Posts Tagged ‘Emilia Clarke’

Tomorrowland_posterLast night, Dear Reader, the Clan Wellthisiswhatithink sat down to watch a movie chosen at random from the seemingly innumerable flims now available in Australia across so many viewing platforms that one could literally never get up from the couch and never get bored either.

Tomorrowland is an American science fiction mystery/adventure film directed by Brad Bird, and co-written and produced by Bird and Damon Lindelof. The film stars the ever-reliable George Clooney, the ineffably wonderful British actor Hugh Laurie, rapid up-and-comer Britt Robertson, and pint-sized British child actress Raffey Cassidy. In the film, a disillusioned genius inventor (Clooney) and a teenage science enthusiast (Robertson), embark to an ambiguous dimension known as “Tomorrowland”, where their actions directly affect the world and themselves.

The writers called their movie Tomorrowland, after the futuristic themed land found at Disney theme parks. In drafting their screenplay, Bird and Lindelof took inspiration from the progressive cultural movements of the Space Age in the 1950s and ’60s, as well as Walt Disney’s optimistic philosophy of innovation and utopia, particularly his conceptual vision for the planned community known as EPCOT. 

Tomorrowland received mixed reviews from critics; earning praise for its visuals, original premise, and themes, but criticism in regards to the writing and story execution. The film also performed below expectations at the box office. That shouldn’t put you off seeing it. This is a movie with much more to recommend it than should be criticised. The central performances are excellent, it is frequently very funny, and occasionally very moving. It is also, albeit somewhat clumsily, rather thought-provoking.

The young actress simply jumps off the screen.

The young actress simply jumps off the screen in scene after scene.

But the absolute must see driver to see Tomorrowland is to watch the performance of Raffey Cassidy as the animatronic robot sent to Earth to find dreamers who have not yet lost their optimism and enthusiasm.

She is known for her roles in Snow White and the Huntsman (2012), and Mr Selfridge (2013), but it is in Tomorrowland that she may have found her breakthrough moment. Born near Manchester just thirteen short years ago, her performance reveals real emotional depth as well as astonishing self-possession. She also has a range of emotional expression – from self-regarding humour to aching pathos – that marks her out already as one for the future.

raffey-cassidy-tomorrowlandIn 2013 Cassidy was named on Screen International magazine’s “Stars of Tomorrow” when she was just 11, making her the youngest actor to be featured on the annual and highly prestigious list that has included, in the past, the likes of Emily Blunt, Benedict Cumberbatch, James McAvoy, Natalie Dormer, Robert Pattinson, this years Best Actor Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne, Rebecca Hall, Hayley Atwell, Holliday Grainger, Emilia Clarke, and other hugely successful figures of TV and Cinema.

Interestingly, she was nominated in the same year as another of our picks, Rose Leslie, who has already starred to great effect in TV’s Downton Abbey and Game of Thrones.

Raffey Cassidy. Keep an eye open.

You heard it here first. Well, almost.

PS If you watch the film, keep an eye open for the “swimming pool scene” when Robertson’s character first visits Tomorrowland. Simply stunning visually and imaginatively.

In the Wellthisiswhatithink household everything stops for Game of Thrones.

We love the characterisation, the plotting, the utterly brilliant set and costume design, and the whole gloriously bodice-ripping nonsense of it all.

But after a fair bit of gratuitous full frontal nudity to wake up your Monday evening (women only of course, no willies on display), some of the funniest lines ever delivered by a character in fiction – most from dwarf Tyrion Lannister, who is surely author G.R.R. Martin’s finest creation with lines like “It’s not easy being drunk all the time. Everyone would do it, if it were easy.” – it seems that the producers of the TV series think their appeal is running out of puff. Or at least apparently so.

 

What passes in Winterfell for "Lie down and think of Westeros".

What passes in Winterfell for “Lie down and think of Westeros”.

 

Last week the showrunners inserted a most unpleasant rape as Game Of Thrones aired another dark plot twist. Ever hard-done-by and innocent fan favourite Sansa Stark was brutally assaulted by sadistic Ramsay Bolton.

