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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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. 

Remember, remember, the 5th of November

Movies, Reviews

In a couple of days Great Britain will celebrate Guy Fawkes’ Night, a tradition that has not become popular in the United States or better, although it was imported with the thirteen colonies, it died out following the growth and the development of America as a separated unit from the United Kingdom. Differently than Halloween, which has become a deeply felt celebration, the Bonfire Night-being apparently too much related to the Protestant, Puritan celebration of victory over the Catholics- lost importance rapidly until it disappeared.

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Who was Guy Fawkes and why am I even telling his story? Well, I learned about him in second grade, when English started to be taught in Italian primary schools during the Nineties, and my marvelous Teacher Michela introduced us to British English and the culture of the U.K. I remember my first carved pumpkin, my first English pudding, my first Christmas cracker, my first singing of Molly Malone, my first reciting of Auld Lang Syne, my first Tea with milk, my first A’s in English class (lol), my first recital of We Are The World -years after it was released in the US of-ha course-ha, and finally my first Guy Fawkes’ dummy made out of my brother and father’s old clothes.

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His story dates back to 1605, when he and his friends wanted to blow up the House of Parliament in London, but he was caught and imprisoned on November 5th, giving birth to the celebration of the English Thanksgiving for dismantling the Gunpowder Plot. Long story short, what they do overseas (but not here in the US) is to celebrate the 5th of November with fireworks, bonfires, and burning a dummy that looks like Guy Fawkes, while children knock on doors asking for “a penny for the Guy” (yes, this happens not even a week after they went around annoyingly trick or treating for All Hallows‘ Eve). Let’s get to the point now: have you ever watched V for Vendetta? Yes? Good! No? Go watch it NOW!

V for Vendetta

Created by: James McTeigue
Based onV for Vendetta, 1988 – DC Comics by David Lloyd and Alan Moore
StarringNatalie Portman, Hugo Weaving, Stephen Rea, John Hurt
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures

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In a dystopian future ca. 2020, Americans are almost all dead and fascists rule in England. V, a vigilante wearing a Guy Fawkes’ mask, saves a TV reporter, Evey (Natalie Portman) from rape, and forces her to join him not before teaching her something with what I would call harsh but necessary manners. For 12 months, from Guy Fawkes Night’s Eve to the 5th of November of the following year, V “plays games” with Evey in a sort of “Phantom of the Opera style”. But I am not going to spoil the movie so please, watch it and see for yourselves what happens next.

What needs to be said is that the film provides food for thought: “People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.” Basically what I understood from watching it over and over (and again last year after my head shaving madness) is that if you want a revolution, it has to start within yourself in order to have effects on society. People who are the victims of oppression and some kinds of distraction, enforced to live wearing masks, can actually remove them and replace them showing their true self. To remove these masks you have to dedicate yourself, to gain knowledge, to get informed, to turn the lights on and face the shadow of society, but you have to repress and sacrifice part of your social self in order to succeed. Evey’s torturing rituals are painful to watch, but after all that pain there is one big truth that gets revealed to her: “You said you wanted to live without fear. I wish there would have been an easier way, but there wasn’t.” She is at complete peace, without having to rely on someone else’s help, looking for it on the outside because she is has strength within herself. Both V and Evey went through traumas before getting reborn like Phoenixes, burning and raising back again from their ashes. “What was done to me, created me” V says, and no major truth has ever been told.

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My previous studies on Freud may influence my perception of this character, but I found fascinating and tremendously relatable (metaphorically!) that he was imprisoned, used as a lab rat, tortured until he reached a point where he could no longer recognize who he was. He wants revenge and freedom from tyranny detaching himself from what it means to be human, to be a social animal, and he chooses loneliness or better, aloneness over community, sharing, relationships. He has an extremely strong mind, but also a kind heart and a just spirit, and what he does, he does it with a purpose. Today he would be considered a terrorist and a psychopath. Although he is highly intelligent, he does not corresponds to the standards of normality.

