Too Late to be Watching 12 Monkeys?

The second time that Cole pulled a gun on his son, the big bad otherwise known as The Witness, I had to take a break.

Being given the entire 3rd season of 12 Monkeys all in one weekend is like being given a car on your 16th birthday. You can sit in it but you just can’t get the full enjoyment. Not just yet, but soon.

I watched a couple of episodes and it felt like watching a really long film, rather than a series of episodes. Which want a bad thing. I stopped watching, reluctantly, until I got to the last couple of episodes. With the finale in sight, with that information about The Witness that has been alluding us within my grasp, I pressed on. And on I pressed until Cole pulled a gun on his son a second time. At that point, I got a little crazy feeling.

Here you have two people, let’s call them Cole and Cassandra. They have a life together, you know the 1950s house. They love one another. They are happy. And then they get pregnant. They continue to be happy, but things change. They start to wonder about a life without their child. What will it do to their realtionship? Is there life beyond their child? But they can’t do that. The child exists, their actions are redundant. The idea of the child is more powerful than their relationship. It presents a future of destruction. I’m not making this up, but their child bring about the end of the world.

Knelling before his father holding a gun, the son says “Whatever love you have for her is the reason that you must pull the trigger.”

Wow. I need to know how the writer feels about his or her family. If they haven’t already been to the psychratrist, they might need to go.

What is the moral of the story? Apparently, in the world of 12 Monkeys, life is great until you have a child who then ends the world and really puts a drag on your relationship. Heavy stuff.

Now that I’ve got that piece of crazy off my chest, I guess I’ll finish watching the episode.

One final note, Ramsey’s death. Let’s hope they bring him back because I spent half the series waiting for something to happen to bring him back. With this series, who knows.

 

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The Good People of London Fallen

Just as “bourbon and poor choices” led Mike Banning to become the secret service super machine, beer and poor choices led us to late night Netflixs and London has Fallen.

If you saw the first instalment, the second is no surprise. A forgein guy (with religious and ideological issues tastefully removed) had a revenge plot against western civilisation. He didn’t throw the first punch, he probably says in a delicately accented voice, but he is going to change the world forever. Errr…probably not.

The film isn’t going to win any awards, except biggest fearmongering effort of the year or lamest sequel since every other lame sequel. What is most interesting is the good people of London. By good, I mean obedient and invisible.

London is a backdrop, a stage prop that falls into place behind the actors and does very little apart from having a number of recognisable landmarks that get destroyed. The people of London end up being insignificant.

When it becomes obvious that the army of terrorists are dressed like emergency services, the chief inspector pulls all emergency services and sounds the air raid siren (do they still have one covering the city?) so only the terrorists are left. Now Banning can kill everyone he meets without worry about identifying them because they are carrying a non-standard issue machine gun. Handy.

But would the people of London be so obedient without emergency services and CCTV surveillance? I sure hope they wouldn’t. While anyone’s first thought would be riots and public disobedience, might there not be a second reaction? Given the absence of obvious protection would not Londoners rise up to protect themselves and their families. I like to think so.

Violent Delights: Westworld Finale

Pete Postlewaite’s voice echoes with Shakespearean significance: “violent delights have violent ends”. No wait, it was Anthony Hopkins, I’m thinking about a different film.

The first season of Westworld has been and gone with its HBO serious tone of adult importance. Has HBO ever had a good comedy? Entourage maybe? Even then it was as much drama as comedy. It is the serious adult nature of Westworld that defines it as an distinctive property. You know when that HBO logo appears with all that static you are going to see some boobs and naked ass cheeks. With so much pornography so readily available, HBO is the final bastion of softcore. The cheesy 70s movie from a Michael Crichton novel about a futurist theme park is a faded memory, erased like the unwanted memories of so many hosts. Do you think Crichton was on retainer with Disney or Universal, because he certainly promoted theme parks. Or maybe not if you consider Jurassic Park and Westworld both contain lots of death paying customers. Not good for business.

The Westworld series gave us parallel narratives separated by different time periods. A usual collection of undecipherable clues, more origin narratives than there were characters and dramatic realisations a plenty. Or at least that is what we were supposed to think. Remember the boobs and naked cheeks? Well, you can add killing because other than a child’s toy, the final reveals in Westworld were a little empty.

Ed Harris’ man in black turns out to be William? No really? Dolores achieves freedom? I’m shocked. Bernard is brought back and the old town that seemed so hard to find turns out to be pretty boring. So what at the end of the series carried all that HBO seriousness? It is probably more the repeated images of naked and dead hosts than any insight realisation about human existence. If we pretty much know how this all plays out, what are we watching for except the dead bodies and naked cheeks? Which inevitably leads me to the question of whether to watch Season 2: the hosts rise up because they get tired of all the fucking and killing, when do we rise up against shows that can’t seem to see past dead bodies and naked cheeks?

You can’t get more B-movie than Violated (1953)

Crime B-movies are a dime a dozen. There are more crime B-movies than a there are porterhouse steaks in a butcher’s shop. Except Violated would be a steak a little too bloody with too much gristle.

From the opening sequence, which contains an unseen vicious murder, an unseen killer and lots of screaming, to the ending, which provides a convenient psychological answer, the doctors tell us it was “subconscious compulsion right down to the hair fetish,” Violated is the very epitome of B-movie.

The premise of the film is everything you might expect: a violent crime with sexual motivations by an unknown individual investigated by the police. There are a couple of suspects, some explanations from a doctor and a couple of possible victims (in this case a young girl starting a modelling career and a burlesque dancer).

The police are as wooden as the plain room sets they inhabit. It’s not worth your while distinguishing one cop from another, they are all one formless entity only in the film to help the viewer figure out the identity of the murder. At one point, a roomful of cops are interviewing a suspect and one, I can’t remember which and it doesn’t seem to matter, says you’ll talk “you dirty rat.”

