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What a wonderful surprise to find this completely unpromoted series (at least in Europe) on an obscure streaming site. Just had to binge it in one sitting.
Superb new take on the age old chance encounter genre where the two involved meet each other at just the right moment on the road of life. Very interesting using a piano filled with memories as a main device for story-telling. Funny, witty heartbreaking, touching and full of hope. Top notch acting, especially from newcomer Milly Alcock. Great character arc for both main characters. Great choice of music.
Loved every minute of this crazy ride. 10* out of 10. Will surely tell everybody about it.
Social Climbing in Flake City
Fantastic episode on the topic or reinvention to fit in which unavoidably goes too far. Loved the build-up presenting the Gigi we thought we knew and the masterfully crafted abrupt clash in which the disturbingly calculated Jean gets her shade exposed: the ruthless social climber wannabe with no backbone always looking for the big score in the flakiest of cities, Tinseltown USA.
Best written and directed episode and Megan Ferguson stole the show in my opinion. Her alternation between light and shade, hope and disillusionment, cunning scheming and ultimately facing the loss of what could have been the ultimate "score" incorporating some very inspired dance numbers was top notch. Very uncomfortable to watch.
The Moodys (2019)
Subtle Smart Christmas Fun
Apparently it's a remake of an Australian production which I haven't seen and could be great, too. In any case, if you enjoy Leary's humor and subtle smart dialog this is the series for you. It's in the vein of Home for the Holidays (1995) with Holly Hunter and Robert Downey Jr. or Beautiful Girls (1996) with Matt Dillon and Natalie Portman. Or more recently the excellent and unfortunately too short lived Leary produced series Sirens (2014) with Kevin Bigley and Josh Segarra, which I was glad to see reunited in this one as Monty and Marco. Top casting. Top acting. Great mix of drama and comedy.
All around 8* out of 10 more adult fun which was not really made for teenagers to enjoy. Unless they are older souls (like Natalie Portman's character in Beautiful Girls).
The Mandela Effect (2019)
Effective Near-Perfect Philosophical Sci-Fi (which would benefit from a better poster)
Excellent mind bending Sci-Fi which uses limited technical means expertly and puts big budget productions dealing with a similar subject matter (The Matrix, eXistenZ, The Thirteenth Floor) to shame.
The trailer features an Alan Watts (British Philosopher which created a unique cultural bridge between Western and Eastern Philosophy) audio lecture on the topic of perception and asking questions such as: How much of what is do we perceive? In what measure can we trust our senses? What is reality?
The movie features a family in a future altering moment of their lives. A momentary decision will change their reality forever. The father being a computer coder subsequently notices oddities in day to day life which chases him down a rabbit hole of conspiracy theories (the Mandela effect) to uncover the "truth" behind reality itself.
However the movie is more than just the expertly crafted family thriller. It dares asking and also answering some of the deepest philosophical questions which current developments in technology (informatics and measuring devices such as the CERN particle accelerator etc) and theoretical physics are starting to grasp. The fact that what is "real" is so only in relation to an observer. If the observer isn't there, "reality" doesn't manifest. What happens if a tree falls in the forest? Does it make a sound or not if there isn't anyone to hear it? Of course it doesn't make a sound. Because sound is a relationship between the object making a sound (vibrations in the air) and the ear-drum hearing it. The ear evokes the reality of the falling tree. Existence is therefore RELATIONSHIP.
I enjoyed the movie immensely mostly because it challenges Western assumptions about the Universe, ourselves, our role (free will) and what is real and it opens a gate to questioning and perhaps uncovering some ancient wisdom along the way. Yes, we believe that we are on the brink of uncovering the "truths" of the World through technology. We are certain that we must. Because we want to control everything. But what if we are instead just going to uncover that we have ignored what our fore-fathers already understood. Indeed the binary language of computing is based on an ancient Chinese philosophical book called i Ching (The Book of Changes - Ying and Yang, Black and White, opposites secretly mutually revealing themselves). Which in turn is based on even older Buddhist (in turn an of-shoot of Hinduism, an even older philosophy) philosophy which gave birth to Taoism in China. And Buddhism is the one philosophy of Reality which is consistent with measuring techniques and calculations of modern physics. It opens up perception into a "reality" in which there is no outside observer (Us) but only experience as such arising from the relationship between observer and the observed. A non-dual eternal happening which is forever coming into being anew through vibration. Yes it is a "simulation". But not in the V.R. sense. It's a neurological experience. When we open our eyes we see what is in our brains. The "outside" World is created "inside" our brains and thus is ourselves. Which leaves Western man and his "exact World of calculus", in which he believed to be a center of thought and action, revealed as a hallucination. Because there isn't anything to hold on to for him. Not concepts. Not "real, tangible" things. No Creator Ruler of the Universe. No way to pin it all down (Although the movie suggests a creator and goes down the path where man can and does manage to "control" things in a minor way, if only by using a crafty lever. But these are the devices of western story-telling and they are used masterfully, here).
