Westworld – Season 1

Dolores on a rampage.

This TV-show brought me back to the time I’ve played “Detroit: become Human”, I remember going crazy by the way humans were treating the androids in this game. Westworld does the exact same thing, all I wanted was for the robots to have their revenge.

Imagine being stuck in a park where rich creeps can play out their rapist and murder fantasies on you over and over again, this is downright atrocious. I strongly believe that from the moment you create a life, whether it’s a robot, AI, or android, this very being needs to be treated with respect. Humans tend to treat everything that is different from them as a threat, an enemy. They are so afraid to loose control, that they would rather destroy anything that is different from them than learning to coexist.

This is such a deep and philosophical subject, Chris and I can talk for hours about this, but I’m not going to go there because this post would become an insanely long rant. The true plot of the story is that they uploaded “reveries” which means that the robots can have memories, these memories create emotions, and because of these emotions, they can deviate from the paths that were coded and uploaded in their system. An intricate topic with tons of plot twists that I didn’t see coming.

The casting is excellent, Anthony Hopkins (Dr. Robert Ford), Evan Rachel Wood (Dolores Abernathy), and especially Thandie Newton, a complete badass in her role as Maeve Millay. Here’s one of her quotes:

Maeve Millay: [to Sylvester and Lutz] All my life, I’ve prided myself on being a survivor. But surviving is just another loop. I’m getting out of here. You two are going to help me.

Sylvester: No. Do, do you know how far these people will go to protect their IP? Every part of this building, including the skin on your back, is made to keep you here. It, it’d be a suicide mission.

Maeve Millay: At first, I thought you and the others were gods. Then I realized you’re just men. And I know men. You think I’m scared of death? I’ve done it a million times. I’m fucking great at it. How many times have you died? Because if you don’t help me I’ll kill you.

The show reminds me somehow of a real life MMORPG, where NPC’s relive their same fate over and over again. Humans are just guests in the NPC’s home world which is nothing more than an amusement park that provides an escapism from those guests’ real life.

On another note, I also absolutely loved the music and the player piano rolls used throughout the entire season. Some of the instrumental covers include songs of The Cure, Soundgarden, The Rolling Stones, Radiohead,… I’ve read on IMDb that the repetitive three-chord phrase, often heard in the background music, comes from Westworld (1973), where it underscored the Gunslinger’s slow but relentless pursuit of the hero. I really like this tune, it reminds me a lot of Carpenters’ music. It makes me wonder if season 2 will be as musical as the first one!

There is so much more that I could elaborate and mention about this topic, but I need to draw a line somewhere so, I’ll end this post with one more quote that is mentioned repeatedly throughout this season:

“These violent delights have violent ends” – Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet

Bates Motel

A few years ago, Chris and I finished watching all seasons of Bates Motel. We were in awe from the beginning to the end, and felt sad when the story ended. Somewhere in June, I was searching Netflix for a new thing to watch while crocheting when I stumbled upon Bates Motel, I instantly pushed the button “play from the beginning”. This TV-show is even better than I remembered, there’s so much that I had already forgotten.

While watching the show, I couldn’t help myself but be awestruck by the little town of White Pine Bay. The nature looks so beautiful, it always makes me envious for huge hikes in a forest so, I looked up where the TV-show was shot. Apparently the original story of Bates Motel takes place in California, the TV-show however moved the infamous hotel to a fictional town in Oregon. While reading about the actual location of the shooting, it appears that the filming took place in Vancouver and British Columbia. Well, Oregon or not, the place looks beautiful and that’s that.

The casting is excellent, Vera Farmiga (Norma Bates), Freddie Highmore (Norman Bates), Ryan Hurst (Chick Hogan) being amongst some of my favourite characters. Apparently, Ryan Hurst thought his role as Chick was too similar to other characters he had played before, so he accepted the role with the condition that he could make it personal. The result was amazing, I’m glad that he was given that opportunity. I’ve also read that Vera Farmiga was the one that suggested Freddie Highmore for the role of Norman. Those two were absolutely perfect in their role. I can’t imagine anyone else pronouncing the word “mother” as sickly and disturbing as Mr. Highmore does.

