Review: Advantageous

Advantageous is a beautiful film. Every frame is a work of art. It’s visually stunning in every possible way and worth seeing for that alone.

This science fiction drama is slow and quiet and doesn’t have a lot of exciting action. Yet, it vibrates with fear and tension in the quiet moments. It’s a film about hard choices. How does a mother give her daughter a chance at success in a world full of both extreme wealth and extreme hardship?

Spoilers ahead. Continue reading “Review: Advantageous”

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Exclusive: Interview with Christian Torpe, Creator of the Danish Hit Series Rita

Christian Torpe is the creator and writer for the Danish series Rita, which is available in the U.S. on Netflix. In this exclusive interview, Torpe answered some questions about Rita and his work.

Continue reading “Exclusive: Interview with Christian Torpe, Creator of the Danish Hit Series Rita”

Last Tango in Halifax, season 3 episode 1

Last Tango in Halifax begins season 3 on Valentine’s Day. Several important things happen on Valentine’s Day that require a lot of processing on the part of the characters in Last Tango in Halifax.

I’m changing the way I recap Last Tango in Halifax for series 3. I’m going to be much briefer and rely more on images to tell the story. I’ll leave out most of the details and only hit the high points. Hope you like this way of doing it. Continue reading “Last Tango in Halifax, season 3 episode 1”

Watch This: Trailer for Grandma

Grandma stars Lily Tomlin, which is all anyone needs to know before laying their money down at a theater box office. The film release date is August 21.

Tomlin plays Elle Reid, who just lost her longtime partner, Val. Her 18 year old granddaughter Sage (Julia Garner) appears one day asking for help. The two embark on a money gathering journey together which is mind expanding for both of them. Continue reading “Watch This: Trailer for Grandma”

Rita: A Danish Series about a Teacher

Rita premiered 2012 on Danish TV and has run for three seasons so far.

The series stars Mille Dinesen in the lead role as Rita, a free-spirited teacher and single mother. Netflix in the U.S. currently has all 3 seasons of Rita available. Season 3 was actually funded by Netflix!

Continue reading “Rita: A Danish Series about a Teacher”

Watch This: Trailer for GTFO

[Ed. This post is reprinted from Web Teacher.]

GTFO, the movie, premiered at SXSW in 2015 and is now available from a number of outlets. Created by Shannon Sun-Higginson, the documentary takes a look at sexual harassment in gaming.

The description of the film is,

Sparked by a public display of sexual harassment in 2012, GTFO pries open the video game world to explore a 20 billion dollar industry that is riddled with discrimination and misogyny. In recent years, the gaming community has grown more diverse than ever. This has led to a massive clash of values and women receive the brunt of the consequences every day, with acts of harassment ranging from name calling to cyber vandalism and death threats. Through interviews with video game developers, journalists, and academics, GTFO paints a complex picture of the video game industry, while revealing the systemic and human motivations behind acts of harassment. GTFO is the beginning of a larger conversation that will shape the future of the video game world.

You can buy or rent GTFO on iTunesVimeo, BitTorrentGoogle Play, Xbox, Playstation, and Vudu. The film is available for educators at the movie web site, which has resources for women who are being harassed.

Time Magazine interviewed Sun-Higginson in Meet the Woman Helping Gamergate Victims Come Out of the Shadows. It’s worth reading.

Watch This: Trailer for Sicario

This drugs-on-the-border war story stars Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro. Emily Blunt as Kate Mercer is an FBI agent. The action moves back and forth across the border between El Paso and Juarez and shows a world of brutality and murder.

Emily Blunt claims a part many argued should be played by a man. Personally, I’m in favor of action heroes being played by women, especially women as talented as Blunt.

I’m also eager to see women get roles that are not violent and action oriented, but are stories about women living more normal lives – especially women played by actors as talented as Emily Blunt.

When Variety reviewed it after it showed at Cannes, they wrote, “A blisteringly intense drug-trade thriller that combines expert action and suspense with another uneasy inquiry into the emotional consequences of violence.”

The film opens September 18.

3 Themes in Season 3 of Orange is the New Black

Season 3 of Orange is the New Black returns again and again to several themes. My big 3 are the difficulties of maintaining a family while in prison, the need for some sort of spiritual hope, and the need for love.

If you haven’t watched all of season 3 yet, there are spoilers ahead.

Parents in Prison

Elizabeth Rodriguez and Dascha Polanco in Orange is the New Black

Pregnant prisoner Dayanara Diaz (Dascha Polanco) struggled for most of the season with what to do with her baby. Her mother Aleida (Elizabeth Rodriguez) is in prison, too. Aleida is a terrible parent – the worst! – but she tries to guide Daya to a good decision.

