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Top of the Lake: China Girl
Topic Started: Jul 29 2017, 02:43 PM (2,394 Views)
Marion
Kingsguard
I'm loving all the great coverage of ToTL and Gwen :D :D

I think Erin posted a ToTL article from Variety in the Gwen thread so I'm linking it here as well.

‘Top of the Lake’: Jane Campion Explores the Bonds of Motherhood in ‘China Girl’

Could this claim really be correct: "the series ranked as the highest in network history among adults 18-49". I had no idea that ToTL was getting such high ratings.

Also, apparently Gwen and Liz are "smitten with each other". Gwen shows it in the most hysterical way in the interview.

Quote:
 
During Variety’s interview with Moss and Christie, the latter tenderly holds Moss’ foot in her hands. Unlike the rest of the “China Girl” team, the two actresses did not have a prior relationship. But they’re making up for lost time. In addition to their on-screen chemistry — which at times takes on a hilarious, odd-couple bent — the two are smitten with each other. So when Moss wanted to show Christie her sparkly new Tom Ford stilettos, Christie accepted her foot and cradled it as if it were a precious gift.

“I think in a previous life I was one of Lizzie’s charwomen,” she explains. Adds Moss, her foot still in Christie’s hands: “The most beloved one. A personal favorite.”

An hour after Moss and Christie first met, they improvised a scene between their characters that went in unexpected directions and left them both in tears. “We did the best acting of our life within an hour,” Moss says.


How do these interviewers keep it together during this kind of encounter with Gwen? I would just die of a laughter overdose.
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greyathena
Almost a Beauty
Quinn
Sep 12 2017, 08:29 PM
Do you really want the answer?
Ugh, I guess not, I've only got an hour left and I'll finish it tonight. Damn my inability to stay up past 9:30.

Seriously though, Gwen is great. What's fun are the occasional times when all of a sudden, from being mostly an incredibly different character, she says something that comes out totally Brienne. The scene in the car where she's telling Robin about Adrian felt like that to me.
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greyathena
Almost a Beauty
Wait, THAT's the end?
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Quinn
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Director of HYPE
Yes....

I still have many feelings, lol.
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Aerest
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HYPEkeeper
Concerning the end (and probably the whole show) I am seriously and honestly looking forward to groupwatch to discuss this in real time! There is still so much that leaves me irritated/puzzled/wordless, stuff haven't completely digested yet.

Like Quinn, I still have many feelings. And with some months of break between the first and second watch I might even be able to utter them a little bit more eloquently/coherently this time.
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Marion
Kingsguard
Aerest
Sep 15 2017, 03:14 AM
Concerning the end (and probably the whole show) I am seriously and honestly looking forward to groupwatch to discuss this in real time!


Yay, ToTL is scheduled for Groupwatch! Will be so great to discuss it together.

Eish, so many questions and feelings

Greyathena I had exactly the same WTF reaction at the end of the series. I thought I had somehow mislaid a final episode.
:O
and then when I checked the spoilers here and realised it was really the final episode, grief

:no: :no: :no:
:headwall:
:headwall:
:( :( :(
Not reached acceptance yet
:blink: :no:

The cruel Jane Campion committed a deliberate act of genre sabotage.

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Piglet
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Kingsguard
I have such conflicting emotions.

I liked the plot (particularly the focus on ethics and legality of surrogacy) and the acting was good. I disliked several characters because their actions didn't make sense for me. There were so many moments when I wanted to tell them -IS this for real? This is what's happening and this is what you choose to do/or not do? :headwall: Speaking of Gwen, I think she portrayed her character very well
Spoiler: click to toggle


I was not happy with the ending. The last episode felt unfinished, like somebody had stopped the episode 15 minutes before the real ending, and rolled the credits too soon. You can't just leave this many storylines open! :mad:

I didn't bother to search for season 1, so there were some scenes that I didn't understand until I later educated myself on the topic via wikipedia :p I kind of wish they hadn't introduced any of this:
Spoiler: click to toggle
, and the series would have still worked perfectly. I admit, I might think differently, had I actually watched the first season. :pirate:

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Marion
Kingsguard
I would definitely encourage anyone who hasn't watched Season 1 yet to watch it BEFORE Season2
Edited by Marion, Sep 15 2017, 03:55 PM.
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Aerest
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Marion, does it explain anything of the points that were the most irritating / felt the most incomplete / frustrating?
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Marion
Kingsguard
Aerest
Sep 15 2017, 04:07 PM
Marion, does it explain anything of the points that were the most irritating / felt the most incomplete / frustrating?


Hrm, no not really, Aerest! Those frustrations are mostly in a totally different league. Except that perhaps after Season 1 you will have a better sense of Robin's story, relationships and personality. You'll also go into Season 2 expecting a different kind of storytelling to the normal detective series.

