The 2020 List: November

Well, a peek down the list below will reveal the big news for the month -and my year of blogging so far- which is that I have passed the ‘magic’ number of 200! Yep, that’s 200 films and television seasons that were new to me in 2020. With a month to spare, no less. 

Well, we won’t be here again- next year my blog is heading into a new direction, examining the old as much as the new, as I look at the films and television shows that mean the most to me, as well as finding the usual new discoveries. Well, that’s the intention anyway, and while 2021 seems just around the corner, it’d be perhaps foolish to ignore the fact that 2020 has a month to go and more surprises of its own (and this year of all years, that’s ominous enough in itself). 

So in the meantime, here’s my November haul. Best of the month, for a change, is actually a television series, Westworld Season Three, which was absolutely terrific, at least for its first six episodes (it stumbled considerably with the last two episodes, but not enough for it not to be my highlight of the month). Worst of the month has to be the terrible The Jesus Rolls, and lets face it, to be worse than a Nic Cage Lovecraft yarn, it has to stink something special.  


189) Truth Seekers – Season One

196) Westworld Season Three


186) The Lighthouse (2019)

187) The Color Out of Space (2019)

188) The Peanut Butter Falcon (2019)

189) Advantageous (2015)

190) The Last Seduction (1994)

191) Lucy in the Sky (2019)

192) The Jesus Rolls (2019)

193) Radioactive (2019)

194) Jojo Rabbit (2019)

195) A Hidden Life (2019)

197) Dark Waters (2019)

198) The Curse of the Werewolf (1961)

199) Fanny Lye Deliver’d (2019)

200) Escape in the Fog (1945)

201) The Undercover Man (1949)

Fanny delivers

fanny1What a bizarre, astonishing and infuriating film Fanny Lye Deliver’d truly is: part revisionist history, part liberal ode, part spaghetti western, part brutal nod to Michael Reeves’ classic Witchfinder General. I think I would have possibly enjoyed it more had I known what to expect, my experience somewhat confounded by insufficient prior knowledge: sometimes its wonderful going into a film blind, sometimes it works against you.

Really, Maxine Peake brought me here- a fine actress who has a no-nonsense, down to Earth aura about her, she exudes reality in pretty much anything I’ve seen her in. I figured this would be some kind of historical drama, and was pretty excited to see Peake in something like this, but really, I had no idea. She’s typically brilliant, by the way- one of this nations treasures. 

fanny2So it’s 1657, and we’re in a wonderfully authentic-looking small farm in post-Civil War Shropshire, England: its dirty and damp and miserable-looking and strangely idyllic. Fanny Lye (Peake), an intelligent but suppressed woman is living the typical subservient life of a poor farmer’s wife, her marriage to Puritan ex-solder John Lye (Charles Dance) one in which she knows and accepts her place. Raise her son, tend the farm animals, prepare food, clean the home, all with deference to her judgemental husband. This place in the world, the Old World if you will, is challenged by two visitors to the farm, a young man and woman, Thomas (Freddie Fox) and Rebecca (Tanya Reynolds), who arrive naked, begging for food and shelter, claiming they have been robbed. Lye’s immediate impulse to turn them away is swayed by the young man Thomas’ claim to have served in the war, but his initial suspicions are ultimately realised, when the two turn out to be religious radicals with wild ideas about women being equal to men, and whose ridicule of the strict doctrines of the Church horrifies the righteous Lye as horrifically blasphemous.

This is the  New World, perhaps a few centuries too early, yet suddenly arrived with sexual and moral freedoms that Fanny finds beguiling and exciting, but she has her own sense of right and wrong quite seperate from the hellfire and brimstone of her devout God-fearing husband. There is a feeling that this new era, and its challenging sensibilities, is stuck out of time, that it doesn’t belong (albeit I understand such frictions actually occurred at the time).

