Film Review | Agatha Christie’s Crooked House (2017)

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What’s notable about Crooked House amongst Christie’s oeuvre, however, is that the story has never been adapted for the screen – until now. This means that all the hallmarks and idiosyncrasies that define Christie’s work, the ones that we’ve become so familiar with, here feel slightly different. The stately home, the eccentric family, the mystery and intrigue – it all feels slightly subverted here, in fresh and unexpected ways. Indeed, the way the case unfolds is difficult to anticipate, keeping the audience in suspense to the last possible moment.

Here is a film review. A film review written by me, no less! Admittedly that’s probably exactly what you’ve come to expect on this here website of mine, but hey, sometimes it’s good to be specific.

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Screenwriter Tim Rose-Price on Agatha Christie’s Crooked House, murder mysteries, and more

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Agatha Christie knows about people, human emotions, weaknesses, greed, envy – and poison.  People like murder and they like working out whodunnit and she keeps you guessing to the last page.  The definition of the devil in The Wrong Box – I think I’m right about this – was someone who went round public libraries tearing out the last page of Agatha Christie books.

An interview with Tim Rose-Price (not pictured) about his recent Agatha Christie adaptation.

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Director Daniel Fitzsimmons on his new movie Native, his love of smart sci-fi, and more

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The characters in the film are from a society who are constantly connected to each all the time through telepathy. So, there’s no need for expression, there’s no need for art, there’s no need to make sense of the abstract, because there is no abstract, because everybody’s feeling what everyone else is feeling all the time anyway. In that sort of immediacy there’s a numbness, which I found quite an interesting subject to explore through, through these two characters.

Every so often, after I’ve done an interview, I realise there’s a question I should have asked but didn’t. In this case it was “do you think all art is an attempt to express an abstract concept?”

Of course, what I’m not going to do is edit the interview to make it seem like I said something I didn’t. Because that’d just be ridiculous. Wouldn’t it?

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Composer Anne Nikitin on American Animals, finding her voice, and more

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I’ve always had, and now talking to other composers, had a sort of hang-up that I didn’t have my own singular voice that was instantly recognisable as being me. I think that, you look at some of the Hollywood composers like Thomas Newman or Hans Zimmer, you instantly recognise their music.

I know myself and my composer friends, we always talk about that. Do we have a voice and what is it? Are we instantly recognisable? I’m thinking, I bet mine’s not being instantly recognisable. I much prefer being able to write in a variety of styles. I find it much more fun and adventurous and challenging.

Anne Nikitin was absolutely lovely to speak to, and we had a fascinating talk about music composition. Check it out!

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Trauma was a haunting meditation on destructive grief

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This death is at the heart of Trauma; as a programme, it’s fascinated by death and its impact, depicting an almost eschatological collapse of the status quo. This manifests through Trauma’s examination of both Dan Bowker (John Simm) and Jon Allerton (Adrian Lester), as parent and surgeon are forced to confront this death and how it changes them. There’s a compelling bond between them, as a grieving man latches onto the last human face who told him everything would be okay, the relationship quickly deteriorating as he searches for someone to blame. 

In a sense, certain similarities can be drawn between this and writer Mike Bartlett’s previous work on Doctor Foster, another drama focused on a spiralling disintegration of its lead character’s life; what sets Trauma apart, however, is how dedicated it is to exploring dual perspectives. There’s a real nuance and subtlety to Trauma, a measured approach to character work that doesn’t betray any of the ambiguity it allows.

In hindsight, that’s quite the pretentious title. But hey. I was pretty pleased with the article in the end. There’s one bit that isn’t quite right – a line of analysis that I don’t think exactly goes anywhere – but on the whole, a largely good article.

I really loved this show, and I was quite surprised to find that it wasn’t super well received generally. The explanation, as ever, is that I was right and they were all wrong. (More seriously, I think that a lot of the reason why people didn’t respond to this show so well is that they didn’t quite get why John Simm’s character became so fixated on Adrian Lester’s – admittedly, you can then argue about how well the show justified that, but still.)

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Why You’ve Got Mail is the perfect rom-com for Valentine’s Day

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You’ve Got Mail updates the central conceit of Parfumerie’s anonymous penpals to email users. There’s a lot of fun to be had with this idea, moving back and forward between Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in their public and private interactions. Now, it could feel a little dated – it’s very specifically rooted in its era, down to the AOL catchphrases and all – but in a way that also adds to the charm. 

It’s almost quaint; if the movie had been made a few years later, in an era when Facebook and Snapchat and so on are ubiquitous, everything would play out very differently. There’s something nice about looking back on that point where the internet was still a big presence, but wasn’t quite everywhere yet.

I’m quite fond of this movie, generally. It’s not the most famous film ever, but admitting that doesn’t mean you hate it. Or something.

(This is one of those pieces where I would quite like to go into some of the behind-the-scenes workings, but think it’s probably improper to do so just yet, and will make oblique references to the – admittedly in this case minor – frustrations it caused later on.)

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Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 15 Review – Will You Take My Hand?

