Very odd group of releases this week. I’ll start with my favorite, The Witch: Subversion. The film wasn’t exactly what I was hoping it would be, but overall I did enjoy it. It’s a bit too long and takes a while to fully build up, but once it goes off the rails, it’s a fun action movie the likes of The Villainess and Furie. The cover calls it the action sensation of the year and maybe the last half hour is, but the first 90 minutes lays a lot of groundwork. It starts with a young girl escaping a government/science run program and being found on a farm. It jumps ten years and the girl is now a smart high school student who is convinced by a friend to audition for a TV talent show. Her parents are upset because they know she is different. The government people see her on TV and send other kids after her. She doesn’t remember anything about her past so she has no idea what anyone is talking. Or so she claims. Then with about 30 minutes left, it becomes a kickass action movie with the lead actress just going bananas. I’d rewatch the end of the movie multiple times because it’s as good as any action sequences out there. It’s a Korean film and they do drama and odd quite well. I wanted more action throughout, but the lead actress is great in the role and the last 30 minutes is worth seeing alone
Speaking of odd, next we have Little Joe. If you were looking for slow, quirky dramas ever since you saw The Cure for Wellness, well this movie is for you. Emily Beecham and Ben Whishaw star in this movie about flower growers. Yes you read that right. They are trying to grow a special crimson flower at a corporation known for developing new species. Well when the flower blooms, its pollen makes people act weird. First a co-worker’s dog acts weird. Then Beecham’s son because she brought a plant home. Then others at work. It’s a slow burn of a film, but the two leads are good. I don’t know if it’s something I’d watch again, but I know a few people who I’d recommend it to. If you want something odd and weird, give it a try.
Third we have Temblores. This Guatemalan film is about a husband/father who leaves his family because he starts sleeping with men. His entire family has a sort of intervention for him at the beginning of the movie and all the family members are ashamed. I guess in other countries, especially religious ones, being gay and making movies about it are controversial, but I watched this and didn’t really respond to it. I thought the lead actor was good in his role, but the whole ashamed/Pray the gay away angle seems old to me. Which is a shame because the film is very well made, the acting is good, it has style and moves pretty quickly. I guess because it’s a story I’ve seen many times before I didn’t respond to it as its home country most likely did. But I do recommend it from the film making aspect.
Next we have the double feature Whisky Galore!/The Maggie. This is the original 1949 Whisky Galore! not the recent remake. It’s a black & white film about a tiny island that had run out of whisky. A shipment headed for America is shipwrecked and the locals row out to get some booze before it all sinks. Of course they have to hide it from the authorities because it’s not theirs. It’s actually based on a true story. The Maggie is a black & white film from 1954 about a boat named The Maggie that needs repairs or will get scrapped. They take on a wealthy American hoping this job can pay for the repairs. I wasn’t as familiar with this film as I was Whisky Galore! I had never seen that film, but had watched the remake a year or so ago. Both films have been digitally restored and are two beloved Scottish/British films. Both movies feel extremely authentic with great locations and characters that really give you a great look at the time period.
Now for some TV releases. First is The Affair: The Final Season. Man has this show changed over the years. When the show premiered it was immediately a critical darling with smart writing and fantastic characters. It used time jumping to keep audiences guessing. Now with the final season it looks different in a lot of ways. Yeah it jumps around with time, but characters that were once incredibly important are long gone with only their storylines driving the plot instead of themselves. The final season deals heavily with the film adaptation and life in Hollywood. Allegations are brought up against Noah, fires effect life in LA and the series wraps up with a wedding and closure. I liked the first few seasons of the show, but I definitely think it ran its course.
With the final season having aired, there is also a The Affair: The Complete Series box set out. If you can’t tell from the previous paragraph I liked the first few seasons of the show quite a bit. More than the last two. My parents, of all people, got me into the show and told me to watch it after the first season aired. I thought it was a huge come up for Joshua Jackson who turned into a decent actor, but its other three leads, Dominic West, Ruth Wilson and Maura Tierney, really dominated and made the show must see TV early on. I thought it was one of the smartest shows on TV for a few years and it always kept you guessing. It sputtered out a bit too much for me by the end, but overall it was one of the better TV shows of the past ten years and if you were a fan, this is the entire 5 year run in one package.
Ancient Aliens: Season 12, Volume 2 is also out this week. I know I shouldn’t like this show. I know it’s all crazy opinions, but like most History Channel shows, I totally get into it. The “experts” are all dudes with weird hair and crazier conspiracies, but I also find it super fascinating. There’s no doubt the government hides things from us, but I don’t think everything is “aliens” like these people make it out to seem. What I do like the most about the show is that it travels the world to show the audiences different places they may never get to see. Sure the pyramids of Egypt have always had ties to supernatural or alien myths, but there are pyramids in Central and South America and other parts of the world that these people explore. Stonehenge is pretty famous, but the show goes to similar places around the world. The past couple of seasons have explored Native American culture more as well. If you are a fan of the show like I am, pick up the new DVD release.
Last we have 2 Graves in the Desert. This actually came out last week but I didn’t get a physical copy until Friday. The DVD cover makes it seem like Michael Madsen and William Baldwin are its leads and they kind of are and kind of aren’t. They play brothers who kidnap a guy and woman and throw them in the back of a truck. The guy has a formula they want and the woman is an escort who got paid a ton of money from a john who her pimp (one of the brothers) wasn’t aware of. Most of the film takes place in the bed of the truck with the two other characters while Madsen and Baldwin are in the front of the truck. Every once in a while they get out of the truck to pick up or drop off a body, but it’s the two back of the truck characters who get the most screentime. It’s not a bad movie for one I’ve never heard of, but I do wish Madsen had more to do. I like him a lot. William Baldwin acts, looks and sounds like his brother Alec so much in the film. I don’t know if I’m familiar with the two leads in the back of the truck, Cassie Howarth and Iván González, but I thought she was quite good. She held my attention throughout and you at least rooted for her to get out. His character should have been the 100% good guy you root for, but for some reason I just didn’t like him that much and I cared about her more. Most people will ignore the film, but for something I wasn’t familiar with, it was a quick and easy watch.