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I had been anticipating reviewing A24’s The Green Knight for a long, long time. Early on into my writing tenure on this website, I posted an article about the first trailer. That was in February of 2020, just as the world decided to let a plague run rampant. More than a year later, the film has finally arrived.

Did The Green Knight live up to my expectations? Yes, very much so. The Green Knight is my favorite movie of 2021. So if you just want someone to tell you to go see it, then you have your answer. But why is it so good?

Before we continue, take a moment to enjoy the trailer.

The Concept

The theatrical poster for The Green Knight 2021
The triumphant air of the poster may be misleading to some.

The Green Knight (2021) is an adaptation of the classic, anonymously written Arthurian poem “Sir Gawain and The Green Knight.” The film is not necessarily a horror film, but there is horror present with ghosts, impending death, and the unforgiving relentlessness of nature. There are enough arguments one can make to include the film into the horror canon, however. The Green Knight is a film that will challenge most viewers. Perhaps to its detriment when it comes to a general audience. However, it is a challenge worth accepting, much like the Christmas game of the film.

The film’s synopsis is fairly simple: Sir Gawain, the nephew of King Arthur, seeks glory. During a Christmas celebration, Arthur challenges his court for a legend or adventure. The Green Knight, a monstrous figure resembling the Green Man, enters and offers a challenge. Anyone may strike a blow against him, but in one year, they must meet him at his Green Chapel so that he may return the blow. Gawain takes on the challenge with a shocking result. As such, he must live up to his end of the challenge, traveling to meet The Green Knight.

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The film is the work of writer and director David Lowery (Pete’s Dragon, A Ghost Story), who also takes on editing and producer roles. Dev Patel stars as the tested Sir Gawain, with Ralph Ineson as the titular Green Knight. Alicia Vikander, Joel Edgerton, Sarita Choudhury, Sean Harris, Kate Dickie, Barry Keoghan, and Erin Kellyman round out the cast. The Green Knight is produced by Ley Line Entertainment, Bron Studios, and Sailor Beat, and distributed by A24.

What Worked with The Green Knight

The overall adaptation of the classic poem is equally faithful and divergent. This fits given the centuries of debate on interpretations of the tale by English theorists and Arthurian scholars. The original poem is subject to many translations, all affected by the translator’s views. Just as a reader will bring their own perspective to the poem, this film is the same in that regard.

David Lowery’s approach to the story definitely creates an underlying message of what it is meant to be seen as chivalrous and the crushing weight of expectations, internal and external. However, the interpretation will vary from viewer to viewer. Like the work of the original Gawain Poet, Lowery’s approach allows for leeway and interpretation.

The performances are fantastic across the cast, but the buzz around Dev Patel’s Gawain is well deserved. Patel’s Gawain is a screw-up. More of a child than a man who expects greatness and desires to be a knight but fumbles about, misunderstanding and misapplying the chivalric code. Patel is instantly likable despite Gawain’s flaws and has a charismatic presence that endears Gawain to the viewers, even at his weakest moments.

A still of Dev Patel holding Excalibur as Gawain from 2021's The Green Knight
Gawain is less the exalted hero and more of the man in over his head.

Ralph Ineson’s commanding presence as The Green Knight is impressive, particularly given the relatively limited screentime he has. Much like Anthony Hopkins in The Silence of the Lambs, Ineson’s appearances are brief but memorable. Sarita Choudhury’s character, the mother of Gawain, presents an interesting deviation from the original tale, but not entirely unwelcome. She plays mysterious well. Alicia Vikander takes on a pair of roles, each vital, and carries them well. Not a poor performance in the lot.

The cinematography of Andrew Droz Palermo is stunning, as is composer Daniel Heart’s Music. This film will be worthy of study in the future.

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What Didn’t Work with The Green Knight

As a whole, this film delivers wonderfully. However, there are two aspects of it I found somewhat troublesome. Not troublesome enough to harm my estimation of The Green Knight. But there are areas that I felt could have been reigned in further or perhaps clarified more.

