The World to Come

Abigail and Tallie get close

Mona Fastvold’s second film, The World to Come, continues her tick-tocking exploration of timebomb relationships, much as did her first one, 2014’s The Sleepwalker. And like The Sleepwalker, this also toys with the viewer, delaying the explosive payoff until its moment has started to recede over the hill. Has Fastvold been watching Hungarian master miserablist Béla Tarr, I wondered. If so, it might explain the disengaged atmosphere. An early shot, of frontier couple Abigail (Katherine Waterston) and Dyer (Casey Affleck) sitting down to eat a solitary boiled potato, was reminiscent of a scene in Tarr’s final film, 2011’s The Turin Horse, a drama so bleak that it dares you not to titter. Also … Read more

Our Friend

Jason Segel and Dakota Johnson

  I’m not sure who the audience for terminal disease weepies is. Not me, for sure. But Our Friend is a remarkably good one. When we die, or as we die, the highs and lows of the life just lived end up being tallied. That’s what this film does, taking particular account of one high that would have passed unnoticed if something really bad hadn’t come along. The high is Jason Segel as the titular Friend, the something really bad is the cancer diagnosis that Nicole (Dakota Johnson) receives. The action actually snakes back and forth through 14 years of the relationship between Nicole and her husband Matt (Casey Affleck) but it’s the … Read more

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

Casey Affleck and Brad Pitt in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

  A movie for every day of the year – a good one     3 April   Jesse James dies 1882 On this day in 1882, the outlaw Jesse Woodson James died. Born in Missouri, he had come to prominence as the leader of the James-Younger gang having served as a Confederate guerrilla in the American Civil with his brother Frank. Continuing in peacetime the activities that had been sanctioned during the war, he robbed banks, trains, stagecoaches. His gang was most prolific from the years immediately after the War, which had ended in 1865, and it continued successfully until 1876 when its raid on a bank in Northfield, Minnesota, failed, resulting … Read more

The Killer Inside Me

Jessica Alba in The Killer Inside Me

  A movie for every day of the year – a good one     15 November     The Clutter family murder, 1959 On this day in 1959, ex-prisoners Dick Hickock and Perry Smith killed wealthy farmer Herbert Clutter, his wife and his two teenage children in their remote farmhouse home in Holcomb, Kansas. Acting on information gleaned from a cellmate while inside, Hickock believed that Clutter kept a safe full of cash at his house and that he would easily be able to get his hands on it, abscond and start a new life in Mexico with the money. Clutter, a solid methodist, a conscientious family man and well-liked employer who … Read more