Officially in mourning as one of the best TV series I’ve seen ends for good. Fargo has ended its original run after its third season with Ewan McGregor in a dual role that continues Noah Hawley’s inspired, rich and psychologically and cinematically powerful morality tale. Hawley incredibly linked the three seasons; all set in different time periods in the Fargo/ Bemidji / Sioux Falls /St. Cloud / Eden Valley area of Minnesota (Calgary, Fort Macleod, and Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada) in insanely inventive ways, sometimes with merely a brief shot, a photo on a wall or a sequence. The Cold War, East Berlin, and sprawling murderous plots of the Middle American tale reaches Biblical proportions, and were simply pure, unadulterated brilliance. Thank you Noah Hawley, Martin Freeman, Billy Bob Thornton, Alison Tollman, Colin Hanks, Jean Smart, Kirsten Dunst, Patrick Wilson, Bokeem Woodbine, Jesse Plemons, Zahn McClarnon, Carrie Coon, David Thewlis, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and every single contributor to one of the best shows ever especially to FX the brave network that made it happen and broke the mould.
Rachel Weisz plays the titular role in Roger Michell’s My Cousin Rachel adapted from Daphne Du Maurier’s 1951 novel. A young Englishman discovers his wealthy and beloved guardian has died under mysterious circumstances in Florence while living with his new bride, who happens to their cousin. The young man is sure the woman poisoned him, based on a few scribbles in the mail. He vows vengeance but when she arrives at their stately home, his hatred soon turns to googly eyed infatuation. They hit it off and he believes she loves him. They get cosy, and he is ready to hand over the kingdom. Clearly a case of reality versus illusion deliciously heightened via Michell’s directorial choices. Considered to be Gothic cotton candy when it was published My Cousin Rachel has been adapted to good fun, even with its dark moody romanticism and obsession with death and dying. Oh! And the set design, the wardrobe and the jewels! Sam Claflin, Rachel Weisz, Holliday Grainger and the awesome Iain Glen star. Prepare to discuss afterwards.
Gabriela Cowperthwaite directs Megan Leavey; the true story of a woman’s awakening thanks to a dog. Leavey (Kate Mara) was leading an aimless life before joining the Marines where discipline and purpose began to change her. As a Military Police K9 handler stationed in Iraq she led her dog Rex on 100 IED sniffing missions. According to the real life Leavey, he taught her to love and saved her life, time and time again. They were inseparable but both were severely injured in a bomb blast. Leavey was sent home but Rex was recommissioned even with serious medical and psychological problems. Leavey determines to bring him home to live out his remaining years with her, reaching out to the highest levels of government. This is a story of reparation, determination and unconditional love. Edie Falco, Common, Bradley Whitford and Harry Potter villain Tom Felton co-star.
Brian Cox brings a new perspective to Winston Churchill, British Prime Minster in WWII in the days leading up to the ill-fated D-Day landings of June 1944. Churchill is thrust into depression unable to convince Allied leaders to cancel Operation Overlord, the invasion of Nazi occupied France. They’re keen to make use of a small window of opportunity and proceed without him. Churchill is haunted by the deaths of 500,000 soldiers under his watch in Gallipoli during WWI, while General Eisenhower (John Slattery) and Field Marshal Montgomery (Julian Wadham) dismiss him, his experience and instinct to push on. Churchill’s strength wanes as he is overcome by guilt. Interesting story, unknown to many of us, but its uneven and capable performances can’t stop it from being too long and maudlin.
Alex Kurtzman’s sci fi spectacular The Mummy starring Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe in which an ancient Egyptian princess bearing a grudge against those who took what was hers, rises from the dead for vengeance, millennia later to launch savage vengeance.
The tagline is great “Imagine the end of the world. Now imagine something worse.” Trey Edward’s Shults’ psychological horror-thriller It Comes At Night concerns a family trapped inside against some unnamed horror outside. One day a couple and their child show up, seeking protection. They take them in. Not smart, folks! Joel Edgerton, Carmen Ejogo, Christopher Abbott and Riley Keough star.
Holy Cow! Mark Kidel’s Becoming Cary Grant on Crave is fabulous, a psychological documentary on Archie Leach, the tragic, insecure Brighton boy who became the biggest star in the world. Cary Grant, despite his disarming, smooth charm and carefree manner, was besieged by demons from a childhood trauma. This is known, because the doc is based on Grant‘s own unpublished autobiography. Later in his life, an experimental treatment by a Los Angeles doctor saw Grant takes at least 100 guided LSD trips, a desperate attempt to understand his failures with women and himself. The doc includes his painful recollections of doomed love and broken marriages and his recognition of the fact that he sabotaged them. Your heart will break for this poor man, undone by an event when he was a mere child, who failed to come to terms until his 50’s. This is a masterly made doc as a standalone and as a humanization of Hollywood’s greatest leading man.
Netflix has unlocked the slammer for Season Five of Orange Is the New Black and revolution is in the air with a knife in its hand. Poussey’s shocking death sparks a riot and coup as the Litchfield ladies take control. The entire season takes place over a three day period as the ladies fight – sometimes fairly – for redemption, resolution and respect. As one revved up inmate cries “It’s like a party, only terrifying!” I’d like to quote another barely legal lady, Miss Bette Davis ““Fasten your seatbelts; it’s going to be a bumpy night”. I love how Blair Brown brings serious performance to this comic circus. Warning – an alarm sounds throughout – it’s broken and there is no one to fix it. Grrrr.
Taking place this weekend at TIFF Bell Lightbox is the ninth annual Canadian Sport Film Festival (CSFF) http://www.sportfilmfestival.ca, with a diverse slate of feature and short-length films, documentaries, and animations examine sports in terms of health, humanities, as inspiration and aspiration. Among the 23 films are Salluit Run Club about a group of Inuit students training to run a half-marathon in Hawaii, Rebecca Carpenter’s Requiem for a Running Back about concussion and brain trauma in the NFL, The Surrounding Game about ‘Go’, the oldest board game still played in its original form, and Keepers of the Game about an aboriginal girls’ lacrosse team who blaze a path for the next gen Mohawk women.