This week, on a very special Girls...
One of the most interesting things a television program can do to take advantage of a diverse ensemble is throw a universal theme at the bunch and observe how each character reacts differently. And there’s no theme more universal than death. Maybe Game of Thrones, but that’s out of season. So this week, Girls thrives on the disparate ideologies of its collection of Brooklynites by killing off pseudo-character David Pressler-Goings.
So how does each character react, what is her or his relationship with death, and — most importantly — what does this tell us about the lot of ‘em?
Let’s start with Jessa this time…
…partially because she’s the first person Hannah breaks the news to (after she herself is hit with the tragedy after showing up to David’s office for a meeting), and partially because she’s the only other character who has a tangible story in this episode.
Jessa’s thoughts on death tread on the grand, philosophical side:“It’s something that happens. Like jury duty or floods.” “It must have been so heavy. That moment that it was all going down.””I kind of look forward to the day I die. If you think about it, time isn’t linear. Every moment that has ever happened, or that will ever happen, is happening right now. We just choose to live in this moment to create some illusion of continuity. So, really, we have already died, and also have not yet been born.
But there’s reason to believe that Jessa might not entirely buy into this quantum ideology, at least emotionally. As she reveals to Shoshanna over a subdued lute-plucking, Jessa had a friend named Season who died a long time ago. "My favorite friend," she sweetly reflects. A young woman who she cherished, suffered with, and comes to learn in this particularly eventful episode, is still alive.
After thinking about Season drums up some heavy feelings, Jessa calls Season's mother to get some emotional closure (the usually stoic Jessa is so vulnerable over this situation that she has a difficult time just saying the word "grave"), learning that her deceased friend and fellow addict faked her death long ago in order to get the problematic enabler Jessa out of her life for good. Rattled, angered, and hurt, Jessa tracks Season down to her Brooklyn brownstone, where she lives with her husband and baby, losing her s**t over the revelation that somebody she loved desperately pretended to die in order to get away from her. So far this season, Jessa has been able to keep her issues of loss and loneliness in relative control, but we can't imagine she'll be recovering from such a puzzling punch to the gut so easily.
Though a stranger to David, Adam's heart sinks when he hears about the death of Hannah's editor. What's more, he cannot fathom how his girlfriend is exhibiting such a dearth of emotional sensitivity to the issue (she's primarily concerned abou the fate of her eBook).
Adam's thoughts on death are far more visceral, to the point where he can't even spell them out beyond unsettled groans in response to Hannah's detachment for most of the episode. Until:"If I died, would you just be like, 'Oh, I hope I can make rent"? If you died, the world would blur. I wouldn't know what a tree was."
We don't get any insight into whether or not Adam has a personal experience with a close friend or family member's death, but clearly his sensitivities to the issue are especially potent.
Shoshanna, for a quick sec...
Shoshanna is roped into the story only via the aforementioned scene in which Jessa reveals her Season story, but she does have a lot to say. See, Shoshanna lost a friend too, back in high school, and the experience drummed up enough sadness to inspire her to write a book of poems. Of course, it also allowed her to usurp her role in their social clique, so win some lose some.
He really just shows up to provide another, definitively more surprising, foil to Hannah's attitude. Ray, who intellectualizes every concept, genuinely feels over the death of David (who he only met during last week's bar tustle) and insults Hannah for own "sociopathic detachment." But he spends the rest of his screentime laughing with Colin Quinn at Marnie's music video, so maybe don't consider him such a saint just yet.
"My whole life has been death," Laird says to Hannah. "Sometimes at dinner, when I am sitting at my table, I imagine I am in dialogue will all my dead ones." While Laird also tells Hannah that "you're just going to get number when it all comes like a waterfall," he also breaks down in tears during the tender, painful story of a young girl's death bequeathed unto him and Hannah by Adam's crazy, possibly psychotic sister Liney, from whom Hannah might not be too far a cry...
Hannah opens up to Liney about David's death and about the more pressing issue (in her mind) of Adam's disappointment with her reaction to it. Liney responds by instituting an ad hoc death-themed adventure, leading Hannah and Laird through a cemetary romp and challenging the depths of Hannah's detachment with a tragic story about her and Adam's young cousin who died of cerebral palsy. When she recognizes that Hannah doesn't even grow misty over the story, Liney cackles with delight, admitting that it was all made up, and celebrating Hannah's demented lack of feeling. But it's not the cemetary frolicking or crazy Liney's endorsement of Hannah's callous ways that are especially unsettling. Not compared to the grand finale...
