A week in film – 2016, week 20

How the HELL is it week 20 of 2016 already?! This year, and this batch of viewing, seems to have disappeared at an alarming rate. In fact, it’s almost time for a middle-of-the-year review post. For a vaguely significant week it feels like I should have more to say, but viewing’s actually been remarkably low-key. I feel like I should have watched almost all of Agent Carter, for example, to mourn its anticipated but no less upsetting series death. Instead, though, I’ve got the usual suspects, my new comedy obsession, and a newfound animated object of adoration. Is that exciting enough for a twentieth week post?

To start with the comedy, for a change, my viewing of Silicon Valley continues. I know that it gets a lot of rave reviews – some of which I’ve read – but that still doesn’t really compare to actually watching, and enjoying it, for yourself. In an uncharacteristic show of TV-based restraint I’m watching it pretty slowly, only really getting through a few episodes a week, but I’m seeing this as ‘appropriate adult behaviour’ (yeah, this is how I’ve chosen to define adulthood) rather than a reflection on my enjoyment. The comedy itself isn’t that adult – I’m probably only four or five episodes in, and there’s been at least one projectile vomit joke – and its central characters are in that strange, weird adult-child stage of development. Unlike Love, though, this hasn’t reached the point of being annoying. Right now, I’m even finding that pretty funny. So far, Silicon Valley has joined the ranks of TV comedies which I have audibly laughed at while watching on my own – and considering that I’m barely into the first series, I’m sure that this is a good sign.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is also making me laugh, although 50% of this is probably unintended by the show. The other half, though, is actual, genuine, engaged laughter – namely because this week was a Fitzsimmons-centric episode (THANK GOD, I cried, in my hayfeverish and delirious state last Sunday), and I am, as we all know by now, obsessed with Fitzsimmons. I am naturally even more obsessed with them now that they are an actual, bonafide couple, having their cute/awkward chats aboard the plane and turning off their comms so they can talk while in the field. It’s obviously all going to go horribly, horribly wrong for one of them at least, because Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. won’t let us have nice things, and their individual showdowns with Hive and Quake stressed me out no end. But for now, if they’re given more scenes to be adorable, I’m fully onboard with AoS. Despite Coulson being the WORST right now. I mean, seriously. Who makes a member of their own team wear a bomb vest?

The Flash has also picked up considerably, sprinting on despite Barry not having his powers. An unfortunate incident may have sent me straight to the spoiler generator (i.e. Wikipedia), which I feel is the sign of a successful episode – I wanted to know what was going to happen next SO BADLY that I had to know in the seconds after I’d finished it. Anyway, Zoom continues to be the creepiest of dudes, locking up Caitlin and presumably keeping her until she loves him, which is typically associated with the stable and non-threatening, and embarking on a murder spree which I found really upsetting. It’s building up really nicely to its finale now and it’s getting really, really fun to watch as a result.

Supergirl itself also feels like an improvement, even if it’s not in quite the same series stage (or league, really) as its DCEU cousin. I liked the villain of the week, probably even more for recognising the actress as Smallville’s very own Kara Zor-El, and the notion of a being who can exist inside technology is one I enjoy – yeah, even in that first season Buffy episode where a demon gets released into the internet. The actual resolution of the episode may have been silly, but it did lead to a nice Alex/Kara/Hank scene, and I’m beginning to really enjoy those relationships. People might be sniffy about Supergirl getting a second series, but it might be an opportunity for the show to really hit its stride and figure out its tone a little better – and it’s SO much more suited for the CW.

The real highlight of the week, though, was watching Tomm Moore’s Song of the Sea, the second animated feature from Irish studio Cartoon Saloon. Song of the Sea is beautiful in the way that really, really good animations are – it works for both children and adults. Simply, it is about a little boy and his littler sister, who he blames for their mother’s death, and his discovery that she is a selkie – seals in the sea, but humans on land. It’s a story of magic and of Celtic folklore as much as it’s about loss, and family, and the association of identity with place in a physical, intense way. The story and its telling may be beautiful, but it’s helped in no small way by the animation itself – its watercolour backgrounds and simple, delicate character designs are absorbing, and so different to any other animation style I’ve ever seen. Saoirse’s magic, the song of the sea itself, is gorgeously rendered, and the major sequence at the film’s end is so powerful and moving that I can’t get it out of my head. I need to know more people are watching it, and I need to watch it again myself.

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