Tag Archives: Brendan Gleeson

So I’m introducing a dear friend tonight to “28 Days Later.”

So I’m introducing a dear friend tonight to “28 Days Later” (2002).  It is possibly my favorite horror film of all time, maybe even narrowly beating out “Aliens” (1986), “Alien 3” (1992), John Carpenter’s “The Thing” (1982), the Sutherland-tacular 1978 version of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” and George A. Romero’s first three “Dead” films (1968, 1978, 1985).  (Whenever “Star Wars” fans refer to their “Holy Trilogy,” I muse inwardly that those last three are its equivalent for zombie horror fans.)

My friend thinks it’s funny that I refer to “28 Days Later” as “my sacred cow.”  I’ll be crestfallen if she does not like it, and I told her as much.  And that’s weird for me … I usually don’t feel let down when someone doesn’t enjoy the same books, movies or music that I do.  Not everything is for everyone.  Art would lose its mystique if it weren’t subjective.  If all art appealed to all people, it would lose all its appeal altogether.

Part of me feels, unconsciously perhaps, that “28 Days Later” is the kind of film that “redeems” the horror genre (even though no genre needs such redemption — if art is well made or if it affects people, then it’s just fine).

Most comic book fans of my generation can tell you how people can occasionally roll their eyes at their favorite medium.  (Comics have far greater mainstream acceptance today than when I started reading them in the 1990’s.)   For horror fans, it’s sometimes worse.  Horror is a genre that is easily pathologized — and sometimes with good reason, because a portion of what it produces is indeed cheap or exploitative.  I wish I could accurately describe for you the looks I’ve gotten when acquaintances find out that I’m a horror fan.  They aren’t charitable.

“28 Days Later” and movies like it are so good that they elevate horror to a level that demands respect from the uninitiated.  It is an intrinsically excellent film — it just happens to have a sci-f-/horror plot setup and setting.  It’s beautifully directed by Danny Boyle, it’s perfectly scored and it’s masterfully performed by its cast — most notably by Cillian Murphy and Brendan Gleeson.

Moo.

 

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I sound just like Brendan Gleeson right now. I am AWESOME.

Tonight’s agenda — speak exclusively in British slang; tell all the nobs to bugger off, and sort out all the bellends. Then meet up with a nice bird who isn’t a tart.

Nice one. Right, my British slang is proper, innit? Oh, you don’t think so? GET OUT OF IT, THEN.

Tally ho!

Sally forth!

And let slip the dogs of war!  (Or something!)

Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by this son of York!!

[Update: God damn it. I realized just now that Brendan Gleeson is IRISH.]

 

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Season 1 of “Mr. Mercedes” (2017) was astonishingly good.

It amazes me how little fanfare that “Mr. Mercedes” is getting.  Season 1 was not only one of the best Stephen King adaptations ever, I think it has the rare distinction of being even better that its source material.  (I really liked 2014 novel, but I loved the show.) I might have a couple of minor quibbles about the ten-episode season, but they’re not enough to stop me from rating it a perfect 10.

I tend to think of this as more “mainstream King.”  As with the book, the story here is devoid of the supernatural elements that usually characterize King’s work.  It also doesn’t have any overt connection to King’s overarching, interconnected “Dark Tower” multiverse.  It’s a depressingly real-world story about a mass murderer whose weapon of choice is a stolen Mercedes.  (There is a plot-driving horror set-piece at the start of the pilot episode in which he mows down a crowd lined up for a job fair.)

What follows is a drama of surprising depth and authenticity.  We see the extended aftermath of slaughter, throughout the lives of people connected to it — including one victim’s family, the now-retired investigating detective (Brendan Gleeson), the young killer himself (Harry Treadway) and his alcoholic, incestuous mother (Kelly Lynch).  Gleeson was who first made me interested in the show, and his performance is outstanding.  Lynch is amazing and perfect in her role, and is even talented enough make her onerous character truly sympathetic.  But even they are outshined by Treadway’s frighteningly goddam perfect portrayal of the titular “Mr. Mercedes.”  The guy is incredible.

The script was nothing short of terrific.  There is certainly enough horror here — including one particularly cringe-inducing plot twist late in the game.  (It was so disturbingly presented that I almost had to switch the episode off — and I knew it was coming, as I’d already read the book.)  But the horror punctuates the unexpectedly touching drama among the story’s protagonists — and the sad relationship between the killer and his disordered mother.  There were also some great moments of humor, and the subtexts here dealing with friendship and loyalty were surprisingly moving.

The rest of the cast was quite good.  The directing shined as well — especially for a key sequence in Episode 7, “Willow Lake.”  Even the soundtrack was excellent.  Hell, they even referenced W. H. Auden in one episode.

My quibbles were minor.  One was the story’s pacing.  It’s actually quite slow for the first eight episodes — enough, I think to lose some viewers.  This didn’t bother me much — I took it as “slow-burn” horror, and it matched the very slow pace of the book.  Then the story seemed to move forward at a breakneck pace during episodes 9 and 10.  I can’t help but wonder if it could have been scripted differently, as that felt odd.

My second quibble lies with Mary-Louise Parker’s portrayal of Janey, the sister of one of the killer’s victims.  Parker is an excellent actress, but I found her version of the character to be remarkably detached for someone bereaved in such a horrifying fashion — to me, it seemed like a strange creative choice on the part of the actress.

I’d obviously recommend this; it’s currently the best horror show that I’m aware of.

 

 

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A review of the pilot for Stephen King’s “Mr. Mercedes” (2017)

With all of the (frequently quite poor) buzz about the arrival this summer of “The Dark Tower” and “The Mist,” “Mr. Mercedes” might be the Stephen King adaptation that has slipped under the radar.  And that’s a shame, because the pilot episode suggests it might be one of the best King adaptations ever.  I’d rate it a 9 out of 10.

It really is that good.  The show’s first episode begins what looks to be an intelligent horror-thriller that is surprisingly faithful to King’s outstanding novel.  David E. Kelley’s script is excellent.  After a brutal prologues that sets its plot in motion, the story proceeds with three-dimensional, likable characters who are well played by their performers — especially Brendan Gleeson in the role of the grumpy, retired-cop anti-hero who is harassed by a mass murderer.  (Yes, that is indeed the Dad from 2002’s “28 Days Later.”)  Gleeson is just great — even though I found myself wondering why a retired Chicago cop should have a heavy U.K. accent.

The script even surprises us by being incongruously sweet during its odder moments.  Like its source material, the show effortlessly sets up characters that are easy to like.  (An exchange between Gleeson some kids playing hockey outside his house, for example, was truly inspired.)

The story’s plot-driving horror elements are disturbing, too — both in terms of its grisly violence and its sexual taboos.  This is not a show for the faint of heart.

This also seems like it could be a King adaptation that could easily appeal to people outside his usual fanbase.  There are no supernatural elements to this story, or any tangible connections to King’s sprawling, interconnected “Dark Tower” multi-verse.  (The original novel seemed to show us King trying his hand at a Thomas Harris-type serial killer tale.)

The only reservation I might have about “Mr. Mercedes” is what I am guessing about its pace.  The original novel was quite slow, despite being an engaging read.  After its gut-wrenching mass murder is depicted in graphic detail, the plot moves forward rather lethargically.  The one-hour pilot episode here seemed to mirror that, in its apparent loyalty to its source material.  I predict that viewers turning to “Mr. Mercedes” for a fast-paced horror tale will be disappointed.

I think that’s probably a subjective quibble on my part, though.  I’d still enthusiastically recommend this.