Friday, November 27, 2015

'The Man in The High Castle' is pretty good.

I haven't really watched that many drama shows over the last few years. There haven't been shows that had a premise that was interesting or compelling enough, so it was pretty easy not to get involved with any of them.

Fortunately last week I noticed that there's a science fiction series called 'The Man in The High Castle' out there. Since it was based on Philip K. Dick's novel and was about the victorious Nazis after the second World War, it was something that I had to check out.

So far I have managed to watch the first five episodes of the series, and I have to say that mostly I've been pleasantly surprised. As far as I'm concerned, 'The Man in The Castle' is a pretty well made show that has managed to keep me interested.

One of the biggest reasons why I've liked watching the series is that it poses the question 'what if the Nazis had won the second World War?'. What if they would have managed to produce the a-bomb in time that would have given them the victory?

As is usually the case with other shows in this genre, 'The Man in The High Castle' is also about the brave resistance members, that are now trying to fight the alliance between the Nazis and the Japanese in the occupied United States.

The show takes place during the sixties in the U.S, where our two main characters find themselves in a challenging situation - trying to figure out a secret that might help the resistance forces change the course of the history.

In this case we're talking about 'a man in the castle', a mysterious person who has managed to produce underground films, that are said to be so dangerous that in the right (or wrong) hands they could even destroy the Nazis and the Japanese.

The storylines on 'The Man in The High Castle' are derived from this premise. We have the brave resistance fighters, the nazis with their Obergruppenf├╝hrer and the Japanese with their military intelligence all trying to accomplish their goals.

The resistance fighters try to get back their country, the nazis aren't happy with their alliance with the Japanese, and the Japanese are aware that the Germans might double-cross them and use the bomb at any given minute.

In my opinion, 'The Man in The High Castle' does a very good job in creating a world that is both intriguing and believable. The show manages to keep the stakes high and makes me want to come back for more to see what happens next.

The production values of the series are pretty good too. At least in my opinion it's great to go back in time and look how things 'used' to be during the sixties. Clearly the people on the show paid a lot of attention to the details.

I also like most of the characters on the show. Even though there aren't necessarily any stand-out roles - D.J. Qualls likely being my favorite - as a whole I think the ensemble does a pretty good job and doesn't disappoint.

When it comes to the storylines, it's true that 'The Man in The High Castle' is a bit slow when it comes to its story progression. There are scenes here and there that aren't probably that crucial or that necessary.

Yet, despite some of these minor problems with storytelling, in my opinion these flaws don't weigh the series down too much. There's still lots of fascinating stuff for those who are interested in historical science fiction.

I suppose 'The Man in The High Castle' could have been even better than it is, but overall I feel that they did a pretty good job here. There aren't that many good science fiction dramas out there, but this series is one of them.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The importance of publishing what you write.

For many writers one of the most difficult things about being a scribe is letting others read what you have written. Waiting for their response and their reaction can be a really grueling experience. What if they don't like what you just wrote?

As I've written before, there are undeniable benefits to sharing your writings with others. It's almost never a bad idea to let them read what you have written. In most cases they'll point out the problems and help you make your script better. 

At the same time, sharing what you have written so that you could make your scripts better is only one reason why you should publish them. There are other important reasons why you should make your writings available for others.

In my opinion, we as human beings have a moral responsibility to share and let others see what happens inside our minds. We have responsibilities when it comes to communicating with others and helping them with their problems.

Sharing our ideas and thoughts is what makes us human beings. It's something that helps us understand ourselves and makes us feel valuable and precious. Sharing things is perhaps the most important part of our lives. 

I myself didn't become a writer so that others wouldn't know how my mind works or what are the things that are important to me. I didn't become a writer so that I could just make up stuff and not reveal my true self.

Even though in many ways writing to me is about therapy and making me understand the world a bit better, it's also about me trying to help others so that we could appreciate those precious little things in life a bit more.

I write because I feel like there might sometimes be some value in what I'm doing. I write and publish because I believe that there's at least an outside chance that I could make us a bit better as human beings.

In my opinion, as long as you have something real to say,  you have a responsibility to speak out and let others know how you feel and think. It doesn't have to be the best thing that has ever been written, but it's something that deserves to be out there.

If you have a talent, you should use it. If you have written something valuable,  you should publish it. There aren't really that many things in life that matter - but good writing does and is always going to matter and make sense.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Too many things were revealed in Supergirl's pilot.

One of the most challenging things about being a writer is that you need to come up with a lot of storylines that make sense. This is something that is almost never easy to do. It pretty much always takes a lot of effort and work.

