By: Henry J. Fromage –
So, I’ve been eating up Black Mirror lately, every episode of which really is a brilliant little film of it’s own… but that would be disingenuous. My film choices were much less inspired.
118. I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House
Osgood Perkins, son of Anthony’s debut, The Blackcoat’s Daughter, was so damn good that I’m a little sad to report his follow-up is frankly entirely boring. Ruth Wilson plays a nurse taking care of a creepy-ish old lady in an old house that, surprise, is haunted! Perkins captures some truly gorgeous shots, but the pacing is so lethargic and the scares so lackluster that comparing it to a great painting is more an insult than the compliment it’d at first appear to be.
I’ve got a soft spot for time travel scifi, to the point I was probably one of 20 people in America who really cared all that much about the first season cancellation of Journey (remember that one?) This film, though, blows some decent production design and competent direction on a truly, hilariously godawful script. It’s not even the story, which is convoluted but not confused, and even legitimately clever in spots. It’s the dialogue… it no shit sounds like the writers hired Neil Breen to do a punch-up of the dialogue. My realizing Chad McKnight is a cut-rate Tom Cruise clone halfway through definitely increased my enjoyment of the film at a directly proportional rate to the decrease in my respect for it.
Now, this one I really enjoyed. Sure, any rough edges have been sanded off by its studio provenance, but at its core it’s a well-acted, sharply scripted, and honestly emotional tale of brilliant people and the cost that brilliance can exact. Marc Webb takes a turn back in the direction of his (500) Days of Summer days, although you wouldn’t know it by the straight up the middle play style-wise that this film is. Still, a few more of these smarter, more adult dramas these days would go a long way towards filling the seemingly ever-growing gap between cut-rate horror budgets and mega-blockbusters that Hollywood has created for itself.
121. Their Finest
In Their Finest, another WWII industry that women made their under-recognized mark in, Film, finally gets, well, a film. Lone Scherfig makes her best film since her first, An Education, a perfectly paced, often funny, and fittingly feminist take on the obstacles women faced making their mark on industries that the cultural patriarchy couldn’t fill at the time even if they wanted to. Also, probably the best I’ve seen Gemma Arterton, who owns the film from start to finish.