Wish granted: Eric O’Bannon died in a gunshot but… I’m not satisfied

Drama, Netflix, Netflix Series, Opinion, TV Characters, TV Series
Screen Shot 2017-06-22 at 1.42.49 PM

Source: Netflix

I did hanker for a sumptuous Eric O’Bannon death, but after having it served, only a fraction of me says, “You deserve it.” I was wanting more piercing. I wished him pain and guilt – stacks of emotional torture that he never got, in addition to the same thing Danny ducked out from, repentance. Death, apparently, for him was a convenient resort untimely bestowed. 

To the end he was the same douchebag since the beginning of Bloodline. There hardly was a maturity for him. He was stagnant corrupting people throughout the series. His sister, his mom and Danny and Rayburns.

We were able to see drastic character shifts with all the Rayburns, being frazzled with dilemmas they had to deal with to protect their family’s and personal status quo. Danny, however, was an exception and the development was least seen with Kevin who both got themselves entangled with drug syndicates being accessories.

We’ve been first surprised with John and Meg being a police and a lawyer to connive to clear free the Rayburn premises the drugs stashed by Danny. It was a tragic, no-return tipping point that, however multiplied conflicts, offered a temporary resolve: the clan maintained its reputation as a respectable local figure.

Illicit as it may be, but it can’t be denied that their choices and actions were effective given that they were able to vindicate themselves of legal sanctions and veil their crimes. How was this able to happen was because their ceaseless tenacity to keep their reputation hard pressed them to take necessary heavy lifts – even if they transgressed morality and laws – which is a vital framework for development.

For Danny and Eric, was there ever any time they significantly took off from a part of themselves that was keeping their footing? They never tried to depart from their (godforsaken) values.

It’s always easier to linger in comfort zones, so it’s often those folks who don’t embrace hurdles don’t get displaced until their last breath, case on point for the two pity wretched souls.

They may have had suffer throughout their lifetimes, but they barely paid for the harm they tossed out to others, not to mention their families. Their deaths were conclusions of their lifelong self-oppression and not as tokens for the lives they ruined excluding theirs. Even if they, too, were victims, I maintain nothing less of the repulsion that had accreted on how they festered individuals trying to make sense out of their lives, despite not being circumstantially clean at all.

The conspiracy behind Danny’s injury was not enough of an excuse for the Danny’s perilous and sordid fate that followed. And so was for the falling apart of the rest of the Rayburns.

On a subcutaneous level of looking at him for his resentment to his family, one might see how awful of a human being he innately was. Every other Rayburns took part in preserving their name esteemed by reframing the truth behind his shoulder injury. No way it was right, and sure as hell, it was difficult for everyone to get their heads wrapped around all the lies. But each grappled with their morality for something that they look up at to greater than themselves – the family.

For Danny, it was abandonment. Why? Because his gaze stops at himself. Was it being egocentric? For me, yes. In fact, it could have been his singular fair share of contribution to his family.

Death was a passport to escape. It doesn’t only end, but does absolve everything of the dead including the suffering, guilt and remorse that should have been made as a payment to others who had been unfairly troubled by Danny and Eric. I was hoping for that kind of development because I wanted them to be stabbed, punched and flogged over and over by what I think they deserve and – of course – to be deeply apologetic. But as reality slaps, some will rather die than feel horribly sorry to keep their pity figment of pride.

Refreshing dose of Ravel (by a highly-esteemed, world-renowned pianist you probably may not have heard of yet)

20th Century, Classical Music, Classical Piano Music, Female Pianists, French Composers, Piano Concertos

Ravel Piano Concerto in G major: Presto performed by Cecile Licad

Ravel G major Piano Concerto is a short prominent piece in the piano repertoire. An almost staple diet for every amateur and pro pianist, it’s not surprising to hear it in a thousand more readings. Most are exciting, some are outlandish, but it rarely comes as simple and as instinctive as the one posted. Not much quirks or shades -just the substance. You need a red or a white, you get just it. And when you get tired listening to all other unique, excellent performances, whose top-rank musical ideas blow away, this one is the to-go-for. It feels the same when you relish a five-star hotel suite, but at the end of that brief sublime encounter, all you want is to be at home. Unfortunately, we’re only given the third leg of this concerto performance by pianist Cecile Licad – yet enough refreshing dose of Ravel. Refreshing enough we’d be left pining for the piquant first movement and the divine middle movement by the artist.

