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Tag Archives: Rom-Com

Hannibal 3.13 “The Wrath of the Lamb” Review: Twisted Romance

30 Aug

Boy meets boy, boy understands boy in a way no other person ever has and somewhere in the middle lots of people are maimed, changed and killed. Hannibal is what could be described as one hell of a fucked up romantic comedy and before you click over to another review just hear me out as this season has added to humor levels (albeit in twisted and super dark ways) and really upped the whole Will and Hannibal as a couple notion. Murder husbands might be their cheap tabloid name, but even Bedelia a so-called mental health professional – who by the looks of that closing shot is in desperate need of some serious saving – has been playing up the couple euphemisms going so far as to pointing out Hannibal’s love for Will last week.

Hannibal’s well versed in getting what he wants through manipulation tactics or using his influence to draw out a killer. With Will he has done both and as soon as Will was back in his sphere all he had to do was wait for an opportunity. This Will is very different to the one Hannibal met in season 1 and the game is a lot more complicated this time.

Hannibal 3.13 Will goodbyeThe life Will has been living ended as soon as Jack Crawford went to ask for his help and the attack on Molly and Walter at the hands of Dolarhyde via Hannibal is enough to taint it. This is what Will feared would happen and even though the hospital scene revealed a strength in the couple all Will is going to see is himself reflected as her killer. I am so mad at Hannibal for playing the bitter ex and poisoning this relationship as he tells Will to think about him when his relationship with Molly is so “maddeningly polite” sowing the seeds of doubt. Hannibal is playing a good game even if he comes across as the desperate reject; so sad that Will has replaced the family he gave him with another less fucked up one.

Even though Will knows it hasn’t been good for him seeing Hannibal he still goes along and creates the ‘get Hannibal and Dolarhyde’ plan because ultimately he does want to be rid of both men. Dolarhyde’s downfall means something on a primal level even if Will has championed catching him alive in the past; this man tried to kill his family and therefore he needs to die and if they can kill two serial killers in one then Jack Crawford is all for it. Alana makes up the conspiring squad and as with all their other plans this one has terrible written all over it. Drinking whisky at the same time as sorting out the details is not the way to keep a clear head, but booze is not to blame for their awful ideas and you would think after how it went last time this trio would leave the dangerous schemes to someone else. After all there are no advantages, just “degrees of disadvantage.”

Hannibal 3.13 RebaThis also happens to be where my one major criticism of this finale comes into play because the sequence of events is somewhat muddled and this is where a two-part episode would have served the story better as the Red Dragon arc and the Will/Hannibal stuff ends up interlinking in a way which makes it feel rushed. The speed with which Reba’s participation is wrapped up is a surprise even if it mirrors the source material and Rutina Wesley is particularly impressive in showing both Reba’s fear and strength in this scary situation.

Don’t get me wrong as it is so much fun seeing the sassing off between Will and Hannibal followed by how they come together to slay the dragon, but other aspects of the story fall far too quickly by the side.

Hannibal 3.13 Dragon SlayersIt really does look stunning.

As does this pair of winged images.

Hannibal 3.13 burning dragon Hannibal 3.13 Dead DragonIn a way the Red Dragon arc mirrors the first half of the season in how it doesn’t leave room for too many other characters; yes Hannibal and Will are the central figures but the supporting cast are just as vital in telling a strong story. Jack’s motivations over this half have presented him in a more callous manner and maybe the loss of Bella and what went down in Italy has left him cold, but it would have been beneficial to see more of this just to get a read on his feelings beyond the ones he doesn’t appear to have.

One love prevails and any regular TV Ate My Wardrobe readers will be more than aware of my strong feelings toward Alana Bloom. As with Jack during the latter part of this season, Alana’s relationship with Margot in those first few episodes could have done with some more fleshing out and this is the first time we see Alana’s wife after the three year time jump. They are leaving their home as a result of Hannibal’s actual escape and he isn’t backing down on the promise he made Alana. He coldly tells her that she died in his kitchen when she chose “to be brave” and that he owns everything that has come since mentioning her wife and child. Yes Hannibal is also a dick to his ex-girlfriend and essentially threatened their lives as well as hers.

