Orphan Black

THE LAST DAYS discs

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. The Last Days Marc is living in the office building he used to call his place of employment, and he’s not alone. Humanity worldwide has fallen victim to a deadly form of agoraphobia. Walk outside, and you’re dead within seconds from fear. Three months into the epidemic Mark and another survivor manage to set out via the sewers in search of Marc’s pregnant girlfriend, but their journey reveals a species on the brink of extinction. This Spanish production tackles a familiar subject — the post apocalyptic world — and imbues it not only with a fresh premise but also with real heart and character. It looks good too as special effects and production design come together to create a believably devastated world, and all of it is enhanced with a script that manages to hit some familiar beats without feeling redundant. The film is solid throughout, but the final thirty minutes offer some touching and exciting turns. Fans of the underseen but fantastic Perfect Sense should most definitely give it a shot. [DVD extras: Trailer]

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Scream Ghostface

The Weekend Watch is an open thread where you can share what you’ve recently watched, offer suggestions on movies and TV shows we should check out (or warnings about stuff to avoid) and discover queue-filling goodies from other FSR readers. The comments section awaits. I’ll get the ball rolling with the movies/TV my eyeballs took in this weekend.

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BBC America

The concern with Orphan Black – as with any series built on an ongoing mystery-based narrative — has always been that it’s a television show operating on the hope of continued renewal. They’re in no hurry to actually answer the mystery because the creators and network want the show to continue. Think Lost, Flash Forward or Prison Break. Unlike series like The X-Files or Fringe there’s no episodic structure to fall back on throughout the season as every episode has to deal with that main mystery in some direct fashion. Each step closer to the solution is paired with another two steps back worth of new questions, characters and story turns. That fear came to fruition with last night’s rushed, poorly written and frequently ridiculous season two finale.

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Drafthouse Films

The Weekend Watch is an open thread where you can share what you’ve recently watched, offer suggestions on movies and TV shows we should check out (or warnings about stuff to avoid) and discover queue-filling goodies from other FSR readers. The comments section awaits. I’ll get the ball rolling with the movies/TV my eyeballs took in this weekend.

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BBC America

The penultimate episode of Orphan Black‘s second season takes the somewhat unusual tactic — for this show anyway — of actually wrapping up story-lines instead of inundating viewers with dozens more. The biggies are still left dangling of course, but two of the clones have their immediate threats dealt with in some fairly conclusive (and highly entertaining) ways. The remaining three — Sarah, Cosima and Rachel — see their story threads intertwined even tighter as the race to use the medical miracle that is Kira leads to her abduction. It’s an understandably dramatic moment, but some sloppy writing mutes some of its effect. Still, we’re set for one hell of a final episode next week as a mother’s wrath kicks into overdrive.

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BBC America

It seems like only last week that I was mildly decrying Orphan Black‘s habit of tossing new, important characters into the mix late in the game, thus creating new questions as an alternative to actually answering much in the way of previous questions. The latest episode has some fun at my expense by not only not bringing back last week’s newbie (Michelle Forbes) but also by introducing yet another brand new character in the opening scene. Of course Tony’s not just any new character though as he’s actually a clone off the same assembly line as Sarah and the rest. Born a female like the rest, Tony’s on his way to becoming a man through the use of testosterone and possible surgery (that or he has a sock stuffed down his boxers). Beyond what he brings to the narrative table — which is surprisingly little — Tony is a big step in the evolution of the show in that he allows star Tatiana Maslany to try on a new persona well outside of her normal beat. But while she earns points for trying, it looks like we’ve finally found proof that Maslany is human after all and capable of failure.

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BBC America

This is how good the most recent episode of Orphan Black is — not only did I not miss Helena, but I didn’t even realize she was absent until the episode was over. If you’ve been following my coverage here you know that the Shakira-maned former assassin’s personality (along with Tatiana Maslany‘s performance obviously) has made her the show’s VIP for the last few episodes, but “Knowledge of Causes, and Secret Motions of Things” moves at such a fantastically exhilarating clip that there’s no real time to pause and ponder what’s missing. Even better, for as fast as the episode moves it’s accomplished with a spectacular balance between the dramatic and the comedic. The ending’s homage to a certain messy car scene from Pulp Fiction doesn’t hurt either.

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BBC America

For a show featuring murder, abduction, sexual assault and the subjugation of women by an oppressive patriarchy Orphan Black can sometimes vie for funniest series on television. This is not a particularly new observation one and a half seasons in, but but while past episodes have left most of the comedic styling to Alison and/or Felix this episode drops that responsibility squarely in Helena’s lap. She’s made us laugh before of course, but those small moments were no comparison to what the smile-inducing assassin manages here. A road-trip with Helena and her “seestra” Sarah is guaranteed to be a good time for viewers on the face of it, and Tatiana Maslany and the show’s writers don’t disappoint. The sixth episode of the second season isn’t just very, very funny though as it also furthers the plot with a handful of answers and (surprise!) several more questions. Sarah gets a somewhat informative face to face with the elusive Swan Man, Helena is coaxed back into captivity and a whole bunch of odd pairings raise new doubts and concerns over who exactly can be trusted. Increasingly, and sometimes frustratingly, the answer to that question seems to be not a damn soul.

