Skins Pure Review: The Art of Adulthood

Disclaimer: This post contains spoilers from Skins Pure. Please do not read until you watch it. 

Skins Pure is the second installment of the Skins movies.  These movies conclude the franchise. In Skins Pure, we follow Cassie Ainsworth (Hannah Murray) through her life as an adult. Cass has moved to London after living in New York for a couple years with–we presume–Sid (Mike Bailey). Viewers don’t learn much about her life in New York. We are only shown Cassie’s life now. In the new version of her life, she is no longer the pixie-like girl with an eating disorder. Instead Cassie’s insecurities are more vibrant. She is also no longer sexually free.

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Like in Skins Fire, Cassie also becomes entangled in an odd  love triangle. The two men Cassie finds herself intertwined with both work at a cafe with her. Cassie’s first suitor  is Yaniv (Daniel Ben Zenou), who initially comes off as a playboy. However, after his first sexual encounter with Cass, his fragile sense of self becomes more apparent than hers. The second love interest is Jakob (Olly Alexander), who is a nice guy but a very immature, socially awkward young man. Both men act as a catalyst for Cassie’s realization of her true potential.

The minor storyline, or maybe the major one in disguise, is of Cassie’s father’s increasing mental instability.  This gives viewers a broader look into the shaky family life of Cassie, and maybe a reason for her own mental issues.

Many fans complain about these Skins movies not following the original formula of the series. However,  these movies do very much capture the essence of the show, and the problems of these characters, but in a more realistic, mature manner. Cassie has always had self-esteem problems, but as a teen she over compensated for them with her bubbly personality.  In addition, Cassie’s need to be liked was highlighted throughout Skins series 1 and 2. That is why the internet sensation storyline in the movie works so well. It captures the core of a major social phenomenon and this character.

By  showing more of Cassie’s dad,  Marcus ( Neil Morrissey), and her little brother, Reuben, viewers see Cassie’s growth but her father’s suspension in youth ideology. They also see the chaos that creates. One of the most profound parallels between Cassie and her father in the movie is the final scene between them. In this scene, Marcus is ready to run off to another country to escape his life, just like Cassie did in Skins series 2. However, because of Cassie’s journey, she now realizes that’s not the way to live. She does the mature thing by offering to take control of her brother.

Skins Pure is very much true to the character of Cassie, but like everyone, she has grown up. It may not be a pretty grown up life. But it feels more real than  anything shown in her teen years.

Another strength of Skins Pure is the idea of what’s pure art. Jakob finds himself obsessed with Cassie because of her beauty. Then he captures it in his photography. It is only through photos that Cassie begins to see her own desirability. However, when Cassie goes from art for art sake to using it for commercial purposes, Jakob becomes enraged. Cassie has devalued herself by becoming a commercial model. Jakob sees art as doing it simply to create. To him that is the pure form of it. But, like teenage Cassie and her dad, he fails to live in the real world, where currency is needed for survival.  Jakob becomes another male refusing to grow up.

Therefore, making it essential that Cassie leaves him to take her final steps toward maturity. Jakob represents the ideal artist. Nevertheless, he fails to develop beyond the childlike dreamer to become more than a guy who can take beautiful pictures. Jakob is capable of real success but he denies his potential by living immaturely.  In Jakob’s world, art can only be  beautiful, simple and pure but that leads to his downfall. He fails to see the bigger picture of it.

Of the Skins movies so far, Skins Pure, due to the multilayers of storytelling,  has the most quiet depth.  Everything from the music to the images of London says something bigger about society, youth and life.  The Skins creators have executed bravely a look at the shift from the carelessness of youth to the harsh reality of adulthood. Anyone who has taken that journey knows it is not always pretty but necessary for true, pure growth.

8/10

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ABCFamily’s The Fosters Rewatch

Leading up to The Fosters summer finale, I am going to rewatch each episode of the show and review it. The reviews will dissect many of the major issues explored in The Fosters episodes. I have decided to do this for The Fosters , because it is a rare show where everything works almost flawlessly. The actors sell their characters’ emotional struggles, the writers tackle important political issues without being too aggressive with them and the directors really understand the complexity of the writers’ work. To say I’ve seen a lot of television shows is an understatement. I’ve consumed more television–both domestic and foreign shows– than many people will their entire life. So I think I’ve seen enough television series to know a good one, and The Fosters isn’t just good, it’s transcendent.

This Fosters rewatch is a playful way for people who haven’t seen the series to learn a little bit more on it, and to encourage others to explore it themselves. Today, It was announced, that The Fosters has received a request for more episodes this season.  Hopefully, this is just the sign of many more episodes to come. So now, more than ever, it is a good time for me to discuss the cultural significants of a family drama/teen show of this sort.

ABC-Family-The-Fosters-620x412To give the show the best farewell until January, I want to review each episode in depth, starting Monday August 5, 2013 and concluding Thursday, August 15, 2013.  I invite everyone who watches The Fosters to do the same. Therefore, allowing a more conversation tone of these reviews.  If you do decide to join in on the rewatch, please link your blog clips on the comment section below.   I hope you will enjoy these analytical looks at each episode of The Fosters as much as I will enjoy writing them.

