TV


In one of the episodes of the TV mini-series 11.22.63 developed for television by , co-produced by J.J. Abrams and based upon the novel by Stephen King, the main hero, and English teacher played by asks in class what would be the consequences of time travel, changing the past and thus influencing present and future. One of his students asks whether time travel in the question is based on electromagnetic field. The teacher tries to explain that it does not matter, and that the question is about the historical and moral consequences of our acts in the past, provided that we can do – somehow – the trip back in time. The student does not get it, the important aspect for his gadgets oriented mind (and maybe the minds of many of the kids in his generation) is about the technology.

When watching 11.22.63 one needs to avoid the kid’s way of thinking. This mini-series is not about technology and you get no explanation how the backdoor of an eatery in main hosts a gateway which when crossed you walk in a sunny day of the year 1960. You can return any time you want, just two minutes passed in 2016, although you can have spent minutes or years in the seventh decade of the 20th century. Each time you cross the gate, the effects of your previous actions are erased. You may have fallen in love, you may have killed somebody, you may have saved lives. It works only once, only the last trip counts.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2879552/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2879552/

 

English teacher Jake Epping aims high. He plans to do what probably many Americans who lived the period or know history would do if projected back to the 1960s – try to avoid the assassination of president Kennedy in Dallas on November 22nd, 1963 – the one event that is presumed to have changed the course of history to worse. It’s just that history is not linear, our guesses do not always fit the possible paths history takes or may take, and there will be surprises both on the way and the outcome of the imaginary actions taken to prevent the killing in Dallas. And then, one more important thing happens. Jake Epping will find love in the 60s, and this thread becomes as important in the balance of the story as the historical background.

 

(video source Hulu)

 

I did not read King’s novel, but I assume that much of the suspense in the series, as well as the questions the viewers are faced derive from the book. The final episode reserves some big surprises as well as a deep reflection on what is good and what is bad in history, what consequences small or big actions can have, what is important in life – the big scheme of things, or maybe the smaller personal feelings, provided that their are genuine and deep. The chemistry on screen between Franco and his sentimental interest played by add tremendously to the story. Maybe Franco is a little bit too likeable for the role, but I was satisfied with his acting performance overall. We do not learn new things about the JFK assassination, but we get an image of the 1960s which is built in credible details, better than in many other retro movies. Overall you may find ’11.22.63′ as good quality entertainment, just do not ask questions about the technology of time travel.

Looking back in historical perspective 1956 was one of these turning point years in history, when things accelerate, when a lot of related and unrelated events with lasting consequences happen. It was the first such year after WWII, the year of the Khrushchev report that started the de-stalinization process in the Soviet Union, the year of the Hungarian anti-communist revolt in Hungary crushed by the same Soviet Union, the year of the Suez war. While less spectacular things happened in occupied Berlin and Germany, 1956 was a typical year in the middle of the decade that saw Germany recovering from an economic point, while part of its population tried to put the past behind them. Forgetting the past would not work, we know it know, and Germany really recovered only after assuming its past morally and historically, but this was a process that last many years. 1956 was somehow in the middle, and the transition to peace and prosperity was felt and lived differently by different categories of people, by those who were to young to remember, by those who wanted the past forgotten, and by those who could not forget – the survivors of the camps, the former prisoners. Add to all these the occupation and division of Germany and of the city of Berlin (not completed at that time, the Berlin wall was built only in 1961) and the clash of cultures initiated by the beat and rock generation which took specific aspects in Germany. It was a complex landscape, which forms the background for the TV mini-series Ku’damm 56 which was screened on the French version of ARTE TV as ‘Berlin 56′.

