Flight or fight

I guess it had to happen sooner or later: if Miyazaki’s word is to be trusted on this, The Wind Rises is the director’s final film. While it’s not his best work, Miyazaki’s fictionalised biography of the aeronautical engineer Jiro Horikoshi is a fitting swan song for an artist whose fascination with flight is evident throughout his films (with Princess Mononoke being a notable exception). The Wind Rises is much less overtly fanciful than most of the director’s works, and its depiction of pre-WW2 Japan is striking in its prosaicness, but the film frequently soars with Jiro’s imagination. Flight is the dream that both the movie’s protagonist and its director share.

However, while the depiction of flight is often exuberant in Miyazaki, in some cases there’s a dark undercurrent to it, and this is definitely true of The Wind Rises. In his dreams, Jiro talks to the Italian engineer Count Giovanni Caproni, who tells him that “airplanes are beautiful, cursed dreams”, and that curse is the weaponisation of flight. In several of Miyazaki’s films flight and warfare are in close proximity to each other, and even the innocence of Laputa‘s air pirates’ ship or Porco Rosso‘s scarlet biplane and its whimsical pilot already hint at the violence of aerial combat. Although The Wind Rises doesn’t come out and say so explicitly, Jiro’s work will lead directly to the Zeros bombing Pearl Harbour and those piloted by kamikaze pilots. Even when the film is at its most elated, it is streaked through with sadness that man’s dream of flight so often serves only to come up with new and better means of inflicting death and destruction.

Except for a couple of scenes, the film keeps this as subtext rather than making it overt; if it had presented a more blatant pacifist message, The Wind Rises could easily have become preachy. Instead, Miyazaki weaves the theme throughout the film without forcing it onto the audience. However, it’s not clear to me to what extent the director wanted his protagonist, who can easily be read as something of a surrogate figure for the director, to come across as naive at best, and blithely self-centred at worst. The film wants us to like Jiro, clearly, but his actions and decisions come at a price that he never quite acknowledges. He is aware that his airplanes will be used for battle, yet he makes himself ignore this. Miyazaki’s depiction also seems to absolve Jiro too readily: he creates dreams, yet it is faceless others that pervert these dreams into killing machines. There is another, equally troubling instance of the film appearing to absolve Jiro’s actions, after he falls in love with and marries a Nahoko, a young woman who has tuberculosis. She leaves the sanatorium where she is supposed to get better to be with and support her husband, knowing that this is likely to worsen her condition, and while Jiro’s sister (a fictional addition to Horikoshi’s real biography, like Nahoko) blames her brother for allowing Nahoko to endanger her health even more, Miyazaki’s depiction of the couple’s love for each other suggests that everything is as it should be: Nahoko’s needs come second to Jiro’s dreams, just like these dreams come before any moral qualms that the airplanes he designs will be used as weapons. In his final imaginary encouter with Count Caproni, Jiro sees Nahoko again, smiling and waving, having fully become the beautiful ideal rather than a real, flesh-and-blood partner, but even here she subsumes her own needs to Jiro’s obsession:she conveniently dissipates in the wind so Jiro can continue talking shop with his idol.

It’s intriguing: The Wind Rises presents its protagonist as a good guy, but you don’t need to scratch the surface much to see that for all his charm and passion Jiro serves his own dreams before anything else. The film doesn’t present this as its preferred reading of the character, to my mind, but it definitely gives its audience enough space to interpret Jiro as increasingly self-absorbed. This tension between the presentation of Jiro as a Miyazaki stand-in and the now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t subtext of his more questionable qualities is interesting but also somewhat troubling; it’s still not clear to me whether The Wind Rises seeks this tension or whether it is at cross-purposes with itself. Miyazaki’s films usually don’t shy away from ambivalent characters, but I’m not sure this is what is going on in what is likely to be his final work.

Regardless of this, though, The Wind Rises is a beautiful, poignant work, and while I’ve only seen the English dub so far, I’d say that it is one of the better Miyazaki dubs, with one surprise voice actor especially that almost made me clap my hands in delight at how perfect the choice was. While I have the exuberant flights of fancy of Porco Rosso, Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro to return to, if Miyazaki makes good on his announced retirement I will miss seeing his imagination soar on the screen.

