Posts Tagged ‘USA’

Five minutes into this movie, and I was struck by something – not the saliva dripping lollipop that the guy behind me had just chucked – but rather that, in order to truly enjoy this film – you need a brain. I’m not saying that any grey matter will do, monkeys for example – probably not a fan. But if you go into this film with¬†misconceptions¬†about what to expect, then you are already destined to fail. Zero Dark Thirty charters the years spent after 9/11 by various CIA operatives to track down¬†Osama¬†Bin Laden. Before this film even hit theatres, people were calling it nothing but ‘Liberal propaganda’ and ‘biased junk’. I can see why people would assume that was what Zero Dark Thirty is, but on closer inspection you can clearly see that neither the Bush regime, nor Obama’s time in office is particularly looked upon well.

Firstly, we’re shown the darker side of the USA’s war on terror… the side that made the papers and outraged millions – torture. Watching the prisoners suffer made me uncomfortable – and after all, what kind of world would we live in if it didn’t. They may be terrorists, or at least suspected terrorists, but seeing anyone scream in pain, especially when based on real events, made me uneasy. After Obama came in, the torture went out and was replaced with a slow moving system – that possibly cost lives. Maya, played by Jessica Chastain, pushed and pushed to get the intelligence she’d gathered taken seriously. But the people above her were often more worried about looking bad politically if it was the wrong call. And so yes, the torture portrayed did make Bush look bad. But at the same time, throughout the movie they make the point that they¬†wouldn’t have the lead which led to Osama without it.

Now, with all the controversy out of the way, let’s get to the actual film. Zero Dark Thirty is at times hard to follow, but so it should be. If the average¬†Joe could understand the plot easily, well then it wouldn’t be a true representation of the¬†obstacles overcome by these extraordinary individuals. The film basically follows Maya, as she is dropped into Pakistan having been recruited to the agency straight from High School. She’s committed, and you see that from day one. Unsurprisingly she gets ridiculed for her age and her looks, and finds it difficult for people to take her seriously. This toughens her up and by the end of the film she is very much a woman I wouldn’t want to mess with. The sass she had at the beginning of the film, very much morphs into a hardened shell. Chastain is probably at her best. While I haven’t always rated her highly, I definitely feel she stepped up to the plate in what must have been a huge daunting task. Her performance as Maya is likeable but not enough to deter you from the main premise of the movie – the hunt for Osama. Kathryn Bigelow allows just enough of Maya’s personality to shine through to endear her, but doesn’t allow the movie to become all about ‘Maya’s hunt for Osama’; because it is very much a team effort.

Director Kathryn Bigelow also managed to bring home the reality that these are real people. We live in a society glamorised by Hollywood, and it is easy to forget sometimes that the CIA aren’t the really like ‘Borne’ or ‘Bond’. They are real people, with real families who are trying to keep the world safe. I found that a little unsettling. It was a dim reality that showed how vulnerable we are, that there isn’t some great power out there to save us. Because, they don’t¬†always succeed.

But Zero Dark Thirty is ultimately about when they did succeed. And by the end of the film, we are shown the assault on Osama’s compound in Pakistan. The use of night vision goggles, interchanging with the dark made the whole scenario seem more unsettling. And while the men who went into that compound seemed ultimately bad ass, you also had the same sense of realism. They weren’t superheroes. They were just doing a job.

Overall, there is a good performances all round for the ensemble cast. I was particularly impressed with Jason Clarke and Jessica Chastain. And I think, with all things considered Рand how wrong this movie could have easily gone Рthis is a solid film that fairly and accurately portrays the hunt for Osama. An engrossing watch.

8/10

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It is that time of year again when we all start looking forward. I know what your thinking – “It’s May – what is this bitch on?” Well I’m on a healthy diet of TV, TV and more TV – and so for me, May is essentially the end of the year for television. Those shows that keep us all warm and cosy are ending, and networks are canning the shows that¬†didn’t make them enough money weren’t very good and releasing the trailers for those new shows that will be starting in the fall – that’s Autumn to us Brits. So, where am I going with this? Well, I got thinking about a few of the shows that the¬†brain dead networks have in store for us when the new fall season starts. And I noticed an interesting trend.

Brit shows being remade into US shows. 

Is this a new phenomenon? Hell no. The Office, Shameless, Skins, Prime Suspect and Kath and Kim are all examples of shows that were remade from international imports. The thing I will point out though, is that 3/5 of the shows I just mentioned, didn’t make it past the first season. Now this isn’t exactly a strange thing, given how many shows in the US don’t make it past that all important number. But it begs the question – Why do they keep putting so much stock in remade shows? Not just Brit shows, but shows copied from all over the world. Trying to understand the logic of the people who commission US TV shows is like writing a book about a baby’s opinion on the current economic climate. But when I saw the line up for next years new shows – well I couldn’t help wondering further…

Three up and coming shows piqued my interest. And it wasn’t because I was excited for them. But because all of them are British remakes. And that’s the thing about US TV that I don’t understand. Every country in the world that has any sort of freedom within the media, watches shows from around the world. In the UK, we enjoy several US imports – yes – but we also watch shows from other countries. Forbrydelsen or The Killing, a Danish crime drama, was particularly successful in Britain. The US, instead of enjoying the original product, remade it. Kath and Kim, a particular favourite of mine, is an Australian comedy following a mother and her daughter. Its so hilarious, and works so well because they are Australian. ¬†The US remade it, and it was cancelled after one season.

I’m not saying the US are alone in their remakes. Lord knows every country does it occasionally. But the US does it so frequently, and usually¬†so badly¬†that I just can’t understand the trend. Sometimes the remakes work. Take The Office – there are many who consider Steve Carrell’s version as superior to Ricky Gervais’ original. However, its important to remember, Ricky Gervais was totally on board with the production of the US version, hence why it was so successful.

