Entertainment Reviews & News

I have been eyeballs deep in reading and watching television with the occasional writing. None of it ended up on this blog, which I plan to correct.

The Haunting of Hill House (Netflix) – I did enjoy Mike Flannigan’s interpretation or “reimagining” if you will. I covered my eyes at several points and even squealed in terror when Nell stuck her head from the backseat while Theo and Shirley were driving to the house. I cried. I got angry. I laughed. I felt every emotion possible. This, however, did not feel like Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House.

Emily Nussbaum from the New Yorker wrote it best:

Most frustratingly, the adaptation abandons the raw feminine perversity that made Jackson’s story so indelible. In the book, Eleanor is a true-blue weirdo. She’s Emily Dickinson, she’s Jane Eyre—a dangerously needy oddball, but also one who’s funny, observant, and full of rage. She’s a mess, but she’s a specific mess: “I have red shoes, she thought—that goes with being Eleanor; I dislike lobster and sleep on my left side and crack my knuckles when I am nervous and save buttons.”

Sadie Graham from Buzzfeed wrote one of the best reviews and interpretations that I’ve ever read of Jackson’s novel:

In Flanagan’s show, the dysfunctional, substitute family that the novel’s characters are drawn into is concretized as a biological one: The Crains are childhood sufferers of a malevolent house that separated them from their parents, leaving their mother dead, their father lost to the wilds of his own trauma. As an adult, Nell returns to Hill House and dies there under mysterious circumstances in the very first episode. Hugh Crain, her father, and newly invented older siblings Steven and Shirley, middle sister Theodora, and Nell’s twin brother Luke, are unwillingly reunited by Nell’s death, and they must confront the past they’ve long repressed or else suffer its ghosts and be further torn apart. This is a major departure from the plot of the novel — and in making this change, the show erases its tragic protagonist Nell’s queerness: the conflicted, complicated desire she feels for Theodora.

The execution of this shift runs against the most fundamental spirit of the original novel. Hill House the show believes deeply in the sanctity of the family unit; what is most horrifying is the possibility that the family unit can be destroyed. Hill House the novel asks whether the structure of the family is itself horrifying.

She goes further to explain:

Family can be difficult for many reasons: For survivors of violence, for girls at the bottom of the social and familial food chain, and for many, many queer people, the idea that family is a space of safety and love is less intuitive than we are told it should be. Queer and feminist theorist Sara Ahmed writes that some bodies are “housed” less than others. The nuclear family is built on a hierarchy; like all structures of power, it is easily inclined to abuse. Those who have been rejected from it know that the nuclear family was never, ever meant for us. Narratives like Jackson’s understand this alienation. Narratives like Netflix’s reproduce it.

I want to see that interpretation and it occurred to me at that moment that Netflix could do something new and unique; they could use the second season to invite a new showrunner to introduce another interpretation of Jackson’s novel. Each season could be yet another concept of a new showrunner’s vision. I for one love how Netflix pushes the envelope in television and films. This could be another example. Do one with a gay multi-cultural family; another with an immigrant family, et cetera and as we watch the seasons go by, we learn valuable lessons from each new showrunner’s interpretation, vision, and perspective.

There’s been some pushback from Hollywood about the ‘Netflix Effect‘ and the faux outrage from studio heads lamenting all their missed dollars because they’re so entrenched in tradition—the tradition of hoarding all the money and power and sameness. I find it rooted in corporatism and a white privileged patriarchy. Netflix and Amazon are introducing us to television and movies that wouldn’t otherwise be seen with inclusive casts and narrations from all over. The article in question does refer to ‘prestige films’; my opinion still stands.

For me personally, I don’t go to movies anymore because they’re too expensive. By the time you get snacks and a drink along with the movie ticket, you’ve spent $30 and I’m really not interested in sitting and watching a movie with a bunch of strangers. When I did go to the movies, I usually went during the earliest showing and sat in the back of the theater. So, no, Netflix is a positive force on the entertainment world and the white male privilege studio heads can go home and cry in their swimming pools.

Castle Rock (Hulu) – Emily Nussbaum wrote about when shows scramble their chronology in her review of The Haunting of Hill House:

The show’s chronology is scrambled, so only gradually, over ten episodes, through incrementally doled-out twists and flashbacks, do we find out exactly what happened.

But an episode isn’t a season. Clever direction, on its own, isn’t good art. And a reshuffled chronology can masquerade as complexity—an ongoing irritation in our era of streaming television, in which puzzle-solving has become an easy way to motivate viewers to push play, by retrofitting momentum onto a story that’s not really about anything, other than closure.