Goodbye, Miyazaki-san

March Variety Pack

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, especially since being joined at Eagles on Pogo Sticks by my assiduous co-blogger, but due to an attack of what the Germans call ‘spring tiredness’ (in the German-speaking world spring makes us tired, not horny) I don’t have entire full-length posts on each of these in me right now. So, without much further ado, here are some thoughts on Japanese child-swapping, Cumberbatch cryptography and teens with superpowers.

Like Father Like Son

I’ve written about Koreeda before; Like Father Like Son is another worthy addition to his filmography. The film’s premise – two families find out that their six-year-old sons were swapped at birth – has been criticised for being too movie-of-the-week, but then, other than his inventive version of what happens after death in After Life, Koreeda’s films are rarely driven by premises as much as by characters. His strengths lie in his talent for quiet observation and his empathy for his protagonists. Ryota, one of the two fathers in Like Father Like Son, a young, ambitious salaryman who finds it easier to push his son to excel than to relate to him emotionally, could easily have been the villain of the piece, and Ryota is often arrogant and disapproving, but in Koreeda’s subtle direction and writing he never loses his humanity or becomes a stereotype. Similarly, while the film admittedly is more interested in fatherhood, the scenes that concentrate on the two mothers give them the necessary space to stand out as complex, interesting individuals. As is often the case in Koreeda’s films, though, it’s especially the child actors that amaze: they are thoroughly believable and real, with none of the preciousness or precocious quality that even good child actors display all too often.

Like Father Like Son

The Imitation Game  

I haven’t seen all the recent Academy Award favourites, but of the ones I’ve seen this is the one that brought to mind a word that I find nearly as dismissive and annoying as “pretentious”: Oscar bait. (I haven’t seen The Theory of Everything, which by all accounts is a worse offender in this respect.) There’s a lot to like about The Imitation Game, but it tries so damn hard to be worthy and meaningful. In spite of capable and even strong performances, the film is failed especially by its direction and writing. The former is pedestrian and predictable, exactly what one would expect of a respectable British historical drama; the latter is painfully hamfisted. Its central idea could be straight from a motivational poster and is repeated until it becomes a mantra, becoming more cringe-inducing with each repetition: “Sometimes it is the people who no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.” There’s interesting material there, both in terms of the historical background and the character of Alan Turing, but the film never rises above the quality of its writing, which feels like the work of a B- student in Scriptwriting 101. Also, it is difficult to like a film that has a low esteem of its audience’s intelligence, as this one seems to have: The Imitation Game tends to make the same points repeatedly, as if to make sure that everyone watching it gets it.

The Imitation Game

One additional note on The Imitation Game: the film has been criticised both for overplaying Turing’s homosexuality and for giving it short shrift. I honestly don’t think that either applies; Turing’s orientation is one aspect of his personality, and it is an important one, yet it is not singled out as his most defining feature. The film doesn’t contain any sex scenes, gay or otherwise, but this fits in with its general polite bloodlessness, rather than speaking to anything more problematic, to my mind. The Imitation Game‘s crime isn’t homophobia so much as its banality and an almost complete lack of subtlety.

Chronicle

On paper, Josh Trank’s film about three teenagers who, after a close encounter with a McGuffinesque glowing rock, find themselves able to move things with their minds reads like a high concept too far: superpowers, teenage pranks, found footage. The movie could easily have ended up straight-to-DVD (or VOD? Not sure what the most fitting term is these days) garbage, but it works due to believable characters, a plot that is simple but effective and strong leads. Michael B. Jordan is no longer the meek Wallace from the first season of The Wire; while he gets less screen time than the other leads, it is clear he is a performer of immense charisma. Meanwhile, Dane DeHaan find the right balance between sympathetic underdog and simmering rage, making him a gender-swapped Carrie for this millennium. Unfortunately, the found-footage-but-not-quite cinematography is both a boon and a bane; it gives Chronicle an immediacy that is very effective, especially when coupled with the characters’ initial uses of their powers that are far from the special effects excesses of most superhero movies, but some of the time it simply doesn’t make much sense that we’d be seeing this footage, so what’s the reasoning behind the format? Nevertheless, Trank’s movie is a smart, interesting genre piece that, together with some of the casting, makes me more interested in his Fantastic Four reboot than that premise – a Fantastic Four reboot, of all things! – ought to be.