I was just warning that you would not enjoy Season 1 as much if you watch it after Season 2 (as I did).
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Currawong
Not the Valonqar
I am still watching the series - we have two more eps to go. But I have read many reviews and comments, and was wondering whether some of the frustration lies in expecting this to be more or less a typical detective series, with its focus on detection and a crime. Certainly I have many questions and issues about the crime-solving aspects, but I get the impression that for Jane Campion, exploring personal issues and relationships here was always much more important than the detecting part. The crime is merely the setting as it were, not the core of the story.
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Aerest
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Curra, let's talk about this once you finished watching :)
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Marion
Kingsguard
Currawong
Sep 15 2017, 05:07 PM
for Jane Campion, exploring personal issues and relationships here was always much more important than the detecting part. The crime is merely the setting as it were, not the core of the story.


That's definitely true, Curra. Campion is telling us that we are asking the wrong questions. The story is not just about identifying deviance and restoring the status quo (the usual "whodunnit?" or even "who is bad and who is good?") but asking "why are they like this?" and reserving judgement about a whole range of characters who deviate from the "norm".

I do "get" this cognitively but still yearn after better resolution in the story.
Edited by Marion, Sep 15 2017, 05:53 PM.
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Quinn
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Director of HYPE
Curra, for me, my reaction are not based on wishing this were a "normal" detective story. I knew what to expect from season 1 and Campion in general, and I do tend to enjoy unusual ways of storytelling. My frustrations stem entirely from some aspects specific to this series and mostly the wrap-ups, so yes let's definitely return to this when you've finished!
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greyathena
Almost a Beauty
Oh, I hope it's still on Comcast by the time of groupwatch! I only DVRed parts three through six because I managed to stay awake for all of one and two. :). Looking forward to that! because yeah, there was some stuff. Some weird-ass stuff.
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IsolaCaramella
Ser Cleos
All of the parental back talk is making my eye twitch
This daughter would drive me to drink Ay dios mio
Edited by IsolaCaramella, Sep 16 2017, 05:43 PM.
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IsolaCaramella
Ser Cleos
I am puzzled.
Quinn
Sep 15 2017, 08:29 PM
Curra, for me, my reaction are not based on wishing this were a "normal" detective story. I knew what to expect from season 1 and Campion in general, and I do tend to enjoy unusual ways of storytelling. My frustrations stem entirely from some aspects specific to this series and mostly the wrap-ups, so yes let's definitely return to this when you've finished!
For me, everyone is incredibly frustrating because they behave like complete idiots, Mary? Pyke, Nicole Kidman's character whose name I didn't bother to remember are the core of my frustration. As a parent, i found their entire dynamic, negligent seems too soft a word, but it's the best I can come up with right now. The entire family made me want to commit violence.
Edited by IsolaCaramella, Sep 16 2017, 09:28 PM.
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Currawong
Not the Valonqar
Isola, I gather we are going to do a groupwatch and full discussion of the show in a few weeks time, so we can all channel our views and frustrations then. I will only say that I don't think Jane Campion "does" nice normal families!! ;)
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IsolaCaramella
Ser Cleos
Currawong
Sep 16 2017, 11:06 PM
Isola, I gather we are going to do a groupwatch and full discussion of the show in a few weeks time, so we can all channel our views and frustrations then. I will only say that I don't think Jane Campion "does" nice normal families!! ;)
It finally hit me this morning why I ended up disliking the storyline this season, it was right in front of my face but I was too frustrated to see it properly. Now I'm no longer puzzled.
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Marion
Kingsguard
IsolaCaramella
Sep 16 2017, 07:58 PM
As a parent, i found their entire dynamic, negligent seems too soft a word, but it's the best I can come up with right now. The entire family made me want to commit violence.

Isola I'm also really looking forward to discussing this more after the groupwatch. For now I'll just say that I freaked out a lot. As a divorced mom I did NOT enjoy having to confront so much of myself in Julia (thankfully not the totally bonkers stuff, touch wood and pray to the seven).
Basically how I'm looking at it now, the middle class mothers whom we might expect to be presented most sympathetically are not, while the mothers who are usually othered, pathologised and stigmatised come off a lot better. I think Dang is particularly interesting as mama-san. Yet this remains frustrating because there's not enough time given to the women's characters in SIlk 41 while that ghastly Puss takes up so much of the narrative.