Daya hopes the baby’s father, Correctional Officer John Bennett (Matt McGorry), will step up and take the baby, but Bennett isn’t up to the challenge.

Daya reported another Correctional Officer, the horrible “Pornstache” (Pablo Schreiber) as the rapist who got her pregnant. Now she’s living with the lie.

Mary Steenberger in Orange is the New Black

Pornstache’s mother Delia (Mary Steenburgen) wants to adopt the child. Alida loves this idea because it means money. Even after Daya tells Delia the truth about whose baby it is, Delia wants it. Daya wobbles back and forth between wanting to give her baby to Delia and wanting to keep it in the family. The decision she finally makes feels right, but ends in disaster.

In other story lines about families, the character Maria (Jessica Pimentel) is dealt a painful parenting blow from her little girl’s father. Gloria (Selenis Leyva) struggles to keep her teen on the straight and narrow. Sophia (Laverne Cox) has some especially hard parenting problems.

The fact is, most women in prison have children, over half of them under the age of 18. Because of changes in sentencing laws during the war on drugs, the number of parents of minor children in prison increased by 79% between 1991 and 2007. Orange is the New Black can’t take us through story lines about the long term effects of so many mothers being locked away, so many broken families, but the series does its best to bring the problem to the front.

Think about Big Boo’s (Lea DeLaria) comments on the book Freakonomics about the number of unwanted children being reduced by Roe vs. Wade resulting in fewer neglected and abused children turning to crime 20 years later. Flip that on its head and ask yourself what the result of harsh drug sentencing laws that sent thousands of mothers to prison for minor drug crimes will be in 20 years.

Faith & Religion

Annie Golden as Norma annoints an inmate played by Danielle Herbert.

Norma (Annie Golden) is at the center of one of the crazy rumor-driven stories in the prison. Some of the prisoners decide she is holy. Since she doesn’t speak, she simply smiles and pats them on the shoulder when they suggest this. They think she’s blessing them, and eventually she starts enjoying the attention and begins to act like the guru she followed as a younger woman. Everyone wants something to hang on to, some spiritual hope, and Norma is it for the moment.

A second plot line around religion involves the discovery that if you ask for a kosher meal, you get better food. Many of the inmates start asking for kosher food. Black Cindy (Adrienne C. Moore) wants to learn enough about being Jewish to pass the test when they ask her why she should be eating kosher.

Cindy starts off on her Jewish experience watching Woody Allen movies but soon turns to an actual study of the faith. By the last episode, she has been accepted as Jewish by other Jews and even experiences a mikveh, or total immersion in water, as a symbol of her new identity as a Jew.

The Need for Love

Taylor Schilling and Laura Prepon in a scene from Orange is the New Black

Was it love that made Piper (Taylor Schilling) rat on Alex (Laura Prepon) in season 2, so she would be back in Litchfield Prison in season 3? Whatever the case, they reunite with hate-sex that involves lots of slapping, shoving and biting. Piper eventually asks Alex to be her official girlfriend. Alex says yes. Then the new inmate Stella (Ruby Rose) catches Piper’s eye and official girlfriends don’t seem so important.

Uzo Aduba and Emily Althaus in Orange is the New Black

They had to burn all the books because of bedbugs. Suzanne (Uzo Aduba) fills the gap in reading material when she writes crazy sci-fi porn and passes it around the prison. She gets fans! She has readers! Prisoners are desperate for any kind of love and/or romance they can find, and Suzanne provides them with a semblance of a love story. One fan in particular, Maureen (Emily Althaus), really wants to connect with her idol Crazy Eyes. Suzanne doesn’t know how to act around the idea of having a real girlfriend, not a dandelion. In the last episode, Suzanne and Maureen make tentative but thrilling contact.

Samira Wiley and Kimiko Glenn in a scene from Orange is the New Black

Poussey (Samira Wiley) is so lonely and love-starved that she stays drunk on her homebrew most of season 3. Soso (Kimiko Glenn) is lonely, rejected, friendless, and depressed most of season 3.  Something happens that brings these two closer and may be the much needed relationship they both lack.

The loyalties, the friendships, the “families” that form inside prison help people retain their sanity. Maria points out in the first episode, “Mother’s Day,” once people get released, they forget their prison friends. Yet, while inside, the need to feel connected, to be seen and understood by at least one other human being, does not go away. Crazy Eyes even says it out loud, “People need love.”

In addition to this big 3 list, season 3 of Orange is the New Black also deals with the idea of for-profit prisons and the lack of mental health care for inmates. It does all this while still managing to be funny, character driven drama of the highest order. It’s changing American culture, one story at a time.

Note: This post was syndicated at BlogHer.com.

Watch This: Trailer for Dark Places

Dark Places looks intense and good. Based on a book by Gillian Flynn, the film stars Charlize Theron as Libby, the little sister of Ben, a prisoner played by Corey Stoll. Libby’s family was murdered when she was a child. Ben was convicted of the crime.

