Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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Weird in Manila: Trese (2021)

I went into Trese, the new animated series from Nettflix, practically blind. OK, a paranormal detective story set in contemporary Manila and based on the folklore of the Philippines. But that was all.
I had seen the trailer, and I was intrigued.

I was a bit dubious because it is presented as an “anime”, but it is not a Japanese product, it was made in the Philippines. You don’t call it New Orleans Jazz if they make in in Sweden, don’t you?
Wikipedia adjusts this by describing the series as “anime-inspired”. OK.
But apart from that, I was curious.

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Us and time: The Dig (2021)

Based on a novel published in 2007 inspired by real events, The Dig, that is currently streaming on Netflix, is a straightforward historical drama, built on the 1939 excavation of the Sutton Hoo mound. Ralph Fiennes is Basil Brown, a self-taught archaeologist that is hired by upper-class lady Edith Pretty (as portrayed by carey Mulligan) to excavate in her land in search of hidden archaeological remains.

The movie is beautiful to look at, and takes its time to linger lovingly on the British landscapes in which much of the action takes place. A number of plots intersect in the story, that refreshingly gives us the relationship of two individuals that have no sentimental or sexual involvement whatsoever, but just a shared love and awe for history and the passing of time.

Along the way, the film finds the time to portray the effects of class on academical endeavours and research – Brown’s a lower class farmer, considered little more than a digger by the archaeologists that try to step in once the treasure’s unearthed, and the archaeologists are still just middle class when confronted with the rich upper class miss Pretty. The way in which the social class dance is carried on is part of the fun of the movie.

And we also get a romantic story, involving two side characters – quite superfluous, but at least played with elegance. Indeed, the movie (and the novel) play fast and loose with some historical elements to add flavor and romanticism – as I mentioned, somewhat superfluously.

At the core of the story, there remains the relationship between people and history, and the very intimate relationship each one of us has, one way or another, with time itself, and what we make of it.
An excellent movie, filled with great actors and beautifully shot, it’s highly recommended.


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In the shadow of Arséne

And so finally the new Lupin TV series hit the screens, as a Netflix Original, and I spent a day watching it while my computer system was slowly grinding back to normal. Together with the fifth season of The Expanse, this was for me the highest expected show in the late2020/early 2021 season.
So, is it any good?

Short review: it is very good.

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Thrills and chills from Egypt

Paranormal is an Egyptian web series that’s currently being distributed as a Netflix Original, and it’s available both in subbed and dubbed version via streaming. The first season includes six episodes, and I really hope we will get a second season, because this is the most fun I had in a long time with a supernatural themed series.

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Palace intrigue and zombies

I am not particularly fond of the zombie craze of these last few years. I watched the classics, I do enjoy the occasional recent movie, I even wrote a story set in a post-apocalyptic sorta-zombie story, a long time ago, as part of a shared universe a friend created, but I find it damn hard to do something new and cool and meaningful with zombies.
On the other hand, when I find someone that’s actually able to do something new and cool and meaningful, I like it a lot.

Case in point: Kingdom, a South Korean TV/Netflix TV series that pits its main characters against a horde of zombies in 15th century Korea.
And weirdly enough, it’s based on a true story.

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Waiting for the Haunting

coverEverybody’s talking about The Haunting of Hill House, the new series on Netflix. I’ve been told it’s quite good, by people I trust, and sooner or later I plan to catch it.
I will let some time go by.
I find a little unnerving the onslaught of those that spent the weekend binging on it, and now are rampaging on the socials.
Beautiful!
Scary!
Wait until you see episode six!
It’s none like the novel!
The finale is great!
He is very good, but she is also very good!
I’m watching episode three a second time!

It’s not a matter of spoilers.
I read the novel, I watched both movies, I have a general idea of what to expect.
But it feels like sitting at dinner in a fine restaurant, and having the guy in front of you telling you how much you’ll enjoy the second course while you are still going through the appetizers. “Be sure to order the salad…”
Please cut me some slack.

And while I wait for the noise to quiet down and for the bingers to go binge and enthuse on something else, I might as well read the original Shirley Jackson novel again.
And in case you are interested, you can get a copy for free, legally, from this link, because the copyright on The Haunting of Hill House expired in Canada.

This is probably the best ghost story ever written, and it’s quite suited for the season.
Check it out.