Chronicle

The Music Men

Are there any movie genres that are more, well, generic than films about young, struggling musicians (and perhaps sports films)? Even the best films about musicians tend to follow the same story beats: a talented young person’s struggle against all odds, personal sacrifice to reach the top, stern but well-meaning teachers, following your dreams, making it at the big competition, that sort of thing. Whiplash was admirable for how it avoided the clichés in some ways and reinterpreted them in others, eschewing the feel-good ending for something considerably more ambiguous, but it’s a rarity in the genre.

Miloš Forman’s Amadeus, a movie that doesn’t receive anything near the recognition it deserves these days, is even more of a rarity. Here is a film that at a superficial glance would seem to fit three of the genres most prone to cliché and lazy filmmaking: the music film, the period drama and the biopic. However, while it may flirt with these genres, it is beholden to none of them. It doesn’t purport to be Mozart: A Life: The Film, nor does it tell a straightforward, inspirational story of artistic  triumph, and while it isn’t immune to the attraction of period detail, it’s decidedly not about giving the audience a touristic trip to picturesque 18th century Europe.

Amadeus

In fact, Mozart isn’t even the film’s lead; that honour falls to Antonio Salieri, in a performance by F. Murray Abraham that is still breathtaking. Quite literally, Amadeus begins and ends with him, a man who chooses to defy God out of a heady mix of spite, envy and spiritual crisis. The movie’s Salieri is a second-rate musician and composer at best, yet he has the ear to understand that this new kid on the block, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, is an immense talent. For Salieri, God speaks through Mozart’s music – yet Wolferl himself is a vulgar brat. What kind of God chooses not the diligent, devout (if more than a little vain) Salieri as his instrument but a manchild giggling madly at toilet humour? It is this metaphysical insult to his ego that fuels Salieri’s wish to destroy the musical genius – like a petty child that would rather destroy that which he cannot have entirely for himself.

How much further could this be from the variation on the dreary hero’s journey that is the common-or-garden-variety music film? Salieri isn’t the antagonist standing in the hero’s way: he is the protagonist, and we watch as he successfully destroys a man whose only crime is that he’s better at what he does than the bitter, self-centred main character. And what makes this more tragic is that Salieri, for all his poisonous pettiness, has enough self-awareness to understand what he is doing. As his plot progresses and as he fuels Mozart’s own self-destructive side, he begins to feel unexpected pangs of conscience. His destruction of the young genius birthes an amazing work of art, Mozart’s Requiem, yet it also destroys the conduit for this art, in an unhealthy relationship that isn’t entirely different from the sadomasochistic teacher-student dynamic of Whiplash. In destroying Mozart the man, Salieri becomes midwife to Mozart the legend.

"That was God laughing at me. Through that obscene giggle..."

And therein lies the razor-sharp irony of Amadeus. Salieri is a man painfully aware of his own mediocrity, and in his sacrilegious envy he destroys Mozart, being the only one at the time to recognise his genius for it he is – yet in death, the composer becomes the iconic genius, while Salieri is all but forgotten. Just as it begins, the film ends with a forgotten old man who, after a fashion, killed his beloved nemesis but who cannot even kill himself; he is spirited away to an insane asylum, where we see him relating his blasphemous tale to an idealistic young priest and preaching to the insane, the self-styled patron saint of mediocrity.

In terms of its plot, and in comparison to the conventional music film, Amadeus is pretty far from inspirational – yet as an example of cinematic art, it’s joyous. It looks beautiful without succumbing to the superficial prettiness of so much period drama. The writing is witty and powerful, delivered by the actors with the right blend of naturalism and stylisation. Abraham is a sublime Salieri, moving from sly irony through self-pity to toxic hatred with an ease that is gorgeous – but the other performances, while mostly requiring less of a range, are just as impressive. Hulce’s Mozart is infuriating, oblivious and heartbreaking in equal measure, and the smaller roles are spot-on, especially Jeffrey Jones’ hilarious performance as Emperor Joseph II. All in all, Amadeus is a classic of a kind that is rarely made these days and that deserves to be better remembered than it is – not least because, like Whiplash, it is a fantastic corrective to the generic, utterly conventional music films out there.

Cold war on the ice rink

Fetisov. Larionov. Krutov. Kasatonov. Makarov. Bykov, Tretiak and Tichonov. If these names take you back to your childhood, then you should go see Red Army. It’s a documentary about the Russian national hockey team in the 70s and 80s. Remember how they played like clockwork seemingly scoring one goal after another? Directed by Gabe Polsky, an American, it uses former team captain Slava Fetisov as entry point, probably simply because he is the only one ready to talk.

