April 17th, 2023

Jurassic World Dominion: Hard to believe that the original Steven Spielberg classic film was released in 1993. Thirty years ago when Ellie Sattler and Alan Grant are invited to be expert witnesses for a new amusement park from dreamer John Hammond. Of course the amusement park fails spectacularly due mostly to human foibles, but primarily because of the human arogance that genetic engineering can be controlled. Fast forward to the present and the sixth (yes SIXTH) installment of this franchise is released. I think I was even more surprised to see that Steven Speilberg has put his name to this one as Executive Producer. Why he would want to associate himself with this jumbled mess is beyond me.

So what is possibly new and different to bring you back to this rehashing of the older tale, while combining the characters from the first and then the most recent group. So that means bringing together Ellie Sattler and Alan Grant looking much older with the more recent Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard). All together they live in a new world where dinsaurs of all shapes and sizes are free, living among humans and animals alike.

All the dialog around kumbaya and everyone “just getting along” doesn’t make a whole lot of sense when you know that dinosaurs would have little problem making the current animals on the planet extinct. How is there possibly enough animals of any variety to feed all the large predators? There is further talk about redemption for the original confident scientist making the dinosaurs, as he tries to deal with humans who have mutated prehistoric locusts for their own gain. Blah, blah, blah. So many incredulous things take place that it all becomes more or the same. Nothing new to see here. So in short, having known that this wasn’t going to have anything new, I still watched for completeness. I didn’t need to. In the end, everything is tied up in a bow with the characters making nice and happily ever after. This would be a hard no.

Love is Blind Season 4: I guess the more newsworthy aspect of this show was that Netflix when trying to stream a LIVE Reunion utterly failed with it starting almost an hour late. Not exactly major network type of reliability or timeliness. The producers had brought together the couples who had made their decisions on whether to be married or not. The show itself finished over the weekend with predictable results. Those who seemed from all the coverage to be well connected, knowing of course that editing can be made to add drama where it doesn’t exist, did what we thought as viewers that they would.

This series has had some success. They have yet to produce a child among their couples. For those of you who enjoy relationship shows, this is mindless candy that one can fast forwadr until the end to see where they end up. It is an interesting concept to have people meet and converse to create a connection worthy of a proposal, and then see once they meet whether the connection can remain strong. For some they can embrace the experiment, while others cannot get over their preconceived ideas of their “type” of person.

Obsession: This is a four-part series on Netflix. In many ways it parallels Diane Keaton’s Looking For Mister Goodbar from 1977. It goes into detail about the destructive power of obsessive love. Is it really love? I think that the jury would reamin out on that. But there was no denying that even the most driven and successful people with a quality home life can fall for the perceived ultimate physcial connection.

Doctor Farrow, played by Richard Armitage, is married with two adult children. He has just completed a very successful siamese twin operation, and is at the top of his profession. He seems well connected with his wife, viewers will recognize from Game of Thrones, with a son and a daughter. Son has a new girlfriend, and she is older than him. Parents have heard her name before but that seems to be all we know. But as things unfold, we see that Dad has met with her before. The depth of that relationship is kept secret. Revealing itself slowly, the viewers get to see the dangerous game that is being played. It seems the woman, named Anna has some family secrets and that men seem to be very attracted to her. This a theme in her life.

By obsession, the definition being “an idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person’s mind” which can paralyze someone and make them incapble of controlling themselves, even when it is clearly unhealthy. I think that it was a good choice to select Charlie Murphy as the actress in this role. She isn’t a drop dead raving beauty, but rather, for me, reminds me of Molly Ringwald, with the short hair and perky personality. So like Love is Blind, there is an obvious physical attraction but there is much more at work. The story shows not only the consequences of the actions, but also the impact on the woman involved. How does she feel? Does she recognize this behaviour and try to better understand it? Or does she give in to it and realize that she has a magic power over men for some reason. What do you do with this power? How does the obsessed man finally address all that he has done? All this gets addressed over the four episodes. I think that the performances were good. Everyone seeks love, but the degree of love that comes their way may be something more than they were expecting.


