Show Review: Poldark (2015)

I’ve liked Poldark since it first aired and today started a rewatch. For anyone who hasn’t jumped on the Poldark bandwagon, may I kindly suggest you give it a go? It’s worth it! Pretty dresses and suits, lovely English scenery, and a continuous, ongoing social commentary.

The series (based upon a book series published between 1945-2002!) follows Ross Poldark, an officer in the British Army who returns home after three years in the Americas. Unfortunately, the woman he’d left behind, Elizabeth, is now about to marry his cousin Francis. Francis is instantly jealous of the history between Ross and Elizabeth, but Elizabeth insists she won’t change her mind. Heartbroken, Ross returns to his childhood home only to find that it’s in tatters, there’s no money left, the mine isn’t producing copper, and his father has passed while he was at war.

When he stumbles upon a young woman trying to defend her dog from a group of men who stole him for a dog fight, Ross saves Garrick, the dog, buys her dinner and learns that her name is Demelza and she’s being badly abused by her father and brothers. He offers her a job as his kitchenmaid and takes her and Garrick home. Ross and Demelza slowly bond, aided by his cousin Verity, who is constantly at Ross’ side to support him. (Verity is seriously such a gem!) At the Poldark house is also Judd and Prudie, two workers who used to work for Ross’ father and now work for him. They’re always drunk and rude, but they add great comic relief and warm up to Demelza over time. They are also loyal to Ross, despite their bickering.

The main complication and source of drama is the lack of money for Ross and those around him. He’s unlike the other lords who look down upon the poor and instead situates himself amongst his tenants, hiring on friends and strangers even when he has no money to give, simply because it’s the kind thing to do. It wins him allies amongst those who work for him and unlike the other mine workers and mine owners, Ross and his workers have a deep sense of loyalty to each other. The so-called elites, who want Ross to act just like them, hate him for not looking down on those they believe are worth less. (Seriously, the best scenes are Ross screaming his head off about inequality and how messed up the whole system is.)

A lot of the characters change throughout the series, but Demelza, Dr Enys, Verity and Morwenna are probably my standout favourites. Ross is an amazing character, but he can sometimes be immensely frustrating (especially where it concerns Elizabeth and Demelza). Elizabeth is a very well done character, as is Francis, though I found them both immensely frustrating from time to time. There’s also Dr Enys, Ross’ dear friend, who is lovely and doesn’t believe anyone should be a doctor for the money, but to help, something the other lords are quick to scoff at. The worst character George Warleggan, who is one of the mine owners, loves belittling others and waving his money around, and makes it his mission in life to ruin Ross.

This is definitely a series for anyone who loves costume dramas, but it’s also a good starter for newbies to the genre. The social commentary is great, the action scenes are gripping and intense, and the character development is on point. And, needless to say, the romance is perfection!

Show Review: Cursed (2020)

I entered into Cursed not really expecting much and came away DESPERATE FOR SEASON TWO. I want to make a long, in-depth review (so I might make another, long review later), but I’m currently too full of FANGIRLING to properly string together my thoughts. In this show you will find: wonderful poc rep (it’s not just Arthur and Morgana, the whole cast is diverse and there are dozens of poc fey and warriors), lgbt+ rep (**MY HEART**), SO. MUCH. MAGIC. Like, really cool earth magic. Leaves and vines, yo! Nimue is amazing and must be protected at all costs. Merlin is the BIGGEST BADASS EVER. I love Morgana and Arthur so much. Percival is a little sweetheart. There are amazing lady friendships. There are like so many lady Vikings, too!!!! Uther was … Uther. The cinematography is beautiful. The animation, though!!!! I LOVE IT ALL.

Has anyone else watched this one yet?

Book Review: Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood (2016)

I had so many reactions while reading this one. Trevor’s as funny as ever, but it’s impossible to read his story, in every place linked back to his love for his mother and family, and not get emotional. His relationship with his mother is central to the novel as he relates his childhood in South Africa and how religion and Apartheid shaped their every day life. It’s part memoir, part history, part commentary.

He also details so much about Apartheid that I didn’t know. Seriously informative and eye opening. The naming section really stuck out in my mind. But he talks about how the different laws worked, how schools split up classes and worked to keep children apart, how cities were set up strategically, the different types of churches he and his mother attended, family obligations and complications, and the way language could link so many of them together. Trevor’s use of his many learned languages is astonishing. He speaks, like, six or seven languages. So. Impressive.

I totally, totally recommend this book to everyone.

Review cross-posted to Goodreads.

Book Review: In Other News (2020)

Hi, I’m Marlon, and I’m sure you’ve seen my face all over the news. Nice to meet you, and yes, the rumors are true. No, he couldn’t talk about it, let alone acknowledge its existence.

This is the first book I’ve read by Dale Robbins and I’m definitely going to be checking out more!

