We are The Leftovers of society…

Reviews, Tv Series

Be honest! Have you ever felt like there is something wrong with you? Have you ever felt like you were born in the wrong place at the wrong time? Have you ever felt like there is a curse over you? Have you ever felt like “a plastic bag, drifting through the wind, ready to start again” like our beloved Katy Perry used to sing? Have you ever felt like you would give anything to end this life and just get reborn, hopefully with just a tiny little bit of more luck? No? Well lucky you, I would say. Yes? To at least one of these questions? Then welcome to the club. Not that being part of this club makes you more worthy of anything but at least you know you are not the only one. Cheers. See? There is always something to celebrate!

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When I started watching The Leftovers, I was going through a hard time. I just had my hips surgeries (Two. Yes, two hips, two surgeries!), I was stuck in bed, yadda yadda, I was binge watching Tv-series and movies like eating bonbons, really, and it literally messed up my mind. Every time one episode ended I had this heavy feeling weighing on me, the music, the soundtrack was so melancholic and sad, terrible and haunting, (well I guess thank you Max Richter) that not even Ludovico Einaudi makes me feel that way  (and of course I used some of the songs in my short, a project for filmmaking class at BC that you can find here) …long story short, it was a total body experience. I definitely needed some music therapy after watching this show. I wonder if this is the reason why it took me so long to start reviewing it? Nah, it’s just me and my procrastination issue. I tried to see if there’s some AP meetings around but no. What do you mean “what is PA”? Procrastinators Anonymous of course. Dudes, dudettes, this is a serious issue you guys. Beware! Ugh uh. Anyway… the ways in which this series captures you (or that’s what happened to me at least, and you’ll see why even more later, going through the plot) are infinite. It pushes you through philosophical reasoning, adding psychological traits that you cannot avoid to take into consideration, picking on social and moral issues, religious ideas, ethical reasons, basically it makes you think, and that’s not something to underestimate nowadays. No wonder you start taking seriously the concept of feeling like an actual leftover of society by the end of the show.

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Like the TAO symbol, (the Ying Yang you all, come on, be smart) the stories entwines two sides of the same coin: faith vs lack of faith. Not only faith in God per se, but the meaning behind the actual act of believing (or not) in something, humanity included (yes, indeed, welcome to the club, like I said).  The unbalance and the mess that reigns in this picture where the world and society have been completely compromised by something supernatural (the sudden disappearance of 2% of the world population) makes you lose faith in almost anything, even you and your power, and your existence. Everything. But, (why, yeah, of course there was a “but” coming!!) the only ones who seem to handle this situation pretty well, are those who believe in God, such as Matt, who sometimes I can’t even stand with all his “manners”… but one thing at a time, we’ll get there.

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I asked myself multiple times if what made me relate so much to this show was the fact that it seriously makes you wonder what is going on in the world today. It shows how society is fucked up, pardon my French, and not only on the fictional level: fanatics are all over the places, believers and non-believers, people who simply can’t take it any longer, others who grasps on each other to survive, and then all the rest that simply exists around us, just –occurring– to us. Fate. Faith. Destiny. God. Chance. What is it all about? We don’t know. And this show tells you exactly this. It is all a real frigging mess.  There is not a psychological process in this. Or better, this is what you want to believe: after all, it is a tv-show, there has to be something, a clue, whatever, to connect the dots eventually, but no. You are left with a disturbing question mark even when, slowly, things start to be disclosed. And always expect the unexpected.

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The Leftovers

Genre: they want to call it “psychological thriller”
Based on: The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta
StarringJustin Theroux as Kevin Garvey, Amy Brenneman as Laurie Garvey, Christopher Eccleston as Matt Jamison, Liv Tyler as Meg Abbott, Chris Zylka as Tom Garvey, Margaret Qualley as Jill Garvey, Carrie Coon as Nora Durst, Ann Dowd as Patti Levin
Watched on: HBO
Three seasons, Twenty-Eight Episodes binge watched in: I wonder. I watched religiously the first season on SKY Atlantic, if I remember well, then I moved so I must have binged on the second season, and eventually I binged also the third I believe. Oh Oh, yeah yeah, I was in Boston at the time so yeah. Totally.

Mapleton, Ohio. One of the thousands of towns where people suddenly disappeared leaving 98% of the people on Earth… behind. Or alive. Or saved. Who are they? Who are we? We’re The Leftovers.  Among the protagonists of this story there is Kevin Garvey, the chief of police, originally married with Laurie, with whom he has two children. Kevin is trying to ease the tension that recently started to escalate between the town-the “normal” citizens and the members of the Guilty Remnant (GR), who go around town dressed in white, smoking cigarettes 24/7 provoking people into remembering. The point is to think of how life has no meaning, personality is nothing, and you could literally disappear suddenly, without any explanation. The show begins when Laurie has already become a member of the Guilty Remnants but we do not know why, yet.  Apparently the Garveys are all alive, no one in their family has departed (she was pregnant, yes, spoiler, and one moment the fetus is there, a second later he’s gone). After a few attempts of getting Laurie back, and after some shenanigans with Patty (Ann Dowd, aunt Lydia from The Handmaid’s Tale, among other roles),  Kevin gives up (after being forced by Patty to kill her in a very harsh scene) and finds comfort in the arms of Nora Durst, a woman who instead lost her whole family in the sudden event, and she is investigating on the case. Meanwhile Kevin is having nightmares, or so they seem, making him forget where he is and what he is doing, when he wakes up in random places around Mapleton. Moreover, his daughter Jill, a high school girl who seems to have been deeply traumatized by the events, alternates between depression, rebellion, and the need for normalcy, whilst her brother Tommy (who, we will learn, is Laurie’s natural son but not Kevin’s) left home to follow some sort of prophet who has a gift. Kevin’s father, former chief of police, is hearing voices and he gets hospitalized in a mental institution. Nora’s brother Matt, the priest of the town, is taking care of his wife who got hurt by a car without a driver the moment of the departure, and the accident left her on a vegetative state. A whole mess goes on throughout the season until Tommy leaves a special newborn outside his father’s house, giving a sense of relief and a light for a new beginning.

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Uh, but no. When things start to make a little sense, season one ends, and the second begins with Kevin and Nora moving to Miracle, TX -originally Jarden, which has been renamed when census showed in that town no one had departed. Here, where things could finally be “normal” again, hell gets unleashed. First, Tommy wants to belong to the Guilty Remnants to reunite with his mother, in order to dismantle the group and take her home. Then, Meg -Liv Tyler, who was Laurie’s mentor, rapes Tommy who ends up pretending to have gained superpowers and starts a lucrative business with his mother. Kevin and Jill are now living with Nora and the special baby Lily, who is the Prophet’s daughter that Tommy left on their doorstep, and the two adults are in a relationship taking care of the baby. Patti, the leader of the GR who Kevin has killed, starts to appear in his delusional visions. Another priest gets introduced when suddenly his daughter disappears from Miracle, and Kevin seems to be involved through some supernatural ways. The brother of the girl takes Kevin to a shaman who kills him making him go to a sort of visionary purgatory hotel. In this, I want to say afterlife, he gets tested, finds and fights Patti’s ghost, and eventually wakes up, or gets reborn, right after he could see Mary, Matt’s wife, in one of the rooms of the ghost hotel, letting the audience understand she may be living through different realities as well as Kevin.

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Finally it gets revealed that Evie, the girl who disappeared, actually joined the GR so no second departure happened, and the second season ends with the Garveys back together, Laurie included. Kevin though, saw his father through a video screen in the ghost hotel, and he revealed him he knows the truth, and he is in Australia to stop the end of the world and the second great flood: some sort of Apocalyptic natural event that would fix everything back to normal. So guess what? We are in Australia now. Guess where to be precise? Yes, Melbourne, right there, right where part of my soul is still floating, and right where I was before my hips surgery, but anyway, let’s keep going. Oh, and sorry about the spoilers but I could not avoid it. The whole reality situation is messed up again, with the difference that this time, Kevin is living a parallel life where he needs to kill the president, who ultimately comes out to be… him. In this parallel reality Kevin manages to see he has two roles in two dimensions. The Guilty Remnant group is at power, Patty is alive and Meg is his assistant. Apart from the tragicomical scenes where Kevin’s penis is the protagonist, (told you, super spoilers here guys) and that in which he has to kill himself in order to save the world from a nuclear attack (yes, I know this does not make sense at all, I warned you guys since the beginning that this tv-series is pretty mind twisting, to be polite!), Kevin manages to go back to the real world. Here he finds his father who tells him he can stop the flood only if a specific song from the aboriginals will be sung on the day of the Apocalypse, but Kevin has to die again in order to reach the other world. Talking about twists of plots people, things got really screwed up in this series so eventually you end up believing the dystopian version is the truth and the reality is the lie or vice-versa… Where is Nora though? Well, Nora goes to Melbourne as well, but nobody knows, not even Kevin, because she has found a group of scientists who claim to be able to send people to the place where the departed people are, and Matt? Well, Matt has been writing another Bible. Yes, for real. He believes Kevin is the new Jesus and he will save the world. After all, the Great Departure dismantled every certainty in the world so badly that all the confusion that came out of it was simply considered normal, and the more reality is twisted the more life seems to be worth living. At the end of the day, and of the season and series apparently, the world hasn’t ended, Nora is friend with Laurie, Kevin burns the bible that Matt wrote, and a new chapter begins with the Book of Nora.

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Oops, I did it again. The disturbing Sinner.

Reviews, Tv Series

Oh, the times they called me Mary in the past, because in their distorted minds they thought I looked like Jessica Biel, Mary in Seventh Heaven. I was always responding “I wish” (also because I never had either her body or her perfect lips)… then I must have grown up or something and poof, it ended; whatever happened people just started saying I looked like someone else. How about I look like… me? Also, why do you feel like you need to tell people who they resemble more? Did the doctor prescribed you to do so? I mean… But anyway… all things considered, by now I think I should have something around thirty people all looking like my-crazy-self all over the world. I wonder what happened to just those other six of us who should look like us, according to science. Wasn’t there supposed to be only 7 look-alike of ours on planet Earth? Unless I am an alien, and that would actually explain a lot.

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Jokes apart, I did it again. I binge watched. Well I never stopped of course, but here I am ready to write it down. Moving back and forth, oceans, continents, cities, towns, flights, houses, annoying people, crazy fellows, foooood, …you know all this being all over the place puts you on hold, but then oops. You’re waiting for your Amazon Fresh delivery to get to your door and you have some spare time, so why not using it to talk about one of the last shows you binge watched lately? Said, done. Why have I started talking about Mary and Jessica Biel then? Why yeah, isn’t it obvious? It is because the tv-show I am going to review here, now, is The Sinner, on Netflix, starring her, Jessica Biel, (who is also an executive producer), Bill Pullman and …others. Dots connected yet?

Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 94% with an Average Audience Score of 85% liking the show, Metacritic stays on 71% but you have to consider there is NO negative reviews so far, and Imdb rates it for 8/10. I mean, The Handmaid’s Tale got almost the same numbers and we’re almost done with season 2. I wonder if there will be a season 2 for The Sinner, but I doubt it will focus on Jessica’s character any longer, for reasons I can’t explain (I don’t need to spoil this for you). Still, there is always a way as they say, the show must go on, and if a second season gets requested either by the network or by the fans (this is going crazy lately having shows getting reborn thanks to popular demand, look at #luciferonfox #savelucifer #bringbacklucifer #luciferreborn etc), one way or the other it will be done.

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I loved Jessica Biel in this role. The whole story is a nice story that, before checking it out, I felt it had to be coming from a book, but if it weren’t for Jessica’s performance, I would have probably quit watching the series. Yeah no, ok, that was a lie. I never quit. I would have watched the whole series but I may have not spent a second to write about it. No wait, that is not true either. I would have probably written about it, complaining and saying how much I hated it. Oh wait no, ok whatever, I cannot know what I may or may not have done, but as far as I am concerned I did watch it and I am now talking about it, so let’s go back to what I was saying about Jessica’s Cora. Something was not quite right during the first minutes of episode one. I thought, either she is failing the role or something odd will happen. Guess what was it? Indeed, the second. So going back to how I felt when I started watching the show now I say: yasss, Jessica. You gave us that feeling of discomfort, of feeling like “why is she acting so weird?” (acting in both senses, literal and not literal) and also of wanting to know what was going to happen next.

She was almost drowning in the water when she eventually comes out looking all twisted; she suddenly kills a guy -she hears a song this guy and a group of friends were listening to that makes her lose her mind- she stabs him, she scares everyone to death and boom, we are not even halfway through the episode and you think “hmm, interesting“, now I see. “The title was misleading, she is not the sinner, wanna bet?” No. Don’t. You’re wrong. The whole sinner reference will come up with the passing of the time and the new episodes, just be patient. What actually overwhelmed me a little was that the setting of the show is today, but it felt like it was set in the seventies or something. The story goes back in time, we see Cora and her disturbed and disturbing childhood because of her religious fanatic mother, we see her through adolescence and up until now,  but the most important time frame is no longer than five years, from 2012 to 2017. But then again, it’s 2018 and we still have people believing the Earth is flat and stuff like that, so I don’t know why it would surprise me that a similar family would actually exist during the nineties and the beginning of the twenty-first century… but it does, ok? It shocks me. Fine, I’ll kneel on little rocks and ask for forgiveness.

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The show focuses on Cora’s motive to kill this guy who, since the beginning, you basically want to hate because he is accused of raping her in 2012, although it is a lie and we get to know this right away. To be honest, it seemed like Cora was hiding something, willingly, making up motives, excuses, wrong memories, mismatching not only facts but also names, but you will eventually feel a sort of relief by the end of the series. I particularly appreciated how a story that started as a simple whydunit (after all we know who did what, how and where) turns out to be the story of a traumatized person who eventually loses it, and it is not even her fault. I want to underline this is not at all related to actual murderers, and I am not even justifying murderous impulse on sick people. What appeared from the very beginning of the show, although of course she actually killed someone at the end of the day, was that this Cora girl was somehow half innocent, we just needed to know more and figure out how we can even think of a killer as “innocent”. I promised not to spoil this to those who haven’t seen it yet, so I cannot go further into details, except from saying this, and it may or may bot be linked to the series, so no blame: there will come a day when people will pay for their own actual mistakes without having someone else cover for them. Not only “to cover up” in the sense of hiding the truth, but also letting someone else destroy his or her life because of the consequences that these mistakes have created to the third parties. I don’t know if I made sense with this, but trying not to spoil a movie or a tv-show by talking about it, is hard, folks. Hard.

Trauma and traumatic experiences, the way they act on the human brain and the tools that our psyche uses to cope with it (and I will never get tired of repeating this), is something that we need to study, to understand and to let people be aware of, just like what is happening with mental problems, suicide, depression and mental health awareness. I feel like this show was all about trauma, abuse, violence, drugs, and yes, even mental health, so really, get a chance and watch it, and if you want to make ME happy, just binge watch it right away: 8 episodes go by rrrreally quick.

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The Sinner

Genre: they want to call it “crime-mystery drama”
Based onThe Sinner by Petra Hammesfahr
StarringJessica BielChristopher AbbottDohn NorwoodAbby MillerBill PullmanJacob Pitts
Watched on: Netflix
One season, Eight Episodes binge watched in: one afternoon, evening, night.

Let’s see, how am I supposed to review this series? One word: disturbing. As I said before, what started as a crime investigation on a sudden murder committed in public on a beach, turns out to be an investigation on abuse and sick events that hijacked a person’s mental stability and life. Cora Tannetti (Jessica Biel) is married to Mason, they work at the Tannetti’s company and Mason’s mother takes care of their little child. Cora seems to be tired, (maybe a postpartum depression? you would think) something is bothering her as she is on medications and she does not seem to enjoy sex with her husband anymore. One day, they are at the beach, Cora goes for a swim and she is not coming back when her husband starts worrying. Eventually she gets out of the water and she starts feeding her child, cutting fruit and chatting with her husband, letting the audience sense a little envy while they watch two couples having fun next to them, playing music, kissing and flirting. The most obnoxious girl in the world (ed.) plays a song on her phone (which I actually kind of liked) and starts kissing the guy veeeery passionately, I mean, not be prude, but in public you could at least be a little more discreet. This seems to trigger something inside Cora, along with the song she seems to recall in her head, and she starts being delusional, she runs towards them and she stabs the man with a fruit knife 7 times, killing him. There is no apparent reason for her to do so, just a sudden homicidal instinct.

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When Cora is taken to the police station, a detective sees something in her behavior that does not link to her accuse of premeditated murder, and he starts researching until he’s led to find out the truth taking out some traumas from her past. Each episode disentangles details from Cora’s youth and life ruined by a mother who is a religious fanatic who claims that Cora’s actions are the cause for her sister Phoebe’s (Nadia Alexander) lymphoma, and she needs to constantly pray and be a good girl in order for her sister to heal (now seriously how f* up is this? Sick!). Even more twisted than their mother, Phoebe seems to be taking a little bit too much advantage of her sister with the excuse of being sick, to the point that she forces her to go out with guys and more. She creates an online profile where she picks up her sister’s dates so they can rob them and save money to leave home and go to Florida and we also see when sick (literally and mentally at this point) Phoebe forces her sister to masturbate her in order for her to feel what it is like. After all, she stole all her mother’s energy in the womb and that’s why Phoebe is sick, so she owes it to her. See? Disturbing. Super sick. We’re pretty much at the stage where we start to sympathize for this poor girl who yes, has killed a guy, but she was also raised in guilt and abuse and whatsoever, so no wonder she is traumatized. All the things that happen later with J.D (Who?), Maddie (what?), Frankie (Really?), private club houses (wait what? sex?), masked abusers (now, seriously?) and odd detective’s behaviors (oh come on!) cannot be disclosed for spoiling reasons… just watch it and then we can discuss about it. Enjoy.

Oh well, I just found out in August I’ll have to binge watch season 2, where there will be Carrie Coon, you know, from The Leftovers?! Wait, haven’t I reviewed it yet? Bad BWQ, bad. Now I know what to do next.

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Give Hugh Laurie a #Chance

Reviews, Tv Series

Well, I binge watched this show that has now been canceled and I am not sure what to do next. I mean, shall I write a petition and ask Hulu.com to pay for another season or something? After all, if I have to tell the truth, I was watching it because Hugh Laurie was playing the part of a doctor, a different one from the one we used to know, not a new House M.D. style, so… maybe, the fact that I was not focusing on the plot that much, should suggest that it was time for the series to have a break. Or maybe not, I don’t know. What do you think?

The Coping Mechanism

In this series Laurie plays Eldon Chance, a forensic neuropsychiatrist from San Francisco, CA who treats his patients in an “alternative” way: he evaluates them from a psychiatric perspective to finally send them to other specialists depending on what he finds out about their lives, their habits and their -of course- mental problems, details that will eventually be passed to the police. Differently than Gregory House, Eldon has a family, although he’s going through divorce, he has a daughter who will get into trouble with the developing of the season, and he has some money issues that will force him to do some stupid things and to get into trouble as well. Father and daughter will eventually find out that they have more in common than what they have been thinking so far.

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Although there is no evidence that Chance was done considering Laurie’s previous works, I can’t help but find similarities in these two characters that are, at the same time, so different. The way Chance makes his reasonings, his mental speeches, the way he processes details, and how he evaluates situations considering all the information he can gather from not only his knowledge but his senses as well, resembles House in a striking way, at least to me. Also, in whatever way you want to put it, some actors can play roles that only fit to their appearance. I will always remember the shock I had when I watched the movie with Robin Williams, One Hour Photo (2005) where, instead of a cool character, he was playing a psychopath molester. No. Nope. No way. Uh, uh. There are actors and actresses who are flexible not only in their art but also in the way they look, and then there are others who simply cannot. Chance seems to fit Laurie’s predisposition to represent smart, wait… wise men, maybe tormented as well, and I believe he was the right fit for this role. (But who am I? I know, I know… ) Chance seems to be not only a well trained doctor, but a person with high values and wisdom. The torment seems to begin when his new patient, Jaclyn, comes into his life with her dark secrets and mental health issues. Moreover, it is not a chance -no pun intended- if this Chance is being accompanied by a sort of strange superhero, D., a huge bear-like man who looks a little isolated, asocial and probably a former mental health patient, who is above all, some sort of martial art skilled fellow, clearly bright but misunderstood, a calculator, with a baggage of knowledge about psychological reactions, combat and tools that make him survive in any case of potential scuffle. Eventually D. will become Chance’s reference point (I’d say a-real-friend) to fix his excruciating situation.

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Chance

Genre: they want to call it crime “drama”, I would go with psychological thriller
Based on: Chance by Kem Nunn
StarringHugh Laurie, Ethan Suplee, Greta Lee, Stefania LaVie Owen, Clarke Peters, Diane Farr
Watched on: HULU
Two Seasons, Twenty Episodes binge watched in: 4 nights

I almost said it all (about the plot) for the first season while trying to depict an image of this character, so please just take note that the second season will focus on Detective Hynes who will blackmail poor Chance and Darius (D.’s real name that will come out eventually) in order to find a serial killer, while they get into even more serious trouble and heavily dangerous situations. In fact, Chance’s life has gotten even more screwed up while he is trying to bring justice to his patients who had to go through abuses and bad management of their conditions under the lead of the authorities. Chance turns into a violent sort of “vigilante” after we found out that violence has maybe always been part of his DNA, because of some mental health issues he may have had as a young man. This features are later mirrored in his daughter who acts in weird violent ways to protect herself, scaring her mother to the point she believes her daughter has inherited some psychological deviation from her father.

