Skip to content

Category: Series

Life’s Too Short: Van Helsing (2016 -)

OMG, They Suck!

There is a learning curve to everything, and apparently Hollywood writers need a bit more time to be able to differentiate vampires and zombis. So after The Strain, please meet Van Helsing, a series one guesses no one bas been waiting for that much, considering its horrendous 2004 predecessor. You know the drill:

– “36 hours earlier” time card, check.
– Confinment of a ragtap posse of misfits in a allegedly inexpugnable place, check.
– Baseball bats and shotguns, check.
– Ethnically diverse casting, if you’re kind enough to gloss over the fact that the black lady is undead and the Asian one survives for five minutes, check.
– Dialogue by numbers (“Open the door!”, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” and “End of discussion!” not once but twice), check.

Add to that the heroin has both amnesia and a little girl, but not only that, she well might be the Chosen One, the Special, the Only, the Cure, and you watch her waking up for a 3 year coma to instantly kick ass with a sleepy yawn. Van Helsing has ugly production values, ugly violence and an ugly way to repeat mistakes that have been already done to exhaustion. And it has been written by Neil La Bute. Oh, rutabaga.

Leave a Comment

The Young Pope #3

The Holy Dictator

Childhood is at the core of this episode, childhood and family, or the absence thereof. “Orphans”, says the Pope, “are never young”, alluding to his growing up in an orphanage, under Sister Mary’s tutelage, after his parents abandoned him. This Pope is alone and the only conversation he deems worthy of him is with God; this conversation is more argumentative than beatific though, so unsure is Pius XIII of genuinely believing in the One he’s being an earthly deputy of. He is the only master after God, his papacy making him the absolute spiritual sovereign of a billion Catholics, and there is a growing suspicion, especially among the always well-intentioned media community, that he aspires to divinity himself.

Cardinal Spencer, his mentor, calls him “a vindictive little boy”. “You will be the worst Pope of modern history”, he chastises, before going to Canossa and kneeling down to accepté the job he has been offered, only to meet a stern rebutal. This Pope has his own agenda and he doesn’t take contradiction kindly: his two trademark answers are “Later” or “Too late”. He is a fantastic character, inspiring human sympathy as much as holy terror. He can be a kind man when confering with his confessor or what seems to be the closest he has to a friend, saintly but flawed Monsignore Guttierez (Javier Cámara, excellent), or a block of ice when he uses the blunt force of his papacy to destroy the obstacles to what he calls “his plan”. Is he one or the other, or neither or both? “Absense”, he says, “is presence, the essence of mystery”.

It is fascinating to watch the plot unfold, and one delights at the way Sorrentino adds, with the gentlest of touch, layers of theology to the most eroded of concepts in movie history, family. Becoming Pope, the orphan son has become the father and he longs for another visit of the Holy Spirit. And of course, no Holy Family would be complete without a virgin mother, so there’s Sister Mary, trying to quieten the media uproar during a press conference which is more martyrdom than marketing. “Who are you?” asks an unfuriated journalist. “I am Sister Mary”, she answers, looking like a rabbit in a car headlights. Brilliant.

Sorrentino also hints at the father of all mad dictators caught on film, Chaplin’s, with the help of the giant crystal globe in the Pope’s chamber, playing a prominent role in two key scenes, one about power and one about weakness. A new character is introduced, Esther, played by Ludivine Sagnier (always welcome). It would be very surprising that the character’s name was chosen randomly: the Book of Esther is the only one in the Jewish Bible in which God’s name is not pronounced, she’s an orphan (understand: nothing) and a Jew, who avoids the massacre of her people by seducing King Xerxès. She seems to be the only one to have liked the Pope’s address but, he says, circling around her like a shark, “liking is not enough”. The scene ends up in a completely unexpected way, with one of these jarring contrasts Sorrentino masters so deftly.

