Category: MDP On TV

Supanova Melb 2010_MDPI’ve decided to see more movies this year and so far so good! However, I’m not getting the time to review them all, so I thought I’d write some mini reviews for you. And while I’m at, it I might as well mention some of the TV series I’ve watched recently as well.

 

Chef

I went to Chef on a whim one Sunday. There was nothing showing that I really wanted to see, but this turned out to be an unexpected delight. Chef Carl Casper quits the restaurant life to return to Miami and open a food truck selling cubanos. In doing so, he reconnects with his wife and son. The music is good, the food provides a visual feast, and Robert Downey Junior’s supporting role is one of the best parts I’ve seen him in. It’s a movie celebrating food, life, and love, and I came out of the cinema feeling good.

 

 

The Two Faces of January

Based on a Patricia Highsmith novel about a couple who are scammed by a young tour guide on a visit to the Acropolis, this movie is sinister, romantic, and sad. Though set in 1962, it felt like it could have been even older. The reversal of fortunes is always an interesting hook in a movie, and I was never too sure whose side I was on. None of the characters were particularly likeable, but the intertwining of their fates was. Though beautifully produced, the movie ultimately left me a little unmoved.

 

 

Transformers–Age of Extinction

In the first few moments of the movie I had high hopes. They crashed and burned. This was bloated even by Transformer’s standards. Not even the special effects could save it from it from a clichéd script that saw the lovely Nicola Pelz as a bone between two dogs (Wahlberg and Raynor). I apologise to those who loved it, but the treatment of the character Tessa Yeager nearly did my head in.

 

 

House of Cards (s2)

Frank and Claire Underwood are at it again–conniving and manipulating their way to the highest office in the Capitol. No one is safe from them; no one is spared. House of Cards is a fascinating political drama given life by some magnificent acting (Robin Wright, Kevin Spacey and Michael Kelly to name just a few) and a storyline judiciously sprinkled with sex and violence. A series you just can’t look away from.

 

 

Line of Duty

The anti-corruption unit, AC-12, investigate two-time Officer of the Year, DCI Tony Gates in a taut chase that turns into a downward spiral for everyone involved. Vicky McClure (DC Kate Fleming) is particularly convincing as an undercover anti-corruption cop, and Adrian Dunbar, who plays her boss, is always terrific in any role. Lennie James (Gates) portrays an arrogant but essentially honest policeman who becomes a victim of his own weaknesses. He performs the role with an exhausting inevitability that drew me in and held me in thrall.

 

orphan black_girlsHaven’t I been raving about Canadian TV for a while? Well, Orphan Black really seals it for me. What a great show! I’ve just watched season 2 which contained, what I think is, my favourite ever scene on TV–the clone dance.

For those of you who don’t know the series, this is the gist from wiki:

Orphan Black is a Canadian science fiction television series created by screenwriter Graeme Manson and director John Fawcett, starring Tatiana Maslany as several identical people who are revealed to be clones. The series focuses on Sarah Manning, a woman who assumes the identity of one of her clones, Elizabeth Childs after witnessing Childs’ suicide. The series raises issues about the moral and ethical implications of human cloning and its effect on issues of personal identity.

There are so many good things to say about Tatiana’s acting, and how she gives such defined and individual characterisation to each clone. Never once, do you feel like you’re watching the same actor switching parts. It’s quite a remarkable feat.

Tatiana is well supported by Jordan Gavaris as her foster brother Felix, and some other great actors: Maria Doyle Kennedy, Matt Frewer, Michale Mando, and little Skylar Wexler, who is quite astounding as Sarah’s daughter Kira. (Go ‘neting and you’ll find her singing a simply amazing version of Rolling in the Deep by Adele. Stunning.) Some of the minor characters have great impact as well… Kristian Bruun as Donny, Michael Huisman as Cal, and Michelle Forbes as Marion Bowles stand out.

So, to the clone dance. I kind of had shivers watching the scene below, where Tatiana is choreographed in a complex pattern of movement so that they can splice together what seems like the four clones dancing with Felix. Aside from the fact that it’s a funky little remix–Music by Adham Shaikh, “Water Prayer”: Mat the Alien Remix.–the distinct dance styles and the sense of love on the dance floor is unbelievable. I’m lost for superlatives.

Much has been made of the fact that Tatiana has been snubbed at the major awards. My response is fairly blunt: what a bunch of douchebags that they can’t acknowledge the power of what she has achieved. Did she not go to the right acting school or something?

Risk taking, meaty content, great dialogue, mostly fab acting and a fresh and energetic cast puts Orphan Black in a class of its own. Bravo BBC America!

Clone Dance Party

 

Season One Trailer

 

Season Two Trailer

the bridge 2The Bridge has caused a stir in TV land (in the way The Killing did) and series 2 sees this Scandinavian series go from strength to strength. Saga and Martin are on the trail of some nasty eco-terrorists, and the plot is sufficiently twisted and misleading to keep the viewer unsure whodunnit it all until the very end (or in fact, ’til there’s only one contender left!)

Sexual misconduct proves to be a motivating force behind many of the characters’ actions, but so does idealism, greed, and loneliness. While the main story is well-paced and suspenseful, it’s the in-between moments, as Saga grapples with having a live-in partner, and Martin tries to come to terms with the abominable consequences of season one and get his life back together, that really hold the emotional weight. Trying to preserve their friendship under the enormous pressures of the case and their dysfunctional personal lives is compelling viewing in itself. Saga’s Aspergers is still never openly discussed, and people around her either make allowances for her, or don’t. Martin seems to have put his womanising behind him, but the collateral damage is profound.

The unrelenting winter landscape and hauntingly prophetic theme music are the perfect backdrop to this brilliantly acted and scripted series. The weather is an involuntary character, but one who has an undeniable impact on everything about The Bridge. I could feel the bleakness seeping into my bones from the other side of screen.

It seems that Martin does not return to centre stage in series 3 (if at all). It will be sad, strange, and interesting not to have him there. I wonder who the writers will use as the bridge between Saga, the rest of her world, and us?

 

Awards

davitt-award  aurealis-award   logo-curtin-university

Peacemaker - Aurealis Award
Best Science Fiction Novel 2014

Curtin University Distinguished Alumni Award 2014

Transformation Space - Aurealis Award
 Best Science Fiction Novel 2010

Sharp Shooter - Davitt Award
Best Crime Novel 2009 (Sisters in Crime Australia) 

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