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Once Upon a Time In Hollywood
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While this is no "Avatar: The Last Air-bender" it is easily "Avatar-light: The Last Dragon Prince".
The story is well tested but still endearing and absolutely worth the watch. Season I does its royal obligare and lays down some compelling easter-eggs for what is sure to be an electrifying Season II.
Pacing issues & Sub-plots that dead-end in "where was this sh*t supposed to go?!"
Overall this season's Venezuelan angle is weak. Amazon's Jack Ryan had the opportunity to speak to the symbiosis of political and corporate greed, instead the show creators chose to toss that ball into the bushes and chase after their own arses.
This season had too many moving parts and lost focus in the melee of underutilized characters and failed plot twists.
"it's good - I'd recommend it.", that's about as anyone can be expected to say about "Living With Yourself" (the double entendre there is nearly impossible to catch unless like me, you were born with a copy(ies) of yourself).
"Living With Yourself" (the series) does not take-up the metaphysical commentary of how experiences and life-events contribute to our sense of self; a discussion that so cleanly cut through the thrill and subterfuge of HBOs "Counterpart". No, "Living With Yourself" is a simple comedic drama about one man's life and a freak mistake that left him as two men living one life.
The show creators do well not to play into many of the obvious high-jinks that could arise from cloning yourself, instead choosing to play it safe and narrowing the scope of this story to what it would be like to negotiate the terms of your life with a sentient (fully grown) mistake.
Now, if you've read this far in, you should definitely watch this show; it gives nothing more than it's asked to give and takes nothing away from you, except maybe that "I want to watch it itch", so go ahead and scratch that itch, "I'd recommend it".
More than a satirical take on the essence of politics, the Politician's gift is its subtle but significant portrayal of the spectrum of mental and emotional health, illuminated by the triggering environment each character finds themselves in or perceives they are in.
The Politician's depiction of an absurdity of wealth and comedic one-percentism almost trivializes the deep psychological issues that drive the plot; nevertheless, attentive audiences can pierce the veil of unearned privilege to find that (with the exception of Gwyneth "Goop-is-a-total-scam" Paltrow) there are real, broken people beneath fabricated facades.
The show delivers particularly stand-out performances from Lucy Boynton as Astrid Sloan (who comes alive in the later part of the season), Ben Platt as Payton Hobart (who's visceral, honest, but brief moments of emotion show cracks in his otherwise wooden personality), and David Corenswet as River Barkley (who's tragic first episode death rings a distinct tone that the series struggles to match in later episodes).
Season II of the OA suffers in much the same way Season II of Big Little Lies does, with a truly disappointing leap down from the gold to the bronze podium.
The premise and creativity surrounding "The OA" makes it worth watching; Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij should be applauded for producing a stand-out show in what is quickly becoming an over-saturated era of public/cable/streaming content.
Although there are flashes of the empathetic-human story (in season 2's BBA story-line) that was the core of season 1, the world of the OA has been overrun with overly "creative" Sci-Fi existentialism and meta-commentary.
It's difficult to pass a bad judgment on The OA, but season 2 was effectively a live-action take on Dr. Seuss' "The Lorax" starring Brit Merling as the title character.
You could not possibly sell me on the idea that this group of kids have been friends for over a decade. To the cast's and show-creators' credit the show does have a touch of magic; the story is charming enough to help audiences muddle through this season, but not nearly fantastic enough to guarantee a season II.
The OA is absolutely Transcendent; the creative duo of Brit Marling & Zal Batmanglij explore the idea of an afterlife, inspired by a warped amalgam of Biblical/Religious themes and real-world accounts of Near Death Experiences (NDE).
The OA's appeal isn't limited to it's far out plot; OA (Brit Marling) is depicted as a Prophetic avatar (giving reverence to Life in a series that explores multiple deaths), who through a series of personal revelations to five strangers subtlety apprehends our belief in a narrative that suggests that there is life after death.
I'm not the first to say it, so I'll be quick about it; TRASH
An unflattering amalgam of Harry Porter and The Chronicles of Narnia which undercuts it's only salient point that there are "no destinies" or "choose heroes" by dragging out from underneath the carpets the stereotypical socially-defunct-white-boy with a heroic destiny.
Despite doing its best to channel the illuminating complexities of sex and sexuality à la Showtime's Masters of Sex, Sex Education is really just a heartfelt deconstruction of contemporary teenage relationships.
Like the majority of teens (past, present, and future), Otis and his mates are just kids experiencing a revelation in human connection and while orgasms are an enlightening aspect of this revelation, Sex Education deftly highlights the more fundamental need for communication, respect and acceptance.
I applaud Lilly Wachowski, Lana Wachowski, J. Michael Straczynski on a relatable Human story, told in the Sci-Fi genre. The series set itself the ambitious challenge of telling a single story in 8 parts; both Season I and II maintain a focus on the lives and parallel personal conflicts of the sensates, highlighting how the human condition transcends social/geo-political/gender labels. Somehow a show about 8 strangers scattered across the globe, with an extra-human ability to exist within a clustered mind never devolves too far into the fantastic choosing rather to explore the Human question of what makes Us like Them.
