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Unnerving USS Callister

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Finally Black Mirror is back and perhaps in the same chaotic way you feel after watching an episode – my thoughts are going to be sporadic and non linear below. I was well and truly ready for my disturbing dose. Eager with anticipation, I wondered just how far down the technological rabbit hole will we go this time? Well, it seems rather than going down a rabbit hole we were out in space hurtling towards an all consuming black hole.

Revenge of the socially awkward nerd indeed!

When I was at university studying film, we often discussed that some horror films walk that fine line of being scary then falling into the cheesy and laughable zone. Once it crossed into a B grade kitsch movie it lost your engagement and the purpose of what a horror film is meant to do. USS Canister definitely had elements that were blended with that uneasy heightened humour but the horror was still very real.

On completion my brain jumped to thinking about this – what will become of mental health services and treatment in the future when you are dealing with the likes of Robert Daly? How many undiagnosed secret personality disorders will be floating around in cyberspace world. If your behaviour isn’t being exhibited in the real world is it even justifiable to condemn someone for online behaviours?  It immediately made me think of the brilliant play ,The Nether, that questions this very idea.

Perhaps the highlight for me was the brilliant Jimmi Simpson. You all know by now I love the characters that he plays. I was having some kind of withdrawal, I admit,  from Westworld so this was a nice appetiser to get me through. Playing Walton we see a two dimensional asshole in the real world in the role of CEO, but a submissive man with layered emotions and a black sense of humour on the spaceship. My favourite bit is his constant shot drinking and referring to drinking poison – because they can with their non existent livers. I think it is safe to say we all might be nicer to our work colleagues just incase on the monthly fridge  they decide to pilfer your leftovers  because you didn’t fill the printer back up with paper.

As is always the case, each episode has so many socially relevant topics we could deep dive into and get very academically focused over them (but my dads of critically theory are over) however, I found the aspect of fandom or worship taken to the extreme in this episode. Imagine the threat this would pose to the generally well protected celebrities of the world or our government leaders. A true and dangerously intimate invasion of privacy.

This is the future people – if we can come up with it in a writing room it is only a matter of time before this is real.

 

 

 

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Paving The Path-way


downloadI’ve come up from air after my travels abroad and absolutely needed to discuss in a haphazard manner,  the Hulu/Amazon show  –  “The Path” .  It’s quite poor on my part to have left it so late in the game to watch this, but being the dedicated and somewhat accomplished binge watcher that I am, I managed to polish off season one in a weekend. It was on my TV spreadsheet and obviously grabbed my attention with the likes of this cast –  Hugh Dancy, Aaron Paul (just think about that combination for a minute … Will Graham and Jesse Pinkman… are you vibing on that dream combo? )  and the beautiful and powerful force that is Michelle Monaghan. More importantly or perhaps MOST importantly, it was created by Jessica Goldberg (Yay, female) whose writing inspires me. (Refuge, Parenthood to name a few) A quiet, yet powerful force who writes/creates thought provoking scripts, often forcing us to examine human behaviour when tested and the intricacies of relationships. She, and many other talented females in the industry (Meryl Streep this week at the Globes anyone????! ), give me the additional boost I need when I start to wavier with my writing dreams. If you haven’t seen it yet, The Path is about followers of a religious group known as the Meyerist Movement. Jessica, to me is one of the females in the industry paving the pathway for fellow female wannabe writers like myself to look up to and take the lead from.  Instead of an “ authentic voice” that everyone prattles on about – I prefer her unique vision, persistence and the ability to back herself. Give me a much needed healthy dose of that !

The characters are written in such a masterful manner which is brought to life by the accuracy of casting. Their interactions and complicated behaviours make for high stake and impactful drama. The central premise of the movement is the act of “unburdening” themselves and by doing so they can find the “light.” It is how each character responds and engages to this movement that hooks its audience .

We have the charismatic and ever persuasive  Cal Roberts (Dancy) the leader of the movement.  Eddie and Sarah Lane, a couple who have underlying issues  that unfold slowly. I find that  what is not said is particularly powerful between these two characters. We have so many flawed characters in a setting where they are meant to behave in a certain way that is of moral standing. Perhaps I haven’t seen a show in recent times that explores the topics of faith and the devotion of your practice in a modern presentation. We are  exposed to both views – those within the movement and those who are outsiders or skeptics.  It is through the device of clever and well plotted character arcs that we are able to examine these topics – to perhaps be reflective and introspective about our own belief systems and how we engage or interact with this in our own lives or how we perceive others who do so.

