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Six Feet Under
United States of Tara
Favoured TV Comedy:
Chris Morris' Jam
I'm Alan Partridge
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Mitchell & Webb
Kids in the Hall
15 Stories High
Favoured TV SciFi/Action:
The Lost Room
Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles
'Must See' Films:
No Country for Old Men
Wild Blue Yonder
Search and Destroy
Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind
Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Six Feet Under: That's My Dog (2004)
Dark Things Six Feet Under
During a recent convalescence I viewed the entire Six Feet Under catalogue over the course of a week and a bit.
I have to say that this is the episode that stood out, not because it violated the narrative or strayed from character, but because it REINFORCED all the other elements of the story (by 'story' I mean the entire SFU series).
I spent my adolescence in an environment full of people like Jake. Never have I seen the manipulative tactics of the sociopath portrayed so accurately, like a sadist's version of a confidence game.
David's experience was necessary to remind us that there is a cold, conscious cruelty out there waiting for anyone in the wrong place at the wrong time.
We want to believe there is a dog, and if we just help our captor find it, we will be free. Why else spend so much time and energy working and worrying about money? David's experience shows how powerless we can be, how futile our complicity, and how fatal our defiance.
Style over...style? Still worth watching & worth looking for more from this team.
I watched the feature and nothing else, nor have I read anything to do with the movie or anything about the creative team.
In it's attempt to cover the lives of all three principals (nurse, fighter, and boy), this film sacrifices substance. But, if you are romantic, you can fill in the blanks with whatever you fancy.
This should not prevent anyone from watching it however, as it is stylistically very pleasing to the eye and ear, which alone makes it worth a viewing or two.
A potentially deep human drama and the role of Jamaican culture become merely symbolic, allowing the creators to get on with making their eye-and-ear candy (nuttin' wrong wi'dat!).
None of the relationships seemed realistic. This could just be a pacing problem, as many of the situations seem to develop over only a couple of days, which make them highly unbelievable without having a certain balance of neurotransmitters prevalent in the brain, predisposing one to overlook things such as the passage of time being relevant to human relationships.
The whole mother-son relationship came across as either overly idealized or just plain creepy: adolescent boy scrubbing his mom in the bath? Even the actors found it uncomfortable and you could really tell, the kid barely managed to keep a grin off his face (well, perhaps I imagined it, plus the mood of it suggested not very many people were keeping a straight face on set in that scene).
'Fighter' seeking redemption for his moral failure in the eyes of his dead mentor through the relationship to the mother & son as well as with the situation in the boxing club was, again, not actually portrayed so much as subtly hinted at. In fact, one tends to get the sense that the overuse of subtlety imbued everything with an equal sense of import, thereby diluting the whole...
The use of African/Jamaican heritage (the voudoun?) just came off as gimmicky (the cynic in me says it was stitched in to make it more $grant-worthy$ among other forms of kudos, but even if that were the case, i forgive them); it had potential to illustrate 'boy' and his denial of the reality of what was happening to his mother or the rich culture behind it, but in Disney-like and Hallmark fashion, his prayer becomes a cheap plot-device which saves 'fighter' from defeat (although it is difficult to say what was being implied when 'fighter' made final eye-contact with his opponent: was he defeating him with his spirit? or did the opponent see a cue to throw the fight?). A scene dripping with a vague meaningfulness just like my horoscope? Or perhaps while 'boy' sees his prayer as WORKING, in ACTUALITY the opponent is just throwing the fight, thus reinforcing the illusions of 'boy' while letting the audience in on the foreshadowing of his future disillusionment which will be now all the greater. Probably just wishful thinking on my part.
When the voudoun (?) fails to save 'nurse' we see 'boy' in his disillusionment but it just lacks punch & sincerity, which I suppose is what happens when one uses characters and situations as mere symbols.
In conclusion, I guess this works for me as more of an 'Art-piece', where the idea is that through the progression of events, enabled through their connection with the mother, we see the metamorphosis between the roles of 'nurse', 'fighter', and 'boy' for the principal symbols. As an involving human drama, it just doesn't work for me although the final scene with the (?)three fates(?) was near-perfect in emotional chemistry.
I also feel I should mention that I now cannot shake the feeling that this was intended as a TV pilot (and it wasn't, it should've been), the music-video/theatrical trailer style of editing and pacing just screamed it at certain points (upon reflection), but perhaps this is just a stylistic quirk carried over from work with previous media . To be honest, there was enough back story hinted at, and enough groundwork laid for potentially dramatic conflict (mafia, boxing, troubled youth, 'boy' and his escapism,'fighter' and his haunted past, the Jamaican folk-culture, the dead father, etc.), that I cannot see why this would NOT make for a riveting TV series where the director and writing team could actually take the time and energy to flesh out the characters and treat their subject with the dignity it deserves. I can see it now:"The Harder They Come: 2010". Ugh, sorry.
Breaking it down to fractions:
4/5 Audio & Visual (I include non-dialogue acting here, too) which compensated for, but could not replace:
1/5 All things character & plot development, and dialogue -it wasn't bad, just very skeletal; hinted at and not followed through satisfactorily, you can only substitute close-ups of subtle-yet-meaningful looks for flawed-yet-genuine human interaction just so many times before your audience begins to suspect you are a pretentious cheat. But clearly they had not the time or budget for this, and yes, I know this film is supposed to be 'Romantic', but even 'Romance' begs more than the few looks and even fewer lines between 'fighter' and 'nurse'...I mean, the guy ends up with her KID after 2 days and 1 boink, Oh, to be a credulous 12-year-old-girl again...sigh!
These characters seem to have an omniscience about one another's character that is not established in the story, the exception being between the mother & son.
Basically this is the type of film that makes me highly anticipate the next project from this creative team-perhaps their style is not suited to drama? A bigger budget may help or cripple them... The CBC or even HBO could do much, much, much worse than give this team a series sprung from this film.
Watch it and wish them luck!