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BBC America

For a show frequently focused on the evils that men do and the control that men have over women’s bodies, the latest episode of Orphan Black strikes a very clear blow against that dynamic. It’s not the first time of course as the series has always had fun with the gender dynamic, but the rarity here is that the scene in question is one of a woman using her power over a man in pursuit of sexual gratification. Rachel’s discovery of her dead lover/monitor, Daniel, necessitates a replacement, and that’s where Paul comes in as she quickly instructs him to settle into both roles. He’s shocked to hear that Rachel even had a monitor, but her words and passive expression make it clear that while she retains control she’s also aware of who and what she is. That awareness extends to the hold they have over Paul — knowledge and evidence of his involvement in a friendly fire incident in Afghanistan — and she applies it for her own domineering sexual interests. Is it rape? It’s difficult to interpret Paul’s dull stare, and I doubt he’s unhappy being boned by Rachel, but it fits the definition of rape in the sense he’s being coerced. Just as his hand has been forced into hunting Sarah, the threat the Dyad Institute holds over his freedom is an equally powerful motivator for letting Rachel do as she pleases with his manly bits. Power, and the constant threat of losing it, runs throughout the episode affecting each […]

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BBC America

It’s a sad norm in the world of television that narrative shortcuts are made solely for the sake of time and to ensure certain beats are hit before the next commercial break. The best writers learn how to fit everything they need into the allotted time and in a logical fashion. Others seem to care less about how exactly they get from point A to point C and just hope viewers either don’t notice or don’t care. Which brings me to the most recent episode of Orphan Black. There are some pretty big moments here that scream lazy writing in the interest of hitting certain dramatic beats, and I’m not giving them a pass. Thankfully though, while they might be enough to sink an episode of a lesser show their effect is overpowered and overshadowed by the absolute brilliance and execution of the final minutes.

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BBC America

Episode three of Orphan Black‘s sophomore season sees its four key clones (Tatiana Maslany) far apart geographically and evenly divided in regard to how they’re handling their collective situation. Sarah and Alison are trying to remove themselves from the troubles as best they can, but while Sarah has taken a land route Alison is attempting more of an, ahem, liquid escape. Cosima and Helena meanwhile aren’t going anywhere as the young scientist is facing her strange reality head-on while the Shakira-maned Russian is forced into immobility by forces outside her control. In addition to Art, Daniel and little dead-eyed Kira we also get to spend more time with our favorite religious cult, the creepy-ass Proletheans. But wait, there’s more! Say hello to Sarah’s ex, who steps out of an L.L. Bean catalog and into your hearts when it’s revealed that he’s actually… well, keep reading.

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BBC America

Season two of Orphan Black continues to move at a healthy clip with its second episode, but unlike the premiere this one allows us and the characters a bit more time to breathe. That’s not to imply it’s in any way dull though as we’re actually treated to one of the show’s better action-oriented scenes, and the kicker is that it doesn’t even involve any of the clones (Tatiana Maslany). That’s right, Mrs. S (Maria Doyle Kennedy) finally gets to bust out with some killer moves as she returns this week with a vengeance and a very big secret. The clones aren’t sitting idly by though as we discover something new about each of them too.

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Star Trek Into Darkness Death Scene

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. There will be a quiz later. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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BBC America

When we last saw the clones of Orphan Black (all played to individual perfection by Tatiana Maslany) they were in quite a bit of disarray. Cosima was coughing up blood and working with a known traitor (of secrets and hearts) in Delphine, Alison was feeling content in her false sense of security, Helena was presumed dead after taking a bullet to the chest, Rachel was feeling confident in her ability to control the escalating situation and Sarah was panicking after discovering her daughter and foster mother seemingly abducted into the night. The season two premiere picks up immediately with that last and most important story thread, and it does so with an urgency missing from too many shows these days. The episode moves at a frantic pace, only pausing for a breath and some laughs when Alison appears. Even better than the energy and balanced tone, the episode directly deals with some of the first season’s biggest weaknesses and plot discrepancies while adding new characters and levels of intrigue. Fair warning, this episode recap/review features spoilers, so if you haven’t watched the season two premiere yet bookmark us and come back later.

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BBC America

Every TV show should be so lucky as to have their own Tatiana Maslany. The Canadian actress has been working steadily since 2003, mostly on television and the occasional blink-and-you’ll-miss-her film appearance, but she became a bit of a sensation last year with her lead role (roles?) in BBC America’s new series, Orphan Black. It helped that the show is entertaining, twisty and surprisingly funny, but the key to each and every episode is Maslany’s incredibly diverse and nuanced performances. That may be confusing if for some inexplicable reason you haven’t watched the show yet, but Maslany plays clones. Each one is unique in character and characteristics, in movement and expression, and she does masterful work bringing them each to individual life. Things get even more impressive when she plays one character impersonating another. And don’t even get me started on her frequently displayed derriere. Season two premieres tonight, and since I’ll be reviewing the episodes going forward I wanted to take a quick look back at the first season to bring everyone up to speed. I re-watched all ten episodes and was reminded of the show’s numerous strengths, its handful of weaknesses and the seemingly limitless power of Maslany.

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Jean Dujardin and Cecile de France in MOBIUS

The Weekend Watch is an open thread where you can share what you’ve recently watched, offer suggestions on movies and TV shows we should check out (or warnings about stuff to avoid), and discover queue-filling goodies from other FSR readers. The comments section awaits. I’ll get the ball rolling with the movies/TV my eyeballs took in this weekend.

read more...
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