A Series of Unfortunate Events Season 2

Just this past Friday, March 30, A Series of Unfortunate Events season two arrived with gusto. Streaming on titan platform Netflix, season two has expanded from eight episodes to ten and takes the views up through book nine.

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This season sees the introduction of the two remaining Quagmire triplets, a swagger filled Nathan Fillion stepping into the role of Jacques Snicket, and a wonderful, fourth wall breaking, sense of self awareness that shows of this nature often lack.

While yes it does follow a predictable plot line, which was a problem many had with the first season: bad guardian –> something terrible –> Baudelaires escape. The beauty of this repetitive and predictable plot line though is it allows actors like Neil Patrick Harris (Count Olaf) and Nathan Fillon (Jacques Snicket) to really work their roles and have fun doing so, which is reflected as fully realized and sharp characters.

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The plot, instead of taking front and center like most shows/movies, takes a backseat to an incredibly immersive and rich world. Instead of trying to turn darkly fantastical source material into highly approachable comic realism (e.g. Marvel Comics), the plot champions a wonderful sort of self-realized, almost escapist fantasy that is unafraid to hit viewers in the face with a strong message of: This is our world, not yours.

With this world also comes the introduction of the highly secretive and, thus far, very vague secret society of VFD as the Baudelaires chase after red herring after red herring (ha).

Photo Credit: screenrant.com

This season is wonderful and keeps the Baudelaires on the move, it maintains the spirit of the books and the first season with dexterity, and manages newly introduced plot lines with ease. I recommend this show so highly it and I are probably in space. Go watch it.

Now I may be a bit biased by the fact that I get to see one of my all time favorite series on screen, if one is in the mood for a more comprehensive look at season two (spoiler warning) there is one here.

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What I Learned From The 100

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In January, I got the chance to miss three days of school and head up to Vancouver to watch the production of my favorite tv show, The 100. Now I probably know what a lot of people were thinking: this girl went on vacation to meet Bob Morley? Actually, yes, but while I did get to meet my favorite actors, eat sixty five dollar filet mignon, and find out so many spoilers for the show – and no, I’m not sharing – I also learned so much about the filming industry that I didn’t know before.

    1. A one minute scene that seems so well put together takes hours to be made. Literally, one small scene, and it won’t even be the entirety of it. I went to the outside set for one day, and they filmed the same scene for hours, and when I left they were still filming the same scene. It was absolutely fascinating how they did it. They filmed from every angle with multiple cameras. They’d have the same actor repeat the same line a hundred times just to capture a different detail of their face from a different angle from multiple cameras.
    2. The CW has the weirdest rules. For starters, actors could say any cuss word known to mankind, but they aren’t allowed to say the Lord’s name in vein. Also, actors aren’t allowed to show side boob in the shows. At all. So, basically the dresses lots of actresses wear at movie premiers would not be allowed on any of the tv shows from The CW we know and love.
    3. They usually don’t rehearse. Apparently they get their lines, have fifteen minutes of their own time to figure it out, and then get in front of a camera. That’s a part of the reason why there are so many bloopers, and so many retakes of several scenes. Their rehearsal is the filming.
    4. The camera makes people look bigger than they actually are. Not fatter, just bigger. When I met the actors, they were so much smaller than I expected, because they were a fourth of the size of what they look like on screen. They weren’t short or tall specifically, just tiny. It was definitely not what I expected.

I’m pretty sure that I learned a lot more things from that trip that I couldn’t have ever learned inside of a classroom, but that’s what I remember off the top of my head.

Freaks and Geeks

The TV show “Freaks and Geeks” is a true gem hidden behind TV’s biggest names like “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “Friends.” It only ran for one season, but still developed a cult following around the world.  In 2012, Entertainment Weekly listed Freaks and Geeks at #16 in the “25 Best Cult TV Shows from the Past 25 Years”. This show actually means a lot to me and has helped me understand myself more.