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Aerest
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IsolaCaramella
Sep 17 2017, 06:19 AM
Currawong
Sep 16 2017, 11:06 PM
Isola, I gather we are going to do a groupwatch and full discussion of the show in a few weeks time, so we can all channel our views and frustrations then. I will only say that I don't think Jane Campion "does" nice normal families!! ;)
It finally hit me this morning why I ended up disliking the storyline this season, it was right in front of my face but I was too frustrated to see it properly. Now I'm no longer puzzled.
Details, please? :D
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IsolaCaramella
Ser Cleos
Aerest
Sep 17 2017, 06:46 AM
IsolaCaramella
Sep 17 2017, 06:19 AM
Currawong
Sep 16 2017, 11:06 PM
Isola, I gather we are going to do a groupwatch and full discussion of the show in a few weeks time, so we can all channel our views and frustrations then. I will only say that I don't think Jane Campion "does" nice normal families!! ;)
It finally hit me this morning why I ended up disliking the storyline this season, it was right in front of my face but I was too frustrated to see it properly. Now I'm no longer puzzled.
Details, please? :D
Quote:
 
Yet this remains frustrating because there's not enough time given to the women's characters in SIlk 41 while that ghastly Puss takes up so much of the narrative.

Marion's final thought is what frustrates me the most. A lot of time was given to Puss, entirely too much time IMO. That time should have been allocated, again IMO, to the girls mostly affected. Mary was used as a stand in to make the audience feel for those girl instead of actually letting us get to know them outside of the lens of Mary/Puss. I find that type of story telling lazy and borderline offensive.

Spoiler: click to toggle


I'll stop there but this was a miss for me, big time.

Spoiler: click to toggle
Edited by IsolaCaramella, Sep 17 2017, 07:56 AM.
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Marion
Kingsguard
IsolaCaramella
Sep 17 2017, 07:54 AM
That time should have been allocated, again IMO, to the girls mostly affected. Mary was used as a stand in to make the audience feel for those girl instead of actually letting us get to know them outside of the lens of Mary/Puss. I find that type of story telling lazy and borderline offensive.

:sword: :sword:

This is spot on,
Spoiler: click to toggle
I must say I expected more, given the irony of the title "China Girl". Campion's critique in the end targets the misogyny of Sidney's respectable world rather than actually addressing Robin's question to the dead Cinnamon: “Do you want to tell me what you saw?”

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greyathena
Almost a Beauty
IsolaCaramella
Sep 16 2017, 05:30 PM
All of the parental back talk is making my eye twitch
This daughter would drive me to drink Ay dios mio
You know, it took me a while to work out why I was so over the top annoyed by that character. It was because I binged this and Big Little Lies at basically the same time (on a plane to/from England and in England) and the character is so indistinguishable from Reese Witherspoon's daughter in BLL. Even with the bit where
Spoiler: click to toggle
, it all just felt like variations on the same thing.
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Quinn
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Director of HYPE
That's a really interesting parallel! I've seen both series, and you're definitely right about those horrible teenage girls.
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BluHamster
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Kingsguard
My local film festival is playing the show in the theatre which would be fun to see. It is is six hours so I haven't decided if I want to go yet. It is always fun to watch things in a theatre with other people. I also have to somehow find a way to watch the first season in the next two/three weeks.
Edited by BluHamster, Sep 21 2017, 03:49 PM.
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WackyGoofball
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Blonde Enough
Bee-boo-bee, Wacky is detouring a bit from the current (but very interesting!) discourse to type out some thoughts because... Wacky has thoughts and is prone to forget them very fast, so better note them down within the 24h slot my brain has.

What kind of *does* relate to what was talked about previously, I was somewhat baffled when we started watching the show that they decided to pick *that* timeslot of the whole development between Mary and that Gollum wannabe (also... can w talk about the Gollum parallels in his character at some point of time? Holy shit. That he didn't try to bite off Robin's finger is all) with a strong accent that is clearly NOT German. Because my thought was: Well, if they want me to *relate* to Mary and develop more empathy with her than I fel frustration at her inability to see through the obvious and think herself a feminist though apparently, she has not looked that word up in the dictionary just yet, then that is an *odd* time to pick.

Certainly, we are meant to jump in at that point of time, but we only get little, if at all, input on how they met and how she fell in love with him (wrongly so... kid, that ain't true wuv, you ain't the Juliet to his Alfa Romeo. Guy doesn't even seem to own a car or human decency in general). However, taking the scope of how we are introduced and how we as watchers are enabled to empathize with the characters portrayed, we are tossed into the cold water of where everyone is already so deeply caught up in their personal shit, has already, long since, made crappy decisions that make it very hard if not impossible to back the fuck down again. And I think that lso makes it hard to root for any of those characters. And by that I bracket the stupidity all of those characters display in varying degrees of bullshittery. Because they do not know how to investigate, and you can't get me sold on the idea that they are. But I detour again, LOL. The point I was trying to make is... what strikes me as odd is, perhaps, also part of what I actually find *intresting* about that choice. It's not really comfortable, it's tough to root/identify/sympathize/empathize with most of the characters because we get to know them at points of time where they have already travelled... quite a way down the spiral without us seeing how they got there, what may have motivated their decisions, however bad and harmful they may have been.

