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Homeland (Netflix)

This series is based around Carrie Mathison, played by Claire Danes. Carrie has the responsibility to infiltrate in muslim terrorist networks to prevent mass attacks from happening and so on. She is like a pitbull in a way; if she’s convinced something is going on, she won’t stop until she finds proof that supports her suspicions. She is the kind of brilliant that let’s her get away with a lot of it, but not so convincing that she gets away with it ALL.
It starts with an American sergeant, Nicholas Bordy (played by Damian Lewis) who is found back after eight years of being missing.
This is, of course, a huge victory for America and for the CIA and FBI etcetera. He is welcomed with a massive amount of cameras, journalists, gets to meet the vice president and….his own family. Which means his wife and his two children who were both very young when he went on his mission. The children are teenagers now and have adjustment problems with their dad returning, especially as a good friend and colleague of their dad has more or less taken up that place. And if that’s not enough, Carrie Mathison is so convinced Nicholas Brody has a lot more to offer than just the tortured soldier that he is, she decides to bug his house with cameras and microphones all over the place.

The first season is based on Carrie Mathison basically bugging Nicholas Brody to find information about a terrorist who she believes he spend a lot of time with. Brody denies every alligation and Carrie doesn’t seem able to find any evidence to support her suspicions.
Suspicions that keep her from taking her medication against bipolar disorder at times. A condition she suffers from and that’s not general knowledge at her employer. Something she gets in trouble with once she decides her medications are keeping her from seeing ‘the real thing’.

First season and the second one are good, thanks to a storyline that surprises, actors who can properly act and get the chance to develop that sinister little bit of selfishness that every human suffers from. You want to push those pills down Carries’ throat, you want Brody to stop lying to his wife, you want his daughter to stop acting like a bastard, you want everyone to be honest etc. Β And aside that: none of the characters are stupid. You see them being torn at times (‘why would s/he do that?’ then the penny drops) but able to think and act smart on it.
Unfortunately, after a few seasons, things turn around.

In current times, it doesn’t seem like such a good plan to depict muslims as solely bad people, which is exactly what happens after those seasons. Basically, every single one of them is secretly bad, because working or sympathising for the wrong side, wanting to kill those who don’t want to join IS etc. I did find myself thinking: what did the actors playing these characters, think about their parts? I mean I know it’s work, but a lot of them are probably muslim in real life too and the good people of their faith are barely shown in this show. It shows the ugly side of people misusing their faith just to kill. I mean I know this series is based on preventing attacks from happening, but it can’t be easy to have to play such a negative depictation of what’s already believed by so many: that every single muslim has a shadow side.
To me it made the other seasons quite problematic to watch entirely. So I didn’t. I skiphopped through episodes.
In a way, sure, Homeland shows how the brainwashing works from within any faith, I suppose. How you’re not allowed to think for yourself, how you’re supposed to think of everyone as your brother (or sister) and how it, apparently, doesn’t matter if you get one of those killed, because that’s, again apparently, what your god/Allah/whomever had intended for you.

Carrie Mathison is the most likeable character in all this, since she doesn’t seem to judge people by their appearance, but solely by the information they (could) have. She’s also the surprising element, given that she’s bipolar and has periods where she has no problem with taking her meds, versus periods where she hates to do this and actually has to be convinced that meds are the only way to cope with her.
She’s also the queen, no, the empress, of the pout. My god, when she’s on her way to cry, or to get empathy, her entire face comes along. After a few of those actions, I was getting tired with it a bit. Realising I have seen her doing it in every part I know her from (Little Women, My So Called Life, etc) I’m guessing that’s how she gets her parts. Because this is so characteristic for her.

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Posted by on April 18, 2017 in Opinion, series, Uncategorized

 

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Glitch, Netflix

This series on Netflix, has a storyline similar to The Returned, except the characters climb literally out of their tombes.

The problem is that the one who wrote the story forgot to give any of the characters any of that. The first 4 or 5 episodes, you won’t witness any variety in responses to the unusual circumstances. None. Emotionally, the characters are even more dead than the state of being you’d expect from somebody who is supposed to be dead.
You do see how the ones who are saddled with solving the problems, namely a police officer and a local doctor, seem to have some inner struggle with the happening, but that’s it. No feisty responses from them either. You just wanna slap ‘m so they do anything you’d expect under the circumstances.

