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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.  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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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 🙂

 
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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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The Bloodline (netflix)

I’ve only seen the pilot episode. To be honest, it made me mad with motion sickness. I don’t know where the one filming it goes his degree, but I guess I wasn’t from a place where a story needs to be convincingly told, just confusing enough to go on.
And no, the camera doesn’t go ‘on the move’ all the time, but when it does, there’s no way of catching on to the story.
Which is vague, as is quite normal for a pilot, I guess.
A family is gathered for the anniversary of the parents who have ran a hotel for years. The children are trying to get everybody to get along, but then there’s the brother, who is so full of himself that he rather doesn’t attend the party at all. When he does, it’s a big surprise. And he brought along a guest no one invited. He is the king of being rude.
Meanwhile, all of this already vague stuff is being interrupted with images of a brother carrying around this rude brother around, not really explaining anything.
I’m quite sure that was my cue to become curious, but I wasn’t. I decided this series wasn’t for me.

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2016 in Opinion, series, Uncategorized

 

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Happy Valley season 1 (Netflix)

Having seen the first season, I do wonder how things will continue. The series profiles itself by saying the title is a wee bit ironic.
That’s not a lie.
Catherine Cawood (very well played by Sarah Lancashire) is a police sergeant, always on the go, with a heart for business. She will do whatever she can to help, but with firm talk.
Her colleague Kirsten McAskill (good play by Sophie Rundell, whom I swear to god looks so much like Emma Watson at times, it confused me. Rundell also played in The Bletchly Circle. Also ‘A Must See’) almost sees her as a motherfigure, and so do many, it seems.
Kirsten is a good worker, but a bit more easily intimidated, causing her to blink at times. She is a good friend and a good cop though.

But this first season is based on a fight that’s mostly a misunderstanding between two men.
Kevin Weatherill (well played by Steve Pemberton) is finding himself troubled after he has asked his boss Nevison Gallagher (awesome play by George Costigan) for a payraise and this is declined. You feel for Kevin, as you see his struggle to even ask such a thing.
Being the accountant of the company, Kevin finds he knows Nevison should be able to afford this. Nevison rather plays equal for all of his employers, but after a talk at home, his mind is changed. Not just because that’s the person he is, but since his wife Helen (Jill Baker) and daughter Ann (Charly Murphy) both think he’s a bastard for not agreeing to the proposed pay raise.
Unfortunately, by this time, Kevin has been visiting a friend of him, where Kevin finds out a bit more about this friend than he would ever have liked. However, given that Kevin is quite a desperate person at this moment, him and this friend come up with a plan for some ‘quick money’. Kevin tells his friend he knows Nevison has a daughter and should have a load of money. So why don’t they kidnap the daughter and extort Nevison for the money?
Everything goes different than Kevin had planned.

For starters, the money he needed, gets offered to him anyhow, while at the same time, Kevin receives a phonecall that the incredibly stupid plan he had, is being executed at that time.
It goes from bad to worse from that point. Kevin is not the kind of person to have nerves of steel. There’s times you wanna cut his balls off for showing no strength, to discover he hasn’t got any to begin with. It’s quite well played because of that, really.

Meanwhile, Catherine Cawood is in the middle of all this, unknown. She goes home to her sister (the strict but funny Siobhan Finneran, whom you know from Downton Abbey) who lives in the same house, Catherine has a grandson that starts acting up more violent every day and she has a son who no longer speaks to her, an ex-husband who can’t stop having one night stands with herself, and so on. They had a daughter who died and the reason why is the giving this season its main plot and makes it a soap all together. It’s entertaining in a dramatic way.

George Costigan and Jill Baker portray honest parents. The desperation one can read from their faces and the fear that comes along with a situation such as this, which you hope will never happen to you yourself.
Jill Baker and Sarah Lancashire together, along with Siobhan Finneran was quite a scene already, Sarah Lancashire with George Costigan in a later one was another stunner. The use of just eyes to bring a message across. Not many can do that so well. Costigan and Lancashire make it happen, even though it’s just a few seconds. That can be enough.

James Norton is a proper villain. Showing no remorse of any kind, showing no feelings or emotions for anyone but himself, he is a good at torture in every sense. He doesn’t respect any kind of authority and certainly has no boundaries for anything or anyone. You utterly feel for each and every one of his victims, good or bad.

Catherine Cawood is not a woman to mess around with, something I highly appreciate about this series. A proper superhero, if you will. She is the one with rational superpowers.
The moment where she truly helps the ones surrounding her are nothing short of raw emotion. You really feel your own adrenaline kick up. You’re with her in that room or wherever she might be and everything she feels, you feel. The injustice, the victory, it’s really there.
Also, they’ve done a great job with cliffhangers at the end of episodes, and starting the new one.