One of the most interesting elements of the film is the reaction of the police. A cop fires into the air after hearing someone shout “Hey, stop that guy.” It makes you wonder whether the film is being overly dramatic or the fifties were a very different time. Let’s hope it was the former.

Look out of the lynchpin of the police’s investigation, it’s a suit sent to the drycleaners with hair on it. A far cry from modern police procedurals and crime scene investigators, but it works in the movie as does the killer’s explanation. After the doctor puts the guy under, we get a brief explanation

The killer’s failure to go through with marriage because her “was afraid of having children” leads the doctor to ask, “Was your childhood so terrible?” Of course it was, how could it not be. The first problem was “I once saw my father cry,” but then it turns out the killer saw “A man was stroking my mother’s long beautiful hair and kissing her.” Who was that man? Well, he’s not in the film, but he also wasn’t his dad.

Violated even has a moral for us, more of a warning if you like. Want to know what we should look out for to avoid this morally corrupt individuals? Look for the guy that helps you pick up papers when you drop them. If you’re not careful he’ll turn out to be a sexual monster with a pair of scissors.

My favourite parts of the film? Easy, couple of burlesque dancers getting into a quick cat fight and the creepy killer as he goes down a fire escape. Forget the wooden cops, this actor was going out Stanislavsky on the part.

Watch Violated online. The extended shot of the burlesque dancer in a top hat is the very definition of gratuitous. 

 

Gatsby’s Car and the American Dream

The Great Gatsby and the Car

If the Fast and Furious franchise has taught us anything, it is that cars are closely linked to the American Dream. It should be no surprise that The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, a novel considered a seminal text of the American Dream, features a car as both plot device and symbol.

Gatby’s car, introduced when Gatsby’s takes Nick to lunch, represents his status and can be understood as a of Gatsby’s character.

 “It was a rich cream color, bright and there in it’s monstrous length with triumphant hat-boxes and supper-boxes and tool-boxes, and terraced with a labyrinth of wind-shields that mirrored a dozen suns.” (pg.33)

 The bright colour of the car and reference to the mirrored suns reflects Gatsby’s wealth as well as an attempt to draw the attention of Daisy. The metaphorical reference to it’s “monstrous length” provide an over-exaggerated depiction of Gatsby and his wealth. The listing of various boxes that have been attached provide a sense of the added adornments that pus the car, and by implication Gatsby, beyond the more established wealth of East Egg and Tom and Daisy.

 

The contrast between Gatsby and Tom and proximity of their characters is presented through the pivotal Plaza Hotel chapter when they swap cars, facilitating the first tragedy of the novel (it is arguable there are many tragedies in The Great Gatsby, the first irrevocable tragedy is the death of Myrtle). Tom’s brief stop at Wilson’s garage while driving Gatsby’s car sets the stage for Myrtle running out into the street and in front of the speeding car after the traumatic events at the Plaza Hotel. By running out into the street, Myrtle is actively chasing her dream of Tom and wealth. Her death presents a dramatic reminder of the fatal consequences of chasing a dream.

 During their brief stay at the Plaza Hotel, both Gatsby and Daisy are forced to confront the reality of each other. Gatsby faces the obstacle of Daisy’s love for Tom that cannot be quickly swept away. Daisy realises that Tom and Gatsby are more similar than she might have imaged, diminishing the dreamlike status of Gatsby. After Tom has triumphed over Gatsby and regained his wife, it is significant that he says:

 “You two start on home, Daisy,” said Tom. “In Mr. Gatsby’s car.” (126)

 Tom is clearly confident in his victory over Gatsby and nothing to feel from the man, trusting that even though Daisy will ride in the Gatsby’s monstrous car, it will not be sufficient enough to provide Gatsby with any measure of success. When Gatsby’s car become the “death car” (128) after leaving the Plaza Hotel, it is not just Myrtle who is killed, Daisy and Gatsby’s dreams have also died.

 Let us forget for a moment the ridiculousness of Daisy wanting to drive so she could steady her nerves. Gatsby tells Nick, “when we left New York she was very nervous and she thought it would steady her to drive” (133). Instead, the death of Myrtle is a symbolic retaliation of Daisy on Tom for his cruel destruction of her dream. Unfortunately, Myrtle’s tragedy begins a reaction that ultimately kills Wilson and Gatsby utilising the car as a means to (incorrectly) identifying the murderer.

 Oh yes, and here is a Fast and Furious trailer for good measure.

 

 

 

Say it ain’t so, another Suicide Squad trailer 

Say it ain’t so, another Suicide Squad trailer 

We are days away from the release of Suicide Squad and what do we get? Another trailer.

Suicide Squad, another trailer…
An obvious advertising ploy given the Comic Con schedule. Maybe a little redundant because of all the other trailers.

The movie does look like it’s going to be good, even though there doesn’t seem much footage that hasn’t already been in the trailers. I don’t think I have the patience, but I wonder how much of the film could be created from the trailers. 

I am also curious whether there will be a post film trailer. 

You’ve never heard of a secret council…

Gotham is chugging along with increasingly reliable stories. The first season finale of Gotham left us with a second season that ramped up the drama and drew much more specifically on the stories that make Batman great.

Threatening Bruce Wayne’s life over and over again does seem pretty redundant. They can mess with teh characters, but an element of dramatic irony means nothing really terrible is going to happen to Bruce, beyond the whole mum and dad getting killed.

There is good use of familar Batman characters and enough new ones to keep it interesting.

All generally positive reviews aside, my favourite and most memorable moment in all episodes is when Hugo Strange says to a drugged Jim Gordon, “You’ve never heard of a secret council.”

Pure classic.