Review: Beyond the Lights

I can’t say enough great things about Beyond the Lights. It is an exceptionally good film. If you haven’t seen it yet, I encourage you to do so. I had the idea that it would merely be a love story. It was a love story, but it has so much more depth than that, which delighted me.

Spoilers ahead. Continue reading “Review: Beyond the Lights”

Who’s A Critic Now?

I found this when I was cleaning a file cabinet of old writing. I wrote it almost 20 years ago. I thought it was a hoot to read. Little did I know that one day I would be a blogger doing her best to change the situation. Continue reading “Who’s A Critic Now?”

Review: The Homesman

The Homesman showed up recently on Netflix. I watched immediately.

The movie annoyed me. And the more I think about it, the more annoyed I become.

Spoilers ahead. Continue reading “Review: The Homesman”

The Fosters Upcoming Season

The new season of The Fosters begins on June 8 on ABC Family.

Jake T. Austin will not be returning as Jesus. Jesus and Mariana (Cierra Ramirez) were in the car with their birth mother Ana (Alexandra Barreto) at the time of the cliffhanger accident at the end of season 2. One fatality in the accident was announced even before Stef (Teri Polo) arrived at the scene of the wreck. That may be how they write Jesus out of the story.

The actor playing Lina’s (Sherri Saum) dad is changing to Bruce Davison, according to TVLine.

If Lena and Stef have the loss of a child to deal with in season 3, I don’t see how that one kiss from Lena’s boss is going to matter very much, but you never know – maybe it will be a big deal.

In addition to the preview from ABC Family, here’s a video with some cast members commenting about season 3. Unspoken in this video is the patriarchy at work, because Cierra Ramirez got to speak about 14 seconds out of a 3 minute video. I’ve mentioned before how much I enjoy Cierra as the geeky Mariana, so I was a bit put off by the lack of attention she got here. Nevertheless, we do learn about Brandon’s (David Lambert) possible new girl friend and the continuation of Jonner.

Orphan Black: This Thing with Shay

Ksenia Solo’s character Shay is a disruptor in the Orphan Black world. She’s appeared in two episodes now and you can see trouble coming.

And then THIS happened… Friends or Foes?! OH the mystery!!! @EvelyneBrochu #OrphanBlack #Season3

A photo posted by Ksenia Solo (@therealksolo) on

In Ksensia’s Instagram photo above with Evelyne Brochu, they look as if they are having a good time on the Orphan Black set. The same thing is true below, in this photo with series star Tatiana Maslany and make up artist Kristin Wayne.

My Sestras @tatianamaslany @kristinwayne #OrphanBlack #KickAssLadies #MakinASceneAt315 A photo posted by Ksenia Solo (@therealksolo) on

Apparently, Ksenia Solo had a good time shooting her episodes of Orphan Black. Fun for everyone, right?

It may be a bit more dramatic and fraught for everyone in the playing out of the story on Orphan Black.

We first meet Shay in Scarred by Many Past Frustrations. We learn a bit more about her in Certain Agony of the Battlefield. In the previews at the end of the latter episode, we learn something else.

I cannot wait to see the next episode, but I have drawn some conclusions based on the evidence we have so far. Let me know if you agree.

Here’s What we Know

Shay and Cosima talk in the bar

1. When Shay and Cosima meet, Cosima is absolutely wowed by her. Immediately attracted. Someone is watching them and photographing them. Cosima invites Shay to leave with her. They go to Felix’s apartment.

Shay and Cosima kiss

2. When Shay offers to leave and Cosima agrees that she should go, Shay takes control of the situation by kissing Cosima. Shay does not leave.

Shay and Cosima in Shay's apartment

3. Cosima and Shay spend several intense, sexually busy days together. During this time, Shay asks questions about Cosima’s work and about Sarah. She keeps her questions casual.

Delphine and Cosima await Gracie's arrival

4. Delphine returns to Dyad. She appears to be angry at Cosima – ostensibly about Cosima’s absences from work. I think she’s actually angry that Cosima was so quick to take up with Shay. I think Delphine’s masking hurt with anger.

Delphine looks at photos of Cosima and Shay

5. We learn that Delphine is the watcher, that she knows what Cosima and Shay have been up to from the start.

6. Finally, from the previews for next week’s episode, we see that Delphine and Shay know each other.

My Conclusions

We will find out if I’m right in episode 7, Community of Dreadful Fear and Hate, but here’s what I think at this point.

Delphine had to stop being Cosima’s monitor when she became head of Dyad. Enter Shay. Shay is Cosima’s new monitor. When Cosima figures it out, either her heart will be broken or she will feel betrayed once again.

