Show Review: Bates Motel (2013)

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Bates Motel may well be one of the most depressing shows I’ve ever seen in my life – yet I love it. And I can safely say that it joins the ranks of Justified as one of the few shows that knew when and where to end a storyline without dragging it on for eternity. And I liked the ending, which means I can rewatch it and not hate myself.

The show follows Norma Bates and her two sons, Norman and Dylan. There’s also Emma, Norman’s best friend who has cystic fibrosis, and Romero, the town sheriff. A prequel to the Alfred Hitchcock movie Psycho, the show is a modern day prequel to the movie and follows Norman’s descent into madness which Norma constantly tries to cover up. Norma’s a … character. She has more onscreen outbursts and tantrums than any character I can remember, but in fairness to her, she’s had one epically fucked up life. (Again, this is honestly such a bleak show.) She’s so bloody frustrating, though. Sometimes it’s all I can do to not scream at the screen when she has one of her moments. Dylan, the only relatively normal member of the family, doesn’t understand or enjoy the unhealthy relationship and co-dependency of his mother and brother, but he loves them and tries to help how he can. Undoubtedly, the strongest part of the show are the characters, and the actors are absolutely brilliant selling them. The relationship between the brothers is my favourite part, second only to Dylan’s growing relationship with Emma.

Love of the cast/characters is definitely what keeps you going when you’re watching the show and just feel like screaming, IS THERE NO HAPPINESS LEFT IN THE WORLD?! But the plot itself is so intricate and creepy, building slowly with each episode and laying in the horror and mystery of the family and their small motel. If you can handle the bleakness, the violence, the frustration, I thoroughly recommend this little gem of a show. But seriously, have something happy on hand to watch after. This one will tear apart your heart and leave you staring blankly at the wall when you finish.

Recommended for anyone who likes intense dramas, psychological horror and small town mysteries.

November-December Book Reviews

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Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators by Ronan Farrow: non-fiction, investigation

‘In the end, the courage of women can’t be stamped out. And stories – the big ones, the true ones – can be caught but never killed.’

If you haven’t picked up Catch and Kill yet a) why not? and b) you totes should. I’ve admired Ronan Farrow for a while now and was delighted when he released War on Peace: The End of Diplomacy and the Decline of American Influence, a study on diplomacy and foreign policy. But more than that, I’ve always admired how he stood by his sister. And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, here and here. Catch and Kill is Ronan’s investigation into the Harvey Weinstein allegations and it is worthy of everyone’s attention.

Never Change by Shari Sakurai: short story, fantasy, lgbt, historical setting

‘They were not healers; this was a lesson that Taku had learned the hard way.’

I was sent this book by the author and found it to be an intriguing short story about two vampires in the late 1800s in Japan. Definitely curious to check out the other books in the Demon’s Blood universe now!

Locked In by Iris Darshi: short story, romance

‘But love shouldn’t be suffocating or draining.’

This is another one that was sent to me by the author! It centres upon a young couple on the verge of divorce who are forced to spend a night discussing what led them to where they are. The dialogue is so good and the chemistry between the characters was apparent from the start. They were quite likeable and I could understand both sides and their perspectives well. My only wish was that it had been longer and we got a bit more detail. But overall very enjoyable!

 

Currently reading: Adrift by Rob Boffard, Kaidyn’s Courage (Wild Magics #2) by Diana Waters, and Gold Rush Manliness: Race and Gender on the Pacific Slope by Christopher Herbert.

Show Review: Élite (2018)

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Ah, Élite. It’s like Skins, but with a murder mystery twist. I actually like it more than Skins, but I could just be forever bitter about Freddie, so that’s neither here nor there.

Anyways, Élite.

 

Élite centres around the students at Las Encinas, a private school filled with rich kids, and the drama that happens when three students on scholarship enter their midst after their school collapses. Issues of wealth, privilege, poverty, power, elitism, religion and sexuality are all central to the plot. 

There’s Samuel, the sweet, smart, quiet boy who falls in love with Marina, a mysterious rich girl; Nadia and her brother Omar, who struggle with family expectation and relationships and dreams at odds with their father’s rules; Christian, who gets involved in a rather, ah, complicated ménage à trois with Polo and Carla; Guzmán, Marina’s brother who’s dating Queen B Lucrecia, but falls for Nadia; and Ander, Guzmán and Polo’s best friend, who starts a relationship with Omar that only intensifies the more involved they get.

