As the credits rolled at the end of the film I was pretty gutted that I didn’t see Free Solo in the cinema. I can only imagine the sense of vertigo I would have gotten if I saw the documentary’s dizzying visuals on the big screen, but I honestly do not know if I could’ve watched Alex Honnold’s monumental climb up the El Capitan until the end.
Based on the play of the same name by Jordan Harrison, Marjorie Prime takes place in a near future where it’s possible to hire a holographic version of a loved one, which will retain and store any memories told by those around it and retell them to anyone who asks. At the start of the film this service is hired for 85-year-old Marjorie (veteran actress Lois Smith) who is entering the first stages of Alzheimer’s disease. She chooses a younger version of her late husband Walter (Jon Hamm) to help her relive the memories she’s concerned she’ll forget. Her daughter Tess (Geena Davis) is skeptical of the idea, and is distrusting towards the service, and this is where the conflicts arrive. Although the film maintains its theatrical origins in terms of its intimate setting, its thematically rich in the questions it asks about how we remember things, and how we cope with past traumas. As the film progresses, the family’s past tragedies are revealed through scenes helmed by fantastic performances by Smith, Davis, and Tim Robbins (portraying Tess’s husband and Marjorie’s son-in-law, Jon). It’s a wonderful chamber-piece with such well-developed characters for actors who unbelievably haven’t had significant roles in films for years.
For almost two decades, screenwriter Alex Garland has been using genre films as a means to ask questions about humanity in dire circumstances. From the alarming, frenetic scenarios in 28 Days Later to the ideas of the fragility of youth and friendship quietly raised in his underrated adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, Garland has had a varied career. In 2015, Garland finally directed one of his best screenplays and the result was Ex Machina, a crafty claustrophobic film that asked thoughtful questions about our increasing relationship with artificial intelligence. The film earned Garland a well-deserved Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay for his inquisitive, smart genre storytelling, but I think more could have been said about his tight framing, apt use of claustrophobic settings, and unsettling imagery in his directorial debut. Like 28 Days Later, Ex Machina is a lean, surprising thriller with disturbing insights into the darker side of humanity. Although Garland still utilises the horror and thriller codes and conventions his films are known for in Annihilation, these are juxtaposed with beautiful, unbelievably strange images that provide such a unique viewing experience that I wish it was released in cinemas in the UK and I think it’s an outright shame that it wasn’t.
I saw many comments calling Jordan Peele the new “master of suspense” prior to the release of his sophomore feature Us and thought how high people’s expectations were getting and how some people were getting sceptical about the chances that Peele could avoid the sophomore slump after such incredible success with his debut feature Get Out. Critically lauded and commercially successful, Peele’s debut was one to envy, a striking allegorical narrative about race helmed with unforgettable imagery, intelligent satire and engaging performances Get Out brought a lot of pressure on Peele for his follow-up film and yet he’s managed to meet, if not surpass expectations with Us. Admittedly not as tight or neat as his first film, the ambition and scope of Us marks it as a very different experience to Get Out but the remarkable direction and engaging storytelling are still there.
Both my alarms are ringing yet I’ve already been
David Kellman, Eddy Galland and Bobby Shafran became a global sensation when they found each other and discovered that they were three identical triplets that had been separated at birth, paraded around television in charming interviews their unlikely story captivated a nation as the wholesome reunion of the like-able trio was a surreal sight to behold. In the footage shown in the documentary, the three are so strikingly similar in both looks and personality even though all three have been raised in three completely different environments—from Bobby’s affluent upper class upbringing, to David’s boisterous and accommodating working class family. Although extremely different in their parenting styles (Eddy’s pragmatic, somewhat cold father is a key figure in the revelatory back half) all three families were angered that the adoption agency failed to tell them that their children had identical siblings that were also up for adoption. Each family would have of course adopted the three boys together if they were given the opportunity so, they were not separated. So why was this kept hidden from them?