Dr_Coulardeau

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Reviews

Hanna
(2019)

You should really be afraid of these jackals
An interesting series though slightly easy on the general architecture of the storyline. It is a mixture of Stephen King's The Institute and all the ranting and raving of the plotting plotters who write about the past, the present and the future as if it were the plot of a dozen people able to manipulate the whole planet by organizing some kind of secret federal over-lording police that takes control of everything and everyone and imposes the new fascism of the 21st century with social networks, internet of things and artificial intelligence, all wrapped up in only one package, one size fits all.

But this series is interesting because the main agents are women. They are the canon-fodder of course, the basic operatives whose brains have been whitewashed so much that there cannot be a whiter shade of white, or even a paler shade of pale. But the women contains a few double agents, a few informers, a few traitors in all directions, hence a little bit of hope that just half a dozen of them might be able to block the best plan, the best plot, the best plotters in the universe.

But in the end, in the final end, the bad side always ends up in the hands of a few macho males, and the one or two males who might be good end up killed in a way or another. There is always an operative who will kill a good man before he may and often can derail the future concentration camp the special clandestine branch of the CIA plans to turn the planet, and of course the Moon, and of course Mars, into. In fact, these outlandish planets will be the reservations where the reluctant capricious disobedient human puppets will be sent to, with only one destination in their life: stay there, work there to pay for your survival, and even a little bit more, and finally die there, cut off from any possible disturbance they may be able to create.

Welcome then to UTRAX, the super-duper federal military, paramilitary, and even trans-military force that is there to control everything, everyone, and keep the car running in the only direction acceptable to the political poker players who keep all sort of trump-cards in their sleeves. They do not bluff. They voraciously devour the whole cake and let the rest of the cosmos die of hunger and thirst.

This series should interest those who think we are governed by a band of mentally obese and intellectually diabetic cannibals. Is it possible to imagine the future might be different?

Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU

Criminal Minds
(2005)

Season 14: Epiphany or Apocalypse?
After the dramatic 13th season when some police social climber in the FBI had decided to take over the BAU (Behavioral Analysis Unit) and get rid of all the confirmed members, this 14th season is back to normal: one case per episode, though one case in the 12th episode is not solved since the killer is still running free, food for the next 15th season I guess.

The cases are simple all the time and the solutions are always a lot of data and information thanks to Penelope, and a lot of profiling thanks to all the others. But that sounds a little bit humdrum and it is. The only suspense we have is the details of the cases, the grossness and gruesomeness of the cases, and the creative way out of a mess designed on purpose for an elegant and brilliant solution to come up in a moment.

The concept that this unit of FBI profiling work is a family is both banal and probably true. But true in an unwarranted and unforeseeable way. It is a family because it is the only circle of people who know what horrible monsters they are fighting against and what horrible things they are obliged to perform to win, and they are not allowed to lose. So the colleagues are the confidents and the siblings everyone of them needs to have in their professional life and in their everyday life, for life in general not to become a nightmare because a few people know exactly what they have done and are ready, all the time ready, to listen and provide solace, comfort, confidence and support.

But after many seasons I must say there is little to discover that has not been seen and experienced already. This series needs some real new blood to become something new because it is getting old and old age always means decrepitude. The other solution is to get a beautiful last episode in next season for the story to come to an end.

Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU

Runner Runner
(2013)

From Costa Rica to Porto Rico
Small and little film on gambling in this American world of theirs. Casinos are passé and today the Internet is the best playing table you can imagine, and the business is very fruitful, I mean it brings in a lot of greenbacks in green bags.

It is funny because the dilettante amateur who is recruited by the boss of the internet gambling network to cover up the whole business, in fact, to be the smoke screen who will eventually pay for him in a court of justice, hence the future scapegoat, manages to get this boss in prison, to fool the FBI and escape just in time, with all the bank accounts in the whole world under his name, and to capture the boss's girlfriend, all that because he managed to buy the complicity of the pilot of the Lear jet with the money of his boss.

Of course, it is immoral and unhealthy because gambling is an addiction a lot more dangerous for society than any addiction to any opioids. Enjoy the twisted storyline and the crooked minds of crooked traffickers. The most foolish character being the FBI chap.

Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU

Billy Elliot
(2000)

It is all in your feet
It is a real drama to be eleven and to have a dream that does not fit perfectly well in your surroundings. Billy discovers ballet dancing at 11 years of age and decides without any support from his father and elder brother who are coal miners, at first because for them a boy is supposed to like boxing, wrestling, football, etc. But not ballet dancing. His mother is dead, and she used to play the piano that is in the living room. And the family takes care of the maternal grandmother. She is the only one who timidly supports Billy when it is discovered that instead of going to the boxing class, he goes to the ballet dancing class where he is the only boy among all the girls that attend.

It was during the coal miners' strike in England (Mar 6, 1984 - Mar 3, 1985). I actually was the interpreter of Arthur Scargill when he spoke on Radio Quinquin in Nord Pas de Calais in France. That was a very sad period. In fact, the closing of the coal mines in England and Wales had been written on the agenda for a long time already, since the early 1960s when coal-burning was banned from all English cities and particularly London to get rid of the smog that killed thousands of people every winter. Coal lost then one of its most important clients. The mines were doomed. Even in the industry, it was too late, and coal was giving way to oil, natural gas, electricity of course, and nuclear energy more than coal-burning power stations. Margaret Thatcher decided to close the mines and the one-year-long strike did not make her change her mood and decision. The Miners' Union had to accept a defeat. This background and the violence that went along with it, and the breaking of the mother's piano in order to have some fire and heat in the house for Christmas 1984, all that makes the film extremely poignant and the decision of the father to go back to work in order to cover the audition cost for his son at the Royal Ballet School in London was more than courageous: to be a scab to pay for his eleven-year-old son's dream. The hostility of his elder brother at first though he changed his mind later on when Billy was accepted, is also understandable: how can that young man accept his own father to be a traitor in the strike he was active in?

Then the film deals with that dream in the most fascinating way. Billy's best friend, Michael, is what Billy says he is not, and yet they remain friends and Michael supports Billy's dream though he knows he will have to accept to remain a friend and enjoy this friendship, and a farewell brotherly kiss on the day of Billy's departure for London. Michael's last call on that departure day "Dancing Boy!" is so natural, so deep, and so truly emotional that such a short scene is maybe the most beautiful moment in this film. Two boys, one gay, one not, parting for life at eleven and yet hugging their farewell that will also last forever in their memories.

That's the magic of the film. Billy is able to establish personal and deeply emotional relations with other people. With Michael, of course, but also with his own father and his elder brother, not to mention his grandmother and the dancing teacher who discovered him and encouraged him and trained him into being successful through discipline and commitment. Billy has the best definition of his feelings when he is dancing. He is alive like electricity, and this is so true. In such creative moments in the life of a person, this person feels so intensely alive that he or she is pure electromagnetic energy.

But Billy was lucky. How many young teenagers have dreams and cannot reach them, realize them? So many elements can block such dreams. The family and the close circle of acquaintances and friends come first because they expect you to be this or that and not what you dream of being. Then the educational opportunities you have and that enable you or not to step in the direction of fulfilling your dream. Then there are all sorts of cultural difficulties and obstacles you must confront if you want to get into some creative career. But most of all you have to overcome your own psychological difficulties and first of all develop the discipline you need to impose onto yourself if you want to succeed, to be the best or at least one of the best. I have seen so many dreams being hijacked and ruined by so many mishaps that I am afraid I can say I know that thousands of Mozarts and thousands of Einsteins have been discarded into the cesspool of history and did not realize the dreams they had espied in their minds at ten or eleven years of age.

This film then is so optimistic, so full of hope that we should show it every year in every school in every country in every world if there are more worlds than just one.

Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU

Endeavour
(2012)

Quaint and intimate
This series is a "remake of sorts" of an older series, Inspector Morse. They kept the historical time of the 1960s, just before and after Harold Wilson's decision to honor the British Passport distributed some decades before, or if you prefer before independence in the Indian subcontinent and thus to let the passport holders immigrate into the British Isles, the United Kingdom, as full British citizens. So, this modern series looks quaint in many ways, cars, fridges, televisions, and all.

It takes place in Oxford and you will have a few sights of interest, and apart from a couple of short trips to London and two short trips to Venice, it is very much entirely contained in Oxford and the countryside around. The crimes are thus local crimes that do not require their being transferred to Scotland Yard.

It is based on several characters in Crowley Police Station at first and then in Thames Valley Police after reorganization. This reorganization will put all the members of the team in Crowley Police Station down under the authority of two rotten cops and one season or so will deal essentially with this corruption and how to bring it down.

Apart from this particular season, the main cops are Chief Superintendent Reginald Bright, Detective Inspector Fred Thursday, Detective Sergeant Jim Strange, Detective Constable and later Detective Sergeant Endeavour Morse and Detective Constable George Fancy. In fact, there are two main police personalities. Morse is the one who wants to go to the bottom of things, whereas the others are more or less satisfied with a solution that looks fine at the time, even if it is not entirely correct, bureaucratic satisfaction, classified case, etc. to the extreme in the last season of someone who was arrested for some murders but without any formal proof; then he gets liberated thanks to his lawyer, and starts killing again to be eliminated again. Working on a gut-conviction one police person may have is dangerous.

It shows, though, the impact of police work on the life of these police people and their families or friends and acquaintances. They have difficulty having a private life because of the impossible contingencies of the job. It also reveals how hierarchical English society is and how deeply engrossed with jingoism and bigotry in what some would call normal people or the lower classes. This is particularly clear with their hostility to Pakistanis and Bengalis, both Moslem national groups, arriving in the UK in the 1960s. It also reveals that most of these crimes are hardly calculated. The drug gangs are eliminated, and they were able to work only because they paid some protection money to some cops to close their eyes. Most of the crimes are seen as the result either of some personal crisis for the criminal who loses control of him or herself one day, or the result of some older trauma that occurred in their infancy or childhood.

It reveals a lot about this English society. Strangely enough, it was produced - as a remake - when the Brexit movement appeared and developed. The series very clearly shows the deep and old ideology that has been dominant in the UK for a long time, their islander's psychology. We are British and we want to remain British. We want to keep our British culture and language pure and we want to keep outsiders out. The series even presents some of the descendants of the old Fascist or Nazi movement in England in the 1930s, some from the aristocracy. All that explains the referendum and its result, and since then the impossibility to really manage a clean Brexit and a clean negotiation. I must say the pandemic has not made things simpler, though it made a solution a lot more urgent.

