Review: “Nashville” – Season 5 Premiere

It’s been forever since we’ve got to see Rayna, Juliette and the whole gang on our screens. Now they’re back and the least one can say is: the 5th season of the country music drama series did not start softly.

Or let’s say more or less.

Summary

The 2-hour-premiere of the 5th season from “Nashville” which moved from ABC to CMT opens with a sequence which at first rather appears to be a flashback, but then turns out to be actually a flash-forward. Rayna is on the road with a glorious Mustang and gets depressed/sad when hearing a song being played by an old man at a gas station. This melancholic start gets shattered by the discovery of Juliette’s fate: No, there wasn’t just a “problem” with the plane, in which she sat in, it totally crashed and – in all Nashville-drama-style – Juliette Barnes was the only survivor. The only thing which kept her alive was the voice of the woman who found her.

Well, now that we and our emotions had a terrifying ride on a hell of a rollercoaster, we get back to the ground safely and move forward in time. Gunnar and Scarlett are back together as I guess the Ex-Exes? The James/Claybourne-patchwork-family finally appears to be happy, though let’s not forget that N°1 nag Maddie is back to being part of the gang so the “Don’t worry, be happy”-course line will rapidly change to “Oops, she’s back at it again”.  Our favorite couple, the star-crossed lovers Avery and Juliette, is also a thing again, but even though Juliette had amazing luck to survive, she is paralyzed and in a wheelchair which doesn’t make things exactly easy for anyone. And let’s not forget Will, who thanks to him standing up for himself in the finale of the 4th season, is suddenly cherished and courted by everyone – and that means TIP (Trouble In Paradise) for Kevin and him.

Themes

Now, let’s move on to what the first two episodes of the new season are all about. Love is of course a big theme with all the couples back together. But let’s not forget that all of our favorite country singers on TV are artists and that of course makes them seek their own selves. While Rayna is looking for her (old or new?) “Me” and finding that in her relationship with Deacon, Juliette is trying to understand how she was deserving of the luck to stay alive; Maddie of course is still very keen on pushing herself to be THE star whereas Scarlett seems to finally get that she isn’t always at the center of attention, meaning that not everyone does something in relation to her person. So, yeah, we have many possible developments originating from those two first episodes.

Review

  • Pros: Juliette finally gets a bigger and more interesting profile than only the country pop star and her eccentricities. Simultaneously, Deacon gets more attention as an artist instead of as a houseman, though at the end, he still gets undermined by Rayna, which brings us to the…
  • Cons: Rayna seems more out of balance due to the plane crash than Juliette, who was the one who had to live through it, and achieves to make it revolve around her and her music which actually leads to the idea of a concept album with her husband (wait, I thought she went on the road trip to find “herself” and not her being with Deacon?) and their bumpy road to their Happily Ever After. Too bad that Deacon doesn’t want to risk too much and simply  adheres to his wifey’s command…
  • Other notable aspects: Will is back to being a rocking country star, but the charming – ***cough: way too old*** – clothes designer threatens his happy, balanced love-life with former and present boyfriend Kevin. Well, Will: You can’t have it all. Speaking about former lovers: With Gunnar and Scarlett being – apparently happy – back together, the writers just had to find something to make their relationship stick out in the whole bundle of couples: Scarlett gets angry because she thinks Gunnar voluntarily chose women who were also part of her life to hurt her (Come on, writers: even for Scarlett, that’s kind of a far-fetched and irrational theory!), but decides then to move on. Let’s see for how long she’s on that trip…

So yeah, “Nashville”’s 5th season started with a (more or less) “bang” and plunged the every-reason-to-be-happy couples back into drama. Hey, let’s not omit the scary reveal of an existing Rayna-stalker at the end of the premiere…but I have the feeling it will not take long to find out who’s sitting behind the wheel and the shattered windshield.

Yellow Duckling’s Tip

My tip for you, little ducklings: Go for it. “Nashville” is back with its drama and there are stories to be told. We’re waiting – and that – BTW – also applies to the music which unfortunately came a little bit short in that premiere. But let’s see where the next episodes are headed. Have fun, y’all!

 

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SING – the “Let it go” of 2016

Just like Elsa, Queen of Arendale, did 3 years ago, the new animation movie “SING” enchants us with music we will never be able to get out of our heads again. Yes, all those earworms you are desperatly trying to forget, are coming back to life and to screen! But, sarcasm aside: In case you expect any authentic, original songs – SING is the wrong Holiday movie for you. Then, you’re better off with “Frozen” (but don’t blame me if you can’t stop singing “Let it go” around Christmas).

Illumination Entertainment which might be known to you through yellow, little beings called the minions, bring us “SING”: a movie about a koala bear/theatre manager who actually cheats a lot and breaks all possible rules in order to allow him to keep his theatre, and it’s about a bunch of other diverse animals too, who all want to sing and win the big prize money of 100 000, but actually don’t win anything at all, because the koala lied to them. Now this synopsis might sound slightly crazy, but you have to keep in mind that the story plays out in another world where all kinds of animals live like humans, dress up, go out, drive cars (even mice!) or…sing!

