The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage (2020)
Written by Jeff Lemire
Art by Denys Cowan and Bill Sienkiewicz
This recent DC Black Label mini-series provides the perfect opportunity for both a review and stealth superhero spotlight on a character who has intrigued me since I first saw them as a kid. The Question was a purchase by DC Comics when from their buyout of the flagging Charlton Comics in the early 1980s. He came with characters like Captain Atom, Blue Beetle, Peacemaker, Nightshade, and more.
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We Are Who We Are (HBO)
Written by Paolo Giordano, Francesca Manieri, and Luca Guadagnino
Directed by Luca Guadagnino
Filmmaker Luca Guadagnino has a talent for making small, everyday moments bubble over with emotion and energy. In his mini-series, We Are Who We Are, the daily travails of American teenagers living on a military base in Italy will be going along as expected, and then the right music cue and change in camera speed elevate the outing into something mythic, poetic, beautiful. Just as he’s done in I Am Love and Call Me By Your Name, Guadagnino is once again exploring ideas of love and of being an uncomfortable outsider in a new place. The result is the best television program of 2020, a work of art that reminds us why HBO is a powerhouse for quality television that allows artists to manifest their vision.
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The Nest (2020)
Written & Directed by Sean Durkin
It’s been a full decade since Sean Durkin’s last film, Martha Marcy May Marlene. That movie was the subject of my first and so far only Cinematic Immersion Tank, an experiment where I watched the same film for five days in a row and recorded my evolving thoughts and interpretations. I am a big fan of Durkin’s work and was highly anticipating this picture. The two lead cast members are fantastic actors, and Durkin knows how to build compelling character-centered dramas that border on psychological horror. He most certainly lives up to this with The Nest.
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Written by Nathan Ballingrud, Mary Laws, Scott Kosar, Wesley Strick, and Emily Kaczmarek
Directed by Anne Sewitsky, Kevin Phillips, Craig William MacNeil, Eagle Egilsson, Logan Kibens, Nicolas Pesce, Desiree Akhavan, and Babak Anvari
Oh, dear. As I have said many times before that television horror anthologies are a tough feat to pull off. So, I want to acknowledge that making this series had to be a challenge. You have a new cast every episode with a new director. That can’t be easy to do. You have between forty-five minutes to an hour to tell a full character arc, which is another near impossibility. All of this said, I really hated Monsterland. It was a real slog to get through all the episodes, and I found myself forcing the last two down just so it could be over.
Continue reading “TV Review – Monsterland Season 1”
Written & Directed by Brandon Cronenberg
Possessor is the film Christopher Nolan wishes he could make. It’s a cooly stoic film centered around an incredibly creative concept that delivers on real human emotion. But Possessor goes places Nolan just creatively cannot; he is too conservative in his ideology, a constant desire to frame things in stark objectivist Black & White. Writer-director Brandon Cronenberg knows it is more complicated than that, and, especially when dealing with monolithic tech corporations, you are entering a transcendental world where morality has been so blurred it’s not even recognizable any longer.
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Batman: Three Jokers (2020)
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Jason Fabok
In 2015, in the pages of Justice League #50, Batman used the Mobius Chair, a device of great cosmic power, to ask who the Joker really is. He suddenly appears shocked at the answer. That same day, in the pages of DC Rebirth #1, we follow up and find Batman contemplating that he now knows the Joker is three different people. For five years, that plot beat remained unresolved. Promises were made that a mini-series was forthcoming that would address this shocking revelation, but it took until this year for readers to finally get access to Batman: Three Jokers. There was a lot of hype leading into this story arc and many questions about how much continuity would be changed by the answers revealed inside.
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Lovecraft Country (HBO Max)
Written by Misha Green, Wes Taylor, Jonathan I. Kidd, Sonya Winton-Odamtten, Kevin Lau, Shannon Houston, and Ihuoma Ofordire
Directed by Yann Demange, Daniel Sackheim, Victoria Mahoney, Cheryl Dunye, Helen Shaver, Charlotte Sieling, Misha Green, Jeffrey Nachmanoff, and Nelson McCormick
Back in 2017, I read & reviewed Matt Ruff’s novel, Lovecraft Country. My main take away is how I didn’t feel that the book lived up to the title, barely connecting its narrative to horror tropes associated with author H.P. Lovecraft. I think the exploration of ties between the Black experience in America, the racism woven throughout Lovecraft’s work, and the cosmic horror he presents are all ingredients for something that could be incredibly special. My thoughts were that I hoped the pending HBO series would find a way to deliver on the promise of the book, mainly because the showrunners were Black. Sadly, Lovecraft fizzled out in the same way as the novel.
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The Third Day (HBO Max)
Written by Dennis Kelly, Kit de Waal & Dean O’Loughlin
Directed by Marc Munden & Philippa Lowthorpe
I have been a massive fan of Dennis Kelly & Marc Munden since I first saw their collaboration in the UK version of Utopia. I haven’t yet sat down to watch the American remake on Amazon, but the reviews & comments I’ve seen from those familiar with the original doesn’t put me in any rush to do so. These two creators are brilliant at constructing character-centered stories around fantastic concepts and presenting them in visually striking ways. The bells & whistles never got in the way of the story and, in fact, served to enhance the narrative, a rare feat. The duo has done it again, this time with more collaborators on HBO’s recent The Third Day.
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Pew by Catherine Lacey
Pew is our narrator’s name, who gets the moniker when they are found sleeping on a church pew Sunday morning. This person is genderless, racially ambiguous, and never speaks out loud cause growing consternation in the traditionally conservative community they end up in. Pew seems to be a person outside the boundaries of time and space, an eternal being unsure of their own purpose. They become jostled from one location to the next as a charitable family because fed up with the inability to categorize Pew based on cultural norms, and they end up with the local pastor, elderly relatives, and a black family on the other side of town.
Continue reading “Book Update – September/October 2020”