Lost Girls

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Lost Girls resembles a made-for-TV-movie more than a feature film. Working class single mom, Mari Gilbert, played by Amy Ryan of The Office, tries to reach out to her estranged daughter. The girl goes missing and  when numerous bodies are discovered in Long Island, Mari presses the police to find her daughter. The first officer in charge sees Gilbert as an annoyance. He’s got a smarmy demeanor and seems fishy. Gilbert’s only help is the Police Captain played by Gabriel Byrne, yet Gilbert doesn’t trust anyone.

Based on a true story, Lost Girls is a moving story, but there’s nothing that distinguishes it from say a Law and Order: SVU. 

Seen at Sundance

The Crown

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After several friends recommended , Netflix’s The Crown, I’ve started watching. It’s no secret that I have a soft spot in my heart for British historical dramas from Downton Abbey to Victoria. The BBC and itv have won me over.

I did wonder how the American Netflix would do telling the story of the current royal family. From the start it’s clear that Netflix spared no expense in this lush drama with exquisite, expensive costumes and magnificent palace settings. I’ve finished the first season, which contains a lot of flashbacks to contextualize the history. When the story begins King George is sickly and Elizabeth is newly married and while educated to become queen, she figures that’s a ways off. Within a few episodes, King George passes away and Elizabeth becomes queen.

Her first Prime Minister is Winston Churchill, who’s played by John Lithgow. Lithgow does a splendid job as Churchill.

One major plot line, that I wasn’t aware of, is Princess Margaret’s romance with Peter Townsend, her father’s personal secretary. Townsend is much older than Margaret and married. This is quite a juicy part of the series. When Townsend gets divorced, he hopes to marry Margaret, however, these plans are foiled because there’s a Royal Marriage Act that prevents royals from marrying without the Sovereign’s approval until they’re 26 years old. In season 1 Margaret is 23. The new queen can’t approve the wedding because although people are starting to divorce more, the royal family is not supposed to in any way approve divorce. Elizabeth is head of the church and the church is against divorce. That confused me since the reason the Church of England began was because Henry VIII wanted to get a divorce. He was a terrible model for morality so I’m wondering how the modern royal family became bound to live by high standards.

Claire Foy does an exemplary job as Elizabeth II. Her voice and mannerisms make me believe she is the queen. Matt Smith does resemble Prince Philip whom I knew was no saint, but now see his cavalier, playboy-ish. I think Smith’s prince is a bit gawkier than the real one, but I wasn’t born at the time shown in the series. Perhaps Philip’s posture was more bent over.

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Broadchurch

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I finally saw the last episodes of Broadchurch, the detective mystery about the murder of a young teenaged boy Danny in a small coastal town in England. Alec (David Tennant Doctor Who #10) is a brooding detective, with a secret past, who arrives in Broadchurch when Danny’s body is discovered. Ellie (Olivia Colman of Rev) is the local detective who expected to get the job Alec got. For the most part they get along well, it’s not oil and water. Colman’s a patient positive woman so she handles her disappointment with grace and tries to draw out and educate Alec to the ways of this closed, small town.

It takes 8 episodes to discover the murderer. At times the story drags. A lot of time is devoted to the emotions of Danny’s family and the intrigues and secrets of the town. Most are dead ends, but pursuing them destroys some lives and relationships. While I did feel the characters seemed like real small town folk, the dialog at times seemed written, rather than real.

I saw the first episodes on a flight a year ago. It’s not on Netflix and I wasn’t so wrapped up in the story that I wanted to buy it. I liked the actors especially Tennant and Colman, but the program doesn’t have the writing of Luther or Spiral. While it was better than a CBS detective program, it wasn’t worth buying. Finally, the library got the DVDs. The ending was a surprise but the last episode was padded big time. I’d have to rematch the series to determine whether I feel it was well plotted. As it is, I just don’t care enough to invest the time.

Broadchurch is getting translated to “American” on Fox and will be called Gracepoint. The story seems the same, too similar and will be 10 episodes. I guess viewers are in for more padding unless the extra episodes will just make up for the commercials. Tennant will play the American version of Alec, by donning a bad haircut and speaking with an American accent. Colman’s been replaced by a tall blond woman. What would you expect from an American network? If they’re bold and smart, they’d make the murderer someone different. I wouldn’t invest 10 hours to see the same result.

Not so fast

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As i’m dealing with multiple computer problems: the disappearance of my Firefox, my computer’s refusal to let me download it or any programs now, an outdated browser that I can’t upgrade, not to mention the ever present warning “You may be the victim of counterfeit software” (I definitely am). I’m trying to straighten this all out, but was curious about internet speed. Many of my neighbors complain it’s sluggish and I don’t dispute it, though I do get Netflix fine so I’m happy enough.

A colleague shared a link that allows people to see their speed compared with others. I’m not surprised that this is slow, but was to see that we’re slower than 79% of China. Wow. That is slow.

Today I’m attaching the problem. I’m backing up files before I restore the system, download a new version of Windows and hop into the current era. Thank God being a graduate student allows me to download software cheaply if not for free.

VEEP

Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Selina Meyer

I think I’ve got a new favorite comedy, HBO’s Veep. Created by Armando Iannucci, who wrote and directed In The Loop, Veep offers us the outrageous fortunes of Washington egos. In her best role since Seinfeld, Louis-Dreyfus portrays a vain, ambitious, narcissist, who could give Dan Quail a run for his money in terms of cluelessness.

Completely snubbed by the President, who never calls her, Selina jockeys for power trying to get her place in the limelight, while always managing to make a situation worse. Giving the simplest speech is sure to result in a fiasco and all attempts to make things better with the insulted parties is sure to go awry. How can a simple photo op at a frozen yoghurt shop go awry?

Backing her up in their way is a group of smart support staff, who despite their obvious intelligence always seem to make exactly the wrong choice. They’d all be hopeless on Let’s Make a Deal. I particularly enjoy Anna Chlumsky, the young staffer who tries to help while deflecting annoying come-ons from the geeks and jerks who populate DC.

I saw three episodes on my flight to China and hope Netflix gets the series. I don’t subscribe to HBO so I’m left hanging, wanting more soon.