It is soon clear that Thomas and Rebecca are perhaps not as innocent as they might seem, when a clearly villainous High Sheriff (Peter McDonald) arrives at the farm with a twisted stooge henchman.  Their eventual return in the final third of the film feels inevitable, and turns what seems a historical social  fable into brutal folk-horror. It feels an awkward shift but nonetheless earned, finally closing in on its Witchfinder General ambitions, even if it ultimately falls short.

Its such a pity the film doesn’t realise its clear ambition. I think its undermined somewhat by being a little too literal, too much like… well, it almost felt like Thomas and Rebecca are too much of our world, too much of the present day in 17th Century England- the friction of the opposing world views is fascinating but…

Maybe it was Thomas’ pearly white, perfect teeth. Its such a shame when the rest of the film seems so convincing and dirty and real, so much so that you can almost taste and smell it, and yet one of the leads has a perfectly trimmed beard and blazing-white 21st Century teeth. I’d have been more convinced had his character turned out to have been a Time Traveller. Its possibly a stylistic choice, a nod to current tastes, but it feels incongruous and ultimately irritating. 

Its such a shame because so much of the film is so great. Peake, in particular, is outstanding, her Fanny is so obviously intelligent and trapped by her established place in her world, and its wonderful to see her slowly becoming enlightened and freed by the radical ideas that the two young strangers bring to her, and there is a definite sexual charge and tension between Fanny and Thomas that almost feels like something from a sultry film noir, as damned and doomed as any noir tryst. Her final transformation is triumphant, Peake never less than convincing, but it just feels wrong, too much of the New World suddenly dawned.

We’re all in Dark Waters now

darkw1Todd Haynes’ compelling law drama Dark Waters, based on a true story, is one of those films that enrages and frustrates; not because of any fault in the movie -its really quite excellent- but rather because its subject matter is so monstrous. Conspiracy theories are everywhere, its almost the religion of our age, some utterly preposterous, some quite beguiling- so much so that there is a tendency for it all to become just so much background noise. Dark Waters is a sobering reminder that not all conspiracy theories are fanciful, that some of them are not only true, but wilder than one can possibly imagine. 

Thus more fuel to the fire: if Dark Waters, and its monstrous reveal that DuPont, an American chemical company, had been knowingly poisoning people since the 1950s through its toxic chemicals in its products (hey, Teflon anyone?), and covering it up for decades whilst making a billion-dollars every year, then how wild and fanciful are claims of danger to public health in Covid 19 vaccines or suspicious provenance of the virus itself? Conspiracy theories that are true inevitably lend sudden weight to others, for good or ill, and the alarming, to me at least, revelation that self-regulation is even a thing (its like asking criminals to police themselves) is enough to raise my blood pressure to new heights.

To be clear: if Dark Waters does anything well, it is in making the viewer angry. Angry at corrupt businessmen and corporations, and the armies of lawyers and legal firms that get rich defending them, and the politicians and government agencies that abet them. None, really, come out well in this film, blighting decades of American history and usurping any faith in the American Dream (or rather, offering a sense of what that American Dream has become: seemingly, everything is okay regards making money as long as you don’t get caught).

Of course, the upshot is, its not just American history: the saga here in the UK regards the terrible fire at the Grenfell Tower in London, and the horrifying reports of corporate malfeasance, apparent dodging of responsibility in authority and regulatory governance – the truth will out, we are assured, but will justice be done? One has to wonder.

darkw2So Dark Waters, then- well, its certainly more than the sum of its parts. One would expect an arresting courtroom drama and revelations of corporate misdoing,  its almost a genre of its own, after all, albeit one seldom returned to in this age of superheroes and action blockbusters. In this respect, the film is a welcome throwback to the American Cinema of the 1970s, one that was more suspicious, more incisive and possibly more informative than the popcorn cinema it has since become. Moreover, it isn’t really a feel-good, right-beats-wrong law drama, more of a sobering ‘be worried, be concerned, feel unsafe, get angry’ drama for our times. 

