Gladys, Gladys, you were so classless, intimidating the leftovers with sass and badass-ness.
This is a song. This is a song I came up with, but do not necessarily feel like singing. I can almost gather the enthusiasm, but it just doesn’t happen. This series inspires this type of near-reaction. If the structure was tighter, if proper introductions were made, if stakes were established and the characters three-dimensional, then one might engage. As it stands, The Leftovers is halfway through its first season, and it feels like it still hasn’t started, despite some intriguing elements. Like Kevin and the dry cleaners, the door feels locked, with someone uncaring inside.
There’s a lot of talk this week about being good, as in a decent person, and what that means. The writers lay it on thick with the scene between Jim and his wife, who has just been accepted into a cancer trial because of Jim’s deal with the devil. “Good things happen to good people, right?” she asks him. “Right?” It’s like she’s just rubbing salt in the wound of his already festering guilt.
For a while, Lady Gaga was one of the most fascinating music stars that had come in a while, primarily because of her unapologetic bombast. Too often, though, she may have been written off as “weird”, from her odd fashion decisions, her performance art appearances on TV, and, of course, her music videos. Gaga, née Stefani Germanotta, through her strange videos presents a vision, often of powerful women and the subversion of fame, through each of her music videos. Sometimes straddling the line between film and music video, Lady Gaga, though not always the director of these videos, is always the auteur behind them.
Lady Gaga’s early music videos are nothing if not promotional material, with “LoveGame” and “Poker Face” being, for the most part, entirely generic within the context of her career. It was not perhaps until she employed the use of music video director Jonas Åkerlund that her auteuristic vision became more visible and more tangible. Much of why Lady Gaga is fascinating is because she exists as a paradox: a manufactured character that refutes and argues against the idea of that very idea (similar, though not the same, in nature to Lana Del Ray). Her first album’s title could be considered either prescient or maybe self-aware or maybe egotistical, butThe Fame nonetheless seemed to debut as a self-reflexive examination of the nature of fame in “pop society”. Such knowing self-awareness, winking construction, and post-modern application in pop art is fodder for writers and academics.
Sam Raimi is in the early stages of writing an ‘Evil Dead’ TV series
Last week, I said that The Strain would live or die based on how it balances the silliness with the seriousness. This week, it gave us no indication which direction it will be going in, instead giving us an incredibly boring episode of clichés, which is very disappointing.
“The Box” is an episode of our protagonists moving far slower than the audience, dulling the momentum almost entirely. We spend a little more time with our ensemble, including Gus and his stereotypical Hispanic family, in a scene full of clunky dialogue establishing backstory and characterization for people that are either unimportant or uninteresting. Gabriel, the rock star, hangs out with some naked women because he’s a rock star, and becomes the first of the plane’s survivors to find a taste for blood.
Starting off positively—and it’s a big one—no new mysteries were introduced this episode! At least, nothing of the paranormal, never-going-to-be-answered-adequately nature. What we get instead is a couple of contained stories with our lead characters, some swallowed reveals that are appreciated nonetheless, and a whole lot of metaphor. It was still an extreme hodgepodge and smacking of the strained efforts of a show trying to figure out what it is and how to simply tell its story, but at least it’s not like last week’s complete non-sequitur. We are building (some) relationships. We are attempting to focus and head somewhere.
Rectify Ep. 2.04-2.05 “Donald the Normal”/”Act As If” two fantastic, thematically-rich hours of TV’s most underrated show
Change. At the heart of Rectify is the idea of change: set in a town stuck in the past, featuring a family reeling from an event twenty years ago, and a main character whose entire reality is broken the instant he’s released from prison. And as the heart of Rectify, the Holden household kitchen serves as the perfect metaphor for change: starting over really only happens when you start over, when you finally get rid of the old and allow the new to consume you. But true, soul-enriching change is scary, difficult, and easily corrupted: and in “Donald the Normal” and “Act As If”, that struggle bleeds into every scene, every conversation, every shot composition – and as always, makes for some of the most compelling, philosophically curious TV around.