 

source http://www.filmstarts.de/kritiken/245202/castcrew.html

source http://www.filmstarts.de/kritiken/245202/castcrew.html

 

The Kurfürstendamm or Ku’damm as Berliners and especially visitors call it, the main commercial street of West Berlin, hosts in the movie the school of dance of Caterina Schöllack () whose husband did not return from the war, leaving her with the task of raising her three daughters. From many respects she is a symbol of the old Germany, doing her best to survive and adapt, to forget the past and build the future of her daughters the way she believes is best – marrying them well as good German wives into rich families, or at least with solid honorable husbands. This seems to work with the two elder daughters, but not with Monika, the younger one () who is different from her sisters from all points of view – a mix of rebel and non-adapted character, with one big passion – dancing. She actually has inherited this skill from her mother, but the tastes are different in a world where jazz and ‘decadent’ rock’n'roll become in Germany as all over the world a symbol of generations clash. The story describes well the evolution of the four women, their relationships, their rebellion and compromises on the social and political background of a country where ruins were not completely cleaned up and wounds of the recent past were still bleeding for many.

 

(video source teenstarlets.info)

 

Quite different, and actually the opposite of the situation in many scripts of the big or TV screens, while the four women profiles are well built and developed, some of the men characters are reduced to stereotypes. When they are not schematic their evolution is problematic – like the character of Joachim Franck and the troubled relationship to Monika, which starts with a rape to become almost a failed love story. It also seemed to me that the East Berlin scenes lacked a more serious perspective of the differences between the two parts of the Germany. There is a lot of dance and music and the differences in style between the different genres occupy an important role in the series, these could be the subject of another film, or maybe of the continuation of the series, as 1956 is also the point in history when Berlin starts recovering its between-wars shining as a multi-cultural center. As the ending shows Monika walking a Ku’dam that looks like a Dorothy from Oz path to new horizons, the continuation of the series may be in preparation. I am looking forward to it.

 

Unless I forgot something badly (and in this case it was probably not something good enough to remember) this may be my first TV series from Denmark that I see in the last 20 years or so, and the second after ‘s  The Kingdom which amazed me in the mid 1990s. It certainly is not a masterpiece as I consider to be von Trier’s series (and most of his movies) but a very decent detective story and good entertainment.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2025899/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2025899/

 

Aarhus is a place whose name I know about since I was a kind, and so does any kid or former kid who was a passionate of geographical atlases and was  looking in the index and dreaming to travel to all those places. It was the first or one of the first in any index, a city too small to ignore on the map of a country it took me about 40 years to get to for the first time. Aarhus is also the place where the first season of Dicte – Crime Reporter happens, with the Big City (Copenhagen) reporter Dicte Svendsen () moving to the local edition of a newspaper together with her teenage daughter, running a failed marriage. Actually almost everybody in this film runs away bad marriages, with the exception of the ones who are single (that includes also the very young ones) – I am wondering if anybody is happily married in Denmark. Dicte is joined by her two good friends who have each her own marital or relationship problems, but the skeleton in her closet (very soon taken out) is much darker, as her past includes a teenage pregnancy and having lost her child sent to adoption. All murder cases that start to appear (it is a detective series, after all, and a good one) are also to some extent related to kids, adoptions, and her own past. Of course, detective Wagner () who is her police counterpart is … divorced.

 

(video source TV2Danmark)

 

There is a lot of fuzz about Scandinavian crime novels, films and TV series, about the foggy or snowy landscape. Dicte – Crime Reporter is a little different, maybe it’s the fact that Denmark is at the Southern extremity of Scandinavia that makes this film look a little more sunny and better lit than other Scandinavian series. However, what is missing in landscape is better articulated in the characters. Good acting helps, with , , , – all giving good performances and the unknown faces (at least for viewers not familiar with Danish TV and cinema) helps making the characters more credible. The important thing I believe is that eventually we get to know them and care about them – this makes for the good quality of this refreshing crime series. I am looking forward for the next two seasons, and I hope that the Israeli cable channel acquired them as well.

 

14 years years ago I started to be fascinated by an American TV series produced by the HBO which was called  The Wire. The action took place in Baltimore and was centered around a team of cops using informers in order to penetrate the milieu of the drug dealers. Besides being very well written and enjoying the participation of a cast with many remarkable actors who build heroes I could identify with, it painted a very realistic image of the Baltimore suburbs, of the crime culture, of the weak layers of the society, an image full of violence but also of humanity and compassion from a very unexpected point of view. It remains until today one of the best TV series that I have ever seen, maybe the best in the category of crime series.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6303080/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6303080/

 

