Monday, 22 August 2011

Torchwood: Miracle Day; Immortal Sins (Episode 7) Review

Torchwood: Miracle Day keeps baffling me with each new epsiode. It makes me realize that even tho I enjoyed all previous 6 episodes of the latest Torchwood season, at least half of them were just useless. The character of Oswald Danes only a cheap, faux-controversial prop (which makes sense but is completely redundant), the overflow camps only a ploy to make us all feel sick from the state of the humanity. Do we really need that? We have news.

It turns out, that what Torchwood really boils down to, is a romance gone wrong. A Lover Spurned, as Marc Almond sings. Only Jack is only learning his lesson now. WE ARE ALL ANGELS Faux-controversial Prop said a while ago, to the thundering applause of the brainless masses - episode 7 finally let us meet the Angel, the maker of The Miracle: Angelo Colesanto, the Angel and all his saints. What a sweet innocent creature. He wanted to see the big world. Instead he met Jack, and it fucked him up. And in 84 years time he'll somehow fuck up the world. And Jack.

I liked this episode for the most part. I could've done without another depiction of the inherent cruelty of the Human race. Torchwood might be fighting the aliens but somehow it insists on telling us we might be even worse that the aliens we fight. But other than that, I liked the episode. I liked Jack and Gwen turning on each other, each fighting to survive. I liked seeing Rex and Esther act like a true Torchwood team. I liked seeing Nana Visitor.
And I sure as hell enjoyed me some man-on-man romance (could've done without the gay marriage PSA in church, tho). But most of all I loved seeing a period of more than several days covered in one episode...felt SO refreshing!

Time for some speculation. How did the Miracle happen? We're getting close to uncovering it. What scares me is that we still have 3 episodes left. At this point I'd prefer to have only one juicy, eventful episode left to watch. An episode, in which we'd find the remaining pieces of the puzzle, and which would send the Miracle straight to Hell.

Anyway. How did the Miracle happen? Agelo was no scientist, he must have had some help. Probably from the three suit-y guys (the name of the group now escapes me, bad Whovian!). Did he do it because he wanted to like Jack and live with him forever after (even though Jack seemed he was pretty done with the Angel after he left Jack die a hundred times at the hands of the Little Italia residents)? Or did he do it because he wanted to make Jack mortal? Were his intentions originally good? Or was he a lover spurned and wanted revenge on his ex?

See, this is what a truly good single episode can do you. It can make you genuinely care for the story. It raises questions. It makes you relize that the previous episodes only put you to sleep compared to this. Since 7 is my number I wonder if this was the high point of the series for me. Could it get better than Immortal Sins? Oh yes, it could. Episode 7 was not flawless. Will it get better? Now, that is the question.

P.S. Read Heather Hogan's recap of this episode. ;)

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Torchwood: Miracle Day; review of episodes 1-6 (possible spoilers for UK people)

First of all I should say I'm not a huge fan of big season(s)-encompassing story arcs. I like seeing character development, yes, but I'm frankly tired of every season of Doctor Who having a Bad Wolf or cracks. I'd be totally happy with stand-alone episodes w/ no bigger season-long mystery. Alas that is not what this age is about.

My favourite season of Torchwood was the second one, w/ Tosh & Owen being my favourite characters. I especially loved Owen after he died for the first time, I wish he could have stayed that way forever. He'd have made a great spy (cue Burn Gorman's character on The Hour).

The Afterelton/Afterellen recapper Heather Hogan sometimes includes Infinity and Beyond scenarios in her hilarious Torchwood recaps and those definitely make you realize that you in fact don't wanna watch Miracle Day but you wanna see Ianto, Tosh, Owen & newly Vera fuck about the Cradiff hubb & chase aliens. Watching Rex, Gwen, Esther & Jack is interesting, yes, but I, personally, just don't find much joy in it. Bar Gwen's occasional moments of badassery.

At this point I'm not sure which role will Oswald Danes play in the whole story. So far he's only involved in a hopefully improbable storyline about people being all into a child rapist after he said WE ARE ANGELS. Is his character more than a cheap shot at being conroversial, on the part of the writers?

And why is Jack only guest-starring in his own show? So far he realized he was mortal, kept stalking Danes, had his scene stolen by a PhiCorp middle man & had sex (and a proper hangover). Episode 7 promises to include more of his part of the story but won't it be too little too late? On the other hand I'll rather watch that than my dear John Barrowman desperately trying to be all emotional (What have they done to you, my poor friend?) which just isn't his forté as an actor.

Gwen is definitely at her all-time lowest quotient of annoying. She's quite badass on Miracle Day. Maybe RTD is waiting for us to start liking her & now he will kill her off? Nah, I sadly think Rhys - aka The 2nd Best Husband In The History of Mankind Right After Mr. Pond - is much more likely to joing Infinity and Beyond.

As for the new members of the Torchwood team. Well I think we all loved Vera. Of course she was killed off the worst way possible. Rex is an arrogant stupid asshole, still I don't care enough about him to hate him. That privilege I'll save for the Sleaze director of the American concentration overflow camp. I don't give a FUCK about him being scared or whatever. That man is exactly what is wrong with this world. Powerful Evil People would have no power if it weren't for scared, cruel cowards like him. I'm sorry, but this guy gets no compassion from me. Evil, vile, sadistic scared little man.

