Puzzling young TV drama

This week-end I watched a few episodes of two puzzling Teen/YA TV drama with enigmatic titles.

Pandora

pandora-posterSet in the year 2199, a young woman who has lost everything finds a new life at Earth’s Space Training Academy where she learns to defend the galaxy from intergalactic threats.

The first one is titled Pandora and is a Star Trek wannabe with poor special effects and quite average acting — after all they are young adults in college so maybe it’s normal if they sound contrived. With just two episodes it is difficult to judge the writing, but so far it is intriguing enough that I might watch more. After all, series like the original Star Trek or Doctor Who have managed very well despite their low-budget production. Everything is in the writing. We shall see. It airs Tuesdays on The CW at 20:00 ET. It’s too early to have a rating on aggregators (but IMDb gives it a 3.8). stars-2-5

To learn more about this title you can consult the following web sites:

[ CW GoogleIMDbWikipedia ]

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Euphoria

MV5BMDMzZDkyNzEtYTY5Ni00NzlhLWI4MzUtY2UzNjNmMjI1YzIzXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMDM2NDM2MQ@@._V1_A group of high school students navigates drugs, sex, identity, trauma, social media, love and friendship.

The second is a teen drama based on a 2012 Israeli series and is titled Euphoria. So far seven episodes have already aired but I’ve seen only the latest. It is diverse, brutal, scary even, sometimes psychedelic, but seems brilliantly written with generally pretty good acting. It is really modern: filmed video clip style, crazy fast-paced, with lots of violence and nudity, and, of course, it is making use of social media as narrative device. The main character is a bipolar drug addict who’s trying to make sense of her world… A little exhausting to watch, but promising. It airs Sundays on HBO at 22:00 ET. It has been rated 79% on Rotten Tomatoes and 8.2 on IMDb. stars-3-0

To learn more about this title you can consult the following web sites:

[ GoogleHBOIMDbWikipedia ]

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Gentleman Jack

GentlemanJack-posterThis is another fascinating TV series that I am compelled to introduce to my readership. HBO has finally realized what PBS knew for a long time: well produced costume drama British TV series can be very popular in America too! They are now starting to co-produced Brit TV series in order to bring them over this side of the Atlantic, but their choice of titles is more edgy or controversial than what PBS is doing. And I am very grateful for that.

Gentleman Jack tells the story of Anne Lister, a landowner and industrialist from Halifax, West Yorkshire. She is known for being the first well-documented “modern lesbian”, as she left coded diaries chronicling in details her daily life, including her romantic relationships and the workings of her Shibden Hall estate and business. Set in 1832, the series mostly tells about her venture in coal mining and her relationship with Ann Walker. It started mainly for the challenge of the conquest and partly for financial interest, but she quickly becomes quite fond of the wealthy heiress. First, I was shocked by how she was planning to win her affection, but I quickly realized that if a man would have been doing the same thing it would have appeared totally normal! 

The acting is excellent (Lister is played by Suranne Jones and Walker by Sophie Rundle) and the story (created by Sally Wainwright) is well written and quite funny. The series is interesting not only because it displays the beautiful English countryside and makes us discover the eccentricity, boldness and modernity of Anne Lister, but above all because it opens a window on the way of life of the English country folks and small nobility at a time when everything is about the change. 

Gentleman Jack is an excellent historical drama that deserves your attention. It was well received by the critics (with ratings of 8.0 on IMDb and of 87% / 93% on Rotten Tomatoes). The first eight-episode season just ended, but it is still streaming on HBO. A second season has already been announced. I can’t wait to hear again the ending credits’ catchy tune by O’Hooley & Tidow!stars-4-0

To learn more about this title you can consult the following web sites:

[ GoogleHBOIMDbOfficialWikipedia ]

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Chernobyl

Chernobyl_2019_MiniseriesI really must bring this TV mini-series to your attention. Chernobyl is a superb five-part historical TV drama co-produced by HBO and Sky UK. It is about the events that led to and the aftermath of the nuclear reactor disaster that occurred in north Ukraine on April 26th 1986. The story focuses mostly on the scientist Valery Legasov (played by Jared Harris) who is sent to the site of the disaster, along with the Council of Ministers’ deputy chairman Boris Shcherbina (played by Stellan Skarsgård), to assess the damage and oversee the cleanup effort. Legasov also ask his colleague Ulana Khomyuk to investigate the cause of the reactor explosion. 

