In the low-tech, no-tech days, people did odd things over the Labor Day weekend.
They swam or had picnics or talked to family and friends. It was a strange time.
And this coming weekend? They’re supposed to binge-watch something.
Four streaming services release big projects Friday, aimed at bingers Two are opposites – a feel-good, frontier story and an intense modern crime tale. The other two are fantasy tales; the four are:
— “When Hope Calls” (Hallmark Movies Now), a “When Calls the Heart” spin-off, in a Canadian town, a century ago. Two sisters, separated as children, get back together and start an orphanage.
— “Keeping Faith” (Acorn), which is intense, compelling … and sort of Hallmark’s opposite. In the first season, Faith’s husband vanished and their daughter was kidnapped; then, in the final minutes, he inexplicably returned. Now the second season arrives, showing what happened after he was back. (“The woman you left is not the one you see now,” she glowers.) It also jumps ahead 18 months, as Faith persists in her lawyer work, muttering to herself: “Just keep going.”
— “The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance” (Netflix), revisiting the world of Jim Henson’s 1982 movie. Henson’s children crafted a 10-part series, using puppetry to show a young hero, battling evil forces.
— “Carnival Row” (Amazon Prime), which isn’t adapted from anything. “I wrote it 16 or 17 years ago in my dorm room,” Travis Beacam said. “For a good chunk of (time), I had totally given up on it.”
There was ample reason to give up. His story – populated by people, fairies and fierce creatures – was way too big, filled with new towns and places. Beacham even “drew a map on the wall of my dorm room and named all the streets, named all the buildings I could think of.”
Such projects never get filmed, unless they’re based on popular books or comics. Then came the new spending spree by streaming services; Czech workers began building these alternate worlds.
“It’s a hugely ambitious endeavor …. We had this incredible set, but also Prague is a remarkable city to shoot in,” said Orlando Bloom (shown here with Cara Delevingne), who plays an honest cop in a dishonest world.
He’s done epics before – with the “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “Lord of the Rings” and “Hobbit” films — but this one starts with Prague’s 19th-century look, then adds the sets and creatures.
“To be in Prague and … standing on Carnival Row and seeing these people in costumes,” Beacham said. “I still haven’t processed it.”
Delevingne has also done big-deal fantasy, with “Suicide Squad” and “Valerian.” This one she says, would “make some sort of theme park …. Just walking through those sets, you could smell and hear” all the details.
Especially smell. “There was a dead pig head on the set,” Bloom said.
Carnival Row is like that, a last-chance place for desperate souls. In one kingdom, the fairies are being massacred; many ave escaped to the other, where they’re derided and/or indentured.
That sounds like a modern take, but it was the key to Beacham’s college scheme. “It’s a sad commentary,” said producer Marc Guggenheim, “that the plight of the immigrants and migrants and refugees has gotten so much worse in the intervening 17 years.”
The fairies do have certain powers; having sex with them can literally sweep a guy off his feet. “The idea of making love and being elevated into the sky – it’s pretty dramatic,” Bloom said.
And it’s a necessary counterpoint, Delevingne said. “The subject matter is so serious … There’s a lot of things going on and violence. So if you miss the sexy element, then where’s the light at all?”
Her character is a fierce fairy warrior, forced to be a housemaid to pay for her escape passage. Her wings are trussed … until she’s off-duty. “I’d recommend wings to anyone …. Just being a fairy, I would recommend. It’s a great thing to be.”