‘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

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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

Sara Colangelo on ‘The Kindergarten Teacher’

From her breakthrough performance in Secretary to HBO’s 70s sex worker drama The Deuce, Maggie Gyllenhaal has excelled with lead roles that flirt with transgression of varying kinds. The Kindergarten Teacher, which won the Dramatic Directing prize at last year’s Sundance, finds the actor on both familiar and new ground. In Sara Colangelo’s tense film, she plays Lisa, a teacher becoming uncomfortably close to a little boy in her care, attempting to nurture and, arguably, exploit his astonishing gifts for poetry with increasingly boundary-pushing methods. Any traits typical of a child prodigy drama (think Jodie Foster’s Little Man Tate) are upturned pretty quickly…

Full interview for The Skinny

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

David Dastmalchian on poverty and abuse drama ‘All Creatures Here Below’

Since his striking film debut as a haunting henchman of The Joker in The Dark Knight, David Dastmalchian has built a strong resume of memorable supporting parts in blockbusters and auteur-driven projects. He’s a favourite of director Denis Villeneuve, featuring in PrisonersBlade Runner 2049 and the upcoming Dune, and a mainstay of both Ant-Man films.

He’s also a writer, now of a second feature in which he also stars. The first, 2014’s Animals, drew inspiration from his own history of addiction and homelessness several years prior to his acting career. All Creatures Here Below, also from Animals director Collin Schiffli, again explores poverty as well as sexual abuse which Dastmalchian says stems from revelations in both his own family and his childhood neighbourhood…

Full interview for Little White Lies

Philippe Lesage on his heartfelt coming of age film ‘Genesis’

Forget Xavier Dolan; writer-director Philippe Lesage may be the most exciting filmmaker to emerge from Quebec in the last few years. But unlike the director of Mommy and Heartbeats, Lesage has had some struggle getting his films wider distribution, at least in English-language territories.

Reportedly drawn from autobiographical experience, The Demons, his acclaimed narrative debut after a string of documentaries, earned strong notices – including at Glasgow Film Festival 2017 – and favourable comparisons to the thriller stylings of Claude Chabrol and Michael Haneke. In it, a young boy in Montreal begins experiencing the adult world, as he enters adolescence against a backdrop of local child kidnappings.

For his latest feature, Genesis, Lesage strays into autobiographical territory once more for a tale of teenagers in love. In fact, Genesis loops us back in with the filmmaker’s alter ego Félix (Édouard Tremblay-Grenier), the lead of The Demons, at an older age. This is not a literal sequel, though, which is perhaps wise considering the erratic distribution of Lesage’s films mentioned earlier. Think François Truffaut’s Antoine Doinel series, where seeing every entry isn’t required, but if you do seek them all out you’ll get a little something extra out of the experience…

Full interview for The Skinny

Writing by Josh Slater-Williams