And no, it’s not the acting. You can see how it’s not the actors who do it wrong. They simply haven’t really been given any dept. It does become a bit better after a few episodes, but still most of the responses aren’t in any way realistic. Even if the series continues, I won’t watch it. Rather the French version of The Returned. Far better storyline.

 
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Posted by on March 6, 2017 in Opinion, series

 

Fargo

This series on Netflix came highly recommended by my nephew, who was very impressed by Billy Bob Thornton. Well, I had to check that, no?
Amongst the other actors there’s Martin Freeman (Love Actually, The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy etc) and Allison Tolman (Prison Break).

The story is quite idiotic to begin with. Man (Lester Nygaard, played by Martin Freeman) who has met former bully in the streets and gets himself hurt in an improbable way, tells himself at the hospital that he should have done something to this bully. Right next to him at that moment, is hitman Lorne Malvo (played by Billy Bob Thornton). Ofcourse, Lester doesn’t know he’s a hitman. They talk about hypothetical murder. Lorne says: ‘yes or no?’ and at that moment the nurse comes by, asking ‘Lester Nygaard?’ and so Lester says ‘yes’. More or less by accident.
Very Arthur Dent, actually.

The storyline never has a dull moment. Despite the fact you never really get to know Lorne Malvo, you do get to see a lot of Lester Nygaard and his trouble with the police department, especially Molly Solverson. Who is convinced Lester is involved in several cases and can’t let go. Though she has a point there, her part is to both annoy and keep the storyline going, apparently. In a way you want to push her aside just as much as her chief does, but then again: she does have a point.

Lester Nygaard is a weird persona. Never has done anything wrong in his life, but when one thing happens, other things start moving too. I never got used to his weird accent. Having seen him in different films, I’m far too aware that he doesn’t naturally sound like that. Despite that, he is very constant with it. But it does give him a very slow, very unnatural way of speaking.

If it wouldn’t have been for my nephew I probably wouldn’t have watched it. I did enjoy it πŸ™‚

 
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Posted by on January 2, 2017 in Opinion, series

 

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The Good Wife

This series on Netflix is a real attention sucker. Given that binge watching is so easy these days, a series with about 24 episodes per season will give you something to look forward to. And it doesn’t bore.

Julianne Margulies -whom I know from E.R., though I’m sure she did loads in between- is the said Good Wife, Alicia Florrick. She stands by her husband, Peter Florrick, who is into politics, and as such, very vulnerable for any intimate information to come out. Which means that him sleeping with a prostitute didn’t exactly serve him well. Alicia has to present herself as the wife who stands by her husband, knowing full well he did something she deeply disapproves off and has to pretend to the world didn’t happen.

That’s just the first few minutes.

Given that her husband is being jailed for the things he did wrong, Alicia finds herself back to work, after having been a stay-at-home-mom for years. She starts working for a lawyers firm named Stern, Lockhart & Gardner. A very dynamic surrounding and never a dull moment, in whatever way. Though Alicia has to find a way to avoid the ever so denegrating question people keep asking her ‘how’s Peter?’ as if they’ve known him for years and she only got to know the person in front of her for about 5 seconds, you notice she is used to give answers in a political mode. Though she answers in a way that makes her look vulnerable, she recaptures herself within seconds and comes back with an answer that shows her stronger than ever.

The strongest point of this series is, is that it’s based on her being a good wife. The firm she works for has a strong involvement, sure, but it’s not about that specifically, which gives the storywriters the chance to change things within the firm. I like very much how this is indeed done. It’s never dull, twists and turns between people keep things interesting. And though not everyone is constantly happy, all of the characters proof themselves to be flirting and threatening at the same time, with both their opponents as with you, their audience. Which makes it a very pleasant watch altogether.

I’d say watch πŸ™‚

 
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Posted by on November 29, 2016 in Opinion, series, Uncategorized

 

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Black Mirror

This series on Netflix is a weird one. Not only does it only contain 3 to 4 episodes per season, they’re not even slightly connected. The ony thing they have in common is that the techniques that are used in every episode, are widely known to everyone -social media- or could be in our not-so-far-future.
Funny detail amongst that, is that most of the cars -if these are used at all- are from around 1940-1950. Gives it a special ironic twist, in my opinion.
The acting is done properly, with recognisable actors from series you are probably already familiair with, such as Happy Valley, Downton Abbey, etc.