Let’s try to look at this man from his characteristics more than from his actions, then. V stands for justice, he wants people to know the truth, to wake up and to pursue freedom from oppression. He sacrifices himself so that people can live in a free world and although he loves Evey, (which is quite understandable) he suppresses his feelings for the greater good. Is there anyone capable of doing something like this as of today? I doubt it. Would we need it? Yes. I mean, would you judge Batman for his actions? No, he’s a hero. Just like V, and sympathizing for him does not mean we are sociopath. Understand? Capish? Very well. Now let’s go watch this movie. Again. After all, it’s a tradition!

Christmas Pudding With White Sauce

 

 

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.

 

 

Liebster award: discover new blogs

Haircut Madness

typewriterPrince, founder and author at the World Writers Hub just nominated me, the Binge Watching Queen, for the Liebster Award. Thank you Prince, after all, you’re Prince and I am a Queen… Big laugh. Jokes apart, if you were wondering what is this Liebster award, what I can say is that it was created to recognize and/or discover new bloggers and welcome them to the great blogging community. But please, do not be shy, and if you want to know more, feel free to take a look here, and you will find also the official rules of this project by clicking here.

I hate chains, so for those who know me this would sound like a nonsense, but the reason why I accepted the nomination is simple: it is not just a way to promote ourselves, it is a way to promote others. In the blogosphere many are struggling: we may have great voices and amazing things to say, but at the same time we may not have the right networking entourage. A little help is always much appreciated. Spread the word you all, we need everyone’s help!

Prince’s blog, for instance, is about writing. Easy as that.

“It intends to function as a guide that will help you to understand life extra carefully and lead you through its hot tracks”.

As part of this nomination we have to answer a few questions to help others know us a little better, most of the times referring to our beloved blog or our muses and mentors. Here are my answers to Prince’s questions:

  1. How did you pick your blog’s name? I realized I have always been a binger, I binge on books and tv-series, movies and videos. Food. So it just came out naturally, I am the Queen of Binge… Watching!!!
  2. What’s your blogging quote? Don’t really have one.
  3. What are three things you cannot blog without? Sun, Silence, Sunkist
  4. Who is your favorite blogging father? You mean, Mother? I started working “professionally” for Facciunsalto, go check it out, if you know Italian. Otherwise scroll down and find the FUSion column where we wrote articles in English.
  5. Describe yourself in three words. Pensive, Imaginative, Misunderstood
  6. What is your guiltiest pleasure? Not sure I get what you are asking for. Chocolate?
  7. What is your most prized possession? Moral strength
  8. What single quality do you most appreciate in people? Honesty.
  9. What do you love most about blogging? Being appreciated for what I say&think.
  10. What’s the favorite post that you’ve published? (Link, please!) Not my favorite but probably the most important is a post about Chester Bennington from Linkin Park. You can find it here. Missing him every single day.

Now, let’s have a look at the nominations.

Blogs I nominate for The Liebster Award

Now, with my Academy Awards’ best voice, please let me introduce you to the nominees for the Liebster Award:

Congrats to my fellow nominees! If you choose to accept this nomination, you have to answer the following questions, and write your blog post adding the link of the blog that nominated you (the Binge Watching Queen, duh!) followed by the other 10 you chose to nominate. Add your 10 questions and let’s keep rolling.

1. Who is your favorite writer (blogger, narrative, film…)?
2. Where do you blog from?
3. Who knows about your blog?
4. What famous person (dead or alive) would you go to dinner with?
5. When was the last time you cried watching a movie?
6. Have you ever binge watched a TV-series? If so, write me a message and explain.
7. Who do you want to become thanks to your blog? A more famous blogger? An influencer?… 
8. Would you spend a year on a space station? A month? A week?
9. Which Countries have you lived in or visited?
10. What would you suggest to your fellow bloggers to improve their followers?

Great! Now it is your turn. Make us all proud. Remember to link your referrer and your nominees. Good luck. Talk soon,

The BWQ. 