March 27, 2023

Boston Strangler: I am a fan of crime series and investigations. I readily admit that I really liked Mindhunter on Netflix as well as Manhunt: Unabomber which I think were simply excellent. I recommedn those to people who seek my suggestions for this genre. The latter dealt with not only the capture of the Unabomber but also the legal case against him and the decision of the Court. Add to that backstory a similar newspaper investigative journalism story similar to All The President’s Men, Spotlight, Zodiac, She Said and many others then this becomes something that I would seek out. Starring Keira Knightley, Chris Cooper and Carrie Coon. Set in the mid 1960s, with society changing tremendously from the 1950s as can be seen in other shows like Mad Men, the focus is a series of murders that are taking place in Boston, and yet no one seems to be seeing any relationship between them. Enter young reporter Loretta McLaughlin, who works the Lifestyle desk but wants to get more involved in Crime, and she notices some things that are the same. Bringing her ideas to the editor Chris Cooper, he shuns her back to her work.

The story unfolds as she finds out more facts connecting the various cases. There is a Homicide Detective who is working the case too and they uncover what they can, along with her co-worker played effectively by Coon. Mindhunter despite taking place a little later than this timeline, didn’t directly address this specific case in any detail. It was Loretta who coined the label the Boston Strangler. What is uncovered, from someone not familiar with the details of the killings, was more than a little surprising. The performances were solid and I remain interested throughout. Of course as part of the intrigue surrounding the cases, is the tension at home for a married woman with three young children, and a husband who concedes that he never pressed her to stay at home because he “knows better”. She is good at her job, and puts in long hours, but then still must come home and often put together a fancy meal. Life as a woman any time, but ceretainly in those times, was never easy. There are plenty of roles to fulfill. For Loretta it also means trying to protect women from a police force that didn’t seem to be putting much effort in coordinating the information gathered so far or being cooperative with others.

I am glad that I saw this. It works on a legal level, but also as compelling story telling. I suspect that the Boston Police in particular won’t appreciate it, as they didn’t necessarily welcome to backlash from the Catholic church in Boston for Spotlight. They may not appreciate the hits, but for the viewing public we can see a story that is more complex than was initially anticipated.

Love is Blind Season 4: As much as I like quality cinema and stories, sometimes the mind just wants some banal chewing gum. One wants to sit and watch senseless interpersonal drama, for drama’s sake. With me, shows like this one can fill that whole from time to time. I know that they are a train wreck. I know that they are filled with the “beautiful people” (outwardly anyway) who want their five minutes of fame on these shows. They recognize as participants, that unless they match up they aren’t getting any more screen time. As I have explained before, this series pits singles seeking marriage with the task of selecting a mate without ever seeing them. It is a connection on every level except physical and looks. Once a proposal is made, then they lay eyes on each other for the first time and head off for a grand trip to a beach location (in this case Mexico). There is drama in the selecting, but more of the drama takes place once selected and live interactions are taking place.

The first four episodes were released this past weekend. More are to come this week. What amazes me in all this drama, is how some people are willing to accept being a Plan B. Meaning, there are multiple dates going on simultaneously with many others, and connections are made. Eventually people have to make decisions, especially if they are attracted to more than one person. Tears ensue. But those willing to accept a proposal AFTER they know the person has already focused on another person. What about the person pining for a person who rejected them, but then can seamlessly pivot to another person without skipping a beat? All in the name of TV!! There is more to come of course, and there seems to be no problem with pining for people who matched with others, despite the fact that they are already “engaged”.

Money Shot: The Porn Hub Story: Who would guess that a documentary about a Canadian porn site, would turn into an in depth rights discussion between the “talent” and their right to try and make a living away from the hollywood porn film industry (think studios), then right wing religious types who want to shut down all sites involved with any adult entertainment (including Sports Illustrated and the swim suit edition) and the owners of a platform who facilitate the payments between end users and the talent? It seems odd, but all of those things were explored in this new Netflix documentary.

Headquartered in Montreal, by a company called Mindgeek, they were at the forefront of monetizing the porn industry, talent and images, putting them with end users. Their ultimate failing was not monitoring, managing content or policing who was putting up the images. Even when the NY Times came calling, they refused to engage with them. Without any oversight, videos were put up of minors, and people who did not consent to the images being displayed from those who didn’t produce them. Even when complaints were made, they were ignored to keep advertising dollars flowing. When the Canadian Federal Government brought the executives before a Parliamentary Committee, their explanations were weak and they did far too little too late. The payments systems (VISA and Mastercard) were shut down and it meant a dramatic shift back to the age before disseminated content. Interests are explored from the perspective of those who worked at Mindgeek, as well as talent and the lawyers who eventually got involved in the case. It is safe to say that no one thinks that images of children or of rape or anyone not fully consenting should not be placed on any platform. The question becomes one of what happens with that content not like that?