30 Coins: I finished watching the series on Crave through HBO Europe. It is in Spanish with subtitles. It has 8 episodes. It is a psychological thriller, with a religious base. In short, when Jesus was betrayed by Judas, these are the coins that were his payment from the Romans. Later, of course, Judas kills himself and these coins scatter to the winds. As you start the series a number of very strange and inexplicable incidents happen in this very small Spanish town. The local Mayor is a handsome married man, who co-owns a local hotel as well as slaughterhouse business with his wife. There is a new priest in town, for whom we learn some history and then a pretty Vet. I won’t detail the strangeness of the first couple episodes, but it is a precursor to more strange things. The focus later becomes what is happening in Vatican City, and those who are close to the Pope. The local priest gets more engaged as he has some history with some of these characters. Darkness abounds with powerful forces at work. You learn that these coins are in many ways like the Ark of the Covenant – where any army with them, is regarded as invincible. Apparently both Napoleon and Hitler had interest in these coins. I have to admit that I was hoping for more in the finale. That last episode was a bit disappointing in what was expected to be a bog blow out in this small town. A strange fog has enveloped the town and the bad guys are gathering. I won’t share further except to say that the episode was a little more bloody and gory than I felt was necessary. The townspeople generally are simplistic and caricatures, with the gossipy women and injured young cripple. This had its moments. Those who are queasy in any way won’t enjoy. Those who like to have a religiously based thriller can do worse than checking this out.
Network: This mid-70s film, was nominated for a Best Picture, but Oscars for Best Actor (Peter Finch) and Best Actress (Faye Dunaway). Others include Best Supporting Actress and Writing. It is surprisingly very relevant for today’s audiences, holding up very well as a tale about the perils of TV, with turning news into entertainment. Funnily enough, much of what was spoken about firmly tongue-in-cheek in this movie has actually taken place and speaks to current issues of the day. It has a great cast also adding Robert Duvall in the over-the-top, cut throat TV bean counter wanting to generate money rather than worry about the quality of the broadcasting. Also included is older William Holden as the veteran News executive, and good friend to the lead anchor (played by Finch). Each is very good with a drama which moves along well. Most movie fans would know the scene of Finch as the trenchcoated newsman yelling for people to go to their windows and shout “I’m MAD as hell and I am not going to take it anymore!!!” Truer words haven’t been spoken for a people collectively, then and especially now. That anchor after being told his ratings are slipping and he is being replaced before this goes on air and announces rather matter-of-factly that he will commit suicide on air in a week’s time. A network with falling ratings decides to keep him on the air as his numbers jump markedly upon making the announcement. The philosophical argument is that a new generation who doesn’t read books nor read newspapers gets all their information from the TV. The TV lies to them (sound familiar??!). The Finch character as the anchor who has become unhinged shows the danger of giving such a person an airwave with an audience. He becomes popular. His news show has become entertainment with a soothsayer and him leading the way. I had only previously seen snippets from this movie, without seeing it from beginning to end. I am glad that I watched it, and think that anyone involved in TV or interested in the dynamic of news as a business should see how this was viewed back almost 50 years ago. Much of what they discuss has become reality in a world of CNN and Fox News with opinion rather than news. Facebook and other social media have taken it to the next level where people don’t even get the same streams within their newsfeed. But those are other movies for other times, and previously reviewed. If you don’t know Network, then I would recommend it. As an aside, the wardrobe worn by Dunaway in a work environment was a bit surprisingly with plunging necklines and no bra. I would expect that in today’s work environment this would be frowned upon, at a minimum and HR worthy with a corrective plan at its height. Suffice it to say that times have changed from that perspective.