The character of Ramsay is no stranger to barbaric acts, of course – who can forget the grim scene where he cut off Theon Greyjoy’s penis as part of a torture ritual? But many were shocked at what they saw as a gratuitous piece of sexual titillation that notably wasn’t in the original books, and which again portrayed a key central character as nothing than a mere sexual plaything for horrible men. As one tweeter observed, virtually the entire show right from Episode 1 Series 1 has consisted of a “Who’ll be the one to rape Sansa?” mystery. Well, now we know the answer.

Sophie Turner, the 19 year old British actress playing Sansa, quickly piped up that she liked the scene because of the acting stretch it gave her, admitting she ‘secretly loved’ filming the brutal scenes, and the books’ author also opined that rape is a reality and we shouldn’t shy from showing it. Nevertheless a storm of blogosphere and twittersphere disagreement broke over the show’s head.

This week, however, the show went one better. Er, worse.

shireen

 

In a scene which is also genuinely disturbing, Stannis Baratheon takes the advice of the perfectly horrible Melisandre to burn his own beloved daughter the Princess Shireen at the stake – she being about the only genuinely likeable character in the entire series – to summon up some ju-ju from the God of Light that will get his army out of the mess that he has got them into.

The scene was apparently intended to alert viewers to the danger of religious fanaticism. But it is frankly hard to see it other than a brilliantly well-acted and extraordinarily unpleasant piece of horror schlock.

In his own words, Stannis basically tells Shireen that he’s not responsible for the horror that is about to come. “The choice is no choice at all. (A man) must fulfil his destiny and become who he is meant to be, however much he may hate it.” Shireen wants to help her father in any way she can and says so, not knowing – as the audience suddenly realised to its distress  – that she’s now up for being burned alive as a result.

As Stannis hugs his daughter, he mutters, “Forgive me.” So trustingly, Shireen walks off with her recently received toy stag in her hand to her terrible fate. Through the bitter snowstorm, Melisandre is waiting for her, stake behind her in the distance. In that moment, Shireen suddenly knows what was about to happen, and tries to run away but is restrained. She screams – piteously – for her watching parents to save her.

Cold as ice, Melisandre, being the one person who really needs to die this season other than Ramsay, according to many viewers, reassures the terrified child this is a “good thing.” She lights Shireen on fire and watches her die.

Her hopeless mother Selyse belatedly tries to save Shireen and breaks down as she watches her baby girl go up in flames. Silly trollop. Grim-faced Stannis looks broken and uncertain about the (awful) decision he’s just made. He turns away from Shireen’s burning flesh. Aaaaaand …. cut.

Phew.

Internet reaction has been, if anything, even more distressed than the previous week.

Well, we will stick with Game of Thrones in our household if only because we love the graphics, some of the humorous characters who leaven their wickedness with a good dose of laughter, the gratuitous nudity, the staging, the music, and much more. It’s very well done, and consistently entertaining.

But as for burning innocent young children at a stake – and letting us hear their hideous screams for mercy for what seemed like forever – well, on balance, we think that’s a step too far. Yes, human sacrifice was a feature of primitive societies, and particularly sacrifice of noble kin, so it has historic validity. And it surely makes a point about fanaticism.

But we can still hear her screaming. And it will take a long time for the image to leave our minds, if ever. As will the beheading in the arena that was in the same episode. That was about as graphic as it is possible for a moment to be as well.

Our point is simple: it would be a shame if GOT deserted its plotting and wit and marvellous art direction and all the rest and became merely a vehicle for shock.

Incidentally, it must be reported that the acting in this and other scenes was up to its usual superb standard. Carise van Houten is effortlessly horrid as Melisandre, Stephen Dillane is purposefully Macbethian and vile as Stannis, and the 16 year old British actor Kerry Ingram who plays the ill-fated Shireen has been compelling watchable since her first scene, not because she chews that scenery all the time, but precisely because she doesn’t.

Her sweet nature – which fellow cast members have said is not forced – has imbued her role with charm and emotional depth, especially as she is afflicted with the awful Greyscale, leaving half of her left cheek and most of her neck covered in cracked and flaking, gray and black skin, which is stony to the touch. Lord knows how long the poor kid had to spend in makeup every shooting day.

Anyhow, as an interesting aside, she could empathise with someone with a nasty illness because in real life Ingram has a form of osteogenesis imperfecta, also known as brittle bone disease. Having regularly fractured her bones, she requires periodic infusions to reinforce them.