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I can’t tell, and actually I can’t even guess, how the series will or would end as it was interrupted after season two, and there is no word on the street about a new season coming anytime soon. For what is worth, it was great to see Hugh Laurie back in the game again and most of all, appreciating his usual way of portraying badass men. Knowledge is power people, never forget this! The more you know the better, oblivion keeps you numb but social, knowing more makes you a little isolated maybe… but again, who am I to judge, so make your choice. Take your chance to grow, if I can say so. Oh and please, give Laurie another chance to play another cool role, I mean do it for yesterday! But first go binge watch the series…

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The Future is here, but it is not what you think: #ThePath

Reviews, Tv Series

If I could describe this tv-show with one quote, I think the most fitting would be F. Scott Fitzgerald‘s “So he tasted the deep pain that is reserved only for the strong, just as he had tasted for a little while the deep happiness” from All the Sad Young Men (1926). I am probably biased, as I’m only focusing on one character in particular (Eddie Lane), but I can stretch this a little and make it fit to some other members of this series and the religious movement it portrays. What is this series though? The Path. Yes, I am finally going through my to-do list and this tv-series has been finally ticked as “binge watched”. Moreover, the third season in up on Hulu.com now, so once my binge watching session was over, I continued watching it religiously (duh) every Wednesday, which is the day it airs on the platform. May I also say that, somehow, I felt drawn to it? Yes of course I can, who can stop me? So yeah, I did feel the urge to watch this show although the title was not really convincing. Eventually I fell in love. They got me at “Aaron Paul” and could not stop watching ever since.

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The show is set in Upstate New York, no wonder something told me I had to watch it. I lived in Saratoga, NY and the surroundings you detect through the setting of some of the episodes were strangely familiar and strikingly real. In LA, one of my previous house windows opened above the parking lot of the big blue building belonging to Scientology: I was always curious to know more, just for the sake of it, so I started reading something about this cult. Later, when I read “bla bla bla the Meyerist movement, a sort of Scientology” going through the series synopsis, I couldn’t help but smile, and just yield to the excitement of watching… The Path. I have to be honest (as always after all): watching the first couple of episodes I actually wished this movement were real: the bliss on the serene faces of these Meyerists, these “real believers”, the philosophy they believe in, their lifestyle and their manners are as charming as the devil, but they could also be -unfortunately- a sort of utopia. You see right away that everywhere you go, even among the shiniest commune that may exist in this world, there is always something rotten hiding behind those who are in power. I’ll go straight to the A|R because the whole point of all this is to show you how interesting this TV-series may seem.

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The Path

Genre: they want to call it just “drama” as cult drama would not be appropriate
Created by: Jessica Goldberg
StarringAaron PaulMichelle MonaghanEmma GreenwellRockmond Dunbar, Kyle Allen, Amy Forsyth, Sarah JonesHugh DancyPaul James
Watched on: HULU
Two Seasons, Twenty-three Episodes binge watched in: One week, plus season 3 airing now (13 episodes)

Transparency, honesty, and the research of The Light is the focus of this community, willing to fight negativity in order to receive enlightenment, and to be ready for The Future, which is near and apocalyptic, basically a sort of Judgement Day. In order to climb The Ladder in the sky -that is apparently made of fire and it goes from the Earth to The Garden, i.e. Heaven, the followers of the Meyerist movement have to go through 10 stages, each one represented by a Rung (of the Ladder) while following the Light and The Truth, which is a way to say God, in my humble opinion. Cute is the symbol of the movement: an eye with eyelashes that look like the rays of a shining sun. I mean, wouldn’t you think too that this is kind of cool? I would totally start believing in this Truth and I would totally be an adept of this cult. No wait, “it is not a cult, it’s a movement!” as they repeatedly say whenever someone accuses them of being another among the many religious cults in the world. And then Cal happens. And no, Cal does not stand for California. Cal is R10, the last stage of the climb and he is a charming fellow in disguise. Tormented by a past he cannot (or does not want to) recall, he seems to be acting weird and completely far from the movement’s directions: he drinks, he kills, he lies, he basically does everything wrong, but he preaches correctly. Duh.

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The story takes a wrong turn when Eddie goes to Peru, where the founder of the movement eventually moved to pursue his final passage into the Light (he shouldn’t die as a normal mortal as far as they are concerned) and to look for answers and connections, in order to finish what appears to be a sort of Meyerist bible or book guidebook he personally wrote. In Peru, Eddie goes through a ritual practice which uses ayahuasca, referred to as the juice of “sacred herb,” and starts having visions: there is no Light, Steve is dying, the movement is based on mere lies. When he gets back home to Sarah and the other members, Eddie says nothing and tries to keep his secret, as he starts to not believe in anything, anymore. From now on, what once was a slightly slippery slope kind of situation, turns into a vortex of lies soaking up everybody’s life and basic certainties.

What happens then? Watch it yourself. I promise you though, that after a couple of episodes, you’ll start getting familiar with their verbiage, and I want to help you a little prior to your binge watching session: when they talk about The Ladder they are referring to their foundation. The reason why they want to be part of this movement can be found in the 10 different rungs of this Ladder, each one indicating the “level” of awareness and of “enlightenment” of its members. A Possible is someone who is interested in the Meyerist Movement and cannot be considered an IS -ignorant systemite- anymore. A Denier, as Eddie will be (no spoiler, you’ll see), is someone who decided to leave the movement because he or she does not believe any longer, and to the eyes of a Meyerist, this is really, really bad. To avoid and beat the deniers, basically. Then there’s what confused people at the beginning, making them believe the show was about Scientology: the Meyerists use a machine, similar to the Scientology’s E-meter, which is necessary to re-align the spirit of the believer after a damage (emotional trauma) or a sinful event, which is called Transgression. 

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Catholics have confessions, Meyerists have the Unburden: basically the same concept of purging and confess, in order to expiate your sins. You can resist to this practice, or you can offset, doing some good to overcome what you did wrong. Then something really funny (to me) comes up:  the IRP. What and why is so funny? Well, the IRP to me was the Independent Research Project I had to write in Graduate School to get my Master Degree. We “literally” did spit blood, it should have been our calling card to apply for a doctorate, long story short, it was a pain… in this show, IRP is the Infidelity Rehab Program. I don’t know, is it just me laughing? I bet this could be at least as painful as my IRP was. If you cheat, you may be forgiven (I’m sorry, but I’m still laughing…) but you have to go through counseling and purges and some other bla bla bla. I swear, I can’t stop laughing but …whatever. I would rather go through Realignment a thousand times then, at least you’re forced to eat fruits and vegetables (which is something that sounds pretty awesome to me!) and you are not allowed to leave your assigned room in the compound (the area assigned to the movement for its members and families to live in). Basically a vacation to realign with your soul. I’d take it anytime.

The Red WallI will totally skip on the fact that Kyle Allen, who plays Eddie and Sarah’s son, is the spitting image of my beloved Heath Ledger so it is definitely worth watching the show at least for his presence (and beauty), or on the fact that Prison Break‘s C-note, plays the role of an undercover FBI Agent who gets involved in the movement, let’s just say, on several levels… and we’ve already said that it is definitely worth watching because of the themes and the atmosphere in it, so I would only add the soundtrack for now -good old music-, oh and …did I mention Aaron Paul?

 

 

Master of None, Italian drift

Reviews, Tv Series

If you watched Master of None you may have noticed there is a hint of Italian (both language and culture), and  most of all in the second season, where basically Italian viewers who do not speak English almost do not even need subtitles for part of the episodes of the series. Almost. Because there’s always that old issue about Italians not speaking English, and “talking moving their hands” all the time, showing that sign, you know, that way of sticking the fingers of one hand together as if they had to do some shadow puppets show or something… so they all (right?) need to be guided in watching a tv show or a movie. Sure.

Dev and Francesca

Watch this scene here 

Ok, I have to be honest. More than an Alternative Review this will eventually appear like a rant or so, and you will see why if you’ll keep on reading. Apart from the clichés, which is something that I cannot really stand in cinematography and co. (Italians, pizza, pasta, mandolino, to be explicit), I am not actually appreciating all this trying to make tv-series more “exotic” by introducing the Italian “on call” who gives that hint of… what? Italianism? (Yeah, making up new words has always been a prerogative of mine so let me be!) Romance? Stereotypical view of a foreign (or not so foreign) culture? I mean, Aziz Ansari, could you explain to me why you too thought it was necessary to borrow the art of making pasta for your show? How about the art of basket weaving we inherited from indigenous people? Or the heavenly -for those who do not actually work in the field, considering it is exhausting and hard, in each and every sense- cinnamon peeling from Sri Lanka? I don’t now, these are just the first two “typical” things that pop into my head but then again, who am I to suggest anything?

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I am just saying… even Shonda Rhimes felt the need to introduce Stefania Spampinato to Grey’s Anatomy, as the eccentric doctor who is specialized in female orgasm and its effects on the human brain, so… why? What pushes directors, screenwriters and whoever gives ideas on these shows, to say: << oh hey, let’s introduce a character who will be Italian, or of Italian descent maybe but it HAS TO speak Italian, and see what the public says? I’m sure they’ll love it.>> Yeah, no. Not really, although I’ll keep on watching your show. But that’s certainly not the main reason why I am doing it.

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Going back to Master of None in the specific, if you haven’t seen the seasons, please do. It did win awards after all, and it is multicultural (on several levels) so give it a try. But please, please, do not do it just because most part of season two is set in Italy and << Aw, it really reminded me of when I was studying abroad and I miss it>> or << Aw, it totally depicts a portrait of Italy I never experienced in that shit hole of my small hometown (Pardon my French, you know me though!)>> so… am I right? Ok.

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Master of None is set in the Big Apple. You scored already. We’re in New York, we see what is going on today, the time of social networks, of futile relationships and the fear of a very uncertain future. Aziz Ansari, the creator, plays also the role of Dev Shah, a guy in his thirties who wants to be an actor but struggles to have parts that actually satisfy his needs. While he works now and then for small acting roles, he simply lives his life with friends, he goes to random dates and has (interesting) tv watching sessions (go, go binge watchers!). Nothing too heavy, nothing too mental to be understood or processed, the first season passes by smoothly, and you probably liked the fact that, indeed, it was a nice easy series to be watched on weekends. Nothing to be binge watched, unless you’re the bingewatching queen, then you’ll have to watch both seasons in a whole weekend. Said and done. Thanks. You’re welcome.

