Featured shows and films:
Scream Queens, season 1 (13, 45-min. eps. 2015) **
The X-Files, season 10 (6, 45-min. eps, 2016) ***½
Agent Carter, season 2 (10, 45-min. eps. 2016) ***½
The Age of the Medici, mini-series (3, 90 min. eps. 1972-1973) **
The Witch (2016) ****
Gandhi (1982) ***½
It was a light week—lots of extracurricular activities for the kids this week—but I did finish up a few television shows and took in a couple of heavy investment movies. “Scream Queens” was a show I started watching as it aired and just had too much trouble getting into it. It seemed to suffer from a similar problem from creator Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk’s other horror anthology series “American Horror Story” in that each season seems to be too saturated in ideas and not enough in substance. The fact that “Scream Queens” is a comedy horror anthology helps in that respect, which is why I finally returned to it. After four or five episodes it seemed to calm down a little with turning in every horror idea the writers could think of, but as is also always the case with “American Horror Story” it seemed to take far too long to wrap things up. It would’ve worked much better with 10 episodes than it does with 13. It’ll have to have a damn good cast and very interesting premise to get me back in next season.
I actually finished up the newest mini-season of “The X-Files” the night it finished up, but I forgot to tweet about it until the beginning of last week. I’ve been so concentrated on the Doug Loves Movies Challenge that I had forgotten to include my TV viewing. I was a huge X-Files fan in its heyday and am one of the few who think the last movie they did was just as worthy of the entire series. So it’s really no surprise that I enjoyed the new television season. It was too short. But, I think it’s a good idea to avoid the full 22-episode season thing. Getting it right is better than getting a bunch of it. I’d like to see a 13-episode run.
I liked that they tried to cover every type of classic X-Files episode in their limited run—the government conspiracy, the monster of the week, the meta episode, the relationship episode, and even introducing a new B-team. There were two monster episodes, one scary and one meta. Those two were the best, as monster episodes always were the best of the series. They left it with a cliffhanger, which was met by a surprising response from fans and media in my view. There was widespread disappointment expressed about this and a great deal of media speculation about whether the series would return. Doesn’t the cliffhanger pretty much demonstrate that the makers are confident they will return? I’m encouraged.
My favorite comic book-inspired network show, “Agent Carter”, is rumored to be getting a 3rd season renewal, which would make me a happy camper. “Agent Carter” is a throwback, not merely because it takes place during the Golden Age of Hollywood, but also because it recreates the storytelling of the 80’s era action/adventure television show. It does all this with a strong female leading character who is becoming instrumental in changing the image of women in entertainment. Hayley Atwell continues to convince me she may be the only actress with the chops necessary to pull this bold television statement off. She has a whip-crack wit. She carries the weight of the anti-feminism of the time period. Further more Atwell sports a different, more realistic and more attainable physique for an action star. She isn’t supermodel thin, but she is beautiful in a way that makes one desire a woman with her looks, intelligence and abilities. She may be setting the bar higher than it ever has been for heroines.
Now, The Criterion Collection is considered the cream of the cream of the crop of filmmaking. Their commitment to putting out films that might be overlooked or forgotten and well as showcasing the greatest of the great doesn’t always come together as a complete package. “The Age of the Medici” was a three episode Italian television series that focused on the Renaissance of Florence, once thought to be the center of world culture. As a document of this time, Roberto Rossellini’s series is admirable. As a dramatic work, it is awfully dry. The production took pains to stage and frame its scenes as if they were actually Renaissance paintings. Unfortunately, it is played as if the audience were reading a history book. It gets better as it goes along, if only because you get more familiar with the political maneuverings of the time, but I can’t say it is essential viewing.
“The Witch” seems to have become a problematic movie. Many have praised it, but now that it is out there for the public to see, I’ve heard many people say, “That was the worst movie ever!” Yes. I put that in quotation marks because that is verbatim what at least three people said to me when asked about it. It seems extreme to me, since at the time I saw it I would’ve praised it as the best movie I’d seen so far this year.
It could be an example of how expectation can affect a personal view of a movie. I believe the three people who said that to me were expecting to be scared shitless watching it. I on the other hand was expecting to see something of an unusual European style horror movie, something along the lines of “A Field in England” or “Berbarian Sound Studio”, which were more about the feeling of horror than actual scares. What I saw in “The Witch” wasn’t really very different than a typical American horror movie plot wise, although it didn’t depend on shocks and surprises as much as it depended on a well thought out plot. The Puritan New England setting is certainly something modern horror audiences aren’t used to, but it makes a great deal of sense for a story about a witch.
When it comes down to it, “The Witch” is a horror movie with a brain rather than one that depends on the conventions of its plot. That makes it an excellent horror flick in my eyes. Nothing could’ve disappointed me more than yet another “Paranormal Activity” sequel/spin off that gives you all the same tropes and clichés of typical horror films. “The Witch” makes great sense in the world it is trying to portray. It also works on thematic and metaphorical levels. This is what I like to see in a horror movie. I loved it.
“Gandhi” was one of those classics that I’d never really gotten around to seeing. I’d seen the end many times as a child on HBO, but I never watched it all the way through. Of course, I might’ve been able to watch it from the beginning before if I’d realized that the movie opens with the exact same scene that ends it. Anyway, It’s one of those movies that are very moving and very important. It’s a typical 80s epic. As a film, its subject matter is more important than the film itself, but I am glad I finally saw it. Ben Kingley’s performance as Mahatma Gandhi is quite impressive, especially considering he was an unknown before that role.
Well, those are my views; here are my tweets.
Finally finished #ScreemQueens. Thinking I shouldn't have bothered. Great horror comedy ideas that never result in anything satisfying.
Belated on #TheXFiles season 10. Loved that it was a series of individual episodes. Far too short, but I liked the shortened season. Want more.
I love, I love, I love #AgentCarter. Peggy gives me such joy. I wish Howard Stark were on the show more. Please renew it again #ABC.
Despite its #CriterionCollection status. #TheAgeofMedici is at best interesting. Never high praise.
#TheWitch interprets one of man's most infamous frauds against women expertly made from "historical" writings. #DLMChallenge No. 68
3/6#Gandhi told us that, "all tyrants fall, all of them." Now we just need to figure out how to stop them from rising. #DLMChallenge No. 69