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This is a very, very knowledgeable documentary, made by a guy who knows how to talk about ice hockey, but not losing himself in strategic details. It is, to a great extent, also the deconstruction of a myth. The main complaint is that some of the famous players don’t feature at all – that is true, but you can’t include them all, and some of them are basically saying nothing at all while on camera, and some might have refused to appear. It’s a short feature, but a two-hour long movie including everyone would have stretched my patience.

Sport was made to be a kind of warfare under Stalin, and the Red Army made sure that everybody got the message that Russia ruled over the ice rink. The title is not just a metaphor: the players were high-ranking officers, fighting for their ingrained belief that Communism really was the better way of life. Their constant winning was the best propaganda the Politbüro could wish for.

The dream team’s beginnings were whacky. Their early coach Tarassow took them to camps where they had to play chess against Anatoly Karpov. Strategic sessions were held using pawns. For physical agility, Tarassow took his players to the Bolshoi ballet and made them copy the dancers’ moves. Tarassow was fired when he interrupted a game because a goal of his team went unacknowledged. Breshnev had to wait 40 minutes without any gameplay, got impatient and had him sacked.

red-army-newspaper

His successor was called Tichonov, and it is here that I started thinking of Whiplash more than once. Tichonov was a dictator in his own right. He made the players train and live together for eleven months of the year. Training sessions were held up to four times a day. Exceptions were unheard of: there is the obligatory scene where a player is refused to go see his dying father. On the other hand, just watch these guys play: skating backwards, leading the puck with the stick while looking elsewhere, passing the puck when every other player would have tried to score, scoring while flying through the air. Wayne Gretzky appears only briefly, but his confession of helplessness in the face of Russian strategy is all the more telling.

Trips for matches abroad were made with KGB agents aboard the planes. Eventually, players complained about the cruel treatment. Tichonov, who refused to be interviewed for this movie, yelled at them during matches and was rumored to beat them during training. The individual was nothing, the team everything. It’s no wonder some of them rebelled, although the lure of easy Western life might have played a part. Some of them wanted to go play hockey in the U.S., others rebelled because of the cruel treatment. Tretiak, the legendary keeper, refused to do any more oppressive training, but never left for the NHL. It was the end of his career. Others stayed out of patriotism or loyalty or fear. Some wanted an easier life, easier training, easier money. You can hardly blame them. In the case of Fetisov, the Politbüro refused to let him go, but sacked him. Tichonov publicly supported players who wanted to join the NHL, but did everything he could backstage to sabotage their transfers. To him, that must have felt like desertion.

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After threats of deportation, Fetisov went to play for the NHL, where he was universally disliked, no matter how well he played. It shows in his face. There is a segment where you can tell how stunned he is by the brutality of the NHL. Only eventually did Fetisov and other Russians get some kind of fan-base. One of the weirdest pictures shows Fetisov, Kozlov and Larionov in Detroit Red Wing shirts, holding up the Stanley Cup in front of the Kremlin. That was in 1997, and by then, Gorbatchev was in charge, and it was hard to tell if that image was a victory or a defeat for Russia.

The documentary reveals that it was Fetisov who organised the whole Sochi winter games last year under Putin. Other former teammates are in similar key positions. If Red Army makes one thing clear, it is that those players were never rebels. They complained about their treatment and sought a way out. Some found it. You could admire them for leading impossible lives while playing almost hypnotic ice hockey, but as soon as their active careers were over, they re-joined ranks. Politics, unlike hockey, isn’t much of a spectator sport.

One movie, six stories tall

Wild Tales consists of six stand-alone stories of varying length and mood. The danger with episodic movies is always that you get yanked out of a good yarn, or that you might like some of the stories, but not others. That’s also the case here, but I am confident that Relatos Salvajes, as it is originally called, contains no filler for anyone in the audience, regardless of your preference for farce or gore or dark humor.

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Besides Argentina as a location, if there is another unifying theme, it is revenge. Even before the opening credits, the movie starts with a plane full of seemingly random passengers, until they realize who has brought them there, and why. It’s the right kind of wild moviemaking, but it doesn’t overdo it; the director, Damián Szifrón, wisely avoids any Tarantino-style exaggeration. And the opening credits: the movie gives every actor an animal. No idea if that adds anything to the characters they play, but the pictures themselves are beautiful to behold. That sequence alone is why you should see this one on the big screen.