The French series Cannabis which premiered with six episodes on the European (Franco-German) TV channel ARTE reminded me in many moments the quality of the American series (that lasted five seasons). It is lacking almost completely the cops dimension and rather focuses on the worlds of the dealers with the big shots living luxury lives in haciendas in Morocco or Spain, enjoying classical music and top medical services, and of the poor people in the suburbs of cities like Marseille who are obliged to take crime as a way of life in order to make ends. Yet, viewers come to know soon a collection of characters that are are very well built, with credible motivations, with passions and weaknesses behind their tough appearances or violent behaviors. The story line is credible, the social environment is more that just background, it plays a role in describing a world where crime becomes part of the daily lives.

 

(video source ARTE)

 

One of the big advantages of TV series in general is that they can put fresh faces to the ‘small’ screens especially if they do not employ ‘big’ screen actors who are looking for extra employment in some kind of semi-retirement or tentative for a comeback. This is the case of the film created by Hamid Hlioua and directed by Lucie Borleteau . Acting is very precise and many characters exceed the stereotype dimension so characteristic to many of the lesser quality TV series. I can suspect however that after these series names and faces like the one of will be better known. Story telling and pace are admirable. The ending leaves enough characters alive and enough story threads unfinished in order to justify a second season. I hope that the producers of Cannabis will not resist the temptation of making it.

Una dintre slăbiciunile mele mărturisite este vizionarea serialelor ştiinţifico-fantastice. Oferta este foarte bogată, oferta de calitate este mult mai puţin numeroasă, cam ca în orice gen artistic. Şi totuşi, odată la câţiva ani apare câte un serial care mă face prizonier şi pe care îl urmăresc săptămână de săptămână, episod după episod, cu a cărui personaje devin familiar, ele încep să mă captiveze şi să mă absoarbă în universul lor. Aşa au fost acum aproape trei decenii aventurile spaţiale ale noilor generaţii din ‘Star Trek’ şi seria clasică a lui ‘V’ despre o invazie extra-terestră nu prea prietenoasă. Ele au fost urmate în anii 90 de ‘Dosarele X’ (‘X-Files’) poate cel mai bun serial al genului în care perechea de detectivi ai FBI-ului Fox Mulder şi Diana Scully care explorau fenomene paranormale şi aveau şi ei parte de întâlnirile lor de gradul trei au devenit subiect pentru nenumărate discuţii şi dispute cu prietenii şi internauţii pasionaţi. Serialul care pentru mine a dominat începutul de mileniu a fost ‘Lost’ care a evoluat de la o poveste de supravieţuire pe o insula izolată în mijlocul oceanului a naufragiaţilor unei catastrofe aeriene spre o confruntare de dimensiuni cosmologice care sfidează legile fizicii şi ale timpului. Cele două sezoane (2012, 2013) ale serialului suedez ‘Real Humans’ care abordează tema relaţiilor între omenire şi noua rasă a roboţilor creaţi după chipul şi asemănarea noastră reprezintă pentru mine un fel de punte de trecere spre ‘Westworld’ despre care scriu astăzi.

 

sursa imaginii http://www.comingsoon.net/tv/news/775687-meet-the-stray-in-photos-from-westworld-episode-3#/slide/1

sursa imaginii http://www.comingsoon.net/tv/news/775687-meet-the-stray-in-photos-from-westworld-episode-3#/slide/1

 

