So I’m back, apparently.
I didn’t expect the Gallery to remain shuttered this long: I made some genuine attempts in April and May to get back into the groove…and couldn’t get anything to stick. Real Life was kicking my ass, something had to give, and it was the film writing. I had burned out. I think my exhaustion even shows in the spring and early-summer podcast episodes. I’d been doing this for over five and a half years—starting all the way back in late August 2010 when I launched Forced Viewing—and during that entire time, I’d never taken more than a couple of weeks off from watching and writing. It even encroached on my vacations.
That being said, I never considered not writing about this year’s Fantastic Fest, though. So I was glad to discovered I still had my mojo, and it was great to get back into the rhythm of things. (Even after I caught a cold that turned into a bronchial infection that needed to be nipped in the bud lest it mutate into pneumonia.)
It looks like I have some time to seriously reconsider the future of this site and my film-writing hobby. I’m still determined that reviews will re-commence, at some point. I’d like it to be soon, but I can’t make any guarantees: things are still hairy busy in Real Life. My content schedule won’t be as punishingly aggressive as it was in the past; I’m thinking three movies every two weeks sounds reasonable. But we’ll see.
Anyway, thanks for your patience.
And to prove I haven’t spent the last six-odd months just twiddling my thumbs…here are the movies I watched during the hiatus.
The Witch (Robert Eggers, 2015). Saw this at Fantastic Fest last year. So far, my favorite film of 2016.
Two Step (Alex R. Johnson, 2014). Largely forgettable psych-thriller, or crime thriller, or something.
Cake (Daniel Barnz, 2014). Something with Jennifer Aniston, I think?
10 Cloverfield Lane (Dan Trachtenberg, 2015). Discussed this on True Bromance and InSession Film. Solid intimate psych-thriller, with fantastic performances from Goodman and Winstead, until the final twist blows everything up. I thought the final act was entertaining, but if you don’t, it’s likely to ruin the entire film for you.
The Program (Stephen Frears, 2015). Wonderful dissection of the Lance Armstrong scandal, with a fine performance from Ben Foster as Armstrong, plus Chris O’Dowd and Jesse Plemons.
Emelie (Michael Thelin, 2015). An early indication that babysitter horror might be due for a resurgence (see also: Safe Neighborhood)? Other than that, not really impressed.
Hidden (The Duffer Brothers, 2015). That’s right, the Duffer Brothers as in Stranger Things. Not very good, sadly, despite having a Skarsgård in the cast.
Intruders (Adam Schindler, 2015). I’m not going to say it was bad. But despite starring one of the best things about Scott Pilgrim (Rory Culkin), one of the best things about Silicon Valley (Martin Starr), and Beth Riesgraf, I completely forgot I saw this until I revisited my Amazon Prime history. Draw your own conclusions.
Hackers (Iain Softley, 1995). Discussed this on The Lair of the Unwanted. I spent my late teens adjacent to the cracker and hacktivist subcultures, and while Hackers overstates the glamor of the scene (in the interests of making furiously typing away on a keyboard exciting and sexy), it gets a lot of the personalities right. It can be a slightly guilty pleasure nowadays (thanks, Mr. Robot).
Teenagers from Outer Space (Tom Graeff, 1959). Discussed the MST3k version on an episode of TV Good Sleep Bad. One of the seminal late-fifties SF cheapies that deserves all the derision it gets.
The Ones Below (David Farr, 2015). Another overhyped psych-thriller, albeit one with a couple of good performances (David Morrissey springs to mind).
Nevada Smith (Henry Hathaway, 1966). Watched this because I saw, and liked, The Carpetbaggers. Unlike that film, this is a big epic horse opera, not really my thing. But hey! Steve McQueen.
Star Trek Beyond (Justin Lin, 2016). Discussed this on an episode of The LAMBcast. People have been defending Beyond on the grounds that it’s the perfect big fun summer action/effects blockbuster that you don’t need to think too much about. But doesn’t that run counter to everything the original Star Trek stood for? On the other hand, anything would be better than the turgid Into Darkness.
Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (Eli Craig, 2010). Brilliant “cabin-in-the-woods” horror-comedy. How did I miss this the first time around?
Ghostbusters (Paul Feig, 2016). Surprisingly not terrible! I mean, not great either. But while McKinnon and Hemsworth steal the show, everyone gets a moment of greatness, including the not-particularly-well-thought-out villain. And it got Milo Yiannopoulos banned from Twitter! If it makes Milo and those disparate little cults of MRA screwheads feel threatened, it must at least have some nominal merit.
Dr. Who and the Daleks (Gordon Flemying, 1965). An alternate take on the original Exciting Adventure with the Daleks, condensed and re-configured to stand apart from the series’ continuity. The main selling point—THE DALEKS IN COLOUR!!!—is no longer a novelty, of course, but the film’s still plenty exciting, and Peter Cushing’s Dr. Who is a hoot.
Hello, My Name Is Doris (Michael Showalter, 2016). Sally Field goes over-the-top a few too many times in her portrayal of an eccentric senior spinster with a crush on New Girl‘s Max Greenfield. But it’s all good fun, and the rest of the ensemble—including Stephen Root and Tyne Daly—keep everything grounded.
Midnight Special (Jeff Nichols, 2016). I would have liked it more if it had been about a half-hour shorter. Oh well.
The Invitation (Karyn Kusama, 2015). Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful psych-horror-slash-meditation on loss and grieving. As obvious as the final twist seems, it’s completely and utterly earned. And hey! Who knew Michiel Huisman could act?
Don’t Breathe (Fede Alvarez, 2016). For the first two acts, solid and competent. In the final act, realizes it has no sympathetic characters and resorts to cheap Final Girl tactics to get the audience on protagonist Jane Levy’s side. Where have I seen this before…? That’s right, the last movie Alvarez and Levy worked together on: the rapidly-forgotten Evil Dead remake…