|FANTASY SERIESSEASON 3NETFLIXREVIEW|
The gritty world of “The Witcher” is unlike anything else currently on television, and series composers Sonya Belousova and Giona Ostinelli spent the last year using 64 instruments to bring the series' fantastical monsters and magic to life on Netflix. IndieWire is premiering “The Last Rose of Cintra,” one of seven original songs Belousova and Ostinelli produced for the new epic fantasy show, and recently spoke to the duo about the series' unique recording process and the eclectic instruments used to craft its distinctive soundscapes.
While the prior two songs IndieWire exclusively premiered, which included the main theme of series protagonist Geralt of Rivia, were fairly uplifting and spirited, “The Last Rose of Cintra” is a comparably slow, bleak affair that boasts a brooding atmosphere and lyrics that warn of impending war. It's an appropriately forbidding song for “The Witcher”: The series might feature plenty of outlandish elements, but it is also a decidedly dark, adult-oriented affair that doesn't shy away from violence and all manner of mature themes.
The show is based on the popular novels of the same name by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, which follow monster hunter Geralt as he becomes wrapped up in a continent-spanning plot of political manipulations and all manner of high-stakes action.
The duo used a variety of instruments, including virtuosic violin, hurdy gurdy, lute, erhu, breaths, dulcimers, psaltery, harmoniums, and a wide range of percussion and drums to create the series' music. The intent was to use old, even ancient, instruments to create a modernized sound. Of course, every track needed to conform to the series' overall mood and direction and in many cases that meant contorting the traditionally beautiful sounds instruments such as the xun to conjure more twisted noises, according to Ostinelli.
“We took a lot of Renaissance and medieval instruments and used them in a contemporary way,” Ostinelli said. “One instrument, the xun, came from China and has a beautiful warmth to it, but we added distortion to make it sound quite menacing.”
Belousova noted that sourcing some of the instruments, such as the hurdy-gurdy, proved particularly challenging. The hurdy-gurdy originates from medieval Europe and has to be handcrafted, and there are precious few American producers who can create the instrument. The hurdy-gurdy creator that “The Witcher” composers worked with had a yearlong wait list but were able to accommodate Belousova and Ostinelli, who received the instrument just a week before shooting started.
“The Witcher” was unlike any television show Belousova and Ostinelli previously worked on, and not just...
When “Killing Eve” began, its title’s threat, promise, or intimation however you want to read it felt immediate — as if in any episode, at any moment, intelligence officer Eve Polastri Sandra Oh could fall prey to the inventive assassin Villanelle Jodie Comer. But such immediacy inevitably mitigated; success demanded extending their story, and the plot twisted itself into knots so the cat and mouse could work together and two award-winning stars could share the screen. A forbidden romance became a dysfunctional relationship, and the enticement of inexplicable attraction turned into a confounding inability to explain why this cop and this killer are drawn to one another.
Season 3 wisely stops trying to explain it, but it also simplifies the story to an all-too-comfortable degree. “Killing Eve” has always been a procedural at heart, first as Eve studied Villanelle’s murders to get closer to her, and then as they teamed up to track down a new, unknown killer. As much as its serialized aspects made the BBC America drama out to be a new kind of crime show, the bones of a procedural have kept it alive. Serialization got everything twisted up, and procedure is the work of detangling. What’s left may not provide the anything-can-happen rush of early episodes, but for those happy just to spend a little time with their favorite ex-agent and ultra-assassin, “Killing Eve” Season 3 should suffice. For those looking to be wowed week-in and week-out, well, it’s just not that kind of show anymore.
To say much of anything about the first five episodes would send us into spoiler territory, so here’s what can safely be said about where Season 3 stands. For one, Eve is alive. As if there was any doubt following the would-be Season 2 cliffhanger, the bullet that struck Oh’s lead detective passed through her body safely enough to keep her breathing. Now, the former MI5 and MI6 operative is tearing up chicken gizzards and pinching together dumplings in the back of a restaurant, hiding from her former life as much as her former love.
Villanelle Comer, meanwhile, is looking to be promoted. Her handler, Dasha played by new cast member Dame Harriet Walter, helps facilitate a management training period, but anyone should be able to imagine why a solo artist like Villanelle might struggle caring for others. Still, Season 3 is another Villanelle-forward entry. Perhaps new showrunner Suzanne Heathcote recognized the enticing complexity of a remorseless murderer, or simply how brightly Comer shined with the added spotlight last year. No matter the reason, Eve isn’t just kept in the back of the restaurant — she’s taken a backseat in the show. Villanelle even gets a standalone episode at the season’s midway point, right after Eve’s most substantial moment yet.
SPOILER ALERT: If you are among the few who haven’t actually watched Netflix’s Tiger King docuseries, this review contains a lot of details about what goes down in the sad big cat saga.
With Netflix poised in the coming days to cash in and crank the base up a notch with more Tiger King, it's time to come out and say it: I hate the Red State porn that is the crash and burn of Joe Exotic
The initial seven episodes of this septic and shallow patchwork of trademark infringement, sex, guns, labor exploitation, song, drugs, mullets, betrayal, animal activism, revenge, and a lot of big cats may be much binged over these weeks of coronavirus lockdown, but that doesn't mean it's actually worth watching.
Now, I get it, I sound like I'm just a dour critic who hates anything that isn't prestige premium cable or aspirational. C'mon man, you want to say, Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness is just so unbelievable, I can't look away.
I respectfully disagree, and in fact, propose Tiger King isn't just bad, but dangerous in a divided America persistently looking to reduce the other side to caricature.
In a presently ailing nation where TV is more voluminous and vital than ever, the truth is the March 20 launched Tiger King is a clawed white trash misery index. Gawking at some clearly fragile and damaged people like would-be reality TV star Exotic and their below the Mason-Dixon line antics, the series subsequently provides a cultural circus for those smug bicoastals under stay at home orders and screaming to rise up in moral superiority.
Essentially, the tale of big cat collector, self-styled Oklahoma zoo proprietor and 2016 Presidential candidate Exotic AKA Joseph Maldonado-Passage and his ultimately unsuccessful attempt to have rival Carole Baskin knocked off by a hitman hired for $3,000, Tiger King is in that context more a zero-sum game, literally and figuratively, than hitting the zeitgeist.
Obviously, Netflix are pretty damn good at gauging and dragging the public mood over the years, as the likes of the then phenomenon of 2015's Making A Murderer or 2018’s Wild Wild Country prove. Yet, for all the attention it has drawn, this unfocused murder for hire exploration of sorts emerges as a bastard child of Cops, a million Dateline segments from the 1990s and Fox’s short-lived Murder in Small Town X reality show from 2001.
Not exactly the prestige product that the home of Roma, The Irishman and American Factory likes to brag about at award shows. Then again, with the knowledge that the Romans sold out the Colosseum every night feeding Christians to the lions, the bottom line based House of Hastings surely loves the subscription sign up that the currently incarcerated Maldonado-Passage and the accompanying motley gaggle of...