"Your MIND is all there is, everything", Alan Watts.
"If there is any religion that could cope with modern scientific needs it would be Buddhism". Albert Einstein
P.S.: I believe Alan Watts should have a credit in this movie
The Irishman (2019)
Weak by any standard but by Scorsese it's very
Sadly a sub-par effort from one of my all time favorite directors. The story is weak (by Scorsese standard) and overly stretched. I can understand the appeal to revisit his trademark Italian gangster genre one more time, but this one feels unnecessary. The also trademark Scorsese humor is in-existent (except for the painting walls bit). De Niro looks disoriented, in the worst physical (hunched over almost the whole movie) and acting shape ever and out of place. Not very surprising, either. He spent the better part of the last 15 to 20 years doing mock impressions of himself which after the novelty faded ended him up in a series of quite dubious productions. That's a very long time to lower the bar and obviously takes its toll.
The De-aging technique is unconvincing when the actors move. Their faces look animated, fake. There is little and uninspired music. Keitel looks fantastic but is underused. Pacino kinda overacts on occasion. Pesci looks fantastic and is in top form acting-wise but he's also in a supporting role (he's the best part of the movie) so he doesn't have a big impact on the movie. Romano is in top form but his part is also small.
The movie is slow, linear, extremely long, predictable (how often have we seen the Hoffa story on screen? a superior version starring Nicholson comes to mind) and dull. There isn't much going on action-wise. A lot of innuendo and he said they said, but aside some quite dull hit-jobs where de Niro is supposed to be in his prime but moves like a 75 year old the story is quite static. The dialog is stale. Stunts are weak to say the least (Pacino's double excessively hiding his face when he hits the floor in a fight and obviously wearing a wig and body padding, and the store owner more than obviously throwing himself through the window of the store while De Niro clumsily mimics hitting him around come to mind, rendering those scenes borderline laughable). Colors, interiors, costumes are all in shades of beige. Camera work is rigid. Plus the Hoffa story is old news to begin with, there are so many insane things going on right now and would translate better to the screen in 2019. The edgy fast paced crazy energy of the more recent Wolf of Wall Street (not to mention his earlier masterpieces Casino, Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, Mean Streets or Goodfellas etc) seems that of a different director.
All in all the weakest film in Scorsese's portfolio and not above a 6 stars out of 10 by any standard (I'm inclined to be lenient mainly because he managed to bring Pesci out of retirement for this. But by Scorsese standard it's well below that). It's more of a self-indulgent piece of nostalgia best left unmentioned when it's all said and done. And I'm hopeful that Marty will surprise us with more of his best work in the future and we can sweep this one under the rug.
This truly is the golden age of television
Writers on this series are having a blast. Will try not to give it away but just loved the ambivalent representation of success. Yes, you are up now, but what goes around comes around and you know that's true in your bones when you've just come up from the lowest possible point in your life. And yet is there another way but forward when you are walking on a high wire uphill?
Jack Ryan: Strongman (2019)
Ludicrous and offensive
A scene from Deuce Bigalow, European gigolo comes to mind. An elderly American lady shouts in Amsterdam: "Thank you America and President Bush for bringing democracy to Irak", as a brick hits her in the face and she falls over the railing.
But that was a comedy and this is a travesty.
A ludicrous and tastlesly offensive one after the CIA's meddling and puppet regime installing record in South America alone. Even with the changing generations. I wonder. Could anyone eat this up? It's like propaganda films we were forced to watch in my home country during the communist era.
Mrs. Fletcher (2019)
Has a bit of a Class 1983 vibe with Rob Lowe and Jacqueline Bisset. Can already see where this is going and that's not a bad thing. Kathrine Hahn is perfect as is the guy playing her obnoxious son.
