All posts by Carolina

Lilyhammer

Titel-lilyhammer01

 

Lilyhammer was an Norwegian-American television series, starring Steven Van Zandt, about a New York gangster, Frank “The Fixer” Tagliano, trying to start a new life in isolated Lillehammer, Norway.

Frank is placed in the Federal Witness Protection Program after testifying in a trial against Aldo Delucci (Thomas Grube), the new Mafia head who had ordered a hit on him after succeeding his recently deceased brother, Sally Boy Delucci… It’s all very serious and all very mafia but the Scandinavian rawness mixed with the humane struggle that the characters face are truly fascinating to watch.

Yes, the series is rather unique indeed…

Frank requests that he would be relocated to Lillehammer, where he believes no one will look for him and from then on calls himself Jonny. He chooses this location as he once watched the winter Olympics as a child and the impressions of great achievements and peaceful snowy landscapes never left his memory. And so it begins…

Many of us know Steven Van Zandt still from his work with the Sopranos, where he played Silvio Dante, the grumpy mafia concierge, a role not unlike this one.

Noteworthy here, is that his wife in the Sopranos is also his wife in real life. Maureen Van Zandt. They married in New York City on December 31, 1982. Bruce Springsteen was the best man at their wedding. This is not just a random fact but rooted in Van Zandt’s past, as he grew up in the New Jersey music scene and was a pivotal member of Bruce Springsteen’s band E-Street. He played the guitar and accompanied the band on numerous tours. Later on in life he became a producer and co-wrote various songs with Springsteen. To mention just one of their collaboration; Van Zandt produced the bands’ most-acclaimed records Hearts of Stone. By that time he has became a key contributor to the Jersey Shore sound.

Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band in concert, Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - 15 Jun 2013

His musical inclination came in handy as he set to work on the Lylihammer, as he not only plays the lead role but also coproduced, co-written AND as you can imagine, got heavily involved in the writing of the music for the show. It is therefore needless to mention, how marvellous the musical underpinnings are. Truly pleasurable! Van Zandt mentioned that most of the music for the show has been written in his own studio at the Jersey Shore, where also most of the music for E-Street was written.

But why stop at that, dear sheep…?! Springsteen, makes an actual guest appearance in the show! He plays Giuseppe ‘The Undertaker’ Tagliano, the older brother of Van Zandt’s character, in the season three finale. Nice touch, I must say! springsteen_guest app

As mentioned before, the show is set in Norway and portrays a man who lives and breaths Jersey shore and has little Italy running through his veins. But what is somewhat surprising, he is not fighting his destiny of being away from home and interjects himself mercilessly into his new environment. Much to the bewilderment of his new countrymen. This is absolutely hilarious and well, at times, a bit cringe worthy as it always is when different cultures clash and misunderstandings unfold. The show builds on these cultural integration mishaps brilliantly and very charmingly.

Having had to leave NYC and his old life he is adapting to a certain degree to his new culture but still remaining true to who he is. Hence, building his brand new and shiny mafia empire from scratch. He is doing so in cleverly recruiting people according to character traits and skill set – not according to birth right as it is traditionally done. An interesting notion and this meritocracy system seems to work for Jonny – how very Scandinavian of him. He rewards loyalty, creates a sticky family like bond and in the process offers hope and a dash of the the unmistakable New York glamour in little Lillehammer. He opens a booming night club in the middle of town, which in turn creates employment and Jonny takes on the roles of benevolent advisor for the town people and in true god father style.