MV5BMTIwNzk5MjE5OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODU2NTIzMQ@@._V1_UY317_CR51,0,214,317_AL_The second season is the one that everyone is praising for Aziz’s choice of setting it in Italy, at least for the first two episodes, and eventually bringing Italy to the US through Francesca (now seriously? How cliché is this name? As if all Italian women were named Francesca, come on!!!) and the titles of the episodes together with the soundtrack which keep on representing the culture of the “”il Tricolore“. Dev goes to Italy to learn the art of making pasta (roll eyes!) and he experiences the typical (as assumed by the outsiders) Italian lifestyle. Aziz tries to speak Italian as well: funny, you get some points on that too. Still cliché-y though (Yes, I made that up too!). In Modena Dev will meet Francesca, played by the super Italian Alessandra Mastronardi and for every girl’s sake we will also see Riccardo Scamarcio playing Francesca’s boyfriend. Meh. Why meh? Well, the girl eventually goes to New York (no spoiler alert yet, don’t sweat it!) but what has never been clear to me is: was she really in love with Dev or did she simply like the idea of having a love affair in a foreign Country, in a city she loved and far from the Italian routine? Eh, I wonder. I would love to talk more about this Italian haunting presence in today’s serials but I’d rather leave this A\R like this, so that you can simply message me your thoughts and then we can chat about it. I will not even touch the recent news about Ansari being charged of sexual offense so do not expect this article to say more about it.

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Master of None

Genre: they want to call it “comedy drama”
Created by: Aziz Ansari, Alan Yang
Starring: Aziz Ansari, Noël Wells, Eric Wareheim, Kelvin Yu, Lena Waithe, Alessandra Mastronardi
Watched onNetflix 
Two Seasons, Twenty Episodes binge watched in: One weekend

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As we said earlier, it is the story of Dev, a guy, originally from India, who lives in New York with an entourage of international friends: Rachel, a “white” funny-crazy girl who wants to be free and independent; Arnold, a Jewish guy who shows off his childish tendencies; Denise, an Afroamerican gay girl, very smart and direct; Brian, an Asian guy who takes life easily and without worrying too much; Benjamin, the only one who got married and he’s not even happy about it, apparently. Although we know of Dev’s friends for the relationship he has with them, we never know about their lives in details. It is Dev our main character and focus of the series. They are necessary though, as it is thanks to the experiences he has with them that he reflects, he acts and contemplate about his life and the way he approaches it. It is a story full of stereotypes, to make people laugh (maybe?) and realize that most of the times we act because influenced by these clichés indeed. It shouldn’t surprise me that Francesca, as well, is portrayed in the most common way someone describes a citizen of Italy. Nevertheless, while the others are just part of the frame, it seems that this Italian hint was necessary to underline maybe a message that, to me, remains unknown. Whether or not it were actually -necessary – to add another character to the series we do not know. I guess I’ll have to ask Aziz. Meanwhile, watch it and let’s see what you guys think of all this ranting… well, chit-chatting maybe.

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Germans do it… as good as Hollywood: Dark

Reviews, Tv Series

Dark-TV-Show-Character-ListDid I really say it? Am I trying to say the Germans outsmarted Hollywood’s geniuses? Uhm, not necessarily so, but I am honestly taking my hat off, chapeau! We are so used to the Hollywood style, or at least I am, that it surprised me to watch such a good TV show that captured me since episode one. As the binge watching queen that I am, when Netflix warned me about this new show coming on air I put it on the list back then, but wasn’t sure about it, most of all when I read “the German Stranger Things“. Now, yes, I liked Stranger Things and I will be watching the second season when the time will come, but not to the point that I am dying to watch something similar to that creepy show. At this moment, since I actually watched Dark, (one week after release day) let me say it out loud: it is NOT like Stranger Things, at all, folks. It is not!

Dark-01I would rather put it on a list where I would also add The O.A. (which I reviewed here!) considering the themes that can be listed as touched by the storyline, such as time (in the unusual way of traveling through it), family, trauma, grief, violence, guilt, and the metaphysical sphere of the unknown. Apart from the awful dubbing (I mean, Italians have been doing it for decades and decades so they mastered the art of dubbing, but English speakers? No way, no. Watch it in German, the original language, with English subtitles! It is way, way better like that!), I seriously found no negative sides of this show. It is charming, addicting, and the story is so messed up that although you may have guessed since the beginning what is going on, there are new elements added episode after episode making you expect the unexpected, and you still get overwhelmed by the end of season one. Good job Germans! Yes!

8c177a79f366ef305f7534fe8bae7009dd1d2407Apparently, there are secrets in a small town in Germany. Children are disappearing and weird events are repeating after a certain amount of years. When we get familiar with what could be the cause of the disasters occurring (i.e. there is a nuclear-power-plant which may be the direct link to these strange horrifying events), the attention is moved to something else, a diversion in the storyline: lights fading, animals falling from the sky, people appearing in places that are not from their time clearly by the way they are dressed…  we are only certain about something haunting this German community but nobody talks about it, except for those who are labelled as crazy. It sounds a little familiar actually, considering what is going on today in the world, but this is a different story.

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Dark

Genre: they want to call it “science fiction, thriller drama”
Created by:Baran bo Odar, Jantje Friese
StarringLouis Hofmann, Maja Schöne, Oliver MasucciStephan Kampwirth, Angela WinklerJördis Triebel, Daan Lennard Liebrenz, Lisa Vicari, Moritz Jahn, Paul Lux, Karoline Eichhorn … and many more.
Watched onNetflix 
One Season, Ten Episodes binge watched in: One night, like a whole night.

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Ulrich Nielsen (Oliver Masucci) is a police officer and father of three. He cheats on his wife with a woman whose husband commits suicide right at the beginning of the show. One night, Ulrich’s youngest, Mikkel disappears, just like someone else before him, leading the police to start researching if local youths are being on the spot for criminals and serial killers. Something weird happens every time there is a child’s disappearance: birds drop dead from the sky, lights flicker and old residents recall older times when they were younger and weird things were happening similarly to the present events. We also start wondering about what is going on when a scene shows the line on the newspaper saying “Where is Mikkel?”, crossed out with “When is Mikkel?” and that is a very good question! For the rest of the plot, watch the show!!!

medium-cleanTime travel, mystery, police knowing but not telling, old people revealing truths and other details entwined in the story, reminded me of my beloved Lynch’s Twin Peaks: supernatural lies underneath what we see and what we perceive as reality because there is something else… beyond us. Maybe this is what makes of these TV series a sort of more than fascinating shows, worth binge watching on a Saturday night. You get lost in the time of your binge watching session and you get lost in the complicated plot they try to mix with a good dose of soundtrack and colors. Cinematography is growing wiser, sexier and more interesting, or am I growing fonder because I am growing older? Nice question. No answer. As of right now, I am going to giggle at the idea of having another Country, Germany, producing amazing pieces for TV which are adding up to what Hollywood has been offering us. More work for me to do. More binge watching sessions, more food for thought, more nutrition for my majestic curiosity and visual need for detachment from this… reality.

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Time’s up Fred! The Handmaid’s Tale

Reviews, Tv Series

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2014-09-22-ATWOODLet’s start the new year with the Alternative Review of a series that I honestly loved, not only for its adaptation from a book I read, but because it took me back to my first year of graduate school (the first time I attended, not the second) when I took a class in Canadian Literature and I studied Margaret Atwood‘s artwork. Who would have thought I would meet her in person something like ten years later at a book festival held close to where I used to live? Well, it happened, and here I am now, talking about the TV-series they made out of her novel The Handmaid’s Tale: simply genius. Another book I loved from Atwood was The Edible Woman, so once you’re done watching the show and reading the book (because really, you have to!) I would recommend catching up with all of her works. So actual, so accurate, so powerful. Do it, you fools!

When I talked about the #metoo movement, I wanted to focus on the message that Annalise Keating from HTGAWM tried to pass, because reviewing The Handmaid’s Tale was not part of the plan, yet. Now, I am not here to write a paper on a novel and its relationship with culture, or language, or god knows what other connection I should have found if I still were in graduate school. Nevertheless, I would like to push a little on what lies beyond the mere watching of a show for the sake of it, and take out some food for thought, you know, just for conversation… Let’s just consider this statement: my body, my choice. I will not go deeper into it, I’m just leaving it here and you’ll see why.

The Haidmaid's Tale Review 1Many have talked about the novel as one of the most feminist of the eighties, why yes, people, Atwood wrote it in 1984 and her feminist views are kind of obvious back then, if you study her works, but what was outstanding about her ways of showing ideals (and it still is remarkable also now, after watching the show) is the fact that it does not feed your brain with concepts and beliefs, instead she raises questions, she wants her readers to reach their own conclusions by simply reporting a truth, although through fictional events, that are still too real, so far.

How can it be feminist, if in the episodes we see women tortured and subjugated? Women are the only victims in the society of the Republic of Gilead – the fictional community in the show, subdued by men to the point that they lose their identity, their name, and they become a property of their owners: Ofglen… Offred, literally of-someone. Despite their annihilation, we hear their thoughts, and if we can’t, we see it in their eyes, we perceive what they would like to express and they would definitely all be part of the #metoo movement now, I guess!

Elisabeth-Moss-OffredThe show begins with Offred (who is not Offred yet) and her husband, trying to escape from the police to save their child. Other details of her past are showed only through Offred’s memories and flashbacks, because from the moment they capture her, we only see her new life at Gilead. After a civil war, the United States have created a totalitarian government based on “Christian” rules. For some odd reasons, women are not fertile anymore, and they need to resort to a sort of surrogate mothers in order to have babies. What will happen though, is that these surrogate mothers are handmaids, they get impregnated by the most powerful men of the Gilead republic and they leave their children with the family that abused of them. They get assigned to their owners and they must undergo a treatment, a ritual, more easily said a f* rape, in order to give the family a child. Society is divided into classes (again?), handmaids are dressed in red (oh, by the way, read also The Scarlet Letter by Hawthorne when you get a chance!),  marthas – housekeepers and cooks- wear green, and wives wear blue. Of course we could not miss the prostitutes for those elite men in need of … well, they’re men, so at Jezebel’s there are women who work in secret brothels to satisfy them. Not to be contentious (or am I) but what I saw through all the episodes does not deviate much from what I see everyday. Of course the story is exaggerated (I mean, it is first a novel and then a television adaptation of it, so it has to be a little fictional, don’t you think?) but, as I said before, it gives you hints to reason, to process your thoughts, and I would appreciate to know what this TV shows creates in your …guts. About the colors and the perfect contrast the filmmakers decided to create, well, I’ll touch this topic later, waiting for season two, and after I’ll get more experience on the field… eh-hem.