As always, hilarious details sugar the bitter political/religious pill. Cécile de France is the only character to giggle at the Pope’s crual jokes; one priest is a philanderer and another an alcoholic; the Holy Father still really wants to get his tiara back from Washington and he tells his confessor, in the opening scene, that during the conclave “I prayed so hard that I nearly sh*t my pants”. What remains as a common denominator between the lighter scenes and the dark ones is the absolute violence of language, of words, from politics to blasphemy. Amen to that.

Leave a Comment

The Crown #4: Act Of God

screenshot_20161218-165256

Monarchy For Dummies

The life of a Queen is all but interesting in the second half of the 20th century and, one guesses, even less so in the first part of the 21st. But let’s not anticipate: it is December 1953 and a bad case of smog alerts first the National Meteorogical Institute, then the Labour Party, then the public opinion, then the Royal House, then finally the government, Sir Winston definitely not being the mood of adding the weather to the two subjects on top of his agenda: the Egyptian unrest and the fact that His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh takes flying lessons with Princess Margaret’s lover, Pete Townsend. The fact that we all forgot about the 53 fog and remember, however vaguely, Princess Margaret’s affair makes Churchill quite the visionary, but during this episode he’s seen as a leader losing his grip until he turns the table in a twist of fate, namely having the sun rising at a dramatic moment. Just so you know, this episode is bold about buttering heavy symbolism on black bread.

Paradoxically, the fog lifts the veil on a London hardly out of the Dickensian era, all derelict tenement houses and coin-metered heating, Churchill having ordered the factories at fault to burn excess coal to simulate a prosperity that hardly extends its reach beyond Belgravia, Kensington and, one guesses, the City. The Queen, filtered one inch to vanishing by the CGI fog permeating the Buckingham bubble, doesn’t have much to do but weathering (natch) Prince Phillip’s foul mood. To give once more credit to Churchill, His Royal Highness believes he can fly, but his heavenly endeavour is hampered by meteorology, so he frowns and bickers as if it was a State affair, which it could be, not counting fate in.

This episode is so far the most heavily dramatised of the series, hinging like it is on the fate of Churchill’s prefered ornament, his private secretary Viola, acting as a surrogate of common people paying the price of the absurd selfishness and disconnection of the English ruling class. Add to this a dark/light epiphany in a vestibule and you’ve got the essence of what this series pretends to: royalty for dummies. Peter Morgan, the writer of that thing, certainly doesn’t care about the common people, they’re just props in his Windsor puppet theater; the problem is, by extension, the Windsor, absorbed as they seem in lineage and protocol, appear like monsters by consequence. Not to say they’re not, but it’s interesting that such a lavish hagiography takes so little time in generating monsters.

Apart from poor Viola’s pivotal point, not much happens this time around apart one more excerpt from the Churchill’s compendium of bons mots, him calling the Labour leader “a sheep in sheep’s clothing”, and fortunately for the viewer, Queen Mary. One doesn’t know why while US series are so often unable to write interesting roles for ladies of a certain age, British series so heavily rely on them for both comic relief and sagacity, but here we are again after the Downton Abbey‘s Dowager Countess, watching in mirth an elderly British actress stealing the show in every scene she’s in and then some.

From her grammar lesson to an uncautious nurse (the “The Queen is here to see you, your majesty.” answered by a curt “Which one?” being the best dialogue so far, so faithful it is to the absurdity of the European Gotha) to her concluding “Chin up!” lesson to Elisabeth Regina, Queen Mary is the star of the show. “To do nothing is the toughest job of all”, she says, “it will require every ounce of energy you have.” Attempting to the same lofty goal, the series can only pretend to stately boredom and certainly not to sovereign aloofness.

Leave a Comment

The Young Pope S1E2

screenshot_20161130-144611

The Invisible Pope

This Pope, this Pope is a strange Pope. What was hinted at, yet obfuscated in the first episode is here revealed in all its glory: he’s determined to shake up the Holy See, not to say he wants to shake it down. Cécile de France, aging gracefully, is introduced as the Head of Papal Marketing. She meets the Pope in order to discuss limited edition plates bearing his effigy, since he’s so young and photogenic, that and of course key rings, iPhone covers, snowing balls and the lot. He will have none of this Temple merchants nonsense: “I don’t have an image because I am no one, I am worth nothing.” he retorts. Secretary of State Voiello scoffs: he knows better than anyone what a source of revenue the papal knick-knack is to the Vatican. The Head of Marketing is quicker than the cardinal to see the Pope’s point, in one of Sorrentino’s delightful display of irony.