Director Todd Haynes is well-served by an excellent script and a marvellous lead performance by Mark Ruffalo who plays a convincing Everyman as Robert Bilott, whose life is turned upside down when farmer Wilbur Tennant ( wonderfully played by character actor Bill Camp) calls him about his livestock being poisoned: its literally one of those life-changing moments that has a clearly distinguished Before and After. Before, he was a slightly overweight, career corporate lawyer whose loyalty and busy work ethic saw him about to become a partner in his Cincinnati law firm, Taft Stettinius & Hollister, in 1998. After, and he’s a man obsessed with discovering hidden truths and what it all means, challenging his personal views of Right and Wrong and justice and impacting his career and his family life. Initially he is convinced it is innocent, accidental wrongdoing easily corrected, but as he digs his expectations are challenged, incensed by obvious neglect and decades-long corporate cover-ups of cancers, malformed children and widespread poisonings of livestock and humans on a truly horrific scale.

Perhaps the most horrific lies in the intimate: Wilbur Tennant, who himself ultimately dies of cancer related to the poisonings, had tried for years to get someone, anyone, in his area to look into his claims and it was only because of  Robert Bilott’s almost quaint sense of familial loyalty (Tennant is a friend of Bilott’s grandma) that he looks into the case at all -at odds with is own boss, Tom Terp (Tim Robbins) who questions why he bothers-  and begins to uncover the truth. Its very likely that everything would have remained covered-up had Bilott not felt inclined to take an interest due to his personal values. Justice almost by accident, it seems. The alarming fact that it only came to light because of an individual, and that the authorities seemed naturally predicated upon backing the DuPont company, to the point of actually abetting it, seems to charge the most fanciful conspiracy theories with some credence. Who are we to believe? We are all in Dark Waters now.


The Expanse finds its Event Horizon

exp3At the risk of seeming an intolerable geek, I was immediately dumped into a funk this morning when I looked up my news feed at Breakfast and was met by headlines that The Expanse has been cancelled at Amazon. I nearly choked on my Muesli, and that’s a hell of a way to start the day. Sure, there’s plenty more genuinely concerning and life-effecting bad news on the news every morning, we’re living in a very strange world now, but I think getting outraged by one of my favourite tv shows getting cancelled is almost reassuring, a glimpse of what used to be reality, what used to be my ‘normal’. 

It was so out of the blue that it was shocking, really. Amazon, once the exalted saviour of The Expanse, has now cancelled it. Seems that its too expensive, and even in the strange economically bizarre world of streaming, viewing figures do matter after all, and The Expanse hasn’t gotten enough, apparently. Colour me surprised by this one, though: I thought Amazon’s owner Jeff Bezos (personal net worth $181 billion and counting) was a big fan, which would pretty much guarantee us nine seasons (to match the nine original books). If the richest man on Earth can’t afford to bankroll his favourite tv show so he can watch it, then nothing makes sense. Viewing figures? Where does that get in the mix? Oh Ghost you’re such a naïve fool, I know, I hear you. Of course Bezos didn’t get so rich as he is by throwing money away… well actually, he practically did, I remember Amazon being a fiscal black hole for years. So how come he has decided to allow the show to be kicked into that Black Hole now? Did Bezos even see the memo?

The good news is that the imminent fifth season won’t be its last- Amazon have agreed to make a sixth season to allow the showrunners to give the show a decent ending. Which is pretty damned great in my book and something positive I can clutch at, in a world where ST: Discovery somehow gets renewed for another interminable season. How does a show like The Expanse gets cancelled when absolute garbage like Discovery gets made? Well, the answer is 42, my freinds, the answer is 42 (God bless you, Douglas Adams, I always turn to you in moments such as this).    

The Phantom Menace that is Holograms

westwHere’s one of my absolute pet hates with sci fi films and television: holograms. They piss me off no end, its like some kind of fourth-wall busting nonsensical ‘magic’ posing as genuine scientific plausibility. I’m getting really anal about it; its worse than sound in space or artificial gravity or teleportation for me (more on that latter travesty some other time maybe). The ‘artistic license’ that scriptwriters and film-makers exercise with holograms, endlessly frustrates me.

