Art, Television

Daredevil Season 2: The Posters, and a bit of optimism

Netflix’s Daredevil was one of my favorite TV shows last year. It may possibly have been one of my favorite comic-book adaptations ever, especially at a time when my tolerance towards comic-book adaptations is running pretty thin. I made the show last for a whole month, watching it as slowly as I could, loving nearly every minute of it. Netflix then followed it up with Jessica Jones in the later half of the year, and by then my forbearance was at an end. I binged on it over a weekend, and came up for air after with a grin on my face.

The next season of Daredevil is due middle of March, and I have to admit that despite my pop-culture-jaded exterior, I am pretty damn excited about it. But what is really making me giggly is noting the Renaissance art references in the season posters. Not just because I like the old masters, but because it takes a very special kind of marketing team to pay attention to a campaign like this. Daredevil is a series that draws from the character’s Catholic upbringing – hey, the first scene in the series begins at the confessional altar in a church – and it makes sense to use elements of paintings to advertise the series.

Up first were the cast posters, both of which were inspired by Michaelangelo paintings in the Sistine Chapel.

Michaelangelo – The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel

Michaelangelo – The Last Judgement

The next few posters have been character-oriented, and wear their baroque origins on their sleeves. Case in point, both Karen Page and The Punisher’s posters were inspired by Caravaggio paintings, while DD’s is influenced by Rubens’s St Sebastian.

But as fun as the referencing is, I will admit that the posters do look a little strangely-designed if you do not know the antecedents of each one. And that explains why fandom is screaming about Photoshop and bad design about each of these posters.

What do I think about the second season? Well, I am not a big fan of the HighlyVisibleNinja trope in American popular culture, in which ninjas are dumb fight-fodder a step above zombies. I liked the way the supernatural elements dripped slowly into the world established by the TV show, in the first season. It made sense that one of the most grueling fight scenes in the season was between Matt and Nobu, and that was a serious boss-fight. Now that the Hand has officially made their way into the story-line, it’s but inevitable that the fight-scenes become generic martial arts sequences. I am also concerned about the fact that Drew Goddard is no longer headlining the crew, and that Jeph Loeb is still around as head of Marvel’s TV division.

The other, more important reason why I am a little cautious about the show is what I like to call the natural entropy of a superhero story based on an existing property. Where there’s the urge to throw every knuckle-headed reference to events related or unrelated to the main story-line, just to acknowledge to the viewership that hey, yeah, we know, and you know, and we know that you know, and isn’t life dandy. The creative team in Daredevil has been remarkable in their restraint so far; the first reference to Elektra last year was part of a long conversation about learning Punjabi that nearly got me belly-laughing, and the use of the line “give me a red” came out of nowhere, not only establishing a secondary character’s future reappearance, but also the eventuality that Born Again is in the cards. I like subtle references that way. It will get annoying though – yes, “will” because I am asking to be contradicted – when there is the necessity to shoehorn the Defenders universe eventually, and fit it into the bigger Marvel Cinematic Universe. What bothers me about this is the fact that it robs a story of an ending. The best stories are the ones that end. Always.


Twenty Fifteen, Post 4: The Netflix Queue

On the 1st of January, there were 224 items on my Netflix queue, including movies and TV shows. This is the first-world equivalent of owning a 3 TB hard drive, copying a bunch of movies from friends’ disks and feeling smug about it. “Have you watched that movie?” “No, but I have it on my drive.” Or on my Netflix list. Well, fuck that, I thought. I would empty that list, or at least put a sizable dent into it.

So over the last few days, I have been picking random movies from the list and watching them. If I like them enough, they stay in the list, so that I can watch them again later. If I don’t, they get deleted.

  1. Le Chef A fluffy feel-good movie about an almost-has-been chef who is about to lose his Michelin star because of his traditional cooking, and a wannabe chef who can’t seem to get a break. Jean Reno and Michaël Youn play the two protagonists, and even though at points you can feel the script going through its buddy-comedy paces, it was a fun watch. Much fun is poked at molecular gastronomy, live cookery shows and celebrity chefs. There is a cringe-inducing Japanese sequence that I would rather forget. Final status: kicked off the list.
  2. Le Weekend Just keeping the French theme going. But this was a British movie, with Jim Broadbent, Lindsay Duncan and Jeff Goldblum. An aged couple goes to Paris to relive their honeymoon; the burden of a relationship that has gone on for decades weighs on their vacation. Dark at times, light-hearted at others, this is a perfect movie for your inner cynic. I found out that the screenplay was by author Hanif Kureishi, and that made me want to watch more of his works. I love the ending, and that makes me want to keep it on the list, but let’s see.
  3. In A World… From Paris, we move to Los Angeles. This is a movie set in the voice-acting industry, the title of the film referring to the words that a voice actor named Don LaFontaine made famous in numerous trailers. Directed by and starring Lake Bell, it is about what happens when a female vocal coach – daughter of an acclaimed voice actor – is shortlisted to take over the legacy of LaFontaine’s famous delivery. Stars a bunch of comedy superstars, including Demetri Martin, Tig Notaro and Ken Marino in supporting roles. Quite a blast, but good for a single viewing only. Kicked off the list.
  4. Beginners Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer and Melanie Laurent star in this lovely movie about relationships and commitment. I had seen the trailer for the movie three (or was it four?) years ago, but never went around to watching it. It deals with Oliver (McGregor) dealing with the aftermath of his father’s death. His father, you see, was gay, and came out of the closet after his mother died. Heart-wrenching at times, particularly because the characters are so well-written, this movie also has some of the best dog-dialogues you will ever see on screen. I would actually love to watch this movie again some time, so it stays on the list. (I watched this movie just after finding out that Ewan McGregor is also quite the traveler. With his friend Charlie Boorman, he rode his motorcyle around the world. Twice, in 2004 and 2007. There is even a book and TV show called Long Way Around, based on  their exploits.)

Only 220 more to go.