In truth, there could be no character better used as a vehicle for this story than Hannah. Firstly, because she is our vessel into this world, and thus the character we most automatically empathize with (even when we're disapproving of her). But secondly, because Hannah's exhibition throughout and at the end of this episode is a horror story not limited to the parameters of the subject of death, but to the all encompassing reach of life. We see Hannah alter the way she introduces the news of David's death to her friends as the day goes on. First, she tells Jessa, complaining straight away about the uncertain fate of her eBook. She works up a softer approach for Adam, but still jumps into the selfishness quite abjectly. Afterwards, we see Hannah toss in phrases like "I lost a close friend" and pass off her lack of empathy as numbness, knowing full well that she couldn't possibly care less about David's passing. But the culmination of her chilling behavior comes when she, hoping to restore the favor of Adam (the person she claims to love and treasure), recounts the very same fake story that Liney told to her, provoking authentic tears from the sensitive Adam as she produces her own set of synthetic waterworks.
It's a horrifying scene because of how much it does hit home, on both sides. It takes a special kind of person to pull what Hannah pulls here, but the idea of emotional manipulation is not a strange one to anybody in any kind of relationship. Really, it's scary to see how close some of us might be to the capability of this act. Saying whatever possible to get things back to the way we're comfortable with them, convincing others (and ourselves) of outright lies in order to restore order or feel better. If you don't shudder with the familiarity of the final scene of this week's Girls, then good for you for living honestly so far. But although Hannah does take a very extreme and dark measure here, it's just a smidgen too close to home, and it's not a pretty sight.
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The presence of Judd Apatow has never been more present than it was during last night's Season 2 finale of Girls. The executive producer of the HBO series that everyone loves to hate to talk about penned "Together" along with star Lena Dunham (who also, impressively directed the episode) and the whole thing felt very Apatow-esque. No, there were no gross-out moments per se (at least not on par with the Q-tip heard scene heard 'round the world) but there was enough conveniently wrapped-up sentimentality to counteract that whole sex montage. For a season that's been as dark and bleak and daring (ahem, "One Man's Trash") as this one, "Together" played it awfully safe.
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That's not to say it was a bad episode, it just ended on a note so wildly different from the rest of this divisive, albeit brilliant Golden Globe-winning season. Even its opening sequence, a depressed, unraveling Hannah differed substantially from its movie magic ending. Maybe the opener felt more on par with me not only with Girls, but in real life. Who, like Hannah (who was still suffering from her OCD symptoms), hasn't nervously Googled everything from a medical diagnosis to asking "At what age does your body start to meltdown?" I mean I once self-diagnosed a stomach ache as a ruptured appendix. Stay away from the Internet if you're a hypochonriac, kids.
Even worse, Hannah got a phone call from her editor wondering where her work was. Her ear issue (and let's be honest, her depression-induced procrastination) had stopped her from writing so much as a single word. Look, I'm not judging Hannah. My ill-advised Googling is only matched by my procrastination, so I could relate. When she panics because they have already cut her an advance ("It's hard for me to tell if I spent that check or a different check, so I'm gonna have to check") and goes into a tailspin because she has "a day to write a book" (not true, she just needed to turn in some pages) is when it all really turns to s**t.
It's a good thing Hannah didn't know what her friends were up to, because honestly, it would bum her out even more. While she was busy have an existential mid-life crisis, Marnie was getting busy with her ex Charlie (and it was pretty hot at that) and her ex Adam was getting busy with his new girlfriend Natalia, who was letting it be known that she doesn't like to be degraded during sex. Go figure. Apparently for the guys on Girls, no amount of horrifically embarassing rapping or borderline raping will stop the objects of their affection from allowing them back for more.
Shoshanna, on the other hand, was not having as good a time during the sex sequence. Clearly still wracked with guilt and ready to break up with Ray, the two were not in sync in (or out of) the bedroom. You know it's bad when someone asks you to "get out" of them. Of course, with the doomed Shoshanna and Ray, that has a double meaning. Shoshanna finally tells Ray that his lack of ambition is wearing on her and that it's a real issue he must fix.
