March 6th, 2011

breaking bad

The Adjustment Bureau

The Adjustment Bureau is a film based on a Philip K Dick short story (which I haven't read): The Adjustment Team. It stars Matt Damon, who I really rate, and there are cameos from a bunch of American political types like Jon Stewart and Jesse Jackson. Unfortunately it is pretty weak, particularly towards the end.

There are films like No Country for Old Men or Blue Velvet where the metaphysics is implicit, seething underneath a relatively mainstream story. And then there are films like this where the metaphysics is front-loaded - other examples are Inception and The Matrix parts 2 and 3. On the whole I generally prefer my metaphysics lurking underneath the story. For one thing I think so much about reality can not be expressed in words, and so it has to be indicated obliquely. Saying things, having systems and representations, is a bit duff. Having characters describe 'the nature of reality', with reaction shots, doesn't really cut it.
Collapse )
breaking bad

Forbrydelsen / The Killing

I am delighted that The Killing is proving to be as good as I thought it would be, and that audience reactions continue to be very positive. There have been a number of articles in the Guardian, increasing in length as I think they realise their readers are interested. Yesterday it was a full page in the broadsheet section (I think this might be the article online). Also several letters about the female detective's lovely jumpers. I am not kidding, I normally don't care for the fashions that women wear on telly but those jumpers are fantastic.

The Killing is getting a bigger audience than Mad Men, which is pretty good considering it is subtitled. OK I have a theory (didn't you know it). I think that British audiences feel a cultural affinity with other Northern European countries, which overcomes the language barrier. The Killing is obviously foreign, with unfamiliar politics and customs, but its values feel agreeable and accessible to me - and it seems to many other people.

You know I love some American TV shows, but I feel sometimes I have to mentally translate them. Breaking Bad, for example, is set in a world massively different from mine - the driver of the plot is that a man will die unless he can make enough money to pay for medical treatment.

I don't know if this friendliness to European values has implications for the neo-Liberal Atlanticist project. Well, ahem, I may be reading too much into the popularity of one show. But I think there is a mood among educated British people which is increasingly receptive to Northern European models.

On to the content of the show. I will not give spoilers, but I think for the first time that we may be consolidating down to some firm facts. It's possible that by next week we will know who the killer is, and have a better idea of how politics and crime are interwoven here. Or I may be totally misinterpreting things. Personally I'd rather not learn the truth already. I'd prefer it all left ambiguous and shady. But if you are watching it - I was kind of developing a theory of who the killer was as I watched this week, and that view became stronger as the show progressed. Hope that's vague enough.

(ETA - on that cultural affinity thing - BBC4 is showing a Spanish crime drama, with subtitles, right now, and I feel I have less in common with the culture depicted than I do to Danish culture. For example the gender roles. I'm not saying lack of familiarity is a bad thing, it's just not so immediately accessible.)