Whilst viewing it I am constantly changing my opionions and  I love it! Part of me wants to believe in Cal whole heartedly. Believe his intentions, his forthrightness, his vision.  Fall to my knees and do as he says without question (it is Hugh Dancy after all). Part of me wants to see that darkness be antagonised and watch it manifest and seep out.  I have a few more episodes to go until i finish season one and then I can get stuck into season two. I find most episodes quite jarring in a good way. There are layers upon layers but I love how it is all coming together. I look forward to seeing how the characters unfold and handle the impending situations challenge them. It is deliberately slow and delicious and I cannot wait for season two!

 

Wondrous Westworld

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I was bursting for Westworld to start .  I am certain I drove most of my closest circle crazy in the lead up to the air date. I am still hoping my parents will watch it after I broke them down and they watched The Night Of AND OBVIOUSLY they liked it – I mean, what do I have to do to explain that HBO simply don’t produce anything that’s not quality…I digress.

As an avid TV watcher you reach a certain point where you crave something that stimulates the brain, that makes you think. Sure, there are TV shows where I want to tune out to like Scandal and get lost in the romantic dilemmas of Fitz vs Jake and then there are other shows that I want to be a part of it, get lost in the world and piece together the complexities and intricacies of the world and what’s going on.

There is so much to say about this show, the episode,  MANY questions – but there are loads of articles, with paid writers, who can do that articulately for you. I have already argued about the scalp and the maze, and a multitude of theories in the office today!  This is just a bit of dribble…

The second episode excited me somewhat because the fantastic  James Raymond “Jimmi” Simpson was introduced as William. Let’s be honest , I love James Marsden and now another James…well Jimmi, is gracing our screens. (Just in case you needed a purely VISUAL reason to watch Westworld  if the dramatic setting and insanely good looking hosts weren’t doing it for you …)

I have thoroughly enjoyed all of Jimmi’s  roles thus far, casted to perfection, he is in interesting shows and plays fascinating characters.. If he seems familiar to you, no you aren’t in a loop or narrative,…he is in a lot of things but notably and in more recent times, The Newsroom and House of Cards in recent times.  I am yet to watch Hap and Leonard but will. Underrated and just a dream – perfect for the James Brolin equivalent character casting.

When we meet William he is rather hesitant and timid in front of his stunning host.  He is told “How far you go is entirely up to you.” aren’t we all immediately wondering what he is capable of? We haven’t had this insight  or privilege with any character to start the park journey with them from the beginning.

Then we are taken to the final detail – a cowboy hat.

A striking and deliberate visual of picking up the white hat?! I hope this hints at his core nature.  The show is intriguing me on this psychological level – I suppose I am waiting to see a characters journey unfold of seeing just how far they will go.

Then we realise we are in a train carriage…. A clever introduction to propel the story forward and reveal more to the viewer and starts to answer the questions we had from episode one –  how do you get there? how do you get the clothes? Do they get any information or an induction package?

So far, he is the only character, where as a viewer, we feel like he is experiencing it from the same POV. We experience the park how he might – taking it all in, asking questions, being curious by the stories the hosts start to tell  – unfortunately his friend Logan, played by another dream boat, Ben Barnes, squashes most of his natural curiosities – a familiar and frequent visitor to the park who has his own agenda.

I have enjoyed the dialogue that hints to reveal more of William’s personality – we are told he works too hard, we see his tender moment with Dolores (the new Teddy) . I can’t help but think he is in the park for the magic and wonderment of it as opposed to the violence and sex like Logan.

If you haven’t famliarised yourself with Jimmi you should! Check out this article… see, he get’s as excited as we would by Anthony Hopkins and Evan Rachel Wood… humble…normal…. worth watching  🙂

Inexplicable Ivy

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It certainly is a struggle at the moment for me to get through the vast amounts of TV that I need and want to watch. Over the weekend I finally watched the BBC drama, Thirteen.  This is just a little sprinkle of thoughts. After hearing murmurings from friends and colleagues as well as being very aware that my Welsh crush, Aneurin Barnard was in it, I knew I had to get stuck into it. Perhaps the very best thing about this is that is is was created and produced entirely by women. I dare say that the tender and more subtle emotional nuances in the show perhaps emerged from this creative ensemble. They have nailed everything from the writing, casting and producing and it’s very encouraging to see in the industry. The pace is great and the plot progresses easily –  with the right balance of action and keeping it tense in all the right spots.