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And so he did... or he attempted to anyway. Ray went to his boss (played by Colin Quinn, who I hope returns if only to hear him make more jokes about Shoshanna's bread-themed purses) and told him he was going to quit to go back to school to get a PhD in Latin Studies. His boss told him that's a ridiculous idea (it is) and offered him the position of manager at a new Grumpy's location in Brooklyn Heights. Ray wisely obliged and started putting the pieces in place to be the man Shoshanna needed him to be. (Side note: I love how Ray corrected his boss about Shoshanna's bag actually being a clutch. It was a nice added touch to show that Ray is not only listening to the motormouth Shosh, but that he actually does care).
But, sadly for Ray, it wouldn't be enough. Shoshanna was too exhausted by his "dark soul" and his hatred of everything from dinner to children's laughter to stay with him. She thought he needed therapy and that her love for him was only matched by her utter pity for him. She said he would need to change, and maybe when time would make her appreciate him, could they actually be together. Ray — who accused Shoshanna of having another man on the back burner — snapped that maybe she was the one who should change, took his Andy Kaufman with him, and slammed the door on her and possibly their relationship forever. I don't know who I felt worse for in this scene, but I do know that Zosia Mamet bursting into tears made me ache for Shoshanna and the pain of watching her first real love fall apart.
Things transpired a little bit better for Marnie and Charlie. During brunch Marnie talked wistfully about how they were back together, settled, much to the surprise of Charlie. In true Marnie fashion she whined ("Do you really not want to date me?") and stomped off (while literally folding her arms like a child). Only this time, she got her way. Charlie chased after her and the two confessed their lingering love towards one another. Now, I'm not Marnie fan (hell, I'm hardly even a Charlie fan) but when she told him she wants to have his babies and watch him die, I actually started to like her. That was quickly erased when, after having a genuine, heartfelt moment with him that she wasn't with him for his money. You almost make me miss Jessa, Marnie. Almost.
Speaking of, Hannah called Jessa in full meltdown mode. Not to check up on her really, but to scold her for just taking off and leaving her behind. While I agree with Hannah on that (I actually think Jessa is the most self-absorbed of the bunch, hell, even her voicemail message makes it loud and clear that she doesn't give a s**t about anyone but herself) her screeching into the phone that she has no friends was simply the cry of someone who needed someone to tell her she's great.
She does have friends and family that care for her (in fact, Marnie went to check on her and her father, who always has her back, just finally stood up for himself with her) she just was in a hole too deep to notice or care. What exactly has Marnie done to Hannah lately that would garner her whining that she's "anorexic"? And all poor Shoshanna was called was "f**king Shoshanna," but I'd venture to guess that girl would be over to hold her hand with one phone call.
Hell, it's bad when her weird neighbor Laird — the very same guy who helped finish your absolutely terrible homemade haircut (I admit, that disaster-before-your-eyes scene made me laugh almost as hard as the scene on Louie when he tried to fix his daughter's doll at Christmas) — tells you you're self-absorbed and that your "insides are rotten." He's not wrong, in a sense. While I don't think Hannah is, at the core, a bad person, she is a selfish one. (Even worse, she suggested she had to fight him off when they hooked up, when she's the one who went after him).
While anyone in their twenties can relate to the feeling she referred to — the idea that when you were a kid, your dad would clean up broken glass so you wouldn't get hurt, but as an adult, no one cares — is immediately counteracted by the feeling of: Hey, Hannah, you're a grown-up. You break a glass, you clean it up, that's the way it works. And until you start caring about other people's broken glass, or trying to make sure they don't get hurt, everyone will abandon you.
But the worst thing Hannah could have done, after coming up empty trying to bargain with her father or the vain hope that Jessa would actually pick up, was call Adam. Which is exactly what she does. Adam, who is already in the midst of his own scary meltdown, talks to her over video phone, sees the she needs "rescuing," and like something out of a Apatow romantic comedy, he runs to her rescue.
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The only problem with the sequence of a romantic reunion between Adam and Hannah (spliced in with a shot of a beaming Charlie and Marnie and Shoshanna, free of Ray, laughing and making out with "an adult male blond") is that these two haven't actually matured, if anything they've gotten worse, and the image of her being scooped up in his arms while swelling music plays isn't a sweet one, it's a scary one. These two need saving, but not from each other, so much as themselves.
