The Morning After: Jan. 23, 2012

Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what I’ve seen over the past week either in film or television. On the film side, if I have written a full length review already, I will post a link to that review. Otherwise, I’ll give a brief snippet of my thoughts on the film with a full review to follow at some point later. For television shows, seasons and what not, I’ll post individual comments here about each of them as I see fit.

So, here is what I watched this past week:

Haywire


There’s nothing wrong with Steven Soderbergh’s sense of direction. With Haywire, he’s created a tightly wound narrative around an ex-Marine whose freelance espionage work has put her on the wrong side of the gun. Gina Carano is fantastic as the operative whose capabilities threaten to get her killed. Soderbergh’s eclectic but well suited cast gives the film a nice jolt and Soderbergh’s reliance on naturalistic sound and fight sequences is refreshing for a genre hell bent on getting as fancy and exotic as possible. The film drags a bit, feeling a lot longer than an hour and a half. And unlike Joe Wright’s Hanna and Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive, the film tries too hard to find an inventive style different from everything else around it.

The Artist


This is a borderline rating for me. While I can appreciate the attention to period detail and craftsmanship that went into the film, the story lacks originality. Jean Dujardin is a talented discovery I’d like to see more of and carrying an entire silent film on his shoulders is a daunting, but well executed task. The film has charm and historical verve, keeping the audience engaged without the use of sound. While the score is perfectly reminiscent of the era’s compositions, it has an antiquated quality that may be lost on newer audiences. This is one of its big problems as much as the film plays well to fans of film and film history, it doesn’t exactly speak to a new generation of filmgoers. It could easily remain a niche experience bolstered by Academy recognition.

House of Anubis (Season 1, Episodes 1-45

What really amounted to two 11-minute episodes crammed back-to-back and called two episodes, I saw an actual total of around 22 episodes of the first season of House of Anubis this Nickelodeon-produced mystery drama serial is mostly what should be expected from a cheaply produced teen-focused drama. However, where it differs is in the depth of the mystery the show tells. A student at an exclusive British boarding school goes missing. At the same time a young American student arrives. Suspicion is cast at the new girl until mysterious circumstances point to a nefarious plot hatched by the cultists that have control of the school. The performances are what you would imagine such a show would produce with a lot of exaggerated expressions and excitement. Yet, it’s a charming little show that is quite fun if you enjoy a good supernatural-style mystery program. I’m hooked enough to want to keep watching even if it is well below my age demographic.

Merlin (Season 2, Episodes 5-11)

Not outside my age range, Merlin remains one of the finest re-imaginings of Arthurian legend yet produced. There are two episodes left in the season and I’m captivated as the various strings begin unraveling and a war begins to brew between the anti-magic King of Camelot Uther Pendragon and the druids, witches and other magical folk resentful of his attempt to clamp down on their practices and wipe them out of existence. As we are introduced to more and more familiar characters, the show begins to elicit smiles from anyone at all familiar with the story. I’m going to watch until the end, which has purportedly been negotiated for the end of season 4. So, at least I have another couple of seasons to enjoy the show. There are still a few problems, the most of which is the relationship between Arthur and Merlin never seeming to progress and Arthur and Uther not growing as characters, but these are minor issues that I fully expect to resolve themselves in the future.

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