Cosima’s distrust of Delphine is going to grow once she figures out that Delphine was behind the choice to assign a her new monitor.

Delphine feels betrayed by Cosima’s eager acceptance of Shay into her bed. So we have two women who probably love each other feeling betrayed. That’s why I said at the beginning that Shay is a disruptor.

I don’t think all these emotions are going to help Cosima and Delphine do the crazy science that would lead a solution to the Leda and Castor health crises.

If I count right, Shay is set to continue on Orphan Black for the remainder of the season. (She’s listed for 6 episodes on IMDB.) I love seeing Ksenia Solo on the show. She’s crazy talented and a pleasure to watch. I’m holding my breath waiting to find out what she means to the Dyad universe if I’m right that she’s Cosima’s monitor.

What do you think?

Orphan Black: S3 E6 Certain Agony of the Battlefield

Episode 6 of season 3 of Orphan Black is “Certain Agony of the Battlefield.” Lots of plot twists and huge developments mark this episode as a turning point in several ways.

Before I get into that, I want to give a multitude of kudos to the director, Helen Shaver, for creating this episode’s surreal, hallucinogenic, and magical world. Shaver also directed an episode in season 2, Ipsa Scientia Potestas Est. Can she be the permanent director for Orphan Black please?

The recap will be divided into doings at the Hendrix household, doings at Dyad, and doings at the Castor compound.

The Hendrix Drug Machine

Donnie and Alison dancing in their underwear

Alison (Tatiana Maslany, a multitude)  and Donnie (Kristian Bruun)  are dancing on the bed in their underwear, tossing money in the air, and having a very sexy time celebrating their filthy lucre. Who knew Donnie could twerk?

They pay off Jason (Justin Chatwin) the 30K or so they owe him, and Donnie still has enough to put $10,000 cash down on a fast car.

Alison in her mother's store

Alison has the idea that she can buy her mother out of her store, Bubbles. It will be perfect way to launder all their drug money. She takes Jason and Donnie there to talk about the possibility. Jason thinks it’s perfect.

At Dyad: Sex and Science

Cosima, on the other hand, has been screwing her brains out for 5 days with Shay (Ksenia Solo).

Shay and Cosima in Shay's apartment

Cosima is missing calls, missing work, showing up late. Scott (Josh Vokey) is mad at her. Delphine (Evelyne Brochu) returns and she’s none to happy with Cosima’s absences either. In fact, Delphine looks at Cosima like she’d like to slap her or spit nails at her or something equally angry.

Cosima looks at Delphine with distrust

Delphine talks about trying to protect Dyad and the sisters, but Cosima doesn’t trust her or welcome her return. Delphine knows they processed the samples from Seth’s brain and she shows them that the same faulty protein they found in Seth (Ari Millen, an army) is also in Gracie. She suggests they follow up.

Delphine and Cosima await Gracie's arrival

Felix brings Gracie into Dyad. As Delphine and Cosima wait for her outside the elevator doors, they look miles apart. Delphine told Cosima she missed her. Cosima didn’t respond.

Felix talks to Rachel

Felix sneaks off to have a chat with Rachel, who spends her time in a wheelchair painting with watercolors. He wants to know about Castor so he can find Sarah. Rachel wants out of there.

Rachel's painting and The Island of Dr. Moreau

Scott notices the symbols Rachel is putting in her paintings. He takes one and compares it with the symbols in “The Island of Dr. Moreau.”

Delphine and Cosima work together to examine Gracie. They tell her that whatever Mark infected her with affects different people differently. They tell her the defect is contagious.

After getting in so much trouble for not doing her job, Cosima goes to Shay’s with the intention of telling her they need to slow down. But when she sees Shay all she wants to do is “make out for 7 hours straight.” Shay encourages her to talk. Cosima just wants to make out. Their smooch-fest is interrupted by a call from Scott, who says he thinks Rachel knows Duncan’s key.

At the Castor Compound

It’s been 5 days since Sarah disappeared into the Castor prison. Felix (Jordan Gavaris) is frantic. Mrs. S (Maria Doyle Kennedy) tries to keep him calm, but he’s breaking. Gracie (Zoé De Grand Maison) is still at Mrs. S’s house. They Skype with Kira (Skyler Wexler) in Iceland, who wants to know why Sarah isn’t talking to her.

Paul talks with Benchman

Paul (Dylan Bruce) is off in Arlington talking to a guy named Benchman (Tom Barnett). He gives him the log books showing sexual contacts that the Castor clones tracked. He whistleblows on Dr. Coady, who is doing unlawful experiments involving civilian females who have sex with the Castor boys. Benchman wants more evidence.

