Albert Lamorisse's flights of fancy come to Criterion courtesy of a gorgeous new box set.
There are few things more wondrous than a child's imagination -- its capacity to uplift itself beyond the pain and doldrums of everyday life to see the world through new eyes. One of cinema's greatest chroniclers of that imagination is French filmmaker Albert Lamorisse, a contemporary of the French New Wave who literally went high where his peers went low. His domain was in short, charming, powerful films often linking child protagonists to wonders both terrestrial and supernatural: an animal that captures their heart, or the unyielding power of flight. Now, Criterion has captured that magic in a new two-disc Blu-ray set containing the bulk of Lamorisse's flashes of cinematic whimsy.
The crown jewel of the pack, of course, is 1956's The Red Balloon, the only short film to ever receive a major Academy Award (for Best Original Screenplay; no small feat, considering the film, like many of Lamorisse's, relies on very little dialogue). It's a simple, elemental tale of a boy (Lamorisse's son, Pascal, a frequent star of his works) walking the grey, rundown streets of postwar Paris -- the Ménilmontant neighborhood, to be specific -- only to find himself befriending a bright red balloon that follows him everywhere. The two seem to build some ineffable connection, a bond that plays out through the streets of Ménilmontant. The boy's parents and teachers don't understand their friendship. His peers envy it, chasing them through the streets to tragic ends. Continue Reading →
Netflix’s action-comedy is deadly short on both.
There’s something undeniably attractive about the premise of Obliterated. A highly skilled team of soldiers, spies, bomb experts, and tech geniuses stop on nuclear bomb detonation in the heart of Las Vegas and fully celebrate their victory. And by fully celebrate, we mean FULLY. Drugs, alcohol, exotic animals, hundreds of guests, plenty of sex toys, and so on. Then they wake in the morning to find their mission wasn’t as successful as they thought, and now they have no choice but to try and save the day in various stages of loaded and hungover.
Sadly, miles exist between premise and execution. Think the difference between visiting the Bellagio in Vegas and the Tropicana in Atlantic City. Then double it. Maybe triple it. Put it another way, Obliterated is bad. Very bad. Continue Reading →
The sea is always a great setting for a story. It’s both soothing and menacing; water is cleansing and purifying, and a consistently replenishing source of food. But it’s also dangerous and uncompromising. Water is one of nature’s greatest antagonists, it can get into virtually anything, softening it, weakening it, eventually breaking it apart. But nothing on earth would survive without it. It’s a brilliant metaphor for so many things, as it’s constantly changing and moving and covers wondrous and monstrous secrets. It works even better in visual mediums like TV and film because it’s beautiful to both look at and listen to. The CW’s new eco-thriller, The Swarm, makes good use of its watery locations in establishing an aura of tranquil menace: everything seems calm and orderly, but there’s trouble bubbling up just below the surface. Continue Reading →
Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty
There’s no denying Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty remains entertaining in its second season. There’s no denying that its panoply of digital tricks holds the viewer’s attention, whether what’s on-screen is a scrimmage gone awry or a father meeting his child for the first time. But does that mean it’s good? Continue Reading →
Star Trek: Prodigy
Can you have Starfleet without Starfleet? That’s the essential question Star Trek: Prodigy asks in the back half of its first season. As the villainous Diviner (John Noble) told his daughter last time, the advanced vessel ferrying the series’ young heroes contains a weapon that could decimate the Federation. If that weren’t enough, the flesh-and-blood Vice Admiral Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) has reason to think whoever’s piloting the Protostar stole the ship and marooned her dear friend, Chakotay. So despite how badly the show’s main characters want to join Starfleet, there’s a plethora of reasons to stay far, far away for the time being. Continue Reading →
Star Trek: Lower Decks
When Beckett Mariner (Tawny Newsome) began this season, she harbored nothing but mistrust for Starfleet and resolved to rescue her mother all by herself, even as it turned out Mom didn’t need saving. Now, at season’s end, Mariner returns, ready to fight for both the people and the idea of Starfleet, and she enlists the help of her comrades and colleagues to rescue Captain Freeman (Dawnn Lewis) in a moment where she could really use the save. Continue Reading →
Season Two of Reservation Dogs opens with the aftermath of last season. Elora (Devery Jacobs) left fellow Rez Dogs Bear (D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai), Willie Jack (Paulina Alexis), and Cheese (Lane Factor) high and dry as she ran away to Cali with Jackie (Elva Guerra), one of their group's sworn enemies. They’re all trying to grow up and move on from their haunted pasts, and their friend Daniel’s (Dalton Cramer) death still lingers. Will a prayer and Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’” be enough to lift the curse and bring the Rez Dogs back together? It’s a slow-burn season, balancing the drama and the comedy of the teens coming of age both on and off the reservation. Continue Reading →
Star Trek: Discovery
Plenty of Star Trek shows hit their stride in season four. The timing makes sense. After four years together, the cast and crew have all had time to jell. The writers have had long enough to hone the show’s voice and course correct for any missteps. And there’s still enough mileage left in the original premise and characters to take them to interesting places. Continue Reading →
At The Spool, generally, we try to keep the work front and center. We try to center the work, not ourselves. I say all of that here as a preface because I am both a therapist and a therapy client. I’m reviewing In Treatment as a fictional dramatic work, but I’m also honest enough to acknowledge that framing and guiding some of my opinions will be my own experiences and, while I hesitate to use the term, expertise. Continue Reading →
In a perfect world, every sitcom would have a first season that never sees the light of day. That’s because it usually takes a season for the actors to grow comfortable in their characters’ skins, and for the show’s writers to fine-tune the dynamics of the ensemble into something compelling. The new season of Apple TV+’s Mythic Quest is a perfect example of a show finding itself after taking ten episodes to figure things out. Continue Reading →
The Pale Horse
Amazon's adaptation of the Agatha Christie mystery keeps the author's innate spirit for intrigue.
The dreary insistence of death permeates every fiber of The Pale Horse, a new mystery miniseries from BBC arriving on Amazon Prime Video this Friday the 13th, if you dare. Composed of just two hour-long episodes, The Pale Horse is a loose adaptation of the 1961 detective novel by Agatha Christie, one of her final works. To adapt the story’s complex web of intriguingly dark characters, Sarah Phelps (EastEnders) innovates the material through clever addition and subtraction, while maintaining the harrowing spirit of Christie’s pen.
Set in 1960s London, The Pale Horse follows the stoic Mark Easterbrook (Rufus Sewell), a rich antique dealer whose wife Delphine (Georgina Campbell) tragically died a year prior. Though she haunts Mark at seemingly every moment he’s not awake, the aging socialite has already taken in a new young wife, Hermia (Kaya Scodelario), who appears to have a more violent temperament hidden beneath her cold, pristine exterior.
It’s not long before a string of coincidental deaths and unexplainable occurrences begin to take shape all around Easterbrook. The woman he’s been cheating with dies mysteriously and suddenly in her sleep and the seemingly unrelated death of a shopkeeper turns up a list in her possession with his name on it. Bewildered by the stink of death all over him and now his world of friends and acquaintances, Easterbrook sets out on a personal investigation to discover what’s really happening, all while being hounded by the unrelenting Inspector Lejeune (Sean Pertwee). Continue Reading →