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Tag: Netflix

Films about Art…..Art about Money

20170512120704-DamienHirst_cropped_960x600So I just finished watching Damien Hirst’s Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable on Netflix, or should I say I almost finished. I have 12 minutes left but the little red circle started spiraling away and told me to  come back later. I think I’m good. I have entertained this ( bare with me while I find the right word) delusion – no that’s not it, lie- no,  farce – maybe (…..anyway it will come to me) for long enough. This particular moving picture show is engineered to perpetuate  the whimsical false narrative of an art exhibit that has completely lost the plot. Damien Hirst tried to mine the rich territory of the space between myth and fact, artifice and commerce and material culture and world-building but instead he delivered a glut of over-priced, over-sized and over-blown barnacle encrusted knock-off He-Man statues.

Damien-Hirst-The-warrior-and-the-Bear-1The film never addresses the actual specs of the exhibit. It was put on in two pavilions in the lovely setting of Venice. Apparently it took 10 years to fabricate and cost somewhere in the ballpark of 60 million dollars to produce. Hundreds of hours and assistants toiled over close to 200 pieces. The discerning art collector has their choice of three models to choose from for each piece. With or without coral along with a smaller dainty version in all manner of materials- gold etc… I guess the film is just a fancy commercial that stresses that we should all be aware of the vast amount of resources and effort devoted to this project. It also stresses how far over produced lazy conceptual art can masquerade the idea the emperor has no clothes.

r9e3CCSThe only piece I could find in the exhibit that I liked was this one. It caters to my lizard brain in the sense of beauty for beauty’s sake and the gold and the bronze play really well together.  The best part of Damien Hirst’s work are his titles but in this case they do little to add to the pieces and are rendered impotent. Am I being too harsh- maybe, but the film painfully pointed out  what could have been an engaging idea and squandered it. You feel sorry for the actors trying to sell shlocky bobbles all the while adding the odd wink to the artist. Perhaps a better title for this film could be A 20 000th of a League Under the Sea ……. because you know, it’s so shallow.

Maybe that’s the word I was looking for earlier.

House of Cards Season 4: Reality Index

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I just finished watching the 4th season of House of Cards, or as I like to refer to this season: Below and Beyond. For a show that should feel Shakespearean in scope; Bill is nowhere in sight. The three main points I gathered this season were: no one knows their proper place/ position ( if a pipe needs fixing, ask the First Lady – she can do anything), the power of rehearsal ( an inordinate amount of time was given to people practicing their lines – I kinda like this fact because always talking off the cuff will eventually reveal how utterly out of your depth you are) and lastly how enamored the public is with speechifying  at this moment in time. Take a minute and do a quick count in your head as to how many rhetoric laced speeches we hear on a daily basis. Soapbox salesmen must be making a killing. Obviously, there’s an election going on in the show and in real life, but who knew we were so craving to hear other people soundbite our fears, hopes and dreams to the tune of billions of dollars so they can turn around in the future and slash budgets for sorely needed services because there’s no money. The irony would be delicious if it were’t so scary. Speaking of scary: scary Underwoods are way more fun to watch then feuding Underwoods, so how did they do?

Again, I’m going to borrow steal the brilliant recap format from the high watermark of all TV recaps: Vulture’s Gossip Girl coverage. (They made watching a bad show fun.) This is how it works: points are awarded when events seem believable and deducted when the events are a little too implausible. At the end, we’ll tally the score and see if our tale of the Underwoods veers into the realms of the unreal, and yes I do know this is a TV show but even TV has its limits. Warning Spoilers

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The Underwoods are nothing if not consistent. The plausibility of their actions according to their characters is always intact but the plausibility of their actions according to their stations well let’s say – what’s in a title? They are the President and the First Lady, but have a hard time getting respect from terrorists and flower arrangers alike. I’m sure, the first thing anyone would imagine themselves doing if they were ever invited into the Oval office is to sit on the President’s desk like they owned the place like Governor Conway did.

This scores him major points on the reality side: lack of respect for the position of the Presidency. In this day and age you don’t even have to have held public office for a single day to feel you’re qualified for the most powerful position in the western world. The Presidency looks like something you’d be really really good at. Perceived entitlement is the only job qualification. +100 points

Speaking of the Conways, they’re kind of perfect. They should definitely get everything they want in this life. Instagram as Norman Rockwell painting: +50 points

This also leads to my favourite line this season, maybe in the history of H of C. When asked if Claire regrets not having children by Cathy Conway, Claire responds, “Do you regret having them?” -so cold, so good. + 50 points

Plus besides, how would Claire explain to her kids why Tom the writer was always having super quiet silent breakfast time with them? Meacham is dead, long live Meachem. +50 points

A resounding 250 points in the real column! But on the flip-side…..

