by wjw on February 7, 2020

feedthingSome notes on what I’ve been viewing.

The Feed, on Amazon, is about a phone-free future in which practically everyone has social media implanted in their heads.  Not only are they online all the time, but the Feed records their lives continually on “mundles” (which I’m guessing is a portmanteau of “memory bundles”) so that you can review the high points of your life whenever you want.

It’s like Facebook, except you can’t turn it off!  Absolutely nothing can go wrong with this, right?

There are also resisters, who don’t want cyberspace in their brains, as well as the usual bad-tempered anti-technology terrorists who just want to wreck everything.

The Feed is based on a YA novel by actor/producer Nick Clark Windo.  One of the first things the series does is turn all the young adults into minor characters, in favor of a lot of screen time for the Hatfield family, whose patriarch invented and controls the Feed.  The patriarch is played by David Thewlis as a genius who secretly plans for the Feed to transform the human race into rational, logical beings worthy of the planet Vulcan.

Nothing could go wrong with this plan either, yah?

Unsurprisingly the Hatfields have a lot of daddy issues.

So basically the Feed gets hacked, which you knew was going to happen from the first minute.  And this is made worse by the fact that nobody in the future knows about air gapping, and so when they encounter malware they invite it into their heads to give it a close-up inspection.

And when some malevolent cyberspace entity starts invading people, taking them over, and turning them into murderbots, it turns out the cast has very few options but to overact.  A lot.

Unfortunately the writers couldn’t think of anything cool to do with the murderbots other than to enact every horror movie cliche in the repertoire.  And then re-enact them.  And then over-act them.  But we’ve already seen The Walking Dead, assuming that we wanted to in the first place, so nothing surprises except the enormous stupidity of all the major characters, who keep walking through the plot door with the neon sign reading Obvious Trap.  (“Let’s split up, and you go to the spooky old abandoned house in the remote countryside, where nothing bad could possibly happen!!”)

It’s a Big Bowl of Stupid, and the excellent production values and fine special effects can’t save it.  I doubt there will be a Season Two.

girihajiOver on Netflix, I checked out the thriller Giri/Haji, a BBC-Japan co-production revolving around those two poles of Japanese society, Duty (Giri) and Shame (Haji).

Kenzo is a straight-laced Tokyo detective who lives with his wife, parents, and nonconformist teen daughter in an apartment far too small for five people.  His brother Yuto, a minor Yakuza, has been assumed dead for several years, but reports reach Tokyo that Yuto’s actually living in London and carrying out assassinations there.  Kenzo flies off to London allegedly to take a course in criminalistics, but in reality to scope out the situation.

As he takes off the Yakuza explode in a vicious ultraviolent gang war.  I guess the Yakuza aren’t arming themselves with samurai swords and baseball bats anymore, because there are lots of automatic weapons being deployed.

Kenzo’s secret is that he once killed a man who could identify Yuto as an armed robber.  The guy was a Yakuza, so it’s no great loss to the world, but still it’s the sort of thing straight-laced cops aren’t supposed to do.

Yuto is, of course, living in London, as the henchman of a local gangster who tried going straight, but then  discovered that it was more fun trying to become a Yakuza (British division).  He’s made contact with the real Yakuza and is selling them all the deadly weapons they’re deploying in their gang war.  It turns out that Yuto, though his British  boss, kicked off the Tokyo gang war deliberately, because there are a lot of folks who have to die before he can go home.  (He got his boss’s daughter pregnant.)

Kenzo is followed to London by his unconventional daughter Taki, who’s been suspended from school for crushing the nads of some guy who tried to grope her.  (She failed to display the proper contrition.  There may be a problem with violence in this family.)

Kenzo encounters a self-destructive Anglo-Japanese male prostitute named Rodney, who spends his time gobbling drugs and hallucinating his ex-boyfriend, who committed suicide after Rodney dumped him.  Rodney is a well-drawn, well-acted character, but for the most part wanders through the story without quite finding his place in it.

The plot has its far-fetched moments, as when Kenzo’s wife and mother get involved in the violent action, but on the whole this remains a solid cross-cultural thriller that didn’t insult my intelligence.  Check this one out.

Robert M Roman February 9, 2020 at 12:12 pm

re: “The Feed”

Where are the McCoys when you need them?

Ralf T. Dog. February 9, 2020 at 9:49 pm

The Feed sounds a bit like the ending of Doll House.

wjw February 9, 2020 at 10:56 pm

I never got to the ending of Doll House. Gave it up a short way into the second season.

Robert, I have to admit that I went to the McCoys, too.

Steinar Bang February 27, 2020 at 6:07 pm

I’m getting ever closer to biting the bullet and getting Amazon Prime (I dislike streaming as a delivery mechanism and dislike Amazon’s business practics).

I’ll be getting Amazon Prime not because of Feed, but because of “The Expanse”, “Picard” (because Jeri Lynn Ryan’s in it, this time with sensible shoes and a costume with pockets), and Simon Stålenhag’s Tales from the Loop.

Also, son wanted to see “The Night Manager” again, and guess who’s got it…?

wjw February 28, 2020 at 12:32 am

Steinar, thanks for the heads-up on “Tales From the Loop.” Potentially interesting, though the official Amazon trailer makes it look pretty dull.

I always confuse “The Night Manager” with “The Night Porter,” so for a minute there I thought your son wanted some pedophilic Nazi S&M instead of a dramatized le Carre story. Oops.

Minx March 5, 2020 at 11:51 pm

The Feed sounds like Seanan McGuire’s first Newsflesh novel Feed mashed up with that one episode of Black Mirror with the memory-recording device. I guess that’s what one can expect from today’s book-shaped object YA lit

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