And then things get really complicated because someone is dead.

Season one focuses on solving who gets killed with flash-backs and flash-forwards, and the events leading up to the tragedy, while season two deals with the aftermath. Both seasons have their strengths and keep up the tension, mystery and drama. 

It’s a character driven show as much as a mystery and I loved the relationships between the friends and siblings generally more than I cared about the romance. That said, the best couple is and remains Omar and Ander, though I do adore Nadia and Guzmán.

Some of the characters are completely unlikable, but even still you end up caring about them and hoping they grow as people; then there are the characters that are just so sweet you spend the whole show stressed to the max every time someone comes near them.

Overall, Élite is a gripping, intense drama that is definitely worth watching!

Recommended for anyone who likes romantic dramas, murder mysteries, fantastic diversity and intense relationships. I am so excited for season three!

 

**gifs not mine, did not make 🙂

Show Review: Lost in Space (2018)

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I absolutely love Lost in Space. It’s a remake of a television show that was a remake of a book that was written in the 1800s. AND NOW IT’S IN SPACE.

The series follows the Robinson family, whose spaceship has just crashed onto an alien planet. A planet that’s kind of, you know, going through some changes of the *cough* seismic and volcanic nature. So there’s a lot of weather problems facing this family atop everything else. The everything else being: finding their way back into space, figuring out who attacked them and if their attackers have followed them to the planet, coming across an alien life form who decides to be the boy’s best friend, encountering a Super Suspicious Person Who Is Most Definitely Not a Lying Liar Who Lies, and more problems besides. For a deserted planet there is DRAMA.

The backstory of why they left Earth and where they plan on going with the other ships is also really interesting. There are plenty of flashbacks to before they crashed on the planet, so you see a futuristic Earth that is quite depressing. But each episode layers in more details that really increase the mystery.

The cinematography deserves an honourable mention as it is absolutely amazing. It’s space porn, basically. I honestly just love the scenery. It’s beautiful. Totally immersive. The robot is also done supremely well and you get the FEELS for a robot man whose only expressions come from a swirling red light in his mask. Most of all, though, the family is the best part.

There’s John, Maureen, Judy, Penny and Will. There’s an undercurrent of tension between the family that is slowly explained over the episodes and will definitely tug at your heart. But dynamics aside, they’re all skilled and you’re never stuck grinding your teeth wishing they possessed common sense. This hearty crew are all well trained.

Maureen and John have a complicated marriage that was almost over before they went into space, and as a result there’s a good deal of head-butting, but there’s no way you’re not rooting for them by the end. Then there’s Judy, the eldest sibling, who is a young doctor (like, really young, I was kind of confused by that at first); Penny, the middle child, is a kind-hearted, hilarious mechanic and every scene she’s in is perfect; and then there’s young Will, who bonds with the robot, and is adorable and so sweet.

My least favourite part was the villain. She just wrecked my head. Like, OH MY GOD, PLEASE GO AWAY. Not just evil, but ANNOYING. The actress did a great job, but holy crap did I want to scream into a pillow every time the character did anything. She can join Umbridge as most annoying and in need of slaps.

But the annoyingness of the villain was offset by the side characters. Other than the main fam, there are other survivors they find along the way, some you love, some that bring complications. The most notable is Don West, who certainly wins the award for space comedian. I mean:

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Overall the show is nonstop action and adventure, and utterly good fun. The ending of season one was a total cliff-hanger and I’m so excited for season two this month. I need more of this precious family and their robot sidekick in my life!

Recommended to anyone who likes outer space, family adventures, beautiful cinematography and comedy/drama with their science fiction.

 

**gifs not mine, did not make 🙂

Review: Kurt Seyit ve Şura (2014)

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I can’t express all the ways I loved Kurt Seyit ve Şura. Except the ending. I don’t care for the ending. However, there’s about 50 episodes, so there’s a whole lot else to love about it and bear in mind that I am rather impossible to please when it comes to endings. This is a series with lush landscapes, beautiful costumes, epic love, fighting, brotherhood, sisterhood — all the good stuff!