The man is impressive at handling contradiction, showing contradictory versions of two key scenes, the child arriving at the orphanage and the Papal address on St Peter Square. The matter of this first homely looms over all conversations. Drafts are presented, only to be discarded. The Pope, of whom no picture has ever been taken, is left a blank for the Catholics, the white silhouette he appears as on the series poster. He’s Holy Ghost and white smoke; he’s hyperbole in reverse. He refuses to be lit for the address; “Reveal his eyes right now would be too much for the world”, says Diane Keaton with the utmost seriousness, which elicits the kind of giggle one has when tasting one’s favourite treat.

Another example of contradiction is the Pope’s visit to Cardinal Spencer, the mentor whom should have been elected to papacy should have Voiello not use his nefarious influence. “You are the Pope and you are all alone. You’re nothing.” says Spencer with bitterness and spitefulness, but the formula expresses something altogether different than the first time. Pius XIII is hurt. He’s still human, somewhere inside, as demonstrated by his compassion for the kangaroo offered to him by the Australian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He’s just full of this quiet, cold rage that no one around him has yet measured.

The Pope has a “brother” as well as a “mother”, another cardinal of the missionary type, who states that the Vatican smells like incense and death, when the outside world smeels like s**t and life. Meeting the Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, a powerful man he has chosen as his first official meeting, the Pope tersely asks him “Are you a homosexual, Your Eminence?”. He has a swift cleaning of the stables in mind, which upsets not only Voiello, but even Sister Mary, although she’s glimpsed wearing a t-shirt with the phrase “I’m a virgin but that’s an old t-shirt”.

Then comes the address itself, and it’s hardcore. Hardly silhouetted against an overcast sky, the Pope directly adresses the crowd asking to see him. “I will never be close to you.” he says, his cold rage turning into fury. Then he storms back inside, the clouds breaking over St Peter Square, making him more the incarnation of God’s wrath than a Holy Father, in frontal opposition with his beatific first appearance at the balcony in the previous episode. What if the man elected to St Peter’s throne was a maniac, resolved to serve only God, whatever happens to His followers, annihilating himself in the process? That this series asks this kind of question while remaining that funny is the measure of Sorrentino’s talent, as a writer and a director.

Leave a Comment

The Crown #3: Windsor

screenshot_20161127-165153

Much Ado About Nothing

Titled after the Duke of the same name, travelling back from his American exile to attend his late brother the King’s funeral, episode 3 is all about palace intrigues and pet peeves. His Royal Highness is hated by his mother, his sister-in-law and part of the people alike since he abdicated to live in the New World with an American triple divorcee, she-the-name-of-which-can-not-be-told. The arrival of Windsor in London (including The best image of the series so far at the Southampton deck) further complicates the Buckingham Palace situation, as we now have three queens and two kings to deal with: it’s not a monarchy anymore, it’s a poker game.

Quite legitimately, the Prince Consort feels a bit out of his depth in this regal tournament. Following his scheming uncle’s advice, he pressures his wife to have the name Mountbatten officially attached to the Crown of England. This subplot allows an unvolontarily hilarious scene: after Lord Mountbatten, depicted as a old fart delirious with power, toasts a bit prematurely his success after one more hunting scene, the Prince Of Hannover rushes to his grant-aunt (or something), Queen Mary and spill the beans. Clutching her 45 rings of pearls, the Queen Mother asks, in shock “You were drinking champagne the day after my son’s funeral?”. Priceless.

Queen Elizabeth has grown far from the tomboy she appears to have been in a golden hued, corgi-ed flashback, climbing trees with Princess Margaret. She’s very much in love with her dashing husband and ready to fulfill his every wish, from the Mountbatten name to keeping residence in Clarence House instead of gloomy, chilly Buckingham Palace. She indeed, pardon my French, appears quite a scatterbrain in this episode, finally accepting, over luncheon, advice from the man she professed to despise thirty minutes earlier. The Queen, however, is not fooled by Churchill’s reluctance to accelerate her coronation: as long as she’s not officially on the throne, he remains in power.

