Quick Reviews: ‘The Queen’s Gambit (miniseries)’ / ‘She Dies Tomorrow’
THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT (miniseries)
2020 has overall been much quieter year for television so something like The Queen’s Gambit was a much welcomed surprise to brighten up the gloomy fall season. One of the better outings when it comes to technical and artistic grandeur as the show looks pretty much flawless from the outside. Its production design is tasteful, cinematography classically stylish and costume work pops out colourfully from black and white framework of a chessboard. And oh, the chess. The chess parts are absolutely riveting front to back, it’s just astounding how cleanly actors, lead star Anya Taylor-Joy (as Beth) notably, play the matches because I get a headache just thinking about how blocking those scenes work. Editor Michelle Tesoro also has a big hand on executing those scenes to finished product as they are cut to perfection.
Couple things keep the show somewhat grounded though; character of Jolene (Moses Ingram) being the only black person and also not having an arc is quite troublesome, also the episode count could’ve been couple episodes shorter or longer. Shorter would’ve shown more focus on Beth but longer series would’ve built the chess world better. That’s however a small thing because the exquisite artistry present carries the show to check mate.
Smileys: Production design, editing, Anya Taylor-Joy, cinematography, costume design
Frowneys: Character building of Jolene was an unfortunate miscalculation
SHE DIES TOMORROW
For a while I thought to be writing a full review about Amy Seimetz directed She Dies Tomorrow but I don’t necessarily have intricate thoughts about it, to be fair. The film really gets a boost from the timing of the release as there’s an infection going on which causes the infected to believe they’re going to die next day. Those people feel isolated and it is not helped by the enormous amount of anxiety they’re experiencing. It all turns out to be rather haunting and that tone really saves the movie. Sure, the premise is interesting and it’s coloured and written well for a (very) low budget feature but the sense of dismay is the driving factor. That’s why it is a film that I like but I don’t enjoy, that is also the reason for not really recommending it for everyone. It will speak to a very specific audience, others will feel confused by it.
The premise isn’t explored thoroughly enough in the whole 85 minutes and the moments where we follow Jane (Jane Adams) instead of Amy (Kate Lyn Sheil) really make it drag at times. Those moments make you think whether this would play better as a 30-40 minute short film than as a feature.
Smileys: Colouring, tone, premise
Frowneys: Pacing, story