Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Flesh and Bone - killed by annoying secondary characters

Greetings, commies!

If you don't have the budget to see ballet in New York, consider watching Flesh and Bone - it comes with Amazon Prime. The dance sequences make it worth watching - you can always fast forward through the clumsy trying-too-hard drama sections. If anything, it's a lesson to aspiring writers on what NOT to do. 

"Flesh and Bone" follows a young ballet dancer, Claire, who has a distinctly troubled past, as she joins a prestigious ballet company in New York. The dark, gritty, complex series unflinchingly explores the dysfunction and glamour of the ballet world and New York's inherent drama. Claire is emotionally wounded, sexually damaged, and possesses self-destructive tendencies amid her vaulting ambitions.

My thoughts:
I don't know how many people contributed to the development of the plot, but it looks very patchy, like a quilt sewn together by a team of schizophrenics. It's almost like the series was meant to be 18 episodes, and they had to cut it down to 8. So many vital questions were unanswered. And so many secondary characters got too much screen time. The homeless guy Romeo is incredibly annoying. He's not sympathetic at all. He's a caricature of a socially disenfranchised person. Same can be said for the ballet-loving strip club dancer with that horrible fake Russian accent. There was too much of him, and he was redundant. And don't get me started on the creepy looking old lady with her little dog, who is supposed to be an assistant choreographer. Why, why introduce so many characters that contribute nothing to the plot and distract from the main story, whatever it is?

Thursday, January 16, 2020

The Emperor's Assassin: #MeToo in Ancient Rome

Greetings, commies & SJWs!
If you want more of the same old, same old, women's historical fiction fueled with "wokeness" and man-bashing, here is a well written novel by Autumn Bardot, The Emperor's Assassin. Don't let the in-your-face title deter you. Here is a hint: the Emperor doesn't show up until later. It's an endless angry girl aria, an estrogen fountain.   

History paints her as the first female serial killer.

Locusta is the daughter of a winemaker in the Roman province of Gaul. She enjoys the indulged childhood of the elite, her concerns only about the day’s amusements. She rides gentle ponies, attends parties, reads Ovid, and learns the herbal arts from her servant. But the day after meeting her betrothed, Locusta discovers the consequences of possessing such dangerous knowledge.

Ordered to leave her pastoral life, Locusta is thrust into a world of intrigue, scandal, and murder—where treason lurks behind every corner and defying an emperor means death.

Locusta’s life changes forever when a young Emperor Nero requires her herbal expertise. And commands her to be his personal poisoner. Caught in an imperial web, Locusta must embrace her profession or die.

Or is there another way out?

History has nothing good to say about this woman. Or is that because men wrote her story?

My thoughts:
Storytelling merits apart, this novel is a blatant, unabashed #MeToo fest. You'd think the author was writing a "woke" sitcom. You can find every key ingredient: the autistic brother, the demented father, the LGBT best friend, the bratty materialistic younger sis, the hunky one night stand boyfriend, the arrogant-sadistic-entitled patrician. Those are well developed stock characters. It's a 2020 ABC-worthy prime time drama set in ancient Rome. Obviously, I cannot get inside the author's head, but my guess is that she was catering to the ultra left modern audiences to create a string of "relatable" characters. A part of me is rolling my eyes: Here we go again, demonizing men. But a part of me is humming and nodding: the book has literary merits. The premise and the delivery are not astonishingly original. A woman in the man's world, fighting for survival, validation, etc. Blah, blah. That's what 90% of historical fiction is about these days. So I am not going to knock it. It's really hard to write something original for the #MeToo audience.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Death and Nightingales - an unapologetic, authentic BBC masterpiece

Happy New Year, commies!

If you are tired of artificial "woke" or "empowering" costume dramas that aim to appease the left wing viewers and leave them with a feeling of "triumph", consider this BBC miniseries.

The BBC adaptation of Eugene McCabe's literary slow-burning thriller Death and Nightingales is extremely satisfying and faithful to the original. I actually read the novel first, so it was very gratifying to see all the key scenes and quotes included into the script. No unnecessary liberties, no frivolities, no attempt to put a "woke" spin on the story or infuse it with "girl power" to make it more palatable to modern audiences. I don't see Hollywood producing this film. The subject matter is probably too regional and not universal enough. There is not much material to entertain global audiences. Eugene McCabe is a contemporary author who dies a stellar job recreating the Ireland of the 1880s. It definitely helps to possess some rudimentary knowledge on the political and economic climate of the era. Even if you are totally new to the painful Anglo-Irish, Catholic-Protestant conflict, it will not take you long to catch on. 

The narrative is not always linear, so the director had to rely on flashbacks, which were done seamlessly and never took the viewer out of the moment. The novel spans the events of one day in the life of a young woman whose fragile world is about to collapse. 23-year old Beth Winters is not by any means "feisty" or "defiant". She does attempt to defy her guardian as a contemporary woman would - instead, her frustration takes a homicidal twist. Under certain circumstances, it is easier to murder your oppressor, or get someone else to do it, than attempt to defy him in a battle of wills.