The last and most important case is in the last season: two Italian highway-life-insurance-robbers are entangling Morse in some kind of emotional love affair but he is able to disentangle himself enough to solve the case, know who is behind and run after the Italian couple, Ludo and his supposed wife. And it ends up in Venice, with the alleged wife getting killed by Ludo who tried to kill Morse, and Ludo being arrested and terminated by Fred Thursday arriving right on time for the final denouement, or should I say a final mise-en-abymes.

The end is slightly melodramatic, but the whole series is interesting, and it gives you some taste for the original series known as Inspector Morse. Entertaining and without the extreme violence similar American series like too much.

Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU

Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am
(2019)

The Redeemer of Humanity
No one has to introduce anyone to Toni Morrison, The Nobel Prize winner in Literature. To say she was a black woman writer is to reduce her despite what many people have said, including herself. She recaptured in the USA in that very difficult period that was her lifetime (1931-2019) the true position of women in Homo Sapiens emerging a long, very long time ago out of Black Africa and migrating to the whole world and giving birth to the whole humanity. Women were those who gave life, guaranteed the survival of their communities and their species, working out the expansion of the species and their migrating to the whole world, starting with northern Africa, then Asia, then the Middle East and Europe and then finally, after the peak of the glaciation in the Magdalenian, the Middle East again, Europe again and the Indian subcontinent. And I did not forget the migrations to the southern Pacific and South America up to Mesoamerica probably sometime just after the Peak of the Ice Age, or maybe sometime before, and of course not from Siberia to Northern America in the same conditions probably some time just after the Peak of the Ice Age, or maybe sometime before. Women in Black Africa were then essential seers and speakers who could speak to the Spirits they could see beyond the surface of things, and they could speak to everyone on any occasion. They were not alone but probably the greater number of those who could do that. That was not the result of any segregation, but of a necessary and extremely gratifying division of labor that gave women this extremely central responsibility to generate the next generation of Homo Sapiens in a slightly greater number than the initial generation so that they could expand and migrate. They also had the great responsibility to avoid in-breeding and guarantee the openness of the genetic palette of Homo Sapiens. Toni Morrison is a direct descendent of this female responsibility from 300,000 years ago to 15,000 years ago. Then things changed with agriculture and herding.

The force of this heritage is enormous, unfathomable, unvanquishable. They probably had their own way of counting and transmitted it to the kids they were carrying in their wombs, breastfeeding, raising till they became autonomous around six or seven in order to prepare them and bring them to their fertility and their procreative age. Women taught human language to these kids, and they developed that human language from scratch, and this time with the help and collaboration of men who were busy hunting, making tools and weapons. Hunting was possible in the savannah by running after the fastest running animals and by relaying themselves along the way they managed to wear out these animals and then bring them back as food. Homo Sapiens had become long-distance fast bipedal runners, men and women alike and that started their genetic emergence. During that time, women were raising the next generations and doing some important work, like painting the caves and engraving a lot of things in and on stone and stones, on bones, and probably on wood and other media that were not very durable. Ivory, horns, bones, tusks, teeth, antlers were a lot more durable indeed.

Toni Morrison is still taking us to the very roots of Homo Sapiens civilization and as such brings up to us the direct heritage from Black Africa, the cradle of humanity. So to call her a Black woman writer is not false but in the mind of those who say so, it is a way to pretend she is not universal, she is not at the heart of humanity, she is not taking into account most of humanity that is not black. And these very savant learned intellectuals or just ignoramuses (ignorami if you want to make fun of their snobbish arrogance) don't seem to know we all came from Black Africa and women were the heart of this humanity for 285,000 years as opposed to 15,000 years after the agricultural reversal that made men dominant and invented slavery that did not exist before. Toni Morrison is thus representing the redemption of our humanity by bringing up out of oblivion the strongest and deepest dynamic that brought us where we are today. She is one voice that calls for the epiphanic apocalypse that will not destroy humanity but redeem it from our state of total perdition with wars, pandemics, pollution, and all kinds of segregation, racism, and genocide.

That's what you are going to feel and experience in this documentary and I hope you can and will enjoy it. Toni Morrison was the Redeemer. Not alone and I will disagree with the assertion that Ralph Ellison with his Invisible Man was still in the claws of white supremacy because his character was invisible to the whites. I am afraid she missed there an essential point: his character had been made invisible to himself by white supremacists and he is unable to get out of it and he locks himself up in a coal cellar with as much electric light as possible to try to make himself visible to himself with absolutely no other audience but himself. But that is PTSS dementia and Ralph Ellison is so much ahead of his time in 1947. This novel was the first black novel introduced in the English Literature syllabus at the University of California at Davis by myself in 1973. And that was my second choice. I would have preferred Ishmael Reed, but the paperback I wanted to teach, The Free-Lance Pallbearers, was no longer in print. Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin are some of the novelists that are taking us back to the Black African Homo Sapiens heritage, along with Alice Cooper and Toni Morrison, and a few others, like Angela Davis I met in 1974 in Davis, California. I was the only white man in the room where she met the Black student activists

Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU

Downton Abbey
(2019)

Lack of social poignancy.
Of course, they are back, and "in one century they will still be there and the Crawleys with them." (not quite verbatim) The show is brilliant and as rich as expected even if the parade was a little bit short. But this film is catching up on the unfinished business of the series, and there was so much unfinished business.

But today things have changed in so many ways. Brexit is bursting out, exploding the United Kingdom and the COVID-19 pandemic is blowing up our modern life. It is not some nostalgia about trams in York and parade uniforms that will change one iota to it. The world is no longer what it used to be. Regalia and luxury are no longer the targets of most people. They still love parades, but they do not want fair money to be wasted in such useless carnivals and in military operations that lead nowhere like in Iraq and Afghanistan, Yemen, and Syria.

The Irish Republic, and Ireland, will be reunited someday soon, and Brexit and the pandemic are the guarantees that it will happen and no one will be able to stop it, just as much as one day Scotland will be an entity by itself who will have its own diplomacy, even if still in some kind of a union with England and Wales, ... or not. Just as much as the United Kingdom, or Great Britain more realistically, will still be part of the European Union, maybe on a special arrangement, but they will, because the USA is not the future of Great Britain. They are too selfish, self-centered, and imperialistic.

If we then look at this film, it disappoints me slightly because the series was so deeply concerned by social issues and even the political problem of Ireland and their independence. The film is so far from that social thinking, and that political awareness. The little part about Ireland is insignificant. The attempt to kill the king, from a point of view that is neither clear not neat, is pitiful. The grossly vain and selfish parade with meals, etiquette, a slight rebellion in the house against the servants of the King who are arrogant and not even more talented than anyone else in the local and regular household's servants, all that is leading nowhere at all.

We do not have one single glimpse into the reality of England or Great Britain or even the United Kingdom, not to mention the British Empire. Just glamor and music. One widow in the Earl's family who had a daughter from a plebeian man, without it being known, incognito and behind closed curtains, hidden from everyone, and this daughter turned into the maid of the widow, that's pitiful and pathetic. And the grandmother of the Earl's family manipulating her disgust about it and making the widow believe there is a good solution within the family and that she will be welcome if she comes back, only for one single reason, to marry the widow's daughter - and daughter - with the Earl's Irish Republican plebeian son-in-law to provide him with an estate. It is Machiavellian but totally unethical. Matchmaking is always unethical. It is called arranged marriages in some other circles. At least the two persons here concerned are adults and willing to play the game. But even so...!

And the gay side story is funny but it does not solve the deeply anti-gay attitude of this society, and nostalgia there is beyond any understanding, even if it pretends there was a gay man in the royal household, a servant, of course, nothing else. To be gay was good enough for servants and it could not in any way be a normal orientation for everyone, as if Oscar Wilde's lover were not an aristocrat, a Lord mind you. At least D.H. Lawrence is more open on the subject than this film, with a real gay relationship between an aristocrat and a plebeian. That makes the whole film sad and far from the powerful truth, the series dealt with at times.

Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU

The Report
(2019)

Prevention of war and torture are not even considered
This is an essential film in the present situation and time. After 9/11 and with the war in Afghanistan and the War in Iraq, the United States launched themselves and their military personnel into a CIA controlled adventure that could be compared with Mengele's experiments in Auschwitz. medically and psychologically trained and even graduated people devised from their textbooks directly into Guantanamo the procedure that should give good results. That was plain torture, physical, moral, and psychological. In Abu Ghraib, they even went further in the way to frighten and humiliate prisoners into telling whatever could be deemed interesting. The very first thing that has to be said is that the people who are behind this nightmare, the "thinkers" who think with their twisted perverse sadistic desires and impulses, or the torturers themselves, be they men or women only dealing with male prisoners, who find pleasure, bliss, enjoyment and even ecstasy in this mental perverse onanism, all of them, are deprived of any sense of humility and humanity. It is their vain proud belief that they can do whatever they want on whoever they can put their hands on to avenge 9/11 and to prevent whatever the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were bound to produce. They knew it was useless and ineffective and that even if it were effective it would not be moral or ethical, and it would be a stain on their own psyche and minds. They did it all the same and they were covered by all sorts of politicians and bureaucrats, from the president of The US down to the top-ranking CIA officials and down to some obscure executioners covered by the afore-mentioned absentee masters of ceremony, and these at the lowest level were nothing but executioners since that torture was to bring people so close to death that they would be so frightened and so disoriented that they would talk. And a few actually died with no real statistics to tell us how many.

Senator Dianne Feinstein had to fight for a lot more than five years to get a report written and to have it published on those events. That's what the film is showing. It is dramatic and sickening to see - and the film is discreet in showing Bush, Obama, and consorts - their nearly impossible mission for one covering and for the other banning such practices that were so deeply ingrained in the American supremacist vanity of so many in the US.

And this is only the past because things now are done a lot more discreetly or via some other agents who are in no way connected to the US. Look at Yemen, look at Syria, look at the Islamic State, look at the Talibans, look at the Iraqi military and police forces, look at the Afghan military and police forces, etc. And look at the drones, and those are American, and how they torture a whole people in Syria, Yemen, and other places, with the fear that they are coming and they might kill one terrorist but they will kill ten innocent civilians. The result is that the terrorists are hidden even better so that the drones won't come. Survival is a strange bird that is not afraid of any oil-spill in any ocean. To survive many people are ready to do anything that might prevent the cataclysmic drones.