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The parallels to the first episode are there, of course; it’s quite emphatic in its embrace of the cyclical structure. Where The Vulcan Hello saw Georgiou and Burnham saving a planet with a ‘water bomb’ to stop a drought, here they’re in conflict about using a steam device to destroy a planet; where Burnham once stood before a tribunal, she now stands before the Federation council. Over and over, there are echoes of the beginning, a reminder of the journey Discovery has been on. To borrow a phrase, it’s like poetry.

Taken together, it’s an effective piece of structural symmetry, particularly from a programme which has at times struggled with its form. But here it works, and it builds up to one central moment, something we can see that the show has been leading up to for some time: the definitive positioning of ideals over pragmatism, an embrace of Starfleet values and a rejection of the idea that they need to be compromised. Burnham’s speech to Admiral Cornwell – proving once more, if proof still were even needed, just how good Sonequa Martin-Green is in this role – is surely the defining moment of Star Trek: Discovery, the scene that makes it all work.

In that sense, then, Discovery does have a grand climax. It’s right there in the title, itself an allusion to the image we’ve seen each week as the show opens – a pair of hands, outstretched, reaching for one another. The connotations are clear, and the impact resounding; Star Trek: Discovery, despite the fumbles it made along the way, really does want to embrace the much vaunted spirit of optimism that’s so closely associated with the idea of Star Trek.

A review of the Star Trek: Discovery finale, which took me ages to write, but I was rather pleased with in the end. Not a perfect episode, nor a perfect season; I’m hoping to do a series retrospective at some point soon, but overall, I rather liked it.

(I never actually got around to that Star Trek retrospective, but I figure I might give it a go ahead of the next series.)

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Hard Sun never quite moved beyond a police procedural, and suffered as a result

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It’s not difficult to argue that, in any drama about the apocalypse, the reaction to this knowledge and its effect on society is one of the most interesting things that could be explored. However, Hard Sun largely opts not to explore this part of its premise. Indeed, for the most part, the apocalypse is something of an afterthought as the drama instead retreats to the well-worn hallmarks of a police procedural. With episodes focused on serial killers and kidnappings, the end of the world isn’t so much a focal point but a background detail to add texture; it’s a concept that’s broadly gestured at, rather than a theme that’s interrogated particularly.

For the most part, Hard Sun was frustrating, and ultimately quite dull. It’s a shame, really, because I was really rooting for this show; the concept seemed fascinating, and Aisling Bea was in it, and I think she’s great. Unfortunately, though, Hard Sun wasn’t much of anything in the end. The above review is, to be honest, only really one line of criticism that could be applied to the show – it’s a very particular sort of grim detective show, with all the tropes and pitfalls that tends to entail.

I think it’s going to be on Hulu soon – US viewers, I say don’t bother. UK viewers who haven’t seen it yet, also don’t bother.

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Riverdale Season 2: Will these kids ever get therapy?

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All of these kids – who are, don’t forget, all meant to be around 15 or 16-years-old – are dealing with stuff that’s way beyond their years. Mob hits, biker gangs, drugs, murder, and prostitution; they’re not exactly having an easy time of it. 

You can see it’s already starting to have an effect on Betty, who’s disassociating and self-harming in minor ways. Aiding and abetting a murder likely won’t help, but some therapy probably would.

Another five questions we have after, but one that got a little bit snarky, as they tended to from time to time. The above was one of the things that increasingly started to bother me across the course of the series – the fact that they’re all meant to be fifteen or sixteen ish was really offputting, considering everything they go through. It’s just strange to think about.

For the third series, I’d be pretty interested to see Riverdale slow down for a moment, and maybe have the characters going to therapy, just to address some of the awful things that have been happening to them. It’s perhaps a little much to expect from the show, but it’d be a step worth making if they did.

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Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 14 Review – The Battle Without, and the Battle Within

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It’s worth a word on the title, I think. What it refers to, largely, is obvious. The first part, “The Battle Without”, is easily understood; alluding to the past nine months, it signifies the Klingon war – the battle – without the USS Discovery to turn the tide. The Federation is no longer on the brink of war, but they’ve essentially lost it; arguably, this universe is now just as driven by strife and conflict as the Mirror Universe we just left. More abstractly, though, it denotes a lack – what are they “without”? In turn, then, it’s worth looking at this episode to see what’s absent.

What’s missing is Captain Lorca. Our attention is drawn to this at the beginning, with Sarek’s dramatic reminder of his death; it’s worth interrogating just why this line was delivered as it was, given it’s not a revelation for the Discovery crew or the audience. In essence, it’s a statement of intent, an indicator that this episode takes place in the shadow of Captain Lorca. Despite this, it’s oddly easy to forget, in fact, what’s missing; the crew gel so well in his absence, but then that’s also part of the point. There’s an emphasis on the Federation values, at least amongst the crew and on the ship; the scene shared between Tyler and the rest of the crew is telling in this regard, as is the terraforming to create new spores.

That is, at least, until Captain Lorca returns. Or a version of him, anyway: there’s an obvious parallel between installing mirror-Georgiou as the new Captain, and the ship under Lorca.

I quite liked this episode! And I quite liked this review, too. I think it’s a decent piece of writing.

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