Fargo Season 2
The first series of Fargo was a revelation; I was not planning to watch it, as I liked the film so much I worried no TV show could do it justice. But then it was on Netflix, and it was Christmas and I had some spare time and so I started it, not expecting much… and it was brilliant.
So Series 2 had a lot to live up to. And it did. Though it’s superficially a very different beast from the first series, its major theme remains the same. Fargo explores goodness looks like in a brutal world. The show pits its fundamentally decent characters against different types of evil, from the malevolent villainy of the first series’ Lorne Malvo to the hapless, thoughtless cruelty of the film’s Lester Nygaard. In Series 2 we find a brilliant Patrick Wilson (whom I can’t not think of as Nightowl; sorry, Patrick Wilson!), playing the younger version of Lou Solverson from Series 1. As he follows the trail of breadcrumbs leading from a seemingly random massacre in a waffle house to a simmering gang war and beyond, he finds himself trying to keep the hapless Ed and Peggy Blumquist, a married couple who’ve become accidentally swept up in the carnage, out of trouble. Which is harder work than one might think…
Although Series 2 doesn’t quite match the intensity of Series 1, it’s still an absolutely brilliant ten episodes of television – beautifully produced and shot, gorgeously written and stunningly acted. It expands upon the mythology of the first series and the film, building its own rich world of flat, cold plainsland and the little sparks of warmth within it.
I’m a latecomer to the town of Stars Hollow. I have been sucked into the lives of Rory, a clever teen who wants to go to Harvard, and her mum Lorelai, who is sassy, funny, and runs on coffee and sexual innuendo. I love the cultural and literary references – the episode I watched yesterday included a Jean-Paul Sartre serious listening face – and the soundtrack, which is, for the most parts, one humming woman.
Bonus points go to Melissa McCarthy, for basically being the sweetest, clumsiest chef ever. Also Michel, who is an angry French man who often tries to pass himself off as Texan to fellow French people, because he doesn’t want to talk to anyone. He is my spirit animal.
10 Cloverfield Lane
The Cloverfield movie duo have been on the To Watch List for some time. Such was our burning impatience for the new we decided to skip the 2008 main dish and plunge into the sequel. Without wishing to be too spoilery, what unfurled was, for the first three quarters of the movie, a most excellent post-apocalyptic bunker narrative: taut, tense and with a clever blurring of appearance and reality, truth and lies intertwined, interest was piqued, the seat’s edge was perched upon. Great acting by John Goodman and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Fans of Misery and Wool line up… The last quarter was…. Interesting, to say the least, and perhaps didn’t make much sense if you HAD skipped the first movie…
So my review of this comes with a caveat: I only saw about 50% of Lights Out. For the rest of the film my vision was obscured by my partner’s arm. I, er, had an itch.
Lights Out, like so many horror films that have me burying my face in my partner’s armpit, is based on a very simple (yet terrifying) concept: a monster that appears when the lights are off.
It masterfully plays on that instinctual childhood fear of turning the lights off, and allows for some wonderful set pieces. One that took about five years off my life involved someone leaving their office late at night, turning the lights off and seeing… a figure. They turn the lights on, it reappears. They repeat this five or six times. Then BAM the monster is RIGHT IN THEIR FACE (and I am hiding in an armpit).
Personally speaking, I am never going to turn off my lights again. Screw polar bears.
Unfortunately my exposure to 80s horror is really underwhelming, mainly because I wasn’t born until the 90s, but I watched Stranger Things anyway and it was awesome. Every part of it tapped into an alluring nostalgia for a time I never witnessed, and the characters and plot were expertly written and portrayed. It is pretty much as close to a perfect TV series as you can get IMO – a must watch.