Monday, August 14, 2017

Series: Summer Lovin’ -- Week 27

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It's hard to believe that summer is already winding down. Seriously, where did the time go? As many people are buying school supplies and prepping for a return to books and exams, we're celebrating a few more weeks of summer and all it has to offer us. Joining me this week to talk about what they're lovin' are:

Let's get started!
“Orphan Black.
” “Orphan Black.
”

What Jenn's lovin': Orphan Black's series finale

Why she's lovin' it: *Minor spoilers ahead*

Maaaaaaaan, this show has been an insane ride from start to finish, hasn't it? I remember first watching the commercials for Orphan Black at my best friend's house as we would be in the midst of a Doctor Who episode and think, "This show looks dark." And it was very dark. People got stabbed and shot and mutilated and most of the time, I had to look away. But the heart of this show was always the relationship between Sarah and her "sestras." And the series finale was no different. In fact, I glanced at the clock a few times to double-check, and was right: all of the major action in the finale took place within the show's first half hour.

The rest of the time was devoted to exploring character. And for that, I'm grateful. Firstly, of course, because I'm a writer. That means I'll generally always choose character-centric television series or episodes over plot-centric ones. But this character-focused final episode also allowed us all the chance to witness, once and for all, why Tatiana Maslany deserves like, seven Emmys. I legitimately forget sometimes that Maslany played every clone I see. The contrast is most evident, I think, when Maslany plays Helena and Sarah in the same scene. And boy, did we get some incredible moments with Tatiana Maslany playing opposite... well, Tatiana Maslany.

The most powerful and moving scene in the finale is when Helena is delivering her babies. The moment is beautifully cut beside a flashback of Sarah delivering Kira, with Mrs. S championing for her. Sarah plays S in this new scene, encouraging Helena and giving her the strength to keep going. You can tell that Maslany understood every single nuance necessary not just for Sarah (joy mixed with grief as she still mourns the loss of S) but Helena too. The score in the scene is beautiful, as is the inclusion of Art who is there to help Helena. Tatiana Maslany always astounds me with her ability to make each clone so distinct in personality, tone of voice, mannerisms, etc. that you forget you're watching essentially a one-woman show on a daily basis. 

Sarah has always been the focal point of the show though, and I loved that the final half of the finale focused on her and her grief in the wake of S's death. Sarah internalizes to the point of self-destruction or combustion, and we witness that as she snaps at Alison, and everyone around her. But then the incredible happens — Cosima, Alison, and Helena all rally around Sarah and lift her up in her lowest moments. They talk about the struggles of motherhood and even though their lives are all vastly different, a connection continues to exist there. And then Helena revealed the book she had written and all of the waterworks just kept flowing for me. Everything about the last bit of the finale was perfect, and for a show filled with darkness, the light of the sestras managed to pierce through it all in the end.

I love the way Orphan Black chose to end their series, and am forever grateful to Tatiana Maslany for embodying so many incredible, diverse female characters.

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What Julia's lovin': Daredevil

Why she's lovin' it: I have been trying to get around to watching Daredevil since it was released in 2015, and with The Defenders just around the corner, I decided it was time to catch up. Over three days, I binged the first season of Daredevil and was blown away with the quality of the show. Daredevil plays out like a thirteen-hour movie instead of a thirteen-episode television season, which is very impressive.

The production value is some of the highest quality of any television series that I have seen. First, the lighting is used to not only set the mood, but set the scene in ways that are usually only seen in films. I loved that Matt Murdock’s apartment is always dark with only the light of an electronic billboard outside peeking through the dirty windows at important moments. The use of red lighting to shadow Murdock’s face is done very well and alludes to his eventual identity as Daredevil. A similar technique is used during all the action scenes, which gives a feel of how Murdock lives in the world as a blind man trying to stop crime. Between the impressive lighting and well-crafted sets, Daredevil looks more like a film than a television series.

Besides the high-quality production, I was very impressed with the choreography of the action scenes. Even though Murdock fights everyone from street thugs to ninjas, all the fighting looks realistic. The amount of violence and blood adds a whole other level to the must-watch action. It is as shocking as it is incredible to watch. The acting by Charlie Cox as Murdock and Vincent D’Onofrio as villain Wilson Fisk should have been praised long ago. The lines between right and wrong blur between the excellent writing and acting that the show displays. Daredevil is a phenomenal show, and I wish I had watched it sooner because I have been missing out.

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What Ashvini’s lovin’: Spider-Man: Homecoming

Why she’s lovin’ it: I loved this movie. Like, stay-all-the way-until-the-end-of-the-credits-type of love. I frankly didn’t know what to expect from this variant of probably one of Marvel’s most frequently revamped superheroes. Surprisingly, I was completely giddy after watching this movie. I immediately got what it was about, what Marvel was trying to set up, really drawing on the innocence and inherent goodness of Peter Parker. At the end of watching the movie, while the credits were rolling, I turned to my brother and whispered, “I’m pretty sure the people behind this movie knew exactly what they were doing when they made this movie.” He looked at me and giggled and said, “Exactly.”