General

Crucially, he does not cross that fine line of going “that bit too far”. For example, he does not sell drugs and he has a sense of some kind of right and wrong (although of course there is a lot of beating people up and the occasional killing…) but he is a very likeable guy overall. Furthermore, the show does take it upon itself to take the mickey out of the bureaucracy in general and how ludicrous certain procedures seem to be. Our main character takes on many government officials, from town clerk to kindergarten pedagogue, all with the same relentless understanding that nothing stands in his way regardless – no matter of the obstacle being in business or of a private nature. It’s truly great to watch and the obscurity and the disproportion of force he uses to get what he wants, hilarious.

red-arrow-int-lilyhammer

The show does not, in true Netflix manner, take into account that the audience may not speak Norwegian. After all, Jonny doesn’t speak it either in the beginning. So we understand exactly what he does. Very little. As the show goes on we are given more and more subtitles to show that Jonny has learned bits and bobs of the local language. What a brave thing to do. And again, it works. Lilyhammer is full of oddities like this. It is strange and quirky and full-on but considering that it is combining little Italy and Scandinavian culture what would you expect.

Sheeptastic.

Lilyhammer was promoted as Netflix’s first “exclusive content offer”. The series has been sold to over 130 countries worldwide and celebrated a great success. Nevertheless, in July 2015 the series had been cancelled by Netflix. NRK (Norwegian TV network), who owns the rights to the series, remained optimistic however, that a deal could be made with another company for a fourth series.

We here at the sheep think it is a great series. Very unusual, well put together and well worth a watch. Especially the intercultural clashes and the unapologetic honesty in that portrayal are very special. Thank you Netflix. Hopefully it will get picked up and redeveloped.

It is definitely unique.

Lilyhammer-season-3

The Knick – dark and intriguing

The show plays around the 1900s in New York City and centres around a hospital called the Knickerbocker. Clive Owen stars in the main role of the ill-tempered surgeon Dr. John Thackery, who revolutionises surgery on the forefront of science.

The series is brilliantly filmed, visually stunning and is tied in with highly unusual music. One cannot help but feeling emotionally exposed and vulnerable at times when watching. It touches on racial issues, racism and sexism of the era, which seem uncannily contemporary at times, and deals with drug abuse and class dived. Its’ tone is dark and moody and does not leave much room for romance and comfort. Certainly not a light watch.

All hospitals of the time have moved uptown only the Knickerbocker has stayed behind caring for the poor, struggling to keep the doors open in tough financial times while simultaneously, trying to compete at the scientific front. The Knicks’ leading surgeon Dr. Thackery (Clive Owen) is committed to the art of surgical science but is also tragically entangled in a dark web of drug addiction, which forces the storyline to erupt as the city’s opium and cocaine supplies run dry. (During those times cocaine was freely available in pharmacies, prescription free and widely used in medical procedures.)

Although there is to say that the series could have done more with the character of Dr. Thackery who basically is a 1900’s version of Dr. House, Clive Owen does play his character brilliantly. Especially as the season comes to conclusion his talent becomes intensely apparent.

Bono’s daughter (Eve Hewson) gives an excellent performance in the role of nurse Lucy Elkins, Dr. Thackery’s dewy eyed love interest. Her presence adds substance to the show and the relationship with the doctor is subtle and seems precious in a world where tenderness is far and few between.

Lucy Elkins

 

The Knick is a series that does not ease you into things. You need a good stomach to endure all the blood, racism and sexism that are constantly on display. But this in combination with the astounding artistic visual flavour makes it very unique and worth a watch.

What also makes a compelling argument for giving the Knick a try is its focus on two men’s relationship: Owen’s Dr. Thackery, and the African-American Andre Holland’s Dr. Algernon Edward. The latter comes to the Knick at the behest of Cornelia Robertson played by Juliet Rylance, the daughter of a progressive shipping magnate. The Robertson’s want Edwards to succeed and as the main donors of the hospital funds have the last word. This creates tension in the Knick and as the story unfolds and social unrests in New York take their toll.

Thack and Al

The director, Steven Soderbergh who is responsible for movies such as “Oceans 11” and “Traffic” has once famously announced that he would retire after the end of shooting in 2012 of his hitherto last film “Behind the Candelabra” but later down played the comments and said that a sabbatical from filming would be more realist. His words would ring true as he reemerged with the Knick on the creative scene. He takes fantastic close up shots, let’s his actors speak volumes without words, plays with light and shade and has created an art work which no doubt is worth contemplating. However, it is dark and a bit depressing, it is thought provoking and rather gory at times.