The storytelling is surprisingly accurate (although a few facts were tweeked for dramatization purpose). It tells a dark, somber story but, on top of that, the ambiance of the show itself (the sets that look like you were really in the 80s soviet era, the solemn music, the slow pace of the show) create a dark, oppressive (almost horrific) feeling that is quite depressive. However, that’s what makes the show so spot on. 

The accuracy is such that even the selected actors looks like the part (although they are — and speak — mostly British English, but the acting is so good that you don’t really care). The only character that didn’t historically exist was Ulana Khomyuk (played by Emily Watson) which was created as a composite character representing all the scientists that worked along Valery Legasov. They even shot in Ukraine and Lithuania to get the soviet vibe of the location. The last episode concludes with a “where are they now”-style epilogue that explains what happened after and shows real footage of the characters and events (on a backdrop of gloomy Russian chorus). It is really chilling!

It is an incredible miniseries, very well crafted, visually stunning in how everything look so drab and grey, quite compelling and that rings so true. It shows the extent of the human stupidity and the deep flaws of the USSR society and political system. However, the message is also extremely pertinent for today as it poses the question “What is the cost of lies?” (in an obvious reference to the Trump White House)… A must see.

I am not the only one who greatly appreciated this series as it was very well received by the critics (ratings of 9.6 on IMDb and of 96% on Rotten Tomatoes). To learn more about this series you can check the accompanying podcast where screenwriter Craig Mazin discuss the production (available on Youtube, Spotify or Apple) and the series is still available for streaming on HBO.stars-4-5

To learn more about this title you can consult the following web sites:

[ GoogleHBOIMDbWikipedia ]

[ Traduire ]

Capsules

Vérité évidente en soi?

Une expérience récente m’a fait me questionner sur le racisme et la controverse du “racisme inversé.” Un collègue (d’origine haïtienne) me faisait remarquer que si un blanc dit “il y a trop de noirs ici” ce serait définitivement du racisme. Par contre, lorsqu’un noir dit “il y a trop de blancs ici” (ou similairement “il n’y a pas assez de noirs ici”) ce n’est pas considéré comme du racisme. Pourtant, me disait-il, c’est exactement la même situation (en miroir) et c’est donc dans les faits aussi du racisme. Ou plutôt, c’est ce que bien des gens considère comme du “racisme inversé.” Pourtant, on fait tout un plat en décriant ce concept, en affirmant fortement que le “racisme inversé” n’existe pas, que c’est un mythe.

J’ai beaucoup de difficulté à comprendre cette controverse car j’ai moi-même souvent eut l’impression de subir ce racisme inversé. Pour moi, quand on me fait sentir mal simplement parce que je suis blanc ou que l’on me traite de raciste — moi qui pourtant fait toujours beaucoup d’efforts pour traiter les gens équitablement (cela arrive surtout quand je critique ou fait un reproche à une personne qui passe devant moi dans une ligne d’attente ou qui ne respecte pas un règlement; C’est sans doute un mécanisme de défense quand ils sont pris en défaut, de tout de suite sortir la carte du racisme même si elle n’est pas justifiée). Je ne peux certainement pas comprendre toute l’horreur de subir le racisme (quoi que je vois et ressens ce que mon épouse expérimente parfois) mais je crois pouvoir en comprendre la frustration — ce n’est certes pas amusant de constamment subir l’oppression juste à cause de la couleur de sa peau (alors que pourtant on ne fait jamais de discrimination parce que les gens sont blonds ou roux ou qu’ils ont les yeux bleus ou de gros nez). 

Cela ne devrait pas exister et c’est exaspérant et enrageant de le subir. Ce n’est toutefois pas une raison de passer ses frustrations sur les autres qui eux ne vous ont jamais rien fait. Je comprend que l’oppressé puisse développer de la haine pour l’oppresseur mais si il projète cette haine avec violence (verbale ou physique) contre lui (ou toute autre personne qui lui ressemble sans nécessairement ÊTRE un oppresseur lui-même) cela en fait un acte tout aussi répréhensible, et l’oppressé sombre aussi bas dans l’abîme moral que l’oppresseur. Cela ne fait que renforcer le mépris ou la haine de l’oppresseur, ou de la faire naître chez celui qui, jusqu’alors, n’avait aucune raison de la ressentir. C’est ainsi que se perpétue la haine dans un cycle éternel et que le feu du racisme couve toujours quelques part. Il faut l’éteindre, l’éradiquer à tout jamais. Car, au bout du compte, il n’y aura toujours qu’une seule race d’hommes sur terre: la race humaine.