Apărut după câţiva ani de ‘seceta’ serialul ‘Westworld’ produs de compania americană de televiziune pe cablu HBO reprezintă candidatul cel mai serios la acapararea interesului meu pentru gen. În concepţia şi realizarea sa se întâlnesc câţiva dintre cei mai importanţi creatori ai genului. Ideea iniţială este inspirată de un film scris şi regizat de Michael Chrichton (1942 – 2008), unul dintre maeştrii science-fiction-ului contemporan. Este cunoscut în primul rând ca scriitor, dar multe dintre romanele sale au fost adaptatate pentru cinematografie şi activitiatea sa de scenarist include în jur de 40 de scenarii de film. Mai puţin cunoscută astăzi este activitatea lui de regizor, deşi a semnat regia a şase filme de lung metraj. ‘Westworld’ din 1973 care împreună cu urmarea (nu prea îmi vine să scriu ‘sechelă’ deşi poate că acesta este cuvântul) sa din 1976 ‘Futureworld’ au stat la baza ideii serialului actual a fost şi primul film din istoria celei de-a 7-a arte care a folosit grafică computerizată bi-dimensională numită în engleză computer-generated imagery (CGI). Între creatorii serialului se află şi prolificul producător (şi regizor, dar nu aici, nu până acum cel puţin) J.J. Abrams al cărui nume aproape că nu lipseşte în ultimul deceniu de pe genericul vreunei producţii importante a genului science-fiction pe micile şi marile ecrane, iar scenariul este creat (împreună cu Lisa Joy) de Jonathan Nolan, cel care alături de fratele său, regizorul Chrostopher Nolan a contribuit la concepţia unor filme ca ‘Memento’, ‘The Prestige’, seria ‘The Dark Knight’ şi ‘Interstellar’.

 

  sursa imaginii https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2016/nov/03/westworld-fan-theories-are-the-future-of-tv


sursa imaginii https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2016/nov/03/westworld-fan-theories-are-the-future-of-tv


La prima vedere ‘Westworld’ propune o idee care seamănă cu ‘Jurassic Park’ – un uriaş parc de distracţii ‘cu temă’ în care vizitatorii sunt invitaţi să trăiască pe viu senzaţii dintre cele mai diferite de experienţele de zi cu zi. Din primele minute ale primei serii spectatorii îşi vor da seama că ‘Westworld’ este poate un parc cu temă, dar unul în care consumatorii nu vor merge împreună cu familiile şi cu copiii. Este recreată aici într-un peisaj care aminteşte filmele lui Henry Ford lumea Vestului Sălbatic, populată de roboţi masculini care se angajează în dueluri de pistoale pe care le vor pierde întotdeauna în lupta cu clienţii parcului şi roboţi feminini care vor satisface orice dorinţa şi fantezie sexuală a plătitorilor biletelor de intrare. Roboţii antropomorfi (androizi) sunt dotaţi cu toate dispozitivele care emulează fiziologia umană, iar programele care îi pun în mişcare includ emoţii specific omeneşti, cu o singură limitare – memoria lor este programată să fie ştearsă şi permanent regenerată, în fiecare dimineaţă soarele răsare pe un cer senin şi sunt reluate scenariile şi biografiile fiecăruia dintre roboţi. Peste noapte echipele de întreţinere refac daunele fiziologice ale duelurilor de pistoale sau luptelor cu topoarele indienilor în care roboţii au fost ucişi în ziua trecută sau traumele psihologice ale capriciilor sexuale la care au fost supuse roboţii femei. Asta, desigur, până când programele încep să funcţioneze prost, şi memoriile nu mai sunt perfect şterse de la o zi la alta.

 

sursa imaginii http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20161020-would-sex-with-a-robot-be-infidelity

sursa imaginii http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20161020-would-sex-with-a-robot-be-infidelity

 

Malfunctionarea (sau în termeni de specialitate ‘bug’-urile) programelor care îi animă pe androizi este una dintre temele preferate ale sub-genului ştiinţifico-fantastic care se ocupă de relaţiile între roboţi şi oameni în viitorul apropriat. Este interesant de examinat însă perspectiva din care sunt abordate aceste probleme de programare. Paralela cu serialul suedez ‘Real Humans’ se impune. Ca şi în creaţia scandinavilor, o greşeală de programare sau poate o porţiune de cod introdusă în mod intenţionat în istoria programului şi ascunsă până la un anumit moment dau roboţilor androizi capabilităţi care erau până atunci categorisite între acele trăsături care îi diferenţiază pe roboţi de oameni. Ele se încadrează în două grupuri – ştergerea imperfectă a memoriei care permite roboţilor să recupereze – fie şi fragmentar – experienţele trecute, sau chiar să urce firul istoriei personale până la momentul genezei; şi capacităţile emoţionale care le acordă independenţa sentimentelor dincolo de scenariile programate a priori. În aceste condiţii apar premizele conflictului între speciile androizilor şi ale oamenilor.