Will keep watching.
Unnatural Selection (2019)
The latest Batwoman series gets 680 comments in two weeks but this one flies under the radar (I found it on an obscure streaming website). You can see the mad flicker in the eyes of all those involved in real life "testing" of CRISPR. They each try to come across as representing some sort of stance. Being the moral, democratic or just plain ol' American let's just do it in the spirit of capitalism and progress.
As a result of Global Warming ticks are coming to North America by way of mice and could infect humans. So it's only logical that we should alter mice DNA to reject ticks. That's the level where debate is being carried on the topic. Don't get me wrong it's not the documentaries "fault". I just mean that this is the IQ level of people who are currently openly carrying DNA modification experiments. They talk about joining the future and progress. One of them is a former NASA employee. He's selling genetic altering CRISPR kits on the web. Because everybody should have access to one so that we can one day live in a World without disease, prolong life or cure genetic defects. What can go wrong ?
The documentary should not be missed as it shows the opening of Pandoras' box. However it probably will be missed. And pretty soon X Men will be a page of the history books as inspiration for a new and better human race. "Problem" solved. Along with glow in the dark rats and genetically enhanced dogs. You know, useful things.
We've seen the results of gun democracy in the USA so CRISPR should bring similar benefits to future generations. And from there it can spread to the rest of us all over the World. Maybe we can make the last tree on Earth glow in the dark. How wonderful would that be ? Or maybe make trees regenerate like cancer cells...I must say it again, what can go wrong ?
P.S.: They are in the testing phase now, so they need guinea pigs such as a boy with poor eye sight. FDA approved corporations and bio hackers alike seem well intentioned and forthcoming in asking us for permission or cash for services rendered (part of the documentary focuses on the outrageous US medical system and shows unfortunate people desperately trying to gain access to gene treatments for their loved ones).
But what comes after this ? Who decides what a genetic defect is after we have "eradicated" the current ills? Which human traits are to be stunted and which encouraged going forward ? What endeavour is important for humanity ? Towards which future need we rush to ? What happens when we disagree ? What happens when it unavoidably gets weaponized ? What happens when an accident or a genetic terrorist attack happens ? A mutation gone rogue on planetary scale by way of a bacteria or virus... One we don't even understand or are even able to keep up with. Or 10 mutations. Or a billion.
A butterfly flaps its wings and across the Globe a Tornado forms.
In any case the process is unstoppable. As we historically know, hubris and corporate greed are unstoppable.
Unfortunately what used to be an exciting show has ultimately not lived up to its potential. There has been occasional rambling all along but the last season and the ending are flimsy and utterly nonsensical (Don't know how the comic book actually ends).
Yes the concept was an exercise in imagination from the start. But it touched deeper issues along its run. Faith, God, good and bad, choice, free will, revenge, love, duty, meaning of life and was quite the social satire on occasion. Sadly these pursuits were all dropped in the last season. Incessant fighting without any stake, running around just to run around, gore for the sake of gore (no comment on the blasphemy but that was also done gratuitous just to shock). With the exception of Cassidy, the individual personal arc of the main characters (Jesse, Tulip, God, Eugene, The Saint of Killers, Klaus) is broken in midair to be rendered ultimately meaningless.
What remains are some cool mind bending characters (Angels, Saint of Killers, Vampires, Devil, God, Hitler etc) the occasional social satire, the action sequences from the previous seasons and the fun banter between the 3 main protagonists.
Ultimately crashed and burned.
Clash of 70's hippie with capitalistic mentality inside a mixed American family during a historical time marked by major international shifts in politics and by important advancement in Black human rights in the US while adapting is vital for all involved. Told with humor. Enjoyed immensely the first episode.
In the vein of Black-ish which I personally find a more compelling direction than Grown-ish.
Interesting watch for teenagers and adults alike especially during our modern revival of Ethnic Nationalism.
Very powerful social satire
This genre transcending movie is a rare achievement in capturing the disparity in our global civilization as well as the clash of contrasting mindsets.
A destitute family of four gradually inserts itself in the life of an upper class home in order to profit financially. At first things seem to go their way and the movie maintains a playfully comical tone but soon they must realize just how far apart their world is from that of their mark. The gap is insurmountable. The fun is over.
