The long dark journey through The Night Of

thenightof12I was hypnotized by The Night Of for five or six episodes, which isn’t bad at all considering that it’s an eight-part HBO miniseries. To me, it seemed to scratch the itch that season 2 of True Detective left me with. It’s on the dark side of things: it mostly takes place at night and/or indoors, but even the exterior daylight scenes look sort of gloomy. It’s about crime and punishment, and about the law, about justice and injustice, and about courts and prison. It’s set in New York, but is based on the British TV series Criminal Justice from 2008-09, starring Ben Whishaw. The Night Of, however, has no problem standing on its own. Continue reading

Fritz Bauer’s history lesson

fritzbauer6The People vs. Fritz Bauer made me angry. I think it is supposed to. Fritz Bauer was the man in charge of bringing former Nazi key criminals to justice. He worked for the courts in Frankfurt am Main as a district attorney and was put in charge by the German department of justice in the late 50s at his own request when the majority of lawmen there were either former Nazis themselves or at least sympathizers. His task was close to impossible: he was a Jew, a Socialist and a homosexual. It’s entirely possible that his superiors thought that he would be inefficient. In this movie, his department ridicules him, his legal team is utterly useless, unable to locate Bormann or Mengele for many years. His health is failing. In fact, the movie starts with him almost dying. Continue reading

They create worlds: Grow Home

One of the things that video games can do magnificently is create worlds. These posts are an occasional exploration of games that I love because of where they take me.

The little robot’s steps are clumsy, awkward, as if both the use of his legs and the concept of gravity were new to him. B.U.D. is miles away from the usual video game robots – they’re often metallic warriors and/or cannon fodder – and closer to the likes of WALL-E, if Pixar’s garbage collector was a toddler. And like his precursor, B.U.D. is given a momentous ecological task: he must grow the so-called Star Plant on a faraway planet, and in doing so he has to scale the plant to a height of 2 kilometres – which would be difficult enough for the likes of Mission Impossible’s Ethan Hunt, let alone someone who is barely able to walk in a straight line.

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Time to return to another world

Initial_When I first opened Google today, I didn’t immediately recognise what the doodle represented. As I clicked through the various pictures, though, I experienced a rush of memories and emotions: there were Atréju and Fuchur (that’s what he’s called in the original, not Falkor), there was the Ivory Tower, home of the Childlike Empress, there were Perelin, the Night Forest, and the Silver City of Amarganth. How could I not recognise them, seeing how I must have read Michael Ende’s The Neverending Story more than a dozen times? Continue reading

A boy on his way home

midnightspecial1Midnight Special is a sci-fi movie for those moviegoers who wouldn’t dream of going to see a sci-fi movie. It avoids many plot points that the genre might bring: no space wars, no dark against light, no dogfights, no exploding planets, no time travel. There isn’t even a spaceship in sight. It trusts its characters enough to drive the story forward and keeps a moderate pace so that we have a chance to think about how those three characters, two men and a boy, repeatedly find themselves in a boarded-up motel room.

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All these worlds can be yours (but will you want them?)

Last week we went to see the latest of the new Star Trek films, the one whose title is certain to trigger a Pavlovian response in any fan of the English ska band Madness. I’d greatly enjoyed the first of the reboot movies back in 2009, though Star Trek Into Darkness hadn’t done much for me, but I hadn’t given up on the franchise yet. Star Trek Beyond, though… It’s a competent enough film in some ways, the main cast is still the best reason to watch the reboot – but I simply didn’t feel it. Most of the time it wasn’t the plot that kept me engaged; instead I found myself distracted, not least by remembering the recent death of Anton Yelchin and thinking, wistfully, that he should have had his final appearance as Pavel Chekov in a better film.

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VVitching hour and a half

3056743-inline-s-2-anatomy-of-a-scene-the-witchRobert Eggers’ The VVitch: A New-England Folktale works both ways: if you think there is a witch in this movie, then there is one, and we’re in the realm of the supernatural. You can also explain the whole horror by claiming that these people are driving themselves and each other insane. Either way, it’s a pretty good horror flick. It features a Puritan family who are thrown out of their community and build a new home in the wilderness, next to some woods. In 1630, that might well be a death sentence. We are never told why exactly they get banished, but it has something to do with putting God’s law above that of men. They are almost glad about being banished, because to them, it is God’s will. Continue reading