 

sursa imaginii https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2016/oct/31/westworld-hbo-villains-ai-robots

sursa imaginii https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2016/oct/31/westworld-hbo-villains-ai-robots

 

Tehnologiile prezentate în ‘Westworld’ sunt extensii ale elementelor de inteligenţă artificială pe care le-am trecut în revistă în articole precedente ale rubricii CHANGE.WORLD. Vor trece poate 10, 20 sau 50 de ani până când sinteza ţesuturilor organice va reproduce într-un fel atât de perfect materia vie a corpului omenesc, şi programele de control autonom al androizilor vor fi atât de perfecţionate încât diferenţele dintre roboţi şi oameni vor fi imperceptibile, dar aceasta se va întâmpla probabil în decursul secolului în care trăim. Deasupra Lumii Vestului din serial tronează un centru de comandă , de întreţinere şi de reparaţii în care sunt create permanent noi biografii, personalităţi şi personaje care populează universul artificial al parcului de distracţii, sunt aduşi pentru reparaţii şi recuperare roboţii care au suferit răni sau traume în cursul unei zile, pentru a fi repuşi în funcţiune şi a juca rolurile de sclavi obedienţi în ziua următoare. Un fel de pupitru de comandă permite savanţilor şi tehnicienilor să controleze lumea roboţilor, într-o relaţie care aminteşte uneori raporturile de forţe între Olimpul zeilor şi lumea pământenilor, şi alte ori între stăpâni şi sclavi în lumile trecute în care destinul unei părţi din omenire era la cheremul alteia. Dincolo de aspectul de divertisment, ‘Westworld’ pune întrebări despre raporturile sociale dintre oameni şi androizi (sunt ele raporturi stăpâni – sclavi, sau poate Creator – omenire?), şi dilemele morale ale ‘consumatorilor’ (sunt posibile relaţiile emoţionale între speciile umane şi androizi? ce semnificaţie morală au relaţiile cu androizi atât de apropiaţi de chipul şi asemănarea oamenilor?). La aceasta se adaugă întrebarea recurentă în literatură legată de roboţi încă de la prima carte a genului (piesa de teatru ‘R.U.R’ a lui Karel Čapek din 1920) – este conflictul dintre oameni şi roboţi inevitabil?

 

  sursa imaginii https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2016/sep/14/westworld-first-look-review-move-over-game-of-thrones-its-cowboy-time


sursa imaginii https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2016/sep/14/westworld-first-look-review-move-over-game-of-thrones-its-cowboy-time

 

Pe măsură ce acţiunea avansează (am văzut până acum opt din cele zece episoade ale primului sezon al serialului) lumea lui ‘Westworld’ devine din ce în ce mai complexă, întrebările se înmulţesc, dilemele devin şi mai acute. Câteva dintre personaje mi-au devenit nu numai familiare, dar au început să-mi populeze universul sau poate eu am devenit parte din universul lor. Serialul beneficiază de interpretarea câtorva dintre actorii cunoscuţi ai cinematografiei mondiale. Anthony Hopkins este doctorul Robert Ford, creierul care a conceput această lume, Creatorul care da naştere noilor personaje şi manipulează vieţile şi destinele androizilor deja aflaţi în acţiune. Asistentul sau este Bernard Lowe (interpretat de Jeffrey Wright) care se confruntă cu o drama personală şi o criză de identitate. Ed Harris este Omul în Negru – personaj malefic şi unul dintre ‘consumatorii’ din Westworld. Două personaje feminine – androizii (androidele?) Dolores (ingenua actriţa Evan Rachel Wood) şi Maevie (excepţionala Thandie Newton) – produc un contrapunct emoţional şi ambele – deşi foarte diferite – se angajează într-un proces de descoperire a propriilor identităţi. Idealurile feministe capătă o dimensiune suplimentară, este vorba despre conflictul de autoritate şi relaţii sociale al femeilor secolului 19 combinat cu relaţia de subordonare între roboţi şi oameni.