There is a scene in the third season of Westworld… well, there’s not just one, actually, they do this shit a few times and it raised my blood pressure every time… there’s a scene in a boardroom with this guy, Serac (Vincent Cassel in very fine form) holding court, I think he’s sitting down, stands up, the scene is tense, there’s a confrontation, and a character snaps and shoots him in the head and… the bullet goes through him and he flickers and he’s revealed to be a hologram, a repeated gambit of his. But how does this even work? Is his hologram ‘projected’ by hidden cameras, and if so, where are they, why can’t anyone else see them ‘projecting’ the Hologram and how does it work when he’s outside (they do that, they have someone chatting to a hologram outdoors). How does his voice emanate from an empty point of space where his holographic mouth is rather than from a loud speaker across the room, and how the hell does he hold eye-contact with someone when he’s not really there? How does he enter the room,  how does his chair move as if taking his weight, how does… 

How does the person projecting the hologram from some other location even ‘see’ the other people in whatever space the hologram is projected into? He may have a screen in his villains lair that he is looking at but what’s filming that image to broadcast to his screen?  Its just too much like magic to me, and over the years as writers get lazier, its all getting sillier as they take things further and further (what was that ‘hardlight’ bullshit they had in Star Trek in which Holograms could actually pick up items and touch people?). 

I know, I know, its just a sci-fi show. But its not space fantasy like Star Wars, is it, a show like Westworld. Its a more adult, considered and thoughtful piece, a show of bold, often existential ideas such as self, memory, humanity, free-will, purpose, programming biological and digital, all sorts of reflection on technology good and bad. But they slip into these silly sci-fi tropes sometimes, betraying all the good work with lazy writing. Don’t get me wrong, I adore BR2049 but I have such a hard time all the way through that film rationalising Joi and how they portray her in physical space. They sort of nod to it by us seeing lights ‘through’ her but that being said, how does she magically just ‘be there’ in a room or Spinner etc? I’d have an easier time if they just revealed she was something in K’s head and he was ‘seeing’ her in the outside world through his imagination, that he can ‘see’ her but nobody else can. But hey, what am I to do?

One of the things that frustrated me regards the holograms in Westworld is that in a number of episodes they actually manage to rationalise the technology, in that people could only see them when wearing special glasses- you can see something flickering on the interior  glass of the specs so that you can accept them ‘seeing’ 3D imagery in front of them via the glasses, possibly being projected onto the eye’s retina or on the glass itself like a HUD kind of thing. But I have to suspect the showrunners and writers got a bit carried away with it, pushed it too far when suddenly there’s a hologram walking around that everyone seems to see and we’re in bloody Star Trek territory.

I have a nagging theory/suspicion that the way we can tell that the whole third season of Westworld (and by extension seasons one and two too) is actually a simulation within a simulation like a stealth mimicry of The Matrix. You read it here first, just pretend to be surprised when Neo turns up in Westworld Season Five.

Anyway, I may eventually get around to an actual review of Westworld‘s third season, but you can possibly tell by this pointless stream of consciousness/geek rant that I have so many conflicting issues with it. I feel like Indy moaning about snakes, only here its me moaning, “Holograms. Why did it have to be Holograms?”

The future of Disc packaging is nerfed

My copy of the third season of Westworld on 4K UHD arrived today- and its never been clearer how physical product of films and television shows on disc is becoming less and less of an interest to studios and distributors. Remember the glory days of any HBO series on disc? The ill-fated series Rome on Blu-ray actually came in ornate wooden boxes (so fancy they still take a pride of place on my shelf all these years later), the first few series of Game of Thrones came in fancy sets embellished with clear plastic slips with printed sections and embossed cases… over the years with each season those GOT sets became less fancy, but nowhere is the decline of disc packaging more obvious than with Westworld

The first season came in a fancy tin. The second season in a less-impressive, but still fairly quality, embossed slipcase with a sturdy digipack. The third season? A standard 4K Amaray case inside a very slightly laminated, suspiciously thin cardboard slipcase. Over in the States, fans are moaning about the packaging but at least their case seems to be lenticular and embossed, indicating some limited effort which is more than our cheapo edition (well, I say ‘cheapo’ but I note the price of the set hasn’t been reduced compared to earlier seasons when they came out). 