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You can watch all of the stories as entertainment, but there is a deeper level to every one of them. If you get slighted, what kind of revenge are you up to? Do you turn murderous? Do you walk away because you are above such things? You might find out something about yourself, such as a talent for negotiation. Some scenes are incredibly powerful: a few drops of blood on a wedding dress, a chance encounter with a stranger on a rooftop at night, the despair of facing yet another administrative clerk on autopilot. And the most important philosophical question whether rat poison is stronger or weaker once it’s past its expiration date.

relato

Wild Tales contains only moderate violence. There is one story that is basically a duel to the death, but both characters are clumsy and blind with fury, so much so that it all turns laughably funny. These two dumb guys deserve each other. The other stories turn violent only if they need to; there are moral questions to tackle first. Two segments are completely without any physical violence, but that doesn’t mean they’re easier to watch. Revenge is not just sweet; it’s also pretty devastating. And farcical. Sometimes it’s almost a logical consequence. I’ve never heard the words ‘Til Death Do Us Part sound so creepy.

Il suono e il furore

Toby Jones is something of an unacknowledged gem. While his parts are rarely showy, he usually brings a beautifully earnest, genuine quality to them, whether as Truman Capote or as a computer-generated house elf with a heart much bigger than his diminuitive size suggests. It’s difficult to imagine Berberian Sound Studio with someone other than Jones in the part of the British sound engineer Gilderoy who seems to wish to shrink even more in the face of an intimidating job in an equally intimidating environment. Having worked primarily on bucolic British nature documentaries and recording the domestic sounds of rural England, he looks and feels out of place working in Italy on a bloody supernatural thriller – but don’t call it a horror movie, or the unctuous director will give you an earful about the film’s artistic ambitions! Gilderoy is visibly ill at ease, having traded the birdsong and ticking grandfather clocks of the recordings that remind him of home for the sounds that evoke medieval torture and putrid corpses.

Berberian Sound Studio

Aside from Jones, whose performance transcends the stereotype it’s written as (a repressed middle-class Brit intimidated by loud, garish and macho Italianness), the film’s main strength is its atmosphere and the way it is created: apart from its expressionist titles, we never see a single scene of The Equestrian Vortex, the film Gilderoy is working on, but as we are told about the horrific goings-ons on screen, we see and hear how the sound is created. Water melons are stabbed, overripe marrows smashed on the floor, and various other innocent vegetables tortured to evoke murder, torture and gratuitous deaths. Similarly, we don’t see beautiful young women falling victim to the vengeful witches’ curse, but we see actresses screaming in sound booths. Berberian Sound Studio demands our complicity in piecing together the film within a film from what we hear, and for audiences that buy into what the movie is trying to do it works exceedingly well: like a good sound engineer, Berberian Sound Studio creates an ominous, uncanny world in our heads by appealing to our ears.

There are distinct Lynchian overtones (no pun intended) to the film, suggesting especially Lost Highway’s games with identity, but Berberian Sound Studio is equally indebted to Kafka: while Gilderoy never wakes up to find himself turned into an enormous beetle, a puzzling sequence late in the film makes him undergo a transformation befitting its themes. Where Gilderoy was initially unable to speak Italian, entirely at the mercy of others who would choose when to understand him and when not, and when to exclude him from their conversations, suddenly the words coming out of Jones’ mouth are in the language of Mario Bava and Dario Argento – yet it’s a dub. Gilderoy’s own, English voice is gone. Where before he was working on a film, albeit hesitantly, his agency and selfhood are gone as he becomes subject to film. He is a character reduced to the bare minimum, a body, hollowed out and filled with someone else’s voice. The words may be the same, just in a different language, but the Gilderoy we watch as Berberian Sound Studio comes to a close comes across a doppelgänger. The man who from the first looked like he wanted nothing so much as to make himself vanish has been dubbed over.

