This Week in Geek (17-23/11/14)


When my downstairs neighbor ran his horror film marathon in October (31 horror films in 31 days), there were a few I knew I'd be getting for myself... and did. That's how Pontypool and Only Lovers Left Alive got into my collection this week, along with The Rocketeer and Season 1 of Young Justice.


DVDs: Sherlock Season 3 is when the show decided to embrace that it was, in reality, a comedy. I don't mind that, though Sherlock's portrayal, especially on second viewing, is starting to get a little intolerable. He's always been a real git, but episodes 1 and 2 each have moments where I feel like he should just shut up. They're just trying to hard to sell his sociopathy and it turns into petty megalomania. There are many things that get me over that hurdle, however, including the infusion of several interesting characters. Mary Watson is an awesome addition to the program, smart and enigmatic, but also earthy, tragic and funny. Magnussan, the third episode's villain is effective and creepy. And I really like Janine, Sherlock's new... girlfriend? Plus, Sherlock's lovely parents and perhaps the hint of a third brother. Some great mind palace scenes here as well, as the show continues to set the style for brilliant detectives, pulling all the tricks that will become fashionable on TV later. The DVD includes three featurettes: How they filmed Sherlock's death, the fans' reactions and speculations, and the making of Series 3.

Woody Allen's Mighty Aphrodite made Mira Sorvino an unlikely Oscar winner, but it's her earnest character that does indeed steal the show. Allen plays a man obsessed with finding the mother of the son he adopted, and she turns out to be a prostitute and adult film actress, so his obsession turns to changing her life for the better. While the film must necessarily feature the healing power of infidelity (it's Woody Allen, what can I say?), it's really a story about friendship, and about helping others with no strings attached. It's heartfelt, but also very funny - Michael Rapaport as a possible match for Sorvino is especially amusing, even dumber than Sorvino's Linda. It's not an obvious thing to write and act characters that aren't very intelligent when you yourself are (just check out Sorvino's Harvard pedigree), but they pull it off. These are just people who don't think very much, and in a sense, that liberates them from anxiety about their respective situations. But because Allen IS an intellectual, he inserts a Greek chorus into the film that's pretty funny unto itself. A manifestation of his character's conscience, amusingly anachronistic commentators and Broadway dance troupe all rolled into one. It may well be one of my favorite Woody Allen films.

Only God Forgives may team Nicolas Winding Refn with Ryan Gosling again, but it's a team-up that lacks any of Drive's charm. Set in Bangkok, this tale of sex and violence looks gorgeous - the cinematography couldn't be any more intriguing and beautiful - but isn't in any way easy to follow. Refn almost tries to tell it with images only - the dialog is very spare - and many of those images only make sense once you've seen the entire thing. It's a mystery to be decodes, though the plot, about a series of revenges between Gosling's family and a Thai mob, is pretty basic. But though it follows a martial arts film structure, it's far from action-packed. I predict Only God Forgives will frustrate many a viewer going in with certain expectations. Still, worth it if only for Kristin Scott Thomas' monstrous character, looking and acting like a demonic Cameron Diaz; and for the discussions that might ensue with fellow viewers on the film's ambiguities. In the director's commentary and interviews, Refn discusses how those ambiguities were created by removing explanations from the script and letting the actors make choices for their characters. The DVD also includes about 20 minutes worth of behind the scenes footage.

I consider The Aztecs as one of the first Doctor's best adventures, with an unusually strong role for Barbara, and - surprise! - a nice little romance for the Doctor, wrapped up in a Shakespearean teleplay. Read all about it in the daily Who reviews #27 to 30. I just flipped the Special Edition DVD and thought I might discuss the extras. The first disc is almost exactly the same as the original release. The commentary track unites William "Ian" Russell, Carole Ann "Susan" Ford, and producer Verity Lambert, but they kind of need a moderator there to keep the conversation going. Production note subtitles shore up the necessary gaps in recollection. There's a nice making of in the company of the guest actors, an interview with the designer, a featurette on the restoration of The Aztecs and other stories (make sure to turn on the subtitles, otherwise it's all image comparisons with no commentary), a 6-minute docu-feature from Blue Peter about Cortex and Montezuma, a cute cocoa recipe with South Park versions of the Aztec characters, an unrelated TARDIS-Cam CG experiment, the Arabic soundtrack on one of the episodes, and a photo gallery. This edition adds 6 different introductions voiced by the guest actors when you press Play All (unless this was a feature on the original too and I never noticed). The second disc has one feature related to Aztecs, a one-hour documentary that tells the full story of Cortez and Montezuma - interesting if not exactly essential - but otherwise only bits and bobs with a connection to the first Doctor. Of course, the big reason to get this release is that it includes the newly-found third episode of Galaxy 4. Possibly one of the worst things ever on audio (bleep, bloop!), it's actually redeemed in part by the visuals. I've re-reviewed it at its original blogular location HERE. It's in context with a condensed reconstruction of the other three chapters. The disc also features a fun featurette on Doctor Who merchandise and toys, the very first Doctor Who comedy sketch from "It's a Square World", and a 4-minute interview with Gordon Flemyng who directed the Dalek films.

Hyperion to a Satyr posts this week:
V.ii. The Readiness Is All - Tennant (2009)


Jeffrywith1e said...

Sherlock is the best show ever.


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