There was a time when physical product was something of a premium product, certainly compared to digital downloads, but I’m afraid some kind of parity is coming, although again I note that parity does not extend to the price. Oh well, sign of the times, I suppose, but all the same, poor show HBO/Warner.

Mind, I suppose I should just be thankful I get the series on a physical 4K set at all (we never got a 4K Watchmen series or 4K Chernobyl), so hey, I’m not going to complain too hard, for fear that season four when it eventually comes in a few years turns out to be digital-only, but I’ll just close my eyes a moment and remember the good old days of 2010 – 2015. Some may cast their memories further back than that, there have been some lovely imaginative examples of disc packaging over the years, especially during the DVD glory days, but I guess those days are long gone now. You just have to look at my three seasons of Westworld in my shelf. They actually look like they come from three entirely different tv shows. 

A Hidden Life Revealed

hiddenTerrence Malick’s  latest work, A Hidden Life, is a beautiful-looking film, but of course that is the norm for films from Malick, and it is also very long, again, the norm for Malick. Its musical score is utterly sublime in how it matches those striking images; sometimes original score (this time by new collaborator James Newton Howard) and often classical pieces, all, again, the norm for Malick. It also has monologues usually in breathy voiceovers accompanying that captivating imagery – again, the norm for Malick, but here, notably, they are fewer, sparser, less intrusive than in some of his films of late.

It is, without doubt, his best film since The Tree of Life and The Thin Red Line, having slipped into self-indulgence of late with recent films, succumbing to his own worst excesses. A Hidden Life may not be his best, but its certainly a return to form. Its certainly got a lot to do with the fact that this is his first film in many years to have a traditional, linear narrative. I’m sure critics will point out, possibly quite rightly, that the film would be just as good minus a third of its running time- I’m a fan of his work (both The Thin Red Line and The Tree of Life are among my favourite films) and even I would appreciate some keener editing,  but hey, if its the price we pay for getting films such as this (essentially extended Directors Cuts minus the usually obligatory truncated theatrical cuts most directors are mandated to initially sanction) then so be it.

A curious note regards the title; A Hidden Life is true of the film itself- as is becoming increasingly so with Malick’s films, no doubt due to financing and distribution deals, the film has been awfully hard to see over here in the UK, not getting much of a theatrical release and only a belated release on digital platforms, forgoing any physical release on disc at all, as far as I can see, which is why I have had to wait until now, with it eventually airing on Sky Cinema. There is something clearly wrong with this world when Malick’s beautiful movies do not automatically get released on 4K UHD; some of his films could sell the format but remain utterly absent (I’d noted a digital 4K release on Amazon but, well, I’m old-fashioned and stubborn enough in my preference for physical releases to vote with my wallet).

My only issue with the film, really, is one the film can hardly be condemned for, as it more concerns the real events that it is based upon: the film is the story of  Franz Jägerstatter (August Diehl) who was an Austrian conscientious objector during the Second World War who, refusing to take the Hitler oath as a Wehrmacht conscript, was executed in 1943. His stand as a conscientious objector to Hitler’s rule was condemned in his own village, his family vilified, and his name forgotten until a researcher stumbled upon his story in the 1960s. Its a noble and uplifting story and I feel guilty complaining about it- its just that, for me, the film didn’t really get me ‘into’  Jägerstatter’s head, so to speak- a devout Catholic, it was primarily his religious convictions that formed the backbone of his defiance, which I couldn’t really accept. I was just frustrated that he could make his stand and risk the endangerment and safety of his wife and three daughters (indeed their suffering continued long after his was over) and I could never reconcile his ability to do that to his family in the name of his moral stand, no matter how righteous its may be deemed to be.

That is, clearly, more of an issue with my own point of view than the film itself and its true that the films narrative does raise the issue of his family’s trials back home while he was in prison; its perhaps my own religious conviction being rather more suspect, my own sense of moral code proving dubious.