Photo Credit: IMDb

The show is set during the 1980-81 school year at the William Mckinley High School. Lindsay Weir, a previously proficient student called a star “mathlete”, one day decides to transform her life. She starts hanging out with the school’s “freaks” that are troubled rebels and slackers.  Lindsay, a goody-goody tries very hard to get approval from her new friends and gets into drinking and smoking. Lindsay’s new friendships create all sorts of problems for her, they cause friction between her and her parents, problems with self-image and love triangles. There’s a second storyline of Sam, Lindsay’s younger brother, and him trying to fit in during freshman year. Sam and his friends aka “nerds” are in a constant struggle for popularity and trying to fight off their bullies.

Freaks and Geeks really stuck with me because I was going through exactly what Lindsay was- an identity crisis. This was the first show aimed at teenagers that I could actually relate to. It wasn’t sugar coating high school, and it didn’t try to make characters “cool” and “relatable”, it showed raw and painful teenage problems. It helped me to realize that a lot of decisions I was making at the time were self-destructive. The show shows the mistakes almost every teenager makes with compassion and there’s a lesson to learn from each episode.

If you haven’t watched the show, I highly suggest finding some time to sit down and binge it. I guarantee that you will see yourself in one of the characters. Also, did I mention that James Franco is in it?

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0193676/

https://www.rottentomatoes.com/tv/freaks_and_geeks/

 

 

IT : a review

*Contains spoilers

IT, where to start? Born from the brain of literary machine and titan Stephen King, IT is the story of how fear and childhood trauma haunts people into adulthood. Written out, the entire story takes about 1,100 pages and is quintessential King. So, when Andrew Muschietti declared that 2017 would see IT reborn exactly twenty-seven years after the television adaptation the world of King fans was ready to see Pennywise again, ready with a bit of trepidation.

Photo Credit: wikipedia.com

To take on such a gargantuan story would be daunting to anyone and considering how long an IT remake has been on the drawing board it is a bit of a gift and surprise Pennywise even made it to the big screen.

While overall an enjoyable and successful adaptation there are a couple of definite flaws that despite solid casting, genuine chemistry among the young actors and overall success must be discussed.

But before the long haul starts, there is a shorter review by Time Magazine: here.

Now buckle up and let’s get this show on the road.

It was a brave decision to take on Tim Curry’s performance as Pennywise and with twenty-seven year old Bill Skarsgård in the role most of the pedophilic undertones of Curry’s older Pennywise were buffed out, but that still leaves a child eating, embodiment of all the hatred and evil in the hearts of the Derry folk that is Pennywise the Dancing Clown, so all in all still disturbing and skin crawl worthy.

While Skarsgård did a wonderful job as Pennywise, the physical appearances of Pennywise throughout the movie lacked the true terror of the novel and the manipulative taunting of the T.V. series. As the 2017 movie tried to combine the two it came up seemingly empty handed, lacking true all-chips-in terror of the source material but equally lacking the restraint and presence of Curry’s.

But again compliments must be paid to Skarsgård, whose clown face is possibly more terrifying without the makeup and skull cap. His take on Pennywise is unique from Curry’s and is definitely akin to the book’s. He gave a convincing and often times pitch perfect performance, marked by a genuine understanding for the character of Pennywise and seemed to understand the inner, festering motivations in a way the Curry never did. But alas, Skarsgård’s Pennywise was sadly marred by timing and strange cut offs that lacked the tension and drama of a true chase.

Given the enormity of Muschietti’s challenge slack must be cut for the adaptation. 2017’s IT focuses solely on the childhood half of the novel, an effective and advantageous decision for pacing and continuity. By cutting the novel in half and detangling the time lines Muschietti gave himself room to build the relationships and character arcs of the Losers Club, but even that seemed to lack oomph.

Photo Credit: comicbook.com

That being said since Muschietti was adapting IT for the silver screen not the small screen the development of the complexity in the kids, the parents and Pennywise were lacking. The adults were blatant and lacked subtly, the kid’s character development was simplified and hinged on singular moments instead of many. Pennywise was parred down to just a very scary clown rather than a symbol for racism, homophobia, of the hatred and fear that can inhabit very real people, but this simplifying of a complex character, simplifying of fear, is not unique to just 2017’s adaptation, the 1990’s T.V. adaptation was lacking as well.

