Category Archives: Reviews

Coincoin and the Extra-Humans (Bruno Dumont, 2018)

After helming some of the most austere, polarising films in French arthouse cinema, writer-director Bruno Dumont made a surprise swerve into the world of TV in 2014 with P’tit Quinquin, a miniseries that premiered at Cannes in a (still long) film version later released in UK cinemas.

A blackly comic murder mystery, the show starts off as a macabre riff on police procedurals like Midsomer Murders, crossed with kids-up-to-mischief comedies like The Little Rascals, as Van Der Weyden (Bernard Pruvost), a bumbling detective and his deputy, Carpentier (Philippe Jore), try to solve a series of grisly deaths while a group of youths, led by the eponymous Quinquin (Alane Delhaye), watch. What is gradually revealed about the rural southern France setting is the deep prejudices of its residents, particularly towards Arab or African Muslim immigrants, some of whom end up being murder victims. Even the initially ‘good’ leads, the arguable points of identification for the audience, turn out to be belligerent bigots.

Given all of the above, you may be wondering why the sequel miniseries, Coincoin and the Extra-Humans, set years later, is being covered by a genre magazine. One word: aliens…

Full review for SciFiNow

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‘American Gods’ Season 2

It’s been almost two full years since the first season of American Gods wrapped up, with major behind-the-scenes overhauls making the news with relative frequency. Firstly, showrunners Bryan Fuller and Michael Green departed after supposed creative disputes, including disagreements with co-executive producer Neil Gaiman, author of the show’s source novel. Then, a couple of key actors from the first season – specifically, two previous Fuller collaborators in Gillian Anderson and Kristin Chenoweth – opted not to return in solidarity with the departing showrunner. Thirdly, replacement showrunner Jesse Alexander, who had worked on Fuller’s Hannibal as a writer-producer, was reportedly relieved of duty late in the production of Season 2, not allowed to oversee the show to completion despite not being officially fired.

Fans of the first season, or even fans of the book who didn’t like the first season, would be right to be worried about the end result of this fraught return to the screen. That said, some may find this clash between conflicting visions of the future strangely appropriate for the narrative’s battle of wits and woe between gods of the old ways and deities of the new ones…

Full review for VODzilla.co

Maiden (Alex Holmes, 2018)

An almost 50-year institution, The Ocean Race is a yacht race around the world held every four years. In 1989, what was then known as the Whitbread Round the World Race was a 32,000 nautical mile sailing sprint from Southampton and back, taking entrants out to sea – with a few stopover ports, of course – for approximately eight months.

This instalment of the race also hosted the first ever all-women crew to enter, and Alex Holmes’ Maiden, named after that crew’s ship, documents the team’s struggles not only at sea but also getting to participate in the first place…

Full review for Little White Lies

Zoo (Antonio Tublen, 2018)

When films open with establishing shots of a city, it’s normally to evoke a sense of place for a story that will, presumably, mostly take place there. When a horror opens this way, it can also be a way of setting up locations for third-act set-pieces.

Zoo, written, directed, edited and scored by Antonio Tublen, disobeys this. It establishes that London is the broad setting for its zombie outbreak story, but the actual film takes place almost entirely within the confines of one couple’s flat. And when it doesn’t, the shots are relegated to the immediate surroundings of their home – e.g. wreckage just across the street or fleeting glimpses of their floor’s corridor. It’s almost as though its characters are confined like animals in a… well, you get the idea…

Full review for SciFiNow

Beats (Brian Welsh, 2019)

If the phrase ‘Rave to the Grave’ hadn’t already been used to title a Return of the Living Dead sequel, it would have made a fine alternative name for Brian Welsh’s Beats. That refrain pops up many times in the film, mostly in the context of a pirate DJ promoting a warehouse party in defiance of new restrictions on UK rave culture in the 1990s. But it’s a mantra appropriate to the journey of the film’s young ensemble…

Full review for Little White Lies

1985 (Yen Tan, 1985)

In 1987, a group of gay activists in New York formed the Silence = Death Project, which began with the plastering of posters around the city featuring a pink triangle against a black background with the statement ‘Silence = Death’ below it. The group’s manifesto addressed the ongoing AIDS crisis, declaring that the silence about the oppression and annihilation of gay people must be broken as a matter of survival. Their logo would later be offered to the protest group ACT UP, with which it remains closely identified, as recently seen in Robin Campillo’s film, 120 BPM. Alongside the calling out of other institutional forces like the Vatican and the Food and Drug Administration, the Silence = Death Project’s original poster also included the question “Why is Reagan silent about AIDS?”.

Set two years before this project’s launch, 1985’s writer-director Yen Tan uses silence to address both the stigmatisation of the Reagan administration and the growing AIDS epidemic. The words “gay” and “AIDS” are never spoken onscreen, but their significance looms large over this muted, moving drama, where the only real ostentatious quality is the decision to shoot it in black and white and on Super 16mm film…

Full review for VODzilla.co

I Think We’re Alone Now (Reed Morano, 2018)

In the majority of post-apocalyptic stories, when there’s seemingly a lone survivor in the world, one of the major struggles the character tends to face is intense loneliness. I Think We’re Alone Now differs from most in the genre in that its lead is content in their solitude. When it turns out more of humanity’s survived than they thought, it’s actually an inconvenience…

Full review for SciFiNow