Category Archives: FILM REVIEW

MARK BOULD – The Killing of a Sacred Deer Review


and so anyway it turns out that the best thing about The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017), Yorgos Lanthimos’s tepidly comic but ultimately toothless mash-up of Ballard, Kubrick and Lynch, is not the relentlessly crawling pace that actually gives you time to watch not paint dry but Colin Farrell’s beard grow (and turn increasingly grey), nor is it Alicia Silverstone’s wise decision to quit the movie after a single scene because it required her to suck Colin Farrell’s fingers, nor is it the fact that I have finally managed to stay awake all the way through a film by Yorgos “no idea how to wrap up this story” Lanthimos, though this time ironically it could well have been the praying for sleep to come that kept me from napping, nor is it the fact that no deer, sacred or otherwise, were killed during the making of this film, no, the best thing about The Killing of a Sacred Deer is the immensely tall cameraman employed to do the long tracking-in and tracking-out shots, whose head you constantly fear is going to come a cropper on light fittings and door ways, thus adding a much-needed sense of danger and suspense as this never-seen lanky technician is the nearest thing to a character you could give a flying fuck about…



The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Yorgos Lanthimos 2017)



SICARIO – Denis Villeneuve

I rewatched Sicario. The slight implausibility of the Kate Macer character does not make the movie less compelling. As a movie it is slightly removed from reality (the way it shows only the darkest aspects of Mexican border cities and mythologizes the territroy and violence), but this remove works in dramatically powerful ways. The border landscape between the US and Mexico is shown as a deeply haunted, scarred terrtiory. As in the flawed second season of True Detective, the landscape here is a silent, menacing entity that radiates trauma. In its emptiness and aridity, it actually resembles a Martian landscape which brings to film close to science fiction and the theme of human provoked scarcity. Man made this place inhospitable and fractured. The landscape in Sicario is the monstruous extension of the disproportionate human thirst for chaos. The excellent soundtrack connects the characters, their interiority, with the ominous, threatening athmosphere of the landscape. Here some pictures


THE VISIT – Michael Madsen

The Visit is a poetic, allusive reflection on encountering an actual intelligent lifeform. Madsen’s documentary asks the question how a realistic alien arrival scenario would impact and upset terrestrial governments and militaries. Real life scientists working at NASA, the United Nations or the Seti institute respond in a manner as if the arrival has actually taken place. In The Visit’s fictional, potentially real situation, the silent, passive presence of the never shown aliens leads to an increasing nervosity among state and military personnel.

Here a couple of transcripts, with the scientists adressing the alien/the viewer directly:

My particular interest is searching for a second Genesis of life. The question I want to know is ‘has life started separately, independendly, somewhere else’. Hence my interest in what you might represent. My question would be ‘does the life that you represent, constitute a separate, independent origin than the life that I represent. Are we distant cousins,  or are we completely separate, independent life forms. It’s possible, that here on eath, there is a second Genesis we have not yet discovered. All life that we discovered is related, is part of what I call ‘the first Genesis’. But there may be life that we have not discovered and we haven’t discovered it because our methods of detecting life are specific to life as we know it (f.ex. DNA testing). We may be blind to this second Genesis present right here. This is why some persons have named it ‘the shadow biosphere’. Maybe right here in our gardens, maybe even on our skin are living organisms that are so different from us biochemically that we wouldn’t even recognize them with our life detection instruments. (…)  I mentioned that on earth we only have one example of life, one shared biochemistry. My intuition is, the explanation for that is competition at the Genesis level, if you will. And, we ate the competition. We ate them out of house and home. The reason we see only one type of life on earth is an ecosphere can only house one organism, one lifeform and we have outcompeted all the others, they’re gone, they’ve been rendered extinct. (…) Well that opens up the scary prospect that if your lifeform represents a different biochemistry and is accidentally released on earth, or if we accidentally contaminate your spacecraft, that without any malicious intention, the lifeforms will compete. And for that reason I advocate a barrier to any interaction biologically between you and us, until we resolved those questions; so the assumptive precautionary principle is separation. Nothing personal (smiles).           Christopher McKay, Astrobiologist, NASA Ames Research Centre

‘500 years ago, people from Europe, one of the continents on earth, discovered a totally new world. They asked themselves ‘who are these people’ and, more precisely, ‘are they human?’ (…) ‘do they possess a soul?’ (…) And they tried to find proof of religious attitudes, they tried to find if these people have empathy…’ (…) So a deciscion of our will. I can decide to be human with you, and if I decide to be human with you, you receive from me a certain human identity.            Jacques Arnould, Theologian, Ethics Advisor to the French Space Agency, CNES

In our history, whenever a more advanced civilisation have met with the lesss advanced, in almost all cases, the less advanced civilisation has suffered.         Dr. Sheryl Bishop, Social Psychologist, Professor, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston

Our fear is that, perhaps another civilisation will come to earth and do what we have done to one another. My hope is that, in the same way your technology is advanced, your morality is also more advanced than ours.            Doug Vakoch, Director of Interstellar Message Composition, SETI Institute

Slowly, The Visit introduces profound, ambiguous sentiments towards a potential extraterrestrial Other. Because of the alien’s silence we humans need to fill the gaps, because of our tendency of wanting to bring the unknown into the known.

On another note, judging from the trailer it feels as if Denis Villeneuve’s upcoming Arrival is a mix between Ted Chiang’s Story of your Life and The Visit. Filming of Arrival began in mid June 2015, The Visit had its premiere at the Sundance Festival in mid february 2015. Hard to say if Denis saw the movie at Sundance or before or whether the production was already too advanced to incorporate some of The Visit’s visual approach. Anyhow, it’s fascinating how elements of the two overlap.