The movie is no socialist propaganda. It's a brutally painted picture of class dynamic in society. Any human society. Be it past present or future. Things will never change because to have top people there must be bottom people. And in the underbelly of every nicely polished place an underground torrent of resentment builds up in silence in the hearts of the servants. Until a simple ill gesture of the master class makes it suddenly erupt. In this case it was the master holding his nose in disgust at the driver's damp clothes stink after he spent the last 24 hours salvaging his few belongings from his flooded home and sleeping on the floor of a refuge while currently holding his deadly wounded daughter in his arms. When all hope is lost the clash is unavoidable (valid also in the case of the other "parasite" family).
While the weak (characters) cling to naive hope to the very end, the movie remains satirical, visceral and poignant but mostly intransigent offering no solution because there can't be any. On might call the family parasites or disenchanted survivors depending on the view point.
Good stuff. Would say generally not for kids or teenagers. Good pacing. Funny, dramatic, violent, ironic, subtle, quirky in the vein of Fargo (the TV series), the Coen Bros or Tarantino with some dry British humor in the mix. Great dialogue, unexpected situations and characters. There's also a bit of Breaking Bad vibe in there as well. So many story lines to be further explored. Still finding its stride but has potential. Hope it gets renewed.
P.S.: You only have to give it 10 minutes. If you get it you get it. If not, then it's just not your bag.
Went off the rails and right into the mark
What begins as a standoff between two authority figures in a dramatic setting turns, as the seasons go by, to satire, comedy and lastly into a morbid pastiche showcasing master class motivation and morality.
In doing so it should lose credibility as series but instead ends up looking more and more like the real world in which we live in. Turns out the joke is on the rest of us.
Yellowstone: Behind Us Only Grey (2019)
Not much to see here
Except Kelly Reilly (Beth) stealing every scene she's in, although her character is exaggerated and morally bankrupt like most Y characters. Kelsey Asbille's (Monica) torn character which also delivers some hard analysis on American mentality in post Columbus era. Cole Hauser's Rip. And the beautiful horses running through the breathtaking scenery.
Aside from that the same childish cliché intrigues: let's lure them there so we can do this, let's build that, trick them, kill them they stand in our way, gain that. Playground level fights for territory. Meanwhile no legal consequences for anybody. Maybe if it was set 150 years ago during the Wild West it would make some sense going around like gangsters, but nowadays... Passing the dicta-phone around like schoolboys in camp to ensure mutual destruction. Killing "deserter" or unwanted ranch hands to keep the secret? What secret? Branding people? Ridiculous, unbelievable writing meant only to shock us into coming back to watch. Will they introduce some new opponent to the Duttons every season just for sport? Is this where this is going?
Oh and Kevin Costner was never more obnoxious, delivering his sanctimonious one-liners in his low rusty "seen-it-all" voice. Don't be fooled, this is Dallas(1978) with a bigger budget. Still a Telenovela level watch. At least J.R. was funny.
That's how it's done
"Speed and timing" are the two most important things when you step into this car, says the Wheelman to his daughter. And that's what the movie delivers itself.
Grillo is fantastic as lead in a role which doesn't showcase his usual fighting abilities but his acting skills for a change (if you haven't seen it, a great mix of both is his excellent TV series Kingdom. Can't recommend it enough).
The director knows how to use an extremely simple device such as a mobile phone to build up the tension perfectly to unbearable heights while keeping the narrative realistic. The underlying intrigue behind the botched bank-job is being gradually given away by the phone conversations we witness while trapped inside the car with the driver for the most part which creates an extremely claustrophobic effect. The supporting cast have very brief screen time but are a treat: Whigham, Dillahunt. Enjoyed the Carpenteresque score which adds quite a bit to the gritty atmosphere. Car chases and accidents are crisp, effective and superbly shot considering the low budget. There is no use of shaky camera which I personally never enjoy. Instead the director opts for some very dynamic, usually low angles. The goodbye scene is one of the most heartbreaking scenes I ever saw (Grillo totally nails it as does the young actress). Loved the finality in the brutality of every encounter between opponents. Each side going all the way to ensure final victory. There is no stalling with a pointed gun for clever comebacks or joking around. No negociation. Can't remember a more effective driving thriller.