Berberian Sound Studio

However, while Berberian Sound Studio is intriguing, it is also flawed. It excels in terms of atmosphere and evocativeness, and Jones is very strong, but at times the film feels like it’s trying too hard to become a cinephile’s cult movie. While I haven’t yet watched the short film that it grew out of, Berberian Sound Studio is too long for what it does. Scenes often repeat the same motifs and effects without reinforcing or varying them, and initially strong formal ideas wear themselves out. Moreover, while I like elliptic narratives, there are several moments where I felt the film was simply trying too hard to make itself worthy of cult. There’s a preciousness to its last half hour especially that would have worked better in a shorter film (though at 94 minutes, Berberian Sound Studio is by no means epic); as it is, the movie ends up being rather too self-consciously cryptic for its own good. It’s a perfect starting point for movie-geek discussions in part because it offers enough of a blank canvas. Nevertheless, the atmosphere and especially Jones’ performance hold it together, even if the film is somewhat too keen in aiming for cult classic, and it’s the kind of movie that lingers long after its final image has gone dark. Se non è perfetto, è ben doppiato.

Will The Returned Return Again?

Sometimes the end should be the end. Some stories should remain concluded. There’s a reason why revenants are creepy, and TV land is full of evidence for this. No, I’m not talking about existential French horror – I’m talking about ITV’s Broadchurch, which came to its second end this week, though with a promise of more.

The first season of Broadchurch was nearly perfect in terms of what it was aiming for. Certainly the cast was one of the things going for it, but more than that it had a theme it committed to, and practically everything served that theme: the slow unravelling of a microcosm – a family, a community – due to a horrific deed. It’s not the most original of themes, granted, but Broadchurch handled it smartly and with honesty and the seriousness it called for. It stumbled towards the end, but it nevertheless ended up one of the most poignant British TV series in recent years, and definitely more consistently strong than the BBC’s uneven output in quite a while.

My thoughts exactly

Obviously it was tempting to bring back that world, those characters and especially those actors for a second series. A large part of what made Broadchurch so enjoyable was the David Tennant/Olivia Colman team-up; who wouldn’t go giddy at the chance of watching them for another eight episodes? Except that way lies fan service, which rarely makes for compelling storytelling. Broadchurch went into its second season with a proven cast of characters and actors that were enjoyable to watch the first time round, and there were enough story strands to pick up – but obviously no driving idea, no theme, that would give the continuation the sense that this is a story that has something to say. In fact, series 2 never felt like they started with anything other than the decision to do a second series, much to its detriment. The whole thing reeked of desperation and last-minute panic, resulting in a story that felt made up from one week to the next on the basis of some shaky brainstorming. What if DI Hardy had one of the people involved in his previous, failed case hidden away in a cottage in Broadchurch? What if that Susan Wright woman comes back to wreak ineffectual revenge against her estranged son, repeating what we already had in the first series? What if we got Charlotte Rampling but had no idea how to use her in an interesting way, so let’s say her character goes blind, her mother dies and she’s a closeted lesbian?

One of the what-ifs had more potential: what if Joe Miller, the man who turned out to be the killer in the first series, pleaded “not guilty”? What would this do to the community and to the family left behind? What goes on in a man who is culpable but desperately wants himself to be proclaimed innocent of the crimes he’s committed? Instead, this was wasted as we didn’t get character-driven drama so much as badly written courtroom melodrama with characters that wished they had even a second dimension. And we spent so much time with the underwritten dramatis personae of Sandbrook, Hardy’s previous case and a whodunnit that it was difficult to care about. The murder that launched the first series was meaningful, because it was specific: the victim mattered, the murderer mattered, because it was all about bringing a community close to its breaking point. Sandbrook, on the other hand, happened far away and could have been any case, really. It was irrelevant to Broadchurch. There were attempts at connecting the two cases in terms of themes and motifs, but they were half-hearted and ineffectual to the point of being a nuisance rather than an asset.

Couldn't resist...

The first series of Broadchurch still stands as graceful, moving TV, and a wasted second series doesn’t change that much. However, it doesn’t exactly fill me with happy anticipation to see, at the end of the final credits, the caption “Broadchurch will return”. Do they have a story worth telling? Or do they simply have a great cast in need of work and the hope that people will tune in on the strength of the original series? Do the makers of Broadchurch even have a clue what made the series work in the first place? I don’t think so, and no number of scenes with Tennant and Colman acting the hell out of a leaden script will make for a strong reason why Broadchurch needed to continue.

In fact, if a third series of Broadchurch is made and ends up as utterly superfluous as the second one, I’ll personally go and beat up the people responsible with my box sets of the fourth season of Deadwood and my 14-disk Complete Firefly.

You can find my previous comments on the second series of Broadchurch here.