The concept of the movie is actually not that bad. And its execution neither. Because “SING” is not just about singing itself, it’s about hearing and really listening to fantastic voices without for once being totally distracted by the singer’s faces and dancing and so on. Yes, of course, you see a gorilla singing, but the fact that you can’t connect the voice to a real face helps you in fact to enjoy the moment and listen to the voice itself. I believe that is something which gives “SING” a certain uniqueness in the realm of musical animation productions.

However, there is a downside to it: How can you focus on the voices if so many storylines disrupt the music every few seconds? While the first part of the movie presents us the multiple protagonists and their backgrounds, it’s only the second part in which the storylines all really play out – and fast. Attention, spoiler ahead in the next sentence: Especially when the show takes finally place, the constant breaks during the different numbers with Johnny’s father breaking out of prison or the bear mafia chasing Mike make it difficult to enjoy the great voices and listen to the songs.

So, all in all, I can say that “SING” is a perfectly good Holiday movie when you’re prepared to hear all the hits you know from the radio, only slightly differently interpreted, and when you don’t expect a musical, but rather a movie with songs. I grade “SING” with “good, but could be better”.

 

Review: “Supergirl” Season 2

Aaand she´s back! “Supergirl” flies high during the premiere of the 2nd season in her new home, the CW. But: she´s not alone.

“The adventures of Supergirl” – this name might fool you, because who´s getting all the attention? The new superhuman addition Superman. Though, one has to admit that a too great predomination of his character was nicely avoided. So, let´s sum it up:

Supergirl, aka Cara Danvers, has it all: a great career ahead of her, the man of her dreams and … well, actually every other possible thing in the world, as she´s Supergirl and can therefore do … anything and everything she wants to. But, somehow, she still finds a way to be unhappy, especially when she compares herself to her cousin, Superman.

Point given to the writers: Even though Superman is a character that has been portrayed countless times throughout TV and motion picture history and still has layers to uncover of his personality, the creators of “Supergirl” did well by not going into deep. As far as the viewers know, Superman is at the point of his life in which every fan wants him to be: no enemies, happy and together with the love of his life and pleased with his job. But, what I do see is his typical characteristic that he wants it all and tries to manage it all at once. Cara however doesn´t want that. Throughout the first season – as she very well states at the end of the episode – her primary goal was to handle being/becoming Supergirl. And now it´s all about being Cara, but does she really want to be that weaker and self-conscious person anymore?

I personally think that this major difference between Superman and Supergirl should have been more highlighted, but it´s only the first episode and there´s still plenty of room and time left to dig deeper into this aspect.

Let´s move on: on the CW, all the other, non-superhuman characters finally seem to have found their home. Cat Grant is better than ever with her witty, philosophical and slightly arrogant, but true statements; Winn develops into the man all the viewers want him to become in order that he can be with Cara; and James is portrayed exactly the way most of the people see him: boring and without any interest for Cara. Even she prefers to be friends with him because she finally recognized how dull he is (I really don´t want to be misunderstood here: nothing against James as an actor or person, I am simply criticizing his character on the TV-show). And of course – last but not least – Alex Danvers proves herself as one kick-ass kind of DEO agent, who is a strong and confident woman ready to face any dangers ahead of her.

So my final rating for the premiere of “Supergirl”´s 2nd season: good. I think it will do better in the upcoming episodes and the seeds which were planted in the premiere will begin to grow. It´s still worth to watch, maybe even not so much because of the whole superheroic, extraordinary action, but because of all the human and relatable stories which are being told along the way.

 

Legend of Tarzan: A good Saturday night movie tip for you!

You don´t want to go out this weekend and you are looking for a new and good movie to watch? Then, I might suggest you go see “Legend of Tarzan”.

We may know him from our childhood as a hero, the man from the Jungle. We may know his story, how he grew up with gorillas, met the beautiful Jane and returned to civilization – his species. But what we don´t know is: that he is a legend.

And that requires to look into what happened after the commonly known tale.

Let´s move away from Disney: Tarzan is now an English aristocratic Lord and he likes it – at least he seems to at the beginning. In case you are going to watch the new blockbuster, you´ll understand very quickly why he´ll return to where he grew up in the Congo (I won´t spoil it for you). Following this decision, you will see action, romance and adventure and feel love, fear and danger.This movie moves you in all directions, shows you extremes and transforms your image of Tarzan as a slightly dumb comic figure into a strong, very intelligent man who builds the bridge between two worlds – the Wild and the Civilized.

Of course, no movie is perfect, including “Legend of Tarzan”. But it´s one of those films which are nice to watch and have everything everyone wants to see. Hence, my tip for you little ducklings: Have fun watching “Legend of Tarzan”!

Shamy is back – all you need to know about the HUGE historic TV-moment!

Hello, little ducklings – and fans of the Big Bang Theory (and/or Star Wars)! As many of you might have known for a while, the Star Wars themed episode “The Opening Night Excitation” (Season 9, Episode 11) featured probably one of the most remembarable moments in american TV-history.