Due to the time constraints of a conventional movie the Loser’s Club as a group also suffered. The time that could have been spent building the club into the truly loyal and incredibly strong group of friends it is in the book and even the 1990’s version seemed to be spent focusing on the “maybe” relationship of Beverly and Bill, important yes, but it should not have occupied as much screen time as it did.

Even worse though was the final show down’s use of CGI, a slapdash attempt to use all the new fangled tech available, the final “We all float down here” was taken too far. It was an unnecessary, overt and a lazy just-for-shock effect.

>> A Brief Interjection: If one is going to make a point about racism, one should not drop a one liner into a script like throwing in the gym towel. Racism is a complex topic that in order to land right and meld with a story must have development behind it. The line dropped by a mad and Pennywise influenced Henry Bowers felt like a sore thumb, out of place and awkward. The line lacked any build up or support from the rest of the movie. No back to CGI. <<

The use of CGI for the floating children, Pennywise’s floating blood and his final “diffusion”(?) cheapened the essence of what Pennywise is, it sucked the emotional weight from the final showdown and made it a fight of the supernatural alone, it takes the symbolic humanity out of the fight.

Photo Credit: shockmansion.com

The CGI also stole from the kids the sort of finality of facing their demons, of facing Derry. Muschietti gave Pennywise the benefit of a mystical “death”, admittedly Pennywise is fated to return but he needed to slither away like the pathetic creature he is by the end of the show down, not ambiguously dissolve like some dramatic end for the weight of story to land properly.

Now it may seem like this is about 900+ words just bashing 2017’s IT, in part that is true, but in all honesty despite the flaws the movie is an enjoyable one, it is all in all a very good movie, well worth the price of admissions and perfect for the upcoming Halloween season.

Fire walk with me

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

During the summer there was only one question on my mind: “who killed Laura Palmer?” The answer to that question can be found in episode 7 of the second season of my favorite TV show of all time, which is the surreal, mesmerizing and fever nightmare “Twin Peaks”. For those unfamiliar with the show -“Twin Peaks” is the brainchild of Mark Frost and David Lynch and it is possibly one of the best mystery drama series on television, and to prove that point, “Twin Peaks” received fourteen nominations at the 42nd Emmy Awards. When it first came out it dared to challenge boundaries of standard television, it had the eeriness of the “Twilight Zone”, the stylishness of “Miami Vice” and “Santa Barbara” relationship drama. The premise of the show is simple: an FBI investigation lead by Agent Dale Cooper is trying to unravel the mystery behind Twin Peaks’ homecoming queen Laura Palmer’s murder. The show isn’t solely one genre, it has elements of crime drama, supernatural elements and is also very campy. Drawing parallels from other works of Lynch, “Twin Peaks” is famous for surreal imagery, offbeat humor, and has a constant feel of violence that swallows you.

I can’t recommend this show enough, so if you have any free time on your hands please do yourself a favor and dive into the minds of Lynch and Frost and the haunting world of Twin Peaks.

Fire walk with me.

Twin Peaks IMDB

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Game of Thrones

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Game of Thrones Season 1-5 spoilers ahead

It is that time of the year again: Less than 50 days until Season 6 of Game of Thrones. It is time to start from the beginning of the show, watching one episode every night till the new season is released. I don’t binge watch alone; I get together with friends at least once a week and we watch the episodes together. With so many episodes it is hard to remember what happened in an episode 3 years ago, so I came up with a solution to eliminate gaps between the old and new episodes. A part of this tradition is to make predictions of what will happen and whoever is closest wins and gets the prize of hearing the others say “good job”.

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Season Six is looking like it will be the best season yet; after the death of Stannis Baratheon and Jon Snow, it’s hard to tell what path the show will take. The entire series I have been a big believer in the Melisandre, Stannis’ advisor. For those who aren’t familiar with the show, she is a priestess who serves R’hllor, the Lord of Light. Westeros is full of many religions, but only the prayers to R’hllor are answered. Although the religion is borderline satanic and possibly witchcraft, it is extremely powerful. A fire priestess like Melisandre can see the future which is really important when commanding armies. She has never been wrong with the exception of Stannis dying in battle. But I believe she knew that he would die. Melisandre has been trying to get Jon Snow to join them, but Jon refused because he has sworn an oath forcing him to serve the night’s watch.

