Ladies and Gents, watch and learn – Rizzoli & Isles

Rizzoli and Isles - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

Rizzoli and Isles – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

Rizzoli and Isles (2010-)

Stars: Angie Harmon, Sasha Alexander, Jordan Bridges, Lee Thompson Young, Bruce McGill, Lorraine Bracco.

The Bechdel Test was created by a Alison Bechdel in 1985 when she created a cartoon that featured a character that asked why works of fiction didn’t feature two women in the same scene talking to each other about anything other than men. Of course the question had been posed before. Many feminists have questioned the portrayal of women in film and TV, and with good reason. There is actually a website that lists films that meet the Bechdel test. The list of films that meet the tests three points will surprise you too. It’s not a hard to fulfil the requirements: 1. The film must have at least 2 women in it, 2. who talk to each other, 3. about something besides a man. How hard could that be right?

Well Rizzoli and Isles definitely hits that list. Detective Jane Rizzoli and Dr. Maura Isles are two women who are intelligent, distinctive, accomplished, hard working, and very different from each other. The show is just a procedural cop show on the surface. But with two female leads who aren’t afraid of being smart and successful in their particular careers, and who aren’t afraid of being their own type of girly.

Rizzoli is a cop, a homicide detective who has had tough times in her career. Being haunted by an incident of almost being killed by a serial killer, Jane continues to work hard to solve murders and put killers behind bars. Her past is present but she is strong, both physically and emotionally. She is intimidating to men because she can fight her own fights and could knock any of her coworkers out if she needed to.

Isles is a doctor. The chief medical examiner of Massachusetts and a forensic expert. She is brilliant and logical and even tempered. She approaches life as a scientist in most areas, even when it comes to men and clothes. Her reasoning for dressing well is logical and rational. She is bold in her pursuit of men but possess the grace and poise to attract them.

The show itself is like any other cop show really. There are crimes that need solving in amongst the drama of the lives of the characters and the characters help each other get through the ups and downs of life, big or small. It’s the fact that there are two very interesting women at the head of the show that makes it more interesting than other cop dramas. The dynamics of seeing two women live out their lives, succeed in their workplaces, and deal with the troubles that come their way is so refreshing. Rather than them pining over men and worrying about finding Mr Right, we see them as human beings who are more than just the object of a man’s affections, or as only on screen to provide eye candy for the audience.

I really like this show because I like crime dramas, but also because it is so refreshing to have role models on TV who I’m not ashamed to look up to and admire. They are well-rounded, deep, complex characters. And with a background in the novels of Tess Gerritsen it is no wonder. Thank goodness this show exists.

5/5

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The unnecessary and the potential – The Wolverine

The Wolverine - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

The Wolverine – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

The Wolverine (2013)

Director: James Mangold
Writers: Mark Bomback (screenplay), Scott Frank (screenplay)
Stars: Hugh Jackman, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima

The Wolverine is the latest instalment for the X-Men film franchise. The Marvel comic book universe of X-Men has come alive on the screen over the last 13 years. There is always some issues in adapting a piece of literature to the screen, and especially so with comics as they come with a plethora of canon and decades of story lines intertwining. The X-Men movie franchise has been somewhat successful in creating its own world on the big screen. There are however issues with this latest instalment.

Wolverine (aka Logan, played by Hugh Jackman) is practically immortal. His immortality comes in handy every now and again but it is more of a burden and a curse than a blessing. The story begins with Wolverine saving a Japanese man in the Nagasaki blast in 1945. In the present day the man he saved, Yashida, is dying and requests that Logan comes to say his final farewells to him before he passes away. Logan travels to Japan to see the man but all is not as it seems. Yashida has been researching Mutants and in particular the adamantium metal that Logan has infused in his skeleton.

The story is interesting and moves along in a swift and compelling pace but it is how the story is formed that is troubling. The saying “sex sells” is put into action in The Wolverine. Jean Grey, Logan’s previous love interest, turns up in his dreams as his conscience, always lying in bed with Logan in a silky night dress. And then there is the granddaughter of Yashida, Mariko (Tao Okamoto), who Logan saves from Japanese mobsters and then falls in love with as they escape from danger and work out how to stop the evil guys. If the story was more fully developed then these two love affairs, one in the past that Logan still holds on to and the new one he is trying to move on to, could have made more sense. But the lack of time spent and clarity of the underlying ideas behind these relationships was disappointing. Instead Wolverine comes out looking like he is only using Mariko to get over Jean. This, I am told by a dedicated fan of the comics, is not what it is meant to be. Yes, I understand that the relationship between Logan and Jean needed resolving but to throw Mariko into the picture without being clear on Logan’s emotional progression creates flaws in the fabric of this, otherwise good, comic book film.

There are some great female characters in Yukio and Viper, as well as Mariko. They provide some balance to the overload of male ninjas in the film and are spectacularly cast, especially with Rila Fukushima as Yukio and her execution of the line “I am you’re bodyguard” to Logan. Nice touch Mark Bomback and Scott Frank.

All in all, The Wolverine is steady-footed film that helps progress Logan’s story to a place where X-Men: Days of Future Past (due out 2014) can really expand upon Logan/Wolverine’s role in the X-Men franchise.

3/5

Double you tee eff – The World’s End

The World's End - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

The World’s End – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

The World’s End (2013)

Director: Edgar Wright
Writers: Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg
Stars: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman

The third and final instalment of Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg’s Cornetto trilogy (Shaun of The Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World’s End). Anticipation for this film had stirred in me when I first heard of its pending creation. I am a big fan of Edgar Wright’s work – both stylistically as a director, and also as a storyteller/writer.

If you haven’t seen either Hot Fuzz or Shaun of the Dead I would recommend you do so before you see The World’s End. The main reason for this is so you understand the format of the Cornetto films. Wright and Pegg have a way of making their movies start like your typical comedy and then turn into something completely different. The World’s End starts out with old friends being lured back to their home town to do an epic pub crawl they failed to finish 20 years earlier. But the town has changed. And not in the normal, time has passed, people have moved on, kinds of ways either. Something weird is going on and the pub crawl becomes more than just getting to the end of the crawl, it becomes about getting to The World’s End.

Wright and Pegg have crafted a clever script and stylistically it is very much like Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. The quick cuts of mundane tasks, e.g. pouring beer, and the pop culture references are in plentiful supply. As is the witty and clever humour. There is a lot of playing with words and phrases in the first half of the film, which sets up the unfolding narrative that comes later in the film. However the character development is underdone and feels like it has been pushed to the side in favour of the jokes and action of the film. Especially with regards to Simon Pegg’s character there is a real lack of relatable qualities which make him a less than ideal protagonist. By the end of the film I kind of just wanted him to fail at whatever it was he was trying to achieve. I just didn’t care about him. I cared about the other characters more than the lead which is not an unusual feeling, but it was surprising.

The World’s End is a Sci-Fi-Comedy and does a good job of pulling apart the Sci-Fi genre in comedic ways. It is cleverly constructed and the ending is one that will have you in stitches. The World’s End is a nice finish to a classy trio of clever comedies.

3.5/5