In the present situation, the systematic provocations against China and the probably numerous CIA agents infiltrated in China itself as they were and still are in Hong Kong, all are trying to bring the pandemic after the trade war to a point when and where the US president will be able to retort with force to teach these "goons" a good old military lesson. If you listen to this "bully in chief" the US soon enough will no longer have any Walmart or whatever big retail stores you can imagine, but they will be able to produce a many-million strong army of drones. Boeing planes are grounded, Boeing planes are under scrutiny for sloppy technology, but Boeing drones will multiply and decimate everything and everyone in the world that will dare speak against Boeing. The battle here is to destroy all non-American brands and to only tolerate those foreign brands that will kneel in front of and play obedience to the US president who soon will be forever if you listen to the mermaids singing in the Styx, down in Hades, conducted by the ferry navigator Charon. The French hopping frog Sanofi has a chance if they produce a vaccine for COVID-19 by December 2020 and provide it to Americans first to Keep America Great Again.

Do not believe torturing and war are in the past. The US is engaged in such an adventurous tempting caper that it can get nasty any day. Who cares in the White House that the count of deaths by the end of the month of May will be widely over 100,000 and that unemployment will probably reach 40 million, as long as the US will be ready to use fire and furor, to destroy as they have never done before, except in Tokyo and Hiroshima and Nagasaki, their targets which are North Korea; China and Venezuela. And they keep Iran in store for some entertaining pause. The worst warmongers ever seen in the USA are now in power and preparing to remain there for some more time because nothing serious is standing in front of them, and even so, the contender is just on the same line as for China, North Korea, and Russia. All-out force, power, brutality. They have declared war on one-fourth of humanity.

That's what this film brings up in your mind when you listen to every single word it contains. And there are many words to be listened to.

Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU

Dublin Murders
(2019)

Slightly complicated and bleak a lot
An interesting series because it is a lot more than a detective story. For sure the police they show us in Dublin, Ireland, is not particularly glorious. The two main cops, Rob Reilly and Cassie Maddox find themselves in two cases that are reminiscent in some ways of an older case twenty years earlier or so. The trick - and we know it from the very start - is that Rob Reilly is, in fact, the kid Adam who was one of three kids in the early 1980s, two of whom disappeared completely, and the third one moved to England and disappeared from the scene. At the same time, their drama happened when they witnessed one night in the woods three bullies raping a girl. But 20 years later or so, the boy who had disappeared in England with his family and everything, Adam, is back as Rob Reilly. Adam has become Rob Reilly, and he finds himself in charge one of the new cases, that of a girl assassinated in the same woods as those where the rape scene he had witnessed with his two friends twenty years before or so had taken place.

A girl more or less disappears and is found killed on some altar in the same woods as in the early 80s. Later on, they find the body of a young woman known as Lexie stabbed to death in some ruins. Both modern cases are solved, and the killers are surprisingly not those we could have thought, but you'll have to watch the series to know.

What is more interesting is the way all that is shown in a hazy and dark light. In the early 80s three kids witnessed a rape, two disappeared on the spot or nearly, and the third one was found clinging to a tree trunk crying, his T-shirt slashed and with blood that is not his. We will never know what happened to the first two, and we know about Adam. He was sent to a boarding school in England and he only came back to Ireland twenty off years later as an adult to be a detective in Dublin, with the secret intention to find out what happened to his two friends.

Adam is depicted systematically when he was a kid as someone who wanted to be up to his two friends but never could. We do not know exactly if the two friends took advantage of his inability to follow them at the proper pace so that they could bully him in a friendly way, and so he could remain their friend. Or if they tried to get rid of him by discouraging him by losing him in the woods. Or if they had more vicious intentions. Typical very young teenagers who are friendlily cruel with one another. Adam's case is made worse by the decision of his mother to send him to a boarding school in England at 11 or 12, cutting him away from his home, country, friends, etc.

The second thing is the very graphic depiction of the three bullies: one is a chief in the triplet, and two are more or less weak followers. In modern times the girl who is assassinated is one daughter of one of the bullies. He has three daughters, an elder one who was the cause of his marriage since in Ireland at the time it was impossible to abort a child and it was normal for the two kids who got in such a situation to get married, and they did. Despite the fact these parents got two twins, later on, they could not give their first daughter any love and the mother clearly told her she was not wanted. One of the two twins is a promising ballet dancer and is to move in the fall to a dancing school in England. The mother is hysterical, and she is disabled by her guilt. She feels guilty about her life - which is pathetic and it is a little bit too late to change it - and about her children, the eldest daughter she hates, and the twins are not able, even the dancer, to make up for the forced and unhappy marriage of hers. The father is just gutless and submissive, doing just the right and proper things, which is, of course, the wrong thing to do with teenagers, and even with his eldest daughter who is taking over the place of her mother, making her mother's problems even worse.

The killing of the daughter becomes a nasty family affair in which of course one boy from outside will volunteer to take the blame. The older episode will not find a solution. We will never know what happened to the two missing boys, and how can we know since, of the three bullies of the older case, one is the father of the murdered girl in modern times, a spineless pathetic and pitiful man. The second they finally find is a derelict vagrant more or less homeless man lost in his alienation, though not completely because he is one rare person who recognized Adam at first sight in Rob Reilly, who loses his self-control completely. The third one, the main bully and the rapist of the early 1980s has completely disappeared and we assume he is the one who did what had to be done to eliminate the witnesses, at least two witnesses, and traumatize the surviving one into complete oblivion (it is called PTSS in psychiatry). The two weaklings who are found still there are maybe taking advantage of the disappearance of the main bully to cover their backside, but we will not know.

The second modern times' case is the assassination of Lexie. With a ridiculous undercover operation that did not turn properly, they discover the truth and the identity of the killer, once again a weakling in a group of five, reduced to four by the murder. Lexie was pregnant from one of the three young men there, but it is another one, the weak one who did the bad job for reasons that are so evanescent and transient that it shows the young man was weak to the point of being insane and then losing control of himself. That is so perverse, and normal at the same time, yet corrugated as a vision of society provided by the series.

Cassie Maddox gets nearly killed in that undercover operation and has to kill the one who menaces her who has committed no crime but he was the authority (the chief or the bully of the band) of the five young people and he could not accept his authority to be questioned by Cassie Maddow, once she had been revealed not to be Lexie, as she pretended, and he could have turned criminal because of that. The result is that he turned dead.

In this vision, there is absolutely no hope. This society is doomed to lying, killing, bullying, covering up, dissimulating, etc., and the list would be two or three pages of a simple thesaurus with words that all mean the truth is never told or permitted to come out.

Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU

The Inspector Lynley Mysteries
(2001)

A little bit dry on the criminals
The mysteries are tricky and intricate and at times perverse and bleak. But they are always solved, except maybe once when a fake solution was accepted. Inspector Lynley is maybe posh, as The Guardian said, since he is a Lord by birth and practices policework as a profession, one of these few professions a hereditary lord can practice. There are very few.

His assistant is a woman who is quite different from him but the two together are a funny pair more or less always staying within acceptable irregularities according to police ethics. But Lynley is going to the crime with his impulsive belief and conviction, whereas Barbara Havers goes to it with her empathy. When dealing with criminals and psychopaths, empathy is a weak point since the criminals and psychopaths just want this empathy so that they can play on it and manipulate the police, the situation they are in. The last case is typical of that. Two criminals absolutely equal in horror and viciousness and they play differently on the two cops to capture somewhere the empathy or the hostility they need to save their fate, at least if they have any future fate. They seem to think so.

But in all these cases, it looks like some salient features are coming out like the fact many of these cases concern children or teenagers or very young men or women becoming the victims of people older than they are. But in the last two seasons, they seemed to have come to some kind of a dead end. The first paramour of Inspector Lynley moved out of the police after a dramatic accident that killed her baby-to-be. One season later she came back under the name of another actress but to be purely shot dead by some Bosnian woman trying to shoot the man who killed her whole family in Bosnia. So, Lynley had two wives in the series, and in both cases, they ended dead or at least estranged after the death of their unborn child.

There is maybe slightly too much of this family business and maybe not enough of the crime side of the cases. The criminals are too often psychopaths who do not have any depth. They are just psychopaths, and that is the way the cases are dealt with which is the problem. It is always some technical connection between a crime and a criminal, but no real exploration of the motivations. The first wife of Lynley in the series was a profiler but her profiling was very dry, as dry as a fingerprint on a weapon or some DNA on a glass. You could do better than that, even when you are the Earl of Asherton. The empathy side of Barbara Havers is better but it never has the upper hand.

That's OK if you are only looking for some entertainment because the social or cultural depth is rather shallow, gliding over things as if they were hawks and then pouncing onto the prey as if the prey were a juicy piece of running rat or rodent.

Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU

The Informer
(2019)

Very sad ending
A convict free on parole is working undercover for the FBI. He intentionally though reluctantly gets himself incarcerated again in order to infiltrate the prison-mob at a maximum-security prison and guarantee drugs' providing to the prisoners for the boss of the gang he is following for the FBI. He just had to break his parole. Some staged domestic violence will be enough. But an extremely rotten and ambitious FBI area boss moves over the FBI agent for whom Pete Koslow was the informer and decides to get rid of him and have him executed inside the prison, burning at the same time the operation against the gang and satisfying himself with getting two underlings.

But an agent in NYPD decides to teach the FBI a lesson and to save Pete Koslow who is warned by a black prisoner about what is going to happen so that he manages not to be killed, but to kill his white assailant and then to take hostage one warden and to get loose in the prison where he stages a hectic and wild escape. He is helped in it by the FBI agent he was an informer for and manages to escape from the ambulance when he was transferred to a hospital as the warden he had taken hostage and was killed in Pete's prison clothes when Pete had put on the hostage's uniform and identification.

The NYPD agent will finish the job and provide him with a passport and documents necessary for him to escape after seeing his wife and daughter in Central Park, from a distance and assessing all the FBI agents around them ready to terminate him.

We all know the FBI is rotten and the police are not much better. At least that is common in many films and series. We all know prisons are the best crime schools on the planet and that real power is money and no matter what crimes you may have committed, you will always be the boss in the prison if you have the money you need to buy the wardens and the stuff you need to satisfy the "commercial" demand among the prisoners. Prisons are a real crime university and a fully-free-trade market-economy, all managed from some clandestine crime authority, outside the prisons, of course, provided with direct or indirect lobbying agents everywhere necessary.

Entertaining but not outstanding. Especially since the ending is really sad.

Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU

Mr. Mercedes
(2017)

Details are at times slightly sloppy
Stephen King as an executive producer is faithful to Stephen King as an author, and yet there are a few changes, cosmetic changes you will say, made necessary by the change of the medium. In this first season, Jerome, the young black highschool senior who is going to be the first black student at Harvard, we are still a few years in the past, is not shown in the close relationship he was having with Mr. Hodges in the novel. His father is even quite strict about it though for reasons that are as explicit as they are unreadable. Racism, fear, insinuations of all sorts, etc., with this kind of situation, innuendo is the only language you can speak. A few other things are rearranged for a serial form - and killer by the way - which means each episode has to end with a cliffhanger, and that is not always easy. A series also slows down the rhythm since it has to start rather slowly and it has to move not too fast so that the cliffhanger comes as a precipitous short punchline if I can use this word for a video, maybe a punch-scene.

This being said, Brady Hartsfield sure is a monster and he was in the novel, but the visualization of the monstrousness of the chap makes him so obviously unpleasant and distasteful to everyone that it is surprising his boss picks him to become a store manager, or his lesbian colleague more or less falls for him - as a friend of course - and we are also surprised that he may be a good ice-cream man, friendly with all and particularly children. That makes his deep-rooted psychiatric dysfunctioning all the more sort of artificial and based on some clichés. Written in the book the circumstances are not as shocking as they become in pictures. His causing the death of his brother with first an accident (the brother chokes on some apple slices) that ends well with the Heimlich maneuver, that is not very well performed in the series, and then second with pushing him down the stairs to the basement of the house, is cruel. His possessiveness towards his mother, and it is hinted that's why he killed his younger brother, is, in fact: only his way to make her a slave in her absolute solitude and to satisfy his perverse desires by titillating and teasing his mother into satisfying her own perverse desires. That's a cliché, but it is a true case of pedophilia generally minimized and forgotten. The pedophile in a family has to be the father, and can't be the mother, and the child is too young to be a pedophile, isn't he? Note the fact we are dealing with a son, not a daughter. It is the Oedipus complex in the absence of a male rival between the son and the mother, an absence constructed by the elimination of the younger brother.

The fact that based on such a situation the son becomes a mass serial killer is most surprising. But it is possible, though the child has to be particularly introverted not to be able to find alternative directions in school and with kids, boys and girls, his age. There is no empathy at all, and it is the belief, common and popular, even populist, that all perverts are born like that, just the same way all normal people are born like that. The basic and most unacceptable belief in American philosophy, psychiatry, and ideology (religious or not), that all criminals are born like that and thus are different at birth, and thus all those who are different at birth have to be born criminals. Read my lips as Ronald Reagan would have said. And the first difference is to be an immigrant. Good morning, Apocalypse!

The series also insists heavily on the ineptitude of the police to capture the situation and to act up to it in the name of hard evidence, circumstantiality, the first amendment, the Miranda protection of accused or suspected criminals, the fear the case may stall in court for who knows what kind of mistake in the punctuation of the investigation. But at the same time that makes Bill Hodges a sort of vigilante, a self-appointed justice-maker, a social trash collector and incinerator, a cop (or ex-cop, same thing, once a cop always a cop) and a judge and an executioner and an undertaker, all in one person. And that is another caricature that makes him slightly disagreeable, especially since he is all but civil with his neighbors and the people he meets and deals with.

Apart from that, it is not a detective story since we know from the very start who the berserk mind is. Then we would have liked a little bit more carefulness about the possibility for Brady Hartsfield to burn his house with two bodies in it, leaving all his tremendous equipment in the basement, moving out of it via a tunnel and the police do not catch him so that he can disappear in a second underground cave where he has the same level of equipment as in the basement of his mother's house, where he can plan the final attack. It is true Stephen King seems to love tunnels and underground hiding places but at times it is sort of easy, even if in a series you do not need to give the specifics of this tunnel and the second underground laboratory because the audience of a series does not look for logic but they look for tempo, rhythm, cliffhanging moments, grossness more that terror or horror. But well since it was a series and could last ten episodes, the director could have been more careful about such logical elements. But the treatment of the subject seems to be very similar to that in the series The Path or Shameless (the American remake, because the British original is quite different: the Brits are very careful with detail and logic). I must admit, and this is true in the book too, that it took these police officers a long time to understand that the electronic car keys we have nowadays work with a signal that can be easily captured if you have the proper equipment. I think James Bond and Mission Impossible have overused such elements of digital swiftness. I guess after a certain rather early age, police officers do not get any continued training and education, particularly in the technical fields. A shame.

Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU

Aftermath
(2017)

Pathetic and cruel amotions
Small film as for the action, the theme even, but the treatment of this subject makes it rather pathetic. Due to an irresponsible pause of one operative in an air traffic control tower, out of two, forcing the one left to work on two stations at the same time, two planes crash in mid-air because the air controller was not available at the crucial moment to give them the proper order.

One man lost his wife and his pregnant daughter in that accident. He is not able to move on beyond this event that leaves him alone in life and totally mentally and psychologically destroyed. The air controller accepts to move on and change his name, go to another place and become a travel agent. His family manages to come back on track, and it is when this happens that the first man comes up to the travel agent's new apartment, asks him to apologize, but the ex-air controller refuses and pretends it was nothing but an accident. The man, Mr. Melynk, out of frustration and rage, kills him with what is hardly bigger than a penknife, but any knife well-used can cut a carotid and let the victim bleed to death.

Then, prison for quite a few years, then some parole, then a visit to the tomb of his wife and daughter and unborn grandchild, and there the son of the air traffic controller comes up and gets a gun out, but no, man, he can't do it, though Mr. Melynk is able to say he is sorry about what he did. It's maybe this magic word that saves him. At least we want to believe it.

In our artificial society of fake action, fake communication, fake so many things, we have to look under the rug at all the dirt we have swept under it, social dirt, the suffering of people that is not recognized or acknowledged in any way. At best this suffering is dealt with psychiatrists and pills, but never solved, redeemed because we are living in a totally egocentric, real-time, fake society where human feelings, emotions, sensations, and dramas are laughed at, sniggered at, rejected.

The film gets pathetic because there is no embellishment, no softening, no dramatization. Just plain human suffering and what a man is ready to do, and at times not ready to do, when that suffering gets too painful. Does our modern society bring us a dehumanized world, a desensitized life, pathetic de-emotionalized robotized artificial survival that has nothing intelligent in it, just plain deaf and dumb?

Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU

The Man in the White Suit
(1951)

Luddism is ludicrous
A film directly imported from the post WW2 period when the Cold War was installing its dictatorship on us within the wild industrial development of that period of reconstruction and competition between the USSR and its bloc and the USA and its own bloc, since China was not yet counting for anything really, and the Korean War, as well as the Indochina War, were there to contain the growth of communism in Asia.

We are in industrial northern England, the England of Brexit. I heard the name of Manchester, the textile industry empire with Bradford not far away. The object of the film is to show the scare the invention of an unbreakable artificial fiber that does not wear out and that does not need any washing at all, and mind you it only comes in white at first, can create in the textile industry. The greed of the industrialists who want to buy a tremendous invention for a pittance, not a percentage of the profit. The immediate strike of the workers who can only see unemployment and cannot even imagine that they could envisage changing jobs, etc. That was - and still is - the traditional industrial world of Karl Marx and the trade unions, of class struggle and cultish anarchism.

The end is the strange event that this eternal fiber is a dream, certainly not a nightmare, because it dissolves after a while and disintegrates. Greed and scare were for nothing at all. But of course, science will bring up a new improvement of this invention and the new fiber will come anyway, and it did come in the late 1970s. Today's textile industry from spinning to tailoring, garment-or-apparel-making has been transformed by high technology. This film imagines a new rebellion of the working class against science and technology in the name of jobs, a new generation of Luddites and a new gospel of Luddism, but that is a vain idea and no project at all, a blind dead impasse.

So, what's left seventy years later? Nothing. We are reaching Artificial Intelligence and the robotization of most productive activities and the same problem is put forward: what about the jobs this progress destroys, what about the unemployment it creates? That is a false question anyway. What are the jobs this development will create? And these jobs in training, counseling, guidance, all kinds of human activities based on direct contact between people will not be robotizable. With our present experience of a pandemic that requires confinement of the population for several weeks if not months we understand how important social contact, human contact, social and human exchanges are, and this means a tremendous number of activities that will justify an income of some sort.

Obviously, the film states that the British industrial world of 1951 was not ready for that kind of change. They were conservative if not reactionary, that is to say, only wanting on one side to increase their profits, and on the other side to keep what they have imposed - won or gained - with strikers and class-struggle. I am afraid that Homo Sapiens has forgotten his main quality that enabled him to conquer the world: his flexibility, his adaptability, and his inventive spirit. When people get to some kind of comfort, they become blasé about anything else and they just want to enjoy that comfort for life, even though they know it is impossible and they have to think change as the main objective of life. Homo Sapiens is a creative being, the only self-creative being that can only survive and expand if he is creative. As soon as he falls into comfort, routine and the dream of permanence he is killing himself, he is committing suicide, he is inventing the nightmare of its self-apocalypse.

And all the rest is pure illusion, delusion, deception. And that will bring disenchantment, disillusionment, and disappointment because no one can stop the phylogeny of life and the universe, and the universe will find a way to get rid of us if we endanger its equilibrium. A good old virus and a good old pandemic will do the job just fine.

Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU

The Path
(2016)

This garden is a jungle
Three seasons are long, and though a fourth season is not announced we must say the end is open to some or any continuation, though it would be difficult since they would become un movement that would try to change the world, hence it would have to become political, economic, ideological, realistic, and of course compromised because then power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, except of course - or maybe especially - if it reaches its level of incompetence dictated by the world-famous Peter's Principle.

But who are these "they"?

They are a movement we believe in the first season is some kind of copycat of Scientology, hence a church or cult that tries to make its members unable to escape, hence faithfulized into total dependence and alienation in the name of rational and logical belief and faith. There is nothing more rational than something you can only believe in out of faith, and be sure science works like that all the time, with cyclically a cleansing phase that gets rid of the past and steps over and beyond to a new theory. This is basic human functioning, both corporeal, physical, physiological and mental. Even the most creative scientist depends on this belief in what he is doing and that it is the absolute truth, though some scientists know it is only maybe the truth for a short while before it is let go into history, hence semi-oblivion.

The three seasons move from this simple discovery that we do have a cult here that would like to be recognized as a religion in order not to pay taxes but they cannot reach that level because of their lack of influence, force, strength, and leverage. The bad methods are in full swing for two seasons, nearly two seasons, and at the end of the second season things change, but not forever because at the end of the third season something happens that changes the dynamic and the logic of this movement.

