Couch Pumpkin: Sofa Adventures
News and reviews for the big and small screens…where potatoes fear to tread.

Aug
07

Even though it’s set in the middle of nowhere, halfway around the world, Top of the Lake feels incredibly topical. At a time when misogyny and abuse are in the headlines, its uncompromising look at gender conflict seems all the more electrifying.

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Although Jane Campion’s mini-series is centred around the disappearance of a young girl (pregnant twelve-year-old Tui), the drama is actually more focused on young female detective Robin (played by Mad Men’s Elisabeth Moss), who has returned to her small NZ town after a period of time in Australia. Much like this summer’s other aquatic drama, the fantastique Les Revenants, the lake next to the town serves as a potent metaphor for the secrets and lies buried beneath the surface. Like all small-rural-town shows in this post Twin Peaks era, the tension rises as skeletons emerge from various closets.

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Apr
12

Mad Men Season 6 kicked off in classic MM style, with a big dollop of death, existential angst and a whole lotta duality. I have referenced this before as a key theme of the show and it looks like that is set to continue.

ImageA big clue to the importance of duality was the name of the episode, The Doorway. Obviously this appeared in Roger’s therapist couch speech about life events and the inevitability of death. But it also reminds us of the Roman god Janus, the master of transitions – and New Year. So, which pairs of opposites appeared in this episode? And what do they signify?

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Apr
12

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At first look, Trance seems like a good bet: it follows hot on the heels of Danny Boyle’s Olympic glory, as well as critical and popular hits such as 28 Days Later and Slumdog Millionaire. In it, Boyle fuses a familiar London crime tale (complete the an ethnically diverse gang of gruff, gun-toting mobsters) with the mind-bending ambiguity of Inception. Except – it doesn’t quite work. Trance is a visual feast that is ultimately devoid of nutrition.

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Aug
12

Sometimes you read a book that remains in your heart forever. The Tricksters is one of those books for me. So it was with great sadness that I learned of the passing of its author, the New Zealand author Margaret Mahy.

Fittingly, I encountered The Tricksters three times.

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Jul
24

So, I have some things to say about Spiderman.

Which came as something of a surprise. Because I don’t really like superheroes that much, barring some nostalgic attachment as a result of a childhood spent in front of the TV (X-Men, Hulk, New Adventures of Superman…followed by Live and Kicking, of course).

Not only that, but my initial reaction to the news of a Spidey reboot was a groan. Seriously, Hollywood? You are so desperate for cash you are willing to rake over movies that aren’t even a decade old?

Then I fell for a certain goofy, gangly, luscious-eyebrowed actor, as did my dear friend Jodie, who invited me to go with her to see the glory that is Andrew Garfield, fully spandexed, in IMAX 3D. Well, I couldn’t let her go alone now, could I?

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Jun
24

The last few episodes of Mad Men 5 left me emotionally devastated. I watched them over the space of a few nights, ending each one with red-rimmed eyes and a sore heart.

That’s when I know the show is back on incredible form. Welcome back, Mad Men. And what a way to wrap up the season – by exploring two of the show’s most interesting themes.

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Jun
24

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Having worked our way through all four Alien films, Ryan and I (accompanied by his gf Ellie) decided to complete the series by going to see the latest installment, Prometheus.We had the good fortune to snag some IMAX tickets, meaning we got our faces well and truly blown off!

There’s a lot to say about this movie, a lot of which is spoileriffic – so if you haven’t seen it, stay clear! In summary, it is better than Alien 3 and 4 – but that’s not exactly saying much. It does, however, give a lot of food for thought. See my detailed discussion below:

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Apr
21

Mad Men is…past its peak (much like Don). I hate to say it. We’re nowhere near break-up status, but I just haven’t found s5 so far to be as gut wrenchingly fantastic as the previous seasons (I cried during every single episode of s2).

But there are still nuggets of brilliance and a lot to think about. Last week’s episode, Mystery Date, wasn’t exactly the subtlest of scripts, but there were several very interesting things to analyse and I found myself lingering on it for days afterwards. Clearly the episode had a lot to say about violence against women, and as such we could take it as female-centric. However, I think it equally had a lot to say about masculinity, a theme which ran through many of the episode’s sub-plots:

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Apr
14

I’ve now seen Alien:Resurrection, so wanted to add a few notes to my previous discussion.There are some spoilers in this post, but tbh if you can’t handle spoilers from 1997 because you’re so desperate to watch this movie…well….

‘A Chick Thing’

  • There aren’t many girls in this movie. One is background Alien fodder and another (Hillard) is primarily a girlfriend figure who also provides some brief and unecessary nudie shots.
  • Oh yeah, and the two main female characters aren’t even human.
  • Ripley’s strength and intelligence are here reduced to a function of and explained away by her magic alien DNA. Call hits the nail on the head when she calls Ripley ‘a construct’ – the character doesn’t really need to be in this movie and she doesn’t resemble her former self at all.
  • There’s a lot of talk about motherhood here, but it’s mostly quite creepy and icky with some weird incest vibes.
  • ETA: Something that bugged me was the way Ripley wasn’t at all upset about being cloned and waking up (200 years after being incinerated in a furnace) in  a horrible, Wal-mart controlled world, but she *did* get upset about Newt and immediately latched on to having Call as her new pseudo-kid…guess it’s just down to us wimmin being so baby obsessed and all…
  • Having said that, there are some interesting themes of exploiting reproduction, vis the enforced ‘impregnation’ of the sleepers and Ripley’s clones. Oddly enough, however, being upset by the sight of your deformed and grotesque clones is deemed to be ‘a chick thing’ by one male character (*headdesk*).
  • Oh, and the Alien’s final evolution? The lethal weapon it unleashes as the final twist?  A WOMB. Sweet Jesus.
  • So basically, w/regards to women in this film:

There’s more to be said on the movie in general, but notes are under the cut:

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Apr
04

If you know me you know I LOVE ladies who kick ass. So when my housemate and I began an impromptu Alien series marathon some weeks ago (unfinished as yet – we still have Alien Resurrection to go, plus the Predator and Alien vs Predator series handily included in his bumper box set), I jumped at the chance to get reacquainted with one of sci-fi’s biggest, baddest heroines.

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