Considering it takes half an hour to Sir Winston to extract himself from his Rolls-Royce, climb a staircase clutching his cane as if it were his last straw, then scoffs when the Sovereign invites the Prime Minister to have a seat, in ignorance of the customs set by her great-great-grandmother, do not expect bullet time action. The characters of the piece still exchange languishing conversations about the way certain breeds of dogs yap more they bark or find time, in times of national crisis, to fondly remember the duck à l’orange served in a particular castle. The Windsor more and more resemble the Adams family, all clad in mourning and in complete disconnection from reality.

The writers, if they have reasonable command of the English particular brand of venomous witticism, still rely heavily on their long, meaningful look trick. This time, when six year old Elizabeth listens to Windsor’s allocution on the radio (the ex-King’s speech, if you will), seems to be preternaturally able to see what the future has in store for her. She wanted to live a simple life, see, or so she confesses to Churchill, with all the “Yes I am a Queen, but I’m also a woman” proper trimmings. Yes Elizabeth, the Queen is a woman, but that woman is the Queen. How royally f***ed your life is.

Leave a Comment

The Young Pope (2016)

screenshot_20161112-224037

Habemus Papam

A “written & directed by Paolo Sorrentino” title card holds magical properties for yours truly. The man has “the divine disposition to play” he wrote into his fictional Pope’s fictional address. This disposition leads him to be extremely funny when he’s serious and extremely serious when he’s funny: you’re never quite sure what to think about a scene when it starts, which is good. What is an absolute delight is that most probably, it will end in a mind-boggling, if understated way. The man is a great film maker and he’s in complete control of his material. In this series, his material is the Vatican, placed in the clutch of newly elected Pope Pius XIII, of whom no one knows much about after a discreet career under the aegis of formidable cardinal Spencer, his mentor (James Cromwell, always a good sign).

To say that The Young Pope is extraordinarily clever would qualify both the series and its hero. Had Jude Law ever been that good since Gattaca? He wears the white cassock like a natural and seems to enjoy himself thoroughly, pacing the huge halls of his Cinecitta Vatican or insisting on starting is papacy with a Cherry Coke Zero. This Pope is a living enigma even for the one who manipulated the Curia to have him elected, puppet master cardinal Voiello (Silvio Orlando, as mellifluous as venomous). There is no mistake to be made though: under his photogenic appearance, the young Pope is resolved to shake thinks up in the Catholic church, and the malevolent glee he displays at not following any of the advice he receives is infectious, but highly disquieting.

The Pope has a mother, a nun. Rest your beating hearts, he was an orphan placed in a home managed by her. “Never call me Mom, call me Sister Mary”, she says in a flashback. His first significant act as Pope is to heliport Sister Mary to the Vatican, his second is to made her his sole trusted assistant. So, regally arrives Diane Keaton, doing the responsability prep talk and locking horns with the puppet master as soon as they are in front of each other. One never had sympathy for the actress, but her aged, toothy face is perfect for the part.

Opening like any other series would do with the Pope’s first homely on St Peter’s square in front of thousands of faithful and beyond them the world, which goes from grandiose to off kilter to downright embarassing and is revealed as an extended dream sequence, The Young Pope is enthralling from its first frame. You can almost hear the great craftsman laughing aloud as he places his crimson pawns in a way Fellini would have approved. This Pope, see, is done with God. Does he even believe in Him? Or is it, on the contrary, God’s wrath incarnate? That might sounds like heady stuff. But if Sorrentino knows something from Il Divo, it’s that with great power come great opportunities for comedy.

From cardinals texting during confession to the Pope’s aversion to tourists “just passing through”, not forgetting impure thoughts in front of a Neolithic statue, this first episode is replete with giggles. Dialogues are first rate: “Are you sleeping, Holy Father?”, a question answered by an arch “No, I’m praying. For you.” being a mere example. The Pope doesn’t appreciate friendly relationships and is determined to remain in the practicality of formal ones. Our Holy Father is a monster, God bless him! Viewing essential.