I have always been drawn to the darker topics so was interested in how they would tackle one of the more disturbing subjects on screen. There has been plenty of abduction stories so what would they do? How would they approach it?  It’s an interesting journey we take with all the character’s dealing with the topic of abduction and the many complications both physical and psychological of a capturer / bonder / stockholm syndrome-like scenario. Subtext a plenty and not at all overt, there is a lot left for the audience to gauge and fill in.  Of course there is the usual theme of adjusting to life as it is, everything has changed which is overwhelming on its own but we never really get much insight into the  mental torture and physical abuse Ivy endures nor to the profile of her captor, Mark White.

The different interactions Ivy has with her family , friends and the police is what makes this a compelling drama. Multifaceted and complex, I couldn’t really every get a profile on who Ivy was , her core truth. Those ongoing background questions make for captivating and intellectual viewing.

The only time I think I saw the ‘true’ Ivy was when she was with Tim, her former boyfriend. (Just as a brief aside It was somewhat unsettling to see Anuerin playing a role  in normal clothes, outside a period piece costume and using modern technology. Always a good thing not to be typecast).

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Reverting to their teen versions when reunited , there was sacred and soft between them…not requiring spoken words. It was more a deep knowing on a soul level where words become unnecessary. There aren’t many people you can sit in silence with and yet say so much. This is how I would liken their scenes and it set me off into a deep energy releasing cry- athon!

I haven’t even started on the the acting prowess by all, the delightful Richard Rankin and some beautifully shot scenes –  but just watch it and see for yourself!

Ultimately a tale of survival and recovery, perhaps the more realistic side of survival.  I will leave you with an article from the writer, Marnie Dickens, discussing how there is no happily ever after with this type of situation or experience…

http://flavorwire.com/584719/theres-nothing-happily-ever-after-about-it-thirteen-creator-marnie-dickens-on-the-drama-of-survival

Convoluted Christine

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*spoilers – even thought it is just a musing of thoughts it may ruin this for you!*

The Girlfriend Experience could be renamed The Girlfriend Engrossment. It moved far beyond an experience and into a completely immersive viewing event. This show is dark, edgy, thriller-esque and we unfold with Christine. The character evolution is executed brilliantly as we are there for every step of the way which makes for gripping watching.  It was an intimate experience which is juxtaposed to the complete lack of emotional intimacy the characters seems to portray.

(Before we jump in I think I should address my slow grow crush on Paul Sparks. He definitely has a pull factor, an aura, just something. Again, another indication of perhaps too much TV watching, I had to quickly adjust my headspace to this new role. I have just finished Season 4 of House of Cards where he plays the wonderfUntitled.jpgul Tom and of course I enjoyed him in Boardwalk Empire. This brilliant performance has just cemented that crush – just what I need, another unattainable character infatuation!? Even if he was a vile in this. Anyway…)

I have been told many times in regards to script writing that  we should   “show, not tell”.  For some time this concept has baffled me. Writing is essentially telling and explaining with words right?!.  It wasn’t until this series and the phenomenal writing/EP work of the beyond amazing Lodge Kerrigan and Amy Seimetz , that I was able to really grasp this idea. The show is not dialogue heavy. The characters are detached and the show relies on other aspects of the production to highlight this. The key is in the direction, the action and the stunning visuals. It certainly isn’t The Newsroom. A perfect balance of character dialogue, action and all that sex has been successfully achieved. In this aspect, the ‘showing’ far outweighs the telling and is gratuitous in doing so with intent and purpose. Sex is inextricably bound to Christine’s character . It has its own force and weight within the show and is essentially a character.

An element that particularly stayed with me was the wonderful shots. It is visually stunning and of course is an effective device at mirroring the character’s mental health.  There is a scene where David has completely hit rock bottom and is ruined. He looks out of the window and it is grey, concrete and no one around, no cars to be seen. It looks like the end of the world outside which is a direct reflection of his world ending.As Christine changes apartments so does the interior decor. There is little to no colour. Monochromatic – black and white. It’s vast, empty, stark and minimalist. It acts as a work office not a house and certainly not a home that is lived in. Just like her work, her apartment is detached, business like and clinical. It momentarily reminded me of aspects of Patrick Bateman in American Psycho and his eerily jarring white apartment. Earlier she comments if she is a sociopath- she definitely sits somewhere on some scale… This scene captured this so profoundly.NEW

The other scene that used the colour and aesthetics was this one:

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Void of all emotion this client visit was beautifully shot. It felt like all the human elements and emotions that are involved with sex have been removed. Strip these clients down to their core structure and this is it.  We are left with bleakness, a rawness and it is very transactional.