The very first episode reminds so much of a politician being in a similar situation, I was very surprised when I saw it was actually made years before that came up. Unfortunately, the reality of the script in the end was not too realistic -in my opinion- but this episode mostly shows the ‘WTF!?’ factor of this series. It’s there, and your brain gets a bit of a hit every now and then, but not so bad you think: ‘eeeew! I’m gonna skip this shit!’.

The second episode could have done with a bit more story and edge to it. On the other hand, it does resemble how the life that is led, continues. In a bit of a mudpool. Slowly, just going. The first twenty minutes do give an interesting insight in what more could be done with living with virtual reality.

The episode named White Bear gives even an extra twist. It’s like drinking something you have no idea if you like it, to be surprised by it’s afterbite. The way it starts strongly reminds you of how social media works (‘see, film it to have proof, don’t do anything’).

In any case, the episodes all keep you on your toes because of unusual circumstances that the leading person has to deal with. This can be anything, but in one way or another, they are challenged to figure something out and then make the best of it. It’s weird and thoroughly clever. You should try it!

 

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2016 in Opinion, series, Uncategorized

 

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Broadchurch (review)

Proper police series, just like Happy Valley, though setting and storyline are quite different. The things that it has in common are good recognisable actors and the adrenaline kicks it provides you while watching it. Plus, as happens with Happy Valley: cliffhangers that make you long for more. Every episode.

The story is about a police force who are investigating the murder of an 11-year-old boy. Ellie Miller (played by Olivia Colman, who I’m sure I recognise from something, but even IMdB doesn’t help me here), who has just been on a leave, finds herself not in the job she thought was reserved for her. This has gone to Alec Hardy (played by David Tennant, a wellknown figure for Dr Who or Harry Potter fans) who knows how to make himself quite unpopular very soon.
I might be a bit biased, I happen to like to recognise actors whom I’ve seen before. Well, if they played well.
The mother of the boy, Beth Latimer is played by Jodie Whittaker, who I’d only seen in Venus where she plays a deeply bored teen, so this was quite something else, and so incredibly powerful! She doesn’t look old enough to have a boy that age, exactly what’s meant to happen.
Then there’s Jack Marshall, the man who sells newspapers. He is played by David Bradley, another Harry Potter figure who pops up in a very different persona. You truly feel sorry for what he goes through. You just wanna hug him, pour him a cuppa, tell ‘m it’s gonna be alright.

Further more, the story does get a bit of a slow vibe to it when it comes to Alec Hardy’s background. That keeps coming back in a way that does nothing but to slow down the story. Since it doesn’t give any hints at all -you simply see him get dizzy and nearly passing out- I wondered why it was necessary to put so many of those scenes in it. For minutes. It bores quite quickly, that stuff.
Also, there’s hints being given that in the end, you still don’t know what the person did with it. And there’s of course the spoiler alert that shows itself at one point. Without telling what that is, I did think to myself: ‘OK, now I know’. Too bad, that one. I am not a very intelligent woman, so I’m sure that if I noticed that hint, anybody else will.
Another thing about this series, that I’ve noticed in a different one too (The Missing, also on Netflix): journalists are bastards. Everyone knows this, but I seem to discover it every time again. They really have no conscience in any way whatsoever. If they can have their day in the paper, they will sell their soul if necessary. Even if it is just for a stupid shag. Yes, it really is that simple. It makes you hate Piers Morgan even more. Driving around in expensive cars, pretending he is there to protect children, while everyone still knows very well that it were his actions that actually did quite the opposite. Journalists in investigations could be ace, if they weren’t so keen on selling a story. Because to sell more papers, you are gonna have to twist the truth. The truth doesn’t sell. Gossip does.

Anyways, back to the series. It’s a proper watch. It will kick you up the balls at times, but to me, that is quite a good sign.

 
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Posted by on July 1, 2016 in Opinion, series

 

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Orange Is The New Black

This series on Netflix is quite a powerful one. It starts with Piper Chapman going to prison willingly for having transporting drugs with her friend, Alex Vause. This has been quite a while ago and in the meantime, Piper has broken up with Alex and started a new life with a man whom she is now engaged to.

Piper Chapman is based on a real person, most of the characters are too. Piper was an actual inmate and what happens inside is the real deal, though I’m sure lots of it is -at least a bit- romanticised aswell.