Cecile Licad is a Curtis-trained, Leventritt gold-medalist pianist who in 1985 was awarded the Grand Prix du Disque Frédéric Chopin in Warsaw, Poland for her Chopin Second Concerto recording with André Previn and the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Interestingly she also made a recording of Rachmaninoff Second Concerto in 1982, when she was 21 years old, with Claudio Abbado and Chicago Symphony Orchestra under the CBS Masterworks Records, now Sony Classical Records, just as Yuja Wang – one of today’s young leading pianists – who is another Curtis-trained, with the same conductor and Mahler Chamber Orchestra under the Deutsche Grammophon. She was 22.

For anyone who liked the performance, I’ll scour for more of her great, no-nonsense takings on music. She also has a recording of Ravel’s Gaspard de la nuit, Le tombeau de Couperin, and Sonatina which startlingly the Gramophone magazine said of her a miscast for Ravel, when in otherwise the Classic CD not only gave it two thumbs up, but also awarded it as their Classic CD Choice.

One of my upcoming posts will be about that album. I will exercise my best to let whoever is interested hear some of them and be the judge himself especially if her Ravel has refreshened his sense of possibilities Ravel could be played. Let me know; hurl out a comment down and stay tuned.

Is Netflix’s Iron Fist really that awful?

Marvel, Netflix, Superhero, The Defenders, TV Series

I regret one deed when it comes to anticipating the Iron Fist, that is watching it unravel before it showed itself. The excitement got me carried away and caught me pandering through the pre-screening reviews. The whole act turned out to be a huge bummer. The unanimous premature verdict on the series was apparently unconscionable looking back at the Netflix-Marvel team up that got us the vigilante Daredevil torn between killing and sparing, the PTSD-trodden PI Jessica Jones who uses her heavyweight strength to guard herself against misogyny, and the fortuitously bulletproof-ridden, wrongly convicted black American Luke Cage. And Iron Fist, the fourth and last tributary to the Defenders later this 2017 couldn’t have conceivably gone sideways. So what went wrong?

Maybe, critics just got it all right that the Iron Fist got itself all wrong.

On its substance:

Vox disses that Marvel doesn’t get its hero and went on to declare it a life-threatening malaise to a superhero genre. Vanity Fair feels sorry for its trying to be all cool and edgy, branding it a regression, aimless and dull. IGN lambasts it the Marvel’s most notable misfire on Netflix. Enough said: laughably bad, racially uncomfortable and boring show.

On its storytelling and structure:

The Verge cites it as a case study for studios to try harder to tell difficult stories well. Not only does it fail to champion diversity, representation and appropriation, it also screws up the basic levels like storytelling – which from this point heads on to be consistently incongruous.

Self-doubt can’t possibly trouble the Iron Fist having had trained for the towering 15 years and won it by plunging his fist into the molten heart of the immortal dragon.

Neither the rest of the main casts were spared. Why and how the Maechums treated their long-lost best friend is contrived in complexity; overly addressed and incoherent. Even the transplants Madame Gao and Claire Temple do not get away triumphantly.

Just as why they are granted with such stark inclusion if they have had their substantial roles in Daredevil, especially Temple, who is now the officially the only crossover character in the Defenders subsidiary, is not to let pass.

Why doesn’t the Iron Fist carve itself its own private, standalone narrative is an apparent rhetoric to pull out the fillers in those wide, lengthy chasms that reveal its structural vulnerability.

On its fight scenes:

Uproxx disappointingly remarks that while it isn’t a sin the two leads Danny Rand and Colleen Wing to be not good at talking, its supposed jam-packed nerve-wracking fight exhibitions fall brief and unconvincing. The heavily bathed conversations do not make up for it, being the most of them are painfully dull. It goes on to zoom in on how Danny’s already sporadic action scenes are choppy and murkily edited that it’s hard to tell what Danny is doing.