L’argument contre le “racisme inversé” est que c’est la défense des blancs pour justifier leur racisme. Ce serait l’invention du mouvement alt-right, des suprémacistes blancs et des opposants à la discrimination positive. Il n’en demeure pas moins que le “racisme inversé” est un fait — mais est-il aussi grave que le racisme? Le problème tient en fait à la définition que chacun donne au “racisme inversé” et même au racisme. Peut être que le gens ne parlent pas de la même chose… Si il n’y a pas de concensus (un example est la différence de définition du “racisme inversé” entre les pages française et anglaise de Wikipedia!), on s’entend généralement à définir le racisme comme étant une oppression et exploitation perpétrée par une race dominante contre un groupe minoritaire (par exemple l’esclavage). Les minorités raciales ou ethniques n’ayant pas le pouvoir économique et/ou politique de nuire aux intérêts de la majorité blanche, il ne peut donc pas y avoir de “racisme inversé”. Dans ce cas-ci, il serait donc plus juste de parler de préjudice racial ou de discrimination inversée. Ou alors si une personne a de la haine envers une autre personne parce qu’elle est différente, c’est de la xénophobie. Au delà de tout cet excès de “political correctness”, je crois que c’est jouer avec les mots. Dans l’esprit du commun des mortels, si tu haït l’autre parce qu’il est d’une race différente, c’est du racisme peu importe la race ou le statut sociale.

Sidebar: Qui a oppressé qui en premier?… On en revient à un paradoxe du type de l’oeuf et de la poule qui me rappel beaucoup mon propre questionnement sur l’origine de la souveraineté au Québec: le canadien-anglais hait-il le québécois parce qu’il est souverainiste? Ou le québécois hait-il l’anglais parce qu’il est oppressé? Et est-il souverainiste parce qu’il hait l’anglais qui lui tape dessus parce qu’il est souverainiste? Allez donc savoir où tout cela a commencé! Probablement parce que le québécois hait l’anglais qui l’a conquit et, après une tentative échouée de génocide culturel (lisez le rapport Durham), il l’a oppressé en le gardant longtemps peu éduqué et pauvre. L’anglais hait le québécois qui persiste à être différent (catholique et francophone) et rebel. Mon père, qui a beaucoup voyagé dans l’ouest canadien dans les années ’50 et ’60, a été témoin de cette haine des anglais (voitures avec des plaques d’immatriculation du Québec prisent pour cibles, travailleur québécois tabassés, etc.) et c’est ce qui l’a rendu souverainiste. Ce n’est sans doute pas par hasard que Vallières nous a appelé les “nègres” blancs d’Amérique… Enfin, je m’égare.

Je comprend parfaitement que ce serait une fausse équivalence de prendre la “discrimination” faite envers les blancs par les noirs et de la comparer avec tout l’historique du racisme que ceux-ci ont subi (particulièrement dans le cas des noirs américains et du lourd passé de l’esclavage). De la même manière, la “discrimination” qui m’est faite lorsque l’on me traite de raciste (et la tentative d’intimidation que cela représente) n’est AUCUNEMENT comparable à l’échelle de l’humiliation, de la frustration  et de l’oppression ressenti par la personne de couleurs qui subie le racisme. Toutefois, de mon point de vue, ce que je ressent est de l’oppression aussi — juste à plus petite échelle — et qui ne devrait pas être rendue triviale juste parce que je suis blanc. C’est un peu la faute des média qui ont perpétué le mythe du noir violent et criminel — d’où la réaction immanquable de la vieille dame qui resserre sa sacoche contre elle quand un jeune noir entre dans la pièce ou monte dans l’autobus. Un mythe qui est exploité tant d’un côté comme de l’autre pour générer la peur et un malaise sociale… Et bien sûr, indépendamment de son appartenance ethnique, c’est d’abord le caractère et l’éducation d’un individu qui le fait agir de façon stupide, irréfléchie ou inconsidérée.

Je trouve quand même au peu insignifiant tout ce pointage de doigts, ce “il a commencé en premier” et ce “il me hait plus que je le hait”. Cela en est presque enfantin. Le racisme, peu importe qui le commet, est un acte condamnable. En bout du compte, toute le monde devrait être respectueux envers l’autre — peu importe la couleur de sa peau ou sa culture d’origine. Point.

