30 Coins is a Spanish supernatural horror fantasy TV drama that draws heavily from the Catholic religion and mythology. The series is created and directed by noted Spanish filmmaker Álex de la Iglesia. The 8-part 30 Coins Season 1 of is an ambitious mystery thriller utilising several conspiracy theories relating to the Catholic church, much in the vein of Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon series.
Our analysis of 30 Coins Season 1 contains spoilers.
Outside the Wire is a 2021 scifi war thriller streaming on Netflix. The film is set in 2036 and stars Anthony Mackie (who also serves as a producer on the film) as an android officer who works with a drone pilot (Damson Idris) to stop a global catastrophe. Our short take on Outside the Wire is that it is possessed of both an interesting premise and a strong underlying message but certain narrative choices turn the third act into a unsatisfying cliché.
Please note that there are spoilers in our analysis of Outside the Wire that follows.
Shadow in the Cloud is an action thriller directed by Roseanne Liang from a screenplay co-written by Max (Chronicle) Landis and Liang. Shadow in the Cloud had its world premiere on September 12, 2020 at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival, where it won the People’s Choice Award for Midnight Madness. The movie is now available digitally worldwide.
Promising Young Woman is a 2020 black comedy thriller film directed, written, and produced by Emerald Fennell, in her feature directorial debut. Fennell is perhaps best known as the writer of the second season of the critically acclaimed Killing Eve TV series. Promising Young Woman stars Carey Milligan in the lead role.
Black Bear is a drama thriller written and directed by Lawrence Michael Levine. Black Bear stars Aubrey Plaza, Christopher Abbot and Sarah Gadon. The movie adopts a unique meta-storytelling device that offers an interesting take of the film making process. The film actually consists of two storylines revolving around the principal actors.
Tenet is a scifi action thriller written and directed by Christopher Nolan. The movie stars John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki and Kenneth Branagh. The story of Tenet involves a secret agent (Washington) who has to save the world from a nefarious plan involving time manipulation executed by the villain of the piece viz. Branagh.
Possessor is an indie scifi horror movie written and directed by Brandon Cronenberg. Horror buffs will of course recognise the name Cronenberg. Brandon is the son of iconic film-maker David Cronenberg, director of movies like The Fly, Dead Ringers, Scanners, Rabid et al.
Is The Exorcist the best horror movie ever made? Based on William Peter Blatty’s best-selling novel and directed by William Friedkin, the 1973 movie was a smash hit when it was first released and its significance and influence on the genre has not diminished in the years since.
If you are looking for no-frills, lo-fi, indie horror thrills, look no further than the excellent Rent-A-Pal. Written and directed by Jon Stevenson, Rent-A-Pal stars Wil Wheaton (of Star Trek fame) and Brian Landis Folkins, as the protagonist.
Sputnik is a Russian scifi horror-thriller released this year. Set in 1983, the story revolves around a young psychiatrist’s efforts to help a cosmonaut who had bonded with an alien creature while in space. Sputnik channels a seventies scifi movie vibe and is loosely influenced by classic alien horror like Alien. Please note that this Sputnik movie review contains spoilers.
The main character in Sputnik is Dr. Tatyana Klimova (Oksana Akinshina), a young psychiatrist recruited by Colonel Semiradov (Fyodor Bondarchuk), the officer in charge of a military base holding cosmonaut Kostantin (Pyotr Fyodorov). Klimova is tasked to find a way to separate Konstantin from the alien creature.
While the plot is uncomplicated, its details are slowly revealed to the audience in a clever way so that the protagonist has to alter her decisions and behaviour to adapt to the new information.
Klimova goes from co-operating with Colonel Semiradov to conspiring against him due to his unethical methods. She also takes greater risks as the movie reaches its final act, in order, to save Konstantin, whom she has fallen in love with.
As mentioned earlier, Sputnik has a very strong seventies scifi movie vibe. A very deliberate pace and realistic tone keeps the audience guessing throughout. We are able to identify with Klimova as her emotions and motivations adjust to the evolving circumstances. Especially in the final act, when drastic action needs to be taken by Klimova and Konstantin.
The setting (Cold War era Soviet Union) is reflected in many of the character’s motivations. Konstantin sees himself as a national hero and appears to have a narcissistic tendency. Colonel Semiradov views the alien creature as a potential weapon to serve the communist cause. Klimova is above these concerns, her main goal is to help Konstantin and hopefully separate him from the alien creature.
No happy endings
The dark ending is again aligned with an early 70s movie vibe. A poignant though-provoking denouement that eschews the American penchant for positivity. Also, considered the genre trappings, the movie is clearly a standalone work, with no hints of any sequels to continue the story. Highly recommended.