Iron Fist, a mystical warrior and latest-in-the-line protector of K’un-Lun, is logically a formidable kung-fu expert, yet his busting of this martial arts is neither compelling nor hair-raising. Devoid of ensuing any real danger and fails to deliver real punches.

On its casting and relevance:

Right at its Netflix inception, it has been swarmed with relentless fan protests to cast an Asian actor for the Orientalist title role to eschew the whitewashing trope. The production slate, however, decided to stick with the source material in this regard. The Verge puts that when Iron Fist was announced, fans feared the worst, that all came true when it was released.

Landing the titular role to a Westerner in the personification of Game of Thrones laureate Finn Jones – to Vanity Fair – is not the best look. The character was created in response to the growing interest in the Kung Fu martial arts in 1970s, coincidentally during the heights of cultural appropriation, that the original material, unaware of its faults, needed updating, as Vox posits it.

The actor is panned miscast for not being able to elicit the character’s inner turmoil. Compared to Charlie Cox’s Matt Murdock, his portrayal of Danny Rand is lacking and flat.

Forbes, The Telegraph and The Guardian see some strong points and take some different stance

Forbes, however, gives it a Grade B:

Out of 13 episodes, five are very good, three are good, two are mixed, and three are bad. Numerically, it manages 8 episodes in the B or A range, two in the C range, and three in the D or F range. Within the bad episodes, there are a few moments that are okay or even work well, and within the best episodes there are a few moments that fall flat.

The Telegraph’s Rebecca Hawkes admits that while it’s the weakest of the four Defenders, it wasn’t a total letdown. The casting serves as its ultimate saving grace. She commends Finn Jones caught-between-cultures portrayal saying that

He’s no heroic saviour figure, but a vulnerable and childlike man, struggling to find his identity and connect with the boy he was when he disappeared.

The rest of the main casts reap similar acclaim

Jessica Henwick makes a cool, self-possessed Colleen Wing…Tom Pelphrey and Jessica Stroup impress as brother and sister Ward and Joy Meachum…(Ward in an murderous way; Joy in a more conflicted way; both in a stylish business attire way).

Rosario Dawson’s Claire Temple and Carrie-Ann Moss’s lawyer Jeri Hogarth inclusions equally please.

The Guardian while chiding with what it calls “mighty whitey” trope, dismissing it a pitiful blunder, acknowledges that it has some moments and cracking fight scenes.

Bashful criticism and the series’s simmering flaws say a lot, yet not enough of an impedance to bar entertainment

Overwhelmed by reviews, my expectations plummeted. I have eagerly been looking forward to the Iron Fist since its announcement, but my enthusiasm was cut short before it was even made available to public viewers. Within just the same week, it was an exponential meltdown. The one left reason I went on was the Defenders.

Having been a big fan of Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage toggled me compelled to grant it the same empty prejudice and attitude before and while watching it – at least fake them.

Saddled with dribs and drabs of advance scrutiny, eventually, I was caught in awe to find myself forgetting the bitter lash outs. And again, I found myself in the middle of a genuine Marvel-Netflix calibre: lengthy monotony, emotional and identity crises that are pleading for endearment, and illogical narrative. Where it may impetuously have steered astray is in its pretty straightforward, hackneyed plot drive and stilted trajectory. The rest is nitpicking.

White man for the lead

Danny Rand/Iron Fist in a white man persona intensifies the drama of losing the sense of belongingness. If he were an Orientalist, what’s the point at all of shoving himself to the people of different citizenship or to a country he doesn’t ancestrally belong?

The cringeworthy ‘white man saviour’ conceit may now have been both politically and socially irrelevant, but to lay it upfront as the series’s thematic pivot is sore and inappropriate. The drafting of a blond, white man for the lead was instrumental to invoke that poignant estrangement from home and family and to evoke the longing and desire of coming to terms with the past, filling the emptied heart, and whole-ing oneself.

In the show, it is addressed particularly by Danny’s unabashed pining to be reunited with the people closest to the Rands, the Maechums – who he considers a family – and to establish himself as Danny Rand, the sole and rightful heir of Rand enterprises. All of them would have been more unfounded and ridiculously irrational if one who so does them is an Asian.

