This Week in Geek (15-21/02/16)


In theaters: Deadpool was a good bit of raunchy, potty-mouthed, ultra-violent fun, with a pretty standard superhero movie plot, and now its success will encourage studios to makes lots of raunchy, potty-mouthed, ultra-violent superhero movies. Probably. Because people never learn the right lessons, do they? What made Deadpool work isn't that it was all those things, but rather that it was true to the character and gave itself permission to be different from the usual fare. We're at a point where these films are in danger of homogenizing and becoming boring. Ant-Man, for example, should have given itself permission to abandon Marvel's house style a lot more. And frankly, so should Deadpool. It could have been a lot more meta for me. But then, I'm more of an Ambush Bug fan. Still, I did appreciate that not all the metatext was overt and that the film could have subtlety. At its best, it's a take-down of the superhero film formula (and the X-Men in particular), but it also means it makes those clichés its own to mock them - the British villain, the hooker with a heart of gold, etc. - which is probably why the plot is just standard. Not quite as subversive as it thinks it is.

The Boy and the World is an Oscar-nominated animated film from Brazil, with no real dialog (the characters speak in nonsense sounds), and that looks for all the world like a short film pushed to 80 minutes. It is amazing. The story follows a country boy who runs away from home to the big city to find his father. Along the way, we come to understand each part of the consumer chain, and how industrialization and then globalization is abusing the blue collar worker. The inequality between rich and poor in Brazil specifically has been captured before in such films as City of God, but never this elegantly. The animation style is unusual too, with the country all in crayola, but the city in collage patterns. It takes a little while to get used to the story-telling, but by the end, it really grips your heart and squeezes it. Great music too.

Wild horses, as they say... Mustang is the Academy Awards' French entry for best Foreign-language film, though that's only because Turkey wouldn't put it up for consideration so the director used her mixed heritage to submit it in France. It tells the story of five sisters living in a Turkish village where the clash between modernity and tradition has failed to resolve itself the way it has in Istanbul. Don't see it as an indictment against Islam (which is I think why the Turks bristled at it), but as commentary on all patriarchal tradition here and abroad. After the girls are caught being too familiar with boys, their strict, traditional family clamps down and turns the house into a veritable prison, a metaphor for the way their gender is treated in old-fashioned traditions. The only escape is being married off, and the girls react differently to this move from one prison to another, the youngest (and wildest) acting as narrator and main protagonist. A strong film, and given that it looks like a quiet character study, it is incredibly tense and riveting. I'd love for this to win a golden statue even if I'm not really expecting it will.

DVDs: Trumbo tells an interesting story about the film business and is replete with good performances, but as a filmic experience, it's nothing revolutionary. A well told biopic that doesn't really go beyond the events it depicts, or become as good as the films Dalton Trumbo wrote. But as a look at how pictures were made in the 40s and 50s, and at the effects of the black list on those who landed on it, it's worthy. Casting today's actors as the past's can prove a little distracting (John Wayne always took me out of the film), but those performances weren't bad. Bryan Cranston, Diane Lane, John Goodman, Helen Mirren... nary a misstep. But yeah, I wanted more out of it, and maybe it's because the trailer was so witty, and maybe it's because Hail, Caesar! touched on some of the same things but really went for it, I don't know.

Continuum Season 3 starts off with a terribly opaque episode that tries to explain how time works and introduces the concept of multiple time lines in a most confusing way. It thankfully moves on from there to craft an interesting season that shows rather than tells, with Kiera probably having to abandon hope of getting back to her family. (They missed a trick, I think, in not making a certain new character her son from an even further future.) We see a lot more of the future Kiera comes from, which always begs the question of whether she's right to protect it, as we inch closer to a corporate dystopia that's already too close to home. The DVD features an okay commentary track on the first and last episodes, a behind the scenes feature, and webisodes that expand on the action for each episode. I must sadly report a strange sound problem as well - which may be on the episodes as broadcast too, I don't know - where there's entirely too much reverb in certain locations. Did they record the dialog in a cathedral?!

I've liked Ripper Street since the beginning, but Season 3 is probably the strongest for me. It's still the usual Victorian CSI show with heightened, poetic language, but the greater story arc is quite engaging, and there's a real sense that not all cast members will survive it. Inspector Ried is especially put through the wringer, as the mystery of what happened to his daughter comes knocking thanks to events triggered by a heist gone wrong. The writers have tied every character's story together very neatly without it seeming forced or contrived. Had you told me this was the last season, I would have been quite content, but at least two more have been made, so I'll keep quiet and hope Season 4 keeps the quality up.


abc said...

Saw Deadpool today with my wife, who had no knowledge of the character going in. She loved it, possibly replacing Guardians of the Galaxy as her fave such movie.
So much fun.


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