The best storylines are always the ones that are based on the premise of the show. These story ideas are the ones that make the show what it is. You should never take the premise for granted and think that it isn't crucial for the series.

I thought about this especially after I saw the pilot episode for CBS's new 'Supergirl' last week. I thought it was pretty clear that the producers of the series were not paying enough attention to its genre in general.

They thought that it didn't really matter what had worked before with those other super hero shows. They thought they could do whatever they wanted with Supergirl's premise and that it would still work like magic.

For example, one of the most - if not the most - important aspects of the superhero genre is that there are only a very few people who know the true identity of our super hero. This approach makes sense and makes it easier for it to work.

However, that's not how it went with Supergirl. In the pilot it's almost immediately revealed that there are quite a few people who know the identity of our hero. Unlike with those other shows, it seems that Supergirl isn't really concerned about that aspect of the genre.

For example, not only does Kara Danvers' character reveal to one of her co-workers that she is the Supergirl, the writers also introduce us to another character who right away recognizes and tells our Supergirl who she is.

In my opinion, this isn't how you're supposed to write and produce your pilot. You shouldn't create a show where almost everything is immediately revealed to everyone and only a few secrets remain. It makes no sense at all.

It's not interesting and it won't make the audiences happy. It will just make the series feel too rushed. More than likely they will run out of conflicts and organic storylines, which will get the show canceled pretty soon.

To be honest, I have to say that 'Supergirl' does get a bit better in its second episode. The show doesn't feel as rushed as it did based on the pilot. There are certain aspects of the series that seem to be working a bit better.

At the same time, it has to be said that the producers of 'Supergirl' were clearly playing fast and loose with the premise of the show. They revealed too many things too early, and that's never a good sign when it comes to entertainment.

Monday, November 2, 2015

'Capitalism: A Love Story' is a great movie.

It took me more than six years before I finally managed to watch Michael Moore's documentary film 'Capitalism: A love Story'. For some reason I hadn't thought about it much until I happened to stumble on it some days ago.

I mean, I had read somewhere that the film wasn't that good and that Moore had run out of things to say. Probably that had contributed to me not paying much attention to it.  I thought I had a reason not to watch the documentary.

Nevertheless, after seeing the film, it became obvious that I had been wrong. 'Capitalism: A Love Story', is a movie that not only manages to entertain us, it also makes us feel and makes us think about our society and its flaws.

One of the best things about the film is that the documentary doesn't shy away from making it personal. Just like in his other documentaries, in 'Capitalism: Love Affair', Moore puts himself in front of the cameras too.

Moore not hiding behind the scenes and behind the script is a crucial part of the film. It gives the document a much better narrative. At least in my opinion he's a genuinely likable character and has a great sense of humor.

In any case, there are a lot of things going on in this two hour documentary. Moore brings up a lot of outrageous things about unfettered capitalism. No rational person who has an open mind can disagree with much that the film has to say.

For example, there's stuff about how innocent kids are being thrown to jails so that private prisons could make profit - in the name of capitalism. The documentary brings out the notorious case of 'kids for cash' judge Mark Ciavarella.

Among other things, there's also stuff about how some airline pilots get paid so little that they have to rely on food stamps. This is almost too hard to believe but most companies in the U.S. don't care about their employees at all.

Yet, the main focus of the film is really about how in 2008 the big banks caused the biggest market crash in almost ninety years. It's about how none of the banks and the bankers were held liable for their criminally negligent actions.
 
Many of the unsuspecting poor and the middle class people lost their homes when the housing bubble burst. Yet, the only ones that were bailed out were the big banks - that immediately paid massive bonuses to their executives.

The richest of the rich got away with the financial heist of the century, and yet nothing substantial has been done to prevent the housing bubble from happening again. The 1%:ers simply rigged the game in favor of them. 

This whole thing might seem depressing, but fortunately in 'Capitalism: A Love Story' Moore manages to stay optimistic. Even though the unregulated, rogue capitalism has almost managed to subvert the democratic process, there's still hope for us.

As he shows with his examples, people all across the country keep fighting for their rights. It takes a lot of determination and resilience, but it's possible to stand up to power. It's something that can still be done.

Taking back democracy from the special interests won't be easy, but Moore shows that the common folks still have rights in this country - like a right to vote in elections. This is what makes the movie so important.

In the end, at least in my opinion 'Capitalism: A Love Story' is a wonderful documentary film. From start to finish, it's full of soul, substance and entertainment. Throughout the film it manages to make you laugh and cry.

Especially considering that there's going to be an important presidential election next year, I think this is a movie that everyone should see. Clearly it's one of the best documentaries that I've seen in a really long time.