Its a point made by a painter during the film, who is painting religious iconography and murals within a church, the artist casting doubt on how beatific it is compared to the likely realities behind them, and how churchgoers themselves may have acted in the events: “I help people look up from those pews and dream,” he says. “They look up and they imagine that if they lived back in Christ’s time, they wouldn’t have done what the others did.” Perhaps what Malick is doing is asking what we would do in Jägerstatter’s position: to me the truth is that there were no absolutes, and that I would have thought more of my family than my moral convictions and would certainly have signed on that dotted line that would have spared him. In all likelihood, the Catholic church is well on the way to making Jägerstatter a Saint someday soon, but some viewers might see him as something of a stubborn fool who abandoned his wife and children. Malick should perhaps be commended for keeping such ambiguities, if so intended, but it does leave the film, for me at least, one with a frustrating core.

Lucy in the Sky minus diamonds

lucy2Natalie Portman is as terrific as ever in a drama that never really ignites or fulfils its potential, but which I nonetheless quite enjoyed. It serves as an unintended but welcome companion-piece to First Man, offering a more contemporary, and female, perspective on how Space affects the human experience; I think its very interesting, and certainly most welcome, that new films are starting to revaluate the Space Race and humanity’s faltering steps into the Cosmos. Its a pity that there’s little particularly profound in these films, but we’re clearly getting there. 

In First Man, the engineer/test pilot enigma that is Neil Armstrong, first man to walk on the moon, inevitably remained the enigma, even though the film offered some suggestions regards what made the man ‘tick’.  The sense of the unknowable (in Armstrong) was mirrored by the unknowable in Space, the immensity of the cosmos: better to send a poet to the moon if we ever hope to come close to understand, engineers and test pilots can only be frustrated by their own limitations when trying to explain the unknowable. Where that film succeeded was in how it reinvigorated that adventure of space travel for new audiences, and indicated how terrifying it can be.

That sense of the profound, the intensity of the life-changing experience of seeing all the Earth from a distance, cannot be understated, and proves a centre-point of Lucy in the Sky, telling the true story (or an approximation of it) of  Lisa Nowak, a Nasa astronaut who after a space shuttle mission flew off the deep end threatening to kidnap/harm a love rival in a tempestuous astronaut love triangle. Noah Hawley’s film Lucy in the Sky  posits that Nowak was suffering from an existential crisis having been ‘changed’ by her experience in orbit: essentially leaving her unable to cope with the mundane back on Earth.

lucy1In this I think it succeeds, thanks largely to Portman’s great performance, as she shows herself grasping vainly at life on Earth when all she really wants is to go back up ‘there’ in order to experience again that exhilarating, incredible ‘high’. The film suggests that you can recruit the intellectual and physical Elite, train pilots and engineers for the mechanics and procedures of spaceflight, but cannot really prepare them for the experience and what it might do to them emotionally and spiritually. There is something fragile and broken within Lucy back on Earth, something disconnected from her husband and those around her, something wholly unfulfilling about ordinary life. Maybe this would have been enough for the film- its when it goes on with the crime story elements, telling a soap opera through the lens of the Nasa Elite, that the film falters somewhat. The irony of course is that even some of the most fantastic elements of the story actually turn out to be quite true, or very close to it: I suspect some viewers instantly dismiss some of the wildest stuff as Hollywood invention, not realising how close to the truth it is (much has been changed and Lucy’s story remains very loosely based on that of Lisa, but what surprise many is just what was changed and what wasn’t- I won’t expand upon it here for fear of spoilers, but anyone who watches the film would be encouraged to read up on the true story). 

Ultimately Hawley struggles to balance the profundity with the inanity – the life-changing endeavour of humanity in Space with the mundane everyday strife of messy relationships. It may struggle and fail but I think its worthwhile all the same; at least it raises some interesting questions, even if, like First Man, it fails to arrive at any convincing answers.