Hannibal 3.13 Alana entranceAlana doesn’t flinch in front of him and also gets one hell of an entrance; one great thing about their interactions is how she doesn’t let him get to her. Well at least not in front of him. She explains why she is here to offer the deal and not Jack – she knows him better and he would just torment Jack – and he in return tests out his threat powers once again.

Now there are no longer five locked doors between Hannibal and Alana she does the smart thing and gathers all her best lady suits, Margot and their son departing on their own chopper. This is one benefit of being crazy rich; you get a speedy and elegant escape route.

Hannibal 3.13 Bloom and Verger Hannibal 3.13 Family BloomAlana’s back to wearing red and bold prints in this episode after several weeks of muted (but still fantastic) outfits. It’s like she can feel the freedom around the corner as red is definitely her power color. It is interesting that she chooses a flash of this for her hospital trip to see Chilton as he points out that this is the first time she is visiting and how culpable she is. Once again guilty feelings mean deflecting onto Hannibal, but she doesn’t exactly protest when Chilton mentions how she is capable of doing these terrible things too.

Self preservation is something she cited to Will earlier this season and even though she wasn’t thinking of herself when she freed Hannibal, she was definitely doing this when she suggested Chilton last week.

Hannibal 3.13 Alana and ChiltonChilton’s chamber is similar to the one used on Georgia Madchen in season 1 and he’s already burned all over. He mentions getting new skin and how he wouldn’t mind wearing some of Hannibal’s; this feels like a nod to Buffalo Bill and Silence of the Lambs. It doesn’t get much easier looking at Chilton even if he looks less crispy this week and his speech is still distorted, but his anger toward Alana is palpable.

Every great (and not so great) rom-com includes a mid story break up that you know will most likely be resolved with a grand romantic gesture. In this version Will rejects Hannibal and Hannibal immediately goes big surrendering himself so he can assert dominance. Hannibal is playing the long game in getting his murder soulmate back and he can’t let Will get away with referencing their breakup and then returning to ask for help. And yes Mads Mikkelsen’s delivery of the mic drop line had me full on cackling. As did his ‘worry’ about Chilton being ugly. Sassy Hannibal forever.

In the end Dolarhyde is the accidental matchmaker as he takes the Hannibal bait in a manner which results in a lot more violence than intended – see you should never make plans over booze – and a brutal fight to the death. This brings Hannibal and Will together by having them fighting for each other as Dolarhyde shoots and stabs them making them weaker opponents. It is a whole big thing and as he does in the book, Dolarhyde delivers a rather horrific stab would to Will’s face. I have a feeling Hannibal digs scars.

Hannibal 3.13 Will and HannibalThis season has gone all in on the Hannigram factor and taken it to even higher heights; they are together in an embrace as Will leads them over the edge of the cliff. Tumblr is already magical gif heaven. Yes I did yell “KISS HIM” several times during this bloody hug which thankfully did not include Will’s belly getting sliced open. This is what it finally feels like to Will Graham to be free.

Bedelia might need her license revoking, but she is right when she tells Will that he can’t live with or without Hannibal Which is maybe why she has set a third place at the table in the end of credits scene. It is ambiguous as to who did this to her; my take is she did it to herself and she awaits the dinner guests who might never come. Meat is definitely back on the menu in her house.

Hannibal 3.13 BedeliaThat ending could be the forever end of Hannibal *sob* and while it doesn’t quite pack the same punch as the house of horrors bloodbath (not that this doesn’t include gallons of fake blood and Dolarhyde’s wounds are very similar to Jack, Will and Abigail’s from that episode) I am not ready for this show to be over. Not that this is my decision and even though it doesn’t look so good for Hannibal and Will their fate is not so uncertain as Jack, Alana or Abigail’s at the end of last year.

Hannibal 3.13 Hannibal in plaidCostume wise Hannibal served up another incredible take on his Italian styling in his mind palace with Will in lighter plaid mirroring the pants of Alana’s escape outfit.

Hannibal 3.13 WillIn the same memory palace location later on Hannibal sees Will enter in front of a group of mourners; just who is being mourned here?

Hannibal 3.13 Hannibal and WillThis is a really great shot from a really fun scene of the pair trying their best to out sass the other. I really want to know what the orderlies say to their friends/family about the shit they see at work.

 

Hannibal 3.13 Will and JackWe’ve barely been there this season, but I am still going to miss the FBI building and hallway chats like this one.

