“I thought the meaning of people was somewhere in here. Then I looked inside Nicolas Cage and I found a secret: people are random and pointless”.
If you think your life is complicated because everyday you struggle to balance work, family and quality time with your partner, then find an extra hour per week to take a look at The Americans and you’ll think it twice.
The TV series, whose fourth season premieres today on FX, transports us back in the eighties to follow the life of Phillip and Elizabeth Jennings, two undercover Soviet spies trained and paired by KGB to live in Washington DC and play the role of the perfect suburban American family. They work as travel agents by day and secret agents by night. They even had two kids together, now in their teens, who offer the perfect cover. Nobody suspects that when mum and dad leave them with a babysitter for the evening, usually it’s not for dinner and a movie but for some dangerous secret mission to collect strategic government datas and transmit them to their motherland. Phillip and Elizabeth’s worst enemy is Stan Beeman, a FBI agent dedicated to find the Russian spies living on US soil and arrest them. Coincidence, he’s also their neighbor. And seems determined to become their best friend.
Now that is a complicated life. Continue reading “Sex, lies and microfilms: what the spies in The Americans tell us about our lives”
“We are nothing more or less than what we choose to reveal”.
Francis Underwood, House of Cards
Attractive, sexy, leggy, blonde, beautiful, athletic… naked. Hollywood producer Ross Puttnam recently made headlines sharing, on a dedicated twitter account, the sexist one line descriptions of female lead characters in film scripts. Their tight jeans, stiletto heels, fit bodies and fuck-me-eyes are what defines them. Some of those characters, it turns out, have sense of humour, a functioning brain or a career but that description always comes after. If ever.
Women on screen are objectified, they exist primarily for the male gaze. It’s no big news. But now we know that it’s not only a matter of stereotyped casting choices, star power, glossy direction: too often in films they are actually conceived like that, their beauty the first and most relevant attribute from the written page.
The exceptions are rare. But very welcome. Continue reading “Let’s celebrate Women’s Day with two TV characters subverting Hollywood gender stereotypes”
“While other people were out living their lives, I wasted mine watching TV, because deep down I knew it might one day help me save the world”.
The frontier, the man versus the wilderness, the fight with the bear, the confrontation with the Other, the heart of darkness, the revenge: on paper The Revenant is the quintessential American film. And an ambitious one: shot all on impervious locations with natural light, long uncut plans and challenging ensemble sequences. Plus it stars the indefatigable Leonardo DiCaprio, who’s in a good streak of memorable performances since, well, forever.
For all those reasons I really wanted to fall in love with Alejandro Gonzales Iñárritu‘s las effort, but I couldn’t. There had been many sparkles along the way but it didn’t last: by the end of our hero’s odyssey in the wild my excitement had already worn off. What went wrong? Continue reading “Big themes, long shots, short-sighted script: how The Revenant’s journey in the wild left so much unexplored”
And the Oscar for the most detailed man-mauled-by-grizzly sequence goes to… The Revenant! Applause. Next, Ryan Gosling getting hit by a truck, a four minutes uninterrupted take of pure cinematic pleasure.
As many out there, I had very mixed feelings towards The Force Awakens. As most who had the chance to see the original Star Wars trilogy as kids, I had very strong reactions. Continue reading “How I stopped worrying about plot holes and learned why I love Star Wars”
“The answer to life’s problems aren’t at the bottom of a bottle, they’re on TV!”
Homer Simpson, The Simpsons