We’re in the home stretch with WandaVision and the pace is starting to pick up. There’s a lot to unpack this week so let’s get right to it.
Last week ended with the appearance of Wanda’s brother Pietro, but now played by actor Evan Peters, who played a version of the character featured in the Fox X-Men movies. It was a hell of a twist, and this week starts to deal with that. A little bit.
Look, 2020 was a challenging year. In a world that feels incredibly bleak, sometimes you want something bright and colourful and maybe a little naive to get you through the day. Space Sweepers is entirely this: a Korean blockbuster about a group of rag-tag misfits who salvage space junk for a living, get caught up in a massive conspiracy, adopt a child, and fight back against a ruthless and oppressive corporate overlord.
It’s a ton of fun.
It is easy to romanticize the past but what we often overlook is how difficult and awful it was for women. Women in historical stories are often portrayed as fierce, headstrong, and independent, but much more common was that they were sheltered and abused. This the case of one Fanny Lye (Maxine Peake), husband to John Lye (Charles Dance), a devout Christian and former member of Oliver Cromwell’s army. It is, at least, until two strangers happen into their lives.
Space travel is in our future. One day we will get to other planets, but how we get there and who we send will be an ongoing project. What, though, if it weren’t a choice, for we as a society or for the people that we send?
A great story is timeless and as resonant in the present as it was at the time it was written. Frances Hodgson Burnett’s 1911 children’s novel The Secret Garden is one of these. A timeless classic with themes that resonate today as well as they did in 1911.
There have been quite a few adaptations of this story over the years, with four film versions being made before this one and at least that many television serials and specials, most of which in the last 30 years. Adapting a classic, it seems, still requires that something new is offered the viewer. What then, after so many visits to this garden, does this new version have to offer? Well, it’s really, really pretty. Unfortunately, not much else.
It has been 14 years since Higashida Naoki’s book, The Reason I Jump was first published in Japan, and 8 since English novelist David Mitchell translated it. Naoki was 13 at the time and is autistic and unable to communicate verbally. He was able to write his book by using an alphabet board his mother created, and in the process provided a roadmap for how his mind works and how he experiences the world.
That roadmap has proven invaluable to the families of those on the spectrum, especially those who are non-verbal. This documentary by Jerry Rothwell explores how that roadmap has impacted the lives of five such people. The result is a film that will open your eyes and your heart.
Imagine living in a place that is literally rotting away beneath you. No matter what you do, what help you ask for from local and national governments, your home slowly but surely disappears. This is the story of Congo Mirador, a tiny village of fewer than 1000 people situated on Lake Maracaibo, Venezuela. It’s also the story of the whole country, and it’s heartbreaking.
There are few things that one person can do to another that is more violating than rape. It is an act of power, an act of selfishness, and an act of degradation. Violation is a film about such an act—a moment when a man sees a woman and takes what he wants. The result is a visceral and uncomfortable watch that sees a woman go to extremes to take her revenge.
I like movies that are based on plays, or that resemble them. Movies where characters sit in a room and talk endlessly. Showcases for actors, heavy with dialogue and a tendency toward big performances. Malcolm & Marie, the new film by Sam Levinson starring John David Washington and Zendaya is not based on a play, but it does resemble one.
Episode Five of WandaVision, “On A Very Special Episode…” went live on Disney+ this morning and boy howdy it is another big one, full of twists and turns and revelations both inside and outside of Westview. Let’s take a closer look.
Disaster movies occupy a small but bombastic niche of filmmaking. They’re big on spectacle, small on plot, and medium on characterisation in the case of the best ones. When it comes to the science of whatever disaster they are portraying, they are usually either accurate to a point, or seemingly completely unresearched. Skyfire, the first blockbuster budgeted disaster movie from China, is one of these movies, and a fun example of one, too.
They say that you can never really know where you are going if you don’t know where you have been. This is true for societies as well as individuals, and in the new Netflix movie The Dig we get a chance to delve into a moment in England’s history as well as England’s relationship with its history.
And so here we are at the end of this series. In previous weeks the series examined the four major systems of our world: Volcanoes, which seed the atmosphere and create the land, The sun, which supplies us with energy, Weather, which delivers water to all life, and Oceans, which carry nutrients to all corners of the world. This last week the series examines a new force exerting an influence on the world: us.
Here’s a confession: I love Justin Timberlake. The guy is a triple threat. He can sing, he can dance, and he can act. Not everything he has been in has been gold, but he’s put in enough good performances that I am ready and willing to see just about anything he is in these days.
It has been a few years since Timberlake has been seen in person in a film, and Palmer represents exactly the kind of movie that an actor looking to re-assert themselves after a bad role or an absence (or both) would take. So is it any good? Yeah. Mostly.