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When producing a TV show there are some things that are unavoidable; like what do you do when you biggest star is in a coma? Do you have them just lay their doing nothing for a couple of episodes? Solution: unnecessary dream sequences -check. You also spend a lot of money on accurate recreation set pieces so you might as well use them.Why else would you have letter-opener death threats in the Oval office? (I guess that is kind of believable). This is also the only reason I can imagine, even in this completely fantastical world, where the Conways would stay in Claire’s bedroom. It is obviously done for the opportunity for candid exchanges between the antagonists and provided for my favourite line of the series, but Claire ain’t having no rugrats jumping on her bed. – 50 points.

Speaking of people being in places they shouldn’t be. The First Lady had her finger in so many pies this season she might as well be the Vice President, oh wait..

Claire strong arming the Russian President – 50 points

Claire negotiating with the head of an international terrorist organization. Did no one watch season three when she went to negotiate with  another prisoner? -50 points

The final scene that shows every character in the Situation room. It’s like they won a  radio contest – win a chance to watch a public execution with the President live in the Situation Room. What are those people doing in there? – 50 points.

The only person not in the Situation room was a bloody translator when the terrorist goes off script. “I wonder what he’s saying? Let’s just look at one another and let him keep speaking until he says something in English again.” -100 points

Lastly, for a season so obsessed with information tracking on the net, why would a Frank smear campaign involve a photocopy billboard of his dad shaking hands with a member of the KKK instead of leaking the image online? -20 points   Oh wait, being aligned with intolerant racism is no longer the political deathblow it should be, we can scratch that last one. 0 points

300 for the unreal.

Another season, another reason to go above and beyond the limit of plausibility. As far as this show goes, it’s got nothing on reality.

Season 3  Season 2

Binge Watch: Black Mirror

morningPeople in the UK must get a real kick out North Americans exclaiming “I’ve found this great new show!” when they’ve been in fact watching it for ages. It’s not like we’ve been sleeping on these things, it’s just that there is definitely a pop-culture trickle down effect at work; especially with some of the more ‘how you say’ off the beaten path creations. Even with the internet, something needs to take foot locally before it can go global. Every new show needs to take some time to establish itself and find its audience, but hopefully like all good things, the cream will rise to the top and eventually find its way to the ones who will appreciate it. Sometimes this can take many years, like in the case of Joss Whedon’s Firefly. The trickle down effect can be slow, but is actually perfect for the binge watcher (like myself); because by the time something comes across your radar, you have multiple seasons to sink your teeth into. This is almost a necessity in the case of some British programs whose seasons consist of very short runs of sometimes 3 to 6 shows. Enter Netflix or Youtube and there goes hours of your life.

4610bb3f-1663-410f-83bc-7201cc58a056_625x352So I’ve found this great new show, 2011 new. It’s called Black Mirror and to say it’s a little off the beaten path would be an understatement. The best way I’ve heard it described would be a modern day Twilight Zone exploring the perils of the digital age. There are currently 7 episodes in total over 3 seasons. Each episode is a stand alone story clocking in around 50 minutes. The black mirror refers to any blank monitor we encounter on a daily basis and the deep dark ramifications our relationship with it can conjure up. Each episode plays with different aspects of what the future may hold if we took current technologies to their ultimate endgames. The power of Social media is explored to great and disturbing effect in the series opener The National Anthem. At this point I’d like to point out that some episodes are stronger than others, but at least every one offers a ‘what if’ scenario that both engages and gives you chills in equal measures. A good example would be the episode, The Entire History of You at the end of season 1 which deals with the premise of: what if we all had little devices implanted in our skulls that recorded everything we experienced and could replay them at anytime we liked? How would that effect our relationships with others? Black Mirror has a way of pulling back the curtain of innovation and revealing the potential dark consequences. Season 2 continues along the same lines and devilishly explores the themes of reality, voyeurism and identity to great effect.

Black_Mirror_Jon_Hamm Season 3 starts with Jon Hamm guest starring in the episode White Christmas (which just aired this past December, so I guess that means we have 2 more episodes of season 3 to look forward to.) Two men are stranded in a snowy cabin on Christmas day and slowly reveal to one another how they got there. As the name suggests Black Mirror is dark reflective stuff that feels like no other show on at the moment. If you are currently looking for your next binge; that black mirror you’re currently gazing at is just waiting for the trickle down. It could be your new favourite show.