This varies, in that sense, a lot from those Bildungsroman sort of narratives that give you a set of characters you like, more or less, and there is at least that one decent person in all this that seems like a safe bet. But up until this point of the narrative (episode four... I believe now... I lose count as easily as memory), even the supposed protagonist Robin is not at all that heroic, at least to my understanding. And even if that is... irritating in some many ways, I do find it an interesting choice of doing it. Whether that is going to be for good or bad... only the finale will show, and then I may do a 180° anyway, LOL.

What I did find striking particularly in the last episode we watched was that it showed very well what different techniques Gollum 2.0 employs to get Mary to where he wants her to be. His forms of abuse are out of the narrative handbook: He makes her choose between the family and him, thereby driving a wedge between her and her homebase. He keeps telling that very confused (very dumb) girl sweet things about Alfa Romeo and Juliet, cites Dostoyevsky (which, by the way, all assholes in media seem to cite who will turn out to be assholes... to sound smart and... I don't know... European? Guy is trying so hard to be German - and fails - that I wouldn't put it past him to think that Dostoyevsky is actually hallmark of German literature... seriously... DUDE... learn how to say "Leipzig" for fuck's sake) and now also Nietzsche (yay, at least right nationality for that dude... though he totally ripped that quote, so fuck you, Gollum... or rather, no, don't). He makes her care about the girls and makes her befriend them, thereby giving Mary a sense of being in a caretaker role, I assume, that she enjoys because that likely gives her a sense of being useful that I assume she doesn't get at home as much because Nicole Kidman's hair is taking all of the attention. And then they hit the point home this episode with how he makes her leave social events that are otherwise important to her and her peers and family only just to serve him, he then publicly humiliates her at the dance and claims her, so that she even loses that social spectrum to exist in.

The imagery of her following him down the staircase towards the darkness was on point, by the way.

So, we see her a classic narrative of abuse. He socially ostracizes her until she has nothing left but the "family" he introduced her to, nothing but himself and his ideas, however fucked up. Also, the episode proved that Mary clearly has some kind of mental condition that would require taking care of and that only adds to the idea that the girl is already at a stage where she is completely losing it, and likely has in a long time, even before Alfa Romeo crawled into her life, presumably on all fours, as much as he enjoys that position...

Relating back to the idea of imagery, something that I found a rather interesting choice was the color coding in that episode. As far as I noticed, blue is a rather prevalent color. Robin features blue blouses a lot. We saw her in a blue bathing suit. Gwen also wears blues qua her uniform, etc. I think that made Mary's room being full with red curtains and red blanket stand out even more.

Spoiler: click to toggle

What really frustrates me at this point (and I know I am not alone with this) is the lack of investigation, the true detective work. Robin does not handle the interrogations nearly as badass as I think the narrative wants to convey that she does. That whole Puss and Mouse game is irritating to me because Robin, while surely conflicted because Mary so true in wuv with Gollum, has good reasons to move the investgation regarding said Puss up like... ten notches by now. Certainly, we are meant to be waiting for big reveals in the whole conspiracy surrounding the surrogates, and mosts certainly, too, that is saved up for th every end because DRAMA and REVEALS. However, I don't think it would have harmed the narrative to have her really investigate more and push more towards the Puss. they surely could have made up some equally as nonsense stuff about not being able to search him in so much detail. But he not even trying.... if only by herself... after all this... it is fustrating.

Other things that frustrate me: That fat dude and his surfboard in the office. No fuckin' way dude has ever used it. Fat floats, we know it, he knows it, so could we stop pretending that the dude Miranda is shaking it up with

Spoiler: click to toggle

Up until now, I am actually *more* (if not much) positive towards characters like Pyke (who is just... a failing dad who is trying hard... but keeps on failling... but he has a fine beard...), who deserves some extra credit for bearing the name of that GoT place no one wants to make holidays at, ever, and, against all odds, the chick running the brothel telling it how it is. She's at least entertaining and tells Puss to shut it and get cleaned up.

Nicole Kidman's character has way too distracting a wig for me to even remotely get invested with her character. Someone, seriusly, shot the bird residing in her head and give it to her lover-lady who likes to sound smart and diplomatic when just want her to shut her cakehole.

Another random thought... if there is anything to Mary having the name to relate back to Virgin Mary, that makes the swimming lessons scene perhaps narratively more interesting than I first estimated it to be, because we got the imagery of baptism.

So yeah, that's it for now...

...

*flies away*
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