Despite all the noise they make about their fairness, their believing in the truth, their accepting enlightenment and considering the light they get in strange moments of visionary imagination or seizure to be coming directly from the very heart, center, and essence of nature and the universe. They are building their garden-campus outside New York City and their urban campus in New York City as the two tools they need to believe in the garden after death, and here something is clear and dim at the same time: is this garden for after death, or is this garden what the world will be when they finally take over the whole universe? It is definitely not clear, though the first generation of converts believe they are going to build this garden on earth after the end of humanity the way it is now.

They add to this a heavy discourse on love and accepting people the way they are, though at the same time they consider those who have doubts as deniers and they reject them out of their ranks that are too much "ranks and files" in the good old military chain of command meaning. They seem to be loving those who are like them, though true enough they do not seem to be entirely dedicated to the concepts of family and marriage and they seem to accept some same-sex partnerships. But you sure have a lot of characters who are terroristic power and control freaks

The interest is that little by little we discover that the past is not all that beautiful. The founder, Dr. Steve Meyer, was the one who probably built the movement, but he was not the first inventor and climber of the "Ladder" because he was connected to a certain Lilith, a woman, with whom he had a daughter, Vera. Lilith is not an unknown name because she is a famous mother of nearly all evils in the TV series Supernatural, you know the Winchester brothers. She is thus connected to evil forces, and sure enough, we discover her more in the third season and she is the one who believes this movement can only be a highly selective minority avant-garde movement that will launch the end of the world with all military force necessary to kill "them" all and to let the Light recognize those It wants to accept in the garden. The rewriting upside down of the Bible. The Garden of Eden is at the end, though also at the beginning of a new phase that might not be human at all and only spiritual and mental. The Garden of Eden thus replaces Paradise and the Messianic Jerusalem and in fact, this Garden of this Meyeristic movement is nothing but the merger of both Eden and paradise. But be sure there is no purgatory, and hell is nothing but total oblivion, annihilation.

This Dr. Steve Meyer was a child molester and he adopted a young boy, Calvin, and slept with him in the same sleeping bag up to the age of sixteen and used him sexually all along. Strangely enough this Calvin was in a way or another brainwashed by Steve Meyer and in his adult life, he believed he was and served as the designated heir and continuator of the master, who as you may remember was only the second inventor of the Ladder, the one who erased and softened the harshest elements of Lilith's vision, a delusional schizophrenic woman. But Dr. Steve Meyer died in Peru one day and although the first generation of believers tried to make everyone believe he was not dead and had stepped into eternal life, on earth mind you, the simple fact that he was dead had to come to the frontal limelight one day, or one moonless night.

And that's when a new leader is designated in a rather circumstantial and accidental way. He is Eddie Lane. Who recruits Vera, the daughter of Dr. Steve Meyer and Lilith, though he does not know that at all, and she was given by her own mother the mission to destroy the movement by making it popular with merchandising and public relations, so that the real hardcore clandestine organization she controls would be able to intervene when the movement would have fallen into some easy-going routine, helping the rotting global world to rot slightly faster. A pandemic is the only thing that is not envisaged despite Dan Brown and his apocalyptic viral ending in Turkey or despite Stephen King and his super-flu epidemic that obliterates humanity in less than a month. If there ever is a fourth season, they will be able to start from COVID-19.

The whole problem of the producers was to navigate from a Scientology model to something more palatable for the young and educated public of today. So, they had to eliminate Lilith and the underground terroristic organization and to come back to highly secure protection of the movement and its members, though the final bloody event of the third season promises tremendous popular fame to the movement. And the ladder of Steve can become the new Ladder of Jacob. For the simple-minded ones, it would be a beanstalk climbing into the sky, Jack and the beanstalk. Forget that at the top it is ogres and ogresses that are waiting for the naïve believers who will climb the beanstalk.

I will regret though that the cultish dependence is not explored as much as it should and the desire of younger generations to have a new world, more progressive and improved, is not really explored in detail, nor the belief in a future garden on the earth after the end of this world is not identified as it should be as a foolish illusion. There is maybe a hint about it with a certain ex-Congressman Buck (that is a really easy play on names) running for governor in New York, but it is a sidekick more than a real stride forward into the realization that all revolutions are generally vain and short-lived and that what follows them would have come anyway without the revolution, meaning here violent and blood-shedding revolutions. Carnation or Rose, Orange or Lemon Revolutions can be rather peaceful, but afterward, only the political personnel has changed, and the policy and politics of the countries concerned are continuing what was already at work before.

Imagine in the present period the impact of a pandemic on the world. We did not need any revolution to bring back down to earth all those who were throwing, hurling and casting tariffs at everyone else and who refused to live in a world where decisions and responsibilities have to be shared as if the whole motto of this world would - or is it should? - be "Make My Umbilical Root - if not Cord - Great Again."

Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU

Above Suspicion
(2009)

Rookie versus would-be retiree
A typical British detective story series in Liverpool, we assume at least it is there, though it could be any British city indeed, since the only distinctive sign we are in Great Britain is that cars run on the left. The two main detectives, an older man at the end of his career waiting for his last promotion before retiring, and a young woman, a rookie some call her, who is the daughter of another criminal investigator who had been the colleague of the first detective in this series. I would regret the older one is too much centered on his last promotion in his career, and the younger one is too much centered on going as fast as she can in her career to reach the level her father had reached before everyone can wink an eyelid closed and open in a jiffy.

Apart from that the murders are absolutely gruesome though we are not shown the real details. The murders are horrible because the victims are in a way or another obnoxious and their death has to be a retaliation and a sort of revenge all the murderers get from or on the victims. Then the investigations are rather simple, for us the audience, since we know practically from the start who did it and the only small details missing concern the motivations of the murderers. The murderers are above suspicion, not because they are not persons of interest, but because they are in a social position that makes them totally untouchable, except maybe in the last story where all those who should have been the killers are proved not to be, though they had all the reasons and motivations in the world to do it.

So you will follow the stories and enjoy the stampeding rhythm of the investigations and you will sigh with relief at the end, more or less, rather more than less, satisfied in your expectations, at least I hope so. I must admit the general accent is more northern than standard British per se, and it is not always easy to catch. Entertaining though it does not remap our social or cultural consciousness.

Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU

Resident Evil
(2002)

Hectic and lethal impasse
A little longish film that knits together some of the standard recipes for fear, more based on horror, I mean grossing6out horror, than on subtlety and complicated plot.

First, you perverts some words, and the "hive" becomes the monstrous heart of a totalitarian corporation, the Ombrella Corporation, that owns everything and everyone, especially everyone because humans are easily replaced when they are wasted or destroyed since they reproduce most of the time, as is well-known, faster than rabbits in Australia. The computer that is at the heart of the heart, at the heart of the hive, is the queen of the hive and she has a problem one day. In a hurrying hasteful and hateful movement, some rather careless if not carefree employee of this hive drops an ampoule that contains a very serious dangerous virus, and what's more without even realizing his mistake. That sets the whole hive berserk because the queen considers the hive is under attack, biomedical attack of course, and she closes up everything and more or less exterminate everyone, except that she does not exterminate them really but she causes the virus that was liberated to become active and cause in its turn some mutations among the various beings, dogs and all, trapped in there.

Then you have a team of saviors, super-duper technicians, and repairmen, with a few repair ladies that arrive most brutally. But you also have an FBI agent who tries to find out the shady, in fact, moonless night-ful dark activities of the corporation./ And you have a man and a woman who are there to steal the virus and its anti-virus of course (they call it a vaccine). Imagine the mess.

But the corporation apparently never loses track of its objective which is to keep things under control. So, then you only have details to discover yourself. Living dead beings after mutation into some biting monsters. Dogs mutated into the real Dog of Allah, the mastiffs keeping hell under control and locked for anyone trying to get out. Even a monster that is a mixture of everything you can imagine, human, animal, dinosaur-like, dragon, and don't name it if you do not want to have it.

In the end, only two manage to get out of this underground hive, and underground is essential, just half a second before the programmed end of the mission. The girl of the couple of thieves and the FBI agent. All the others ended up dead in a way or another. And then a second team of saviors arrives. The first team was dressed in black, like Satan. The second team is dressed in white, like Lucifer. And the two survivors end up in a medical unit, the FBI agent to deliver his mutation into a monster, and the female thief under medical enslavement, though she will manage to get out easily because no one is there anywhere to prevent it.

But it was useless because the city under which the hive was, Raccoon City, is a complete field of dead beings and wretched objects, fire, blood, and lightning. These corporations of the future will never hesitate to destroy human life if necessary. But then what's left? If humans are no longer there, how can the corporation make a profit? And if humans are nothing but slaves, how can this corporation make a profit on a market that does not exist anymore?

Don't stop asking silly questions, because the light might be at the end of this questioning tunnel. Don't hesitate and keep cool, since this situation is as hot as burning embers. Netizens and experts are calling for the US government to release information on the suspension of an infectious disease research lab under the US Army, as a petition on the White House website listed coincident events between the closure and the outbreak of COVID-19, urging the US government to clarify whether the lab was related to the deadly virus.

You said deadly virus? Oh yes, Stephen King had thought of that earlier in The Stand.

Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU

Resident Evil
(2002)

Hectic and lethal impasse
A little longish film that knits together some of the standard recipes for fear, more based on horror, I mean grossing6out horror, than on subtlety and complicated plot.

First, you perverts some words, and the "hive" becomes the monstrous heart of a totalitarian corporation, the Ombrella Corporation, that owns everything and everyone, especially everyone because humans are easily replaced when they are wasted or destroyed since they reproduce most of the time, as is well-known, faster than rabbits in Australia. The computer that is at the heart of the heart, at the heart of the hive, is the queen of the hive and she has a problem one day. In a hurrying hasteful and hateful movement, some rather careless if not carefree employee of this hive drops an ampoule that contains a very serious dangerous virus, and what's more without even realizing his mistake. That sets the whole hive berserk because the queen considers the hive is under attack, biomedical attack of course, and she closes up everything and more or less exterminate everyone, except that she does not exterminate them really but she causes the virus that was liberated to become active and cause in its turn some mutations among the various beings, dogs and all, trapped in there.

Then you have a team of saviors, super-duper technicians, and repairmen, with a few repair ladies that arrive most brutally. But you also have an FBI agent who tries to find out the shady, in fact, moonless night-ful dark activities of the corporation./ And you have a man and a woman who are there to steal the virus and its anti-virus of course (they call it a vaccine). Imagine the mess.