On a finishing note, here’s my favourite quote of Norma Bates: “When I moved here, no one prepared me for the colossal, frickin’ face-dive off a cliff that living in this crazy town really is!”. Even though I think that Vera Farmiga is an excellent actress in each role that she plays, she really kills it as Norma Bates. Whoever did the casting deserves an award.

Frappuccino

Last week, during the first heatwave of this summer, Chris and I were dreaming about a good refreshing frappuccino. The first time we’ve drank this cold delight was years ago at Starbucks, when they still had a lactose free version of this drink. Years later, we’re still craving for a cold “coffee” beverage for summer so, we decided to order a blender that can crush ice, and make a perfect frappuccino.

Yesterday was quite a hot Saturday, too hot to do anything so, we lazied up, hanging in the couch while sipping from our jar of frappuccino, and re-watching Breaking Bad.

After a few experiments, this is our favourite recipe until now (for 2 persons):

  • 2 cups of coffee;
  • 2 cups of lactose free milk;
  • 4 tablespoons of sugar;
  • 12 ice cubes.

It’s very easy to make too, just throw all the ingredients into the blender, and a few seconds later it’s done. I know that a lot of people add whipped cream, and a whole bunch of other stuff, but both Chris and I prefer our food as simple as possible.

Yesterday was an amazing day, and I’m ready to have more of those. Let the summer begin!

The Charnel House Trilogy

The Charnel House Trilogy, developed by Owl Cave, is a point & click game with pixel graphics. As the title states the game is in 3 parts: Inhale, Sepulchre, and Exhale. The story is about a horrifying and fatal night aboard a train bound for Augur Peak. Even though the game is pretty short, the developers managed to create an eerie atmosphere that puts you at ill-ease in times.

My favourite scene is the one at the station, waiting for the train while snow’s falling on the abandoned tracks is so dreamy. Despite the current summer temperatures, Alex gave me the chills though. I mean, who goes out in the snow in just a T-shirt? I’d be wrapped up like an Eskimo!

Anyway, I’ve played this game a few years ago, and remembered how much I loved it at that time. Meanwhile, I’ve played so many other games that I’ve forgotten most of the story of The Charnel House Trilogy so, I planned to re-play it this weekend.

Today, after a great walk at the park, a super delicious sandwich, and a damn fine cup of coffee, I installed myself at my desk, and booted this little gem. Two hours later, I had already finished the entire story. While it was very short, the adventure was worthwhile. The puzzles are a bit too easy, but it made the trip go smooth, and without any challenge. I can understand that some people may have an issue with that, but it didn’t really bother me that much. Props for the pixel graphics cause I’m a complete sucker for these. All in all, an absolute must for all adventure games fans.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

One, two, Freddy’s coming for you.

Three, four, Better lock your door

Five, six, grab a crucifix.

Seven, eight, Gonna stay up late.

Nine, ten, Never sleep again…

Chris and I are huge horror fans, and since psychological dramas are taking over our beloved genre, we’ve decided to re-watch the good old classics for now. Nothing beats a slasher movie on Saturday night so, we’ve decided to start our re-run galore with “A Nightmare on Elm Street” series.

Yesterday evening we’ve watched the first one, released in 1984. Now that’s what I call real horror. How I’ve missed the simple plots of a slasher movie! No intricate dialogues, no psychological BS, and no violins… Just the simple life of teens, trying to outwit a creepy killer on cool 80’s tunes. The perfect recipe for a Saturday horror night.

While reading some trivia of “A Nightmare on Elm Street”, I’ve learned that the movie is actually inspired by real-life events. Apparently, Wes Craven decided to make this movie after reading some L.A. Times articles about a group of teenage immigrants who, after moving to the U.S., died in their sleep after suffering from disturbing nightmares.