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Photo Credit to: http://2.bp.blogspot.com

Men who swear the oath serve in defending the border wall till death. They are responsible for defending against Wildlings which resemble barbarians, and White Walkers, which are undead creatures that can only be killed with dragon glass, an extremely rare material. Because the white walkers are a new threat and no one believes the night’s watch reports of them, they are forced to ally the Wildlings under Jon’s orders. His men were so mad that Jon was killed in a mutiny in a dramatic Julius Caesar killing. His death is the best thing to happen to Melisandre. A fire priests in one episode showed that he could bring back the dead, but only those who R’hllor thinks is worthy. Melisandre knows that Jon is worthy and may bring him back to life. This is huge because Jon will no longer be sworn to the night’s watch; he is the rightful King of the north and the entire north will have his back in a war. On top of that he would have control of the remains of the Baratheon army, and because of his sister Sansa he will most likely get support in secret from Little Finger who basically controls everyone through blackmail. If that isn’t enough, he could probably get support from Dorne, a nation that isn’t a part of Westeros and Dorne really hates the current leaders of Westeros the Lannisters. If Jon Snow comes back to life, it would be game over for the Lannisters, and as much as I love to hate them, I can’t wait till they are gone.

 

 

What Would You Do?

“What Would You Do” – It’s my favorite American TV show.

The show is about exactly what its name states.

It sets up very dramatic situations, involves ordinary people in them, and watches their reactions to the dilemmas given, with the hidden cameras rolling.

It usually deals with serious social issues, and a lot of its episodes have unexpected touching results, in which people step up and take action without hesitation in order to do the right thing.

However, in this particular episode, the result surprised me in a quite different way.

It takes place at a family restaurant in Utah, where African-Americans take up only 0.05% of its population.

In this scenario, a white girl introduces her black boyfriend to her father. Unlike what she expects, the father rejects her boyfriend because of his race.

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As she rushes out of the restaurant with her boyfriend, an old lady sitting next to his table talks to the father. “I am with you,” She says. “I think they should stay with their own.”

A woman behind her, nodding in agreement, is brought to tears.

“I have a daughter,” She tells her story in a shaky voice. “She has a friend that’s black… I told her, “He’s fine to be your friend, you are never going to get involved with him…” They were just friends, but… I worried about that.”

Then, the old lady adds her racist comment: “A pretty girl like her would pick something like that.”

Photo Credit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0UuEegi4Ojo

Trying not to get emotional about her cutting comments, dying inside, the actor keeps the conversation going, asking if he is wrong.

“I was very proud of you,” The old lady responds. “Because that’s a shock to anybody.”

When the reporter of the show, John Quiñones, shows up in the restaurant, explains her about the show, and interviews her, the old lady tells us about her strong belief.

“I’m sorry,” She says. “If you are white, you are white. If you are colored, you go with colored people. And keep it in your family. Don’t put it in somebody else’s.”

She ends her comments with another incomprehensible statement: “It’s alright if you are a Mexican person, they are still white people,” She explains. “But black people and white people, no. I’m sorry, it breaks my heart.”

Finally, Quiñones introduces the man who acted a black boyfriend to the old lady. As they shake their hands, the guy asks her for a hug.

To my surprise, as she gives him a hug, she says, “You know, but I just think we should stay with our own, don’t you?”

This Episode shocked me. I thought racism was dead in America.

As an international student in California, I never considered rejecting an interracial couple as an option.

I heard of the word, “colored people,” for the first time in my life when I was studying To Kill a Mockingbird in my English class. Also, I was surprised when I learned that the setting of the story was within less than a hundred years.

Some people might think that racism no longer exists in America. However, for a lot of people, racism is still a big issue in their lives. A big chunk of generations was taught to be racist in its youth.

Now, the real question is, how should we react to this issue?

The episode ends with an interview with the African-American actor.

Quiñones asks, “She even hugged you. How did that feel?”

“Very weird, but I believe in people,” the actor answers. “I wanted her to know that, no matter what she thought, I was still going to shake her hand and I was still going to hug her because that’s how I am.”