HUMANITY AT ITS BEST AND WORST: Sicario and The Martian


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Warning: SPOILERS
sicarioSicario, the new thriller about the drug war written by Taylor Sheridan (a first film) and directed by French Canadian flavor of the month Denis Villeneuve (Incendies, Prisoner, Enemies), is, in many ways, two movies for the price of one.
The first is an action/adventure film full of car chases and gun battles and plot twists (many of which, if truth be told, I found just a tad tenuous at best) of the action/adventure variety.
The second is a treatise on the drug war.
The first film is often quite successful and impressive. The second is, at least from my perspective, quite shallow and unconvincing.
This means that for much of the time, Sicario is definitely and highly entertaining. Sheridan and Villeneuve, along with the incredibly soaring cinematography of Roger Deakins (one of our finest today), the film editing of Joe Walker, and the heart throbbing music of Johan Johannson, have crafted an edge of your seat story that never really stops and never really lets you stop watching. Continue reading

BRAIN DEAD: Transcendence


Transcendence5-600x338Transcendence (or perhaps more aptly titled Trance-enduscence), the new sci-fi thriller written by Jack Paglen and directed by Wally Pfister (a first feature for both, though Pfister was the cinematographer on many Christopher Nolan films), is about a scientist, Will Caster, who tries to turn the world into a dystopian Eden when his brain is uploaded into a computer.
The basic structure is as familiar as any standard piece of Victorian literature, the period when Mary Shelly wrote Frankenstein, a horror story about an egotistical scientist who tries to play God by creating a man out of a bunch of miscellaneous parts from dead bodies. Continue reading