Between Sundown and Bergman Island, it is refreshing, hopeful even, to see Tim Roth on a resurgence. He has taken time away from the big screen of quality to craft three seasons of Tin Star and reunite with Pulp Fiction alumni Uma Thurman in The Con is On. The con was certainly on for that plane crash of drivel, but it was those few years in the cold, dark times of borderline depravity that Roth appears to have clicked into the next phase of his career. A gear shift has been spotted, and it starts, delightfully and cautiously with the drama-fuelled Sundown. Apathy in the face of fear guides Sundown with horrendously good and unflinching detail.
To work with Mia Hansen-Løve on Bergman Island must be a fascinating experience. To take Tim Roth and Mia Wasikowska on a trip down memory lane, of memories they never had nor have the opportunity to create, is a strange opportunity to expunge the demons that Ingmar Bergman never knew he had. His filmography is rich with contempt for mankind and himself, but Bergman Island takes the venom out, not to protect its audience, but to help them understand and analyse the world around them. It is that fine line between gushing with thanks for the Swedish director and critiquing his work to the point of the piece becoming an arthouse critical essay. Hansen-Løve blurs that well and creates an exciting bit of drama that gets as meta as it does exciting.
It’s certainly no Ran. While Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings may look to boast effective, huge spectacles, some of the magic is taken out of the stature. It is not there. While the iconography is, the heart is not. But that is what audiences should expect of Marvel. It brags about its special effects and its action scenes yet is just another Marvel feature that allows the secret society trope to reign supreme. Are there not enough of those already? Evidently not. For such a vast and expansive universe on offer, it is disappointing to see how most of it hits the same riffs and notes as all the others.
There’s something about the suits. Reservoir Dogs sticks out not just for its hypermasculinity and love of violence, its rich character studies and intertextual relations, but for its costume design. It helps that the freshman efforts of Quentin Tarantino provide such magnificent variety, even when struck with such a small budget for a project that, in an ideal world, would be flashier and deadlier. Less is more, though. As a writer, his script feels pulpy. As a director, his film feels professional. Blending the two is something that, as a creative, he strives for with every film he creates. The results do not always work, and in most cases, they are never better than his fast-paced, almost one-room crime thriller, which draws the obvious inspirations and influences of B-Movie brutality, harsh dialogue and simplicity in its story. Reservoir Dogs is the response to a lull in the market, a reaction that would catapult the genre, cast, and crew, to greatness.
As David Lynch toys with his thematics and prose, Twin Peaks: The Return takes on a strange, unique form. Continuing on the events of Twin Peaks to some degree, the eighteen-episode series has a mind of its own. Shattering the traditional conventions of television with an ensemble cast of vaguely connected events, the highs and lows of Twin Peaks: The Return all circle around Lynch’s ability to feed a narrative through a series of inconsequential, yet wholly interesting events. That is the beauty and the brainlessness of the show, with a thankfully larger deal of highs than lows. Adapting a television show decades after its initial run is no small feat, any creative should fear such a challenge, but this director and his lengthy list of cast members seem up for the challenge.
Littering a cast with phenomenal actors in the heyday of their respective careers and mixing in a lovely dollop of personal interest in the culinary field, and you have a film that feels like it caters to a specific portion of my life. I’m no good at cooking, but the closest I can get to even wishing to improve that craft is by watching the various films and television shows available that look to feature restauranteurs and the fine art of perfect cookery in various shades of detail. The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover is a film that does just that. Bringing in cookery elements to various degrees, whilst piling it on top of dramatic musings from a cast of remarkably eccentric, vivid, and courageously angry performances and you have quite the engaging film.