Hannibal 3.13 Jimmy and BrianThere was definitely not enough of Brian and Jimmy in this episode or this year.

Hannibal 3.13 AlanaAlana says goodbye to her old life. Wearing killer red lipstick of course.

Hannibal 3.13 Hannibal sweaterHannibal is just as stylish in casual threads and I would love to look through the rest of his secret hideaway closet as he definitely likes to curate a look for a location.

Hannibal 3.13 StagThe stag burns and the one we saw unfurling towards the start of the season was so incredibly fucked up, but during the Red Dragon arc the stag has existed only in the background in offices and on walls. Hannibal’s power over Will no longer extends to this beast and Will is in control. Will is the one who chose to take Hannibal over the cliff and letting go in this situation was his decision. This isn’t typically how romantic comedies end, but it is a very fitting emotional climax to this twisted love story.

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The Mindy Project, Nora Ephron and the Many Roads Traveled  

22 Mar

Commenting on Nora Ephron’s influence on Mindy Kaling is not like cracking an undiscovered code as the references to Ephron’s work in style and tone weaves its way through The Mindy Project. The nods come in a variety of ways and yet this is no copycat as Kaling’s voice is clear and her own; instead she uses what are now considered rom-com tropes (some of which Ephron pioneered) as jumping off points to subvert or celebrate.

The Mindy ProjectMindy Kaling’s love of this sadly currently much maligned genre (good rom-coms still exist with indie dominating in the decent stakes) is worn on her sleeve, sometimes also covered in hearts. With The Mindy Project this season we have seen what happens after the credits normally roll on a rom-com movie, as the couple has beaten whatever obstacle split them up mid story and they ask “What next?” This entails crossing into potentially creative choppy waters by turning a “will they/won’t they” couple into Facebook official and with whole new set of plot points to keep the tension high. Other shows have tried and failed with curses being cited to explain why others should be wary of attempting this shift. And of course we know the curse talk is bs; there are plenty of shows which have proved this and The Mindy Project is a shining example of why a “will they/won’t they” couple should take the plunge rather than forever dancing around maybe.

Returning to the influence factor and I recently bought The Most of Nora Ephron – an anthology of Ephron’s writing both fiction and non-fiction – and while I’ve previously read a lot of these pieces (and they’re so worth rereading) some are completely new to me. Quotes stand out with “Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim” being one of the defining Ephron sentiments, but it was while I burned my way through this book that I realized I had never read or seen the speech it came from in full. It is Nora Ephron’s commencement address to the Wellesley Class of 1996 which unleashed this inspiring notion (I say this in all sincerity while also eye rolling at myself) and one which is particularly relevant to Mindy’s journey this season.

In it Ephron discusses the dreaded ‘having it all’ debate and she manages to do it in a way which elicits fist pumps, giving the kind of confidence boost I mentioned in reference to Broad City last week. Here is a big, fabulous section which feels like it rather successfully points to Mindy Lahiri’s journey this season.

“Maybe young women don’t wonder whether they can have it all any longer, but in case any of you are wondering, of course you can have it all. What are you going to do? Everything, is my guess. It will be a little messy, but embrace the mess. It will be complicated, but rejoice in the complications. It will not be anything like what you think it will be like, but surprises are good for you. And don’t be frightened: you can always change your mind. I know: I’ve had four careers and three husbands. And this is something else I want to tell you, one of the hundreds of things I didn’t know when I was sitting here so many years ago: you are not going to be you, fixed and immutable you, forever.”

Mindy faced messiness and triumph in both her personal and professional life this season; she moved to San Francisco to further her career and moved back to New York to create something of her own. With Danny there have been bumps along the way and a bump of another kind changes this dynamic in an unplanned way for the couple. While everything is moving with some haste – which could be attributed to uncertainty about renewal – the confidence with how The Mindy Project has plotted the Mindy/Danny arc reads like the message in Ephron’s address.

For most of this season TV Ate My Wardrobe has focussed on the amazing costume design elements and along with the Mindy/Danny pairing this is where Mindy really shines. Yes there are other elements which are still on the messy side including the supporting cast revolving door – miss you, Adam Pally – and Jeremy’s been through so many tweaks it’s hard to remember which version of this character we are now viewing.