Note: Le titre de ce billet, “Self evident truth?”, fait référence à la Déclaration d’indépendance Américaine qui proclame “Nous soutenons que ces vérités vont de soi, que tous les hommes sont créés égaux.” C’est beau l’idéalisme…

(Mise à jour: 2019/03/10)

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Electoral conundrum

On October 1st the population of Quebec will have to vote to put their favourite candidates in the National Assembly. I find myself in quite an electoral conundrum since the lack of leadership makes it impossible to find anyone worth of my support. Every party has good ideas, but also so many stupid ones. I began this reflection when my union started a campaign advocating not voting for either the Liberals or the CAQ because “they are all the same” and that “we deserve better”… But if not them, who?

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In liberfacies

Against Facebook

I am really getting fed up with Facebook. It is an exceedingly time-consuming activity (chronophagios) that really gives little rewards — I means besides watching cat videos and stalking (um, I means, keeping in contact with) friends. More and more it has become the kingdom of fake news, as people constantly pass their expressed opinions as news (or as news-worthy).

Not only Facebook is doing very little to prevent foreign agencies to try to influence our minds through fake posting or advertising but, at the same time, they block legitimate ads from museums around the world because it is deemed offensive or subversive ! Incredible! How comes a bunch a geeks who know so little about the world become arbiters of morality and political decency ? They’re such a great influence over our minds (and our children’s minds) and yet, there is no one to oversee their policies? Inacceptable!

Of course, I would not be so inflamed by their ignominious policies if I would not have been touched personally by it. I am busy and I don’t have time to post on my blog, on Facebook, on Tweeter, on Instagram, etc. So I concentrate on what’s the most important to me (the medium that I can control the most) — my blog — and I just automatically repeat each (or most) post on the other social media to increase diffusion of my art and thoughts. However, a recent change in policies brought by Facebook is blocking this automatic reposting! What? They let the Russian pass through but they block my book reviews and cats’ pictures?! That’s unconscionable !

That I learned recently from a WordPress email:

“Starting August 1, 2018, third-party tools can no longer share posts automatically to Facebook Profiles. This includes Publicize, the WordPress.com tool that connects your site to major social media platforms (like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook).”

They explain that if my content is linked to a Facebook Profile (a personal account), then Publicize will no longer be able to share my posts to Facebook, but it will still work if it’s a Facebook Page (public profiles allowing “artists, public figures, businesses, brands, organizations and nonprofits connect with their fans or customers”) that is connected to my site. I have only two options if I still want my Facebook followers to see my posts : create a link manually or convert my Facebook Profile to a Page ! They continue:

While Facebook says it is introducing this change to improve their platform and prevent the misuse of personal profiles, we believe that eliminating cross-posting from WordPress is another step back in Facebook’s support of the open web, especially since it affects people’s ability to interact with their network (unless they’re willing to pay for visibility) We know that this might cause a disruption in the way you and your Facebook followers interact, and if you’d like to share your concerns with Facebook, we urge you to head to their Help Community to speak out.

Damn you Facebook! Improving your platform? You means improving your profits by making changes that would favour the commercial use of your application! What about the users, the people who made your product famous (and create its value) ? Oh, yes, that’s true: since we know that WE are your product it is getting more difficult to fleece us, so you reorient your business model!

So, if you were wondering why I am posting very little on Facebook lately, well, that’s the reason. Now, I will probably share my posts manually for a while (for the most important entries) and maybe consider to eventually create a Page, but I am also quite seriously considering withdrawing completely from Facebook…

What do you think about that? (please comment)

And don’t hesitate to let Facebook know what I think of their stupid policies!

(note: the title is in latin)

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American Made

AmericanMade-poster

Poster art

This movie is presented as a biopic but it’s really just “inspired” by the life of Barry Seal. It’s nevertheless enjoyable to see Tom Cruise play in a comedy — although this story should really be a tragedy since it’s about how Reagan’s government was trying to prevent communism to prevail in Central America by arming the Nicaraguan Contras against the Sandinistas using drug smugglers. It doesn’t end well for Seal but the light tone of the movie makes the heavy subject entertaining enough to be enjoyable — while we should have been puking in disgust instead… stars-2-5

 

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