The X-Files (S1.Ep16) – “Young at Heart”

The X-Files – Season 1 – Episode 16 – “Young at Heart” ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Director: Michael Lange Writers: Chris CarterScott KauferChris Carter. Cast: David DuchovnyGillian AndersonDick Anthony Williams 

Another strong episode enhanced by a really strong cast (especially the guy who play the older Barnett, creepy as hell) and eerie atmosphere throughout, though probably slightly spoiled by the title itself which basically is a giveaway to what is going on and solving the mystery. There are few good moments (like when Scully gets shot) and the scenes between Barnett and Mulder on the phone which are possibly the highlights of the episodes. But once again the final coda feels a bit rushed and the usual open-end (which in this season are beginning to feel a bit tired) is a little bit disappointing considering the big build-up.

The X-Files (S1.Ep15) – “Lazarus”

The X-Files – Season 1 – Episode 15 “Lazarus” ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Director:David Nutter Writers: Chris CarterAlex GansaHoward Gordon Casa: David DuchovnyGillian AndersonChristopher Allport 

A potentially interesting (though rather unoriginal) premise about body-switching which could be straight our of a twilight zone episode. Unfortunately the writers don’t seem to know what to do with it beyond the intriguing beginning. Overall the episode is certainly not one of the best episodes, at least it its execution: not much tension or horror, or anything that makes the X-Files so compelling as a series. I blame the writers more than the director who I know can deliver something really solid when he wants to. The episode does however give the character of Scully a chance to experience the paranormal at its fullest, shaking her believes a little bit and even though It’ll take a few season until she comes around to “truly believe”, it is a step towards the right direction.

Hilariously “Entertainment Weekly” described this episode as “as exciting as Scully’s taste in men”… haha. I enjoyed it a bit more than they did.

The One and Only Ivan

The One and Only Ivan (2020) ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Director: Thea Sharrock. Cast: Sam RockwellBryan CranstonPhillipa Soo , Chaka Khan, Mike White, Angelina Jolie, Helen Mirren, Danny DeVito, Ramon Rodriguez.

A harmless and charming little film with some truly astonishing visual effects, which are so good that in fact you might not even notice they are actually effects: believe it or not, no animals were used in this film at all! “The One and Only Ivan” has quite rightly been nominated for its CGI work at the Oscars. It is so well done that somehow it makes even the animals talking to one another believable.

Taken from a children’s book with the same name, which was itself inspired by a real story (plenty of that in the credits), this is as gentle as any Disney-produced films I’ve seen in a long time. Hardly a baddie or a scene of peril throughout and even if it features some animals in cages to start with, there’s a happy ending around the corner and there’s no suffering in sight. Even its “captor” (Brian Cranston) is a good man at heart. A good solid cast rounds it all up: Sam Rockwell, Danny DeVito, Angelina Jolie (also producer of the film) and the slightly wasted Phillipa Soo, Chaka Khan and Helen Mirren.

It’s the perfect film for kids and families, full of life lessons, about both animals and humans, but if you are a bit of a cynic, you may find its slow pace, predictable storyline and lack of thrills a bit of a turn off.

On DisneyPlus

Also it’s probably a little bit too “by-the-number” to make any serious impact on its audience. No big laughs and big tears, at least not here, but we were all left with a smile on our faces.

The X-Files (S1.Ep14) – “Genderbender”

The X-Files – Season 1 – Episode 14 “Genderbender” ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Director: Rob Bowman. Writers: Chris CarterLarry BarberPaul Barber. Cast: David DuchovnyGillian AndersonBrent Hinkley, Michele Goodger, Nicholas Lea,

An X-Files with the Amish… or something like that.

This is an interesting one: it sets up an intriguing mystery and a premise which actually feels refreshingly original. Unfortunately it leaves too many questions unanswered and the ending, however striking and nicely realised, feels a bit of a lazy cheat and a much too abrupt. It’s one of those few times when I wished the episode had a sequel (something which will only happen later on in the series).

Having said that it manages to hold the tension and a sense of dread throughout, it’s atmospheric and there are couple of very creepy moments. All of which make this episode a lot more compelling that it probably should be.

Also, any X-Files aficionado will definitely notice Nicholas Lea who would later appear in

The X-Files (S1.Ep13) – “Beyond the Sea”

The X-Files – Season 1 – Episode 13 “Beyond the Sea” ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Director: David Nutter Writers: Chris Carter, Glen Morgan, James Wong Cast: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Brad Dourif, Don S. Davis, Sheila Larken.

I remembered this was a good one, but I didn’t remember it being so good!

If you really want to be convinced that this is good tv and you’ve never seen the X-Files, you should give this a try!

This episode packs so much in 45 minutes and does so many things right: for a start it unexpectedly switches the the role of our two heroes, the believer and the skeptic: it’s great to Scully willing to accept what she calls “extreme possibilities”, while Mulder is convinced it’s all a scam.It also makes her is the main protagonist allowing Gillian Anderson to showcase her talent and her range: from fragile and broken, to strong and pissed off (the moment where she shouts “I’ll be the one that will throw the switch and gas you out of this life for good, you son of a bitch!” Is so unexpected and yet so well earned!).Scully’s father’s death at the beginning of the episode is beautifully handled and brings a whole series of personal and emotional resonance to the table. The image of the father appearing to Scully, sitting on a chair moving his mouth in silence is also one of the spookiest scene in the series: real stuff of nightmares.

This is also the episode where Mulder calls her by name for the first time: another piece to add to their ever-building relationship. There are so many small and yet very tender moments in “Beyond the Sea” between the two agents: not just the “Dana” moment, but caresses, Mulder being shoot and that final moment at the end, sorest and understated. No wonder people speculated for years whether they would ever get together. It all seems to start from here.

And I haven’t yet mentioned Brad Dourif in the role of Boggs. The scenes between him and Scully, clearly remind us of those between Hannibal and Clarice in “The Silence of the Lambs” and are some of the most powerful in the series .

David Nutter’s direction is perfect too. He evokes images from Lynch (interestingly Scully’s father is played by Don S. Davis who also appeared in Twink peaks), does some beautiful cutting between the visions and “visioner” (Boggs) and creates an tense, creepy and eerie atmosphere of without having to resort of loud bang and jump scares.

I should probably mention Sheila Larken as Scully’s mother too: she only appears for a minute or so, but she makes the most of her role, so much so that she’ll be used again.

Definitely my favourite episode of the season 1 so far.

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