Tag Archives: United States

America’s Poor Kids…BBC2

6 Mar

Often when you think of poor children you often think of the grinding poverty you see in the third world or of images from the great depression. Poverty so visual it is difficult to be anything but that, but in thinking that way may mean you could easily miss the extent to which poverty still exists in the first world.

America’s Poor kids on BBC2 attempted to strip back the veneer of first world prosperity and to reveal a different world, a world of need, deprivation and depression through the eyes of the children trapped in situation not of their making

There was Kaylie in Iowa bouncing from a house her family could not afford to a motel, and back again to  another house they could barely afford. Jonny stuck with his family in a Salvation Army shelter with ever constant threat of write-up’s  constantly hanging over them. Write-ups given for infractions for any one of the myriad of shelter’s rules, go across a certain number and you’re evicted. Then there is little Sera stuck in a shelter in Tenderloin San Francisco, Tenderloin it turns out is anything but tender.

The story’s were all told by kids who were all remarkably articulate. They came across as  coping as best as they can in a situation not of their making but in their interviews you could see some traces of resentment in what they perceive as their parents failure, certainly in the case of Kaylie and Sera. Both were in single parent household and touched upon their Moms not having made the right choices.

The real emotionally gripping aspect was when the children talked about the future, they still had dreams but the experience and the reality of the life they had lived had begun to encroach into those dreams.

They talked about breaking the cycle of poverty they find themselves in, of getting an education and getting jobs but they also talked about what happens to people who don’t escape poverty. It was in that you got the feeling they could see one possible and arguably an increasingly probable vision of their own future, a future slowly being shaped by their being  trapped in a vortex of dwindling choices on education, housing and healthcare that poverty in America brings.

 

More 4′s best kept secret….Southland

9 Dec

Some of the greatest TV shows over the ages have been Police Dramas  ”Cop Shows”.  The shows strength come for the vast artistic landscape available to them spanning gritty urban decay to the rarefied procedural depths of the court system, out of which an array of award winning shows have been brought to our TV.

From the critically acclaimed “The Wire” and the gritty ambiguity of “The Shield”, through to home grown favorites like the ground breaking 70′s series “The Sweeney”, Lynda La Plante’s phenomenal “Prime Suspect” and more recently the “Life on Mars”.

This pipeline of great shows is not showing any sign of drying up if the latest export from the USA to his our screens, Southland, is anything to go by.

Southland is in its fourth season on More 4, and has been worth every single second of the time I have spent watching it. In the USA it has had a somewhat troubled production history. Originally a show the NBC network it was dropped before being given a lifeline by cable network station TNT at the end of the first season.

Season one, two and three were defined by its uber-realism and focus of the show not being on any particular character, but rather the cast as a whole. This produced some incredible episodes, none more so than the “Code 4″ episode. It showed us the raw emotion of how a police officer deals with the death of his partner, and the lingering guilt that comes with it.

 

The smaller budgets of TNT have meant the cast has reduced and the show has moved more to a character led format with Regina King “Detective Lydia Adams”, Michael Culditz “Officer John Cooper” and Benjamin McKenzie “Officer Ben Sherman” emerging as the main protagonists. The show may have become smaller and less gritty but has lost nothing of its entertainment value.

For anyone out there that loves a good Cop drama I can’t recommend Southland enough. It definitely deserves a bigger audience!

Movies on TV…Green Zone (Channel 4)

4 Nov

Matt Damon has pretty much established himself as an all action hero and his role as a tough marine with a conscience in Green Zone was a pretty good fit.

The film was centered around the days shortly after the Coalition (well really the US Army) had swept through Iraq, toppled Saddam Hussien and was looking to establish its authority.

Matt Damon’s unit was charged with locating and securing the vast quantity of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD’s) that overthrown Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein supposedly had hidden across the country.

Now my first question when watching this film was did everyone American in Iraq refer to each other as “Chief”. The film was littered with phrases like “Chief can I have a word”, “Chief load up the truck and lets roll out”, “Chief there is an IED coming in at nine o’clock”, “Chief can I have a Macaroni and Cheese and a Soda to go” and so on. I know Americans are informal and all, but it was all a bit bizarre.

The crux of the Movie was how Matt Damon’s unit following up on intelligence reports on the supposed location of the WMDs, never found any and they were beginning to suspect all was not right.

It turns out he was right to be concerned. There was supposedly a massive conspiracy and he was determined to expose it.

Which brings me to my second question. As conspiracy go this was definitely a conspiracy-lite, really calling it a conspiracy is an insult to ‘real’ conspiracies like the Moon Landing, Area 51 or JFK’s assassination.

The gist of it was prior to the war senoir Iraqis had confessed to American intelligence they had no WMD’s, intelligence sat on this to give a pretext to go to war. Now I am no political guru, but I am pretty sure that WMD or no WMD the war was pretty much a done deal. So why was Damon so worked up about it? Could he not have worked out that in the euphoria of the “victory” it would be an unfortunate revelation but nothing more than that. May be it was his conscience but as a premise for a conspiracy movie it was very weak.

On the flip side there was enough action and fire fights throughout the movie to keep any war film buff suitably entertained. An entertaining but not necessarily a cerebal watch.