This movie is like a smooth machine firing on all cylinders. No bs, over the top bravado, glitz or glamour, just talent and minimalist cinematic artistry. Writer/Director Jeremy Rush is definitely one to look out for.
Best episode so far
Fantastic episode. Dark and twisted. Some have commented on this series as not being very original, too Tarantinoesque. But let's not forget Tarantino cited his influences himself as going back to Scorsese and others. A smart man once told me: everybody steals, but the best of them make it their own. I say let's enjoy this series as what it is: a slick smart written piece of modern noir in the world of thieves and gangsters featuring an interesting array of twisted characters. Because it's getting there.
Ice on Fire (2019)
The ecosystem will regulate itself
Humans will never learn. It's not about us. We are not strangers on this rock but we behave as if we were. We grew out of this ecosystem. Then we developed Egos. That's when we began to think that it's about us. But it isn't. It's about the whole living Earth. Science is just an abstraction created by our minds. Our science still operates under the 19th Century model of the Universe in which human intelligence is a fluke grown out of a senseless and basically stupid rock and dust Universe. We try to make reality conform to our already made up minds. We call it the Conquest of Nature. But even if we take the Newtonian perspective in the matter, the result is still the same. His third law states that all forces between 2 objects exist in equal magnitude and opposite directions. We have unearthed immense quantities of natural deposits (oil, gasses, minerals, metals etc) which we then burned as fuel for the most part to release these previously trapped elements into Nature in a different form. Don't we expect any repercussions?
Mendeleev's table of elements has become 24 elements "richer" during the last decades due to our synthesizing them in labs and nuclear reactors. Does this sound like a sane thing to do? Improving upon Nature.
Current technology is a product of science and warped beliefs in the importance of our actions which we call progress. Therefore in direct opposition to Nature. You cannot interfere with the natural process and think the outcome will be the one you planned for. No matter how noble the intentions. What will happen is things will get worse, from our "let's save our current way of life" point of view. Any interference will create another imbalance. It's a cycle on Planetary scale and time-line which cannot be stopped in a few years. Hubris, greed, inertia, us versus them mentality, living in an ever increasing abstract fantasy World (online profiles, super hero movies, watching screens all day, spreadsheet view of the World etc) economic slavery, elitism, corporatism, consumerism, luxurious lifestyle as goal in life, will go on as long as they can be sustained (Examples: Our clothes are currently almost all made of plastic to last one season, all in the name of fashion. Cars, electronics are being launched already obsolete). Then our habitat will change so much that actions will be imminently necessary. From our point of view. We will act in panic. We will put our scientific bets on micro organisms and other "scientific" discoveries. But it will be too late. Nature will follow its course. It will wipe out our coast lines. Winds and fires will come upon our cities. Food and water shortages will force people into mass migration. Many will perish. But some will survive. They will start the whole thing once more. With cleaner energies maybe. Still thinking that it's all about them.
But why do we need so much energy? What is so important that we need to run around achieving? These questions we avoid. We point at the Mediterraneans and call them lazy. But where on Earth do humans reportedly live the healthiest and happiest lives? Where do they live on average 15 years longer? Where are some of the most idyllic human settlements in the World?
The principles of Wu-Wei (attitude of genuine non-action, unconflicting action, perfect efficaciousness and the realization of a perfect economy of energy) are ancient and would surely benefit a next generation if taught in schools instead of competitive thinking. Living in accord with Nature. There is much difference between the mentality of rowing and that of sailing.
Countries do not exist in nature. They are abstract concepts which exist only in our collective minds, yet many of us are still ready to die defending them, while we continue to treat our home planet as a replaceable commodity by actively converting its resources into another abstraction existing only in our minds: Money.
"It is perfectly obvious that the whole world is going to hell. The only possible chance that it might not is that we do not attempt to prevent it from doing so."
J. Robert Oppenheimer
El Jardín de Bronce (2016)
An ever expanding labyrinth of smoke and mirrors
Without being overly dramatic or pretentious as True Detective for example, El Jardín de Bronce offers a very rewarding watch and a more unusual detective story. The main characters are flawed people put in life situations where they have to adapt and where they discover things about themselves they wouldn't expect otherwise. The failed Police candidate turns out to be an exceptional private detective. The architect father looking for his daughter also turns out to be a great detective capable to investigate on his own, and maybe finding his true calling along the way. The initial kidnapper turns out to be much more than just that. The kidnapped daughter is also not who we thought she was.
