School is back. which should mean that I’m watching a lot more cool stuff as I’m putting my daughter to bed earlier. thus giving me more time to consume the things too mature for her to watch. As I should have learned by now, there is a big difference in what should happen and what actually does. The daughter fought off her early bed time as best she could. Each night, there was a barrage of needs - for a glass of water, for another pillow - all designed to get her to stay up later. Once tucked in with the lights off, she’d find her way down the hall after ten minutes shouting she’d had a bad dream. All of which pushed actual sleep for her later than expected and my ability to watch what I wanted things to the back burner.
Still, I found things to watch and read and here we go.
Prey is a two-season miniseries that aired on ITV in Britain a few years back and is currently streaming on Hulu. The first season stars John Simm as DC Farrow, a good cop whose wife and child are brutally murdered. Due to circumstances, the cops think he killed them. After a freak accident while he’s being transported, Farrow escapes and tries to solve the murders while being chased by DS Reinhart (Rosie Cavaliero). Anyone familiar with The Fugitive will know this set up well. Over three action packed episodes, Farrow eludes the cops and slowly figures out what really happened.
It's a pretty thrilling piece of television that’s more interested in the next chase scene rather than coming up with a story that always makes sense. But it hardly matters because the lead performances are good and it's full of enough thrills to keep you going over a small amount of episodes.
In Plain Sight
This BBC miniseries is about Peter Manuel, Scotland’s very first documented serial killer. It follows police detective William Muncie as he doggedly tries to catch Manuel over several years. It isn’t anything particularly special but it's well made and well acted and was the perfect thing for me as I lay in bed knocked out with some bad allergies.
It is always difficult watching and discussing a Roman Polanski film considering some of the unsavory things from his personal life, but he made some great films and it's the art that is worth talking about. Repulsion was his first English language film. It is a beautiful nightmare of a movie. It stars Catherine Deneuve as a woman who is frightened of men, frightened of sex, frightened of something anyways. When the film begins, she is barely holding it together. We see her at work at a high-end salon, so out of it that her client asks if she’s asleep. We see her terrified as she gets heckled on the street by construction workers. At home with her sister, she is more at ease, at least until the sister’s lover shows up. When she can hear them having sex late at night, she curls into a ball completely freaked out.
When her sister and lover go on holiday to Italy, she falls into herself. She shows up to work the first day but is unable to do anything. At home, she gets a rabbit out of the fridge but then leaves it sitting out, uneaten, for days. Perceptions change; reality and hallucinations begin to blend.
Early on, Polanski deftly moves his camera, giving us the full lay out of her apartment. As time moves on, he manipulates our point of view to slip us into her madness. Wide lenses make the cramped flat look enormous. Low angles turn perfectly innocuous rooms into dangerous dwellings. Filmed in black and white, he uses lighting and shadows to terrorize. The walls become soft, leaving indentions where she puts her hand. Then actual hands come through the walls to touch and grope her. Large cracks begin forming everywhere. It is a beautiful, hallucinatory, terrifying piece of filmmaking.
Masters of Sex
You can tell this Showtime series really wanted to be top-notch prestige television, but it was always too soapy to be taken too seriously. The great production values and excellent cast save it from being camp. They just released the entire series in a boxed set (featuring Season Four on Blu-ray for the first time ever). You can read my full review here.
Star Hawks, Volume 3
Fun little space fantasy newspaper comic tried to ride the Star Wars wave in the late '70s but it never really caught on. By this point in the series (which presents the last few years in the strip's life), things were starting to go downhill. Poor circulation meant a change of settings, a change of writers, and a change of format (initially the strip was two tiered, giving artist Gil Kane plenty of room to get interesting, but it dropped to the more traditional one-tier system in its last couple of years). It's still an action-packed space romp though, and the packaging is really nice. You can read my full review here.
When I first heard they were remaking Suspiria, Dario Argento’s fantastic supernatural horror film, I scoffed. There is no way they can make something as beautiful, as blood soaked, as totally bonkers as the original. I still have my doubts as to if they can pull it off, but this trailer looks pretty great.