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The Handmaid’s Tale

Genre: they want to call it “dystopian fiction drama”
Created by: Bruce Miller
Based on: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
StarringElisabeth MossJoseph FiennesYvonne StrahovskiAlexis BledelMadeline BrewerAnn DowdO. T. FagbenleMax MinghellaSamira Wiley
Watched onHulu
One Season, Ten Episodes watched in: two mornings.

handmaids_wildposting_72x48_m1-6_moiraJune (name that in the novel is never mentioned but left for granted) played by the Emmy and Golden Globe winner Elisabeth Moss, is the Handmaid of the Waterford family. Commander Fred (Joseph Fiennes) and his wife Serena Joy (the beautiful, amazing Yvonne Strahovski – Sarah in “Chuck“) want to have a baby and Offred has to go through the ritual in order to fulfill their desire. As all the handmaids she has to stick to rules or she will be punished. While she is a handmaid she remembers the past, when she was married, had a daughter, a best friend (who is later captured to be a handmaid first and at jezebel later), a life… all things that now have to be forgotten. Serena Joy was once a powerful businesswoman though a little conservative, and I will never understand how she gave in to this project, and she is actually part of the problem and one of the promoters (but I am not going to spoil the whole story, read the freaking book!); there is also Nick,  the Commander’s driver and part of the Eye, some sort of FBI who reports traitors to be captured and punished, or killed. Commander Waterford one night invites Offred into his office to play a game and talk, until he starts treating her differently, just to use a euphemism. She uses this to her advantage later asking for favors, but eventually Serena Joy finds it out and… of course everything is already messed up by then. In fact the Commander seems to be the one who is not fertile and Serena Joys plans sexual intercourses between Offred and Nick, until they eventually get emotionally attached. She finally gets pregnant pretending it is the Commander’s baby, as planned, but 100% it is Nick’s. A few other events happen in the meantime, such as suicides, murders, heavy punishments like “female genital mutilation surgery“, escape attempts and more, but I would suggest to just watch the whole series as I am not going to spoil it. Uh, uh. It is worth watching and most of all, worth reading, so get off the net and start doing your homework. You’re welcome.

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HTGAWM’s Annalise Keating and #metoo

Reviews, Tv Series

The reason I am here tonight is simple: after many years I realize I am not special, I am not “the unlucky one”, I am not different, I am not the only one, I am not #guilty. Since the Weinstein case came out on the news a few weeks ago, memories from the past -that never goes away- start playing in my head every time I stop to read about the testimonies of these women who, one by one, are finally denouncing the abuses and the sexual assaults they have been victim of, either in the past or in the current years.

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I had the same feeling when, thanks to my savior –the music-, I coped with adolescence and its aftereffects, becoming aware of the sad reality that sees many of us undergo mistreatments and abuses, accepting that “a trouble shared is a trouble halved”, and that we are all in this together. Still, whilst the sense of impotence and helplessness you get by feeling wronged by the world, the human existence and the mortal condition belong to boys and girls indiscriminately, it appears that what is going on right now is a massive uprising of female voices that, for many (too many) years, have been silenced. Muted by fear, by abusers, by society itself.

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Among the ones tweeting and sharing their “me too” message to make the world aware of a problem that has been smearing this sick sad society for centuries, there are not only women though. The oppressed, whether females, males, straight or gay, eventually felt they were strong enough and ready to speak up. There was no need to explain in detail, you only had to say “me too”, as if we were in school, the teacher asked a question and we had to raise our hands. Well, thank you Alyssa Milano for calling out to us victims of this broken system via social-media. Most of all, thank you Tarana Burke -credited by Alyssa, for creating this movement, more than 10 years ago, and that only now is coming to surface. Back then, Tarana wanted to help young women of color who were survivors of sexual abuse and exploitation, and who were not heard or believed. Today, everyone can be heard, we hope.

The picture is getting clearer, isn’t it? If you have been watching How to get away with murder these past few years, you can’t help but think of Annalise Keating, the protagonist of another great TV-show born from the magical mind of Shonda Rhimes. Let’s first have a look at the plot of the series:

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How to get away with murder

Genre: they want to call it “legal thriller drama”
Created byPeter Nowalk
StarringViola DavisBilly BrownAlfred EnochKatie FindlayJack FalaheeMatt McGorryAja Naomi KingKarla SouzaCharlie WeberLiza WeilConrad Ricamora
Watched on: Hulu and TV (FOX Italy)
Four Seasons, Sixty Episodes (48 aired so far) watched in: religious schedule of #TGIT.

Annalise Keating is a great lawyer, the best apparently, from what we understand, and also a Professor of Law at Middleton University in Philadelphia. Beyond her most trusted collaborators Frank and Bonnie, she picks five students to intern for her: Wes, Connor, Michaela, Asher, and Laurel. They work together to solve crimes that, through both flashbacks and flash-forwards, seem to be all related to one big homicide in which they are all involved: Sam, Annalise’s husband has been murdered because of his affair with Lila, a student at Middleton, who was killed before Sam, by someone unknown. One of the suspects, Rebecca, is a girl with whom Wes falls in love, and who turns everything into a big chaotic mess. Oh, Rebecca dies as well. Trust me, this is no spoiler alert as the rabbit hole has not even been crossed yet. By the end of season three, in fact, everything is literally screwed up and season four, which started almost three weeks ago, promises nothing but more troubles.

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Going back to Annalise and the “me too” movement, it first needs to be said that sensitive topics in the TV-show are obviously present (it is a crime drama after all), rape is condemned, although kept hidden for years, and sexual assault can be analyzed following several procedures, but it is not up to me, right now, to go deep into this kind of digression.

We need to focus on Annalise, and in particular, her relationship with her mother. The most intense moment in the whole series, from my point of view, is in the episode where the mother appears in the show, and the spectator can finally connect a few dots of the complicated story behind who Annalise, called Anna Mae by her mother, really is. The two women seem to have a weird bond: a strong mother and a strong daughter, who is eventually weak and misunderstood, start talking about their past, with Anna Mae accusing her mother of ignoring the sexual abuses she suffered because of her uncle. This is revealed by the touching scene when Annalise shouts “Did you know what he did to me?” until her mom starts listing the names, through the history of rape in their family, of those who did it to her and her sister, with a teacher and a reverend included. What strikes the most, and what hurts like a stab wound right between the back of your shoulders is hearing her words when she adds “Men take things! They’ve been taking things from women since the beginning of time, and it ain’t no reason to talk about it and get all messy everywhere. Certainly no reason to go to a head shrink or for help.” Wrong. It is and it was necessary to say it. To denounce it. To protect those who will come after, because no more people have to become victims. No more.

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Annalise’s self-worth, just like every victim’s confidence, was permanently scarred. Knowing her mother and her aunt had been violated did not make things easier, sharing the pain does not make it go away and it certainly does not cancel what caused the pain in the first place. Yet, by the end of the episode we realize that yes, silence has been reigning upon the family for years, the truth has been neglected for the quiet life, but eventually Annalise’s mother took care of her daughter’s abuser her own way: she burned the house while the uncle was drunk asleep on the couch, making it appear as if the fire started because of his cigarette falling. Being bright and kind of manipulative seems to be genetic in this family, although even the most dreadful action  is done for the greater good, sacrificing a person’s freedom for the sake of someone else’s life.

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Is it real then? Sexual harassment has been going on since the beginning of time so there is no need to make such a big deal out of it? Isn’t this like saying that if something has always been done that way, then there is no need to change it, although it is kind of obvious that it is deeply and terribly wrong? Eh, just think about it. Not a day, one.single.day passes by without having us (yes, I call myself in) molested, although we learned to just “accept” it, and move on. You walk down the street and that person approaches you “Hey pretty…” and you start walking faster to keep the distance. You stop at the traffic light waiting for the green light to cross, nobody is walking near you, and those people in their car start honking, at you, because there is no one else around; while they’re shouting obnoxious words you try to give them the evil stare, but they’re already mimicking oral sex right before your eyes. This to name just a few, of those moments that cannot be defined as “rare”, when you just “let it happen” because there is nothing that you can do. Sometimes you try to react, you shout back at these beasts, you show them the finger, always fearing a reaction, picturing yourself running because they could get mad or even overexcited because of what may seem like a fearless woman. Those other times though, you just shut up, with your blood boiling inside because you know that you can’t beat the pack if they attack, while going back from class, alone, on a Venetian day in spring, along a narrow calle that skirts the canal where four big men are unloading a boat. One points at you, so you look down: “ughhh, on that one I’d lie for hours pushing and pushing and pushing until she begs to stop”.

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Again, these are just a little part of the verbal assaults that we have to deal with since when we are born, with -let me say unfortunately for the time being-, a vagina. I won’t go over the actual physical assaults (and I am addressing only female victims for the sake of time and space in here, so allow me to focus on vagina owners for now) because those, as Annalise shows us, leave a mark on you that will never go away, and if you too can’t help but shed a tear while listening to Pink singing “that’s when dickhead put his hands on me” in U + UR hand during your morning run, giving a start to a list of flashbacks, well, just know that although this won’t change the past, you’re not the only one, you’re not alone, it is not your fault, you’re not wrong, you are a survivor.

See? I told you my reviews would be kind of alternative! All things considered, TV-series are fiction, but there is some truth in every fictional story.

 

 

Isolation, trauma and the O.A.

Reviews, Tv Series

I think I explained this already: my “reviews” are considered alternative because I do not focus on judging a work of art (any kind of art!) by using specific knowledge or terminology, but by simply following the train of thoughts that the vision of that artwork creates in my brain, if it does. I do not consider myself an expert in anything, probably nothing at all. I know a tiny bit of many things, but I do not excel in a specific matter, and that may be one of the reasons why I could never find “my way”. Why am I even saying this? Because the idea of writing about The OA, a Netflix series that was released almost a year ago, has been moving around for quite a while; I had this feeling that I had to make up my mind before writing about it, and then I may be able to say something coherent. I finally realized I just needed to accept something that I was too blind (or too proud?) to see.

giphy-downsized-largeThe OA received several contrasting comments and opinions among the experts. While I personally loved it, I can understand that the critics might be a little reluctant in showing appreciation when it is a little hard to see through, a little deeper, a story that makes no sense to the Western culture. Moreover, both plot and style are entwined, the story pops like a bubble during the season finale, leaving the spectators speechless, and those charming dance moves are definitely not accepted, or simply not understood, by many: too spiritual, too superficial, too …stupid.