But the corporation apparently never loses track of its objective which is to keep things under control. So, then you only have details to discover yourself. Living dead beings after mutation into some biting monsters. Dogs mutated into the real Dog of Allah, the mastiffs keeping hell under control and locked for anyone trying to get out. Even a monster that is a mixture of everything you can imagine, human, animal, dinosaur-like, dragon, and don't name it if you do not want to have it.

In the end, only two manage to get out of this underground hive, and underground is essential, just half a second before the programmed end of the mission. The girl of the couple of thieves and the FBI agent. All the others ended up dead in a way or another. And then a second team of saviors arrives. The first team was dressed in black, like Satan. The second team is dressed in white, like Lucifer. And the two survivors end up in a medical unit, the FBI agent to deliver his mutation into a monster, and the female thief under medical enslavement, though she will manage to get out easily because no one is there anywhere to prevent it.

But it was useless because the city under which the hive was, Raccoon City, is a complete field of dead beings and wretched objects, fire, blood, and lightning. These corporations of the future will never hesitate to destroy human life if necessary. But then what's left? If humans are no longer there, how can the corporation make a profit? And if humans are nothing but slaves, how can this corporation make a profit on a market that does not exist anymore?

Don't stop asking silly questions, because the light might be at the end of this questioning tunnel. Don't hesitate and keep cool, since this situation is as hot as burning embers. Netizens and experts are calling for the US government to release information on the suspension of an infectious disease research lab under the US Army, as a petition on the White House website listed coincident events between the closure and the outbreak of COVID-19, urging the US government to clarify whether the lab was related to the deadly virus.

You said deadly virus? Oh yes, Stephen King had thought of that earlier in The Stand.

Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU

Joker
(2019)

It is all a question of color
Superheroes are real, as is well-known, but they have to be unknitted slightly to be understood. This Joker definitely is a very complex and complicated fabric, and I must say it is pure silk imported directly from DC, I mean Washington DC of course. This Joker should be appointed POTUS in chief in the whole world. We would at least have a new world war, and a couple of epidemics because then biological warfare will become the welfare of the poor.

This Joker is simple. An adopted child from a mother who was insane and by another woman who made him totally dependent. He has only one way to evade his fate: be a comedian, meaning be a clown. And a clown he is but for him, it is not an act. It is his real reality, his absolute truth. Laughing at everything, including life and death, is natural, normal, pure salvation. When he finally understands that he was turned into a puppet in the hands of greedy torturers who pull his strings for their own amusement and wealth, he is broken down.

It takes several events for this epiphany to come. His being assaulted and mugged and then beaten into some kind of pulp by a few hooligans on a street clown job of his is the first event. The second is his dropping a gun during an act for children in a children's hospital. You can imagine the reaction of the nurses and bureaucrats there.

After that, he manages to get the file of his mother that is also his file, and Big Bang in the Sky, he knows he is nothing but a non-entity who has to prove to the world that is death is worth dying, or should I say living?

That's how he gets into a brutal and killing descent into hell, and his crimes inspire the youth of the city who start a total rampage to burn cars, to kill police officers, to destroy stores, after looting them, in one word a complete urban riot, most rioters wearing clown masks.

And his wish is certainly fulfilled: "I hope my death makes more cents than my life." Unluckily for him, the cents it makes are not for himself, nor his adoptive mother he has chocked to death in the hospital. After that, he only has to get on a TV comedy show and to kill the anchorman live, or should I say dead but on the air. He will be remembered for sure.

But what does this film prove? It proves - and also demonstrates - that in our modern technically-advanced societies people are nothing but either animals who are tamed or slaughtered when necessary or playthings that are at the mercy of those who can afford to victimize them.

The alternative is rebellion, purely destructive rebellion with only one objective: to provide some entertainment to rioters and some distraction to bored witnesses. It is not a question of justice or freedom of expression. It is only, exclusively a question of self-centered exhibitionism, selfish demands to have what they do not deserve, to be given what is normally due to the educated elite, though they are nothing but educated these rioters who are social or cultural drop-outs. They are called Black Blocks here and there, or Yellow Vest in some other places. They are colorful clowns who will go away as soon as the show will come to an end, and the show will come to an end when a global epidemic decides to get into the limelight. The deadly epidemic will tarnish the glory of some rioters who have not killed anyone, nor broken any brick, but no one can be a superhero at will, can they?

And the show will have to go on afterward. So send in the clowns, as the closing song says so well. After the Yellow Vests, you will have the Red Coats, the Black Marias, and the Blue Bottles or Blue Canaries, and I am sure, sooner or later, the Carmine-Corona-Clowns-COVID-666 will enter and strut on the stage as lethal as life since life always ends with death.

Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU

Poldark
(2015)

Brilliantly acted
The main interest of this series is the treatment of history and in this case rather old history, the war of Independence of the United States of America, from the English point of view, and then the French Revolution, with the Terror and Napoleon. This complete collection is quite explicit on these events, but it looks at them from one particular and rather biased post of observation.

First, we are in Cornwall, far away from London, and this Cornish reality is always present in its original characteristics, accent on top. This society is aristocratic but at the same time, there seem to be three types of social elite, maybe even four. At the top, the rich aristocratic families who have enormous and ancient halls, chateaus, mansions or castles, with servants and regular incomes from their land or other economic activities carried out on their estates. They do not work per se, I mean they do not have any sort of employment or salaried activities. They only manage the work of others, and some are members of the House of Lords, hereditary members.

The second layer is more local, more traditional. They do not really have titles and aristocratic links. They are just and mostly gentlemen from old families with old respected and revered old names. They do have activities and they own land, at times some nice mansions on that land. They also have mines and they exploit them. That's the basic pair of cousins at the beginning. Ross Poldark is the poor branch of the family and he has to work very hard to get an income and become someone recognized and respected in society. In fact, he is so marginal in this second tier of aristocracy that he is unable to really integrate social norms and manners. He goes as far as marrying his own kitchen maid, which is a sign of social senility for the establishment. The second cousin in this pair is Francis Poldark, the rich branch of the family. The young man married Ross's beloved Elizabeth while he was gone to fight in the American Revolution, meaning against it, but apart from good manners and a lot of vanity, he is unable to earn a decent living, he is gambling his own fortune away, he is unfaithful to the utmost. Elizabeth Chynoweth is the prize that will always stand between the two and when Francis dies by drowning because he had never learned how to swim, Ross is married to Demelza and Elizabeth is looking for a businesslike marriage and she finds it in the representative of the financial aristocracy, George Warleggan, a nearly self-made banker whose father was a miner or a smith of some sort.

And that's the third elite that targets to become aristocrats and accumulate power in their own hands, clean power or dirty power, economic, political, or simply shadowy power, and George Warleggan has only one objective in life: making money by buying everyone else out of business, only following his immediate short-term interest, hence rejecting everyone who cannot serve his interests, particularly the poor ragged miners or farmhands or servants. He never has one single thought about them and can fire them in a minute without any pangs of conscience, since he has no conscience anyway, causing the misery of hundreds of families.

The fourth elite is represented by the "professions" that are so important in England. Military and Navy officers, clergy, physician or doctors, lawyers were the main professions to which we could add University professors, dons and deans. In this case, they are all represented, plus one traditional and more ancient banker who is trying to practice honest banking as opposed to the speculative banking George Warleggan practices.

The rest of society is in rags, unheard of, unlistened to, rejected, looked down upon. This English society at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries was extremely selfish and feudal, still. It is the fight and struggle of the lower title-less aristocracy and the decent members of the professions who fight for an improvement of this society that little by little actually manage to get improvement, especially when the French Revolution is giving nightmares to the top aristocracy and to the King, the monarchy as a whole.

The main question that is shown and discussed or illustrated in this series is the role and position of women in this male-dominated society. All types of abusive men, husbands or not, are shown and described. All types of women trying to get some dignity, some freedom, some say in a society that does not recognize them as even human, are at times pathetic and poignant. Demelza Poldark is one. And she is really doing that, day after day. Caroline Penvenen-Enys is another one from the top aristocracy who marries a local doctor out of love and tries to impose a certain power of hers in difficult political and social situations. But you could name quite a few more, including among the servants, though not that many after all. The most interesting case is Kitty Despard, an ex-slave married to an English colonial politician who mixes his fight against slavery and his personal glory or vanity which brings him to the hanging gallows.

The last point of interest is how this English society is shifting from an old feudal hierarchical architecture to a more open construction and progressive change, though the impatience and brusque and brisk language of some only bring blockades against this change and the strengthening of the corrupt speculators who manipulate the monarchy and the aristocracy through money and luxury.

I regret though that the third season is too skimpy on the French project of invading England from the South West. It sounds really amateurish on the French side, and totally reckless on the side of the rich speculators involved in the slave trade and other practices that were at the time already vastly rejected by the English society, particularly the scholarly and aristocratic elites. The French general Jules Toussaint is absolutely unprofessional though he is supposed to have had some professional experience in the American War of Independence. I guess Napoleon sent him on this mission to get rid of him. I must also say that to bring 2,000 soldiers to Cornwall would not have been invisible though 2,000 soldiers would have been rather light to march onto London and take it. It is true Ross's operation in Quimper to liberate Doctor Dwight Enys from a revolutionary prison was also very sketchy and the French soldiers there were not very swift. This downplaying the French is slightly unrealistic. The blockade of the French Republic actually played in the hands, right and left, of Napoleon since it justified the emergence of a real military leader capable of reopening the European territory to the French.

So, this complete collection ends up with a few opening moments and promises for further episodes, but so far none is announced, at least to my knowledge. It is true it might become slightly repetitive with Napoleon, the very slow dismissing of feudalism in England, the fight of women who are still one century before the suffragettes, and the rejection of what is shown rather clearly in this society: you could be elected to the House of Commons with twenty-seven votes, and a rich banker could buy a borough and the MP position attached to this borough. England was very far from anything really close to democracy at the time. The French were in the process of conquering universal ballot - true enough only for men - but that was a lot more than what they had in England at the time.

Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU

The Super
(2017)

MORE PERVERSE FRIGHT YOU DIE.
Nothing to brag about. If you like twisted bloody stories. You have reached your targeted aim. You are home, sweet home, with a good old family structure entirely dominated and guided by some kind of seven-year-old witch, a super manipulator who can only be stopped by a voodoo wizard who yet cannot stop the main weapon this seven-year-old girl uses to perform her dirty tasks. The father is the king-slave of the girl and she got rid of her real mother in a way or another by manipulating her sister and her father into burning her alive. So now she has to choose another mother so that her family will be complete.