Towards the end of the series Christine is riding in a car wearing a very dark, bold lip. This is probably the first obvious accent of colour that is introduced with her.  Her clothes sometimes have colour but they are mostly neutral/black/white/dark blue palette. I found this interesting and suggestive of her complete identify shift. A total embracing.

The microdermabrasion scene was also a great sequence – perhaps indicating that the old Christine has been extracted /removed and that she was completing becoming an escort and another incarnation of one. The dead skin cells are gone so the new can flourish just like she intends to do with being Amanda. The scenes of her body maintenance  (hair, skin, waxing etc) are important as they highlight the commitment she is making to her new career. She couldn’t, and more importantly, didn’t want to commit to law school.

It is a  very powerful commentary on many deeper topics and especially in regards to  women and listening to what they want to do as well as  what empowers them . This series turns that paradigm on its head providing a platform to explore these topics.  Law isn’t the only industry that entails power, control, status and wealth …! It is a fascinating exploration of a  complex female character, one who isn’t in touch with her emotions or emotional at all. The attempts to see Christine connect are fascinating to watch. She still has choices though and it is her  choice to actively pursue this lifestyle. I think the topic of choice, empowerment and judgement are huge key themes to this series. To really analyse those psychological elements would be a small thesis!

This series is so impressive and there are many, many more topics and components we could break down and analyse that would cause debate.  As a female viewer it was confronting, fascinating, empowering and relentless. If I had to sum up the show in one word it would be impactful. Watch it – and see what journey you go through in each episode.

Powerful and important TV  that is engaging and though provoking and performed by an impressive Riley Keough.

We need more of it. I know I crave it. If this show doesn’t blow your mind… it might blow something else – WATCH IT!

 

Narcissistic Noah

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*spoilers*

Unsavoury.

I found myself cringing and recoiling whilst watching Noah.  I witnessed a new sense of seething rise within me as the episode unraveled.

The episode aroused levels of revulsion as good character writing so often will and what better setting than an elaborate party to set the stage for a character demise.

I won’t lie, he’s definitely my least favourite TV protagonist at the moment. He’s no Kevin Garvey!

Noah seems to emotionally deteriorate each episode.Perhaps it was the display of degenerate behaviour that echoed to past encounters with males throughout the lives of my friends and myself. It certainly made me feel icky.

It just all felt so uncomfortably familiar.

The shady behaviour, the disrespect, the lying, the unreliability, the drugs, the excessiveness of everything, the lust, the desire. It just made me think of all the complete assholery that goes on in the world.

Noah Solloway is the reason why so many female self help blog sites around relationships exist. He is a giant red flag himself!  I mean let’s take a quick glance at this psychology today article and apply it to Noah I’ve taken the top 3 …

  1. Lack of communication. Oh, hey Noah your pregnant wife is calling. Repeatedly. Pick up the fucking phone. Or you know, care a little bit more about being able to find it rather than being distracted by your overly energetic, career absorbed publicist. It’s not that hard… but apparently it seems to be an ever growing problem these days.
  2. Irresponsible, immature, and unpredictable. ‘Bad boy of the literary world’ indeed – if you are 17 and think that’s a fitting title by respected novelists to label you – then go your hardest Noah! Acting out is never attractive. Dad of the year …not.  Let’s do cocaine and alcohol to absolute excess and then accidentally find yourself in a pool with your teenage daughter  watching her during an experimental hook up with a girl . It doesn’t get any more messed up than that. Leading by example at its best.
  3. Lack of trust.Noah cannot be honest with himself at also how could be possibly display this and trust to others. He is so easily swayed. His actions and his words don’t align and his behaviour with Helen is now repeating itself with Alison. I remember being told once that what a man does to you he will repeat and do to the next female and so on and so on.

I mean you know what is sexy as fuck? Men that don’t waste your time and display none of these traits. No one likes douchbaggery exhibited quite like this. No one.

Having studied dramatic theory I get it. The protagonist has a calling/life event.  They have obstacles and hurdles, lose it all, have the collapse followed by moment of self truth and discovery in order to rebuild and triumph.

I suppose Noah crying in the car was a breakthrough… I am not convinced that the remorse is for anyone other than himself and that’s what fills me with disbelief that he cannot and will not change for better. Alison certainly has him for worse.

Props to Alison though who clearly after giving birth jumped on some great blogs on ‘what to do with your emotionally unavailable husband’ sites.  Noah finally turns up and when asked if she wants him to come in she says “not yet”.  That’s right. Wait your god damn turn. Being accountable would be such a  wonderful thing for Noah to get. Actually, it would be awesome if everyone could just be accountable and responsible for their own actions. A universal shift is required!

