Tag Archives: Amazon Prime

‘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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American Gods – Episode 8

Considering their show is so much about taking a leap of faith, it’s appropriate that Bryan Fuller and Michael Green took their own one in ending the first season of American Gods on a cliffhanger before they even knew for certain that a second season was to be greenlit (spoiler: it has been). It’s a pretty satisfying one, too, thanks to the quality of the rest of the episode. Some non-book readers may be wondering when the heck anyone is going to get to Wisconsin, but, for the most part, viewers will have their faith rewarded…

Full review for VODzilla.co

A Snapshot of American Independent Cinema in 2017

Returning for its fifth instalment (and second in a row at the lavish Picturehouse Central), the team behind this year’s Sundance London gave British audiences a flavour of the American indie scene of 2017. As well as bringing together UK, European or international premieres of various buzzy titles that made their initial bow at the main Sundance Film Festival back in January, this year also offered big screen revivals of some past Sundance premieres of note (Steven Soderbergh’s Sex, Lies and Videotape among them) and the first instance of a surprise film (Patti Cake$, out on general release this autumn), as well as the usual shorts programme and filmmaker talks.

This year’s main lineup was a mixed bag quality-wise, and it certainly didn’t look great that only one of the 14 premiering features (Marianna Palka’s Bitch) was directed by a woman – last year had three, including closing film Tallulah. That said, the strongest titles were very strong, and there was definitely variety to the stories and filmmaking styles on display. The Skinny caught the vast majority of this year’s feature lineup, so here’s an unranked top five of some of the most notable or distinctive films on offer, some of which will be arriving in UK cinemas or on services like Netflix and Amazon Prime soon…

Full feature for The Skinny

American Gods – Episode 7

One of the greatest assets of this first season of American Gods has been the breathing space it allows its various subplots, as well as its breaking away from traditional episodic structure, be it devoting an entire instalment to a flashback or lavishing a lot of attention on the various side vignettes of Neil Gaiman’s source novel. It’s an enjoyably weird show, one that prefers to luxuriate in a particular mood, before actually explaining what it’s just shown you.

Unfortunately, there can be a breaking point regarding a show’s otherwise pleasing qualities, and Episode 7, “A Prayer for Mad Sweeney”, hits it. That’s not necessarily down to the instalment being bad per se, nor its storytelling quirk (the ‘Coming to America’ prologue device becoming the focus of an entire episode) being inherently objectionable. The direction (from Adam Kane) and performances continue to be very engaging, and Pablo Schreiber and Emily Browning would be wise to submit this episode for any Emmy consideration, in light of the dual turns they get to play with (and play well)…

Full review for VODzilla.co

American Gods – Episode 6

Vulcan (Corbin Bernsen) is the first deity introduced in American Gods that doesn’t appear in Neil Gaiman’s novel, although was reportedly created by Gaiman himself, specifically for the series. Considering the skeleton of the book that needs to (mostly) be followed for the show’s main narrative, it’s not surprising that Vulcan ends up a one-episode-and-done deal in a pretty concrete fashion – sacrificed by Wednesday, in response to his betrayal of Wednesday and Shadow to the New Gods. He’s based on the Roman god of the forge, metalworking and volcanoes, and while he crafts Wednesday a sword in the old way, guns are more his forte these days and his volcanoes are now fiery lead vats with which to create them; not so much a god of open flames, as a god of open fire…

Full review for VODzilla.co

Crown Heights (Matt Ruskin, 2017)

Adapted, by writer-director Matt Ruskin from an episode of public radio show This American Life, Crown Heights acts as both biopic of one man wrongfully incarcerated for over 20 years and a broader examination of the American justice system and its bias towards imprisoning people of colour. The latter most notably comes about through the insertion of stock footage contextualising the US government’s crime policy developments during the course of the decades the film covers – we see clips of Ronald Reagan declaring that “crime today is an American epidemic”, Bill Clinton signing his 1994 Crime Bill into law, and New York Governor George Pataki delivering an inaugural address that proposed abolishing parole for felons with a history of violence…

Full review for VODzilla.co

American Gods – Episode 5

Not that the previous four episodes of American Gods were lacking in flirtation with horror, but Episode 5, “Lemon Scented You”, is the show’s most showily spooky outing to date. David Slade, at the helm for the first three episodes, has numerous horror films on his resume, but Episode 5’s director, Vincenzo Natali (Cube, Splice and, like Slade, a Hannibal alumni), gets a lot of body horror moments to play with, from reanimated Laura’s interactions with Shadow, Mad Sweeney and one unlucky morgue employee, to the squirm-inducing contortions that various police officers find themselves in after an encounter with the New Gods. Oh, and a sentient tree grows up through a corpse and tries to kill Shadow – Groot, why have you forsaken us?

Full review for VODzilla.co