This movie was sticky (yeah, that’s right) with naivety, charm, and youthful indulgence in the best ways possible. Not to mention that Tom Holland was a perfect Spider-Man; his squeaky, clean voice, his youthful antics, and his constant well-meaning disposition made watching it in theaters worth it. Seeing an actual teenager play a teenager is refreshing and helps communicate the intended message of this particular Avenger; after all, this Peter Parker just wants to help people. In whatever capacity, whether he’s working with the Avengers or being the “friendly neighborhood Spider-Man”, he’s so grateful and humbled either way that he’s being wanted for his skills which he considers to be the most important part of who he is. After some near-death experiences and exhausting Happy Hogan’s cell data plan, Peter’s wide-eyed intentions cut through to Tony Stark, his partially reluctant, ever-attentive proxy father and mentor. He gives Peter the recognition that he’s craving which means the world to him. It’s incredibly endearing to watch.

But the thing is, Peter proves time and time again that he can live without recognition from Tony, without acceptance from his peers and crush, without understanding from his best friend. All he wants to do is fight for what’s right, and that means stopping bad guys from being bad (which in this case, is Michael Keaton as Vulture). He doesn’t want revenge, he doesn’t want to kill; he just wants to be good. He just wants to be Spider-Man. It’s really that simple. And that simplicity imprints so beautifully onto the movie. The message is so simple that the wonderfully diverse high school backdrop of the movie, the silly, self-aware jokes, and the vivid technicolor of innocence is able to come alive without fail. These aspects make the movie strong in both plot and development, in the general folds of the Marvel universe, and by introducing of a new, truer version of Peter Parker, while also letting the audience meet memorable characters like Ned (Jacob Batalon), Liz (Laura Harrier), Flash (Tony Revolori), and Michelle a.k.a. MJ (Zendaya). Admittedly, I’m biased, but it’s so obvious that all of these components make this movie so uncommonly enjoyable in an age that’s seeping superhero media at the seams.

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Bonus lovin’: On weekends, I sometimes find myself surrounded by incoherent, giggly, fellow 21-year olds, who are passing around red solo cups filled with whatever boozy concoction seems good in the moment, taking shots in the name of our youth, which after being plied with alcohol always seems everlasting. And usually, we go out and dance our well-meaning hearts out to the latest pop hits, and stumble home afterwards, grasping onto each other in good humor.

Lately I have become quite aware that the way I live my “American experience” as a twenty-something year-old is concentrated and has a time limit, and that I’m not going to get to exercise that kind of comfortable, reckless self-expression forever. The kind of self-expression that Khalid describes in soulful streams in his song “American Teen”. At 19, he realizes that his experiences of freedom aren’t universal and they’re not going to last endlessly and without consequence. Or that his “high” has a time limit and that him and his friends are eventually going to grow out of youthful indulgence. Like him, I choose to ignore that reality but this reality is always in the back of my mind.

But like Khalid, during those moments of naive rebellion, there is a sense of youth that “is the foundation of me” and God, I’m going to hold onto that as long as possible. And it’s exactly that willful ignorance, that “I don’t wanna come home tonight” mentality that keeps me moving through life. Call it a cliché, but man, it’s what keeps my dreams alive.

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What Megan's lovin': American Ripper

Why she's lovin' it: I'm your average gal. I like reading, taking naps, Jack the Ripper and conspiracy theories. It's what I do, you know? So, when the last two come together? It's like MAGIC. A while ago I started seeing ads for a new show on History Channel that linked H.H. Holmes — America's first serial killer, creator of the Murder Castle and subject of the fascinating read The Devil in the White City — and one of the world's most famous cold cases: the identity of Jack the Ripper. His great-great grandson believes, wait for it... THAT THEY'RE THE SAME PERSON.

Well, count me in automatically as a viewer.

This show is super riveting. And I cannot stop watching. The evidence is slowly piling up between London and Chicago and to hear everything that links them is just wild. I'm already a sucker for conspiracy theories, but this one is just convincing me it's absolutely true.

This show is absolutely fascinating and a great watch for everyone who loves conspiracy theories, history, forensics or any combination of the three. GET IN ON THIS, MY DUDES.

Bonus lovin': As this is the 20th anniversary of Princess Diana's death, there have been a surplus of Diana documentaries across television. I've watched all of them, including this week's second ABC two-parter. Each documentary invites you deeper into her life and incites immense feelings of sadness, pity and a loathing for the breach of privacy paparazzi believe that they are entitled to. You can tell why she was so beloved and why she is still so highly spoken about today.

What are you lovin' this week? Sound off in the comments below and let us know!

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