Be twisted, enjoy the special effects and the brutal ellipses and super-cut editing. No transition. No smooth movement. Only brutal change and fatal staccato of all sorts of methods to kill those who are on her way, in her way. Remember girls can be difficult and seven-year-old girls can be entirely possessed by the devil: possessing her father, possessing the mother she chooses to have, possessing her sister as a devilish guardian of her pure evil.

There is somewhere in this tale some sexism after all but reverse sexism. The males are the servants of the women, and the adults are all the victims or puppets of a seven-year-old girl. Enjoy Freud upside down. He imagined it was the Oedipal fable for sons, for boys, and here tricky Stephan Rick is putting it downside up, front side back, and inside out by making the seven-year-old girl the central heroin, both feminine hero and addictive drug, of this anti-parental phantasm.

Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU

Hunters
(2020)

Home terrorism is a lot more frightening
So many people are fascinated with history, with rewriting history, with imagining what the present would be if some kind of twist had occurred in the fabric of this history, that we could spend the night just reading the introduction to this Bible. And Nazi Germany has always been a cesspool for such imaginings.

After the war, the top scientists and engineers of Germany were recuperated by the Americans or the Soviets, and taken out of Germany and Western Europe, and integrated into the science and technology of these two countries. The present series only deal with the USA.

We are speaking of more than 50 million people who died during that war and 11 million Jews who were exterminated, not to mention homosexuals, gypsies, Communists, all kinds of activists, including Christians, etc. And a few thousand high ranking Nazi scientists and engineers became the backbone of some institutions in the USA, including some of these escapees ending up in top positions in the government.

The point is that it is easy to become unknown, invisible, to change identity, at least it was in those days when the only identification they could have was fingerprints. It would be a lot more complicated today. And when some are becoming invisible, then it is easy for them to infiltrate and climb up the ladder of power.

This series adds a second element that is perfectly modern: the development of some national terrorism, terrorism in the USA themselves, maybe with connections outside, but essentially American in the territory and in the identity of the conjurors of such a project. They call that the Fourth Reich, and that is a phantasm. This national terrorism is home-grown and what they want is nothing but to reverse historical progress and go back to the USA seen as a good old White Anglo-Saxon Protestant nation with the dream of getting rid of all those who are not from this species, who are not WASPs. The Jews of course, but that's nothing when compared to the few Indians that are left, the numerous million Blacks also known as African Americans, and all the Latinos who are anything but pure white. The enemy then is a mass of 30 to 35 % of the American nation, not to mention the many million illegal immigrants.

This ideology is free to express itself in the USA in the name of the first amendment to the US Constitution about freedom of expression. And in our times of vast, quick and sweeping deep change with a globalized economy, there are quite a lot of people who would like to go back to these good old days, though they may favor keeping some of the Blacks and some Asians as slaves provided they are all lobotomized at the age of three or four, if not before birth.

The series then adds one more twist in this historical fabric. The Jews (and there is a big surprise at the end) have organized a clandestine society that hunts ex-Nazis who have found some refuge in the USA and confront them and kill them in the name of their own crimes. This, of course, casts a few bodies here and there in the public sphere and the FBI gets involved but the FBI agent who is entrusted with the case discovers what it is all about and she more or less helps them find the ex-Nazis and she tries to prevent the hunters from executing their prey, in vain most of the time and with catastrophic results when she succeeds.

The series is thus based on sympathy for the survivors of the Shoah; antipathy for Nazism and fascism; the famous plot theories that are thriving in modern times USA; the just as famous theory that all institutions in the USA are rotten, police, government, immigration, you name it and you can add it to the list. At least that prevents them from wasting time understanding or at least trying to understand what the problems in this world are.

What the series could not think of was the fact that the famous COVID-19 epidemic, so far, pandemic soon, will bring the world tumbling down and gasping for pity and grace. And be sure there will be no reprieve. So, after all, Hitler can be still alive hiding on the moon, you can be sure there will be many modern and younger people, both men and women, who will try all they can to seize power and to impose their own eugenic dictatorship. H.G. Wells might get fully satisfied because all people of color, including the Jews, would be eliminated, not to mention of course all Muslims.

It is high time we start moving along the road of some rational research for humane solutions to our global modern time problems like climate change, COVID-19, malnutrition, unemployment, lack of education, etc.

Sanditon
(2019)

Typical Briliant British Rendering of the past
That's a short first season and they really tried to capture Jane Austen's complicated rendering of women's psychology at the beginning of the 19th century in an aristocratic male-dominated society that was challenged by coming industrial ventures - and social requirements - after the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, and with the USA in the background, their slave economy in the south and nascent super-exploitative capitalism in the north.

The great quality of Jane Austen is her centering her fiction on her women characters, which is a brand new thing in England at the time, and her capturing the vast diversity of possible social situations for them, from a rich lady with no direct heirs to a poor farmer's daughter with no life prospect in her family, not to speak of an affranchised black slave eighteen-year-old girl who has inherited a fortune but is not of age to take care of it.

Social classes are also very visible with the top meaning rich aristocrats, the poor meaning low aristocrats, the craftsmen who are toiling in difficult conditions confronted to the lack of security in their working conditions, and the irregular salaries, and finally, the entrepreneurs of the time, those who are able to develop the economy because this financial and industrial work is banned for the aristocrats who can only finance these endeavors but not lead them really, manage them in any way. Strangely enough, and so far, the merchants and shopkeepers are absent, more or less absent, from this first season.

Sanditon is the development of a seaside resort at the beginning of the 19th century, hence only for the rich, and first of all aristocrats, south of London, hence open essentially to the top society of London. Sanditon is, of course, a fictional city but the filming took place essentially in Somerset. Many of the Sanditon scenes were filmed in Somerset including the seaside towns of Clevedon, Brean and Weston-super-Mare. Dyrham Park near Bath, Somerset was used as the location for Sanditon House. The majority of interior filming took place on interior and exterior sets built at The Bottle Yard Studios in Bristol. Yet in the series, Bristol is not mentioned as a close-by and rich city having worked its wealth in colonial trade and before in slave-trade. The only allusion to it is indirect and concerns Sidney Parker who built his wealth in the West Indies in the sugar production and commerce, but his connections are in London, which is both handy of course, but probably not entirely realistic since he is originally from this southwest area of England. Unluckily, we are not shown the famous pebble beaches of Weston-Super-Mare.

I must admit that the men in this season are definitely limited in scope and depth. The only one who has some depth is the son of the main craftsman, but his depth is not at all, or nearly not at all, exploited. The season is entirely dominated by the women, quite in fidelity with Jane Austen, but it is slightly wrong since in this society then men were the only really active segment of this entrepreneurial society. And Queen Victoria was not going to change that in spite of her very long widowhood, some kind of widowed celibacy. Lady Denham is in a way the one who represents this woman's position: to be the widow of a rich lord with a rich estate and who refuses to remarry, living her life then in some kind of whimsical widowed celibacy that turns the lady into some tyrannical Shakespearean "weird sister." I must say the insistence of the season on a case of brother-sister incest, whose stake is the liberation of the sister from it into marriage, and another case of brother-sister companionship with the brother physically handicapped by his obesity, and probably what goes along with it, diabetes. The case of the close solidarity and fellowship between brothers, married or not, is more discreet, in fact, dealt with very superficially. But that's normal since it is the point of view of women that is privileged, hence actual wives, potential wives and paramours.

The show is, of course, beautiful due to the enormous investment in settings, props and costumes. At times some scenes look like retrospective nostalgic fashion shows, but true enough, only the English can do that with style and brilliance.

Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU

Love's Labour's Lost (Globe Theatre Version)
(2010)

Royal Hide and Seek
This production is extremely faithful to Shakespeare's text, though of course not to his own production since he had no female actors and used male teenagers for female parts, and female parts are essential in this play. In fact, this production is even cheating slightly with Moth, Don Armado's page, by having him impersonated by a woman. True enough it is a difficult part, but I am sure they could have found a competent young actor, and what's more, small in size. Moth is supposed to be fifteen or sixteen, with no hair on his face. The exchange between Armado and Moth at the beginning is slightly made fake since Moth is no longer a "tender juvenal" though Armado is definitely a "tough senior." In Shakespeare's production, they would have five more tender juvenals for the Princess, her ladies, and Jaquenetta. We lost these tender juvenals played here by women, but we should have kept one and I must say a young actor looking as if he were sixteen would have been a lot more impressive since a lot of innuendo goes along with this Moth who is going to play Hercules in his childhood or nearly, killing some snake in his cradle. Moth in very light clothing, nearly naked actually the way he is represented in so many statues would have been a lot more impressive. I must admit I found his violent apparition with some kind of a soft stone club weapon looked rather innocuous and silly, and the snake being so slender looked even rather banal. It is obvious Moth could not play on his teenage looks to impersonate a child and it probably would have been better to be able to play on that and then the snake could have been some monstrous thing not a piece of string, or isn't it a piece of rope?

But the noble courtiers and the King are young, more or less as they should be - at least today - and the Princess and her noble ladies are also more or less young, at least as they should be today. We seem to forget that in Shakespearean times marriage for a girl was normally around 13, and there could be some waivers to go down to 11. The marriage laws of the 18th century confirmed such a fact, which meant it was not entirely respected before and some marriages must have concerned very young girls. We find it difficult today to be realistic about such things. A mature woman was around 20 at the latest and the mature woman of 30 only appeared in the 19th century. Think of Honoré de Balzac and his The Thirty-Year-Old Woman.

But on the other side, this production is extremely better than most because of the setting, or rather the absence of any specific setting since it mostly takes place outside the court and the scenes inside are mostly set in the library of the King's residence, a castle or a mansion. But that is because it was produced for the Globe Theater in London which is supposed to be a real, or at least as close as possible to a real Shakespearean theater, in fact, a reconstructed original Globe Theater that burnt and brought Shakespeare to the end of his career as a playwright, moving back to his family in Stratford-Upon-Avon. The setting is the vast space in front of a house façade with a built-in canopy supported by two majestic pillars, and with an open sky over it, and surrounded by various galleries. I remember seeing a performance of a play by Shakespeare in what was an approximate acceptable built-in environment in the early 1960s: it was the back yard of an old inn and the stage was mostly the delivery platform behind the inn plus the few doors and windows opening onto or over this platform. The audience was seated in the yard under an open sky, and the rain was menacing. Since then the Globe has been rebuilt. But I also remember visiting the Shakespearean theater of Ashland, Oregon, in the 1980s. This theater is built on the same pattern, the stage being the space in front of a house façade.

