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Millennium – The Pest House (Review)

This May and June, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the fifth season of The X-Files and the second season of Millennium.

Millennium is largely a show about the nature of evil.

It feels a little redundant to point that out more than halfway through the second of three seasons, but it is worth repeating. When Chris Carter created Millennium, he designed the show to explore the many faces of evil in a variety of ways. It could be argued that Millennium was largely spawned from episodes of The X-Files like Irresistible or Grotesque, stories fascinated by very human forms of evil that almost become supernatural. Carter and his writers played with that idea over the course of the first season, particularly in episodes like The Pilot and Lamentation.

A pointed commentary?

A pointed commentary?

However, Carter was not the guiding visionary for all of Millennium‘s run. He remained involved in the production of the show, but the day-to-day running of the series was handed over to Glen Morgan and James Wong, who immediately reinvented it from the ground up. One of the more interesting aspects of this transition is watching the differences in how the two creative teams approach various aspects of Millennium. In many ways, The Pest House would be read as an exploration and critique of Carter’s approach towards the concept of evil by Morgan and Wong.

Carter’s work seems to suggest that evil is an external and infectious force – a contagion or pathogen that can be passed from one person (or generation) to another. In contrast, Morgan and Wong seem to argue that evil must be rooted in a person, that it must come from inside rather than outside. The Pest House contrasts these two different visions of evil, finding Morgan and Wong playing with the recurring Ten Thirteen trope of evil as a transferable quantity that can be moved and reallocated. And The Pest House seems horrified by such a concept.

A bloody mess...

A bloody mess…

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Blood on Film: Violence and Morality…

I am always fascinated about discussions over violence in movies. Mostly because it’s one of those “hot button” issues which always comes up in some context or another and is typically portrayed as an argument with two extremes. This week, while promoting his new movie Faster, actor Billy Bob Thornton offered his own opinion of modern movie-making:

In our current state of affairs, especially in the entertainment business, we’re living in a time when we’re making — in my humble opinion — the worst movies in history.

They’re geared toward the video game-playing generation. And these video games, which I’m on my son about constantly, these games are people killing for fun, and I think traditionally in movies, there’s always been some kind of lesson in the violent movies.

In fairness, Thornton is a typically controversial figure (for example, recently alienating Canadian fans), but it’s an interesting idea to look at – the assumption that violence (and specifically how it is handled) can contribute to a movie’s quality (or lack thereof). Is he being just a little melodramatic?

Well, it is the second of December...

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Nazi-ploitation! Or How We Treat Nazi Germany in Modern Cinema…

I moaned last week about the loss of the two-dimensional evil Nazi. Brushed aside in a tide of political correctness or extreme sensitivity. I think it’s time to talk about what Hollywood has presented us with in its stead. I think it’s interesting to discuss the general trend in the presentation of the Third Reich that we’ve seen emerge in the past year or so.

Tom Cruise played a vision-impaired conflicted German during the Third Reich... Where's his Oscar?

Tom Cruise played a vision-impaired conflicted German during the Third Reich... Where's his Oscar?

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Going Nutz Over Nazis…

Ah, Nazis. The most typical of Hollywood villains. It seems that whenever you want the audience to cheer at what your morally ambiguous hero is up to, just stick his opponent in a Nazi uniform and you can guaruntee that the viewers will know which side they’re on. It used to be in the old days that simply putting a villain in a Nazi uniform was a regular past time for any big director. You didn’t need characterisation or complexity. If they’re German between 1941 and 1945, they’re a bad guy. Well, at least that used to be the way. In recent years it seems that we have accepted that things may be slightly more complex than those black and grey uniforms that they wore. There are many shades. So much so that the ‘thoughtful Nazi flick’ has pretty much become guarunteed Oscar bait. Given the minor furore which surrounded the release of Inglourious Basterds, is the time of the one-dimensional cardboard cutout passed into history? And has political correctness gone too far?

Don't make a song and dance about it...

Don't make a song and dance about it...

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