For now, if you haven’t seen The Fosters, nor have you heard of it, check out the trailer below.

The Place Beyond the Pines Review–The Trouble With Heroes

Warning: This review contains spoilers, please do not read if you do not want to know what happens in the movie. 

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Introduction:

The Place Beyond the Pines (2012) directed by Derek Cianfrance, tells three overlapping stories.  The first story follows Luke(Ryan Gosling),  a stunt car racer.  Essentially, his story is about a troubled man searching for happiness but in the wrong ways.  The second half of the movie is about a rookie cop named Avery (Bradley Cooper). The core of his story is about him trying to make amends for his actions but losing himself in the process. The final story takes place fifteen years later, the main character of this part is Luke’s son, Jason (Dane  DeHaan).  Jason’s story involves one of the major themes of the movie: justice for the father at the expense of the son.

Plot Summary:

After learning he has a son, Luke begins robbing banks to support his family.  His ex lover Romina (Eva Mendes) has created a life without him, and she does not want him involved in her life anymore.  However, his inability to let go and violent tendencies continues to inflict pain on Romina and their son.  One day, he gets caught in a high speed chase with Avery.   Luke is murdered and Avery becomes the local hero. Avery pretends to be okay with the death, but he is haunted by it.

As Avery gets more involved in the local police force, he starts to see the corruption. He’s conflicted at first about where his loyalties lie, but he chooses to reveal the police crimes. Avery uses his knowledge to become assistant Attorney General and bring down the force.

Fifteen years later, he is now a divorced, respected politician running for Attorney General.  After some misbehaviors, his son, AJ (Emory Cohen) now wants to live with him.  Avery is reluctant at first, but later decides to let AJ move in.  At school AJ meets Jason, Luke’s son, which leads to Jason finding out the truth about his father.  This climaxes into an an emotional and dangerous confrontation between Avery and Jason. In the end, Jason and Avery both follow in their father’s foot steps. Avery by becoming Attorney General, and Jason by becoming a nomad.

Important Themes:

A clear theme of the movie is sons repeating the mistakes of their fathers. Avery becomes exactly what his father wanted him to be, and Jason almost becomes a criminal like his father. However, one of the less obvious themes is the blurry lines between heroes and villains.

By definition, Luke is the villain of the story. He’s a violent criminal.  However, everything Luke does is for his family. This makes him sacrificial, which is a trait of a hero.   Avery by definition should be the hero. He kills a criminal and works for the law. But the more he gets involved with the police, he starts to see their corruption. Corruption is one of the strongest traits of villains. Avery questioning the murder of Luke shows that his action may not have been as heroic as they are portrayed.  He later helps stop the crimes taking place in the police force, which is a heroic act, because he’s standing up for what is morally right. However, he uses his knowledge to secure a better job, which means his actions are not selfless, like a hero’s would be.

The third part of the movie shows that everyone is both a hero and a villain.   Avery is now an important man, but he got there through blackmail, betrayal and lying.  All villainous acts. AJ is just a delinquent who causes his father trouble.The same goes for Jason. These are more characteristics of villains.   However, by the end of the movie, they all become both heroes and villains. Jason commits a vile act of almost killing AJ and Avery, but he redeems himself by letting them both live. Therefore, executing a heroic act and a villainous one.  Avery conducts a heroic act by apologizing for killing Luke and letting Jason go without turning him in for his crimes. But, he still becomes the Attorney General after using blackmail to get that far politically. AJ is neither redeemed nor  persecuted for his crimes. We are given no clear answer on whether AJ will become a hero by learning from his mistakes or stay a villain by repeating them.

By the end, no one is completely free of sin, but no one is too sinful for forgiveness.  Everyone is just human.

Overall Impression:

The Place Beyond the Pines has many stunning performances, especially from Gosling, Mendes,  Cooper and Dehaan.  The story has many strong points, especially the first hour of the movie. However, there are a lot of slow buildup in the film, and the third portion feels very underdeveloped.

We don’t learn enough about AJ and Jason to truly care about them. In fact, AJ is a loathsome character who never gets redeemed. Jason has more potential as a character, but his final acts seem unrealistic. Jason has no knowledge of his father until he google searches him. Therefore, any facts he learns about him are probably told in a manner to make Luke seem like a terrible criminal.  However, he still feels the need to get revenge for his father’s death, which doesn’t make sense, because he has no indication of his father being worthy of avenging.  Unless we as viewers are supposed to believe he is just seeking revenge for the principle of avenging his father.

Conclusion:

Overall, The Place Beyond the Pines has a really strong story, but it tries to tell too much story. In doing this, some elements of the film suffer. The movie works better as just the third storyline with flashbacks from the first two stories. This allows the viewers to have stronger bonds with AJ and Jason.  Therefore, giving a more satisfactory conclusion. Instead the ending felt incomplete and hallow with the movies current story format.

6.5/10