The Queen’s Gambit Belongs To Taylor-Joy



Arriving almost stealthily but just in time to prove 2020 isn’t all bad, The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix is a riveting story of loss, genius, addiction and chess.

Smartly and economically written, gorgeously designed and shot, and with an excellent score (by Carlos Rafael Rivera) the series however, is owned lock, stock and barrel by Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch, Emma).

The actor plays orphan Beth Harmon and the seven episodes detail her meteoric rise through the world chess rankings. Director/writer Scott Frank (Godless) makes full use of Taylor-Joy’s eyes throughout, which seem to sometimes threaten to burn right through the screen. It’s a frequently astonishing performance, one that starts from those eyes and manifests a dark and fascinating inner life for her character. This was clearly a rather special collaboration between the two.

Based on a 1983 thriller novel by Walter Tevis (who also wrote The Hustler, The Colour of Money and The Man Who Fell To Earth), the story moves forward propulsively but never less than thoughtfully and also highlights a complicated but tender relationship between Beth and her adoptive mother, played by Marielle Heller.

The cast is uniformly good, featuring superb turns from the likes of Isla Johnston (as young Beth), Bill Camp (the care home janitor who spark’s Beth’s nascent talent) and Moses Ingram (as Beth’s closest friend, a character we should definitely have seen more of in the narrative).

But this is Taylor-Joy’s show and a great showcase for the young actor. Frank and Taylor-Joy give us a fascinating, magnetic character in Beth, and mostly avoid making her talent magical by highlighting her obsessive and destructive traits.

The Queen’s Gambit feels very much like a piece of classic Hollywood storytelling, yet rises above that with a cool boldness that feels utterly compelling.

The series brings a wonderful, stylish slice of viewing joy (sorry, not sorry) to a pretty awful year.

Somewhat Surprisingly, The New Mutants Gets A New Trailer…

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Whatever has occurred in the twists and turns taken to bring Fox’s The New Mutants to the screen remains somewhat of a mystery, but we finally have a new trailer and a new (new) release date.

Though I’m generally not a huge fan of Marvel’s mutant teams, I’ve always had a soft spot for The New Mutants, encouraged mainly by the Chris Claremont/Bill Sienkiewicz ‘Demon Bear‘ storyline that elevated a bunch of second string characters into a must read comic book!

I also rather liked the first trailer for Josh Boone’s The New Mutants film for Fox, released two years ago, followed by… well, officially, nothing.

Behind the scenes, however, everything seemed to be going on, from the Fox/Disney merger (would Disney want to see Marvel characters in a straightforward horror movie, albeit released under the Fox banner?), to delayed release dates, rumoured reshoots involving X-Men writer/producer Simon Kinsberg and further rumours that the film would be shelved as it now longer fitted in with the Mouse House’s overall plans for Marvel.

But just recently, director Boone tweeted that a new trailer would be released and a final release date set, and here we are.

I’m more than intrigued by this, the cast is full of great young actors (honestly, I’d watch Anya Taylor-Joy in anything, and I’m dying to see her take on Illyana Rasputin / Magik, but Maisie Williams, Maisie Williams, Henry Zaga, Blu Hunt, and Charlie Heaton are all of great interest too), and the thought of a superhero/horror mash-up ticks all of my boxes.

The New Mutants is released (finally) on April 3rd. Here’s hoping I won’t regret spending so much time writing about it.

Netflix Launches Dark Crystal Trailer

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Netflix has just dropped the first full trailer for their sequel to the late Jim Henson’s 1982 movie, The Dark Crystal, Age of Resistance. Check out the trailer here:

While I’m a huge admirer of Henson and of the artistry behind his amazingly creative films such as The Dark Crystal, I’m also not the world’s biggest fantasy fan – despite my myriad of other geek credentials – so I’m approaching this with some wariness.

But I have to say the trailer looks ravishing and has piqued my interest. I’m sure I’ll be catching the first episodes of this ten episode series from the increasingly world-dominating Netflix (at least until Disney launch their rival channel later this year).

Directed by Louis Leterrier (Marvel’s The Incredible Hulk), and featuring the voices of Taron Egerton and Anya Taylor-Joy, The Dark Crystal Age of Resistance launches on August 30th, 2019.

The New Mutants Trailer – Fox/Marvel Go Full-On Horror

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After the success Fox have had with more individual writer/director projects, Deadpool and Logan, it seems the studio is forging ahead with this gameplan, seeing Josh Boone lurch into full-on horror with The New Mutants.

It doesn’t look like there’ll be much room for blue/black and yellow leotards in the movie, coming April 13th 2018, but the film suggests it will make up for that in scares. It certainly has a different feel to the main run of X-Men movies.

With an great cast including Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones) and the increasingly wonderful Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch), the film promises a “Stephen King meets John Hughes” vibe while bringing in the Demon Bear character from the highly regarded run of New Mutants comics by Bill Sienkiewicz and Chris Claremont.

The New Mutants becomes more intriguing the more I hear about it. What are your thoughts…?