Travelling

 

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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“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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Th1rteen R3easons Why and Depression

Reviews, Tv Series

Isn’t it absurd and hilarious how a tv-show can wreak havoc on the teen-age world of the twenty-first century? Ok, no. Wait a second. I know even the Huffington Post talked about it several times and I wanted to publish this post sooner, but when life gets in the way, there is nothing you can do about it. Indeed. Life has nothing to do with tv-shows or movies. Young teens or young adults, who commit suicide, do not decide to end their lives “just because Hannah did so”. The tv-show is based on a book by Jay Asher anyway, how come nobody killed themselves when the book got published? Oh wait, are we saying that teenagers do no read anymore? Hmm. Watching a movie is definitely faster and more up-to-date considering the way our brain and our attention span got shaped with time and technology, but still, do we really want to believe that young people are stupid enough, in 2017, to actually end their lives because of a movie? To put a period and the end of their story just to emulate a character? I honestly doubt it.

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Thirteen Reasons Why  may or may not have “something to do” with recent suicides of teenagers, because what lies beneath and what has not been taken into consideration enough, is the so-called depression. I do not even like to call it that way, because most of the times, diagnosed as a mental condition, seen a disease that can be cured, it gets underestimated, passed unnoticed, and people die in their depressed state, without showing any sign of being ill.

Let’s see. Have you ever had the feeling of each and every bone of your body aching because of all those days spent laying in bed, doing nothing? Have you ever forgotten the sound of your voice because you haven’t spoken in weeks? You might have even communicated with your acquaintances, sent them text messages, but you have not actually talked out loud to anyone? Have you ever heard someone say “you are so strong and brave, I wish I were like you” while you were broken in pieces inside, holding them back together with a sort of spiritual duct tape that only God knows how you did it? Have you ever wished you were dead because being alive in this world does not sound that appealing to you anymore, for whatever reason? And now, have you ever wondered, for once in your life, how would it be to be dead? If we turned into energy back to the cosmic state, or if we would simple be eaten by worms while lying six feet under ground? Have you ever thought about suicide? Never? Well, I guess many from either my generation, the previous and the following one would say yes to at least one of these questions, and as far as I’m concerned, depression is not “only” a disease, it is a “way of being”, it is part of your personality, it is rooted in yourself. Boom. Dropped the bomb. Yes. I know, someone got healed. Psychiatrists and co. can help… if you ever started therapy. But then explain to me why the majority of today’s human beings are depressed, suicidal at times, and in general not feeling happy. Content. Satisfied. Glad to be alive. And nobody knows this about them. Go ahead.

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This said, is it really a tv-show’s fault if teens kill themselves? Do movies suggest you for real how to use a knife, or a gun, or pills? I mean, I’ve seen plenty of movies where people were killing or getting killed, and this did not make me a killer. Or a cheater. Or a princess. Or, a suicide. Yet, we want to read that this or that caused somebody else’s decision of liberating themselves from the burden of the mortal condition. Fine, believe what you want, but here’s my review.

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Thirteen Reasons Why

Genre: they want to call it “teen drama”
Based on: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Starring: Dylan Minnette, Katherine Langford, Christian Navarro, Alisha Boe, Brandon Flynn, Justin Prentice, Miles Heizer, Ross Butler, Devin Druid, Amy Hargreaves, Derek Luke, Kate Walsh
Watched on: Netflix
Season One, Thirteen Episodes binge watched in: less than 15 hours

Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette) is one of the main characters of the story. He finds a box with seven double-sided tapes recorded by Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford), his classmate who committed suicide two weeks prior to this moment. On tape, Hannah talks to specific people in her life, building up a sort of audio journal, or confessional, more like audio letters if we want to say so, explaining the reasons why this person is on tape and why he or she is part of the reasons why she killed herself. Each person who receives the package plays a role in the “game” of these thirteen reasons, thirteen people who are “guilty” in their own way. Twelve recordings are dedicated to her classmates, lovers, abusers, rapers, all of them around her age, but one, the thirteenth is eventually for an adult. Here, is where my attention focused, at the end of a binge watch session that lasted a whole night (it actually started right after lunch time and ended the morning after). This tv-show is not meant to be educational, is not meant to be seen by kids who need to understand what bullying is, what respect is…, to my humble opinion, it should be an eye-opener for adults. The exact same adults you turn to when you’re in danger, when you tell them that something is not right, but you do not know how to express your feelings. And they do not believe you. They minimize the gravity and they release you in a world that is, still, treating you wrong. Exception made for her parents. Olivia, Hannah’s mother, played by the amazing Kate Walsh, is the one who finds her daughter dead. Both parents never realized she was suffering. Most of the times, parents can’t see, and I believe this is what the whole tv-show wants you to ponder on. All the drama, the request for attention, the teen-age useless fights, are secondary. As Antoine de Saint-Exupéry tried to teach us, through his Little Prince’s story “what is essential, is invisible to the eye”; nevertheless a lot of us are still terribly blind.13rw_104_02536r_-_h_2017

Long hair don’t care

Haircut Madness

Wow, so many things have happened since 2017 started. I know, I’m bad at being constant and creating a routine. I am disappointed too, believe me. The plan was to keep a detailed journal of this painful (literally now, and you will see why in a few lines) hair growth process, but as always, I get lost in thoughts, lazy days, down moments and most of all, daydreaming. That is exactly the activity that drains most part of my time, and guess what? Nothing good comes out of it as I completely lose myself in my imaginative world, forgetting I have work to do for school, I should be faithful to my yoga instructor (Adriene!) and do it everyday but I don’t…but, you know, the world I hide myself in is so much better than the one I see outside my window.

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Well, probably not right now. I am actually staring at the charming Los Angeles skyline and oh, those palm trees… although there is this one thing bothering me: my scalp. Yes, that’s right. As I still can’t recognize the person staring at me in the mirror, although my hair is sloowwwly growing, I could not stand the idea of traveling to my favorite place feeling like I am not myself. So, I got extensions, to feel a little more like …me. In fact, while my hairdresser was glueing donated real hair on my scalp, this woman came and said: “oh my gosh, you look so different now!” Ugh, no Ma’am, no! I am going back to look how I looked before I decided to be stupid. Yes. People who first saw me with my haircut cannot even portray me with long hair. I am sorry for you people but, more than ever now, I can state that your hair is the extension of your soul... not only of your nervous system, and these extensions right now are hurting like hell. My scalp must be really sensitive. Although I spent more than I could afford, I’ll have to unglue these things before I drive myself crazy. The pain is so strong sometimes that I get headaches, so again, I literally made the wrong decision. (Song playing in my head after this: one more time, doo doo doo doo… by Daft Punk) And honestly, it does not even give me that self-confidence I wish I could get back with long hair. Bummer.

img_3608I will learn one day, maybe. Accepting the changes and embracing the consequences. Hilarious how for many aspects of my life I change something everyday because routines to me are boring, but for some others it takes me a while to align to the resonance. I guess I will have to just stick to this… Talking about frequencies, Los Angeles is apparently giving me a hard time this time. Last year I fell in love, or better, I realized I have always been attracted to this place that whispered to my ears “what took you so long?” while I was making love to it, enjoying that panorama you see standing from the Griffith Observatory. If you can’t feel it, I am not sure it is a feeling that can be explained with words. Hair or not hair, my heart cried that day. I spent a few days in Los Feliz, which soon became my favorite neighborhood, and my new friends who were hosting me, really made me feel like I was home. I am realizing it now, staying somewhere else (Echo Park to be precise) while they are away, and it is not as going to trivia night or to karaoke together.

With my weird look, weird to me at least as I am showing curls I never had before, I am now letting Los Angeles know me from a different perspective. I am scared she won’t like me, I still have to go back to my favorite place, and I feel the need to hike up those hills to ask her if she still wants me here. Probably, if I had long hair, I would not care, as they say, but I am not fully positive about it, anyway. The sun is out, after a cloudy and windy Sunday morning in Westlake. I feel like my baby is calling and I don’t want to make us both wait. Meanwhile, as it took me forever to start writing again, here are these three songs (click here to listen to them!) as my gift to you, to show how good it is to be here.

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