Thursday, January 05, 2012

The secret circle - episode one to nine

#1: We’re introduced to the characters, and to magick, perhaps a little too fast.

Dawn and Charles have drastic plans, so drastic that they murder Cassie’s mother to get her to move to town. What these plans are remains a mystery.

Cassie is a take charge girl, changing tires on her car and stuff, but she is lonely, a breed apart long before she comes to town.

#2: The binding of the circle. Again I feel they are rushing things, that they miss much in the terms of interesting development by not postponing the binding a few episodes.

I love that they don’t really like each other, but still go through with it. There is clearly a sense of at least awkward destiny around the fire.

Dawn is shown to be both caring and ruthless. She prevents her daughter from becoming a murderer, but kills her father in law, the daughter’s grandfather without a second thought.

#3: Zachary was evidently wrong. It wouldn’t be sufficient just to kill one of them. As long as there is another family member of the same generation to take the dead one’s place, the circle will prevail.

And was Zachary scared to death, enough to stay away? It seems that way.

Nice to see how the possible new love interest for Cassie was introduced this episode, knowing that she will kill him, burn him to a crisp.

The writers seem to reinvent the show every second episode or so, but there is a plan behind it, it seems.

#4: Heather Barnes, the girl possessed by a demon. Cassie (and Faye), through their rash act doomed not only Heather, but Nick as well.

Faye (to Cassie): «I’ve never understood why we’re not better friends».

«Do you have a broom»? Adam

«Sure, I’m a witch». Cassie

#5: The demon’s overtaking Melissa was well done, but Nick possession wasn’t. it was too quick.

I don’t care much of the existence and nature of the crystals. I prefer the power to be from within, not something to be removed or taken away or bound.

The dynamics between Dawn and Charles remain unclear.

The death was useful, even though forced, spurring the story forward.

#6: Introduction of Jake was fairly well done. I am also struck by a notion probably true that the story won’t be predictable, which is great, of course.

#7: The Halloween party was great, a grand visual of a culture. It should have been even greater, though, more thorough. Luke, Cassie’s prospective boyfriend revealed himself as the asshole he was. He got what he deserved.

«Dark magic» is mentioned for the first time and it is revealed that Cassie is the daughter of John Blackwell, a dark mage and that she indeed is even more powerful because of it. I don’t enjoy stories making magic about dark and light, but perhaps the show’s creators will make a better job of it than anybody before them have.

#8: They are Travelers these boys and girls, travelers of the mind, on a journey of discovery, indeed witches true. But they are also teenagers, jealous and vindictive. An explosive mix to be sure.

I’ve decided I like the fairly fast development.

After this it is hard to think of anybody else but Faye being Cassie’s sibling. Of course, as I’ve stated before it could be more than one or all of them, but only Jake has done magic on his own after the binding.

#9: If Faye should ever find out that her father isn’t her father (and she will), she will be enraged. The question is what she is capable off in dealing with that rage.

Cassie let herself be overpowered easily again. This one and the last time could be said to be due to her inexperience, the next will be ridiculous.

The six is in the same room. They don’t need to look at each other, but they still know where the others are, with a glance or not, feeling each other’s energy from far away.

And now Cassie knows who and what she is, both a Balcoin and a Blake, clearly the most powerful witch there is.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

One film

I paid for seeing one film in 2008, the new version of The Day the Earth Stood Still, and it was well worth it. that single movie was the only truly great movie last year. It reached and even exheeded my expectations.

We don't own the Earth. It belongs to itself, to nature, to the Universe. We have hurt it, hurt ourselves and we're not its caretakers, but its enemy. That's what we've become. We're about to ruin The Earth, our home, and we have to stop.

In the film there are beings powerful enough to stop us. We throw everything at them, and they just shrug and move on with their task, and they're the heroes and it's good, and when they're done The Earth belongs to humanity no longer.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Not for people with a short attention span

Heroes is back on nbc after the holiday break.

There have been twelve episodes so far, and it's still not showing any signs of slowing down.

And they take their time developing the story, and the story takes unexpected turns, and these facts are yet more great, great facets of it all.

As others have pointed out: everything isn't necessarily explained the first five minutes. This series is made for those with a longer attention span. The first in a very long time.

Hopefully the first of many.

Some people claim it's just a matter of having patience, but I don't think so.

Niki is still crazy (crazier than ever), and thus a very valuable character.

Peter is still the troubled "hero". He seeks to end his power, but will only serve to enhance it.

Nathan is a strange contradiction. He uses his power, but still won't acknowledge it.