Or in other words: Sheldon & Amy finally did it.

Though this dull statement isn´t very fair to this very delicate and authentic way the writers of The Big Bang Theory managed to conduct viewers into really accepting this huge step for both characters. The viewers got to be a part of Sheldon´s decision processes which helped a lot of us understand why and how this was the best moment for the very atypical couple to finally consumate their relationship.

Also, the fun wasn´t left out at all! So for all of you who are skeptical about watching the episode because of possible akwardness, there is nothing to fear. The classical element of drawing parallels and transfering one situation into a completly different one makes the overall episode a very traditional one.

So my tip for you: If you haven´t watched it already, shame on you! And otherwise: Open up another window in your browser up there and watch it NOW! Have fun!

The Hunger Games – Mockingjay Part 2 Review

After years of following the tragic, suspenseful fight against tyranny and inhumanity, the dystopian series based upon Suzanne Collins´ trilogy comes with “The Hunger Games – Mockingjay Part 2” to an end as true as the first part of the whole franchise.

Overall, the mega-blockbuster is a hit. It has everything that theatre audiences love: the action, the love-triangle and of course the happy ending. Though, through the brilliant acting job by Jennifer Lawrence, admirers of the art of visual storytelling won´t be deceived. Her anti-heroism does not losen up until the very last scene – which very different and somehow better than in the book – seems to highlight her true, but deeply hidden motive of her fight and to finally crown her with a heroism which is much more personal and everyday-like: to love.

However, let´s not forget some incoherences in the story-telling of the motion picture. While in the first part of “Mockingjay” Katniss seemed to be more obsessed about Peeta than anything else going on around her, his presence in the second installment made her mostly want to kill him until she suddenly changes her mind and loves him. Their difficult relationship was rather poorly portrayed and explained and is only sustained by the fact that the audience knows they´ll end up together. This is enhanced by the way Gale is changing from the strong, powerful hunter to the vulnerable, weak and coward-like soldier. Especially the scene where Katniss appears to be a reenactement of President Snow displays the shift of power.

In contrast to the previous films, “The Hunger Games – Mockingjay Part 2” features multiple perspectives instead of focusing on Katniss´s which at multiple occasions makes it difficult to fully identify with the hero and thus understand her deep motives and feelings. Expect her one and only outburst towards the end, the “Mockingjay” seems to be getting colder and harder every second, only displaying emotion as a way to make a point instead of really feeling the pain.

But one element has been brilliantly achieved with the last part: the paradoxic parallel opposition between Katniss and Snow expressed through their gradual approach in their thinking-patterns. While they are very different from each other in their way of being – good versus evil, hero versus tyrann, human versus cruel – they each represent one pole of morality which comes to a final meeting point during the scene in the rose garden. Katniss is the expression of the other extreme of Snow, thus filling his place for the better and thereby realizing that she or anybody else is not better than he is. Instead, she finally sees the similarity and understands that those who want to be better than him, don´t want to be different, resulting in her decision to assasinate President Coin.

This episode which is thinly described in the book is greatly shown in the visual adaptation making “The Hunger Games – Mockingjay Part 2” a honorable end of the franchise.

To conclude, my tip for you is: Go see it and feel it. May the goosebumbs always remember this great cinematic achievement.

Feel-Good-Movie-Time!

Hello, little Ducklings! After having watched the new Disney-Pixar production “Inside Out”, I just couldn´t resist to write a little bit about it!

“Inside Out” tells the story of our emotions: anger, disgust, fear, joy and sadness. They direct our feelings and our perception of other people´s words and actions. In this case, we as viewers get a closer look on young Riley´s emotions (and yes, it is a girl – weird name though). Even though the introduction to how it all works and who is who takes up a felt eternity of the movie, it´s still worth the attention in order to understand the whole concept “Inside Out” is based upon.

We do not get to see  well-balanced, ethically good and heroic characters we might know from other movies – no, we get to see the actual emotions and thus only them. Joy is bossy and very egoistic, Sadness is annoying and disregardful, Anger is very sensitive, Disgust is Miss Know-It-All and Fear is pretty realistic. And we come to think about it, it adds up! When we feel happy, it´s mostly all about our own accomplishment or maybe the ones from our closest friends and family. In sad times, we do not care about what other people say and even annoy others around us. Especially on sensitive subjects, we may tend to get quickly angry and when we feel disgusted, we are always 100 % sure that only WE are right. And when we´re scared…well, we would never argue with reality.

This means that the real heads behind “Inside Out” analysed all those emotions and made real characters out of them in order that we could reach identification and even the classic moment of catharsis (I won´t spoiler that for you!). All the little details and the whole base on which the story is based upon just shows how much creation and imagination the creators had to bring up and makes “Inside Out” even more authentic.

So for those of you who thought “Frozen” was awesome and new and shiny, here comes “Inside Out” with a beautiful new perspective of Disney´s and Pixar´s future (as well as how boys appearently react when they see a girl – a must see!).

My tip for you, Ducklings: Go to the next movie theatre or wait for the DVD/VoD-version to enjoy “Inside Out”!