Leave a Comment

American Horror Story S6E10

screenshot_20161119-081131

Priscilla, Queen Of The Blood Moon

After an unsavoury episode 9, the finale comes as a relief: yes, they made it, bringing a satisfying conclusion to a remarkable season, which will remain as the bleakest, cruellest and most pessimistic of the six; often also the wittiest and sharpest one. It is rather impressive that the writers, taping into that stale pool of found footage and reality TV, have concocted such a riveting tale of foolishness, retribution and sacrifice, brilliantly interpreted by such an uniformly good ensemble cast. The acerbic social commentary, running as a strong undercurrent along the season, brings to focus a new dimension of AHS, confirming the series as one of the most innovative thing one can watch on TV at the moment. Maybe even more importantly, they have managed to conclude with their trademark note of tenderness for the character they have dragged through hell, even though this time only one finds solace and closure, and finds it through sacrifice.

After a goofy flashback to happy times between My Roanoke Nightmare and its ill-fated sequel, during which the cast is having its fifteen minutes of fame, being interviewed by a drag queen with giant hair in front of a worshipping crowd, we focus, as was expected, on Lee’s case. A mix of newsflashes and webcasts briefly sum up her first trial for the murders she commited during the doomed second season. She’s found not guilty, having been under the influence of the Polk’s hallucinogenic product. This causes as much outrage as it cements her status as a post-modern icon.

The second trial, for the murder of her husband during the first season, reacquaints us with a character that we were worried the writers had forgotten, her daughter Flora, who testifies against Lee as an eyewitness but tells her “I was safe with Priscilla, happier than I ever was with you”. Having ger daughter rejecting her so completely is Lee’s worst possible sentence. The jury however, refusing to base their decision on ghost stories, finds her not guilty again.

In true contemporary fashion, Lee publishes a best-selling book and goes on live TV in hope to reach out to Flora, chosing the Lana Winters Show. Lana Winters was the journalist surviving Season 2: Asylum at the price of killing her son, the serial killer known as Bloody Face. Sarah Paulson, freed from the hurdles of her British accent, does a fine job at playing Barbara Walters, botoxed to one inch of her life and therefore unable to express anything than mild interest when the last remaining member of the Polk family breaks into the studio with an assault rifle.

Ensues the last intrusion into the house on Sappony Road, this time in the framework of the Spirit Chasers cable TV programme, and to our utmost relish Ashley Gilbert, the medium also known as ; Crickett, reappears to wrap up a nice series of bloody deaths. Only Lee and Flora remain in the haunted house, surrounded by ghost during the Blood Moon. Only one goes out alive as was announced in that Episode 6 title card, after a final twist which firmly establishes the season as first and foremost a ghost story.

Ultimately blurring the lines between reality and the fictional rendition of it, Roanoke messes up with our head with gleeful relish and more than a little cruelty. 2016 was, all in all, an excellent vintage for American Horror Story. Season 7 is already announced for early next year; one can’t wait to be submitted to such perversion again, wondering what mind games the very talented authors of the show will come up with. Congratulations to the crew!

Leave a Comment

Life’s Too Long: The Crown (2016)

And now ladies and gentlemen the second episode, that one saw first, not that it made any difference in one’s understanding of the series’ lukewarm plot…

S1E2: Hyde Park Corner

screenshot_20161116-135600
The King Is Dead

Having replaced her ailing Papa for the Commonwealth Tour, Princess Elizabeth lands in Nairobi, Kenya, and from what one thought was the very first scene the challenging duo she forms with the Duke of Edimburgh is neatly set: she’s already regal and dedicated to do her best as the Crown representative, and her husband is a racist pig. She prounonces her first, mercifully short allocution and then proceeds to do what the Royals do when they grace Africa with their blessed presence: hunt wild animals, in that instance the elephant.