Hiro is about to find his sword, his destiny.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Children of Men

This is yet another film that everybody should be forced to watch at gunpoint.

There is despair here, desperation, from the very beginning. We are presented for the stark reality of a humanity unable to reproduce. When the film begins there haven’t been any newborns in twenty years. This is a very realistic scenario for anyone that has researched the matter, and everyone should.

Hope and a minimum of decency have long since fled these streets and very few are still looking for it.

There is hope, sparely used throughout the film, but it is never ascending, never taking the center stage we see in the usual run-of-the-mill «upbeat» film. The ending is left open to interpretation. There is no emotional payback at the end. The horror of a world without children remains at the front of our mind. The solution, if it exists anywhere, isn’t found in the course of the story. No matter where Theo (Clive Owen) and Kee (Claire-Hope Ashley) turn they are betrayed and hope is, if not dead, very ill, very much dying.

It’s England twenty years from now. The rest of the world is practically in ruins, and England isn’t far behind.

Michael Caine is in this film. He’s one of those actors that can dominate a film even in a smaller role. The casting of the others is also great. There are no models here, no prettier than life characters. They are people, struggling to survive in an insane world. It’s not a pretty picture.

Director Alfonso CuarĂ³n has made a very violent film, and it hits us like a sledgehammer. As stated, this isn’t a film hiding reality from us, but one revealing it, exposing the world as it is to us, and we can’t look away.

Very good.

There is no sense of relief when we leave the theater. Even though we have been entertained by a great story, it sticks in our minds and hearts… like a vice.

Very good!

Friday, January 05, 2007

Bold television

It sounds like a contradiction in terms, doesn’t it? Fortunately there are exceptions to the great rule of mediocre television.

I’ve watched two great «science fiction/fantasy» TV-series lately: 4400 and Heroes.

4400 has so far run three seasons, and thirty episodes. Heroes is new last fall, and NBC has so far aired eleven episodes.

They are fairly similar thematically. It’s about the Mutant, the X-Factor, the X-Man, the man apart, a part of storytelling stretching back thousands of years. But while 4400, though a good, solid story is quite traditional in execution, Heroes is clearly making new ground both visually and in the Storyteller tradition. Each frame in Heroes is like poetry, like music visualized. And it’s rough, brutal in a way hardly before shown on television. This is not your parents’ fairy tale television, but very real and down-to-Earth.

Re-watching the first eleven episodes and rediscovering the series is a great experience, in some ways even greater than watching it the first time, since we can enjoy it more. Once again we know nothing of what is coming (even if we do). We witness Peter’s insecurities. We don’t know what the deal is with Niki, or Isaac or Peter… or Sylar. Is Isaac nothing more than a drug addict or is he able to paint the future? Is Peter nuts, or can he truly fly? What does it take for a person to throw herself or himself off a tall building the way he did? We didn’t really know if he would fly or leave a splash on the pavement, and it is great. Sylar is just a name at first, at homicide sights and written in blood on walls. We know nothing, and we speculate and find out as we go along.

So, we are introduced to the characters, and to the story, and we grow to like them, like it. And it keeps building, keeps developing, while staying grounded in its foundation.


Tim Kring, the executive producer and driving creative force behind the series has evidently planned ahead. He writes crucial episodes, and make sure it’s seamless from his vision when he leaves the writing to others. He’s doing or planning to do a Babylon 5, a five-year arc. Hopefully, he will succeed and even exceed that series. Fortunately Heroes lacks the boisterous innocence of Babylon 5 and will surpass it in every way.

We watch Peter fly (sort of), and discovering his true Power. We live with Isaac as he learns to handle his talent. And we experience the emotional rollercoaster, the ups and downs of Hiro’s journey. We are with Niki as she realizes to her horror what she is. We witness the long awaited confrontation between Peter and Sylar, and we wonder what the significance of it is.

It isn’t really about heroes. It is about people, real and believable. Heroes might be described as a comic book for adults. Fortunately it has already transcended that limited label, like it has so many things.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth - a passionate review

«You look at that river, gently flowing by, you notice the leaves, rustling with the wind, you hear the birds, you hear the tree-frogs, in the distance you hear a cow, you feel the grass, the mud gives a little bit on the river bank, its quiet, its peaceful, and all of a sudden, its a gear-shift inside you, and its like taking a deep breath and going... oh yeah - I forgot about this.»

From the very first view of the river and Al Gore’s voice the clarity and passion rise in us, and don’t let go.

An Inconvenient Truth is on the surface about Global Warming, but to me it’s just as much about waking up, and stay awake, taking a good, hard look around you, and smell the stinking coffee.