Nu totul este clar în acţiunea acestui serial, în mod sigur nu până la episodul pe care l-am vizionat. Se pregătesc deja suprize, răstunari, evoluţii. Au fost puse şi vor mai fi puse întrebări acute despre evoluţia tehnologiei, despre pericolele perfecţionării inteligenţei artificiale în carcase atât de asemănătoare fiiintelor umane, şi cu o viaţă emoţională care emulează până la identificare şi pierderea propriilor identităţi comportamentul fiinţelor umane.

‘Westworld’ ne rezervă, sunt sigur multe surprize. ‘Westworld’ este o oglindă a lumii în care trăim.

 

(articolul a aparut in revista culturala Literatura de Azi – http://www.literaturadeazi.ro/ )

Once, half a life ago, I stood in front of the Brandenburg Tor on Eastern side of the wall. The year was 1980 and I was visiting East Berlin and the DDR, one my two only trips in ‘friendly socialist’ countries that I was allowed while I lived in Communist Romania. The local guide preached us about being at the border between the ‘new’ socialist world and the capitalist hell that was starting behind the wall. It was maybe 100 meters far away, and a different universe. The same evening, at the hotel, the same guide showed us how to switch the TV set to the West Berlin stations. It was then that I first saw the Rolling Stones in concert, live, they were on tour in West Berlin (‘the hell’). Everybody seemed to know that they were living a lie but the power of the Stasi secret police was too frightening, and most people were afraid to speak up. Now, this interesting TV series brings back some of the aspects of the last decade of the Cold War, in the huge chess board that was divided Germany in the confrontation between the two systems.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4445154/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4445154/

 

Deutschland 83 is a spy story, it could have been written by a Le Carre, it just happens to be seen from the perspective of the other side. The eight episodes of the German series build in quite an interesting manner. At first we become familiar with the methods of recruitment of the East-German service, who were enrolling using a combination of idealism (or what was left) among the naive ones in the young generation and blackmail for such supposed crimes like homosexuality or reading forbidden books. It’s quite well written and succeeds to be in tune with some of the true histories that became public in Germany in the years after the fall of the wall. Although the final is quite well known from the history books, the last two episodes succeeded to reach a level of suspense which eventually caught up with me.

 

(video source Series Trailer MP)

 

Using documentary footage and period music helps recreate the atmosphere of the decade. The series benefit from the presence of a few wonderful actors.  is a star in Germany and her rendition of a master spy who does not hesitate to use members of her family to reach her goals, but is not free of hidden and dark secrets of herself is just stunning. Young actor  gibes a very credible performance of the rookie spy who learns the tough ways of the profession in parallel with the culture shock encountered when traveling to the west and his own process of awakening as realities slowly disperse the curtain of lies.

It’s a good and entertaining series doubled with a real documentary value for the generations that were lucky enough not to live through the times of divided Germany and Europe.

 

 

 

 

 

2012 was a good year for us, fans of Alfred Hitchcock. Two movies were released centered around the character of the genial and obsessive master of suspense. I liked ‘Hitchcock’ starring Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren which I saw, a while ago, close to its release date. I had somehow lesser expectations from ‘The Girl’ which bears the anti-promotional label of ‘TV Film’ – luckily I can say that despite the very different approach and the controversial approach in describing the character and personal life of the great director, it also is a very good film, and there are many more good reasons to put it near the most respected and starred companion, besides the year of the release.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2132485/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2132485/

 

‘Based on a true story’ can also be sometimes a deterrent but it is not here either. The reason is that the ‘true story’ is about the relationship between director Hitchcock and Tippie Hedren, the feminine star of two of his movies – the famous ‘The Birds’ and the lesser known ‘Marnie’ that followed. Screen text at the start of the movie makes a case for the authenticity of what follows and to some extent prepares us for a version of the Hitchcock character which was rumored during his life, documented in memoirs and testimonies after his death, but never caught as such on screen until now. A Hitchcock who was not only obsessive in his film making, but also in the relations with the actresses he worked with, a film director of unequaled talent but also an aging man who tried to overcome the inevitable by trying to use the fascination he won with his art and personality in order to bring to bed the much younger stars he worked with, and when one of them like Tippie Hedren rejected him. he was sliding into what we bluntly call today harassment.

