Technically, War for the Planet of the Apes is a triumph. There are no two ways about it. The fully computer-generated ape protagonists aren’t perfect all of the time just yet, but they have heft and weight and they’re expressive and believable – and while I cannot say how much of the performance is the work of the actors and how much is the animators’, all of these deserve all the praise they receive and more. Outside fully animated films of the Disney and Pixar kind, I cannot remember a film that relied so heavily on non-human protagonists where, after a few minutes, you accept and stop thinking about the fact that the leads in the story aren’t the same species as you.
Today, legendary French actress Jeanne Moreau died at the age of 89.
Back in 2013, if you liked your crime to be character-driven, if you were keen on small towns whose idyllic surface belies the darkness below, if you were looking for something altogether less surreal and more British than Twin Peaks, then Broadchurch was a good option. The series wasn’t novel in its plot or themes, but it delivered its tale of a small community being brought to the breaking point by a horrible crime with honesty, sensitivity and the kind of cast that would make grown men weep.
So how do you ruin a series that was rightly lauded as excellent and, more importantly, that told a complete story? You make a second series that is badly plotted and that signals its pointlessness at every twist and turn. And yes, it did make grown men weep.
Change is coming. In fact, change has already come. You may have noticed the dearth of ads on the site – unless you’re one of the naughty boys and girls who use Adblock, that is. If you look up at your browser’s address bar, you might notice a change of URL as well. It’s been time to retire the Goofy Beast – we’re now called eaglesonpogosticks.com, which I’m sure we’ll regret soon as the God of Search Engine Optimisation banishes us to the nether regions of the web.
That’s not all, though: thanks to the new and shiny WordPress plan we’re on now, we have so much storage space, we don’t really know what to do with it. I’m sure we’ll come up with an idea, though. Any day now something’ll pop into our brains. Any… day… If we still haven’t come up with anything cool, snazzy and oh-so-early 21st century by autumn, you can tell us off.
So, with no further ado, welcome to eaglesonpogosticks.com and farewell to goofybeast.wordpress.com. We’ve had a lot of good time and we’ll miss you.
The Leftovers was already an odd beast in its first season. Here’s a series about a world where, on October 14 three years ago, 2% of the world’s population just vanished. Poof. You may have been sitting at breakfast with your family, you may have been getting in the car where you’ve just put your infant after shopping for groceries, you may have been in the middle of having a tryst with someone not your wife – and from one moment to the next, they’re gone. Your highschool sweetheart that you occasionally see at the store? Gone. The old man who touched you when you were a kid? Gone. What’s this? The Rapture?
I grew up roughly during the last dozen years of Apartheid, in a country that lived up to its tradition of supposed neutrality covering up business connections to an unsavoury regime. I faintly remember people boycotting Granny Smith apples and, somewhat less faintly, Eddy Grant’s song “Gimme Hope Jo’anna”. What I remember most from those times, though, is Cry Freedom, a 1987 film that zeroed in on the human cost of Apartheid: the exile of a liberal, middle-class white journalist and his family from their chosen home of South Africa.
Oh, and there was also something a corrupt, racist police apparatus torturing and killing the black activist and community leader Steve Biko.
Selma isn’t like that.
In the past I’ve called Hirokazu Koreeda’s films “gentle”, which is perhaps a misleading term. It makes the director and his works sound soft and pleasant and, well, sort of nothingy. Which is giving both them and the adjective short shrift – these days especially, both on and off the screen, we could do with more gentleness. It also suggests that it’s easy to underestimate Koreeda and his films, because doing what he does – and, more importantly, doing it well – is exceedingly challenging. Koreeda’s films have an uplifting humanity that is sadly rare, not just in cinema.