ABC's "Six Degrees of Separation" meets Makoto Shinkai's "Your Name", Sense8 is a story of human connection with undertones of what it's like to transition into another life.
I l.o.v.e the diversity of the cast, the chaos of inhabiting another life would have been diminished had this been another America-centric story. While the show's casting is to be applauded it does somehow manage to hit ridiculous racial/regional stereotypes:
- Aml Ameen's Kenyan character is a poor bus (trotro) driver who's mother has AIDS
- Bae Doo-na's Korean character is the undervalued CFO & Vice President of her Father's company and (plot twist) secretly a master of the martial arts.
- Kristján Kristjánsson's Icelandic character is a DJ
...and most irritating of all, British Actress Freema Agyeman, of Doctor Who fame, is inexplicably using an American accent (??).
Welcome Back Mr. James Holden! We lost you for a while there at the back-end of season II (which sucked nuts); something happened in that writers' room...fortunately that nightmare is over and Sweet Black Baby Jesus has rewarded us with an absolute banger. Wes Chatham as Amos Burton, hands up/down and side-2-side, my favorite character!
Season III is a story in two parts, following a similar structure to the half-and-half season II, the back-half of which was trash. From the casting of new characters to the more literary pacing of each episode (the hallmark of Season 1 and Season 2's E1-6), the decisions made by the show creators in this season are masterful. Season IV is going to be weird.....
*Ep1-2 Review: We spent the brunt of season 1 uncovering converging mysteries and now that motives and means begin to unravel season 2 is giving more dimension to our lead characters.
Tensions are high and War is still on the horizon - which is, from the perspective of an audience to this fictional world, awesome - but season 2 is likely to give us a lot of character development; hopefully it manages to do so in a way that does not slow down the pace of the action.
.....Many, Many, Hours Later...
Season II, E1-13 Commentary:
As a whole season 2 is the weakest entry in this Syfy trilogy (Amazon will carry two upcoming seasons), and I can say that with confidence 'cause I've seen Season III and it is EPIC.
The first 6ix episodes follow through on narrative structure and the converging story-lines of Season I providing us answers to some of burning questions while opening the door to stranger mysteries.
By Episode 7's "The Seventh Man", the narrative tone changes. Episodes start to lose their central theme and morph into a collage of scenes that are never given the chance to fully convey an idea. It becomes irritatingly obvious when you realize, and you will, that the episode titles are no longer thematic of events in a particular episode. Ostensibly show-runners Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby felt the need to match the paradigm-shift in the world of "The Expanse" with indigestible episodes set to dodgy pacing that barely drags a tolerable second half of season II across the finish line.
TL;DR : YAASSSS!!!!
Amos Burton(Wes Chatham) and Joe Miller (Thomas Jane) as "shoot 'em up cowboys" are hands down my favorite characters because there are moral grays in life; especially in the tumult of an inter-solar cold war.
Having said that, there is room in this, our soon to be Elon Musk esque SpaceX future for politics. May I thus introduce you to Chrisjen Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo), who despite coming across as the stereotypical "overambitious-calculating-bitch" in the series so far mirrors Fred "The Butcher" Johnson (Chad Coleman) in looking for a way to produce the best possible outcome for Earth/OPA respectively, with duplicity and subterfuge.
P.S && BTW: Amos is that white-boy we should all keep an eye out for...
...just a massive let down!
Plot threads that were painstakingly woven into Season 2 (the best so far) were either cut or left as threads in service of an unnecessary narrative of Margaret Well's well documented incompetence as a mother and as a leader.
...and they killed my Bae in the least dramatic way imaginable (just unforgivable).
How is it that Jessica Brown Findlay
as Charlotte Wells and Pippa Bennett-Warner as Harriet Lennox always look so damn hair/makeup perfect??
Season 2 of Harlots makes better use of the rivalry between the Wells and Quigley families as by the the season's end we see both families sustain real damage from the volley of shots fired into the opposing camp.
Lesley Manville as Lydia Quigley and Jessica Brown Findlay as Charlotte Wells give life to this entire season...everybody else is kinda "meh"
I had heard about the Central Park 5, but I did not know their story. I would not recommend this four part series as a "must-watch", but it is certainly something I had to see because I did not know their/our story.
Their story is the weight of carrying this Black Skin; stolen, beaten, enslaved, oppressed, colonized, robbed, marginalized. I shed tears for Korey Wise, then I wept for the Children of African descent, for we are surrounded by wicked men and it seems our Salvation is not of this Earth.
The script sucks, the acting is worse...you will hate everybody involved in this project so do them a favor and watch something else.
Episode 6ix's title "The Truth Has A Ring To It" is thematic of this season; Sally, Hank, even Detective Simmer address their motivations, insecurities, and deeply held secrets. As for Barry...Barry kills (innocent) people and gets away with it; this season clearly casts a selfish/cowardly glow over his crisis of consciousness.