 

(video source Tom Engelman)

 

The approach taken by the script and by director Julian Jarold was rejected by many of the admirers of Hitchcock. I do not have an opinion one way or another, but I will observe that some of the great admired artists of our time had their own problems that reflected in their personalities and relations with the teams or women in their lives – to mention Woody Allen, Polansky or Depardieu as a few other illustrious examples. The personal lives after all make good material for biographical movies (like the one we are discussing here) but hardly can shade their cinematographic work. I actually believe that Jarold tried to stick to facts, without necessarily making a moral judgment. According to his own criteria the viewer can consider the ‘Hitch’ in this film as being a harassing maniac, or an aging man falling to an autumnal crisis in his life. What cannot be denied is that one way or another ‘The Birds’ remains like a peak movie in the creation of Hitchcock and history of cinema.

Some fine actors work make this movie even more interesting. Toby Jones creates a very credible Hitchcock with the silhouette and voice of the character we know and love, and enough ambiguity to serve the purposes and ideas of the director. Imelda Staunton almost made me forget Helen Mirren with her rendition of Imelda Hitchcock. Last and best, Sienna Miller has all the beauty and inner strength that makes us believe that there was such a girl who stood up to the advances of the great Alfred Hitchcock.

 

One of the best series of the last few years comes from a rather unexpected place. I do not remember having seen a French series of such a quality and intensity. With ‘Lost’ and ‘Fringe’ now over, with ‘X-Files’ back away in the remote history, ‘Les Revenants’ is strange and beautiful, discomforting and mysterious, and leaves enough things unexplained for the viewers to enjoy and for the fans to wait for the next season.

 

source www.imdb.com/title/tt2521668/

source www.imdb.com/title/tt2521668/

 

The setting immediately reminds David Lynch’s ‘Twin Peaks’, the American series that dared in the 90s break many taboos of the commercial TV fiction. A French village located between mountain peals and near a picturesque lake and a dam in a remote location in the Alps is faces a phenomenon that is impossible to explain by human logic. Dead come back, some only a few years after their violent deaths, some other many decades later. They do not seem to remember too much of the time spent in-between and are eager to continue their lives from where they left. Are the living ones ready to receive them back? Can the joy of seeing again a child or a lover though to be gone forever overcome the fear of death and unexplained, and the changes in the very own lives of the living?

 

(video source Madman Films)

 

As in Lars von Trier’s The Kingdom there is an original sin, a terrible story back in history that may be at the root of all that takes place. Do not worry, however – not two much is being rationally explained, and the scene in the final of the season provides a great opening for what is to come. Hopefully the second season will avoid the temptation to go too deep into the zombies genre. Until then I definitely recommend this series for all the fans of fantastic, mystery, science-fiction or horror genres and their combinations. It’s well written, beautifully filmed, the actors are good and expressive building characters that will be hard to forget, and the music will haunt you well after you turned off the TV. Look for the first season if you did not see it yet, watch with me for the next one.

I do not have too much time for TV series, so I watch less than a handful of them each season. J.J.Abrams is one of the producers I follow and I try not to miss the series created by him. For most of the time I was captivated by Lost, and I was disappointed when Alcatraz was discontinued. Now another one comes to its end, and although Fringe was far from Abrams’ best, it had enough reasons for me to follow it weekly during all its five seasons.

 

source www.imdb.com/title/tt1119644/

source www.imdb.com/title/tt1119644/

 

 

I am wondering whether how J.J. Abrams conceives his series. Lost started like a fictional version of reality show Survivor, to slide soon into science-fiction and then expand into cosmological saga, and this is where it started to lose me. Did J.J. plan this from start? To some extent Fringe followed a similar path. It started as a science-fiction and strange events investigation series, it included even political and anti-corporate messages which got lost in time, and many compared it with X-Files. I personally would have considered this the supreme praise, as X-Files is my preferred TV series of all times. It certainly had its oddities, and its funny science, but this was to some point an element of charm. In the second and third season the science fiction threads became more complex, with the alternate worlds and the communication between them succeeding to keep my interest awake. The romantic thread started or was predictable from the beginning, and it only became more complex in time with the addition of the different instances of the characters in other universes. With time travel an ubiquitous technology the last two seasons projected us in the future, and the salvation of mankind became again the goal of the action. Here I got against lost. Beyond the lack of credibility of the story, the thought that characters I became familiar and resonate with have to save mankind makes me slightly uncomfortable.