Esther is proving to be the most interesting character so far. Who didn't cheer when she strangled the crap out of Mr. Evil Sleaze? Now she'll even make a better man out of Rex.

The characters are more or less the reason I keep watching. To be honest I'm not really that interested about the story itself. It drags on. At the current lenght of the episodes, 5 episodes would be enough for this story, I think. The theme of governments being ready to sacrifice anything as long as the problem goes away has been thoroughly explored in the 3rd season. Been there, done that, move on.

I have to admit that though slow I still think the episodes are quite well written. All of the main actors are good...If there is a problem this season it's the direction and ...well for me, the concept itself. On the other hand, Miracle Day is still a damn good telly. It's not the old Torchwood, it's definitely more American but it's still good enough.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Movie Meme

As seen on Cultural Snow's blog & originally (?) posted on Bookcrossing here's my Movie Meme:

1. Movie you love with a passion.

Breakfast on Pluto.

2. Movie you vow to never watch.

A Clockwork Orange. I read the book. It's great. But I really, really, really don't wanna watch the film. At all.

3. Movie that literally left you speechless.

Das Leben der Anderen.

4. Movie you always recommend.

After I watch a film I like I keep recommending it to anyone who'll listen but there isn't one specific film that I keep recommending to people.

5. Actor/actress you always watch, no matter how crappy the movie.

I'd say Johnny Depp but has he really done a crappy film yet? I'd say Hugh Grant but I haven't seen the last one. Ditto for Tom Hanks.

6. Actor/actress you don’t get the appeal for.

Robert De Niro. Yeah, he's good. But does he, in my opinion, deserve all that worship? Nope.

7. Actor/actress, living or dead, you’d love to meet.

Jimmy Stewart. I'm sure he'd be nice.

8. Sexiest actor/actress you’ve seen (+ picture).

One person? If I started to write the list now, I wouldn't be done by the end of the world (which is like in a couple of months but anyway...).



Yes, I am actually taking this very seriously.

9. Dream cast.

The TV Brideshead Revisited is pretty much the dream cast for the characters the way I imagined them while reading the novel. Three fucking times. No, am still not catholic. Not even getting there.

As films go...Love Actually has a pretty dreamy cast.

10. Favorite actor pairing.

All of the pairings I can think of are in the land of TV....
Yet in the land of film I just can only think of Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers. They were not only wonderfully compatible as dancers but as actors as well. You could see it right the first time they were together, in their few scenes in Flying down to Rio.

11. Favorite movie setting.

Anywhere that isn't real, preferably in history. or in Space. or England. or ancient Rome. or ancient Rome in England.

12. Favorite decade for movies

I don't have one. If I had to choose I'd go for 1930's.

13. Chick flick or action movie?


14. Hero, villain or anti-hero?

Anti-hero or The Queen.

15. Black and white or color?


Wednesday, 3 August 2011

My Favourite Lyrics Part 1; Love Songs

A couple of days ago I decided to start writing about my favourite song lyrics. Song lyrics is my favourite kind of poetry. Also it's thanks to them that I'm able to write this blog in English, however flawed it might be. All those free afternoons I spent translating lyrics by The Beatles, David Bowie & Kate Bush! These guys were my best English teachers. :o)

I wanna start with some love songs. Just because I'm not really a fan of love songs per se, so it's not so hard to choose these. In my opinion, if I love a love song & its lyrics it means that the song is really fucking good! :o)

My Funny Velentine

My funny Valentine
Sweet comic Valentine
You make me smile with my heart
Your looks are laughable
Yet you're my favourite work of art

Is your figure less than Greek
Is your mouth a little weak
When you open it to speak
Are you smart?

But don't change a hair for me
Not if you care for me
Stay little Valentine stay
Each day is Valentine's day

I copied the whole text of the song here because it really is a work of art. Quirky humorous & tender lyrics - combined with a very melancholy melody - how very smart and how very beautiful. The lyrics of the song were written by Lorenz Hart in 1937 (he died only 6 years later, aged 48) in my opinion are just as much behind the success of the song as the melody written by Richard Rodgers. Hart's simple message: I know you're not perfect but that's exactly why I love you, is sentimental and touching enough but not smaltzy, almost 80 years after it was written people still connect to it. Even people like me.

Many artists have recorded this song and even more have at least sung it at one point but my favourite version is probably Nico's, from her last studio album Camera Obscura which came out in 1985.

