Things I’ve seen in 2014

It’s been a year of good series. The palatable horror of two seasons of Hannibal, which is much, much more than a retreading of the Thomas Harris books. The creepiness of Les Revenants, an elaborate French ghost story. The film-noir style and jarring relationship between the two cops in True Detective. The first season of The Fall with its head-to-head between a cop and a serial murderer. The first season of Utopia in which five comic-book fans try to decipher their favourite graphic novel. (The Fall and Utopia clearly turn for the worse in their second seasons.) Happy Valley. I also found good things in Broadchurch, The Leftovers, and Top of the Lake.

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Movie-wise, it was a year of diminished returns, but I would like to point out The Salt of the Earth, Nightcrawler, Everyday Rebellion, and Blue Ruin. I’ve written elsewhere about Ida and Locke, but the annual movie cake must go to the excellence of Under the Skin. I’ve praised Jonathan Glazer’s movies elsewhere, but I’ve seen this one first drunk, then sober, and it works both ways. Some scenes are so strong that they have become part of my movie-going DNA.


In some respects, Under the Skin is a horror movie, but there is really only one moment where you might jump out of your seat. At its core, it’s a story about… well, an alien visiting Earth, for whatever reason or to whatever end. She (she?) is very busy trying to get to know the human race in a lonely, isolated Scotland. She lures males into a pool of black quicksand, and since she looks like Scarlett Johansson, there are several willing victims. She’s not evil, but seems to imitate what she thinks is female human behavior. To her surprise, she discovers in herself a kind of empathy, until she no longer has the upper hand.

Since this is the point where one chapter ends, I would like to thank Matt K. for Les Revenants, and Patrick M. for Southland. Another chapter will begin soon: I am looking forward to Inherent Vice and Birdman. Countless surprises await in the rectangular dark. We’ll see.

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