The season 3 finale is tonight, hopefully not the series finale because I want to see how Mindy and Danny will handle the next stage in their life and I want to see how this show will deal with having a baby. Their work place is babies, not their home life and we don’t tend to see any even there. Plus I like the idea of Mindy playing Ephron’s five things game:

“We have a game we play when we’re waiting for tables in restaurants, where you have to write the five things that describe yourself on a piece of paper. When I was your age, I would have put: ambitious, Wellesley graduate, daughter, Democrat, single. Ten years later not one of those five things turned up on my list. I was: journalist, feminist, New Yorker, divorced, funny. Today not one of those five things turns up in my list: writer, director, mother, sister, happy. Whatever those five things are for you today, they won’t make the list in ten years—not that you still won’t be some of those things, but they won’t be the five most important things about you.”

Confidence will bleed through and I’m pretty sure hot will definitely be on there no matter how many different roads present themselves for Mindy Lahiri; I just really want to see this next part of her journey.

The Mindy Project and the Rom-Com Narrative Part 4

7 May

The first part of The Mindy Project and the rom-com narrative started back in September when the show returned for season 2 and it’s sprawled into a much bigger discussion as this year has progressed. At the time I tried to resist the Mindy/Danny “will they/won’t they” set up that was clearly taking place and while I couldn’t deny their super hot chemistry, a really great platonic male/female friendship on TV is the dream (it’s something I elaborate further on in the Felicity chat later this week). The Peter and Mindy dynamic has been pleasant surprise and this does hold the potential to be just this type of relationship.  After the season 2 premiere I was pretty conflicted about the Danny and Mindy coupling and as the season progressed it became impossible not to jump on board this ship.

The Mindy ProjectFor all of The Mindy Project’s creative stumbles and constant changes, the one aspect that has been stable throughout is the exploration of rom-coms that both Mindy Lahiri the protagonist and Mindy Kaling the creator know so well. The Danny/Mindy relationship is the other constant since the pilot episode and despite my reservations about the romance angle, the plotting this season has been magnificent. After the incredible first kiss, the first obstacle came in the form of keeping the relationship secret and it’s all part of the TV dilemma of “What next?” that the movies Mindy adores don’t have to deal with. The suddenness of the breakup after a long build-up and tonally awkward episodes that followed suggested they might have wasted an opportunity by not sticking the landing. This hasn’t been the case and last week’s rejection by Mindy, followed by the ups and downs of this pairing in the finale show how Kaling has a firm grip on who this character is and what she wants this relationship to be.

Before we get to the “What next?” sequel let’s have a look at where we are right now. Grand romantic gestures are important to Mindy, but she’s not just a day dreamer with unrealistic expectations and it’s why it was important that Danny has to work to win her back after he broke up with her initially. It’s why I’m glad that Mindy rejected his kiss last week after he only showed interest in her when there was another guy on the scene. Danny felt like he was recreating the plane moment and instead he didn’t consider how Mindy would feel about his hot/cold behavior.

In the finale Danny decides to go for another tactic he thinks she will dig and that’s a catfish plan using the “Was it You?” column in the paper posing as Andy (or Dr Greg from Mad Men). It’s a set up straight out of a Nora Ephron movie which is why Danny thinks it’s a winning idea and the Bradley Cooper photo pinned to his mirror so he can recreate the three-piece suit look is maybe the most adorable thing he has done. To stop Mindy from coming up to his apartment and ruining the surprise, Danny lies and says he’s “being intimate with himself” and I would never have predicted that two different comedies would use The Good Wife as part of a masturbating gag this season (the other being Broad City). I guess it can be a pretty sexy show. When Mindy tells Danny that he was right about them not being a couple he gets cold feet and instead of telling Mindy the truth he lets her go to the Empire State Building where he knows she’s going to get stood up and that’s pretty shitty.

The montage and Danny narration as they take in the sites of everywhere Megan Ryan has laugh/cried is the most adorable and it’s something I was anticipating thanks to the preview Kaling gave on her Instagram last month when they were shooting these scenes. This show gets the rom-com moments spot on, including the misunderstandings that almost doom the relationship. When Mindy see fake Andy on the subway and starts yelling at him it is time for Danny to come clean. Danny’s initial email plan has all the marks of a grand romantic gesture, but it’s also based on deceit and while rom-coms have these kinds of moments, Danny has read this situation completely wrong.