Kira appears in Sarah's dream

Sarah spins through fever induced hallucinations and strange dreams. Everything appears strange, surreal, part wishful thinking and part reality. She sees Kira and follows her around an empty Castor compound.

Sarah sees herself in a cot

Sarah climbs into Kira’s blanket fort and emerges in a room where she sees herself being pumped full of Rudy’s blood.

Charlotte appears in Sarah's dream

Sarah dreams she sees Charlotte (Cynthia Galant) who wants to lead her down a tunnel into the light. Sarah resists.

Beth is in her dream

In her fevered dream, she talks to Beth. Beth tells her to stop worrying about why and start finding out who.

Paul arrives and sees Sarah feeling very sick. Her temperature is 103. Dr. Coady says she’s treating her, but Sarah tells him differently.

Paul arrests Dr. Coady and takes over the compound. He puts a lot of people in the stockade. Among the few he trusts is Mark. Paul and Mark go to Coady’s office, where all the science information is stored. They find the evidence Paul needs. Sexual contact with the Castor clones causes sterility in women.

Sarah’s fever has broken. Dr. Coady gets very excited because Sarah didn’t die from Rudy’s blood. She tells Paul and Sarah that what she’s learning can end wars in a single generation.

Helena eats the scorpion

Helena runs through the desert. When she falls in exhaustion, Pupok the scorpion talks to her about Sarah. She eats poor Pupok. For Tatiana’s sake, I hope she’s really eating a big, black gummy bear, but the thing she put in her mouth was wriggling as she did it. But, really, how hard is it to eat an imaginary scorpion, I ask you?

Rudy, who has been off chasing Helena, comes back to the compound after a phone call from Arlington. He starts killing everyone in a search for Paul. It’s like a video game up in here with all these dead bodies laying around.

The Big Finish

Paul realizes he’s been played. He takes Sarah to a tunnel where she can escape. On the way he kills the clone Miller, but Miller stabs him while they struggle.

Paul goes to Dr. Coady’s office. She finds him there, surrounded by all her science, and shoots him 3 or 4 times in the chest. But, even with a stab wound to the gut and 4 bullets in his chest, the heroic Paul still has enough life in him to give Coady a dirty look and drop a hand grenade on the floor.

It must have been one hell of a hand grenade, because when it explodes it knocks Sarah down in the tunnel.

Helena finds Sarah in the tunnel

Helena finds Sarah in the tunnel. They leave together. Helena came back for her sestra!

Delphine looks at photos of Cosima and Shay

Delphine sits in front of a pile of photos of Cosima and Shay. She’s watching video of them on her computer as she downs booze as fast as she possibly can. She knew about them all along. As a result, she can’t get blotto fast enough.

Some Thoughts

Virginia Coady seems to be the mad military-industrial-scientific mind that President Dwight D. Eisenhower was so worried about. In the years just after America dropped two atomic bombs on Japan, obliterating hundreds of thousands of people in a flash of radioactive energy, concern over this kind of thinking was fresh on the American conscience. Scientists/soldiers/corporations with power over life and death – who think the ends justify the means – has been a theme of Orphan Black from the beginning. We’re seeing it played out here in the form of Castor experiments on unsuspecting humans.

The scene between Beth and Sarah was beautifully shot, with characters jumping through time and space. We saw depression on Beth’s face, which is the only way Sarah remembers seeing her. And it was pivotal in setting a direction for Sarah in looking at the who of it all.

Mark is an okay guy. He tells Paul he brought Sarah to the Castor compound so Rudy wouldn’t kill her. He tells Paul he fell in love with Gracie. Speaking of love confessions, Paul told Sarah that he loved her, right before he went off to blow himself up in Coady’s office.

The soldier boy clone count is down to Mark and Rudy. (Maybe. Rudy was close to the grenade in the office.) Paul is dead. Farewell to Mr. Hunkalicious, Dylan Bruce.

Someone in Washington was aware of what Coady was doing and supported it. Who, indeed. Everything is uncertain and in flux.

The Title Quotation

From Dwight D. Eisenhower, this week’s quotation comes from the same paragraph as last week.

Such a confederation must be one of equals. The weakest must come to the conference table with the same confidence as do we, protected as we are by our moral, economic, and military strength. That table, though scarred by many past frustrations, cannot be abandoned for the certain agony of the battlefield.

Watch This: Lifetime TV’s new series UnREAL

UnREAL starts on Lifetime TV June 1. This behind the scenes look at a reality show modeled after The Bachelor stars Shiri Appleby and Constance Zimmer. The shows creators are Marti Noxon and Sarah Gertrude Shapiro.