Your Song

It's a little bit funny this feeling inside
I'm not one of those who can easily hide
I don't have much money but boy if I did
I'd buy a big house where we both could live

If I was a sculptor, but then again, no
Or a man who makes potions in a travelling show
I know it's not much but it's the best I can do
My gift is my song and this one's for you

And you can tell everybody this is your song
It may be quite simple but now that it's done
I hope you don't mind
I hope you don't mind that I put down in words
How wonderful life is while you're in the world

I sat on the roof and kicked off the moss
Well a few of the verses well they've got me quite cross
But the sun's been quite kind while I wrote this song
It's for people like you that keep it turned on

So excuse me forgetting but these things I do
You see I've forgotten if they're green or they're blue
Anyway the thing is what I really mean
Yours are the sweetest eyes I've ever seen

And you can tell everybody this is your song
It may be quite simple but now that it's done
I hope you don't mind
I hope you don't mind that I put down in words
How wonderful life is while you're in the world

I hope you don't mind
I hope you don't mind that I put down in words
How wonderful life is while you're in the world

Another classic that necessitated for its lyrics to be copied in full. What can I say. Bernie Taupin is a fucking genius. Your Song follows a bit in the path of My Funny Veltine: it's almost as if one of the lovers sang My Funny Valentine and the other one replied in the form of Your Song. It's an evolution: less wit, more awkwardness and a lot of "I'm not worthy but I'd do anything I could for you" feeling mixed in. One says that the partner's looks are unphotographable and the other one doesn't even know the partner's eye colour. What a couple! :o)

Maybe I'm Amazed

Maybe I'm amazed at the way you love me all the time
Maybe I'm afraid of the way I love you
Maybe I'm amazed at the way you pulled me out of time
And hung me on a line

Maybe I'm amazed at the way I really need you
Baby I'm a man maybe I'm a lonely man
Who's in the middle of something
That he doesn't really understand

Baby I'm a man and maybe you're the only woman
Who could ever help me
Baby won't you help me understand

Baby I'm a man, maybe I'm a lonely man
Who's in the middle of something
That he doesn't really understand

Baby I'm a man and maybe you're the only woman
Who could ever help me
Baby won't you help me understand

Maybe I'm amazed at the way you're with me all the time
Maybe I'm afraid of the way I leave you
Maybe I'm amazed at the way you help me sing my song
Right me when I'm wrong
Maybe I’m amazed at the way I really need you

I'd known this song for years before I heard Crystal Bowersox sing it on American Idol last year. I never rated this song that high, it took a woman to make me realize how earnest, straight from the gut/heart this song was. Macca can be a great lyricist just as he can be a mere pale imitation of the best lyricists of the 20's/30's/40's swing songs he grew up listening to. The thing is he just doesn't have the quick wit of Cole Porter and the like but when he writes from the heart the results can be surprisingly brilliant.

I'll Be Your Mirror

I'll be your mirror
Reflect what you are, in case you don't know
I'll be the wind, the rain and the sunset
The light on your door to show that you're home

When you think the night has seen your mind
That inside you're twisted and unkind
Let me stand to show that you are blind
Please put down your hands
'Cause I see you

I find it hard to believe you don't know
The beauty you are
But if you don't let me be your eyes
A hand in your darkness, so you won't be afraid

When you think the night has seen your mind
That inside you're twisted and unkind
Let me stand to show that you are blind
Please put down your hands
'Cause I see you

I'll be your mirror
(reflect what you are

The lyrics to this song show you just how tender Lou Reed can be. Nothing more needs to be said, really.

The Art Teacher

There I was in uniform
Looking at the art teacher
I was just a girl then;
Never have I loved since then

He was not that much older than I was
He had taken our class to the Metropolitan Museum
He asked us what our favorite work of art was,
But never could I tell him it was him
Oh, I wish I could tell him --
Oh, I wish I could have told him

I looked at the Rubens and Rembrandts
I liked the John Singer Sargents
He told me he liked Turner
And never have I turned since then
No, never have I turned to any other man

All this having been said,
I married an executive company head
All this having been done, a Turner - I own one
Here I am in this uniformish, pant-suit sort of thing,
Thinking of the art teacher
I was just a girl then;
Never have I loved since then
No, never have I loved any other man

Well this Rufus Wainwright song is not a typical "I'm talking to you" love song but I think it qualifies as one of the most interesting love lyrics I've ever heard/read. All of the above songs probably refer to intense emotions of "I fucking love you and wanna fuck you and marry you and be with you for ever and ever." but Rufus found a different point of view: an unrequited love of a married woman who looks back at her youth and realizes she hasn't really loved anyone as much as her teen self loved her art teacher. Wow? Wow.

They Can't Take That Away from Me

The way you wear your hat
The way you sip your tea
The memory of all that
No they can't take that from me.

The way your smile just beams
The way you sing off key
The way you haunt my dreams
No they can't take that from me.

We may never meet again
On the bumpy road of love.
Still I'll always keep the memory of...

No they can't take that away,
No they can't take that away.

This song written by George and Ira Gershwin probably doesn't have one of the smartest lyrics ever but it just holds a special place in my heart. The scene in the musical called Shall We Dance, in which Fred Astaire first itroduced the song, is wonderful and certainly memorable. Before I saw this film I mostly knew Frank Sinatra's version of this song, which has more swagger but Fred's simple style of singing made me pay close attention to the equaly simple but powerful lyrics. This might be ending but what we've had, no-one can take that away from us.

next time: Breakup songs. Expect loads of ABBA. :o)