Let us know what you thought of our Sputnik movie review at our Power of Pop Facebook page. Check out our other story analyses.
Never watched any of the previous instalments of this lucrative franchise but not knowing anything about what happened in six previous chapters was an advantage. Yes, I know there was some back story as to why Jason Statham’s character (Deckard Shaw) had a bone to pick with Vin Diesel and his crew but it really did not matter.
As predicted last time out, the suggestion that Agent Keen would be spilling the beans about her childhood trauma and the location of the Fulcrum was really a cock tease. It was very much back to the status quo after the events of this Luther Braxton two-parter. And is anyone else getting annoyed by the Illuminati characters that are lurking ubiquitously in the background? Although, to be fair, the ending was intriguing enough to keep things boiling nicely in The Blacklist till the end of the season.
Written & Directed by Rowan Joffe Starring Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth & Mark Strong.
When the film begins, you might be forgiven to think that Before I Go To Sleep is a rip-off of Christopher Nolan’s ground-breaking Memento. After all, the protagonist Christine Lucas (Nicole Kidman) is an amnesiac and wakes up every morning with no memory of her life from her early twenties onwards.
However, whereas Memento starts at the end and the story is presented backwards, the story telling in Before I Go To Sleep – barring the odd flashback – is mostly linear. Expect numerous twists and turns along the way as Christine attempts to piece together the truth from her shattered memories.
As much as the premise is interesting (based on the novel of the same name), there is something missing in the execution of this adaptation. Colin Firth is somewhat unconvincing and Kidman herself seems to be in a constant haze. Presumably that is what the script called for but it is difficult to empathize with her character as played.
The plot – without spoiling it for you, dear reader – has quite a few gaps: with the main one being the illogical manner in which the antagonist is allowed to manipulate Christine’s life for such a long time, without anyone being the wiser. But if one is able to ignore these holes, then Before I Go To Sleep is a passable thriller – especially if you are a fan of Ms Kidman.
GONE GIRL Directed by David Fincher. Starring Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris & Tyler Perry
When you are watching a movie, you want to like it – after all, you are spending time and money to watch the movie so… wouldn’t you want to like it? I find that increasingly, the more visual eye candy the movie throws my way, the more amenable I am to accept the story flaws that inevitably crop up. But in the case of Gone Girl – director David Fincher’s adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s best selling novel, there are no special effects to distract from the plotline and thus, one would think that it would be easier to determine how successful the story-telling was.
Remember how it felt all those years ago when you first watched Dexter? You mean, the hero of the show is a serial killer? Mind-blowing, wasn’t it?
Considering how unique and groundbreaking Dexter was, it’s rather amazing that it’s taken almost seven years for more tv series involving serial killers to show up. In 2013, we’ve had The Following, Bates Motel and Hannibal take up Dexter’s challenge. Truth be told, it’s been a mixed bag so far from these three offerings.
The Following actually presents us with an entire cult of serial killers led by the charismatic Joe Carroll (James Purejoy) and pursued by the FBI and former agent Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon). The series started out promisingly enough but since then has degenerated into a totally implausible tale, where the FBI is constantly represented as incompetent and helpless whilst Carroll, is somewhat portrayed as an infallible super-villain! Utterly preposterous – the inherent flaw in the plot requires that Carroll never be caught which results in ridiculously unrealistic stories. What is truly amazing is that the series has been renewed for a second season already! Now that is a crime…
Bates Motel is obviously based on elements taken from Alfred Hitchcock’s seminal Psycho movie. A prequel of sorts but set in modern times (the movie was, of course, filmed in the early 60s), Bates Motel is a strange beast and so far rather mystifying. There is a general creepiness about the town in which the Bates (mother Norma and young son Norman – not forgetting older son, Dylan) reside in and there is a sense of a dark underbelly to the town in question. The leads (Vera Famiga and Freddie Highmore) do credible jobs with their respective roles and there is enough brand awareness to keep viewers interested (as evidenced by the series being renewed for a second season) but overall, I am waiting for the series to deliver a more than average impact.
Although only the premiere has aired thus far, Bryan Fuller’s re-imagining of Thomas Harris’ Red Dragon holds the greatest promise of the trio. Focusing on the relationship between special FBI investigator Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) and psychiatrist Hannibal Lector (Mads Mikkelsen), there is much to admire in Hannibal. The genuine attempt made to connect the audience with Graham’s fraught psycho-analytical experiences and Mikkelsen’s deliciously dark portrayal of the sinister Lecter, makes Hannibal one of the more surprisingly successful TV series revolving around a serial killer.
With Dexter on its last legs, I am betting on Hannibal to deliver the thrills, spills and yes, the kills, in the weeks to come.