Appleby as Rachel and Zimmer as her boss Quinn are joined by Josh Kelly as the main characters responsible for creating drama and suspense with the so-called reality TV they are producing.

You can’t help but look at these shows where a bunch of women are competing for the attention of one available man and be forced to ponder gender roles and sexism. It would be wonderful if this show deals with that directly and not as subtext.

Then there’s the problem of the blinding whiteness of everyone on the reality show in UnREAL.

From the clips below, it looks like another theme might be the way young people today have no life but work – work is life.

I hope this series exposes the dark underbelly of reality TV, because it really needs to be unearthed. I dislike reality shows. Therefore, logically, I’m looking forward to this show, which promises to reveal the lie behind the illusion – to draw back the curtain so we see the wizard for what he is.

There are two clips to share.

What do you think? Will you give it a try?

Sally Wainwright will Write and Direct Drama About Brontë Family

According to The Guardian, Sally Wainwright snagged the writing and directing gig for a new drama currently called To Walk Invisible: The Brontë Sisters. It will be a two hour drama on the BBC. No casting news has been announced.

Anne, Emily, and Charlotte Brontë, by their brother Branwell (c. 1834). He painted himself among his sisters, but later removed the image so as not to clutter the picture. Image from Wikipedia
Anne, Emily, and Charlotte Brontë, by their brother Branwell (c. 1834). He painted himself among his sisters, but later removed the image so as not to clutter the picture. Image from Wikipedia.

The film will center on the Brontë family: Charlotte (who wrote Jane Eyre), Emily (who wrote Wuthering Heights) and Anne (who wrote The Tenant of Wildfell Hall). Also in the story will be their troubled brother Branwell and their father. The eternally popular Brontë name will no doubt make this film a topic of great interest.

The script is apparently already written, because a spokeswoman for the BBC referred to it as brilliantly authentic. I don’t know how filming will affect Sally Wainwright’s schedule in creating new seasons of Last Tango in Halifax and Happy Valley, but I hope those projects proceed at a steady pace.

The film will be shot in Wainwright’s familiar territory of Yorkshire. She described the Brontë women as “three fascinating, talented, ingenious Yorkshire women.” There are quite a few fictional fascinating, talented and ingenious Yorkshire women among Wainwright’s writing credits, but the Brontës were real. I can’t wait to see what Wainwright does with them.

For Americans who love such British period dramas, here’s hoping the BBC finds a way to quickly export the film to the U.S. via PBS or Netflix or some other outlet.

Watch This: Trailer for Advantageous

Advantageous, which took the SXSW Special Jury Prize for Collaborative Vision, will be streaming on Netflix starting June 23. The film is from writer and director Jennifer Phang.

Still from the film Advantageous

I first became interested in this sci-fi drama when I read Emily Yoshida’s SXSW report about it in The Verge. Here’s how she described the film at the time:

[Advantageous] was the first sci-fi film I had seen at the festival, as well as the first genre film in general. It’s a quiet, deliberately paced story of a woman, her daughter, and a medical procedure with philosophical implications worthy of a Black Mirror Mother’s Day special. Gwen (Jacqueline Kim, who also co-wrote the film) is a spokeswoman for a new-fangled body-swapping procedure, who must undergo the procedure herself in order to keep her job and be able to ensure a good future for her daughter, Jules (Samantha Kim). It’s moody and specific and is a rare sci-fi film to nail its human emotion — particularly the mother-daughter relationship at its center — just as expertly, if not more so, as its more lofty philosophical questions.

According to the film’s Facebook page, Jennifer Phang received the award for Best Director, and the film won in three other categories at the LA Asian Pacific Film Festival.

The film will be released in some 20+ languages and will include a version with Jennifer Phang giving director’s commentary on some of the topics explored in the film.

I’m looking forward to the film. It looks very good.

I appreciate Netflix for making the deal to stream Advantageous and for backing the recent Grace and Frankie and other female-based content.

Addendum: Now that I’ve seen the film, you can read my review of Advantageous here.

Feminist Frequency: Positive Female Characters in Video Games

Feminist Frequency has released another in its series on Positive Female Characters in Video Games. This one discusses the character Jade from the game Beyond Good & Evil.

Jade is a wonderful character – an outstanding example of a positive female character. She’s also an example of what is needed from ALL characters in terms of positive role models. Video game makers can learn a lot from Jade and give some of her positive characteristics to many other game characters, both male and female.

I love that’s she’s saving lives, not taking lives, as most games do. She’s compassionate and believes in social justice, qualities that should be emphasized in everyone.

There’s a full text transcript of the video at feministfrequency.com/2015/05/11/jade-beyond-good-evil/.