By G. Michael Dobbs
A great mystery series comes to DVD and a cult exploitation film returns to the public in this week’s review.
Is there life for an actor who played Dr. Who for years? For David Tennant there certainly is and his latest project to cross the Atlantic is an exceptional murder mystery series that tells a detailed and riveting story over the course of eight episodes.
“Broadchurch” is the name of an English coastal community of about 15,000 people. It’s a tourist town part of the year and a place where everyone seems to know everyone else. The murder of an 11 year-old boy is shocking to the community.
Tennant plays Detective Inspector Alex Hardy, a hard-bitten big city cop who has been assigned to the small town for two reasons: to lay low after a high profile case went sour and because of a medical condition.
No sooner than he arrives is the boy’s body discovered on the beach.
His assignment pushed back the promotion of one of the other detectives in the squad and she becomes his partner on the case. Hardy is withdrawn, moody and rude and we discover why as the series unfolds.
Tennant leads a wonderful ensemble cast, including Olivia Colman who does a incredible job as the local detective.
I’m not going to say much more about the plot other than to note I found it to have some great twists and turns and a truly shocking ending.
This is a series to watch if you want a truly substantial mystery experience.
Alamo Drafthouse is re-issuing a number of low budget films from the 1970s and ‘80s and among them is director Abel Ferrara’s surprising film “Ms. 45.”
It’s surprising because the 1981 movie falls within a specific sub-genre of action film – the revenge movie and within that group an even more specific category, stories in which women take revenge on men who assaulted them or someone they loved.
Revenge movies were quite an active genre in that time with films such as the “Death Wish” series, which made a ton of dough. Linda Blair, looking for grown-up roles, even appeared in one, “Savage Streets” in 1984, in which she hunted down the men who assaulted her sister with a crossbow.
There are two elements of these kinds of movies that seemed to appeal to audiences. One is the political criticism of the films that state the only way to deal with the violence in the country is with more violence. The other is far more prurient and deals with seeing women at first being victims and then vigilantes.
“Ms. 45” doesn’t really fall into either of these traps. It’s really a film of its time and place, reflecting what living and working in New York City in 1981 was like for some.
The late Zoë Lund stars as Thana, a young women who works in the garment district as a seamstress. She is a mute and is withdrawn. Walking home from work, she is pulled into an alley and robbed and assaulted. She is in a deep state of shock and discovers when she comes home, there is a burglar waiting for her who assaults her.
She snaps and kills him. She keeps his gun and comes up with a plan to walk the streets and kill the men who threaten her.
We don’t root for her. She is not a hero. Under Ferrara’s direction, it’s clear that Thana requires serious counseling and medical attention. She is not a hero, but a victim. Each murder seems to fuel her illness.
Ferrara stages the assaults in such a way that the action is conveyed without explicitness, a welcomed departure from most of the films in this genre.
Because she cannot express herself except through writing we have little information about her character except through Lund’s subtle pantomime. Only 18 at the time, Lund turns in a performance of high tragedy.
The DVD is loaded with extras and the film is well-worth discovering if you’re a fan of Ferrara’s later work, such as “The Bad Lieutenant.”