A very interesting story taking us from the seemingly mundane life in the big city to the layered world of the Police and private investigators to the underbelly of Buenos Aires and rural Argentina. The search uncovers esoteric elements involving art, history, chemistry and crafts pulling the viewer into an ever expanding maze of mystery which has its own inner logic. There are some gritty horror inducing moments and an all around suspenseful atmosphere. Plus excellent acting especially by the leads Joaquin Furriel (Danubio), Luis Luque (Doberti), Julieta Zylberberg (Blanco), and Maite Lanata (Moira), but they are all well cast and excellent in their parts, the supporting actors also offering credible and layered characters.
Addictive watch (currently well into the second season enjoying the two timeline narrative which expands the first season organically into a new direction). Recommended.
P.S.: This series is completely unpromoted in Europe where I currently live. What's going on HBO?
Metaphysical themes explored in Stalker
The three main characters are Archetypes.
One is the Stalker which is the seeker, a man searching for redemption which has faith ( Faith is an unreserved opening of one's mind to whatever the truth turns out to be / opposed to belief which is opening up to the truth as long as it fits with preconceived ideas and wishes). Stalker lives in a polluted industrial town which represents technological development of Man, with its positive and negative aspects, such as his paraplegic daughter which may have been born this way due to pollution, but may also have gained some other powers (issues nevertheless irrelevant to the fundamental nature of being). He feels in prison everywhere, because he is seeking for meaning. He cannot settle for the mundane. That's why he fights with his wife, but also why she chose him (as stated by her at the end). She will never be bored with such a man.
The other is the scientist, a man looking to explain reality in scientific language (scientific language is an abstraction. This sort of man is a believer, because he has developed abstract ideas and will try to explain the World using his abstract language. If he fails he will become forceful resorting to violence). Soft versus hard, as explained in the movie may apply to abstract language, too. Soft is adaptable like a new born, while hard is death.
The third one is the writer, the man trying to aquire and then to convey wisdom (This is a man of faith but also one which is most preocupied with his own Ego. His role in life, immortality, ultimate wisdom and his legacy. This is why when confronted with "The Room" - representing wisdom, he hesitates in fear that his subconscious desires may be unveiled. These desires may be less noble than he likes to declare).
All three represent MAN and ALL that can be ultimately done in this fragile and transitory life: observe, interpret, document, teach and have faith that it all has meaning.
The ever morphing landscape of the "Zone" represents LIFE / REALITY (which does NOT contain movement, but IS movement itself). The discussions the 3 main characters have are like an interior monologue. If they were all in fact one person. And they are. Because the movie is an allegory.
The testing for traps and throwing of metal nuts tied to strips of cloth represent human superstitions and beliefs that one can have some control over the environment and preserve personal safety during one's passage thru life.
The essence of monotheistic belief systems is also explored. Christ as symbolic martyr for our collective sins. The myths we create to justify our actions supposedly sanctioned by divinity and whether we are ready to leave them behind thus embracing free will which comes with full responsibility. Transcending what Freud called the Super-Ego as part of the psychic apparatus.
The former stalker "Porcupine" represents gluttony as he reportedly led his brother to death in the "Zone" and after visiting the Room came into possession of a large sum of money fulfilling his secret desire for wealth. He subsequently committed suicide after realizing that material riches are ultimately empty. The Room (wisdom) is lethal to those who seek it for negative reasons.
What happens throughout the movie is that slowly all three masks fall and reveal their inner struggles. They all represent MAN and his ultimate struggles. "The Room" represents ultimate wisdom which is that all three men are masks of the EGO which is ultimately an illusion.
The movie is a bit long, but I think this length is meant to allow the impression of the dialogs separated by topic which lead to the understanding of the message by the viewer without topics overlapping. It's impressive how powerful visually the movie is, especially considering the simplicity of devices employed (but within lies the artistry of the author).
I found that most themes in Stalker can be found in all World religions, but ALL of them can be found in Buddhist thought. Especially the one about abstract language which creates an illusory World in our minds (the EGO), made up of symbols and words. This creates an artificial sense of separation between our minds and Reality which we subsequently perceive to be outside, separate from "ourselves".