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The series follows Seyit, a Turkish officer from Crimea, and Şura, a Russian noblewoman. There’s also Petro, the complicated antagonist, along with Celil and Tatya, their friends, and various others. It’s a long, winding plot that follows Seyit and Şura through WWI, the Bolshevik Revolution, across the Black Sea, arriving in British occupied Constantinople (now Istanbul), and other adventures. You know the blurb for The Princess Bride? Fencing. Fighting. True Love. Strong Hate. Harsh Revenge … Basically that, but with zero fantasy and a whole lot more angst. Tatya, Seyit and Celil are probably my favourites, though I do love Şura. Tatya, though

I think one of the main reasons I love it despite being so frustrated with the ending is that it is real. It’s based on a book series which is based on real life — Seyit is the author’s grandfather — so of course there’s only so many liberties that could be taken. And on the one hand, knowing it’s based on a true story makes the emotional punch that much more intense, but when you want something to end a certain way and realise that it won’t — not just because of the author’s take, but because that’s just how it happened — then there’s no real wiggle room for changing things. But STILL. I have FEELINGS about the ending. Kind of like how I feel about Harry Potter, Veronica Mars and various others.


But for costumes, romantic tension and FEELS this show takes all the awards. There is also a good interview with the author herself over here. (Mind spoilers, though!) I want to immerse myself in more Turkish dramas after this one and definitely need more to make their way over to Netflix.

Recommended for fans of period pieces, epic romance, military dramas, angst to the max, and beautiful cinematography. Go forth and be immersed, my lovelies! 

**gifs not mine, did not make 🙂

Show Review: When Heroes Fly (2018)

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When Heroes Fly is a drama/thriller series that follows four friends reuniting years after they all had a falling out for one last mission — finding out what happened to a woman they all love, Yaeli, who they believed to have died in a car accident in Colombia.

The show follows Aviv, whose PTSD still badly affects him and who broke up with Yaeli despite still loving her; Dotan, who’s just been given two months to live; Dubi, Yaeli’s older brother who’s struggling with his faith; and Benda, a former drug addict who’s been living in Colombia for years and has turned his life around and now has a loving girlfriend named Maria.

One day, years after Yaeli ‘died’, Aviv gets a phone call from Benda, who’s seen a picture of Yaeli in the newspaper and is convinced she’s alive. Dotan and Dubi refuse to believe it until Benda sends them a photograph that convinces them all to go to Colombia to find out the truth. What follows is such an intense sequence of events that I watched the whole show in a day. It’s nonstop action and the shots of Colombia are gorgeous. It definitely made me miss South America! So beautiful.

The best part of the show is the brotherhood between the four guys, who all have their demons and are all dealing with different issues. The focus on mental and physical health, existential problems, and interpersonal relationships are all really well done and got me in the feels more than once.

Recommended for fans of thrillers, action/adventure, and crime dramas with a focus on family and characterisation. (I’m a stickler for good character development. Don’t give me cardboard!)

And if you recognise Aviv, it’s because the actor, Tomer Kapon, plays Frenchie in The Boys. (Also recommended!)

Movie Review: Loev (2015)

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Loev (2015) is the story of Sahil and Jai, two friends who meet up when Jai returns to Mumbai on a business trip. Sahil’s boyfriend Alex is driving him insane — and is unapologetically irresponsible, leaving the gas on and not paying the electricity bill — and Jai’s the total opposite. Rich, quiet, together. (Until he’s not.)

Jai and Sahil go on a roadtrip to Mahabaleshwar, and it’s clear that there’s a lot of underlying tension between them. Everything comes to a head when they return to the city and things spiral (badly) out of control.

Loev is very ‘indie’, which I prefer. I’ve a penchant for indie films because they always seem serene, introspective. It’s a movie of long silences and longer looks.

What’s all the more striking is that this film came about not long after the law to criminalise homosexuality returned in 2013 and the director talks about having to film in secret. (As of 2018, this law has since been ruled unconstitutional, but it was in effect at the time of filming.) And yet this isn’t a political film. It’s a film about gay men, each unhappy for a different reason. Each looking for something different.

Loev ends with a tribute to the main actor, Dhruv Ganesh, who died from tuberculosis before the film came out, which is absolutely heartbreaking.

If you like indie movies, LGBT movies, quiet movies, this one is definitely worth checking out.

Warning: rape scene.