An ominous yet meaningless parallel editing tries to exert tension from two hunting parties, one at Windsor Castle and the other in the savannah. Yes, George VI holds dear to his death wish, getting up early in the morning to smoke cigarettes and shoot his rifle in Princess Margaret’s company. What a bleak life, or lack thereof. Neither hunts prove satisfactory, the King aiming poorly when he coughs and the elephant doing all but charging the Queen to be (“Hold on to my jacket!”). Philip has to lower his rifle and, in a rather ill-advised symbolic scene, bow to superior power: “You are the King”, he tells Tombo. Who he came here to shoot. Anyway.

Then comes the weirdest scene of all: the Royal Sex Tape. One doubts that Buckingham Palace authorised this series after all. Here it goes: King George finds some five to midnight merriment singing by the fire while Margaret plays the piano, kisses his family good night and dies in his sleep, in oh so dignified a way. Princess Margaret looks and acts as if she desperatly wanted to go to the bathroom but can not since England is in mourning. Queen Mom is devastated and the freshly widowed Queen looks more or less like she did the day before, only more clueless. Meanwhile, in Kenya, unaware that destiny just made her Queen of England, Elizabeth films her naked husband lying in bed. Shocking, really.

News have nevertheless to be broken to the Queen; having no idea how to script the scene the writers wisely settle on a deeply charged exchange of looks. For some reason it becomes useful to clarify that Elizabeth is some kind of a McGyver with a string of pearls, having served as a mechanic during the war. The journey home begins, with the fate of a nation hanging on the fact that the maids didn’t pack a black dress; good job, considering the King had cancer and they were supposed to be away for six months. One guesses someone just lost her job.

Apart from Churchill and his wife’s (Harriet Walter) subdued banter (“Then ignore me, it’s probably nothing.”), the best scene of the episode takes place when the new Royals realise they gonna lose their secretary. For a minute they look like babes in the woods and seem vaguely human, then of course the Crown resumes precedence, Elisabeth swiftly hops into a black number and go pay her respects to Papa.

Apart from that, it’s like Downtown Abbey, only worsened without servants. Kenyan servants are allowed to hush the Princess because hippos are hungry, since their language is composed of only two words, “tombo” for elephant and “karibu” for anything else. Oh, and some “unbecoming tittle-tattles” are surfacing about Princess Margaret and Major Townsend. For the time being though, the King is dead, long live the Queen. And by Jove, she will, enough to watch this, which is either a blessing or a curse, depending on Her Majesty’s sense of humour.

Leave a Comment

Life’s Too Long: The Crown (2016)

screenshot_20161112-143919

Honni Soit Qui Mal Y Pense

Beyond money, loneliness, fear and time, there’s always boredom. So, even one is not a subject of Her Royal Majesty, one felt compelled to suffer not one, but two episodes of Her apocryphal biopic, uncertain that it has been aprooved by Buckingham Palace. But surely it should have been, considering how innocuous it is? Anyway, one watched the second episode first by mistake, and it was as good as a debut such an unsurprising hagiography should have. Discovering one’s mistake demanded to watch the first episode altogether. And boy, was that a bad idea. Anyway, long live the Queen, and here we go.

 

S1E1: Wolferton Splash

screenshot_20161112-143735

The King Is Dying

“There was a spot of blood when I coughed this morning, should I be bothered?” asks George VI (Jared Harris, in too brief a role for his talent) to his butler after his doctors have left him in the dark about his condition. There is indeed a spot of bother, Your Majesty, considering they have to take away one of your lungs in what appears to be Buckingham Palace’s grand ball room, but you still cough heavily. So why not shoot ducks by a freezing morning and keep on smoking heavily? It’s not exactly as if the Windsors were the Einsteins, but what the fuss is all about during this very long and very stiff episode if not one’s duty to the Crown? The King would be wishing – heaven forbids! – for an emergency exit that he wouldn’t act otherwise. Fortunately Princess Elisabeth (Claire Foy, properly ordinary) is ready to assume the Commonwealth Tour with her newlywed husband Consort Prince Phillip (Matt Smith, dubiously cast), so why not to focus on the destruction of his other lung?

