Thursday, September 3, 2015

Best of July/August 2015


For me, July was a fairly meager month, but if I had to pick the movie that left the most impact, I'd say it was the interesting indie flick Marion Bridge. It's not a masterpiece, but it's a gentle, intelligent story, and a good way to pass the time. The story is about three sisters, the youngest of whom has just returned to their small hometown in Nova Scotia. The other two sisters have lived with the ailing mother for some years, and the impending death of the family matriarch is what it took to draw Agnes back from her wild life in the city. There's the usual confronting old demons and making new beginnings, but the writing and acting are accomplished enough to keep in interesting. Also note a cameo from a young, young Ellen Page.

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation was just absurdly fun. I wouldn't go so far as to say it's The Avengers of spy movies (no, I mean, like superhero Avengers, and not the actual Avengers of spy movies), but Rogue Nation may be as perfect as the Mission: Impossible franchise will ever be. Whereas Bond and Bourne lean more towards a Nolan Batman vibe (to continue the superhero similes), this - with its face-masks and "your mission, should you choose to accept it" - is inescapably campy territory. When the franchise tried to be something different (cough, cough, M:I-3) or take its own glamour seriously (cough, cough, M:I-2), it inevitably stumbles. Happily, Rogue Nation strikes just the right balance. Written review - podcast review.


This show may be too in love with its own weirdness sometimes, but that's I'm willing to forgive it, because there's so much genius in there as well. Enter 90's phenomenon Twin Peaks, the latest installment in my latest quest to discover old cult classic TV shows (Firefly, check; The X-Files, check). The story is simple: teenager Laura Palmer's body is discovered on the beach of small town Twin Peaks. The death - a murder, as it turns out - sends ripples throughout the community, which consists of a passel of eccentric individuals. There's the deputy who cries at every crime scene. The verbose, grandiloquent father who can't connect with his rebellious son. The two crooked businessmen named Ben and Jerry. The illogically optimistic F.B.I. agent - Dale Cooper - who comes in to investigate. The Log Lady. Throw all of this into a blender with intent to parody soap operas and you get Twin Peaks. Watch it here.

I was hesitant to watch Poldark, since most of the internet considered its main interest to be Aidan Turner's incredible six-pack abs. But while, admittedly, there's a certain appeal to Aidan Turner's abs, the show is a lot more than that. Turner plays Ross Poldark, a young veteran returned from the war of Independence only to find his family estate in ruin. A go-getter, he decides to reopen his father's mines, employ the locals, and generally be a gallant hero. As is the way of things, a love triangle soon develops between Ross, his old lover, and a new third party, but it's treated with more nuance and unpredictability than usual, and by the finale, the story has gathered some real poignancy. More odd: the show is about moral, old-fashioned people trying to make the right decisions. That's compelling.

Hannah Long

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