I’m a fan of these types of puzzle-twisting storylines and find that more often than not, it does add a level of complexity to the arcs. Perhaps not all the time. Castle Rock did this. I enjoyed the multi-level themes interwoven between the ideas of both science and religion in this show where normally I would not especially in portraying Ruth’s illness. With André and Bill’s characters divergence between worlds, the climatical theme is we fear in others what we hate and fear most about ourselves and when we should look towards and acknowledge science, we cling to the supernatural. This was an interesting spin on an obvious Stephen King tale and I enjoyed it.

Passengers – When I first read the summary of this plot, I was like no way; another patriarchy movie where guy-forces-girl-to-like-him-cuz-he’s-the-only-one-left-kind-of-movie? Only a guy would write this script or a white woman Trump voter. There was no way I was gonna waste my time. Infuriated me that it even existed. One night, I was bored and I like Jennifer Lawrence so I gave it a try. It was okay besides the obvious glaring flaws that enraged me.

The Hitman’s Bodyguard – This movie was fun. I really enjoyed it. Samuel L. Jackson is the star of this movie and rightfully so as he had the best lines.

Darius Kincaid: You’re going to pardon an innocent woman? That’s mighty fucking white of you.

Darius Kincaid: Question for a higher power. Who is more wicked, he who kills evil motherfuckers or he who protects them?

The Shape of Water – This movie was so very lovely and I’m so glad that it won an Oscar. That tells me that the Oscars are determined to evolve, which is good because they were becoming irrelevant until Moonlight.

Tomb Raider – Alicia Vikander—who still looks like she’s 14-years-old; I have to remind myself that she’s married to Michael Fassbender but then he was in Fishtank so…—is the only woman besides Kristin Scott Thomas in this movie. She is brutally beaten and strangled by men throughout and grunted and gasped thru it so much I barely recall any of her actual lines. I didn’t like this movie. I thought it was misogynistic as fuck and wouldn’t recommend watching this to anyone. At least Angelina Jolie didn’t allow herself to be used as a man’s punching bag. This was not a woman’s superhero or empowerment movie, but a man’s let’s-beat-on-the-woman-and-show-her-who’s-the-boss movie regardless of who walks away in the end. Do yourself a favor and pass on this one.

American Made – I got halfway through this movie and stopped watching. It’s the same formulaic style as Narcos only less complexity and with the current political and economic environment being what it is, I am tired of watching rich white entitled arrogant males garishly brandish and flounce around in their corruption and the obscenity of their wealth so enthusiastically. I’ll take a hard pass on that shit.

The Mummy – When I saw this trailer it looked exhausting and certain parts of it were exhausting. I liked the premise and it would’ve been more interesting had it been more cerebral, more philosophical or archaeological and less physical—less action if you will. I liked that Cruise was such an asshole and had a redemption arc like in Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow—one of my favs—and that the movie added humor; too many movies are far too earnest nowadays. As an earnest girl, I appreciate the attempt at levity in a drama to bring humor even if it is a gallows humor to the scenes, especially in today’s environment.

Sharp Objects (HBO) – I finally got to finish this series and I loved it. I loved the ending and no, I don’t think there should be a second season. I cannot wait to see what Gillian Flynn continues to create. I love her.

A Wrinkle in Time – Ava did a fantastic job.

House of Cards S6 – I enjoyed Claire’s character and wished the entire show focused on her. It would’ve been far more entertaining and unique.

Bodyguard (Netflix) – I loved it. From Richard Madden to Keeley Hawes to their affair to David’s PTSD—everything was delicious about this and I hope Madden continues in the role. He would be a good choice as James Bond too.

The First (Hulu) – An interesting series especially once they started to focus less on Sean Penn and more on Anna Jacoby-Heron who plays his daughter and Natascha McElhone who plays CEO of Vista. I’m curious as to where they’re going with the second season. I’m not a big fan of Penn, but I love science fiction and I like Beau Willimon.

Revenge – This is an older show that I watched a few eps of and enjoyed at the time, but I stopped watching. I cannot remember why. I watched up to S3-19 and quit. This was a fantastic show at first that clearly went off the rails unless that was the point. Killing Margarita Levieva and Barry Sloane’s characters then having Emily aka Amanda say that Lydia instead of Daniel was the one that tried to kill her…that did it for me. It pretty much went south afterward. I read the summary of what happened and decided that was enough for me.

The Resident – I have a crush on Matt Czuchry and Emily VanCamp and Manish Dayal and Shaunette Renée Wilson and Malcolm-Jamal Warner. They are all so hawt I want to eat them.

Arrow – This is the only show besides The Resident and The 100 that I watch as soon as it’s aired on either Roku CW app (Arrow & The 100) and Hulu (The Resident). I watch it for Emily Bett Rickards’ character Felicity. She has been one of my favorite characters and if she hadn’t been on the show, I probably would’ve given up on it. Her and Oliver together make the show and along with David Ramsey? Fun.

Until next time.

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