Interesting… A great concept, perfectly translated. The last time that I had watched a NOES is so long ago that I barely remember any of it. I’m glad we decided to do some re-runs for now, I have the feeling that I’m watching most movies for the first time again. The perks of getting older… hehe…

Anyway, A Nightmare On Elm Street is, in my opinion, along with Halloween and Friday the 13th, one of the best slasher movies ever made.

Documentaries

One of our most favourite things to watch during our Sunday lunchtimes are documentaries. Whether it’s about a serial killer, Bigfoot, or doomsday preppers, all is welcome as long as it keeps us interested.

At the beginning of the quarantine a new docuseries, “Tiger King”, was released on netflix. Everybody and his mother seemed to be pretty hyped about it so it only seemed natural to watch the show from the beginning to the end. What seemed to be a fun thing to watch in the first episode, gradually became a drag. Joe Exotic went from a funny loose cannon with a mullet to an absolute train wreck of a person. I honestly never thought that something like that existed in this world. Anyway, I admit that I only watched the entire show to be up to date with the hype, but to be entirely honest, I could have lived without it.

Add to this basket over hyped shows like “Making a Murderer”, “The Staircase”,… which I found not only boring, but also extremely depressing. I even quit watching these in the middle not caring about the end.

Unlike the previously mentioned basket cases, there are also riveting documentaries that were compelling to watch, and that brought a tear to my eyes when it ended. “Don’t Fuck with Cats”, “The Bigfoot Files”, “Evil Genious”,… All these were excellent.

“Bigfoot Files” was a complete other type of documentary, but was interesting, and at times even made me roll on the floor of laughter. Some scenes were so ridiculous, it was funny. Yet a part of me desperately wanted to know if they found actual clues on whether Bigfoot really exists or not. Spoiler alert: they haven’t. I guess that the mysterious creature will remain a myth after all.

In the entire haystack of serial killer docuseries, my favourite is “Don’t Fuck with Cats”. The story of Luka Magnotta was both disturbing and interesting, and kept me glued in front of my screen till the end. I loved the way they build up the suspense in each episode. Still now I wonder who the real monster in this story was, Luka, a victim of modern society, or the people on social media that seem to have given him a push into the direction he took. Regardless, an excellent story which is hard to top, and my favourite of all serial killer stories.

A R’lyeh Great Easter

In the summer of ’94, I started hanging out with some school mates that apparently were into roleplaying. One day, a bunch of us had planned to hang out in the attic room of my best friends’ old house, where they surprised me with a campaign of Call of Cthulhu. I had never heard about H.P. Lovecraft and his universe before, but since that day I’m a huge fan.

When the movie “Color out of Space” came out, Chris and I wanted to keep it for a special occasion. This Easter holiday, I thought it would be a great idea to make it a Cthulhu inspired day.

We first opened a good bottle of wine and enjoyed the beautiful weather on our balcony. It was a great moment, and Chris even got a little sunburn.

After that we crashed in the couch, and started watching “Color out of Space”. To be honest, I had no idea what to expect of the movie, I was too afraid to watch the trailer and get disappointed. Never have I been this wrong, the movie was stunning! It was so great, I don’t even know where to begin. The direction and cinematography were meticulous, alongside with a screenplay written as it should be in honour of the work of Lovecraft.

The casting was perfect, no one can portray a man taken over by insanity like Nicolas Cage does. The man is craziness incarnate, just too bad for his overacting which grows tiresome at times. Also, props for the witchy elements which they made look darker than I initially expected. I actually love all about this movie, it was surreal, disturbing, visually pleasing, and the horrific creatures were beyond grotesque.

All I can say at this point is that I can’t wait to watch this movie again. A perfect tribute to H.P. Lovecraft. Just one question though: what’s up with the alpacas? I know they’re funny, but of all animals, alpacas?

To finish the day in beauty, we watched the H.P Lovecraft documentary “Fear of the Unknown” during the dinnertime. It’s a 1 hour and 29 minutes documentary on Youtube where writer Neil Gaiman, filmmaker John Carpenter and others discuss the life and legacy of Lovecraft. When I saw the time stamp of 2007, I was baffled that it took me 13 years before even hearing about this documentary. Nevertheless, it was highly interesting, and perfect to end this Lovecraftian Easter.

