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Non-Review Review: The Devil All the Time

The Devil All the Time demonstrates that the adjective “novelistic” isn’t always a compliment.

Writer and director Antonio Campos is clearly aiming for an epic sweep to The Devil All the Time. The film unfolds over the course of several decades, following several intersecting lives in rural Ohio in the space between the end of the Second World War and the height of the Vietnam War. This is a tale that spans generations, with an impressive density. Small characters get huge arcs, dramatic twists hinge on chance encounters, and a large amount of the film’s plot is delivered by way of folksy omniscient narration.

Holland of the Free?

It is easier to admire The Devil All the Time than it is to appreciate it. Campos has drawn together a formidable cast to tell a story that explores a host of big ideas about small town life. The Devil All the Time clearly aspires to be a piercing study of religion, sex and violence in the American northeast. The film maintains an impressive atmosphere, in large part due to Campos’ moody direction and the work of Lol Crawley and the rumbling soundtrack from Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans.

However, nothing in The Devil All the Time has room to breath. There are so many elements competing for narrative space that even films two-hours-and-twenty-minute runtime feels overstuffed. Characters are never allowed to stew or develop in a way that a story like this demands, instead reducing the movie to a series of plot points and thematic observations delivered in a rich and moody manner, but without any real substance to bind them all together.

Book ‘im.

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The X-Files – Schizogeny (Review)

This May and June, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the fifth season of The X-Files and the second season of Millennium.

Schizogeny has a pretty terrible reputation among some (or even most) fans of The X-Files.

During The A.V. Club’s coverage of the show’s fifth season, Todd VanDerWerff suggested that it “just might be the very worst episode of The X-Files.” Andrew Payne described the killer tress as the series’ “worst monster of the week.” Moving away from any sort of objective coverage, The X-Files Wiki lists the fact that Schizogeny is “generally considered by fans to be one of, if not the worst, X-Files episode” at the very top of “notes” section on the episode. It is fairly safe to say that Schizogeny is not well-liked.

The woodsman...

The woodsman…

And there are a lot of very valid reasons for this. There is a lot about Schizogeny that is not good; more than that, there is a lot that is just plain terrible. The writing is clumsy, the plotting is hazy, the special effects are jumbled, the dialogue is awkward. It is very difficult to tell what is going on at certain points in the story, and a truly woeful central performance from Chad Lindberg as Bobby Rich does not help matters. Schizogeny is not a classic episode of The X-Files, by any stretch of the imagination.

However, it is nowhere near as bad as its reputation suggests.

Go climb a tree...

Go climb a tree…

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Alan Moore’s Run on Swamp Thing – Saga of the Swamp Thing (Books #3-4) (Review/Retrospective)

This January, I’m going to take a look at some of DC’s biggest “events.” You can probably guess which event I’m leading into, but I don’t want to spoil it…

I have never read Swamp Thing before. This trip through these lovely (but sadly not oversized or filled with extras) hardcover editions of Alan Moore’s iconic run on the title has been my first encounter with the character. This is Moore’s longest tenure on a mainstream comic book, and the one which introduced him to the mainstream. What’s astounding here is not only how Moore manages to offer something which still stands up as something unique and challenging, but also offers a fairly exciting and well-written book on his own terms.

I have a burning desire to read more...

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