Author Topic: Netflix Recommendations  (Read 16535 times)

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Offline kimmy

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Re: Netflix Recommendations
« Reply #330 on: November 22, 2022, 03:15:08 am »
Not a Netflix series, but streaming on Disney Plus right now is my favorite new thing, Andor.  It's set in the Star Wars universe, BUT WAIT WAIT HEAR ME OUT on this.  This is a very different series from what you'd expect from the Star Wars brand.  There are no space wizards with laser swords. This is Star Wars for grown ups.  In fact, significant portions of this program are set in OFFICE BUILDINGS.

Andor is a prequel to the movie Rogue One, which was itself a prequel to the very first Star Wars movie. (The final moments of Rogue One are set just a few hours before the opening scene of Star Wars: A New Hope.)   Rogue One was sort of a heist movie, but instead of looting a casino or a bank, they stole the blueprints for the Death Star from an Imperial data repository.  Rogue One is, I think, the best Star Wars film since Empire Strikes Back. One of the main characters in Rogue One is Cassian Andor, and the Andor TV series centers on him.  This series is set about 5 years before the events of Rogue One.


Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) is a scruffy ne'er do well. He's a former soldier turned criminal just trying to make one big score to pay off his debts and live the good life. He gets tangled up in something bigger than he anticipates. He's not particularly remarkable. He doesn't have The Force flowing through his veins, his father isn't a Sith Lord, he's not a master thief or an expert gun fighter or much of anything really. He's a jack of all trades with a flexible moral compass. When we first meet Andor in the Rogue One movie, one of the first things we see him do is kill an informant in cold blood rather than let him be captured, because he can't risk the informant giving away secrets. That's sort the sort of thing that happens in Andor the series.

Luthen Rael (Stellan Skarsgard) is a man of many faces. He's a jet-setting antiques dealer. He's a criminal planning a major heist. Most privately, he's the mastermind building what will become the Rebel Alliance. As you get to know him you begin to realize that he's just as ruthless and cold-blooded as the Empire. He has to be, though, right? Can you fight a monster without becoming a monster?

Mon Mothma (Genevieve O'Reilly) is a Senator. Publicly she's a bleeding heart politician who describes herself as an annoyance. She's happy to be seen that way, because behind closed doors she is laundering money to Rael's operation. Aside from dealing with bankers, mobsters, and dodging Imperial accountants, she also has to deal with a loveless marriage and parenting a daughter who needs more time than her mom has to spare.

Dedra Meero (Denise Gough) is an Imperial Security Bureau intelligence officer, rising through the ranks. She's ambitious and determined, and she's sharp-eyed and intuitive and sees things that her peers and supervisors haven't figured out. She has detected the Rebel efforts to steal military grade equipment. But she has a hard time getting the ISB top brass to take her theories seriously, because she's younger and female and they talk over her and treat her like she's unimportant. They measure performance using pointless metrics like detainee headcounts or whether your quarterly reports are turned in ahead of schedule. She and her faithful assistant work all-nighters to analyze the data that proves her theories and convince her supervisors of what's going on. She could be the protagonist of a Working Girl style office drama, except that she is of course not working for a typical employer, she is working for a ruthless fascist organization. Denise Gough's amazing Resting **** Face is arguably the best special effect in the whole show.

There are so many things that make this show good. The main characters are all fascinating and the actors who play them are all excellent. But beyond that there are things going on that are genuinely complex and thought provoking. One of the main themes is "the banality of evil".  Dedra Meero is not a maniac. She's not a psychopath or a serial killer. In her own mind, she's probably the hero of this story. She's not just doing her job, she's also protecting law and order and stopping murderous terrorists. Yes, she has done some terrible things to make that happen, but it's for the greater good, right?  Luthen Rael does things that are just as bad, if not worse. But he has to. The Empire must be stopped at any cost, right?  You find yourself thinking about not just the banality of evil, but wondering what even is evil. Is Meero evil, when she believes so strongly that she's doing good? Is Rael good, when he knows full well that he's committing evil to do what needs to be done?   

Diego Luna is excellent as the main character. But the real stars are Skarsgard, O'Reilly, and (especially) Denise Gough, who provide brilliant performances. As well, Andy Serkis truly shines in a supporting role. And Forrest Whitaker briefly reprises his delightfully scenery-chewing Saw Gerrerra character from Rogue One, with a Shatneresque extravaganza of overacting.

This show didn't grab me in the first couple of episodes, but it has grown so involving. I haven't been this fascinated by a show since the middle seasons of Game of Thrones.

 -k
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