This Week in Geek (12-18/09/16)


This week I got Green Room on DVD (see below), as well as Arrow's 4th season set.


At the movies: The Light Between Oceans is a melodrama about a lighthouse keeper and his young wife finding a sea-tossed baby and raising it, and then encountering the family she was taken from and torturing themselves with an impossible moral dilemma. Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander and Rachel Weisz are all impeccable in their roles, and the painterly cinematography is beautiful and redolent with symbolism, but the story's sadness can be relentless. If I had problems connecting with it, it's not because of its slow pace (that's not a problem for me), but rather that most of the action is spelled out in the trailer, which I'd seen too recently. Only in the third act did the story start to surprise me with its turns and involve me emotionally. I might also have a small problem with the male/order/light, female/chaos undertow of the story, which wouldn't have been so overt if both couples had not been reflections of the same concepts. I dunno, I found it old-fashioned and off-putting though no one else remarked on it.

DVDs: I reviewed Green Room back in May, but had to rewatch it for a certain podcast about movies and stuff (stay tuned), so I bought it, and re-experienced it with no regrets. I think Jeremy Saulnier is an outstanding new filmmaker who crafts solid, surprising thrillers that look great. What's changed since May is that Anton Yelchin's death adds a certain wistful sadness to the film, but only because after seeing this, I'd decided I was eager to discover where this young actor, who I'd of course noticed in the Star Trek franchise, was going next. Such a waste. But I didn't find it distracting, and like the director's previous film Blue Ruin, Green Room has some replay value thanks to its elliptical, visual storytelling. The DVD has a fun director's commentary track and a featurette where other participants get to talk about their experiences.

Netflix: Meek's Cutoff is a slice of life western, based on a true events relating to Oregonian trails, one of which was... I don't think "blazed" is the right word here... in 1845 by a guide called Meek who got part of a caravan completely lost in the desert. We come into the film in the middle of things and opt out before there's a solid resolution (though there's definitely a character arc at play), definitely a story on slow burn, more procedural than true survival film. And part of the inaction of it comes from using the women's point of view. Kept away from decision making most of the way through, we hear many conversations from afar (the film benefits from activating subtitles, at least from a clarity standpoint) and spend time on the fringes of the lost convoy. Somehow, it retains an acceptable measure of tension, especially once the group captures a Native who will either take them to water or to their deaths, but many audiences will be left thirsty.

The Thin Blue Line is a famous documentary, important because it forced the judicial system to reopen a case and let a falsely convicted man to go free after more than a dozen years in prison. Not that this is part of the documentary; I had to look it up. The film actually plays detective extremely effectively, not really choosing sides in this 1970s murder of a policeman and letting the evidence speak for itself. Regardless of what the original jury heard all those year ago, we get a more complete picture, see all the discrepancies, and whether or not we come to the conclusion that this miscarriage of justice was willfully perpetrated against the convicted man, it shows just HOW law enforcement and the courts can fail us. Which is quite frankly terrifying. It could literally happen to anyone. Knowing that it was sorted in the end, though BECAUSE the film was made, offers some kind of relief. Without it, you'd just be left shouting at the screen about the unfairness of it all. Meticulous documentary film making.



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