One can only hope.

If I was Alison I would get into Parkway Drive and Justin Timberlake and let Noah cry some more and scream at the top of my lungs for a cathartic release only – “CRY ME A FUCKING RIVER BITCH” . I would love to know her current music playlist. I feel it would definitely help her workshop through the hurricane that is Noah himself.

de fucking plorable!

Contrite Cole

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Cole Lockhart is emerging as my favourite character on The Affair and that was cemented for me  after this week’s episode.

There’s nothing like a family gathering during the holidays to showcase and highlight the layers of dysfunction within. Cole finally erupted after weeks of trudging along of what I could only describe as – just existing. Cole is coping not living in this season.  He’s consumed by destructive habits and behaviours and a head space to match. I needed to see his current mental state crack wide open. I needed to know he was still in there. I have been clutching to hope that he was not too far down the spiral.

After his fiery rant and dissection of Noah’s book, the evening is interrupted by Whitney. As he drives her back to the city they share a moment of raw truths. They both seem to gain some clarity after their chaotic outbursts. It seems that after he has released the emotions that have been bubbling inside him he is finally able to make peace with them.

In this current headspace we see him show up at Luisa’s. I must say I was distraught at his beyond assholeishness behaviour earlier on in the episode.

“I come from a long line of unforgivable men. I think I got used to being alone. It’s been a while since I’ve had someone I cared about. I did it on purpose. I was trying to hurt you. I was trying to make you walk out of my house. And as soon as you did, I wanted you back. I can’t promise you I will be the best thing that ever happened to you, but I promise you I will never hurt you like that again. And I am good for my word. I may not be good for much, but I am good for my word.”

Second chance used up. I know what the dating books and gurus might say about that behaviour…but…the heart wants what the heart wants.

Brilliantly raw. He found his true north again.

I dare say women everywhere were hoping that all the men that they have ever been with who display even a shred of the traits displayed by Cole,  would realise the error of their ways, appear on your doorstep professing their love and standing in their own emotional truth. Is it that much to ask for? Dig deep and get real.

Let’s hope things improve  and his actions and words align.

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Woes of Woodrugh

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*Warning True Detective spoilers*

Well there you have it. Just a random brain dump is what we will call this.

Wave goodbye Woodrugh.

Not rock salt rounds this time, the real deal.  I have my suspicions that the bird masked man who attacked Velcoro is the same person who shot Woodrugh… Lieutenant Burris. The internet is full of theories and this one is definitely popping up more and more after this episode. I guess we will find out next week…or not as the case often is!?

In my opinion, the best episode to date – full of darkness, momentum, wonderful camera  transitions and sadly the death of Paul Woodrugh, who I found the most troubled and the most intriguing out of the group. Wouldn’t you just love to be a fly on the wall during his counselling sessions? (or maybe just the shower!?)

On some level I knew things were going to end in a dire manner thanks to the scene where he was being watched when researching and retrieving information.

Struggling with his inability to confront and tackle his sexuality throughout the season, we finally saw it ultimately lead to his death.  I am not sure if it was intentional, but the metaphor of him being stuck in the darkness in a tunnel and fighting his way through it seemed relevant. You can fight and fight and fight but wherever you go, there you are.

The things we try to hide so fiercely can often undo us, they manifest and take over in negative ways and in this case, his mission to keep his secret and salvage photos of him with another man lead him to his death.

I  thought he would make it out of that tunnel and out of the darkness and have a moment of clarity, reveling in the idea that it would be safe to tell everyone and the world who he was after surviving such an experience…but it wasn’t to be. He nearly got there through a vague phone call to Velcoro … I loved this episode because not everyone triumphs with their demons, not everyone can express them, people suffer silently all the time not knowing how or who to turn to. Fear keeps them where they are. The power of fear is phenomenal and in some ways, its own character in the show.

I just have so many questions… but I like that we don’t get it on a platter and that it requires that concept called as thinking and not ‘let’s explain the plot in a linear fashion so that everyone is 100% clear on what happened’  – because people and life and situations are NOT like this. They are convoluted, dynamic and ever changing. Sometimes you don’t get the answers, understand why or the motives, sometimes it just is.

Woodrugh seemed to be making a lot of progress in terms of putting the pieces together for the group.  I thought perhaps he was targeted or punished because he was making the most headway and so he had to be taken out.

There is a lot more to cover , I mean I haven’t even touched on the other characters.

It’s dark and getting darker. Looking forward to the finale.

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