I have no issues with Lowery’s deviations from the “canon” of “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,” as much as anything regarding the poem can be considered canon. But I do feel in his own quest to make his mark that the film takes a long way around to give Gawain his moment of pure, unselfish chivalry finally. The chapter of the film, each of which is title carded, gives away the trick. While I appreciate Lowery’s narrative move to a degree, knowing the title card of the sequence undercut the potential shock of the sequence. This is rendered starker with the rather brutalist ending that ultimately leaves the film somewhat unresolved.

A still of Dev Patel in royal, Christ-like regalia from 2021's The Green Knight
Gorgeous, iconic imagery abounds but may be subject to personal interpretation.

I try not to carry my expectation of what I consider the tale to be and to go along with Lowery’s take. Yet, I cannot help but think something about the ending is amiss. It may just be my knowledge of the poem that will never let me be completely impartial. But then again, this may also be an issue of interpretation. I wonder if perhaps Lowery went a bit too open-ended? Despite these misgivings, however, as petty as they might be, the film is still very much a triumph. It is a singularly excellent Arthurian adaptation.

The Final Verdict

David Lowery’s medievalthemed rumination of chivalry is a stunning movie that enchants and mystifies. The Green Knight is fully deserving of five out of five Cthuluhs. 5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

The Green Knight is a film I will be seeing in the nearby movie theater at least a couple more times. It is that good and worth experiencing again and unraveling. This may not be the last I write on it, either, because even having seen it, I find myself asking… is Gawain truly heroic?

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David Davis is a writer, cartoonist, and educator in Southern California with an M.A. in literature and writing studies.

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Movies n TV

Consecration, a Film Review

Consecration is a 2023 horror mystery movie directed by Christopher Smith, who also co-wrote the script with Laurie Cook.

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Consecration is a 2023 horror mystery movie directed by Christopher Smith, who also co-wrote the script with Laurie Cook. This R-Rated film includes Jena Malone, Danny Huston, and Janet Suzman as its starring cast. The film is currently available on AMC+ and Shudder.

After her brother dies, Grace (Jena Malone) goes to Scotland to investigate the circumstances. At every step of the way, Mount Saviour Convent seems to interfere with her investigation. Father Romero (Danny Huston) seems eager to help her, even if Mother Superior (Janet Suzman) resists her, but a strange fear seems to direct their actions. Worse yet, Grace endures visions of the past, present, and future.

A woman stares outside perspective, next to a brick building on a road.
Jena Malone as Grace

What I Liked

A surprise performance steals the movie for me, that being Eilidh Fisher’s Meg. This nun-in-training remains consistently inconsistent, forever making me unsure of what to expect. With uncertainty and mystery at the heart of the film, Meg expresses that instability by keeping Grace and the viewer on edge.

Mother Superior and Father Romero have perfect friction with each other. Both manage the supernatural situation in their own way, acting as enemies and supporters toward Grace as needed. This friction also adds to the uncertainty that surrounds Grace’s investigation.

The mystery itself surprises me, though there is barely enough to add the context one needs for this mystery. However, it still earns credit for creativity and deception. Most twists and reveals become apparent and often underwhelm me, but Consecration deserves credit for catching me off guard.

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Consecration showcases some alluring visuals, CGI not included. The setting and designs really add to the movies. At times, these visuals purposely contrast their environment as the narrative requires. Usually, it complements the central vision. The film gives off a pleasant aesthetic throughout its runtime–barring the CGI.

As a horror, Consecration has haunting moments. The mystery remains the central selling point. However, it leaves the viewer in constant uncertainty that helps the horror thrive.

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Disclaimer Kimberley Web Design

Tired Tropes and Trigger Warnings

Self-harm and suicide reoccur throughout the film, across several scenes and characters. Aside from ensuring the audience remains uncertain of events, there are no larger discussions or much focus on the issue.

Child abuse defines the backstory of certain characters. Unlike the point mentioned above, this earns more of a narrative focus. However, it’s still not exactly the point of the mystery. Don’t expect the film to explore this with sensitivity or depth. If these seem like dealbreakers, Consecration might be a skip.

