Brain Dump: Short Thoughts on Movies and TV

Brain Dump_ Short Thoughts on Movies and

I’ve had many pop culture thoughts that I’ve neglected to actually write down in the last few weeks. It’s time for a brain dump.

Movies

I absolutely loved Peace, Love and Misunderstanding! This 2011 indie film was directed by Bruce Beresford. It starred Jane Fonda as an aging, free-spirited hippie and Catherine Keener as her daughter. Also featured are Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Elizabeth Olsen, Nat Wolff, Chace Crawford, Kyle MacLachlan, and Rosanna Arquette. It was filmed in the town of Woodstock, New York, where the movie is set.

It was a feel good story about family and love and acceptance. I completely recommend it. If you see it wander past in your Netflix new releases, click play.

I also loved The Immigrant, although it was not a fun romp in any way. This grim slice of reality starred Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix, and Jeremy Renner, all of whom gave outstanding performances.

The Immigrant poster

Joaquin Phoenix was particularly powerful as a man who preyed on helpless and desperate immigrant women, tricking them into prostitution for his own gain. I won’t explain the twists in the plot in this tale – there are several – except to say that it brought out some amazing acting from the 3 stars. Again, watch it if you see it in your streaming choices.

TV: The Winners

Hally Berry in Extant
Halle Berry in Extant

I haven’t given an opinion about Extant, starring Halle Berry yet. I’m enjoying this sci-fi drama about astronaut Molly Woods who returns pregnant from a 13 month mission alone in space. The sci-fi aspects of the show are a bit iffy, but the cast is giving it their all. Goran Visnjic plays her husband. Pierce Gagnon plays their son, who happens to be a robot. Grace Gummer and Camryn Manheim also have significant parts in the drama. I hope this one makes it to a second season.

Murder in the First is a a full season story arc involving one crime. It stars Teye Diggs and Kathleen Robertson as cops and Tom Felton as the billionaire murderer they struggle to convict. The characters are particularly well drawn, considering this is just the first season. Again, I hope this one makes it to a second season.

The BBC’s Lark Rise to Candleford has me hooked. I’m most of the way through the first season. There are 4 seasons. It’s a period drama with many great female characters. It’s only available on streaming services, since it’s been off the air for a while now.

Stephanie Leonidas as Irisa on Defiance
Stephanie Leonidas as Irisa on Defiance

The women of Defiance, oh my. The character Irisa on Defiance, played by Stephanie Leonidas, is becoming more and more layered. She’s taken on some kind of supernatural power – perhaps alien power would be a more accurate term. It’s given her interesting abilities and she’s attracting followers. She’s starting to remind me of the kind of strong leader that we have in Bo in Lost Girl or Buffy in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Defiance has allowed Stahma Tarr, played by Jaime Murray, to evolve into a powerful woman. Julie Benz’s character of Amanda Rosewater is turning out to be full of twists and intricacies. Julie Benz really shines in this role, in ways that are new for her.

TV: The Losers

I gave up on Under the Dome. The story makes no sense in sci-fi terms, no sense in religious terms. None of the characters really grab me. Enough.

I watched one, and only one, episode of Seed and thought it was too stupid to ever watch again. I wanted to watch it because of Amanda Brugel. Zoie Palmer likes Amanda Brugel, so I wanted to watch something with Amanda Brugel in it because – well, I like Zoie Palmer. Sorry, Zoie, this isn’t the place where I’m going to become a fan of Amanda Brugel. I’ll give her another chance some other time.

The Inexplicable Finally Hooked Me on Under the Dome

I kept sticking with Under the Dome, largely because I have faith in Stephen King to tell a good story. It annoyed me for a long time, but the mysterious inexplicable happenings week after week finally started to pull me in. Now I’m hooked.

Since the show has been renewed for a second season, I can look forward to learning some of the answers to the inexplicable.

I’m getting attached to the characters, particularly Rachelle Lefevre as Julia and Mike Vogel as Barbie. These two are on a collision course and Julia doesn’t know it yet, but the viewers do.

Dean Norris is making himself a wonderful villain as Big Jim. Leon Rippy is another most excellent bad guy. Sometimes one nefarious character isn’t enough. (And to think, Leon Rippy was once an angel of God in Saving Grace. Is he now a fallen angel?)

Natalie Martinez
Natalie Martinez

Natalie Martinez as Sheriff Linda Esquivel is fantastic. I love the idea that a Latina actress has a significant part in this drama in a role that traditionally would have gone to a white good-old-boy type.

In terms of the inexplicable, the characters are as in the dark as the viewers. Everyone is struggling to make sense of the dome, and the egg. We thought two teens might have something to do with the dome, this week that circle enlarged to three and possibly a fourth. The teens, played by Mackenzie Lintz with Britt Robertson and Colin Ford as brother and sister, are the three we know about so far.

I’m glad I stuck with Under the Dome long enough to get hooked.  What has your reaction to this series been so far?

Images ©CBS TV Under the Dome

The Zombie Apocalypse Makes Metaphoric Sense

As a metaphor, the zombie apocalypse makes a lot of sense. I can say “Global warming is the zombie apocalypse,” and you get my metaphor. Pick your disaster – climate change, the rise of the 1%, nuclear war, genocide – whatever. Compare it to the zombie apocalypse and people understand that you are saying that your disaster represents the end of the world as we know it and that chaos will follow.

The Walking Dead is very clear, metaphorically speaking. A zombie apocalypse wiped out every human institution and every kind of infrastructure that holds society together. The humans who survive are struggling to cope. Every human trait from morality to greed to violence to self-preservation to self-sacrifice can be built into stories around this struggle to cope and survive.

Under the Dome: Huh?

Under the Dome
Under the Dome, ©CBS Entertainment

Under the Dome is not so clear for me. Is the dome the end of the world – the whole world – the way a zombie apocalypse would be? No, because there are people outside the dome who are living their normal lives. Yes, the people inside the dome are struggling to cope, but with what, exactly?

The story lines about morality and greed and violence and self-preservation and self-sacrifice are still there, but in a tiny microcosm of all humanity. We presume that if the dome were lifted, life would again resemble the rest of the world outside the dome.

The people under the dome seem to feel that the dome is a living creature with intent, godlike. Is the metaphor in Under the Dome something about religion or faith? What about the two teens who seem to be receiving messages from the dome and whose touch can turn it from dangerous to benign? Do they represent some sort of savior? Is the fact that the dome is an invisible barrier important?

I’m not saying I don’t enjoy Under the Dome. I watch it, I’m engaged in it, I like the characters. There’s plenty of suspense and drama. However, I haven’t decided yet what I think the dome represents. Have you?

Zombie image ©AMC The Walking Dead