I had never heard of Sarah Lancashire or George Costigan before this. Time to change that!

 
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Posted by on June 3, 2016 in Opinion, series

 

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The Fall vs The Bridge (review)

As I’ve recently seen both of these series and they both more or less handle the same theme -police investigates murders with a woman being the one calling the shots- I couldn’t help but comparing them.

The Bridge is Danish/Swedish. It starts with a dead woman that’s found on Oresund Bridge. The one that devides Danmark from Sweden.
The body is found exactly in the middle.
Because of this, both a Danish policewoman (Saga Noren, played by Sofia Helin) and a Swedish policeman (Martin Rhode, played by Kim Bodnia) have to cooperate together to puzzle out who did this.

The Fall is made in the UK, but feels very USA. This is probably because everyone knows Gillian Anderson to be American. She does try to adapt a British accent at times, and by mentioning she’s supposedly from London, this should probably explain that, but….it doesn’t convince.
It’s set in Belfast, which makes the accents fly about. I must admit I do love that a lot.

The Bridge shows how Saga Noren, who runs her department (but isn’t the boss), has her own ways of dealing with things. Odd behaviour, one might say, such as changing her shirt when everybody is still there and simply telling someone to do something for her (‘go and ask Mr Blabla where he was in that night’) and no ‘please’, or  ‘thank you’, follows. She will ask deeply unsensitive or slightly inappropriate questions without the blink of an eye, saying ‘I really have to know’. You see her thinking process. She is not a sexy woman, she is just someone doing her job. She’s good at it.

The Fall shows how Stella Gibson takes charge from the start. She is very, very careful with what she says (but maybe that’s because of the phoney accent) and she’s hot. Or supposed to be that. Stiletto heels, tight skirts, waving blouse, lipstick, etc. On her first night in Ireland, she asks to be introduced to another police officer she sees. She tells him in what hotel she stays, what room number.
That is the kind of woman who is in charge in The Fall.
When this police officer is shot the next day, his visit to her hotelroom becomes briefly of interest to the police, but only because he is a married man and she should not have done that. She is hated for it, even. Because it’s Ireland and he’s married. A woman doing things like that is ‘not done’.

The Bridge shows how a team works well together. They consult, get information through while Martin and Saga are on the road for all kinds of stuff related to the case. You get the feeling Saga and Martin have changed standard roles (Martin is quite sensitive, where Saga is not at all), which gives it an interesting spin. Martin is very feeling, wants to be everyone’s friend. Saga doesn’t have this. Just to solve the case. Her special behaviour is never named, but you get a Sheldon Cooper (Big Bang Theory) vibe anyway.

The Fall shows how a team doesn’t make progress. Maybe it’s just how it’s depicted, but I mostly became frustrating watching this series. Paul Spector is supposed to be a Grief Counselor and you see him at his job, doing basically nothing. You don’t get why people think he’s any good at it. It seems like the only place where he’s truly a Grief Counselor, is in the script.
It’s Stella Gibsons thoughts and the police wanting to handle things ‘neatly’, which means not solving anything, because it could be hurtful to someone in the team.
Also, Ms Gibson is leading the investigation, but obviously doesn’t like to get her hands dirty. She barely does anything herself.

In The Bridge nearly nothing happens without a reason.

In The Fall, there’s a lot of stuff that happens without it being cleared up why that was necessary to show in any way.

In The Bridge the suspects get away, hide, the normal game. It’s believeable.

In The Fall, when an arrest is made, no handcuffs are used, the suspect just comes along like a lamb to the slaughterhouse. It doesn’t make sense in any way.

Both series do have very skilled actors. Sofia Helin is not Sigourney Weaver in Snowcake, but she does give the performance a convincing shot and she is truly amazing doing that. Kim Bodia looks so much like a kicked puppy, you just wanna hold him into your arms half the time. That’s when you don’t wanna slap him because he likes women too much to be believeable as a married man. Dag Malmberg reminds slightly of Bill Nighy, but only in appearances. He is a kind and loving father figure, proper in leading his team.

Gillian Anderson is excellent, just not specifically in this part. I would have expected more depth in a part that she played, to be fair. But the same goes for  Jamie Dornan, who has a lot going for him, but in the end, you still have no clue as to what goes on inside his head. You don’t see any real motive. There’s just the vague talk about it between him and Gibson and the nanny, but no real point.
It’s too bad Niamh McGrady didn’t get more spotlight. As an empathetic police woman, you clearly see her care for her job, the victims and so on. You like her instantly.

 
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Posted by on February 29, 2016 in Films, Opinion, Uncategorized

 

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