s literally a tribute by a daughter (Rashida Jones) to her father, the legendary music producer. But it gives useful context for those infamous recent interviews. While at times, like those viral quotes about ‘Bono’s castle’ and whatnot, it verges into unintentional self-parody (when he plays impresario for a handful of benefit concerts, his choice of artists seems fixed in a very particular time and place), what comes across most is his sincerity in recognising the power of whatever influence he has, and using it to make the world better for its own sake, unlike certain contemporary artists I could mention.

Medieval Times: The Making of Army of Darkness:

Passes the time, though it’s fairly light on substance. A string of anecdotes, more or less, that would be better used as colour for a more in-depth exploration of the Evil Dead series as a whole, if such a thing were to be done.

Apostle:

The director of The Raid films goes folk horror, with mixed results. The camera moves and production design are a little too neat to convince, and the scare factor, whether cheap thrills or existential horror, is pretty low. The characters are also barely fleshed out, though Dan Stevens is decent in the lead, and Michael Sheen’s turn as a charlatan prophet has a depth that suggests a better film could be wrought from the same material.

The Night Comes For Us:

There’s an almost mundane realism to the unrelenting ultraviolence of this run-the-gauntlet action thriller that hit harder than expected. I mean, it make me exclaim ‘ARGH JESUS!’ about five or six times, which is pretty much a record. (Speaking of records, nice one putting Low on the soundtrack for the climax.)

Den of Thieves:

Two hours and 20 minutes is far too long to spend in the company of awful men and their macho homophobic, misogynistic bullshit. Trim all that fat and you might have one hell of a heist thriller-cum-battle of wills that’s all the stronger when it’s showing rather than telling.

Malone:

Malone. Man alone. Get it?

Return to the 36th Chamber:

A diversion for this series as it’s played for slapstick laughs, but is no less thrilling in its relentless fight choreography.

S Storm:

These Hong Kong cop thrillers don’t do things by half, do they?

Illang: The Wolf Brigade:

The melodrama makes this one last waaaaay longer than it should.

Suspiria:

Expressionism in lurid Technicolor, with a killer soundtrack and an enchanting lead in Jessica Harper. Those are the (very) good points. As for the rest, the puzzle to be solved isn’t especially challenging, alas, and the acting in general leaves even more to be desired. (Yeah yeah, par for the course and all that, but I call it like I see it.)

Pawn Sacrifice:

It’s very well appointed, the performances are fine, there’s nothing particularly egregious about it aesthetically. But for a film about chess masters, there’s little flair for creativity to echo the boundlessness of the minds involved. No effort is made to explain exactly why the moves made on the board by Fischer and Spassky mean what they do; we’re just expected to assume they matter and move on to the next bit of the stiflingly linear story — one that significantly underplays Fischer’s conspiracy-nut anti-semitism, I hasten to add. (Because the patriotic American hero angle is more important, it seems?)

First Reformed:

‘Audacious’ is an appropriate term in this instance, I think.