Jesus wept: I just cannot believe The Jesus Rolls.

jesusThere’s corners of Internet forums where fans still debate such harrowing subjects as “Does Blade Runner really need a sequel?” even after we got the sequel, but I don’t imagine there’s ever been much traction in the question “Does The Big Lebowski need a sequel?” But you know how it is, Hollywood is always brave enough to answer the questions few dare to answer, especially if it thinks there may be some money in it. So here we have The Jesus Rolls, John Turturro’s response to the question few fans of the Coen Brothers film ever thought to ask.

But is it actually a sequel to The Big Lebowski? Or is it instead a remake of a 1974 French movie titled Les Valseuses (aka Going Places), some obscure European road movie that I had never heard of until I saw its name in The Jesus Rolls‘ end credits. I suppose what Turturro has done, in a way, is the equivalent of someone making a film based on Phillip K Dick’s book Now Wait For Last Year replacing its lead character with Gaff from Blade Runner and suddenly transforming a totally different PKD novel into a Blade Runner sequel. Any connection between The Jesus Rolls and The Big Lebowski are pretty ephemeral, really, other than it featuring bowling baller Jesus Quintana (Turturro) in his misadventures once out of prison, but it still may be too close for comfort for some fans who will live the rest of their lives in denial that this film even exists. And those fans who have seen it will really be in denial that this film even exists.

Its a pretty poor effort. Its frankly diabolical in places, with a deeply-entrenched immature fixation with dirty jokes and sex akin to that of the worst Carry On movie. If I was to suggest that the best section of this film concerned Susan Sarandon playing ex-con Jean, who spends her first day out of jail culminating in a bizarre threesome with Jesus and his best mate Petey (Bobby Cannavale)…. Don’t get me wrong, I mean, Sarandon is still a very beautiful woman but she must have been 70 when she shot this film’s sex scene with two guys… sure, all power to her, grannies do have sex and some of them possibly even threesomes but, really, its so bizarre its like watching a car crash in slow motion. Maybe Sarandon was making some kind of statement, and fair play it must have flown over my head, but its like maybe Louise survived the car crash at the end of Thelma and Louise, spent thirty years in jail, and then came out and got banged by two jerks (shit, maybe this film is a sequel to two films at once) and then grabbed a gun and blew her own brains out. Its not a Thelma and Louise sequel I ever expected, but hey ho. Like in most scenes in this film, you don’t know whether to laugh or groan, aghast. Most if it is just so stupid, such irreverent toilet humour, like its The Big Lebowski-inspired fan fiction written by a highly hormonal thirteen-year-old. But Sarandon is by far the best thing in this film, her section the best of the film by considerable margin. The less said about idiotic hairdresser Marie (Audrey Tautou, by God!) and her lifelong quest for the female orgasm, er, the better.

Anyway, that’s all I’m going to write, its more than this film deserves. I’m just here to state that I’m brave enough to admit I was foolish enough to actually watch The Jesus Rolls. I did it so you don’t have to. Unless you are a huge fan of The Big Lebowski or Thelma and Louise and you really, really hate yourself.

Or maybe its some kind of comedic genius; who knows?

Quartet Triptych

Got to hand it to the team at Quartet, the art direction on their OST releases is pretty outstanding, particularly their horror scores. Just look at this trio of classics that the label has released over the past several months: each one is a re-release of an old album that came out when the films originally came out (all but The Thing expanded), but now afforded artwork far superior to their original releases, certainly on CD. Each one has generally returned to the  monochromatic artwork of their original movie posters, accompanied by better typography and original logo artwork, proportions resized for the CD format but I’m sure they would look great on full-size vinyl editions. 

Jacob’s Ladder has only just been released, to coincide with that films 30th anniversary, a milestone which is as terrifying as anything in the movie: couple that to Ghost Story being 39 years old, and The Thing 38 years old… that Quartet Triptych is really horrifying, just looking at it. Its so sobering to realise what used to be so ‘new’ is now actually quite ‘old’, although what that suggests regards my reflection in the mirror this morning… oh well. At least these lovely covers make the soundtracks look new again, my reflection being something else entirely.