Final thought: the movie came out at the height of Communist rule in Russia. This shows that the deepest metaphysical searches and struggles of MAN are unrelated to the mundane life (the basic existential needs), and that these themes transcend politics and can even be discussed "openly" by those who are seeking them. Especially through the visual medium closest in its nature to the transience of life (along with music), which is film.
Killing Eve: Desperate Times (2019)
Twisted tangle unfolding beautifully
Each episode brings Eve to a new crossroad and she seems to let her instincts dictate more each time which puts her at odds with her own better judgement as well as those which are closest to her. Eve and Villanelle are giving into a fatal attraction and they both enjoy every stage of the game. Who is the hunter and who is the prey ? Or are they both predators ? Eve seems to discover more and more being more similar to Villanelle than she is prepared to disclose to the World.
Fantastic colors and textures. Haunting music and a twisted tangle between protagonists plus some very dark humor in denouncing our very own preconceptions about good and bad which ends up blurring all moral lines between characters.
Villanelle: "If you look high enough you'll probably find that we're both working for the same people".
Addictive 10* watch.
Corporate: The Tragedy (2019)
Maybe my favorite episode to date
This one is about manufacturing news and consent which has become child's play since the introduction of social media and TV. If it's written it becomes true. And what are we concerned about ? How many likes our pseudo intellectual post gets or the cause of the week we create because "it's not about us". The tragedy (which remains generical here for emphasis) is secondary. True , false. Just another business opportunity. Perfect satire.
1984. Brave New World. We missed the mark. We are aeons beyond. But we don't care. Because we have our online profiles now. And our social influence is measured in number of followers and likes. So we can sleep well. Alexa, turn off the lights.
Countdown to nothing :)) genius
Corporate: The One Who's There (2019)
Wow, I'm a bit surprised this one got a second season. It cuts so close to the bone it's almost painful to watch at times. Covering a large spectrum of issues from social conformism to corporate culture critique to nihilism and passing thru all the stages inbetween. Hilarious, poignant and down-right horrific at times. It somehow never loses lucidity in denouncing the absurdities of our current global society.
This is razor-sharp satire at its finest which can occasionaly leave a bitter after-taste.
Black-ish: Black Like Us (2019)
This show doesn't play it safe
Fantastic episode on the topic of colorism (skin tone prejudice and discrimination) proving once more that this show doesn't play it safe opening yet another Pandora's box. The Johnsons are in turmoil over Diane having the darkest skin tone in the family and we witness each of their personal issues coming from identification with their own skin tone.
In-depth exploration of the ramifications inside the family and society leading to the creation of artificial hierarchies as well as feelings of personal isolation. Unfortunately most of us still define ourselves by differences instead of similarities. The way we cope with agression is to pass it on.
A social ill which doesn't seem likely to disappear in the near future despite the horrendous historical costs and psychological damage to our species as a whole.
It was about Joe all along. Profound conclusion to a transcendental experience 10*++
At first glance this series seems to be about the world of tech. It takes place in an exciting time in the evolution of this field and it gives us a glimpse into the background of that era, even if it is a fictitious account.
But this is in fact the story and evolution of Joe McMillan. The force of nature which stirs the lives of everyone he touches. His immense will power is going to move all the main characters from their trajectory and into his orbit. (He also has a secret which he initially doesn't know himself, and none of the others really understand either. He's a man who grows by every step and doesn't go back but only forward).
We meet Joe as a man with a controversial and mysterious past who chases after the future. At the beginning of the series he is the embodiment of the American "can do" attitude. He first gives Gordon the motivation to outdo himself. He hijacks a whole company to face IBM head on. Then he recruits the aimless whizz kid Cameron. All with the goal to create the greatest portable computer ever built. Bosworth and Donna are collateral damage, but end up orbiting Joe nonetheless.
