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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Golden Globes 2018: BWQ is back to black

Reviews

timesuppinI’m back. Well, I just spent a whole bunch of time binge watching shows, and actually, I also invested many hours catching up on movies I could find on Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Amazon Prime Video, any platform really… long story short, I had to be ready for the Golden Globes last night, and oh, I was so ready. Stating the obvious, no matter all the great winners that went up on the stage to thank their family, friends, co-workers, etcetera, I believe the actual winner was the pin everyone was wearing, the one showing the words: time’s up. The winner is not the pin itself, you fools, but the meaning it brings, because yes, the time is up. Time’s up on what? Anything. Anybody. As many posts on the world wide web show now, time’s up on silence, on waiting, on tolerating abuses, on lack of respect, on people of any gender having to say “me too” when someone else finally has the gut to speak up and say: this person has violated me. We are free to say what we need to say.

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It is not me, it is you crying. Sobbing at every word spoken last night by either a man or a woman (mostly women though), either on or off stage, winners or not of that Golden Globe’s Night that opens the awards’ season in the entertainment industry. On a side note, artists, or how I call them “people of a certain depth”, already have my respect, so please do not judge me if you’ll notice that I am totally “Hollywood team”. I cheered, I cheer and will always do, always. I had so many haters, so many “grounded” people -as they like to be called- disliking my particular predisposition to support this category and most of all this area of the world that apparently you can either hate or love, no in between. Ugh, who knows. I grew up imagining myself in a different world than my own, surrounding myself with alternative realities portrayed in motion pictures, so I am sorry but I am not sorry for taking a stand with and for them, for liking and sharing the same ideas and ideals.

big-little-lies-golden-globe-win-ht-jef-180107_12x5_992We are back to black. How? Black is one of my favorite colors. It is considered to be the absence of light, or better, the absorption of light that can no longer be reflected. To me, black is at the same time power, mystery, authority, fear, elegance, formality, death, evil, aggression, sophistication… rebellion. You need black to have depth and variation of hue in any other color. You all other painters over there, do you agree? You do, don’t you? Black is often given a negative connotation. As many said last night, when Natalie Portman and other goddesses of mine started sharing the hashtag #whywewearblack, black is for mourning, for the losses we had since these stories of abuses came to surface. No, to me black is strength, it means being serious when bright cheerful colors need to shut up for just a second. Of course then I need my beloved deep blood red and my relaxing smoke gray… but now is the time for black. This is why I wore black too, last night: I was not mourning, I was celebrating freedom, of speech, of choice, of being.

golden-globes-2017-1I won’t talk about the nominees, the winners, the host Seth Meyers who had a tremendous monologue, the series and the movies because these are basically details that turned out to be futile in such a night of revelation, of empowerment and awakening and, hopefully, this will last until it becomes normality. Not a movement, not a revolution. Normality. As for the reviews of movies and series that were competing for this year Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s award we’ll have to wait until Thursday, as the day of Thor is the designated weekday for the Binge Watching Queen’s Alternative Reviews. 

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.

 

 

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.