This Week in Geek (1-7/09/14)


Off that Saramago biblical kick, I'm going to try one of his non-biblical books. I got Blindness.


DVDs: Parks and Recreation Season 6 brings some of the same tender-hearted, enthusiastic humor that's made this show on my very favorites over the last few years, while also bringing the most change since Ben and Chris joined the cast. Cast departures, both temporary and permanent(?), and a finale that sends us off into very weird territory for the upcoming last season. What is this, Angel?! As with many hit comedies during their last years, some of it seems indulgent, particularly field trips to big locations (London?) and celebrity cameos, but overall, I've never been disappointed with Parks & Recs, a show that always finds a way to make me laugh out loud AND tear up, depending. The DVD extras include a great many deleted scenes and outtakes, as well as extended cuts of key episodes, fake in-universe commercials, Europe-based webisodes, cast farewells, and a retrospective featurette on the occasion of P&R's 100th episode. Good stuff!

Peggy Sue Got Married, on the surface the female version of Back to the Future out the same year, is a strange Kathleen Turner vehicle by director Francis Ford Coppola, who has never met a digression he didn't like. Perhaps that's why the film gets so wonky towards the end (the Lodge stuff), or why young Nicolas Cage is allowed to give one of "those" performances (if you know what I mean), but while Back to the Future is a fun genre comedy, Peggy Sue feels more meaningful. It's got it comic moments, but the music keeps pushing drama, for one thing. And though it's a time travel story, there's really no definite explanation as to the means used by Peggy to Quantum Leap back to 1960 (I say genetic ability shared with her grandmother, but someone could make a case for it being all hallucinations). It doesn't matter anyway, because it has psychological truth. It starts out as a story of midlife crisis, of wanting to go back to one's youth and not make the same mistakes, and then turns into a feminist coming of age in which our protagonist refuses to let her life be defined by the man she's with. The title is crucial as 1986 condemns 50s and 60s values (which survive to this day in many couples), while yes, having us visit a bygone age's fashions, cars and music. Also: Young Jim Carrey alert!

More psychic time travel in The Jacket, about a Gulf War vet (Adrian Brody) with memory problems who travels forward in time whenever he's placed in a makeshift sensory deprivation tank (or you might say, every time he relives his death during the war), returning from the future with helpful information, usually thanks to Keira Knightley's character, a damaged young woman he'd met in his present some 15 years before. Visually, The Jacket plays almost as a horror story, preying on your fears of enclosed spaces and needles, with off-putting close-ups and soundscapes. As a time travel film, it eventually breaks its own rules, and fails to resolve the question of the character's apparent death. There's at least one alternate ending that manages to do both, but the director instead chose to end on ambiguity. It almost works, but still kind of feels Theatrical Cut of Blade Runner to me. As a piece of acting, Brody definitely keeps this thing afloat, with a very interesting supporting performance from an underused Daniel Craig, but I intensely disliked Knightley's performance. It felt like she was doing an Helena Bonham-Carter impression or something. Ugh. The DVD includes a very good making-of in which the deleted scenes are imbedded and discussed, and a further featurette on the analog look of the effects.

Hyperion to a Satyr posts this week:
Act IV Scene 4 - A Midwinter's Dream
V.i. Ophelia's Funeral - Classics Illustrated


Anonymous said...

Loved season 6 of P&R. Loved the season finale. Loved that Ben is a legendary figure known far and wide as The Architect. Sad that season 7 will likely be the last season, but I am grateful the show lasted as long as it did, and allowed the characters to all blossom before easing towards a series denouement.

Someday, The Cones of Dunshire will doubtless be available to the home player:

Siskoid said...

And it needs to be nearly unplayable.

7 seasons is just about the longest a series can go and still feel like it didn't overstay its welcome, especially in an American schedule with 20 or more episodes a season. So that seems about right to me. I'd rather look back fondly over a 7-season run, than lament how "it's not as good as it used to be".

Anonymous said...

I think you're right about the seven seasons. Hell, "The Office" didn't make it past a third season without wearing out its welcome. (The difference being, "The Office" came with a built-in weakness: it was about a dead-end job where nothing of any importance ever happened, in fact that was the whole point. P&R was about making a difference in Pawnee, which allowed the show to keep driving forward. It also meant the characters would have latitude to evolve.)


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