ALLOW me to take a respite from covering the movies for today’s column as nothing showing is worth our time anyway. Let’s move on to the small screen, where a lot of great original films are being aired.
In particular, the products of HBO are oftentimes as good if not better than the films we go out to see. Its latest triumph, Angels in America, dominated this year’s Emmy awards. Likewise, its long running series, The Sopranos, won several awards. Thanks to The Sopranos (and Six Feet Under) shows about American families will never be the same again.
Carnivale, HBO’s newest series is bound to be another hit and it puts new meaning to the word “strange.” Like The Sopranos and Six Feet Under, Carnivale spotlights a group of people with unconventional careers. Set during the Great American Depression, the series is about a traveling carnival, which hops from one small Dustbowl town to another. Many of the characters are impaired physically, mentally and financially. We’re talking about circus people here so expect them to be even weirder than the freaks we saw in The X-Files and Mulawin.
Leading the ensemble cast is Nick Stahl (The Terminator 3). He plays Ben Hawkins, a scruffy young man and a fugitive from the law. He joins the circus and he soon discovers he has healing and extra sensory powers.
I’ve seen the first three episodes, and so far the show puts emphasis on the strange goings on and quirky ways of the protagonists. It seems that Hawkins is destined to be a messiah of sorts, as he keeps dreaming of a preacher he has never met. Said preacher does exist in California and he’s been having the same dreams.
And there’s the colorful company of the circus—the midget masters of ceremonies, the fortuneteller who keeps arguing with her mother, who so happens to be in a coma, and the voluptuous strippers. They’re all very amiable and they’ll keep you tuned in because they’re so interesting. Never mind the fact that nothing seems to happen in terms of plot development. Yet something is indeed developing and all the bits and pieces are eventually going to collide in a spectacular fashion, but this won’t happen until the season finale.
Meanwhile, just enjoy this unusual show as it unveils each bizarre character and scene in a quirky yet believable manner. The cinematography is excellent and every period detail is lovingly captured in the sets and the costumes. The cast, which includes Adrienne Barbeau and Amy Madigan, is game.
Carnivale is a daring show because it isn’t like any other series that’s ever been aired. It requires you to be patient when it comes to plotting. It’s not for viewers with short attention spans and airheads who think Survivor is an existentialist show.
A lousy shark dinner
Open Water is a short movie but it’s still a waste of time. The premise is different though—it’s about a young couple (Blanchard Ryan and Daniel Travis) on vacation in the Bahamas. They go on a scubadiving expedition but when they get back to the surface, they discover that the rest of the expedition—and the boat—had left them.
The couple is left behind because of negligence on the part of the tour operator and the arrogance and stupidity of the couple. The rest of the film has them whining about everything, right there in the middle of the ocean. You can’t wait for the sharks to rip them into pieces.
The movie is terribly acted the sharks aren’t really that frightening to look at. An indie production made on a modest budget, Open Water is probably the brainchild of a tour guide who has had enough of the ugly, whiny tourists who make their job more difficult than it already is. Otherwise, this movie is really pointless.
Open Water *1/2
Star rating : **
|**** Masterpiece||** Fair|
|*** Admirable||* Bad|