A priest standing in front of a stone structure. In the middle of the structure is an opening revealing a clear sky.
Danny Huston as Father Romero

What I Dislike

I briefly touched on a CGI problem, which hinders the otherwise interesting and alluring practical visuals. There are no ways to understate how distractingly bad one scene’s CGI is and how it upsets that quality. This scene, no spoilers, happens to be the most open use of CGI. There are other CGI moments, but none distract or hinder like that first scene.

The monster reveal underwhelms in a specific way. The twist perfectly aligns and sets up the foundation for this reveal to make the monster work. However, several reshoots add context to prior scenes to show this “demon” in action, and it somewhat upsets the effectiveness of those scenes.

Thoren Ferguson’s DCI Harris shows up sporadically throughout the film. He acts as the force of law, often hostile but completely underutilized. I suspect DCI Harris had a larger role, but somehow this plot was reduced. I assume this because he plays an important scene at the end that doesn’t seem earned. This isn’t to undermine Ferguson’s performance, as he does everything he can with what he’s given.

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Final Thoughts

Consecration hooked me in and kept me engaged throughout its runtime. While the horror is middling, it has merit. The mystery remains the strength of the film, though it’s somewhat underdeveloped. If your mystery films tend to keep you in suspense through shifty characters and secret religious orders are your thing, Consecration might evoke your interest.
3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

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Movies n TV

You Reap What You Woe

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Episode five of Tim Burton’s Wednesday was very busy. A lot is going on here, and most of it is quite fun. So let’s not waste any time getting into it.

First, we must discuss the fate of poor Eugene. If you’ll recall, the last episode ended with Wednesday finding him in the woods, covered in blood. 

Despite Principal Weem’s insistence that he’s resting up and healing, he’s actually in a coma in the local ICU. But maybe she has reason to gloss over that unfortunate fact. It’s parents’ weekend, after all. Probably not the best time to admit that a student was grievously injured. 

While there are certainly some Nevermore students who are happy to see their parents, none of our main characters are among them. We know that Wednesday isn’t thrilled to see her family, as she’s still resentful that they left her there. 

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Family therapy scene from Wednesday

Still, she’s not exactly pleased when Gomez is arrested for the murder of a man named Garrett. This devastates the family and forces Morticia to reveal a secret she’s been keeping from Wednesday. 

Morticia also finally gets a chance to talk about Wednesday’s visions with her. She tells her that Goody Addams, who’s made psychic contact with Wednesday several times, is there to teach her about her visions. But Goody Addams is also super vengeful, and not to be trusted. I wonder why. 

While much of the episode is about freeing Gomez from jail, the subplots are no less interesting. 

Let’s start with Enid. As we know from the first episode, she has yet to grow into her full werewolf potential. If she can’t do this, she’ll be shunned by her kind and likely abandoned by her family pack. Her mother wants to help her, by sending her to a summer camp meant to help werewolves wolf out. Enid refers to these as conversion therapy camps. Which is clearly a problem. 

The story that shook me was Bianca. She’s outright afraid when her mother shows up. And the reason is soon made clear.

Her mother is part of a cult called the Morning Song. Bianca’s mother is married to the leader. She’s been using her siren song to trap people in the cult. But her powers are fading. She wants Bianca to come take her place. If she doesn’t, she’ll reveal a terrible secret of how Bianca got into Nevermore Academy in the first place. 

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I honestly don’t have a lot of bad things to say about this episode. Except that wolf out is a ridiculous term and I cannot take anyone who uses it seriously at all. The characters were fun, the storyline was interesting, and it was satisfying to start getting answers. It helped that this episode included some real-world bad guys, like conversion therapy and cults. If every other episode of this season had been as good as this one, the show would be top marks from me all around. 

This episode was a dramatic example of exactly how parents can fail at their job of raising their kids. And, thankfully, how they can succeed. We see Enid’s mom refusing to let her grow at her own pace. We see Sheriff Galpin ignore a clear cry for help from his son Tyler. We see Bianca’s mother, involved in a cult, using her child for her siren powers. And of course, we don’t see Xavier’s parents at all.

