The Past Week: Archer, Murder on the Orient Express, Star Wars: Episode VIII
It’s only been a week but 2017 is already looking to be a great year for film and TV. Coming in the wake of a year that has been as tragic as it has been momentous for show business as 2016, cinephiles definitely could use the pick-me-up. With the loss of such memorable talents as David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Anton Yelchin, Michael Cimino, Gene Wilder, and Carrie Fisher, to name a sad few, we can only hope that the year will not only be kinder to our acting heroes but that others will live up to the trails blazed by these greats.
And fortunately, whether it’s on television or film, there is a lot to anticipate this year, from returning shows to new productions. Let’s take a look, shall we?
Archer Renewed For Eighth Season
Although the seventh season of the animated FXX series won’t start airing until the end of March, the network has already announced that it plans to make an eighth season of the show. On top of this, FXX has released two short promos for the planned season, both of which are available for viewing on Comingsoon.net. Entitled Archer: Dreamland, the little we see appears to be very promising. Going past the controversial (but nevertheless good) rebooting of the show in season 5 as well as 7, the upcoming episodes take our anti-heroes back in time to a noir-inflected pastiche where they continue their newfound roles as private investigators in 1947 Los Angeles. This is a radical development for a show that is infamously dodgy about what era it is set in, finally pinpointing (however tongue-in-cheekily) when exactly it takes place.
Most importantly however, the promos retain the humor and sensibility of the program’s previous offerings, refusing to allow the drastic change of setting to dictate how the rest of the action unfolds. A show as funny and well-written as Archer, which incorporates jokes and references that both surprise and impress me on a regular basis, is a rarity even in a time as generous to TV viewers as today (the only comparable show on TV at the moment is Adult Swim‘s The Venture Bros., another animated gem that brazenly makes quips that go over some viewers’ heads but end up flooring others), so it deserves nothing less than the most careful treatment, and if the Dreamland promos are any indication, FXX has offered just that.
Willem Dafoe Cast In Murder on the Orient Express
I haven’t read Murder on the Orient Express, but every time the latest name to be attached to Kenneth Branagh‘s adaptation of the Agatha Christie novel is announced, I tell myself that I must before the film is released. This is especially the case with last week’s news from Comingsoon.net that the criminally-underrated Willem Dafoe has been cast as the vaguely-sinister-sounding Mr. Hardman for the project. A favorite of mine ever since I saw him in The Boondock Saints, Dafoe is a gem who receives way less exposure than someone with his talents and experience has earned. From his heartbreaking performance as Jesus in Martin Scorsese‘s magisterial The Last Temptation of Christ to his desperately-wicked turn as a fictionalised vampire version of Nosferatu‘s Max Schreck in Shadow of the Vampire, Dafoe has managed to portray characters on both ends of the moral spectrum and everywhere in between, all in a believable, human manner.
Thankfully, Murder will provide Dafoe with the opportunity to act alongside such eminently recognisable names as Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Judi Dench, and Daisy Ridley, to say nothing of the equally-talented Branagh as the iconic detective Hercule Poirot. Regardless of how the film turns out (and here’s hoping it turns out well), it’s always a treat to see Willem Dafoe do what he does best: act.
Adam Driver Says Star Wars: Episode VIII Will “Humanize” Kylo Ren
Of course, I would be lying if I said everything I heard this week made me giddy with excitement. In fact, I was filled with downright skepticism when I heard about one particular news item from IGN.
I’m talking of course, about Adam Driver‘s comments that Star Wars: Episode VIII will explore the motivations of Kylo Ren so as to make him more “real” than he was in The Force Awakens. As someone who did not like TFA at all, I can attest to the fact that Ren was one of the weakest links in a very poor movie. Any sense of menace and tension that the character had accrued (which I will readily admit he did) evaporated the moment he took off the mask and exposed the mopey, Roger Waters-faced mall goth underneath. The way I see it, the problem isn’t that Kylo Ren hasn’t been humanized (we didn’t really see the human side of Darth Vader until Return of the Jedi, yet nobody complains about how Episodes IV and V didn’t “humanize” him), it’s that he’s been humanized poorly, with exaggerated expressions of frustration and whining being substituted for authentic personality and development. Perhaps I’m wrong, but if Episode VIII continues to “humanize” Kylo Ren in the way that TFA did, then a good subtitle will be Revenge of the Edgelord.