A group of ex-cops called The Kill Club are intent on reviving the crime and solving it, because they believe Ben is innocent.

Chloe Grace Moretz and Christina Hendricks co-star in the film, which was produced by Theron. It opens on August 7, and is already available from some on demand sources.

Orphan Black: S3 E10 History Yet to Be Written

“History Yet to Be Written” is absolute perfection as a season 3 finale for Orphan Black. It takes us back in time to tie up questions, while opening up new directions for season 4. There are some losses and some happy moments. I’m going to start with the technical achievement of the season: the four clone dinner party.

Alison (Tatiana Maslany, a multitude) wins the school trustee election by 56 votes. She gathers everyone in the bubble gum world of Bubbles for a family dinner. They toast each other, even clink glasses. This season it’s Donnie (Kristian Bruun) who moves around the scene, filling wine glasses. They are all safe and happy and have hope for the future science to come.  This scene is bound to be a favorite topic because of the difficulty of filming it.

Okay, how did episode 10 get us to this happy family moment? I’m going to summarize out of order, but the big reveal is that the Neolutionists from season 1 have been in charge of both Dyad and Topside all along.

Kendall Malone, the original

Kendall Malone is under scrutiny by Felix, Sarah and Scott

Art Bell (Kevin Hanchard) brings Sarah and Felix (Jordan Gavaris) into a big warehouse where Scott (Josh Vokey) is constructing a clean room of sorts out of plastic sheets. When they are sure everything is ready, Mrs. S (Maria Doyle Kennedy) brings her mother into the room. Kendall (Alison Steadman) complains all the way about her treatment, and because Mrs. S is herding her along with a baseball bat in her hand.

Cosima meets Kendall, and tells her that Kendall is actually the older sister of the clones. Cosima disarms Kendall with charm and takes blood samples from her.

Mrs. S burns with rage at her mother. It seems Kendall had something to do with John Sadler’s death. Mrs. S unveils a tub and several bottles of sulfuric acid, which she tells her mother she plans to use on her.

Mrs. S tells Kendall that Kira (Skyler Wexler) is Kendall’s niece. She asks Kendall to explain who she is. Kendall said Duncan had come to her 5 or 6 years after he’d harvested her. Duncan was in fear for his life from something called Neolution. He said they’d poisoned the science and corrupted his wife, Susan. He’d hidden Kendall from everyone.

Duncan told her there was one child outside it all, lost in the foster system. Kendall sent him to her daughter, the rebel. Siobhan had the connections to hide the child and Kendall sent the child to her. So Kendall put Sarah and Mrs. S together, who have been blood relatives all along. Mrs. S reacts to this news by forgiving her mother. Maria Doyle Kennedy performed this emotional moment of release with perfection.

Siobhan Sadler is actually a blood relation of all the clones. Isn’t that an interesting new fact?

Sarah

Sarah and Felix find Mark (Ari Millen, an army). They bring him to the warehouse where he pretends to be Rudy and calls Dr. Coady (Kyra Harper) with the address about where they are. When she arrives with armed men, Ferdinand kills her driver and takes her captive.

Ferdinand

Ferdinand (James Frain) comes to the warehouse for the blood he was promised by Sarah. At that moment, Delphine calls with the news that the blood will go to Neolution. Delphine tells Sarah not to let him have any blood and to tell him Rachel is still alive. Ferdinand is quite interested in this bit of news about Rachel and in the announcement that they are all just pawns of Neolution.

Ferdinand calls Neolutionists “genetically obsessed zealots” and says he hates them.

Ferdinand kills his helper with Siobhan’s baseball bat. It’s the acid bath for the poor fellow. Ferdinand tells them to hide Kendall away, he doesn’t want to know where. He says he’ll be in touch. I guess Ferdinand is going to be one of the good guys now.

Sarah and Mrs. S take Kendall to Iceland.

Kira and Sarah in the snow

The episode began with Rachel’s dream of ice and love, and it ends with the joyous reunion of Sarah and Kira (Skyler Wexler) on a vast plane of snow.

Helena

Helena spends a lot of time in the Hendrix garage in this episode. First she’s reunited with Jesse (Patrick J. Adams). Jesse seems as happy to see her as she is to see him.

Helena and Jesse kiss

In his tow truck, which is half-in, half-out of the Hendrix garage, Helena climbs on Jesse’s lap and tells him “I have science babies inside me, but you are my first.” Helena’s lust is pure animal instinct, just like the rest of her personality. Before they can actually get it on, she gets summoned to help the sestras. Both of them promise to return to the moment.

