Jennifer Jason Leigh

Annihilation (2018) [DVD]

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Contains some mild/implied spoilers

I’m a huge fan of writer-director Alex Garland, whose Ex Machina was one of my favourite films of 2014. So I was a bit irked to find that I’d missed his follow-up offering Annihilation which for the life of me I couldn’t remember doing the rounds at the local cinema.

I was somewhat mollified to find out that in fact the film apparently bypassed a theatrical release in the UK and was offered here instead exclusively via Netflix. Since I’m not a subscriber to that particular streaming service, I would have had to wait for its release on old fashioned DVD and Blu-ray home media in any case, which it turned out happened to be earlier this month.

The film, based on a novel by Jeff VanderMeer, features Natalie Portman as Lena, a former US Army soldier who is now a leading cellular-biology professor. She’s in mourning for her husband Kane (Oscar Isaac) who left on a top secret covert military mission a year ago and hasn’t been heard of again since. Except now he turns up, a shell of the man she remembers and also seriously ill. Lena sets out to find out what happened to him in the hope that she can find a cure, and her search takes her into a strangely warped area of Florida land in which the natural laws of reality no longer apply after a meteorite impacted the shoreline three years previously. Read the rest of this entry »

The Hateful Eight (2015) [Blu-ray]

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hatefuleight-0If I’m being entirely honest, I’ve always been somewhat ambivalent about Quentin Tarantino’s films. I loved his début feature Reservoir Dogs, admiring its lean simplicity and its bold and innovative approach to filmmaking. But when it came to Pulp Fiction – a film beloved by pretty much everyone else in the known universe, it seems – I was already tiring of his stylistic tics and a tendency for his films to overstay their welcome. That direction of travel continued through his two-part revenge epic Kill Bill; and even though his more recent films including Django Unchained and Inglorious Bastards have aimed for more serious subject matter and a weightier feel, they’ve still not convinced me that Tarantino is the cinematic genius that he and so many other fans and critics like to claim that he is. Read the rest of this entry »