Honestly, the barging of the noise about Hollywood’s proclivity to white-washing Tilda Swinton received her fair share of bashing is subtly another condescending propaganda. Insidiously, another embodiment of a white man saviour trope, with white men trying to be heroes – again and again – this time through racial inclusion into  – what they think – their culturally and economically superior artistic industry.

Interestingly, a different race Iron Fist, protector of K’un L’un is ideally unitary as it insinuates that time has come when race no longer matters.

In the 1950s, when the eminent American pianist Van Cliburn snagged the gold medal – at the height of Cold War – in the first International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition, where the judges were predominantly Russians, Russians didn’t give a damn. What’s all this buzz now?

 

Finn Jones didn’t kill it? Character ill-conceived?

Finn Jones may not be as appealing as Charlie Cox (Daredevil), Kristen Ritter (Jessica Jones) and Mike Colter (Luke Cage). But when you see how crisply vulnerable he is and when while watching you feel that sorrowful pinch of being denied, it all signals he’s on the game right and well.

Introduced as a vagrant and orphaned, assaulted, drugged and sent prisoner to a mental ward, he was sympathetically reminiscent of the blind, moneyless Matt Murdock in Daredevil being orphaned too and troubled by his unsettled personal issues when Stick left him when he was young.

Like Matt Murdock who holds a law degree, summa cum laude, from the Columbia University, the character Iron Fist, even as a monk isn’t infallible and devoid of self-doubts. This dilemma is always the main conflicting point in all of the Defenders superhero so far. Thus, any preposterous weakness the character possesses cannot be taken to debase the series’s integrity.

This latest showcase may have been the weakest in the brood of four and it is for a reason. It’s the lightest so it doesn’t live up to the complex, dark, brooding canvas Netflix-Marvel has its audience conditioned. It isn’t to concede to its inferiority. It only shouldn’t come as a surprise granted that Dany Rand is the youngest of the four frontrunners. Although his struggle ordinarily wrestles on piecing together his broken sense of identity, the series wasn’t anything as trashy as the negative review aggregates will prod anyone to think.

 

Bloodline’s Eric O’Bannon should be granted a horrible death

Drama, Netflix, Netflix Series, Opinion, TV Characters, TV Series

 

Screen Shot 2017-06-21 at 6.09.34 PM

Source: Netflix

What is the most fulfilling takeaway of Bloodline Season 2? I can’t vouch for when Marco is brutally beaten to a gory death. Although he is annoying, he’s never nearly as festering as Eric O’Bannon which is why I wonder how come he is left nearly unscathed in the second season?

I can’t see why won’t he just shut up, pack up and abscond from the Florida Keys?

Let’s not forget that although Danny will never be replaced to be the most hated character in the Bloodline, it is the trashy Eric O’Bannon who opened the pit for Danny into the drug trafficking industry. While Danny is the sole culpable for being slaughtered by his own brother John, Eric was that dirtbag best man who never helped Danny keep off them mud.

He is a sociopath who takes advantage of all Danny’s vulnerabilities. Definitely, he’s not the kind of best friend anyone would wish anybody to have.

At the aftermath of the Rayburn family tragedy

After Sarah’s death, Danny has been severely alienated to his family for being blamed to his sister’s death. He’s gone despicably rogue after his own family conspired of his father’s unduly assault on him that ensued an improperly healed shoulder injury, pain killer dependence and miserably shaped adulthood.

Anyone will expect that for a real buddy, instead to exacerbate the familial gap such as with between Danny and his family, he will at least keep mum towards the issue. But, Eric O’Bannon, being a hero, resents too the rest of the Rayburns. With Danny’s and Eric’s cynic-dripping mindsets, all they have fetched for themselves were nothing but rotten fruits of miseries.

The enraging part

There couldn’t be more upsetting when you look at how the Rayburns are doing fine before Danny comes back and desecrates their picturesque beachside property, which epitomes the Rayburns as a close-knit, ideal family,  by using it as a stopover-slash-shelter for trafficking drugs.

