Mind Hunter

I finished this disturbing series on Netflix recently, and for anyone interested in crime or serial killers, this is a must-watch.

What stuck with me most, though was how they so expertly build up the uneasy anxiety when in the room with these killers. Even though (or perhaps, because) the interviewees speak and act for the most part like normal human beings, there is a tensity, and sense of needing to get the hell out of there is so strong in each of the interviews, that I found myself leaning forward in my seat and clenching my hands. The effect is memorable and unsettling.

I don’t know if it was a movie magic effect, or just my own perceptions, or something somehow conjured by the actor–but Edmund Kemper’s eyes are so dead and empty. And when that emptiness is juxtaposed with the jovial and friendly way that he speaks about murder and rape… the result is sickeningly effective.

The final scene of the final episode really magnifies what I’m talking about…

A great show, recommended!

Star Trek: Discovery, episode 3

In what feels like the first episode of the series, we begin to follow Michael on her journey after having her rank stripped and being sent to prison.

At least Saru is back!

Good stuff: We are on a science ship, doing research. Not a war ship, not in battle. The characters are mostly scientists, interested in knowledge.

Bad stuff: We’re still in a giant war. The research is for the purpose of war. War war war war. War.

Silly stuff: The fungus spores turn out to not be a biological weapon but some how are used for instantaneous travel? What? At least try to have it make a bit of sense… this is Doctor Who levels of hand-waving going on here.

Creepy stuff: Those twisted bodies… wow, very creepy effect, though no real explanation as to how that creature did that to them. This episode could have been part of a horror movie almost. Very dark.

I like that they are on a science ship doing research. I like that the characters aren’t soldiers and will presumably not be seeking out battle (except maybe Michael). But the Discovery is painted as a dark, sinister kind of ship with a captain that is willing to do anything to achieve his goal, and sort of has the vibe of ‘technology bad!’ that is so damn prevalent these days.

Over-all, better than the first two episodes, and there seems to be potential. I’ll keep watching, but am not holding out too much hope.

 

Star Trek: Discovery, episode 2

There were definite moments during this one, where I felt emotional, and excited, and interested. But in the end I was left heaving a big sigh.

This is star TREK, people! Not star WAR.

I am so sick of war. I’m bored and tired and tired and bored. Everything is about war and destruction and weapons and saving the world. I feel a bit misled by the title of “Discovery.”

Yes this is a pilot pair of episodes, where they have to do some crazy action to get people paying attention, but the preview of the rest of the season seemed like… more war. The Klingons are killing thousands! It’s all Michael’s fault! I just want to see intersting, thoughtful aliens and cultures and have interesting philosophies and moral questions. Star Trek was the ONE sci fi show that wasn’t about war and killing and battle. Well, so much for that.

On the plus side, if it didn’t have the label of ‘Star Trek’ tricking me into expecting something thoughtful and intriguing, it would have been a well above average couple episodes. It looked great, the acting was good, the characters fairly memorable, and it actually managed to make me feel something for a ship exploding–which I never do. I’m not sure if it was the characters expressions, the music, or what, but I felt a bit sick and sad when the Europa blew up. Major points there.

Except.

I AM TIRED OF SEEING SPACE SHIPS EXPLODE.

I want to see cool nebuli and weird aliens. I want to be asked questions that challenge my view of life and the universe. I want to be presented with situations that make me look at my morals and ask myself why I believe what I do. PLEASE can we have a science fiction show again that is not about war and fighting! PLEASE!

I’m sure the answer is no, though. So I’ll take what I can get.

At the end of these two episodes I feel like I haven’t even started the show yet. The one character is going to a new ship, so all the characters we met wont even be on the show, I guess?? I suppose we’ll see her redeem herself, learn to control her anger and think before she acts and eventually become captain of her own ship.

I just hope this all happens with a backdrop other than WAR

 

 

 

Annihilation movie

Have you seen this trailer?

I’m excited mostly by the ‘writer and director of Ex Machina‘ which is one of the few good sci fi movies to come out in years. The concept and ambiance of this novel (Annihilation (The Southern Reach Trilogy)) was very creepy, weird, and interesting, and if they can translate it into film it will be awesome!