Danny not wanting to come clean about their relationship in front of their colleagues was the ultimate slap in the face for Mindy and it’s why she has a hard time buying his “I love you declarations” as they are just words and she can’t trust anything he says “because you love me until you don’t.” This conversation in the bathroom is a heartbreaking repeat of when Mindy called Danny on his “I don’t want to lose my best friend” BS reason for breaking up. It’s teary once again and this is when The Mindy Project feels at its most real; the rom-com is just the palette they work from and they can do emotional honesty just as well. Mindy doesn’t want to fall for this as despite these romantic notions she still has self-worth and she doesn’t want to be made a fool of again.

It all comes back to the earrings that Mindy left behind at Danny’s apartment as the sign that Mindy needs; words can be manipulated but the inclusion of these earrings in Danny’s box of important stuff speaks so much louder. The build up to the Empire State Building climax uses Bruce Springsteen, Danny getting hit by a cab but running on regardless and Mindy having to take the stairs as the lift is briefly out. All the trappings for an excellent ending and as I’ve walked 20 flights of those stairs I know I would definitely be lying on the floor wheezing like Mindy is after climbing all of them. Danny’s “I wanna go all in” is wonderfully misinterpreted by Mindy and their final smooch is adorable even if they’re lying on a probably dirty floor. They just don’t care.

So, what next?

The Mindy Project and the Rom-Com Narrative

11 Sep

The Mindy Project had a bumpy first season and while most sitcoms take about 6-12 episodes to iron out the kinks, Mindy was still figuring it out by the end of its first year. The cast departures and replacements changed some aspects of the workplace set up and Anna Camp went from a regular to guest star as it became clear that Mindy’s best friend Gwen couldn’t organically fit into each episode. There are a few aspects that have been consistent from episode 1; great guest stars, a solid (mostly platonic) chemistry between Mindy and Danny and a strong awareness of the rom-com genre they are referencing.

Mindy and Danny

A show needs more than this to be a success and the season 2 opener (now available to watch on Hulu and Fox.com) features all of these attributes – including a funny turn from James Franco – and aside from a weak Jeremy story it’s a strong return. The season finale took a bold move with Mindy and Danny and plays into the overall rom-com narrative. Prior to the finale I wrote:

“I don’t need to see them hooking up any time soon as their dynamic is interesting without these kinds of complications, but it’s good to know that when the inevitable happens they have built up their relationship from antagonists to friends.”

I’m still of this opinion and sadly I think the purely platonic phase of their relationship has passed; the closing moments of the finale sealed this and the season 2 premiere adds to the nails in this platonic coffin. The Mindy/Danny relationship isn’t the shows strongest aspect because of all of the sexual tension and I haven’t been clamoring for them to hook up in the same way I was with say Nick and Jess on New Girl.

It’s rare that you get a great male/female friendship on screen and so far I have been friendship shipping them but as Mindy Kaling is emulating both the rom-com format and the undisputed rom-com queen Nora Ephron, it is inevitable that the barbs traded between these two characters would turn into longing looks and sexual tension. I’m fighting against myself with this one as I get sucked into the Mindy/Danny tension and I simultaneously booed and cheered at the final scene of season 1; I really want them to stay just friends, but I can also see that the chemistry they share isn’t simply platonic. Damn you Chris Messina with your swoon worthy face.

It was only recently that I watched When Harry Met Sally (I know, I know) and the idea that men and women can’t be friends “because the sex part always gets in the way” is one that I don’t agree with in real life, but it’s definitely a prevalent notion in rom-coms. The Mindy Project is invoking this with Danny and Mindy and the other staple of this genre has been put into play; the “will they/won’t they.” This type of relationship isn’t just for the sitcoms, dramas do it well enough too and enhancing this kind of tension is a way to create a season long narrative with plenty of obstacles in the way.

The issue that The Mindy Project might have with this development is that Mindy and Danny are one of the shows strongest pairings and there are other aspects that need to improve. The overall dynamic of the workplace is fine, but they really need to develop Jeremy and the first episode back reveals this is still a problematic area. I like all of the high profile guest stars – the Seth Rogen episode is a season 1 highlight – but some of that time needs to be devoted to the underdeveloped characters we see each week.

The Mindy Project might end up using the “will they/won’t they” to turn this rom-com staple on its head or it could simply be following the well traveled path and there’s nothing subversive about where this storyline is headed.

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