I would have felt overjoyed if, instead, Hannah sat at her computer and actually wrote anything (she seemed to eke out one sentence about college friendships) or took her medication, but she backpedaled...right back to Adam. I don't see Adam as this romantic the show seems to want to frame him as, especially not after last week's horrific sex debacle with Natalia. I think Adam loves the idea of Hannah being the weaker one (see: his sexual preferences) and literally ran to the opportunity to be part of that power shift. Marnie, Shoshanna, and Hannah all technically got what they wanted at the end of the episodes, but there's something darker under the surface, something that Season 2 had been going for all along and something, hopefully, Season 3 and the risk-taking Dunham will get back to exploring.
[Photo credit: HBO]
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A kids’ movie without the cheeky jokes for adults is like a big juicy BLT without the B… or the T. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted may have a title that sounds like it was made up in a cartoon sequel laboratory but when it comes to serving up laughs just think of the film as a BLT with enough extra bacon to satisfy even the wildest of animals — or even a parent with a gaggle of tots in tow. Yes even with that whole "Afro Circus" nonsense.
It’s not often that we find exhaustively franchised films like the Madagascar set that still work after almost seven years. Despite being spun off into TV shows and Christmas specials in addition to its big screen adventures the series has not only maintained its momentum it has maintained the part we were pleasantly surprised by the first time around: great jokes.
In this third installment of the series – the trilogy-maker if you will – directing duo Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath add Conrad Vernon (director Monsters Vs. Aliens) to the helm as our trusty gang swings back into action. Alex the lion (Ben Stiller) Marty the zebra (Chris Rock) Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) are stuck in Africa after the hullaballoo of Madagascar 2 and they’ll do anything to get back to their beloved New York. Just a hop skip and a jump away in Monte Carlo the penguins are doing their usual greedy schtick but the zoo animals catch up with them just in time to catch the eye of the sinister animal control stickler Captain Dubois (Frances McDormand). And just like that the practically super human captain is chasing them through Monte Carlo and the rest of Europe in hopes of planting Alex’s perfectly coifed lion head on her wall of prized animals.
Luckily for pint-sized viewers Dubois’ terrifying presence is balanced out by her sheer inhuman strength uncanny guiles and Stretch Armstrong flexibility (ah the wonder of cartoons) as well as Alex’s escape plan: the New Yorkers run away with the European circus. While Dubois’ terrifying Doberman-like presence looms over the entire film a sense of levity (which is a word the kiddies might learn from Stiller’s eloquent lion) comes from the plan for salvation in which the circus animals and the zoo animals band together to revamp the circus and catch the eye of a big-time American agent. Sure the pacing throughout the first act is practically nonexistent running like a stampede through the jungle but by the time we're palling around under the big top the film finds its footing.
The visual splendor of the film (and man is there a champion size serving of it) the magnificent danger and suspense is enhanced to great effect by the addition of 3D technology – and not once is there a gratuitous beverage or desperate Crocodile Dundee knife waved in our faces to prove its worth. The caveat is that the soundtrack employs a certain infectious Katy Perry ditty at the height of the 3D spectacular so parents get ready to hear that on repeat until the leaves turn yellow.
But visual delights and adventurous zoo animals aside Madagascar 3’s real strength is in its script. With the addition of Noah Baumbach (Greenberg The Squid and the Whale) to the screenwriting team the script is infused with a heightened level of almost sarcastic gravitas – a welcome addition to the characteristically adult-friendly reference-heavy humor of the other Madagascar films. To bring the script to life Paramount enlisted three more than able actors: Vitaly the Siberian tiger (Bryan Cranston) Gia the Leopard (Jessica Chastain) and Stefano the Italian Sealion (Martin Short). With all three actors draped in European accents it might take viewers a minute to realize that the cantankerous tiger is one and the same as the man who plays an Albuquerque drug lord on Breaking Bad but that makes it that much sweeter to hear him utter slant-curse words like “Bolshevik” with his usual gusto.
Between the laughs the terror of McDormand’s Captain Dubois and the breathtaking virtual European tour the Zoosters’ accidental vacation is one worth taking. Madagascar 3 is by no means an insta-classic but it’s a perfectly suited for your Summer-at-the-movies oasis.
A special about comedian Colin Quinn's return to his hometown of Brooklyn, New York, in search of his comedic roots. Quinn finds himself confronted by unpleasant memories from his past, including a bizarre Irish wake for his Uncle Dermott, an unusual encounter with his "twin" brother, the Priest, and a press conference in which all the reporters turn out to be Quinn's ex-girlfriends.