It’s a big if, though. The trailer always looks awesome, but movies are experts at being piles of crap that look nice.

Every once in a while there is a gem though, like Ex Machina, or Arrival. I have some hopes that this could be one of those!

And if it is… maybe we’ll get two more with Authority (The Southern Reach Trilogy) and Acceptance (The Southern Reach Trilogy)!

Enduring stories

I just got some tickets to see The Princess Bride in my local theater for its 30th anniversary, and it has me wondering, what makes some stories stick around and stay loved over the years, and others fade away to nothing? It’s definitely not the ‘graphics’ or ‘effects’… yet this is what hollywood spends 90% of their money on.

Think back on the movies you watch over and over. Are any of them watched for the really cool explosion or fight scene, or awesome looking aliens or cityscapes? No… they’re watched because you love the characters, or the story is enthralling, or they are funny or scary or heartwarming.

I just read that more ‘Avatar’ movies are coming, at the expense of near 1 billion dollars. I’m sure they will be pretty, with all that money spent on computers… but will it have memorable characters or story? Does anyone remember any of the characters from the first Avatar? I vaguely remember an asshole general, just because I remember being irritated at how obviously I was being manipulated to dislike him. I remember the blue people… but not really anything about their personalities. I never watched it a second time.

The Princess Bride, on the other hand, I can tell you every character’s personality, their goals and desires, and a memorable line from them. I’ve seen it at least a dozen times, probably more.  This is more than nostalgia. This is spending time and effort on having memorable, likable characters with full arcs and motivations and integration into the story, instead of spending all your time and money on making things look cool.

The problem is, looking cool is what makes money. People are attracted to shiny, neat looking things. The 90 second trailer showing explosions and fights and crazy looking things is what draws people into the theater, so that’s what the Hollywood machine produces. It doesn’t matter if you forget it immediately after, or even if you hate it halfway through. You went into the theater, they got their money, and now they can start making another one.

It’s not all bad though. Even if we don’t have good movies anymore, at least we have good TV. TV shows have to be good, because if someone gives up after the first episode, the show is going to fail. So they are forced to make it engaging and addictive, instead of just cool looking enough to get you to start watching.

I only wish some shows were shown on the big screen every week!

Manipulators

I’ve begun reading The Talented Mr. Ripley and am finding the character, Tom, very interesting in a ‘look at that crime scene’ kind of way. I only vaguely remember the movie, but so far the story of the novel is about a small time con artist, and very charming man Tom Ripley being sent to Europe by the father of a friend of his, in order to convince that friend to come home to America and be with his ill mother. Tom, who barely remembers this friend, is able to somehow steer the conversation in such a way that his expenses and ticket are paid for by the father.

So far, Tom has been working his way into the friend, Dicky’s, life, and watching him do it is very entertaining. Something about manipulative people is interesting to me, maybe because it’s a skill I don’t perceive myself as having, or being able to use with a clear conscience. Tom, however, is not a cold, calculating manipulator, but an emotional, spontaneous one that sometimes doesn’t even seem to realize what he’s doing.

I vaguely remember from the movie where the story ends up (I think) but am excited to find out how it gets there.

Fargo season 3

I finished this on my long plane rides too and from Singapore these past weeks, and enjoyed it quite a lot. I could not get into season 2, and gave up about halfway through and had no plans to watch this season until a co worker highly recommended it. I’m glad I gave it a chance!

The season is about the rivalry between two brothers, but also about predatory corporations, and about truth, and reality, and about how perception can be reality. It’s also about random life screwing you over, which seems to be a theme in Fargo.

The ending left me a bit disappointed, not because it was ambiguous, but because of what it said about a certain character.

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Nikki Swango, who until the very end seemed to be the hero of the show, in her last act, murders an innocent person. This seems a downer note to end on, and put a kind of black mark on her character. True, she was never an up and up citizen, but she seemed to have a good heart, good intentions. This final act also kills her, so maybe that is some kind of symbolism or something, but I didn’t like the way it left me feeling.

</spoilers>

Overall a very good season, well written, and very artistic at times. Highly recommended!