The big event of the week is Elizabeth and Philip’s marriage. The former is first glimpsed with crossed arms, waiting with a touch of impatience that the latter is deprived of his foreign titles in order to receive proper British ones including, of course, The Duchy of Edimburgh, via some kind of a Gotha Extreme Makeover ceremony. Poor Philip is expecting an obedient wife and has to be gently slapped on the wrist a couple of times in order to understand who’s wearing the pants, or should one more aptly says the crown, in their holy matrimony.

But, he objects, are we gonna leave the children (Charles and Ann, in a suddden plot rush, are already 7 and 5)? “The children are too young, they won’t notice we are away for months”, comes the reply. Ah Britain, Britain, Britain… it is very difficult for the educated viewer not to interpolate Little Britain lines in all the undertatement taking place, the Duke of Edimburgh’s pecs and glutes being the only diversion from endless, hushed dialogue about the elephant in the room.

Apart from Philip’s athletic prowess, the best thing on display here is John Lithgow’s turn as Winston Churchill. Octogenarian but relentless, the Father of the Nation is a more than welcome respite from stiff upper lips, even though his dialogue seems lifted up from the Churchill Cliff Notes, greatest hits included. Jeremy Northam is not bad either as Anthony Eden, who has the ambition but not the shoulders for the Prime Minister job.

Episode 1 is shooting a sitting duck, really. Queen Elizabeth (George’s wife, yeah, it’s confusing) is a non-entity, which comes as an – admitedly mild – surprise since she’s to become Queen Mum (Victoria Hamilton has a great name to play the Queen of England but not much else). Queen Mary (Eileen Atkins, who else?) Is an exemple of the contrary, stealing the few scenes she has as Queen Mary (Queen Mum before she reincarnated in an ocean liner, very confusing indeed). Hold your horses,, this is only the beginning. Life, as art, is long, sometimes oh so very very long…

Leave a Comment

American Horror Story S6E9

screenshot_20161111-020259

The Elephant In The Room

Not the best episode by far, this one leaves us wondering how could this season, however spectacular it has been, could possibly end satisfyingly. Make no mistake, one has the utmost respect for what has been tried, and mostly proved, so far. But there is more than a touch of disarray this week, which seems forcing Lee’s survival down our throats. Not that she doesn’t deserve it, the poor soul. But some distant torches don’t really make it for a threat, and for the first time this year some dialogue feels a tad cheap. “No, I Ubered”, can pass a vagrant scan; “Going viral is totally worth it!” doesn’t, because this is not Scream Queens.

So, as expected, there’s a third level of “reality” in the Roanoke reality TV show, namely a guerrilla crew led by Tessa Farmiga, another regular punching the clock, being there for some reason and discovering horrors piled on horrors, to the point of said crew is being impaled in front of the haunted house, one of the few body desecrations we didn’t have the privilege to witness so far. There is also some disembowelment if the Cannibal Holocaust reference had escaped you. This is all good for a found footage thesaurus, this season certainly leaves no milestone unturned. Yet.

The elephant in the room here, blame it on a cursed political agenda, is Lee’s role this season. Heaven knows some AHS characters have done much worse then she did, but it was all for our viewer’s merriment, in fantasy universes. Here we pretend to “reality”, and we have a murderous addict for a final girl, coldly dispatching her re-enactor, who happens to be Angela Bassett, and once and for all this blog has a zero tolerance regarding Miss Bassett’s careless death. But really, Lee. Who’s that girl? What is the writers agenda in presenting her as such?

We do not either commend the excess of shaky-cam, or the frustrating way Audrey’s character is being dispatched. This whole third crew idea could have worked but here it feels like too much of a gratuitous convenience. If this short review sounds annoyed (but in truth there is not much to review this week…), it’s because that’s exactly how one felt, to one’s utter disapointment.

One episode to go, Please, pretty please, do not make a mess of your excellent first eight episodes, leaving us with just the meagre pleasure of a murderous black final girl. OK it would be kind of a first, but what’s the point? What’s the message?

Leave a Comment