Monday, October 10, 2011

More Must See (and should probably avoid) TV

I've mentioned before that I don't watch a lot of television. I didn't watch any at all really until about a month ago when I got hooked on Arrested Development and some of the documentaries that Netflix offers through their streaming service.

Since then I've seen a couple more documentaries that I highly recommend:


Exit Through the Gift Shop made my list because it's about graffiti which I love, and Banksy who fascinates me. Actually the movie isn't really about graffiti but about this average French guy who literally stumbles into the world of street art and ends up becoming an artist himself even though he has no discernible talent whatsoever. All he had was the endorsement of a couple of well known artists and that's all it took for people to get sucked in. The guy has made a fortune by selling other people's art that his staff (not even he himself) has Photoshopped.

This film, like Catfish, was suspected of being a mockumentary but I think this one is for real.  It's really incredible to watch the phenomenon unfold around this hilariously clueless main character. You gotta see it.


My reaction to Koran by Heart wasn't what I thought it would be, but I'm not really sure what I thought it would be. It's about these Muslim children who go to Cairo to compete in a Koran reciting contest. The Koran is 600 pages long and is being memorized, in its entirety, by children as young as 7 years old. Children who don't even speak Arabic. Children who can't even read and write in their own language.

I think I expected to feel sorry for the kids, and I did to some degree. I thought maybe some of them were being pushed to enter the contest and really didn't want to be there. I thought the judges would be harsh on them when they made mistakes. I thought they would be a disappointment to their families if they lost. I thought all kinds of wrong stuff as Americans often do when it comes to other cultures and religions that we're not familiar with.

The kids worked hard to memorize the verses and they not only had to memorize them but also pronounce them correctly which is something that's not easily learned. Some of those who didn't win were looking forward to trying harder so they could do better next year. The judges were compassionate and understanding and gave the kids every opportunity to do their best. They were sympathetic toward one little boy who made so many mistakes during his recitation that he cried through the whole thing. The judges were moved, as was I, at another boy who recited with such heart and emotion that you could tell the kid was worshiping, not just reciting.

I did feel bad that some of the kids had been learning nothing but the Koran pretty much since birth so they lacked even basic reading and writing skills in their own language. I was surprised that they allowed girls to participate and the one the show focused on was just precious. Her situation was a little sad to me because both of her parents wanted her to be educated but her mother wanted her to have a career as well. Her father wanted her to have a college degree but made it clear that she was not allowed to work, she had to be a housewife.

This is a good one, I'd watch it again.


I like origami but I didn't think I liked it well enough to watch a whole documentary about it. The only reason I watched Between the Folds was because the Netflix description called it "riveting". That just cracked me up. I couldn't imagine origami being riveting so I had to see for myself just how riveting folding paper can be.

Omigod, it was riveting! I've seen some pretty cool origami and really thought there was no way they would be able to impress me. Boy was I wrong! Check out this short video by Chris K. Palmer, one of the featured artists:


Flower Tower 8-Fold (Uncut Silk Square) from Chris K. Palmer on Vimeo.

I also never realized the link between origami and math. There is a professor at MIT, who is also somewhat of a genius, who does mathematical origami. Pretty much everything he said was over my head but it was interesting anyway.

I don't even think you'd have to be an origami fan to like this movie.

Taylor is a Grey's Anatomy fan and just recently finished watching all 148 episodes in the Netflix catalog. I didn't watch all of them with her but I saw enough of them to get sucked into the story. When that was over I wanted to watch another series of some sort and The Tudors kept coming up as a recommended choice for me.

I'd never heard of the show but from the description I could see it was loosely based on the reign of King Henry VIII. I confess that I don't know a lot about Henry VIII other than he beheaded some wives and apparently ate turkey legs. I thought it might be fun to watch because of the period costumes and I might learn a little history in the process.

When I watched the first episode I noticed it was a Showtime series which explains why I hadn't heard of it. We only have basic cable and haven't had any of the movie channels for about 10 years.

Now I remember why we don't have those movie channels. O. MY. GOSH. It's all sex all the time. I'm talking graphic, disturbingly realistic sex scenes. And a lot of them. I realize the show is a fictional account of historical events but if it's to be believed everyone in 16th century England was doin' the deed all the time with whoever was available.

So did I instantly look away and immediately stop watching such an offensive program? Um, well, not exactly. I really could do without all the panting and moaning sex scenes as well as the nudity for no apparent reason. But I love all the costumes and some of the character portrayals are really not bad. Sam Neill played such a good Wolsey that I wanted to kill him myself. And the actress who plays Anne Boleyn is doing so well that I can hardly wait for her to lose her head. I have no idea if Catherine of Aragon was really as classy and gracious as the show portrays but that actress has done a fine job too.

And between those times when the king is busy exercising his conjugal rights with whichever servant is handy, I am managing to learn a little history which I later Google to make sure it's accurate. For instance, I'd never heard of Cardinal Wolsey before and now I know about him. I didn't realize that Catherine of Aragon was the daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain who funded Columbus's trip to the New World. I also didn't know that Henry VIII played such a huge part in the reformation of the church. I didn't know why Anne Boleyn got her head cut off but now I do. She didn't give the king the one thing he wanted: a son. Plus she was a manipulative little thing, she had it coming. 

This is not really a show that I would recommend unless you can overlook the gratuitous sex...or you're into that sort of thing. I can overlook it since I watch it on my computer where it's easy to skip those scenes that make me blush. Of course now I'm all hooked on the story so I couldn't look away if I wanted to. Anne just had her first miscarriage and I know she gets beheaded after a couple more but I thought Henry was supposed to have already met Jane Seymour at this point but she hasn't been mentioned yet. I'm compelled to keep watching just to check it for historical accuracy. No other reason. Really.