Really I can’t help begging the question about networks opinions on their viewers intelligence levels. Do they think Americans can’t read? Hence last years The Killing remake?¬†And also the countless movie remakes that happen every year.¬†Do they think Americans don’t understand an accent unlike their own? I just don’t get it. If anything, it is an insult to their own country. The BBC’s very own Dr Who has done amazing in the US – proof that imports can work, and do work, better than remakes. Top Gear, a show I love whole heartedly, also did well in the US – and the US remake of that is absolutely terrible.

I honestly could go back and forth questioning this all day. And I don’t think it takes a genius to realise I have a hatred of remakes in any form. And so it is hard for me to see any future in those three special upcoming shows that I’m subconsciously earmarking for failure. However, I’m going to preview each show, and compare it to the original and basically weigh the pro’s and con’s on whether I think it will survive the season. And then in a years time (or longer if its a Summer show) I will look back and see whether I was right or not.

And so to the first show.

Mistresses; ABC – adapted from the British BBC series of the same name (2008-2010)

First off, I should probably divulge the fact that I¬†love¬†Mistresses. Refreshing, well-written, and with a superb cast – Mistresses was a series about the trials and tribulations of four friends. None of them were perfect by any sense of the word, but that was what made the show so watchable. Each woman had a complex relationship with men (and in some cases – women) and while the plot twisted and turned, the four women’s friendship remained stead fast. My personal favourite was Orla Brady’s Siobhan who was fabulously portrayed from beginning to end. And while I found the final series to be a little below par, I still think it is one of the best BBC drama series of the last ten years.

The remake is similar, but not quite a copy of the UK version. And while I was initially¬†sceptical¬†about the remake – I am slightly more optimistic because of the cast who are on board. Alyssa Milano has been a favourite of mine since her time as Pheobe Halliwell on the hilarious series Charmed. And I honestly think Alyssa is a highly underrated actress, and so I think she will fill the ‘Siobhan’ role well. Also in the cast is Lost’s Yunjin Kim who impressed me from her time on the island, and I am very interested in seeing her turn her hand to something totally different. So lets take a look at the trailer…

From the trailer however, the remake looks totally totally different. Not in terms of story – but because it looks far less dark than its UK counterpart. I can understand that – us Brit’s like our serious drama and that wouldn’t necessarily translate, but I’m still a bit dubious. I think it would be best for me to go into this with an open mind and wait and see…

Odds of renewal: 3-1

Elementary; CBS – Not quite a remake but can’t be a coincidence given the success of BBC’s Sherlock.¬†

Lets get stuck in – BBC’s Sherlock:

CBS’s Elementary:

Firstly, I must be one of the few people in the UK who doesn’t watch Sherlock. And for me, that really is an achievement. But I’ve never really been into the Sherlock franchise, and upon watching snippets of the show – well it wasn’t really for me. That being said, I can still appreciate how well it has done, and how well made it is. And so, CBS has a big challenge. Not only does it have Sherlock to live up to – but it has Robert Downey Jr.’s movies to overcome as well. My first thoughts on seeing the trailer for Elementary went something like this – “Hey, that’s Lucy Lui… Wait…? WHAT?! She’s playing Watson?!” Yup, CBS cast a female Watson.¬†Why do they do this to themselves?¬†Sometimes I feel like networks like pushing treacle up a hill. They make it deliberately tough on themselves. If they learned anything from last fall, it should be this – Charlie’s Angels was remade. Bosley was young and hot. It was cancelled after a few weeks.¬†I’m not saying you shouldn’t be daring. I’m not saying change is a bad thing. But there are a few guidelines that you should use to ease yourself in at first. Elementary has ignored that.

I like Lucy Lui. She’s talented, and I usually like her shows and movies. But having a female Watson is an issue that the creators made for themselves that needn’t have been there. I just don’t get it. And so it is for that reason that I’m¬†sceptical¬†about Elementary’s chances…

Odds of renewal: 5-1 ouch. 

Unnamed Only Fools and Horses remake:

They want this guy to play Rodney?!

When it was announced that the US were in the process of remaking the absolute BBC¬†classic¬†Only Fools and Horses, I think the whole of Britain screamed. Actually I think there is a good chance a large portion of the world screamed. Picture this, I once was in a¬†jewellery store in a small town in Egypt. A man approached me who spoke no English, and started repeating the words – “Lovely jubbly! Lovely jubbly!” Now if your not familiar with Fools and Horses, that will mean nothing to you. Just know that it is a very famous¬†‘catchphrase’, for lack of a better word, from the show. Fools and Horses is that much of a classic that people who can’t even speak English quote it when they meet Brits. That is the task that the US version faces. It is pretty much destined to fail before it has even begun. On top of that, legend and lead Sir¬†David Jason has came out and denounced the remake of the show, and the two rumoured leads are John¬†Leguizamo¬†and¬†Dustin Ybarra. Its like they wan to fail.

If the show even gets picked up I will be surprised. If it gets renewed – well then I do believe in miracles. And possibly the Devil.

Here’s a preview of the amazing original. And I don’t have a trailer for the remake as it hasn’t got that far. Enjoy!

If you’ve never seen the show, get on it immediately. Its the best of British comedy, a show made for everyone, and one that I grew up watching.

Odds of renewal: 100-1¬†– That’s if it even gets picked up in the summer…

And so that’s it for now. I hope I’ve enlightened you a little bit! I will leave you with some of the trailers/clips for the original shows I’ve mentioned in the post for your entertainment. Enjoy!¬†

  • Kath and Kim
  • Skins
  • Prime Suspect (with the wonderful Dame Helen Mirren)