Nevertheless, it has been already renews for a second season and it remains to be seen if all that passion will translate to the audience.

The Sheep will stay tuned.

Game of Thrones – Did you know?

What is there to say…no introduction needed, no comments have to be added, the words: Winter is coming & You don’t know nothing, Jon Snow stand synonymously for great entertainment where no one is save from being killed off!

Just in time for the NEW SEASON’S kick off (and in preparation for “Winter”) The Dreaming Sheep has compiled a list of some rather interesting little snippets.

Here we go:

  • Alfie Allon (Theon Greyjoy) is the brother of pop singer Lily Allen.

Alfie Allon

And was engaged to Jaime Winstone, who’s the daughter of Ray Winstone (they broke off their engagement after two years though).

article-1263338-08F985EF000005DC-66_468x555

 

 

  • Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark) adopted Lady

The Northern Inuit Dog who played her Dire Wolf on the show called Zunni in real life and lives with her and her family.

18xhzhpeo3s2sjpg

The dire wolfs went of course extinct about 10’000 years ago. They were about the size of a grey wolf but were much heavier in built. Now, the dire wolf project is attempting to resurrect the species from their grave. Well, almost. The breed is actually called American Alsatians. The dogs have little genetic material in common with the real dire wolf and are not as big, which is just as well as the real deal was extremely big and heavy and may not be suited to snuggle up with you on the sofa to watch GoT. They look rather similar though and the breeding association claims that they are much calmer in temperament than many other wolfhound species. With USD3’000 a puppy the association is cashing in on the hype and you might be better off training your poodle to look grim and fierce.

American Alsatians

 

 

  • GoT is the most pirated show in the world

According to the file sharing website TorrentFreak, more people are illegally downloading GoT than any other show in the world.

 

  • Westeros has quite the wine list

Even after the massacre at the red wedding (which led to Joffrey’s death by poison) there is a culinary guide available to a GoT inspired Menu including wine suggestions. The Inn at the Crossroads features the official GoT cookbook “a Feast of Ice and Fire” detailing meals such as “Dothraki goat roasted with sweetgrass, firepods, and honey” and “Tywin’s Rack of Venison” (“Theon’s sausage” is not on the list, luckily). The menu even includes a vegetarian section. Meanwhile, wine blog Vinepair have created a fictional guide to the wines of Westeros. (The blog recommends the “Tempranillo-driven dry red blends” of Dorne, and the “underappreciated Cabernets” of House Lannister.)

 

  • Jojen Reed (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) is the kid from Love, Actually.

enhanced-buzz-30342-1368632206-2

 

 

  • Viserys Targaryen (Harry Lloyd) is the great-great-great grandson of Charles Dickens.

enhanced-buzz-29482-1368541303-28

 

 

  • Peter Dinklage is vegetarian

Any time you see him eating “meat” on screen, it’s actually tofu.

enhanced-buzz-22454-1368632837-9

 

 

 

  • Jon Snow (Kit Harington) is dating Ygritte (Rose Leslie) in real life.

Kit-Harington-dating-history-and-girlfriend-rumors-rose-leslie

 

 

  • Mother of Dragons? How about Mother of Sea Slugs?!

In 2013, researchers discovered a new species of sea slugs off the coast of Brazil. The marine biologists who discovered the species, were struck by the similarity of the creatures’ skin colour and it’s resemblance of the hair and skin tones to the famous mother of dragons; Daenerys Targaryen, otherwise known as ‘the Khaleesi’. In honour of the warrior queen, (Emilia Clarke), the team decided to name their new find Tritonia khaleesi. The researchers have stated that the sea slug has a silver strand on its back, which “is especially reminiscent of the Khaleesi’s hair”… that is truly SciFi for Science. 🙂

Slugs