After the completion of the Giant computer Joe takes off unsatisfied leaving Gordon behind. Joe feels he had compromised too much for a mediocre result and also cannot entertain the thought of sharing leadership of the company. In addition due to his actions he can't profit financially from this experience. His fiancee also leaves him around this time. Joe needs to pause and reflect. He still feels the hunger. After Cameron's virus sabotage of his server endeavor, he builds a rotten empire on the stolen anti-virus idea from Gordon and becomes famous. The embodiment of the American dream. He is however trapped in a golden cage of servitude and guilt. He understands this and frees himself by giving it all to Gordon. By that he redeems himself. Then he goes on to build a server hosting company with Gordon, moving him once more from his trajectory. The ones close to Joe still don't fully trust him, but he is changing. The company goes well but he has a bigger dream. He wants to create. Cameron had always called him a parasite (Joe also listens and learns). So he goes and creates a browser with the help of Haley. They name it (Haley's) Comet. Donna on the other hand steals his idea this time and goes on to achieve her rotten fortune and fame by copying the browser idea.
At the same time Gordon needs to slow down. Facing his mortality makes him wiser. He doesn't need to chase after the future but only to enjoy the moment. But this is end of life wisdom. Not attained wisdom. He feels alone watching all the others around him chasing after some personal goal. Chasing illusions.
Joe on the other hand also starts building his personal life. His way of presenting himself has evolved. He is kind and helpful in speech and action. He builds a relationship with Cameron. With Gordon's girls, especially Haley. And with Gordon who becomes a close friend. He then wishes to have a family of his own. Cameron opposes him, as is her volatile nature and he realizes having kids with her isn't in the cards.
After Gordon's death and the end of the Comet he has a momentary crisis of faith and goes to see a fortune-teller to see what the future holds for him, but he eventually achieves transcendent insight. There is a scene at the end in his office showing his material achievements and the pictures of all his friends. They are dear reminders of his path. But between them lies a hint. A Buddha statuette. Joe finally understands that there is no thing to be had by way of a thing. The whole THING is to live in the NOW. To stop chasing after the future. After the next great thing. Also to resist inertia in life and career which will drag you along without even realizing it, sometimes (important distinction: we are NOT our careers and they should ideally be significant in the process of our personal growth). It turns out that it was Joe who was halting and catching fire all along. So he quits the rat race, returns to his home town and becomes a humanities teacher (self-less action). What could be a nobler occupation? And further from the hectic world of capitalistic tech. He had gone into the World and played the social game. He had traveled many roads. Imposed his will upon the World (agressive self-centered action). Cheated (bad action). He had won and lost and won again (samsara = going round towards obtaining, perpetuated by desire), and in the process he had obtained the one thing impossible to teach: wisdom (nirvana = liberation from cravings, dukkha). Hence he could move forward. Forward not in the career sense, but in the personal journey sense. This shows the very deep transformation of Joe which is only fully graspable by the viewer at the very end of the series in that last scene.
While Joe achieves all this and goes thru such a profound positive transformation, he also leaves the two girls behind. Aimless. They subsequently decide to go back instead of forward. Cameron hesitates and lacks direction as she always did (the fall in Donna's pool is a manifestation of her unconscious act of submission and recognition of Donna's Alpha status in their relationship. Donna is fully aware of this. This is a masterful depiction of primal non-verbal communication). Donna on the other hand is trying to redeem and recapture what she has lost by her own hubris. Without Joe she also loses true North on her compass, as she had been entangled with him in the competition with the Comet browser for a long time. So the two girls give into a lukewarm complacent revival of the past and start working together once more. They remain trapped in the illusion. Maya. (there is a scene where Donna is also given a glimpse into Buddhist view by her daughter Joanie which is traveling in Thailand, but alas she is not ready to follow the signs). Bosworth is a good friend for the most part, but for the complete duration of the stir is out of his element and gets his peace only after retiring.
The world of tech only serves as a pretext, here. It could be replaced with any other social background or time period (although computers and technology in general are great examples of things we think might take us somewhere. But do they, fundamentally?). The essence of the story is about the view going into life and what one can get out of it according to each of our level of understanding. Joe changes his view of the meaning of life. He transcends his Ego. That's why at the end he is asking the class the same question he was asking his colleagues at the beginning of his journey. "So, let me ask you a question? Where do you want to go ?" That question has a much deeper meaning than it seems. It took Joe more than a decade to answer it.
This is a very powerful ending to the series and to the character arc of what has become one of my favorite characters ever portrayed and an impressive study of positive personal change: the path on the Middle Way of Joe McMillan. Also a reminder that some people are just temporary travel companions, and must be left behind as they don't share the same trajectory or capacity to attain other levels of understanding.
"Should a seeker not find a companion who is better or equal, let them resolutely pursue a solitary course." The Buddha