Three Weeks

These last 3 weeks have been some of the strangest weeks of my life. It all started on a Tuesday, I woke up having flu like symptoms, with the COVID-19 pandemic going on, I had to contact my doctor. He decided that I was infected and had to stay in quarantine until I was fully recovered. We are three weeks later now, and I finally start feeling better, and better each day.

When I look back at the last 3 weeks, everything seems like a blur, some moments were lucid, others have become blank spaces in my memory due to the fever. During the moments that I was lucid, a lot has been going on in my mind though. It has been quite a long time that I needed to rethink my life, and so I did. Between my soul searching and dreaming about tropical destinations, I’ve watched a lot of TV-shows and movies. But more about those later since I tend to make a blog post of most of the things I watch.

This pandemic is until now the biggest world crisis that I’ve ever lived through, and it’s about the weirdest time to be alive. A world wide quarantine situation that forces the people to stay inside with only essential shops like supermarkets and pharmacies that may remain opened, social distancing, and the police fining the people that don’t respect the measures. You can’t go outside without a valid reason, and if you do you need to wear a mask and gloves.

While some people are completely negligent, others are in panic. I have to admit that, at this point, I stopped reading too much about it because I don’t want to live in panic either. We just deal with it, and ration our supplies as much as possible even though some things are hard to come by in these times such as medication, toilet paper, soap, masks, gloves,…

Last week I bought a sewing machine so I can make masks myself. It was quite the thing to setup since I never used such a machine before, but I managed to make one mask with old sheets and ribbons from old PJ-pants. It doesn’t look like much, but at least we have a mask for when Chris needs to do the shopping on Tuesday. That’s the one thing that scares the living hell out of me, that something would happen to my better half.

On the bright side of all this is that I learned to use a sewing machine, and our planet seems to recover thanks to the lockdown. The air is so much fresher, and it’s the first time since I live in Brussels that the sky looks blue without the blurry effect of the smog. It makes me think so much about the global warming and pollution, and how everyone can make a big difference with little effort. I wonder what the world will look like after all this, are things going to change for real or are people just going to pick back up from where they’ve left? Only time can tell!

For me personally, a lot has changed during this pandemic, and all in a positive direction. Meanwhile let’s try to stay safe so we can live and tell the tale.

Countdown to ACNH

Tomorrow Animal Crossing: New Horizons will be released, and as you can see, I am ready for it!

With the COVID-19 pandemic, my flu-like symptoms and quarantine, this couldn’t be a better timing. If you would have told me at the beginning of the new year that the whole world would be on a lockdown at some point due to a deadly virus, I would have laughed, thinking you watch way too much survival stuff on TV. Yet, here we are, and it would be pretty boring if it were not for netflix and video games. So yes, ACNH is more than welcome at this very moment.

The Strangers: Prey at Night

I’m genuinely baffled by all the bad reviews I’ve read about this movie. I’m starting to think that the people who wrote these don’t like horror movies. Well, I loved it, it’s one of the best slasher movies I’ve ever seen. Normally I would have watched the original before the sequel, but I just saw this title on Netflix, and thought it looked great.

The movie is atmospheric, tense, and well-paced. If you are a fan of slasher movies, you will certainly enjoy this treat! It has an 80’s throwback theme with a bad-ass soundtrack .

There are a lot of references to other horror classics: the main title music is very similar to John Carpenter’s The Fog (1980), the car on fire chasing the girl echoes Christine (1983), the female killers use kitchen knives like Michael Myers in Halloween (1979), and the scene where Kinsey sets the truck on fire and where the Man in the Mask walks out and collapses right in front of her, is inspired by Halloween II (1981). 

Definitely a great Saturday Eve horror movie night candidate. This evening we’ll finally watch the first one. If the original will be as good as its’ sequel, it’s going to be a hit.

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