His three siblings John, Meg, and Kevin touchingly and reasonably, albeit twistedly, are forced to conspire – once again – from the authorities and smuggled those sacks of drugs off the Rayburn property to keep inherent inevitable scandal away that will irreparably collapse the Rayburn’s prominent reputation in Florida Keys. At the point, all you will want for Danny is to die. It’s as if Danny raped his own family. Especially when you think about Sally whose demeanor is so demure and immaculate.

On a second contrasting thought, you will root for the lawfully “right” thing. Turn their brother in and let legal actions takes in-charge even if the family will never recover. After all, they’ve built up careers for themselves. Kevin owns a boatyard. Meg is a lawyer. And John is a police. Even if their name falls down, they will not.

Somewhere in between, you will pin it down to Sally, for being too soft and weak toward her, uh, putrid son. Maybe she deserves it.

But, does a family downfall fit just because Danny was a self-serving asshole?

Their family business will never recover if the DEA finds out that the inn was being used to stash and traffic drugs. Their name will be permanently mudded.

It was all Danny’s doing; why shall the rest of the family take the toll? Not fair!

Danny is troubled, but not an excuse

John Rayburn (on brother Danny Rayburn):

Even before Sarah’s death he was always a problematic child.

Meg Rayburn (on brother Danny Rayburn):

A lot have had family issues but not all of them turned into Danny.

Sarah’s death preludes the Rayburns’ tragedy; Eric replaces her – alongside with the whole family – in Danny’s heart

Flashback to the day of Sarah’s death.

When Danny was taking Sarah to go on a boat ride, John stopped them telling him they’re not allowed without an adult. Danny took Sarah with him nevertheless and the ride went south.

Danny following the tragedy found a family at the company of Eric. It’s not hard to picture how it happened. When Danny pisses you off, mainly as the man he turned out to be, you will not help but be pissed off too by Eric. But since the first season treated us – with aplomb – with John’s murder of his brother Danny, there’s only Eric left to get heated up from.

In the second season, he digs contempt a lot deeper. He was the sturdiest root of the three Rayburns’ scrambling to hide the truth behind their brother’s death. While they committed crimes that are gravely punishable by the law, I will personally decree them acquittal. But it’s so deeply unsettling that getting away isn’t an easy job because there is Eric.

Danny may have been inhumanely, yet satisfyingly, incinerated and abandoned for decay, but his presence still strongly troubles the Keys. Through the willfulness of rotting Eric O’Banon, he persistently haunts John, Meg and Kevin.

What’s even more contemptible is why won’t he look at himself and measure his culpabilities (or contributions) and stop for a while pointing finger at the hardworking, responsible, self-righteous Rayburns, who are, however, not entirely white.

For both of them, they were both undeservedly oppressed by the Rayburns.

Danny has a redemption; what is Eric’s?

Danny has a son. He used to have a wife. He used to have a family. He used to run a restaurant. He used to have a career. He used to have a life. While Danny was showing signs of doing well, where was Eric O’Bannon? Looks like just messing around and trashing himself.

Eric has always been on Danny’s side. While he gave Danny a staunch sense of belongingness, he was never instrumental to making Danny be closer to his family. He tugged him away from where he supposedly belonged. Then he planted him into the drug trafficking quagmire. Danny died and now he won’t let the three, already shattered Rayburns get away.

From the beginning, he has always been a fucked up, and he never let himself be alone on board. He wants the rest come along.

In real life, the kind of Danny and Eric is the kind that pollutes the world. If they aspire to be perpetually corrupted, they should please do so at  the expense of themselves and not to the extent of having to pull down ones who are either already bad or good, and those in between.

One gets a second chance when he commits an inhumane act to himself, but when that act has been directed towards others, in my personal opinion, apology and forgiveness can’t  simply cover for it. It’s not about the perpetrator becoming a better or worse version of himself. It’s about people who do not deserve be done something bad.

Danny has had his fair share of sentence. Eric O’Bannon – who as Danny called his only one real brother –  for causing a lofty magnitude of disturbance to the Rayburns (to his family: sister and mother as well) should be granted a horrible death equally or more gravely as that of his late best friend-slash-pseudo-brother.