It won’t surprise me if later years raise this on my list for me. There is an inherent metaphor present in the premise of a child who has only ever known a world between four walls that I find very compelling. I would spoil too much of what happens in the film to explain too deeply, but after the film was finished, I had so much rattling around in my head — about perspective, about being held captive from birth, and about the terror and hope of moving beyond what we know — that I was largely speechless.
I don’t know of a single person in my life that has not at one time or another been failed by the Church. Either through hypocrisy, condemnation, neglect, politicizing, or even outright abuse, I think everyone has or eventually will experience disappointment with the institution which claims to be the people of God on Earth. Some of these failings are matters of personal perspective, but some, like the ones I saw handled in the two films I’m about to discuss, are issues of deep violation and betrayal.
Death in the Desert is an odd little movie. It had all the potential of a genuine cult indie thriller in the overall tone, visual style and musical score. But it is hindered by a multitude of sizable problems.
Supposedly based on the true story of the murder of a tycoon in the outskirts of Las Vegas, the movie tries very hard to establish an ominous quality to its narrative and for the most part, the tone is where it should be. But early promise never quite becomes anything more than that.
Some stories are as old as storytelling itself. One of them is this: a damsel, pure and fair, has been captured by a dragon. It then falls to a group of upright knights, none of whom are fully sure they’re a match for the beast, to enter its lair and retrieve her.
If you substitute the knights for old west citizens and the dragon for a tribe of cannabilistic savages, you’ve summarized Bone Tomahawk, the directorial debut of S. Craig Zahler starring Kurt Russell. I cannot recall a movie like it in recent memory, yet it feels almost mythologically traditional. It manages to somehow be epic in its scope and simultaneously two-sentence-tiny in its premise. It is relentlessly brutal in its violence, yet restrained in how rarely that violence presents itself. It has a constant tone of dread while somehow managing to maintain an ember of hope glowing at its center.
In this episode, Tyler and Reed discuss Michael Dougherty’s Krampus and Clive Donner’s A Christmas Carol.
00:00:44- Intro, Reed’s website
00:53:17- A Christmas Carol (1984)
01:32:08- Episode wrap-up
I took a poll recently among my friends to discover what was their favorite adaptation of Charles Dickens’s immortal classic short novel A Christmas Carol. The polling group was no more than twenty people, but the votes yielded a nearly unanimous result. The landslide winner was Brian Henson’s The Muppet Christmas Carol.
Film franchises are far from rare, but what is rare is for a film franchise to still have something relevant and noteworthy to say once it crosses the second or third installment. What is even rarer about Creed is that it is part of a franchise which is original to film, is not set within a typically franchised genre, and manages to somehow retell the first story in a fresh way while also elevating the stories which followed at the same time.
There’s a somewhat unfair quality that most audience members have when they see a film produced by a proven creative team. When a studio’s filmography includes entries which thrive on originality, subverting viewer expectations, and breaking through generational boundaries, films which are merely competent are often treated poorly by comparison. The Good Dinosaur, the latest entry in the canon from Pixar Animation Studios, suffers by being merely a good movie rather than a great one.