This video shows how flexible such a setting is, in spite of its total preset genericity. The flexibility comes from the fact that the acting space is a lot vaster and it is expanded within the Pit, those extensions being like octopus-limbs with standing audience all around, and in this production, the actors often get down into the audience or come up from the Pit. That makes the performing space more than flexible, actually volatile. Imagine then filming a play in this volatile and versatile space. The result is astounding because they moderately recreate what was common in Shakespeare's time. A play was also in a way a masque with music, dance and singing interludes regularly. That is why Shakespeare liked all kinds of situations using disguises and having characters playing what they were not, and characters being fooled out of their wits, in other words crazy. This play is using two direct episodes of this type plus one episode that is the result of the first of these two. In the first episode, the King and his courtiers disguise themselves as Russian visitors to play some seductive game with the Princess and her ladies. They disguise themselves to break their oath with the simplest pretense you can imagine: "I did not do it since it is the character carried by my disguise that did it."

The Princess and her Ladies had been warned so they disguised themselves: they exchanged the favors that had been presented to them, their capes, and they veiled their faces. The would-be Russians fell in the trap, in the four traps and declared their love to the wrong persons. When they came back as themselves, the Princess and her Ladies had switched back to their real identities and they made fun of the Russians that had tried - in vain - to entertain them and they cross-examined the men with their false declarations that were true in their own minds but false since the beneficiaries were the wrong women.

The third episode of this type is the concluding presentation of the Worthies by the third band of characters, the simple people, yet clearly characterized: One is a teacher of some kind, Holofernes, who uses Latin more than plain English. One is a preacher of some type, Nathaniel. One is a local constable. A fourth one is in fact supposed to be the entertainer of the King and his three courtiers during their three-year-long studying retreat. And a fifth one is the page, Moth, of this entertainer with even a sixth one, but female this time, Jaquenetta, some kind of milkmaid, though she will not impersonate a Worthy, since all Worthies are of course male The Worthies are supposed to be nine but only five will be presented since there are only five male plebeians: Alexander, Judas Maccabeus, Hector, Pompey the Great, Hercules as an infant. The five would-be impersonators will be laughed at, mocked, interrupted, fooled in all possible ways by the nobles, both from Navarre and from France. This production goes far beyond simple words and it ends up as a brawl more typical of a pub scene than of a court scene. Definitely, we are dealing with the inns and other shady houses of so many plays with the famous Falstaff, or some others, though we remain within a comic scene and no Mercutio will be killed by no Tybalt whom no Romeo will kill.

And yet, though this production insists and lengthens these masque scenes, there is another level of Shakespearean style at work. The architecture of the play is a perfect musical composition at all levels of the possible meaning of every single word, line, situation, and character.

For one simple instance, let us consider the end. The brawl scene I was speaking of just right now is interrupted by what would be a Deus ex Machina that propels the entertaining scene into the "abymes" that are so famous in Hollywood films. In fact, it is not a Deus ex Machina per se, though it is the King of France that is projected onto the stage, it is a Deus ex De Profundis, a Deus ex Machina that casts the death of the king of France in less than three lines on the chaotic stage.

But this kind of meaningful architectural music is everywhere, and the tempo is systematic triads of elements turned into quadriads by adding one element to the triad. Thus, we have three male courtiers, but they are four with their king. In the library scene three of them, including the King are revealed as having written sonnets or odes to three of the ladies, including, the Princess, but Berowne is revealed as having done it when Jaquenetta arrives, sent by the Princess, with Costard, to deliver Berowne's sonnet he wrote for Rosaline to the King. And then, as they say, they are "even" since they are four. I just wonder if we could not say it is the systematic square quartering of a ternary licentious circle. Only the plebeians go beyond, at times with long series of words, nouns, adjectives or verbs, though Berowne does not hesitate now and then, who is the most talkative and wordy of the males, though he remains most of the time within these three turning four and once now and then this four turning five.

This is the deepest art of Shakespeare: to systematically use a numerical formula to build all the levels of the language, the psychology of the characters and the dramatic progression of his plays. Here three is disorder, four is order, five is a promised disruption.

There could have been four marriages like in As You Like It or in A Midsummer Night's Dream, hence the triumph of Hymen, the god of matrimony, but the death of the King of France prevents it, mourning first, and Honi soit qui mal y pense. But since the four possible marriages are just postponed by 366 days, with some conditions expressed by the women, there must be some disruptive fifth element that comes into the picture, and that makes this promised quaternary ending precarious, and sure enough Don Armado arrives with Jaquenetta and they announce she is a couple-of-month pregnant and that this union will have to be sanctified straight away though it is perfectly unethical. That's the fifth union that in a way blocks the promise of four [...]

Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU

Love's Labour's Lost
(2000)

Too light to be serious
This is a musical that was produced for the stage but this video was shot in a real environment, hence in situ, castle, mansion, canals and gardens. Cars were more than permitted, as well as bikes and other voluminous props. Of course, there is a lot of music, but only for songs that are generally danced too. All that is funny but does not renew Shakespeare who does not need any renewing or updating or upgrading. The directors decided to meet Shakespeare midway and thus they deliberately cut off a lot of the prosaic and prosodic sections that are not really needed. The visual production enables us to play on ellipses, to gobble down these ellipses.

But the directors decided to keep most of the poetry because a fair proportion of the play is not only in unrhymed pentameters, which is improved prose, prose with a rhythm, but there are at times long sections in sonnet form, essentially quatrains rhymed on the ABAB pattern and rhymed couplets. In the whole play, there are four formal sonnets, one formal ode, plus Baron's confession and Baron's long section on love, that are rhymed and use many sonnet quatrains. The main four male noble characters, the King and his three courtiers, are boasting about their being academes able to compose sonnets, hence they pretend to be sonneteers, though Dumaine only produced an ode. The musical keeps a lot of this poetry and by setting it to music in songs or by having it spoken out in some kind of Renaissance rap, rhythmic enough to sound like hip hop and slow enough for everyone to understand the language, which is at times slightly esoteric by being Shakesperean, it makes it lightly mesmerizing. Otherwise, the language has been modernized and at times some visual rhymes do not exactly rhyme, like "bow" for reverence and "low."

That being said the main pattern of the play is perfectly kept and even amplified. For Shakespeare, two is peaceful flowing fluency, whereas three is disruption, but since this is a comedy it has to target four as the perfect equilibrium, and when we are speaking of four couples we reach the acme of perfection. With a tongue in one cheek, since there is a fifth couple on the side of the noble couples, Don Adriano de Armado and Jaquenetta. But to counterbalance this pentacle the directors add a couple that was not in the original play by making Holofernes a woman, Holofernia, and associating her with Nathaniel who is no longer a continental curate, hence non-married, but who becomes an Anglican pastor or vicar, hence having the right to be married or have some love life, and court a woman. Then we reach six couples on the stage and the most important Solomonic wisdom of David's star. That is not in Shakespeare. And sure enough, Shakespeare's play ends on and with the departure of the Princess, declared queen in the play (which is impossible in France where the crown is transmitted from father to son exclusively) and her three ladies for the funeral and mourning of her father, the King of France, with a promise to accept to answer the question of a real relationship, meaning matrimony, in one year and one day, and the advice to the four men to get themselves in reclusion in a monastery of some kind for these 366 days.

But, and that is the main change, the directors added several cinema newsreels because they positioned the musical in 1939 or so and the tension in Europe is presented and after the departure of the ladies on the sad note that they may never meet again, we have a longer section with the war, the fall of France, the Resistance, the wave that turns with D-Day and the Disembarkment, the Victory and the final come together in some mass movement of joy and happiness. Does that add something to the original tale? No. But it takes something away from the original tale: love cannot be based on a promise for later on, maybe, because life is always a vast "maybe" suspended over our heads, all the more in Shakespeare's time in London with periodical, cyclical and endemic bouts of plague, the famous Black Death that will be there in London till the Great Fire in 1666. Shakespeare's unrhymed quintet in act IV scene 3

From women's eyes this doctrine I derive: They sparkle still the right Promethean fire; They are the books, the arts, the academes, That show, contain and nourish all the world: Else none at all in ought proves excellent.

is moved to the end of the film, beyond the official end of the play: "You that way. We this way." And the meaning is changed slightly, even under the light of the Second World War. Shakespeare based his remark on a triad, "the books, the arts, the academes," triple in the three articles, triple in the three nouns, triple in the three plurals (nine a very ominous number in Shakespeare), but made quadruple with "women's eyes," quintuple with noun + plural + genitive + second noun + second plural, a pentacle, in other words, but a pentacle is negative and it does not really build the quadruple pattern that is needed here so that in Shakespeare there is a very bad omen in this unbalanced and unbalancing praise of love, and thus in the film, the Promethean fire becomes the war and after that war, everything is well and clear, perfection is reached. Certainly not in the play because the four noble couples, plus the disruptive fifth plebeian one, do not reach the perfection of four married or reconciled couples at the end of A Midsummer Night's Dream or the same quartet of married couples at the end of As you like it. And Twelfth Night contains a variation of interest here: three couples for sure but a key element adds a fourth pair:

The three couples are Sebastian and Olivia; Duke Orsino and Viola; Toby and Maria. But toward the end of the play, Sebastian is pressed into marrying Olivia, who thinks he is Viola, due to some disguised ruse. When Sebastian and Viola finally are seen together and revealed as twins, Viola declares herself for the Duke, and their marriage is announced. It is also revealed then that Toby and Maria have married.

Shakespeare in this Love's Labour's Lost is far from that optimistic about love. Love is a lot trickier and evanescent. The musical brings this love home if I can say that, by imagining and adding the final reunion of them all, but after quite a powerful tragedy.

They say the musical is glamorous. I would say so, even if it is not a glamorous as an opera could be. After all, it is only a musical. But it is not sexy at all, or if it is sexy it is for children of three, and even so, these infants won't get polluted or perverted by the shoulders, arms and ankles of four men dancing on the stage, and the women are certainly not in any way provocative, not more than standard women in underground or subway trains.

But it sure is entertaining and mellow enough to let you believe that between various wars there can be some happy peaceful quiet and contended periods of bliss, though I would like to add a fifth disquieting adjective, and it would be smug.

Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU

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