 

(video source Jack Smith)

 

There are however many good reason I loved and watched this show for five years. First of all the retro atmosphere was fun and I could resonate with. Semi-crazy scientist Walter Bishop (John Noble) exits after almost two decades spent in a mental institution at the beginning of the series, and his retro leanings cover not only science, but also candies and ‘substances’, and the music and the feelings of my younger years. The relation between Walter and his son Peter (Joshua Jackson) is one of the most amazing relationships father-son that I have seen on screen or read in literature ever. The love story between Peter and Olivia (Anna Torv) builds slowly but convincingly, and makes us resonate with them. A few more characters around are well constructed, and even the ‘invaders’ have a dimension of their own (I cannot call it human, can I?). Overall the characters are much better than the stories which are pretty routine action, and the simplicity and straightness of the relations between them balances the pomposity and sometimes the over-morality of the action. It’s one of these shows where I would rather remember the small details than the big picture.

The best series of the season come from an unusual source – Swedish Television, but I should not be that surprised. Scandinavian and specifically Swedish thrillers and political drama series have enjoyed great success in bookshops, on the big screens and more recently on TV. It should have been only a matter of time until the science fiction genre was approached by the Scandinavian producers and directors, the difference is maybe only in the fact that no literary warning arrived sooner (as it was the case with the wave of Scandinavian thrillers), or at least I am not aware about any major writer or book in the genre. And yet Äkta människor (Real Humans) is a very well written, acted and directed series, that throws the viewers in an alternate but possible future of mankind and while telling a compelling story about robots asks questions about humanity, about our relations with the strangers and the different among us, about our values and our feelings.

 

source http://tallemaja.wordpress.com/2012/02/01/premiarer-pa-tv-i-var/

source http://tallemaja.wordpress.com/2012/02/01/premiarer-pa-tv-i-var/

 

The biggest writer of robots stories ever, Isaac Asimov introduced in a short story written in 1942 the three laws of robotics, and all his robot stories developed around the logic of these rules and the dangers of breaking them:

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

Asimov’s laws were written on the assumption that robots will always subordinate to the will of humans. They did not take into consideration that there may be a Law Zero, which conditions the actions of robots by the same entity that drives human actions – the thing we call soul or human conscience.  The close future created by Lars Lundstrom is supposed to follow the laws of Asimov, with humanoid robots very close to the shape of humans but still serving the humans in many different ways, from housekeeping and health care to being their sex toys. Then the anomaly happens and a piece of code (what else!) is written by a man who is so desperate not to let his son die that he creates a way to allow the merging of the best in Man and Machine, making the humans more robust and less prone to diseases, aging and physical decay, giving machines the capability to learn human feelings and pain. The human robots (or hubots – expect this new noun to enter quickly many languages) may know better what is good for individuals and for all mankind, the problem is that there is no way to do the good they are programmed for without infringing on Asimov’s laws. To do good they must survive, to survive they must protect their existence, to protect their existence they must sometimes disobey or even harm these humans who are on the side of evil.

 

(video source SVT)

 

The first season of Real Humans follows a handful of independent hubots in their fight for emancipation. They face a group of humans composed of a few more of less dysfunctional families, policemen and government agents with their  personal problems, and with their prejudices. The resulting conflict has elements of thriller, horror story, family and judicial dramas, romance and government conspiracies. The relations between men and hubots have multiple dimensions – love and fear, prejudice and ignorance about strangers, faith and sexuality, and none of these is being expedited, and very little is stereotyped in this complex and smartly written story. The characters are each of them distinct and well constructed, the viewers come soon to know, understand, sympathize or fear them. The end of the first season leaves enough paths open and enough characters alive (or not recycled)  for us to look in expectation for the coming seasons, and with some apprehension to the remakes that cannot be also to late to come. One thing I am sure – although his laws are challenged or even reversed in the story that these series are based, Isaac Asimov would have loved it!

 

 

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