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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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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Ugh, who are you again?

Haircut Madness

fullsizerenderIt may sound crazy, I know. All those times I wish I were invisible, juxtaposed to those other times I wish people could SEE me… and now this: nobody recognizes me anymore. It happened in August, when back to campus, I was meeting friends, colleagues and students, and every time I was saying “Hi, how are you?” it took them a couple of seconds (if not minutes) to realize the blonde who was talking to them was Laura. “Oh my God, you look so different!” and while smiling at them I was actually thinking “no, not really, but whatever you say”. Again, some liked my new look, some just did not even care (thank you!) and somebody else just honestly said they liked me better with my “original” color. This world is a wonderful place, isn’t it? Fun.

One of my friends here actually said something I have been trying to make people understand for such a long time: I am not my hair, I am not my loud voice (yeah, I forgot to mention that many people get annoyed by my voice which appears to be a little too loud for the average human being) so when she saw me, she did not notice the change of look or, at least, it was not as shocking as for the others. Her mind portrays my persona as several different features all mixed together to just be ME: the way I look, the way I sound, the way I walk… all at once. That’s me. Indeed.

I “work” the same way: when I see someone, it is not a matter of appearance or facial expressions, or color of their hair. Most of the times I recognize people from afar by the way they walk, the way they stand or sit on a bench, their profile, the way they move their hands, and for whatever reason, the aura they have around them precedes their mere external look. No, it is not a witchcraft word: aura. Oh wow, I just recalled a place in Melbourne I used to pass by while getting back from work: Witches in Britches. It was a restaurant where they used to have shows and events. Oh Melbourne, I so wish to walk through you again, someday.
Maybe it is actually a positive acknowledgment: by figuring who keeps on having a hard time recognizing me I should get that they lean on different viewpoints than mine… as if I cared that much! From Miley Cyrus blonde look, to Miley Cyrus shaved look, this comparison makes me laugh all the time, as in the past, when I got a haircut just not as drastic as this time, I remember people saying: why this look? Is this Jennifer Paige style? Also, people in here do not even know who Jennifer Paige is! I am laughing so hard I am crying. Or maybe not. How would you know anyway? Actually, this other thing makes me think of a meme where it shows that we, millennial people or so, write things like lol, rofl, lmao, or simply insert a smiley (emoji) but we are actually just staring seriously at our screens. True that. Sad but true. In a way we are simply saying that our soul is smiling though, it does not matter if our lips are actually in an upward half-moon shape or not. Who cares really?

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The day I met M at…

Haircut Madness

screen-shot-2016-11-03-at-23-20-25That’s how it started. Or maybe not. There are people that leave their footprints in your life path and they do not even know of how much their presence (or absence) has or had an impact in your existence. Yes, I know, it is a classic. Nevertheless, I like to remind myself that there must be a reason for this coming and going or for that specific thing to happen.

Getting a haircut, shaving my head basically, has to have a reason. I am not referring to the most obvious one: my hair got burnt after bleaching it for too long (no, I did not do it myself!) and I could not stand the frizzy, heavy, ugly look it had. It was unmanageable and I simply did not like it, so the only thing to do was to get rid of it and start anew. What is the not so obvious reason then? What if shaving my head meant something unconscious? What if there is actually something I have to learn from all this?

fullsizerenderThe last few months have been weird and crazy, in a way. Getting back to Italy for the summer had more consequences than expected. I never had surgery in my life until 2014 for example. I never had scars, not “important” ones at least and not so visible. Now I can basically play “connect the dots” with all the scars I have on my body, and this is because I had the last of three surgeries this year, in August, right before I flew back home: Boston. Yes, currently Bean-town is my home and I am a huge fan of that quote that says “home is a feeling, not a place” FYI!

The first two things I thought of when looking at myself in the mirror, with the hairdresser in the background saying “I am sorry” were: 1. I feel powerless, just like Samson, and I am not sure this is ok. 2. The only image striking me since last Saturday is a scene from the movie V for Vendetta (2006) (if you did not watch it you are missing something important, go watch it now!) and the part where Evey gets her head shaved by V:

“V: Fortunately, I got to you before they did.
Evey: You got to me? You did this to me? You cut my hair? You tortured me? You tortured me! Why?
V: You said you wanted to live without fear. I wish there’d been an easier way, but there wasn’t.”

Natalie Portman plays Evey. She then kept her shaved head for a while.

The next step was to check out if other women had an haircut for whatever reason. Sad to say, most of those I found are either actresses or celebrities, and it would be ok if not for the fact that they are ALL pretty women who would definitely look amazing even with a bird nest on their heads. The best is of course my beloved Charlize Theron in Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) playing Imperator Furiosa. She nailed it. But there are so many …

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Now the “fun” begins. People have commented my change of look in so many ways I actually got tired of hearing any kind of appreciation, fake compliments, judgments, jokes… Today’s mood does not help either, but I will choke all my insecurities with music, as always.