Let's start with a picture that has nothing to do with anything I'm about to talk about! This is the approach to the village of Kaleköy, featured in last entry
About once a year, netflix ofers me a free month of streaming access, in a thus-far-unsuccessful bid to entice me into maintaining a paying account throughout the year. So I've been making the most of it while it lasts, hence the recent spat of movie reviews.
I recently have resumed where I left off on Battlestar Galactica, which I had picked up on last year after everyone else had already moved on to Game of Thrones, and found it pretty interesting.
By now I'm well into the third season though, and have been starting to wonder why I'm still watching at times. Many of the episodes in the latter half of the third season don't even have a cylon appearance, just lots of love triangles amid the crew -- what has this become, just a soap opera in space?
For example, episode 14, "A Day in the Life," I guess the boring title says it all. The crew chief and his wife are locked in an airlock together while she exhibits an absolutely hideous attitude throughout, while the admiral has hallucinations about his dead wife. Aside from being painful and boring (I ended up poking around elsewhere on the internet while playing it in another window), it led to several realizations about BSG -- almost every romantic relationship is portrayed in almost exactly the same way, ie, they practically hate eachother. It all involves a lot of screeching and wishing they were with someone else. Certainly the circumstances would be stressful, but I would think couples would handle things in a more varied way.
Also, subtle is something the show doesn't really do. The character's "subtle" glances at the person they really wish they were with have all the subtle grace of a sledgehammer.
So after suffering through that episode I read the brief summaries of the next two: "Dirty Hands: Chief Tyrol's inner labor leader leads him to defy Adama and become the rallying point for a strike." (a contrived strike over issues not ever foreshadowed in earlier episodes, where I know everything will also all be the same at the end of the episode, with no hints at anything else going on? boring!") and "Maelstrom - Galactica's top gun, Kara, finds herself on the verge of a nervous breakdown as she battles the fallout from her captivity on New Caprica." (more painfully clumsy attempts to dwell on someone's psychological condition for an entire episide, as done by a director who has proven "subtle nuance" is a foreign concept to them?) and decided to skip them and jump to what appears the beginning of the season finale story arc.
For a series that is inherently a storyline, it also annoys me that some of the filler stuff they put in, like the strike, has been crudely jammed in there without foreshadowing or after-effects. In an earlier season in one episode Apollo suddenly, disorientingly, has a serious girlfriend we've never seen before and never see evidence of after. Presumably the writers know, at least at the beginning of the season, what random hijinks they're going to throw in, why can't they make these things feel a little less contrived and introduce the girlfriend earlier, introduce labor complaints leading to that strike I didn't watch?
Beneath Hill 60
So I took a break from Battlestar after that Day in the Life episode and scanned my list for something that looked to have decidedly more action, and my eye fell on Beneath Hill 60, which, from the description ("A World War I-era Australian engineer sent to the Western Front becomes part of a plan to detonate an explosive charge under the German front lines."), I assumed was just going to be one of those hollywoody feel-good military adventure movies a la the Great Escape or something.
I was pleasantly surprised, however. Turns out its an Australian production. It was well-made and acted, with an interesting cast of characters one gets to know and care about.
I feel like there's two types of war movies. There's the war-as-an-exciting-adventure movies hollywood likes to pump out which are usually devoid of anything meaningful and I don't like at all, and then there are movies that utilize the way war puts characters into situations that would strain anyone to the limits to make a meaningful point.
I feel like hollywood really has trouble accomplishing this latter goal, being too dedicated perhaps to its established recipes. The good guy won't ever leave a man behind, the bad guys are bad guys, at least one good guy will die and he'll be the one character whose relationships they've been focusing on, for maximum effect ... and its painfully predictable.
A frequent theme I noticed in Hill 60 was tough decisions. Its one minute till you're supposed to blow the explosives in the tunnel under German lines, but you've just been told one of your men is still down there -- in a hollywood movie you can count on the protagonist telling the colonel to stuff it and running down there to save the man, but that's not necessarily realistic..... and meanwhile there's even a handful of German soldiers over there that the movie has developed as sympathetic characters.
In conclusion, if you, like me, appreciate a good war movie that uses the circumstances to actually tell a good meaningful engaging story, I recommend this movie. (:
And let's conclude with another relatively unrelated picture, though it does at least feature Aussies in WWI trenches. (you may recall I posted the Turkish side of this in my earlier movie review)