We experience one man’s passion juxtaposed with the no longer so cold chill from the Artic and Antarctica. This is the man once described as «wooden». But the change is more than skin deep. It is as if he has found his true calling, somewhat free from Washington DC’s dank corridors.

This is a systematic, thorough investigation of Global Warming, leaving far fewer unturned stones than any other before it. This is a great movie. The important theme makes that fact no less, no more true. The man is cautious, in a way, speaking in a somewhat low voice. In a way his voice is low-keyed, and so is the film, and its truth is still shouted like thunder across the world, across every corner of current human society.

We see India, the San Francisco Bay, Ground Zero, the Netherlands and several other coastal areas drown in the rising sea. Al Gore, the great man is making his case, An Inconvenient Truth, the great film is making its case. I knew most of the facts before I watched the film, but it still moved me. Like a soft glove in the face, like a hammer to the head, making my heart beat faster, making my breath quicken. I felt the Quickening, the fire of the human soul ignited.

We experience how Al’s basically optimistic view of the world is challenged, by indifferent politicians, by an unmoved and shrugging world. How baffled and downright stunned he is by this, and other insane workings of current human society. Al is still a believer in current mankind, how common sense will prevail against horrible odds. And we believe that, too, at least while watching the movie.

This is by far the best documentary that is ever made. It’s not instantly apparent why this is so, but it grabs hold of us from the very first moment and never let go. One hundred minutes vanished like the snapping of fingers, and we wanted more.

Every man, woman and child on this Earth should be forced to watch this movie repeatedly for at least twenty-four hours uninterrupted, and they shouldn’t be allowed sustenance while doing so. Fasting is good for the soul, they say.

After that they should be forced at gunpoint back into the theater…

I can’t praise it enough, really. It begins slowly, and builds from there, into a crescendo of mind and thought and soul. As stated, I don’t agree with everything Al says. I agree with his facts, his observations, but not with his philosophy or conclusions, not even with his basic, fundamental principle that civilization should be saved. In other words: I don’t think he goes far enough. But I still admire and respect him. In the most cynical parts of our hearts, he continues to speak to the hope in us all. I’m not certain that is a good thing, at least not completely. But I listen to his passion, and his fire, and that is Human, that is Life.

And fire and shadow both are yet again rekindled in my gut.

10 of 10

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

What's wrong with Smallville - Late September '06 edition:

The whole «feel» of the series is wrong.

There should have been no violations of the mythos.

That means no lex, no lois, no chloe in smallville.

Practically everybody in smallville will recognize Superman.

Clark should have been made long ago. People in smallville are very, very stupid.

In my eyes the very foundation for the story is wrong.

The story should be story driven, not event driven.

They've jacked up the drama for every end of season, and we thought they would finally arrive at something, and everything just fizzed time and time again.

I would have simplified it from the start. Made it story driven. Made Clark less normal. «Normality is overestimated». Story arcs turning into one single story arc.

No meteor shower. He should have arrived in the space ship, totally silent and unnoticed.

Lana should have been done totally different.

A lot less emphasize on relationship and more on the story.

In other words: no soap opera and more story.

Worked out much better dialogue. Worked more with the actors.

Told them this is real. This is really happening.

I would have strived for realism. Instead of hundreds of weird incidents, I would have settled for a few, and worked more with them, to make them work.

«Less is more».

He should have flown fairly early, during the second season or so.

There should have been no Jor El, except as a voice, a recording, played once.

Most of the extensions should have been dropped. Too much is happening, too many distractions from the actual story.

«Less is more».

It's all too neat. Lex Luthor is wrong. Everyone is off from what they should be.

The only one that isn't, is Lois, really.

Instead of writing one and one episode separately, they should have written the entire story before even starting the series, the story and the various arcs within the story.

It seems to be like they're sitting in a chair throwing the dice often, way too often.

One writer or at least a group of writers should do everything in advance, making it into one, cohesive story. Of hundred episodes perhaps about ten should have been «breathers». No more.

And they, too should have moved the story forward one way or another. As it stands now, it's the other way around. Most of the episodes are totally unnecessary. If I had a time machine and went back in time for the sole purpose of remaking smallville (stupid, I know, I would have done something far more important), I would have kept only ten episodes and discarded the rest.

So, about ten percent is good, as I see it. The rest is totally forgettable.

The sixth season began as all seasons before it: with the resolution of an impossible situation (a cliffhanger) set up at the end of the previous season that should have taken countless episodes to resolve or remained a somewhat permanently new status quo. Yet another nail in the coffin. These people don't even have basic storytelling right. Incredible.