05AO-master768As always, when a TV series catches my eye (I mean, literally), it is because of something they say, a song from the soundtrack or some other features I can relate to, easily. It is in the very first episode that the protagonist, the OA, says “It’s not really a measure of mental health to be well-adjusted in a society that’s very sick,” referring to an outburst of violence of one of her friends. For instance, violence, pain, isolation and trauma, not only suffered by the OA, but by other people as well (spectators too?) seem to be the “leitmotivs” of the whole story, making it more relatable to a more general public, well at least more to me. When you’re trained to find allegories, symbols, metaphors, (I was a student of literature for a long time, after all!) it is a little easier to go further, to look for what is hidden behind the written words because the author might have wanted to say something, although not explicitly. What I wanted to see in this case is how, by using scenes that to most are normal fiction-based images, a message of freedom, an open door from isolation, had to be cautiously portrayed: the last episode is about high school students getting assaulted while trapped in their glass-walled cafeteria, just like Prairie -the OA, was trapped in her blindness first, and glass-walled cage later. Her story, whether made up -as they want us to believe-, or not, got her through her own imprisonment, until she freed herself and the students, by teaching them a sense of community, sharing what I interpreted as ancient traditions, made of dance moves and spiritual calling: “I survived because I wasn’t alone”. (Damn, I am screwed.)

lonely20161013_630_630That was the moment when I opened my eyes. Social isolation is real. When a person starts avoiding social interaction well, as they say, the “shit has hit the fan”, but being an introvert, it may not be as clear as it should be. Have you ever stopped to think about this? Have you ever had a friend denying offers to go out, even to just have coffee and not necessarily to go partying all night long? Have you ever thought of a friend “what a bitch” for canceling last minute on you? Have you? Do not feel bad (yet). It’s ok. As far as you’re concerned, it is not a big deal. When does this go from “not being in the mood” to isolation? When this denial, this resistance, this rejection of interaction persists for a longer time than usual, and it is well often a consequence of a period spent in a depressive state, sometimes caused by a sense of shame, or low self-worth (rings a bell!). What many do not understand is that there are several factors that can impair social skills leading to isolation, and it is not always by choice.

giphyPrairie survived because she was not alone. When you spend most of your time all by yourself though, you get used to be alone. It only takes time to realize that eventually being alone sucks. You start avoiding not only social interaction but professional events as well. You make up excuses and you miss that chance to meet new people, new opportunities, turning your isolation into a vicious circle of worthlessness. You register to be a reporter for a cultural festival where you really want to interview people who are successful, who made of their passions their job, and their daily inspiration, to potentially stumble upon people you used to know, to breathe fresh air and walk down the crowded roads of the historical center of a town -that you used to know, but -you- are no longer who you used to know or used to be. You choose your aloneness over opportunity. You choose vacuum over fullness. Withdrawal over moving forward. You choose to let go even of all those things you may want to keep…

I watched The OA when something was coming down the pike but it was not so evident yet. Not to me, even less to others. It definitely takes a while for me to digest things, and this took almost a year, but in my defense I can say that… well, no need to defend myself. These days, everybody is focusing on mental health, depression, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts and actual successful performances. It is not that common to hear someone talk about isolation and alienation, when I believe it is actually part of the same game. While missing all the events and the various opportunity I may have, I did not want to miss the chance to talk about it. Even if not in person, not to someone, and not actually -talking-!

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The O.A.

Genre: they want to call it “science fiction, supernatural drama”
Created byBrit MarlingZal Batmanglij
StarringBrit MarlingEmory CohenScott WilsonPhyllis SmithAlice KrigePatrick GibsonBrendan Meyer
Watched onNetflix 
One Season, Eight Episodes binge watched in: One day.

A Russian blind special girl gets adopted by an elderly American couple. They rename her Prairie. When she turns 20 she runs away from home to go to NYC because she believes her dreams showing her father looking for her in the city. She lives homeless for a while playing the violin on the streets, with a song her father taught her when she was a child hoping he would come to her. Instead she catches the attention of a doctor who offers her a place to stay if she agrees to be a part of a research about NDE, near death experiences. She leaves with him but he keeps her into a glass walled cage in the basement of his house. For seven years, she is held captive with four other people while being drowned and revived many times. They do not realize this is happening until she teaches each one of the prisoners a move to a five part dance ritual that can help open a portal to bring people back to life or heal them. Once the doctor has proof there is life after death he gets rid of Prairie, and she finds herself stranded somewhere. Her adoptive parents recognize her and take her back home. She does not socialize much, but she befriends some high schoolers with troubled backgrounds and convinces them to meet so she can tell them her story. Here she starts calling herself the OA, the Original Angel, and she begins teaching them the dance movements so she can open the portal and save the remaining prisoners. One day there is a shooting at the high school. While the disciples do the dance moves, the OA gets shot and the season ends with a collection of books the police found under her bed with titles referring to her story, making it all appear to be made up. Like I said, alienation/isolation and trauma seem to be the foundation of this story where, in order to understand, you have to believe reality is not what it looks like. Your mind has to be wide open, your mentality has to be flexible, believe it or not, this may be just another version of the truth, a multi-faceted reality nobody knows at its whole. Crazy? Maybe. Trustworthy? Possibly. Fascinating? Definitely. 

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Perception and mental wellness

Reviews, Tv Series

To begin with, why have I used wellness and not health? I will quote what the UNC webpage of Advisory Committee to the Chancellor for Employee Health and Wellness says with regard to this: “According to the World Health Organization, mental health is defined as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” So, mental health is the general term to refer to our emotional, psychological, and social …well-being. Mental wellness, as I am calling it here, is yes a synonyms of mental health, but I want to give it a slightly more positive connotation. The way our brain works affects how we think, feel, act and also how we make choices. Mental health is what makes us work properly in our society. Mental wellness, to me, is how we feel and if we feel -fine enough- to work, act, exist …in our society.

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There are several internal and external factors which contribute to a person’s mental wellness, including relationships with friends, loved ones, financial issues, workplace environment, and those that are called “coping behaviors” and skills. I wonder if I am interested in these topics because of my previous studies in psychology, but then I would have to ask why I was interested in psychology in the first place, back in the days. In this case, I would need a couple of years to go through this argument. So, no thank you. What remains though, is the fact that I just needed a word, perception, to be sure I would have binged watched another tv-show. Duh! And yes, the fact that Eric McCormack was the protagonist was a huge incentive because of Will and Grace, that kept me company during my first years at University, many, many years ago. (Oh, and by the way, a brand new season of Will and Grace is now showing on NBC, oh yeah!)

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I am going to introduce the plot of Perception-the series before continuing this digression on mental wellness:

Perception 

Genre: they want to call it “crime drama” …I would add something psychological too, but meh.
Created by: Kenneth Biller, Mike Sussman
StarringEric McCormackRachael Leigh CookKelly RowanArjay SmithLeVar BurtonScott Wolf
Watched on: FOX Italy
Three Seasons, Thirty-nine Episodes watched in: a couple of months.

Dr. Daniel Pierce is a neuropsychiatrist who teaches neuroscience at the (fictional) Chicago Lake Michigan University (CLMU), and his interest in neuroscience stems from his own long history of paranoid schizophrenia (everyone is interested is what touches them the most, I guess). He also works as an expert consultant for the FBI assisting closely a very Special Agent, Kate Moretti, who is a former student of Pierce’s classes back in the days. It is thanks to his hallucinations that, most of the times, he can pick out the clues allowing him and Agent Moretti to solve the crimes they are investigating. Lewicki, Dr. Pierce’s teaching assistant, is a fundamental asset for Prof. Pierce’s mental well-being, because he knows how to handle his crisis and his obsessions. Last, but not least, (considering she was in another tv-show, The O.C. another favorite of mine) Natalie Vincent played by Kelly Rowan, is the most favorite Pierce’s hallucination who manifests herself as a result of his schizophrenia, but who also serves as his counselor, clue collector and, of course, best friend. How the story “ends” in the last episode of season three is up to you to find out. No spoilers here. #Sorrynotsorry.

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One of the things I like the most is when a tv-series’ episode typically begins with a scene of the protagonist giving a lecture (missing academia much?), or introducing a sort of metaphysical problem, concerns, whatever, about an aspect of humanity that usually leads to the development of the plot itself (Grey’s Anatomy is another show that does something similar, I love you Shonda Rhimes). In this case, it is a brain fact or factor that becomes significant within the story, and reaching the end of the episode, the observations that the professor explains to the students about the paradoxes of human perception end his lecture. Brilliant, I know.

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Perception was canceled after the third season and there were controversies saying it passed a wrong idea about the schizophrenic disease. Now, seriously? The big issue for some was that the main character chose to go off of his meds whilst still managing to work and teach his students, having reasonings with his hallucination-friend, sharing the wrong idea that getting off of your meds is okay. Ugh, no. I bet this is not the message, as eventually Prof. Pierce is just an adult who sees that therapy is needed, but cannot be abused. Schizophrenia is a disease, a complex one which needs to be studied deeply, still. Also, not all the people diagnosed with schizophrenia are alike. The symptoms vary and the age when they first appear makes a huge difference for the prognosis. So every time we judge a tv-show, let’s remember the viewpoint and the actual fact that -this is fiction-, with a few hints of reality, yes, but basically fictional stories.

perception-eric-mccormack-1In conclusion, why was this show important, from my perspective? Because it opened a door on the so called “mental illnesses” that can be part of a person’s life without interfering so very much with their social life. I am not saying it does not affect their own lives, because it does, but it creates no harm, no danger for their social behavior if taken good care of and most of all, if responsibly studied and handled. An important part of mental health is how we perceive the world around us. A person with a mental disease may perceive things much differently than another person, but that does not mean it is the wrong way of perceiving it. Wouldn’t you sound crazy if you had X-rays in your eyes and told others you can see through their skin? Indeed. In many cases, therapy can help interpret and detect these perceptions, but these do not necessarily need to be corrected because someone evaluated and categorized them as distorted. They are simply different ways of perceiving the world around us that may make sense to a different being with a different sensibility, and sensitivity, than others. As they say, a word to the wise is unnecessary and If the cap fits, wear it.

Ghostwriters, anonymous geniuses

Reviews, Tv Series

Ghostwriter-2Another day, another interview. It happened by chance that I got to know the existence of an actual profession, the ghostwriter. I applied to a job post that was asking for a content writer, a passionate thinker, yadda yadda yadda. A few days before my interview, while browsing new series on Netflix, I found this interesting animated sitcom I decided to binge watch …just because. I started watching BoJack Horseman, attracted by the presence of Aaron Paul (although as a voice-over only), on a warm summertime weekday in LA, after taking some time off my job hunting routine.

