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Posts Tagged ‘caged’

Sundance Channel’s new six-episode drama last year had my attention when, during the trailers, I heard the words “from the producers of Breaking Bad,” and “How does it feel to be free but not exonerated?”  My ears were sufficiently pricked.

Starting intentionally slowly-paced, the show gives you time to warm up to it, get to know it and its characters well.  You come to love or loath them all quite intensely by the time the end of episode five comes and leaves you gasping.  The first time I watched the show, I’d recorded them on the DVR and was watching while I edited; I rarely watch TV without editing.  I was enjoying myself the whole time, but at the end of episode five, I literally stopped breathing for a few seconds.   And I was so glad I could immediately launch myself into episode six.  It was compelling enough for me to set my editing completely aside, and I wept through almost the entire second half of the last episode.  To say it hooked me would be a dramatic understatement.

Image copyright of Sundance Channel.

Images copyright by Sundance Channel.

I kept those beautiful, perfect six episodes on the DVR for a long time.  In fact, I recall only feeling comfortable deleting them when I knew that the season would be released on DVD soon.  I was compelled to go back and watch them over and over again.  Like the very, very best story-telling, there is enough for you to grab onto the first time through, but it has so many layers and levels, you pick up new details and nuances each time you experience it again.  And good heavens, how ballsy is Ray McKinnon, the show’s creator, for waiting until the very last moments of episode five to sink that hook into your mouth?

Rectify follows the story of Daniel Holden, a man who has spent the last 19 years of his life on death row for the brutal rape and murder of his highschool girlfriend.  New DNA evidence has emerged to show that Daniel at the very least could not have been the sole perpetrator, and possibly wasn’t involved in the murder at all, so he is released from prison but his name is not truly cleared.  Back home in the imaginary small town of Paulie, Georgia, everyone has an opinion on Daniel’s guilt or innocence.  The town has been steeped in this murder for the past two decades and everyone is prepared to fight for what they believe is the truth.  Is Daniel truly guilty or innocent?  The show bravely decides to not supply the viewer with the answer outright, but leaves you with enough breadcrumbs to follow if you wish.

Image copyright of Sundance Channel.

Images copyright by Sundance Channel.

Rectify is perfectly cast.  I was new to Aden Young, but his strikingly soulful eyes and body language say so much for him without needing words.  Daniel was always shy and not much of a talker and spending 19 years away from society hasn’t helped that any.  To those who believe he’s guilty, his awkwardness is another nail in the coffin.  To those who believe he’s innocent, anybody would be a little awkward in his situation.  One of the most brilliant bits of the show is that through some very clever plot points, Daniel himself does not know whether he’s guilty or innocent.  The waters are murky for everyone.

I have to say, I love Daniel, in a way which almost rivals my love for Richard Harrow.  There’s something similar about both of their characters too; by no means are they interchangeable, but the Venn diagrams of their personalities overlap in some significant ways.  They both have an innocence, a sweetness and purity about them, despite some of the bad thing we know (or suspect) they’ve done.  I can strongly identify with both of them for their shyness, their introversion, their outsider-ness.  But while they both seem to have hearts shining bright with solid gold, we know there’s deep pain within them both, and we’ve witnessed them doing some bad things.  Often, I would venture, for good reasons, or at least what their character believed was a good reason, but they are not fresh, untrampled flowers of purity.  I think that dichotomy is what makes them such fascinating characters.

Image copyright of Sundance Channel.

Images copyright by Sundance Channel.

There is a religious undercurrent to almost everything in the show, and if you were raised in a Christian house like I was, you’ll pick up on them.  Ray McKinnon deftly uses these subtle metaphors and allusions to underscore various points, sometimes answering your question for you, adding extra layers of meaning, or purposely confusing things even more.  Kerwin’s declaration to Daniel that he knows Daniel is innocent “Because I know you.  Because I know you.  Because I know you,” brings to mind Peter’s thrice-over betrayal of Jesus, and subsequent thrice affirmation of his love and devotion.  Even the fact that the show takes place in exactly six shows, over six days; this brings to mind “on the sixth day, God created man.”  The story is ultimately about Daniel’s new life, his rebirth into society, so the metaphor makes perfect sense.

The clarity over what’s real and what is not is always in question and only gets murkier as the season progresses.  The Goat Man, played by W. Earl Brown, is a perfect example of both those points.  Does he represent God, wrestling with Daniel  in the wilderness, or Satan tempting Jesus in the desert?  There is no ivy on the stature the Goat Man shows to Daniel, but there is the next day when he visits it with his sister Amantha.  Was the Goat Man real or not?  If he isn’t, where did that big wad of cash Daniel has come from?  God, Satan, real, not real… I could believe that the Goat Man is all these things at once.

Image copyright of Sundance Channel.

Images copyright by Sundance Channel.

The end of the last episode by no means wraps things up tidily, but was incredibly satisfying nonetheless.  I was ecstatic when I heard that Rectify had been picked up for a second season, this time being given an entire 10 episodes to mesmerize us and fuck with our heads.  Will we find out the truth behind the murder Daniel was convicted of next season?  I hope so.  And I have my own strong theories about what will be brought to light.  Rectify, I will be glad to see you back.

Longing For Better Days - a simple self portrait which seemed appropriate for the immense solitude Daniel has endured.

Longing For Better Days – a simple self portrait which seemed appropriate for the immense solitude Daniel has endured.

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I want to give you all a few quick updates here on the blog.  First though, I’d like to introduce my first Blackfish-inspired photo today, titled “Concrete Cell.”  It is the first in a series, but I was too excited to share this photo to wait until they’re all finished.
The often-cited comparison of SeaWorld’s whale enclosures being the equivalent size of a bathtub to you or me not only deeply saddened me, but also sparked the idea for this photo.  Imagine it.  When you’re not forced to perform, you live in this sad, colorless, sterile world of concrete and shadows.  The intelligence of these whales makes their living conditions even crueler and more heartless; sentient beings shoved into tiny compartments where they die a little more every day.
If you also agree that SeaWorld’s practices are abusive and need to be changed, please see my open letter to Jack Hanna regarding his defense of SeaWorld.  You can read more about the issues there and take action with petitions to sign!Thank you to Katie Johnson for her beautiful underwater modeling in this!  Underwater modeling is a skill unto itself and quite tricky, but she makes it look effortless.
Concrete Cell

Concrete Cell

Secondly, there has been a lot of response to my post about suicide and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis.  This is one of those topics that is very, very real, but rarely discussed in public.  Or even in private, for that matter.  There is always a correlation between any kind of chronic illness and suicide, because there is only so much a person can endure.  This post has been shared quite a bit already, but I would love for it to reach even more people, and hopefully find its way to the original person who found my blog by searching “I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and I want to give up.”  I understand that feeling.  My blog will rage in its way against cruelties, abuses and atrocities, but its arms are always open to the ill, the hopeless, the voiceless and those in need.  This is not a place of judgement.  This is a place of love and acceptance.

Lastly, my 2014 calendars are now available!  Printed on thick, gorgeous paper, each month features a popular new image from my most recent works, including photographs from my DreamWorld, actor portraits series and my CFS/fibro/ME series Enchanted Sleep.  So add a dose of magic to your day…or the day of someone you love…with a collectable calendar!

2014 Calendar

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