8 comments:

Shasta @ intheoldroad said...

I like 'The Tudors' too! I'm a fan of Jonathan Rhys Meyers...he was in the movie, 'August Rush'. Its good too. I loved learning about King Henry VIII in school and enjoyed seeing it played out on screen. The costumes and settings are great. I agree with you on the sex scenes though. I guess they had to add alot of those for ratings, lol. Thanks for the recommendation on the other shows. I'm always looking for new ones to watch.

Shannon Green said...

I loved August Rush too and Jonathan Rhys Meyers isn't too terribly awful to look at :) Neither is that guy who plays the Duke of Suffolk. He's just plain pretty.

Anonymous said...

Kinda sounds like the guys who say they read Playboy for the "articles".

Shannon Green said...

You mean they don't??!!

Maria Aimen said...

I like the Tudors too, I was sad when it ended.

My reason for commenting, though, is that I am a Muslim, and although I haven't seen the movie you are referring to, I just wanted to say that you shouldn't believe everything that you hear on TV or read on the net or newspapers. I'm sure any other American (which I am, by the way), would also be cautious about watching this movie, and feel bad for the kids, but don't. A lot of kids want to learn the Koran, and the ones that do not at that age end up regretting it when they get older. Yes there are crazy people that who try and push their kids to excel in these types of things, but its not just Muslims, there are "Tiger moms" for the Chinese, and people who are always pushing their kids to work harder at extensive spelling bee's and things of that nature as well. I just wish people would start understanding that there are good and bad people everywhere, and just because there are some bad people, doesn't make us bad as a whole. Please try and understand this. Islam really and truly is a religion of peace, and just as people watch in disgust at suicide bombers and killers, we as Muslims watch in even more disgust and horror because they are doing horrible things, things that we are not even supposed to do, and using Gods name (YES I say God, because God and Allah are one and the same...our Lords are the same..they are one) and they are using the excuse that "we are Muslim", but in fact, they are not. Muslims are not supposed to do bad things, they are supposed to be honorable, commendable and loving to one another. And there are many, many like that. I know that you, or someone reading this right now may find this hard to believe, but if anything, please remember that some bad people are not how the whole of the people is. Islam is beautiful, truly a pure religion, and values much of the same as the Jews and the Christians.

Maria Aimen said...

I like the Tudors too, I was sad when it ended.

My reason for commenting, though, is that I am a Muslim, and although I haven't seen the movie you are referring to, I just wanted to say that you shouldn't believe everything that you hear on TV or read on the net or newspapers. I'm sure any other American (which I am, by the way), would also be cautious about watching this movie, and feel bad for the kids, but don't. A lot of kids want to learn the Koran, and the ones that do not at that age end up regretting it when they get older. Yes there are crazy people that who try and push their kids to excel in these types of things, but its not just Muslims, there are "Tiger moms" for the Chinese, and people who are always pushing their kids to work harder at extensive spelling bee's and things of that nature as well. I just wish people would start understanding that there are good and bad people everywhere, and just because there are some bad people, doesn't make us bad as a whole. Please try and understand this. Islam really and truly is a religion of peace, and just as people watch in disgust at suicide bombers and killers, we as Muslims watch in even more disgust and horror because they are doing horrible things, things that we are not even supposed to do, and using Gods name (YES I say God, because God and Allah are one and the same...our Lords are the same..they are one) and they are using the excuse that "we are Muslim", but in fact, they are not. Muslims are not supposed to do bad things, they are supposed to be honorable, commendable and loving to one another. And there are many, many like that. I know that you, or someone reading this right now may find this hard to believe, but if anything, please remember that some bad people are not how the whole of the people is. Islam is beautiful, truly a pure religion, and values much of the same as the Jews and the Christians.

Sorry for the super long comment, I just wanted to get that out there. Thank you

Shannon Green said...

Maria, I think you're preaching to the choir. :) I don't think I said anything critical about Muslims in general. If I did, it was not my intention because I certainly don't feel that way.

I did make a couple of judgmental comments about the parents who denied their children a basic education in favor of memorizing the Koran but that has nothing to do with their being Muslim. I would feel the same way about a parent who taught their child to memorize the Bible but not to read and write. In my opinion that does a disservice to the child.

I totally agree with you that it's a Tiger Mom (or Tiger Dad) problem, not a religious one. As I said in my post, some of the children were looking forward to competing next year. They obviously wanted to be there and they wanted to do well.

Every religion, Christianity included, has their misguided radicals who do stupid things. Forming an opinion about a religion or culture based on the actions of those radicals is wrong. I completely agree with you.

If I've said anything that offends you or that casts a negative light on Islam, I truly apologize. It was not what I intended. I thank you for your comment and I hope that you'll visit again!

Maria Aimen said...

Hi Shannon! Thanks for the reply, I kind of didn't expect it, but I'm happy you did :) I just wanted to express some of my thoughts because it always seems like people are pin pointing to Muslims all the time like the guy on yahoo today who was talking about how if any person is a devout Muslim cannot also be an American. By the way, I was born and raised in American and am also a Texan (as is the guy in the vid). Its people like that who are so ignorant that really irk me! Thanks again for your comment, it means a lot! :)

Heres the vid though, if you haven't seen it: http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/lookout/ad-gun-training-bars-muslims-obama-voters-153954962.html