Sorry for not making a Christmas post. Still very jet-lagged, I seriously struggled to keep awake during dinner and essentially passed out soon after. Regardless, I am awake now and here are the things I saw this month on good ol' Netflix:
BATTLE ROYALE (2000), 4/5
I have been meaning to see this for the longest time ever since The Hunger Games trilogy were accused of plagiarizing BR. I like the books well enough for what they were, but was deeply disappointed at the way the film watered down the brute violence and the resulting ethical implications for that vaunted PG rating. Battle Royale on that end completely delivers and more. For sure, the blood and violence were more comical than realistic, but it managed to show how ordinary people react in extraordinary circumstances. It reminded me of the Stanford Prison Experiment, which demonstrated that we all share a certain capacity for "evil" — whether we act upon it depends entirely on the situation. After watching this film I am not sure why anyone bothers with The Hunger Games films at all. Except for maybe Jennifer Lawrence.
For those familiar with film adaptation of manga 'Death Note', the male protagonist of the film Nanahara here is played by the same dude who plays Kira.
SOMM (2012), 3.5/5
My only real exposure to wine has been from popular Japanese manga 'Drops of God' (what is with my manga references in this post? I digress). Thus, I greatly appreciated how this particular documentary has opened up this world of mystery to me, which charted the journey of several young sommeliers as they prepare for the Master Sommelier exam (and hopefully pass). Despite not knowing anything about wine (only that I like pinot grigio and I am sticking with it!), their struggle and their ambition is easily relatable. It's always inspiring to see someone as passionate as these guys are and you end up really rooting for each and everyone of them to obtain what is supposedly one of the hardest accreditation to get in the world.
TOP OF THE LAKE (2013), 4.5/5
After watching this series, I was left wanting to book a flight to New Zealand ASAP. This crime miniseries is excellently crafted by the talented Jane Campion, who had won an Oscar and a Palme d'Or for directing The Piano twenty years ago. Clearly she is still in her A game. Exceptionally well paced from beginning to end (arguably not too hard with only 10 episodes to spare but I have seen those who falter with less), one remains entirely riveted and committed throughout to solve the rape and subsequent disappearance of young Tui, as well as the dark past of Detective Robin Griffin (Elisabeth Moss). By the way, Moss was completely ravishing in her role here and it makes you wonder the lengths to which the Mad Men staff went to uglify her for Peggy. The ending completely shocks you in the best way possible and GJ remains one of the weirdest character I have ever seen on the small screen.
FARGO (1996), 5/5
I don't know what took me so long to see this film either, since I quite like most of the Coen Brothers' works. Supposedly the plot is based on "a true story": a man hires two bozos to kidnap his wealthy wife for ransom, except of course it goes horribly wrong. You know a dark comedy is well done when it cracks you up and then leaves you wondering "oh shit I am going to hell for this" the next. As everything unravels, it feels at once entirely implausible and plausible. Fargo truly deserves the hype it gets as a cult classic.
Everyone must be wondering what I must be watching now that I am left Netflix-less. While I will most certainly mourn the loss for the entire month I am away from my beloved, I am making do by re-watching the third season of Veronica Mars (on old fashioned DVD), which is so far just as good as I remembered it. A tough feat to accomplish by any means. There is also Sherlock's own season three to look forward to in just a few days (and I ain't not Cumberbitch!). Happy Boxing Day to all that celebrate it!!!
P.S. Apparently Boxing Day is just a Commonwealth thing that is not celebrated in the US. Go figure.