TV

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The Returned

Published 21/07/2013 by crimsonghad

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‘Les Revenants’ (The Returned) is a French psychological horror, whodunnit/is alive drama which is astounding on so many levels. The writing is tight with so many questions asked in each episode and yet the viewers do not feel short changed because the multiple stories move along at such a pace. They begin with one character being focused upon in the past and it turns out that they are in fact dead (not really a spoiler so no alert) for that. As we delve in to the character we find many different things about them. The ‘returned’ are many but we don’t know who is alive or who is dead in some cases. By the end of the series (next week) maybe we will discover more. Amongst the most strange of the ‘returned’ are Simon, Madame Costa and Victor – the quite astounding young actor Swann Nambotin.

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Victor is one of the first ‘returned’ we see, along with Camille, and he seemingly has the ability to make all mothers in the world freeze with his gaze of desolation. It is a performance heightened by his inactivity which at times explodes exposing certain talents he has acquired in his death. In fact all of the ‘returned’ have talents. Be it seeing the dead, jumping from windows or immaculate hair. Surely there are more set to be unearthed?

This is all underpinned by a superb score from Scottish rockers Mogwai who add a weird and disturbing soundtrack to this haunted village. Indeed the deserted and isolated nature of the town adds to the atmospheric condition with it being a character that juxtaposes beautifully with the diverse folk inhabiting it.

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What makes this stand out, though, is the characterisation. The alive are not different from the dead. Suspicion abounds as no one character is pure good or pure evil. There are known killers who seem to have more of a positive side than the police or even religious figures in the town. While there are deaths and dead people it has less in common with the high octane approach of AMC’s ‘The Walking Dead’ but more with a recent BBC Three show. However, the depth of characterisation sets it apart from BBC Three’s ‘In The Flesh’ which for all its brilliance (lauded in a previous blog) always seemed to have a liberal agenda. ‘The Returned’ teaches us to trust no one in true ‘X-Files’ style and that aides the underlying tension masterfully created by the numerous aspects of sound, vision, setting, writing and characters.

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Channel 4 are to be commended for buying such a drama even if BBC have already broken the mould with a spate of Scandanavian imports. The marketing has also been tremendous with adverts in French and with French subtitles adding to the word of mouth. I, myself, was brought to ‘The Returned’ by Twitter posts talking about the French adverts during the first episode. If you don’t like watching subtitles then maybe this isn’t for you. But then if you don’t watch the TV while viewing a programme then you should just throw yourself in a big bloody bin.

Catch up on 4OD (or youtube for earlier episodes) it is well worth it.

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Obama v Romney Presidential Debate 1 – in 90 secs, not 90 mins

Published 04/10/2012 by crimsonghad

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If, unlike me, you have a life and don’t have time to spend 90 mins watching the Obama v Romney debate then perhaps you will like my slightly irreverent bullet point review of the points made by each candidate last night that will take about 90 secs to read:

President Barack Hussein Obama II:

  • We’ll help middle income and lower income families
  • Personal voter stories by the bucket load
  • Lower taxes for some
  • $1 trillion deficit from previous government
  • …er, um, er…
  • Handful of lists: 1, 2, 3, 4
  • ‘I’m all in favour of green energy’
  • ‘Money in their pocket’
  • …er, um, er…
  • Close loopholes on overseas jobs
  • ‘Create American jobs’
  • $4 trillion deficit reduction plan
  • …er, um, er…
  • Dead grandma
  • Help Medicare
  • Obamacare, yay
  • ‘Build, help, create, fight’
  • Of Romney’s plans, ‘We don’t know the details’

Governor Willard Mitt Romney:

  • We’ll help middle income families and lower income families
  • Personal voter stories by the bucket load
  • Lower taxes for all
  • $1 trillion deficit from current government
  • Fuckloads of lists: 1, 2, 3, 4
  • ‘I’m all in favour of green energy but…(I prefer everything else)’
  • ‘I don’t wanna kill jobs’
  • Massachusetts is great, therefore I am great
  • Why is Obama cutting Medicare?
  • Obamacare, boo
  • Private care, yay
  • ‘Deficit, deficit, deficit, deficit’
  • Of Romney’s plans, ‘I know the details but won’t tell you’

Inspire A Generation: The Wire

Published 13/08/2012 by crimsonghad

“No one wins. One side just loses more slowly”

“Fuck the casual viewer” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fEkfSx8hujw

David Simon, writer and creator, said this in an interview regarding the audience of The Wire. And he did, literally. Not. That is an example of the kind of uninspired, insipid and frankly lazy writing that pervades a vast swathe of generic young TV shows these days. This is a trap that Simon never falls in to during five glorious seasons of The Wire. http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Wire-Complete-HBO-Season/dp/B001BBHG1S/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1349021607&sr=8-1

Whilst creating a story that spanning all social classes in the US city of Baltimore, The Wire simultaneously maintains a dialogue that appeals to the disaffected black youth that the majority of the show portrays, as well as a middle class, white well-educated fan base making it almost unique. But how? Through his background as a Baltimore Sun reporter Simon has an extensive and unparalleled familiarity of the subject matter. Throw in writers like Ed Burns (former police detective), Bill Zorzi (Baltimore Sun politics correspondent), George Pelecanos (fiction author) and you soon see how an encyclopaedic knowledge has evolved. What they managed to create was a complex masterpiece that is my own personal favourite.

From the deadly consequences of childhood life to the comedic relief of the serial Kafkaesque intoxication of Bunk Moreland and Jimmy McNulty in Season One right through to the moral ambiguity of newspapers and changing of an empire in Season Five, The Wire asks questions of us and those around us at both macro and micro level of society.

Simon has created a world where no one belongs. Everyone feels trapped by some form of societal occurrence. Be it work, family, social class or even their race, no subject is left untouched by this genius. Even the characters are different from the norm. From night school attending drug kingpin Stringer Bell, to lesbian police enforcer Shakima Greggs and gay drug robber Omar Little- all are given fully fleshed parts defying stereotypes.

WARNING: – This is not easy to get in to. As Simon said, “Fuck the casual viewer”. In fact, I myself had four attempts at Season One before finally becoming obsessed. Season Two also comes as a shock starting with an almost entirely new cast and storyline in a different setting and subculture. However as Slim Charles says during Season Three in a veiled reference to the Iraq War (covered by Simon in the brilliant Generation Kill), ‘once you in it, you in it’.

The drama will enthral, the comedy will relieve tension and the almost unintelligible Baltimore drawl and slang (I am not distracted by subtitles so have watched all five seasons with and without them finding that it enhances my own personal experience) used in the writing creates yet another impressive layer to the authenticity of the piece.

If you liked this:

3 recommendations by this writer:

  • The Corner
  • Homicide: Life on the Street
  • Treme

SPOILERS:

3 Top Scenes

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20G17K_0ghU

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91CpbRq9Tiw

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=29L_yWV-698