Lucius Hoyos

But we also see Morticia being a good mom to a difficult kid who’s rebelling against her. We see Enid’s father supporting her, exactly as she is. We see Eugene’s moms by his side at the hospital. At the bedside of their son, they are still able to give comfort to Wednesday. That is some strength right there. 

Overall, this was a fun episode. We got some answers and were introduced to even more questions. I had fun watching it, and I’m looking forward to the next episode. 

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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Solace, a Film Review

Solace (2015) is a mystery thriller directed by Afonso Poyart. This R-rated film stars Anthony Hopkins, Jeffrey Morgan and Abbie Cornish.

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Solace (2015) is a mystery thriller directed by Afonso Poyart. This R-rated film includes Anthony Hopkins, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Abbie Cornish, and Colin Farrell. As of this review, it is currently available to Netflix and Hulu subscribers.

As a string of murders leave FBI agents Joe Merriwether (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Katherine Cowles (Abbie Cornish) perplexed, Joe turns to an old FBI contact and friend, Dr. John Clancy. Dr. Clancy possesses psychic abilities that make him an essential asset, but tragedies in his personal life leave him distant and broken. Fearing a person with similar gifts as himself, Dr. Clancy cannot help but lend his assistance.

Anthony Hopkins stares with a blue tent over his right eye. Colin Farrel behind him. The background is blue with several faces.
Solace Alternative Cover Art

What I Like

This cast is great, with notable legends living up to their reputation. While by no means career-highlighting performances, they work well together and provide a weight that pushes past lackluster character roles.

As the main character, Anthony Hopkins’s Dr. Clancy stands out above the rest. Given the most screen time and plot relevance, this opinion comes easily. His role has the most opportunity to make us care for his character.

Solace creates fun and engaging scenes that tie directly to the characters’ psychic abilities, adding tension in unique ways. While other movies with psychics utilize similar strategies to convey this power–the movie Next comes to mind–the scenes add variety to otherwise lackluster cinematography. This decision also adds a somewhat strategic nature to the psychic battles.

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Originally intended to be a sequel to Seven, this idea, thankfully, does not follow through to the final product. The story behind that is the typical Hollywood shuffle and brand recognition. I can’t exactly figure out a place to put this interesting fact, but the choice remains a benefit to the film.

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Disclaimer Kimberley Web Design

Tired Tropes and Trigger Warnings

Slight spoilers ahead! Read this section with that in mind.

A closeted man contracts AIDS and infects his wife. As this goes into rather old homophobia and fears, I felt it needed mentioning. Considering the film’s release date, 2016 (US), the plot point feels uninspired.

Some gratuitous sex scenes tie into the above reveal. The dramatic reveal and voyeuristic nudity (of the wife) make for an odd viewing experience. When the reveal isn’t shocking, it doesn’t exactly add much weight to the elongated scenes.

Anthony Hopkins and Colin Farrel separated by a knife.
Solace International Cover Art

What I Dislike

There are no tactful ways to go about the low effort of the film. It’s surreal to see the names attached, the concepts addressed, and how it all fumbles. I imagine this discrepancy has something to do with the original sequel idea, but that remains speculation. Ultimately, the film feels awkwardly low budget for the cast it possesses.

Adding to this weakness are the underdeveloped characters and rushed plotlines. The film feels unfocused in direction, revealing things as they become relevant with fluctuating degrees of foreshadowing. Some of these revelations work, with some speculation, but adding them all together makes Solace weaker as a film.

This film isn’t scary, despite the premise being extremely promising. The idea of a potentially psychic killer does evoke a lot of possibilities, added with the exceptional cast, and it seems destined for success. Yet, the horror is middling at best.

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Solace wants to be more and achieves some success in certain areas, but its inability to build and support these ideas hinders the overall quality. Perhaps Solace desires to upstage the twists of the typical mystery thriller that makes the film grasp too many new and interesting ideas. Regardless of the reason, the film suffers, and the viewing experience becomes underwhelming.

Final Thoughts

For a thriller killer, Solace doesn’t hold much water to competition. While the cast performs their roles perfectly and works well with each other, the notable weaknesses in writing and lackluster visuals don’t do the acting justice. A surprisingly exciting cast becomes a disappointing letdown. 2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5)

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