Rudy is following Alison around during the election proceedings. Alison lures him to her house and he is met in the garage by Helena in assassin mode. She’s duct taped weapons to her hands and is ready to fight to the death.

Rudy dying with Helena

Rudy dies, partly from a wound from Helena but mostly because he was dying anyway like the other Castor clones. They have a tender moment discussing their childhoods before he dies. Helena can go from assassin to empathetic listener in 1/10 of a second.

Delphine

Ferdinand, Sarah and Delphine at Dyad

Ferdinand  shows up thinking he’s going to take over from Delphine (Evelyne Brochu). Sarah offers him a deal to get some of the genetic material from the original, but only if the perverted Castor military experiment goes away.

Delphine goes to check on Rachel (or what she thinks is Rachel). She realizes it’s Krystal when she sees the good manicure on Rachel’s hand. Krystal wakes up, scared and confused.

Now that she knows about the Krystal deception and that Rachel is in Austria someplace, Delphine has Dr. Nealon (Tom McCamus) put in custody. She questions him and discovers that Neolution has been orchestrating everything from the first moment. He calls Castor and Leda Neolution’s Adam and Eve. He says there’s a place for her at Neolution. She turns down the job.

Dr. Nealon and the worm over Delphine

Nealon squiggles his jaw, leaps up and pins Delphine to a table. He tries to insert a worm from his mouth into Delphine. Luckily she’s packing and she shoots him and takes the worm as a specimen.

Delphine with tears in her eyes

Delphine was invited to the family dinner but didn’t go. She texted Cosima to meet her outside. Cosima says, “I understand why you did what you did. I’m sorry to make you have to make so many hard decisions.” Delphine asks her to keep the blood safe and to make sure Kendall is safe.

Delphine tears up and looks at Cosima with a great deal of love. Delphine gives Cosima what looks like a heartfelt and passionate goodbye kiss, and leaves, saying, “My love to all the sisters.”

Delphine parks in a parking garage. She realizes someone is following her and turns. She says, “What will happen to her?” and is shot. We don’t know who shot her and we don’t know if she dies. Whoever shot her walked loudly, perhaps from wearing high heels?

Rachel

Rachel with a bionic eye

The opening scene is Rachel waking from a dream about playing in the snow with her parents. She gets up and discovers she has a bionic eye and a museum-like display of finches in her room. She has no idea where she is or who is holding her.

Charlotte (Cynthia Galant) enters the room and says Rachel is going to be her new mom. Then Susan Duncan (Rosemary Dunsmore) enters and says, “Hello, dear Rachel. Welcome home.” Rachel answers, “Mother.”

Shay

Ksenia Solo as Shay

Cosima attempts an apology to Shay (Ksenia Solo), who is understandably upset by the death threat from Delphine. Cosima still can’t tell Shay anything about who she really is and Shay angrily sends her away.

Later Delphine shows up at Shay’s apartment. She tells Shay that she’s sorry, that she knows Cosima really cares for Shay, and that Cosima and Shay are a good fit.

card with 324B21 written on it

Delphine says she won’t be around any more. She tells Shay to tell Cosima that she should tell everything to Shay if she wants. She gives Shay a card to show Cosima as proof that she means it.

Some Thoughts

We know how Kendall, Mrs. S and Sarah connect. What about Felix? A bit of history yet to write in season 4?

The count of male clones is down to only Mark. And he’s helping the sestras. All the murder-machine male clones are dead.

We can’t tell from the episode, but I think Delphine is actually dead. Based on this interview with John Fawcett, and this tweet, it seems she won’t be back.

A big bisou to you, Evelyne. Love you.

I’m sure there will be mourning for Delphine and talk about the dead lesbian trope, but I actually feel all right about Delphine. It works with the story better than the dead lesbian story usually does. However, if Delphine really is dead, what’s going to happen with the worm Nealon apparently carried around in his mouth on the regular?

Shay, on the other hand, may be around for season 4. Based on this tweet it looks like she’s here for a while. Maybe she’ll be let in on the secrets like Felix, and become another important member of Clone Club.

It looks like Krystal will be around for season 4, which makes me very happy. I liked her a lot. Who knows, at the end of season 4 we might have a FIVE clone scene as a grand finale!

Ferdinand and Rachel definitely have a thing, but he hates Neolutionists and Rachel’s mother is apparently a Neolutionist. Where will that go in season 4?

What do the Proletheans have to do with all this? If Helena carries her child to birth, or if they do something with the frozen embryos they have, will that be a corruption of the clone genome or a correction? More fodder for season 4.

I love this show! Three cheers for season 3 and much anticipation for season 4.

The Title Quotation

Winding up a season of foresight from Dwight David Eisenhower, we close with this thought.

“Down the long lane of the history yet to be written America knows that this world of ours, ever growing smaller, must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect.”