This Week in Geek (12-29/01/17)


Added a couple DVDs to the shelf: Don't Think Twice, the improv movie, and Mr. Robot Season 2.


At the movies: Manchester by the Sea is a heavy piece of realism that explores grief in a most truthful way as a man already dead inside from a previous tragedy is forced to return to his home town to take care of his recently-deceased brother's teenage son. If you'll allow the Buffy reference, the film reminded me a lot of the 5th-season episode "The Body", which likewise did away with cinematic tropes to show the everyday boredom of grief, the often un-dramatic reactions, and the awkward interactions triggered by a bereavement. The film is purposefully as messy as real life, and the sound design in particular is harrowingly real, to the point where what little score is used to cover montages feels intrusive, as might the short appearance of, say, Matthew Broderick, in a role. And yet, the principals melt into their roles, Casey Affleck in particular, giving the heartbreaking performance you probably didn't think he had in him. A touching slice of life drama where artificial "arcing" is hard to come by. If you've ever lost a loved one, I think it will resonate strongly indeed.

I haven't seen an M. Night Shyamalan movie since the director's fall from grace (so The Village was my last - oh wait, I saw the lackluster After Earth too, didn't I?), but his latest had some good buzz, so there I was. Well, Split is indeed a decent thriller, about a man with 23 personalities, the worst of which have recently taken over to release a monstrous 24th identity. James McAvoy gives a grotesque performance, chewing the scenery, but not in a bad way, and The VVitch's Anya Taylor-Joy is his most resourceful captive, a damaged girl who's too wise to let herself be the victim, and tries to manipulate some identities, and fight others. Of course, the premise is total bunk, but this lives in the same kind of world M. Night has presented in other films, where sci-fi and supernatural ideas can manifest. The trailer makes that part of it look dumb, but it's a reduction; it works within the film. But I do feel like the trailer gives away too much. There are some good reveals in the end (I don't want to call them twists lest I get M. Night back on that road to diminishing returns again), but the story beats would generally work better for te audience who has no expectations. Is it time to forgive Shyamalan for the past 10 years? It may be.


Toby'c said...

Shyamalan is the only director responsible for both one of my 10/10 favourites (The Sixth Sense) and one of my few 1/10s (The Last Airbender).


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