 

Emilia Clarke

Writers. Leave. Her. Alone.

 

So – next week is the final episode of this series. Doesn’t time fly when you’re putting your brain out for lunch watching popular TV? We dread to think what fun will be sprung on us this time. We’re reasonably sure someone really important will die. We thought it might be John Snow last night, but then he’s probably safe for a bit because his story still has so many loose ends.

Just so long as it isn’t Daenerys Targaryen played by the ineffable Emilia Clarke. That will have us flicking to channel to … to … well to just about anything, honestly.

You have been warned, HBO. Leave Khaleesi alone.

 

OK. This is enough reason to have Pay TV. But only just.

Over the years, those so-obliging and ever-so-clever clever cable people have gradually got me to add more and more channels to my box, until now I have a vast incoming feed of every possible type of TV programme imaginable.

I have been talked into every money-saving pack on offer. My monthly Foxtel subscription now rivals the Greek debt.

I can now watch re-runs of Iron Chef America on three different channels. (Bobby Flay, if you make that chipotle sauce one more time I have you taken out, I swear. And what the fuck is chipotle anyway?)

I have seen every episode of “Extreme Fishing”  at least three times. (Admittedly Robson Green does make me laugh a lot.)

And watching early episodes of Midsomer Murders before John Nettles’ face became so rigidly, brilliantly expressive that he could convey the guts of an entire scene with just the tweak of one facial muscle and an exhalation of a long-held breath does give one an interesting insight into the growth of an actor’s craft.

But in general, what is served up is total crap. Last night, at 10.03 pm, I had to concede that there wasn’t a single programme on I wanted to watch, on any channel. Furtively, my eyes even travelled across the room to the bookshelf. I couldn’t, could I?

This is the bread and circuses of today. Mindless, brain numbing, threatening to drag one down into a morass, a pit, an abyss, filled with mental confetti and candy floss, drizzled with sticky engine oil, in which we become stuck, never to escape. Cloying, suffocating, deadly.

You can almost hear the executives and politicians chanting their mantra quietly as they watch us sitting in traffic jams on the freeway, gazing affectionately at us from their gleaming glass and steel eyries. Work hard, spend up big, go home, switch your brain off. Work hard, spend up big, go home, switch your brain off.

You know why they don’t need troops on the barricades to keep us quiet any more. They have pay TV.

Emilia Clarke as the Khaleesi in Game of Thrones

Turn it off. Go outside. You know it makes sense.

And its not even good crap. For every Game of Thrones (“Oh! Khaleesi! Be still my beating heart!”) we have to endure a “Restoration Nightmare”, “Vanished”, “Jersey Shore”, “Teen Mom”, “16 and Pregnant”, even some unbelievable pap called “Entertainment Tonight” – surely that show should be done under the Trades Descriptions Act?

And, of course, those fucking Kardashians – a cipher for our modern age if ever there was one – in any one of 17 universally brain numbing, over-made-up but subtly different incarnations. ” Where are we doing this series, Hun? I know, let’s do Paris!”

Anyway. (Deep breath.) So when I saw the artwork below, I am afraid I could not resist reproducing it.

Feel free to do the same, on WordPress, Facebook, wherever. And well done to whoever is behind Ryotiras.com, who dreamed it up, I guess. One image can make all the difference.

Who knows, we could start a small revolution. Or a big one. I am even going to positively discriminate against advertisers who allow their ads to be run – ad nauseam, as if that helps – in the middle of TV shows with no redeeeming social, artistic, news or dramatic content, merely because the shows “deliver” an audience. The fact that the audience is half-sitting, half-lying, in a catatonic near-brain-dead state incapable of taking in information because their alpha and beta waves have been driven inexorably downwards to a negligible level is all the more reason to boycott those who support such nonsense.

Yes, I know it’s all a matter of opinion. But you know what? I’ve spent a lifetime honing my opinions, and they count.

A scientific survey will not be required. I will make my own mind up. If millions of us switched brands because we resent advertisers wasting their margin (which is passed onto us as consumers as increased prices, of course) by advertising in the middle of shows that merely pollute our lives then sooner or later they’d actually look at the schedules provided by their media buying agencies and express an opinion. Starved of funds, the worst shows would struggle. And eventually close.

Every act of resistance has meaning. This is mine. Join me?

You know it.