It did not take long to realize another TV-series, another binge watching session, would have inspired another post. It is like when you see your whole life scrolling down right before or after a sudden event: pre-death experiences or whatever they call it. If you never experienced it, welllllll, I would not suggest trying it, but it means you definitely did not get hit by a car when you were a kid, flying for a few feets, thinking “oh shoooot, I’m dying”, touching the ground, sliding on the stoney side of the road, getting back up to see the world around you stopped for a second, until you noticed the broken windshield of the woman’s car who just hit you. It was her fault, but no one will ever know, as she moved you and her car while panicking, canceling any trace of the accident, making it hard -if not impossible, for the agents to declare …anything.

EXT. SS CITY. AFTERNOON.            
              
              TEEN GIRL
Did I do this, did I break your car's window? 
               WOMAN
     yes, you don't remember? 
              TEEN GIRL
         No, I'm so sorry...

Diane_NguyenOnce the flash-back was over, I realized the main character, the one I was supposed to “get introduced to” at this moment of my life was not BoJack but Diane. Diane is a ghostwriter. She was hired by BoJack Horseman to write his autobiography. She is an wannabe writer, who feels like nobody actually understands -or even sees, her potentiality, she is originally from Boston, and she is dating famous actor and BoJack’s rival, Mr. Peanutbutter. Yes, apart from the romance, the other details are pretty familiar.

Diane is one of the characters in BoJack Horseman who is portrayed as an actual human. She reminded me of Daria Morgendorffer right away. Never seen Daria, you all? Go check it out, now! Diane had a hard childhood, growing up in a family she did not feel like she belonged to, she attended Boston University (BU? Why not BC? Go Eagles!) with a major in Literature (and Equine Studies, but those are details). She moved to Los Angeles, California and she worked at a Starbucks, where she met her wealthy boyfriend, a star of the movie industry. Again, apart from the romance…

ce313c1c82b20d82e6c9c13a69f6c7b5--aaron-paul-hot-amazing-eyesBoJack hires her to ghostwrite his autobiography when, at a night party, he gets fascinated by her personality. By the end of the very first episodes you forget you are watching an animated series, and I personally watched the rest of season 1, 2 and 3 as if I were actually watching a normal, human based, show. Aaron Paul‘s voice triggered my imagination to the point that I was actually seeing his face instead of the cartooned character who was awkwardly too similar to Breaking Bad‘s Jesse Pinkman. But how did I get here? I was halfway through the first season when I had my Skype call with the recruiter. She asked me the usual questions: could you tell me your story? How do you see yourself in a couple of years? Why would you be the perfect fit for this job? And last but not least: who is really LG? How would you describe yourself? Honestly, it felt like she just asked me “Who is Gossip Girl?” …How would you answer? How would I answer? I am… me. I clutched at straws for a couple of minutes until she answered for me. “You are the Binge Watching Queen, you want to be heard, your voice is captivating, your blog is nice to read… and you will never bend to be a ghostwriter”.

…and this is why I am not the perfect fit for this job. Well then thank you. For reading my resume, for taking the time to take a peek at my blog posts, for telling me the truth, and yes, for making me feel fine, (just a little) hearing you claim, out loud, “you are the BWQ”! But I haven’t got the job. It was not to be “just” a content writer. I had to be the voice of a person who has a famous face. If they cheered at her, at her words, her posts, they would cheer at me, without knowing it. The recruiter saw that I could not be the anonymous creator of somebody else’s fame, career and respect. A living Diane, who eventually ends up writing a book ABOUT BoJack, not his autobiography that was supposed to be written as if it was him the writer who used the right words, the appealing style, the pleasant ideas. No… way. So I gave in to never finding a job where I can perfectly fit, I ordered some Indian food and binged on BoJack Horseman ’til the end.

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BoJack Horseman

Genre: they want to call it “adult animation sitcom”
Created by: Raphael Bob-Waksberg
Voices ofWill Arnett,  Amy SedarisAlison BriePaul F. TompkinsAaron Paul
Watched onNetflix 
Three Seasons, Thirty Seven Episodes binge watched in: Four days, nights included.

The story takes place in Hollywood, actually Hollywoo after the D gets stolen. BoJack is a former sitcom star, and he is a horse; Diane, his biographer, is a human and she will get married to a dog-actor; BoJack’s agent is a cat; Todd is a human in his mid-twenties who lives with BoJack in his house and sleeps on the couch, but gets little to no attention from his roommate; all of the other characters are either humans or animals, without interferences. BoJack was the star of a 90’s sitcom called Horsin’ Around, but since then he lives out of his old fame. Through BoJack’s shenanigans we get philosophical, psychological, societal and generally intellectual perspectives. No matter the several mistakes and flaws that become BoJack’s trademarks, the whole series seems to be based on the justification of the movie industry’s environment, which is misleading and toxic for many. The series includes sensitive topics like acting teen’s addiction to drugs and alcohol, unexpected pregnancies, abortions, sexual abuse, depression and other so called morally unacceptable behaviors treated on different levels of perception and judgement. Don’t believe me? Take a look and see for yourself.

“Friends don’t lie” #StrangerThings

Reviews, Tv Series

I confess. This is one of very few times in my life now I surrendered and watched something just because it was advertised and Netflix sent me a pretty cool invitation when it came out. Eventually, I liked it. Not that I would kill to watch it again, but I will definitely watch season two as soon as it gets released just because I want to know what happens next.

Screen Shot 2017-08-05 at 10.59.26 PMStranger Things is captivating for those kids like me who were born in the ’80s and by watching a show which offers old school music and references to that time, you can’t help but remember the Goonies, the GremlinsStand by Me, and others, maybe with a little bit of nostalgia. If you have a keen interest in vintage and old style cinematography, welcome aboard. Honestly I am not a huge fan of those years, (so not technologic, evil laugh) but probably it is just because those old movies scared me when I was a child. I always had a very rich and detailed imagination, so watching ambiguous images only contributed to have nightmares, until rationality took the lead. I was still having bad dreams, but at least I knew it was just that. A “This isn’t real!” kind of awareness. I am not sure this was actually a positive change, but at least I stopped worrying about aliens flying bikes and calling home, close encounters of any kind, cute little things turning into evil monsters after midnight, cheeky human-like ducks coming from the future, and ufo navigators.

stranger-monster-feat-480x279We used to have horror movie nights on TV, not sure if it was on Wednesdays or Thursdays during the summer, when the school was over and kids could stay up late, as they were usually broadcasted late night. As of today, I should ask young millennials how it works, considering they have everything they want (and do not want) available anytime, anywhere. They may have thought that the setting of this show was tremendously old fashioned and out-dated, kind of what I used to say when I had to watch spaghetti western with my parents. Yeah, let’s not rub it in. Instead, the reference that the producers and the writers gave to the show is not as heavy as someone would expect, it is actually fascinating, also considered that they rendered the idea by using the instruments we have today, so chapeau!

stranger-things2I particularly appreciated the fact that those who appear to be the strongest and coolest characters of the show are women, Eleven and Will’s mother, among the others, are essential for the balance that the story keeps throughout its development. They could have used a normal boy, instead the supernatural magical kid is a girl and she.is.the.bomb.

Nothing terribly psychological came up while watching Stranger Things. If you are looking for an excuse to criticize or judge, I do not believe you will find any. Just like I did, enjoy the product of contemporary cinematographers who dare to play with the past never resulting in an overdose of clichés, rather building a great mix for TV-series addicts.

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Stranger Things

Genre: they want to call it “supernatural, science fiction drama”
Created by: The Duffer Brothers
StarringWinona RyderDavid HarbourFinn WolfhardMillie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Cara Buono, Matthew Modine, Noah Schnapp, Joe Keery, Sadie Sink, Dacre Montgomery
Watched on: Netflix
One Season, Eight Episodes binge watched in: one whole afternoon

stranger-things-season-2-eleven-picWe are in Indiana, USA in 1983. A twelve-year-old Will disappears mysteriously while, on the other side of the town in a secret laboratory, a monster creature comes to life. A young girl trapped in the laboratory, manages to escape after the accident with the monster. She is running away from the lab agents who are chasing after her, when the girl meets three kids who are Will’s best friends: Mike, Lucas and Dustin. Mike understands something is wrong with the girl who does not speak, and the only thing she manages to tell him is her name is Eleven, after reading the number she has tattooed on her arm. He eventually hides her in his house and takes care of her feeding her with Eggo (I know, I had to point this out). Eleven knows what is going on and she helps the boys look for Will, who apparently got trapped in another dimension, where monsters and evil creatures live. mqdefaultWinona Ryder is Will’s mother, who does not believe the agents when they say her son is dead. Everyone in town starts thinking she is going insane when she says supernatural events are happening in her house: it is Will’s way to get in contact with her mother, asking for help from “the other side”. Will’s brother and other people from their town unites looking for the truth behind this evil laboratory, which seems to be the source of what is going on. Meanwhile the agents try to capture Eleven to take her back to the lab.

 

“We live in a kingdom of bullsh*t”

Reviews, Tv Series

8966767_origI knew I was in love with this TV-show since episode one. Elliot, the main character, is a genius. I was hooked when at the end of his mental digression he goes “F*ck society” but he responds “nothing” when the doctor asks him “what is wrong?”, as I recognized myself in those words, something I always wanted to scream out loud, to wake people up. Then I remembered that I read somewhere something like “you can’t explain to people something they are not ready to understand”, and I just isolated myself in my world, or almost so, where I could at least relate to a TV-show, feeling less weird. Elliot’s sessions at his shrink‘s are basically the literal representation of what most of us is thinking right now. Or not? I mean, at least we should. I completely lost it during episode nine, when it was clear that his dissociative identity disorder could relate to Fight Club because the Pixies’ Where Is My Mind started to play. I love that song, and at the same time it reminds me of part of my past I do not love as much. Meh.

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Raise your hand if you have ever felt alienated, when you should feel like you belong to society because after all, you are a human being, but you actually feel detached, different, wrong. Although you try to survive, day by day, you cannot find your spot in a world that does not reflect the socially accepted and advertised picture they taught you since your first second on this planet: a beautiful place, where peace reigns and people are allowed to go to war to bring peace to those areas where it is needed. Crazy? yes. Fair? No. Just a big fat lie. A lie they sugarcoated making it sound beautiful to your ears. They made you believe there is no better place than Earth, that life is worth living and if you kill yourself you are automatically sent to hell. Wow. Where is YOUR mind?