The series stars are Taylor Schilling as Chapman, who is very good at putting up a desperate, innocent face. Excellent for a newbie in prisonhood, I gotta say. Further more Laura Prepon, Uzo Aduba (who is effing great! Really, WOW!), Michael Harney (the big, sad looking Droopy dog, who you can’t help wanting to throw a bone at, every now and then, just to comfort him), Lea DeLaria (bloody funny), Kate Mulgrew (again: WOW! Ace play in every way, angry or loving, awardingly stunning), Natasha Lyonne (reminds me a bit of Rizzo from Grease, somehow; big mouth, tiny heart), Yael Stone, Jessica Pimentel, Laverne Cox (Fashion Police inside prison. At least, at first sight), Danielle Brooks, Samira Wiley (sweet bookworm), Nick Sandow and Annie Golden. That last one, who plays Norma, is especially worth mentioning, as she is an important part of the group, but secretly doesn’t speak until…well, when she does. Meanwhile, everybody knows her. You too. You keep seeing her. You don’t notice she doesn’t speak until the moment she does.

The first season shows Piper who is trying to survive prisonhood. As an inmate of a -sort of- light crime, she doesn’t want any trouble, as most new inmates probably would like, but prisonlife simply doesn’t lend itself for that attitude.
Orange Is The New Black shows the viewer that in prison, the law is no longer with you. You’re part of a zoo with the other inmates there to make the rules for you. Make that laws. Telling on others will get you into trouble and there is no protection. I think that’s the most important message this series send out. Why prison is shit.
The first season also shows quite a lot of girl-on-girl-sex. In such a way, it bores quite quickly actually. Like all of them are lesbians, or you become as such, just being bored and think ‘oh, what the heck’. Though I’m sure it was great for the viewers rate somehow, it did get old quite quickly. Or maybe I’m just not lesbian enough, I don’t know πŸ˜‰

The second season starts with showing what exactly happens when the course of the lawsuit against you, proceeds. And how ill informed you can feel as an inmate when this happens. Given that I insist on not throwing spoilers in here -there’s enough of that on social media anyway- I’ll just state that given how season 1 ends, you as a viewer are also put on the wrong leg in season 2. Excellent, of course, because this is what you want to know. How does it work when you’re in prison? If you’re in the outside world, people, especially government people, are obliged to inform you what they are about to do. It is normal to get answers too. When you’re in trouble already, this changes.
This season has its dull/slow moments, but overall it’s exciting and keeps you on your toes regularly.

The third season, however, is though well acted (never a problem there, to be honest) not all that ‘hot’.
And I don’t mean the sex. There’s loads of slow moments in it. Red and Healy having a moment is sweet and does make it possible to slow down a bit without getting bored, but especially things between Piper and Alex, throughout the series, is very ‘Ross & Rachel’ at times. Utterly boring. They’re stuck with each other and they hate it, but being in prison kind of makes it impossible NOT to run into each other and get either mad with rage or frustrated with wanting to talk it over. You already saw Friends, you don’t need that kind of reliving.

The fourth season is picking up the pieces that were loose balls, thankfully.
Not a dull moment in that one.
It does, however, lack the angry, personal emotions that were still there in season 1 and 2. Season 3 ended in a way that made Piper look tough for a change, but for the fourth season they apparently had a change of heart. It’s also a bit weird to see the cast in a different shape. Like they’ve ages enormously in just 5 minutes. Boo suddenly dropped quite some weight and girls that seemed harsh and inhumane, suddenly soften up. It helps that an inmate who was away for some time, returns and makes jokes about it, as it really is undeniable.
I’ll give them that.
Then again, the season has a storyline that will give you the shivers at times. It shows the inmates as groups, perhaps that’s why on personal level, they’re suddenly less agressive towards newbies.
It also shows what happens when budget cuts happen in prison. That it means less care and less human acting against prisoners. And that it’s never the ‘right one’ to suffer from these consequences. That warders play by their own rules if they see fit and that their opinion about prisoners is quite different from what these prisoners are used to with Caputo, the director.
Who has grown up by now. Well, in ways of caring. Before, he actually had time to jerk off, now he is happy if he can spend about 5 minutes behind his desk to clear up the mess that’s been left by his new warders.
In season 1 there’s already a warder that wasn’t quite clean, in season 4 it really gets very ugly.

All seasons have an excellent cliffhanger to them, but I personally most liked the one presented in season 3. Because it makes you feel happy along with them.

 
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Posted by on June 21, 2016 in Opinion, series, Uncategorized

 

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