A week in film – 2017, week 13

Well, after last week’s bumper bonanza of movies, it’s safe to say that this week has been a damp squib. Adulthood has been persistently getting in the way, as applications and phone calls and meetings and preparation for the applications and phone calls and meetings have taken up every available moment of my week. This has meant that the only free time I actually allowed myself came on the fortnightly train journey to London, and that’s about enough for one film, or a couple of episodes or something. I opted for the latter: this week, a welcome return to Designated Survivor.

I say ‘welcome’: since returning after its break, Designated Survivor has turned into something a bit too chaotic. If you don’t remember, the series opened with Kiefer Sutherland’s Secretary of Housing and Urban Development becoming President after a terrorist attack destroys the Capitol Building during the State of the Union, killing the President, Vice-President, all of Congress, and the rest of the cabinet. Of course, more and more survivors have cropped up since – it took about half an episode for the opposition’s own Designated Survivor to make an appearance, while it took slightly longer for a high-profile Congressman to be found, alive, in the wreckage. Since then, we started to get an enjoyable (if ludicrous) series of twists and turns surrounding traitors in the White House, people claiming credit for atrocities they didn’t commit (even if they had form for perpetrating similar acts), and a trench-coated mystery woman going about extorting people. I wanted this overblown conspiracy drama from the show – and, to an extent, I still do.  Then again, I also wouldn’t mind a vague idea of where this is going. It’s beginning to worry me that a) it might be smarter than I thought or b) I might be dumber than I thought. I don’t know why the Big Event at the end of episode 12 happened, or why the characters involved did what they did, and I don’t even feel like the motivations which lead them to act in that way had been hinted at to this point. But far from hoping that it’s going to be revealed in the future, I’m starting to worry that it’s already been explained away in the briefest of brief asides that I’m only registering now I’m writing about it, and that won’t be even slightly satisfying. I can deal with the ridiculous twists – I can even thoroughly enjoy the ridiculous twists – if I honestly think there will be some kind of pay-off down the line. I’m not sure I like feeling that most of the characters are just really, really insignificant pawns in a game which, at thirteen episodes in, it feels like we should know a little more about.

Other than that, I’ve only got the latest Spider-Man: Homecoming trailer to talk about – but I am pretty excited about it. With, admittedly, some reservations. Like, are Sony and Marvel leaning really heavily on Tony Stark purely in the marketing for this film (which would be OK, if showing an odd lack of confidence), or is he really going to be the second lead in this film (which wouldn’t be as OK, however much I enjoy Robert Downey Jr)? I want this film to be a Spider-Man film – I really, really, really liked Tom Holland’s take on the character in Captain America: Civil War, and I want to see all the high-school stuff, and him taking on Michael Keaton’s Vulture by himself. I’m not sure – as much as I enjoyed it in Civil War – that I want to see Tony Stark stealing the show. Still, I do really like the look of this – and you see basically the entire structure of the film in the trailer, so that’s a relief – and it’s probably (after Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2) my most anticipated film of the year. So, no pressure or anything.

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