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So here is why a TV-show may be interesting for people who felt, or still feel, isolated and different: from a certain point of view, it makes you feel less lonely. Still, you have to keep in mind it is just a show. A fake representation of reality, where characters may actually be telling the truth, hidden behind a magnified distorted rendered version of it, just to let people, and in this case spectators, stay in that bubble someone else has created for us all. Whether you agree with saying “f*ck society” or not, whether you felt different in a world of clones or not, this is a TV-show that is worth a view.

Mr. Robot

Genre: they want to call it “psychological thriller”
Created by: Sam Esmail
StarringRami MalekCarly ChaikinPortia DoubledayMartin WallströmChristian SlaterMichael CristoferStephanie CorneliussenGrace Gummer
Watched on: TV (Xfinity On Demand)
Two Seasons, Twenty-two episodes binge watched in: two weekends.

Elliot (Rami Malek)is a young programmer who works as a cyber-security engineer at Allsafe, a NYC based IT company.  At first he appears to be a typical nerd, until we realize he is constantly debating with a sort of alter ego, dealing with social anxiety disorder, and depression. Elliot’s thought process seems heavily influenced by a distorted representation of reality which makes him become some kind of vigilante hacker by night. This is how he “knows” people he gets in contact with, by hacking their social media profiles gathering information. He eventually gets recruited by a hacker group whose leader is Mr Robot (Christian Slater) with the purpose of destroying one of the biggest and most important companies in the world, E-corp, which is also the main client of Allsafe, in order to cancel the global debt. Trying to fight the demons in his head, using drugs to detach from reality, and having Angela -a long time friend- by his side, Elliot struggles to do what he thinks is needed in a corrupted society he does not fit in. What happens with him, his family members and everyday drama, is left for you to watch and grow fond of. You’re welcome. 

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“Is any of it real? I mean, look at this. Look at it! A world built on fantasy. Synthetic emotions in the form of pills. Psychological warfare in the form of advertising. Mind-altering chemicals in the form of… food! Brainwashing seminars in the form of media. Controlled isolated bubbles in the form of social networks. Real? You want to talk about reality? We haven’t lived in anything remotely close to it since the turn of the century. We turned it off, took out the batteries, snacked on a bag of GMOs while we tossed the remnants in the ever-expanding dumpster of the human condition. We live in branded houses trademarked by corporations built on bipolar numbers jumping up and down on digital displays, hypnotizing us into the biggest slumber mankind has ever seen. You have to dig pretty deep, kiddo, before you can find anything real. We live in a kingdom of bullsh*t. A kingdom you’ve lived in for far too long. So don’t tell me about not being real. I’m no less real than the f*cking beef patty in your Big Mac.” Season 1, episode 10.

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How to survive a plane crash #Travelers

Reviews, Tv Series

No. I do not know how to survive a plane crash, and if I knew, it would make my life so much easier. This is just one of the things I wanted to keep as useful information after my binge watching session of Travelers, on Netflix, this spring.

will and graceJust like everything that happens in my life, one of those weekends throughout the academic year, when I had tons of stuff to do which automatically turn to be NOTHING (only in my head though), I was scrolling down my Netflix account menu to find something cool to watch. Honestly, not the title in itself, but the presence of Eric McCormac as the main actor, just captured my attention, and I clicked on the play button to see if this time, after (NBC) Will and Grace, and another favorite, (ABC)  Perception, he would disappoint me. It did not happen. Obviously.

perception

What the TV-show is about you will see keeping on reading, reaching the “alternative” review, because for now, I just want to underline how, for whatever reason, everything lately seems to throw hints on something wrong with the world we live in and similar truths, ehm I mean, bs. Which are not bs if we believe when they say we are going through a time of change, that the Age of Aquarius is at its dawn of whatsoever. According to Wikipedia (lame, I know) Aquarius “is associated with electricity, computers, flight, democracy, freedom, humanitarianism, idealism, modernization, astrology, nervous disorders, rebellion, nonconformity, philanthropy, veracity, perseverance, humanity, and irresolution”, and what more than myself watching this kind of TV-show fits better to confirm that definition? Just consider this: for any respectable FBI agent on Earth, we know that some of them work under cover, leading a double life: they work to save the future from the mistakes of the past/present, they take care of humans and their families, they interact and they teach something in order to evolve, while using knowledge that they acquired with time and experience. Thanks to social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and all, we can portray a scenario of what our lives are right now, sharing anything that is possibly imaginable. But then, we realize that reality is not what it seems. The media world is packed with fake profiles, not fake per se, but because people share parts of their lives that are not real, there are missing information or settings that are created in order to show a more appealing portrait of ourselves.
Doesn’t this lead us to a righteous social judgment? We are allowed to wonder if what is shown via the media can or cannot be reliable. What will the future generations get from all this? Will it be a distorted representation of how our lives are today? We share pictures of our lunches as if we were dining in the most prestigious restaurant on the planet, when we are actually tweeting from a comfortable bed,  filled with bed bugs, in a hot Californian evening in our overpriced AirBnb room. Is there a lesson we have to learn from this? Well, at least we saw that, to survive a plane crash, we have to find the remotest spot in the back of a plane, and this may be a fact. Any volunteer?

Travelers

Genre: they want to call it “science fiction”
Created by: Brad Wright
StarringEric McCormacMacKenzie Porter, Nesta Cooper, Jared Abrahamson, Reilly Dolman, Patrick Gilmore
Watched on: Netflix
One Season, Twelve Episodes binge watched in: one afternoon & one half night.

Travelers1-2Agents from the future are sent back to our present to stop catastrophes and massive accidents. Grant McLaren (Eric McCormack) an FBI agent who tries to track down suspicious criminals, eventually becomes one of the Travelers himself when, right at the moment of his death, falling from an open window, his body gets taken over by the chief of the travelers’ squad. The Travelers have protocols assigned and missions to accomplish, in order to not really care so much for those people who were in their lives before “transforming”, but eventually they do. Apparently empathetically, all Travelers find a connection with those around them from, who do not know they really are. Interesting is the way the Travelers move through time and space, called T.E.L.L. (time, elevation, longitude, latitude) technology. Right a couple of seconds before the earthly death of their host bodies, the agents coming from the future take their place without leaving a dead body behind. They become the person of the present, with their life, family and friends, and only the other travelers know who they are.

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The transfer of their consciousness is possible thanks to GPS and the 21st century technology, and social media are used to gather information about their hosts people’s lives. Along with travelers there are messengers; any child can be one, taken over for a few seconds, released right after, thanks to their pre-puberty condition of being malleable and flexible. Season one was over and I am waiting for season two to be released. Is it worth watching? Yes. If not just for the presence of Eric McCormack who excels in every role he plays, it is quite fascinating to wonder why, by the first half of the season, you already start sensing that, no matter when -in terms of centuries- you live, there will always be someone who is more worth saving than someone else. It is always a matter of power and social hierarchy, isn’t it?

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Sympathy Love For The Devil: Lucifer (Morningstar)

Reviews, Tv Series

Please allow me to introduce myself himself, I’m he’s a man of wealth and taste …oh so much taste! Apologies to the Rolling Stones for stealing part of their Sympathy For The Devil‘s lyrics but it was totally, completely, relentlessly necessary. The charming angel who fell from Heaven to rule the world could not be portrayed in a better way: Tom Ellis is the bomb. His British (Welsh) accent gives that hint of allure to a character who, per se, attracts interest and attention. The Devil seduces you, he wants you to be free to do whatever you like despite those God dictated rules. What is actually wrong with that?

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I swear to… hmmm, anyway, I do not want to complain about religious views and beliefs, but allow me to be a little, how can I say this, blasphemous for someone… saying that I would rather worship someone like -this- light bringer, although fallen for only God knows why, than the Almighty him/herself, who is supposed to be pure love but then… Yeah, right. I mean, talking from the point of view of what tv-shows like this have to offer, giving a different, fantastic, imaginative perspective of fictional characters with all their personality colors and shades, there is nothing to be hated about this figure. If only everybody could just freely wear their masks and not care about judgments… or maybe, isn’t it what is actually happening as of right now? Wasn’t Shakespeare right when he made his characters in As You Like It say: “All the world’s a stage / And all the men and women merely players;/ They have their exits and their entrances, / And one man in his time plays many parts”? I think he was. Right, I mean.

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We all wake up in the morning and put on our daily façade, the one we offer to the world, which changes slightly depending on whom we encounter and where we are headed. We may smile to that stranger who showed us kindness, or give a bad look to that person on the other side of the street who is being a bully with someone else. Then we try to show strength and positivity to our children, although we might not be able to pay the rent next month, and we show a huge smile to the one standing in front of us in the mirror, because someone told us that you can trick the mind by making it believe you’re happy. Or when you cry. Aren’t we all characters then? Aren’t we God‘s favorite toys, actors in a movie he/she created for him/herself to get entertained? Isn’t Lucifer, all the demons, and the good angels around us, just other supporters of the greatest film of all times, with God in the role of the director, a few executive producers holding the finances to keep the recordings going (may be the Illuminati, who knows?) and almost six billions actors and actresses who are constantly playing on the sets that are all over the globe? Hmph, maybe. Until proven otherwise…

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Lucifer

Genre: they want to call it “crime-comedy drama”
Based onVertigo by Neil Gaiman, Sam Kieth, and Mike Dringenberg
Starring: Tom Ellis, Lauren German, Kevin Alejandro, D. B. Woodside, Lesley-Ann Brandt, Scarlett Estevez, Kevin Rankin, Rachael Harris, Tricia Helfer, Aimee Garcia
Watched on: Netflix and TV (FOX)
Two Seasons, Thirty-one Episodes binge watched in: less than a week.

Lucifer Morningstar, the Devil, is our hero. He leaves Hell, and moves to the City of Angels, Los Angeles, of course, where else? Always impeccably dressed and …perfect, he runs a nightclub called “Lux”, and next to him he has his faithful demon: super sexy and strong Mazikeen, or Maze. When he meets the breathtakingly beautiful Detective Chloe Decker (Lauren German), he can’t help but start to work with her trying to resolve crime cases for the LAPD: “Tell me your deepest desire”, his persuasive powers have no effect on her, but on everybody else they work perfectly.
dabdf76c0e77988b48653e53398ede6aAlong with Lucifer lives his brother Amenadiel, and later the goddess of all creation will join them, to take them back to Heaven, as she may or may not have something already planned. The angels’ mother escaped Hell in fact, where she was sent after causing disasters and whatsoever. All this happens while in LA people get killed and, following a sort of CSI style, every episode ends with every case closed. If not for the story itself, in case you hated to worship the devil in all of his forms, enjoy all the views of the coolest city in California, with scenes shot at the Santa Monica Pier, Hollywood, and all around the main attractions and typical spots of the LA county.