In Other News reminds me of Speak. The story follows Marlon when he returns to university after his assault is made public without his consent. He finds that not only are rumours swirling about what happened, but some people are downright hostile and blame him. Although the rapist has been kicked out of school, many people hold Marlon accountable. There’s a lot of bullying and homophobia directed towards Marlon, but he eventually finds solidarity amongst those who believe him and help him get through the ordeal and ensuing trial.

This is a very raw and realistic tale of how people explain away the actions of rapists and blame the victim. You really feel for Marlon throughout the story.

Review cross posted to Goodreads & Reedsy.

Currently Reading [09/07]

My local bookshop has a great sale section, so I was able to pick up a couple of books recently. I also found out you can bring in books for store credit, which is amazing! Best news ever! I have a pile of books that I’ve been meaning to give away, so the prospect of getting books for them gives me heart eyes. I especially love that the bookshop near me now has such a great LGBT+ selection. Always wonderful to see!

In addition to the new paperbacks, I’m also listening to an audiobook, and have an ARC to finish up and review. So much to read and not enough time!

Has anyone read any of the books listed above? I’d love to know your thoughts!

What’s everyone else currently reading? 🙂

Film Review: Isoken (2017)

I honestly think one of the best aspects of Netflix is being able to see films from other countries that you wouldn’t otherwise have access to. It’s led me to Indian, Korean, Italian, Spanish, French, German (etc) films and shows that are just so wonderful but have never been widely available in the country I’m in until Netflix made it so. (Yay Netflix!)

Today I watched a wonderful Nigerian film, Isoken, and now I’m going to be digging through all the offerings to see what other Nigerian films are on offer in my region! This one was great! It follows 34 year old Isoken in her search for love and meaning in her life whilst everyone around her is trying to push her towards marriage. She meets two men at the same time: one seemingly the perfect marriage candidate, yet the other one increasingly draws her attention.

If you’re looking for a sweet, uplifting movie about love, I definitely recommend this one!

The Joys of Horror Comedy

I feel like a genre there isn’t enough of is horror-comedy. And there are some winners out there! I watched three delightful ones today: Extra Ordinary (2019), Little Evil (2017) and Beetlejuice (1988). And I can wholeheartedly recommend them all!

Extra Ordinary follows a driving instructor with a Talent for the supernatural who gets roped into helping a man rid his house of his wife’s spirit. The spirit will go so far as to dictate what shirt he can and can’t wear, how much toast he should eat, or where the plates need to go into the dishwasher. Honestly, it’s hilarious.

Little Evil is about a man with a stepson who takes pranks to an extra level – to the point where the father starts to wonder if he’s actually evil. The opening scene is the wife having to dig her husband out of the ground because the stepson buried him. Adam Scott is honestly a gem in this! I laughed so much.

Beetlejuice is a classic Tim Burton! I remember, vaguely, seeing it as a child, but I couldn’t remember anything about it other than Winona Ryder was in it. I totally forget it had Alec Baldwin! It also has Catherine O’Hara and watching it so soon after finishing Schitt’s Creek gave me the giggles. She’s a star!

Anyone else love horror-comedy? I’d love some recommendations!

Film Review: Mudbound (2017)

Mudbound is an intense historical film set in the deep south of the United States after WWII. The central characters are members of two families, the McAllens and the Jacksons. It’s also based on a book.

The opening scene is very striking. It begins with Henry and Jamie, two brothers in Mississippi digging a grave for their father. They realise it’s a slave’s grave halfway through, but a storm presses them on even as Henry protests. Jamie, who doesn’t care, continues. The rain worsens and Jamie gets stuck in the grave and begins to panic, screaming for his brother. It’s very clear from the get go that Jamie suffers from PTSD. Henry returns and pulls his brother out, with Jamie, hysterical, telling him he thought Henry would leave. To which Henry promises that he’d never do that, they’re brothers. It’s a moment that really underscores the relationship between the two. The fear, the doubt, the love that binds them together.

The scene then shifts to the following morning and the brothers are joined by Henry’s wife Laura and the children, but between them, the brothers can’t carry their father’s coffin alone, and Henry flags down a family leaving the property. Henry asks them to help, but Hap, the head of the family, doesn’t speak. Beside him, his wife Florence looks furious. Bearing in mind that this is the Jim Crow South in the 1940s, and the family are African American, the immediate tension between the two families hints at something terrible.

The film then goes back to 1939, where Henry’s wife Laura begins telling the story of how the family came to the Mississippi farm, her relationship with the brothers, and the arrival of their virulently racist father, Pappy. (He’s the worst. The worrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrst.)

From there, the perspective shifts to Hap’s family, and the dynamics between the McAllens and the Jacksons is striking. Where the McAllens are tense and bicker a lot amongst themselves, all unhappy in their own way, the Jacksons are close and loving, working together despite how horribly their neighbours and society treats them. Hap’s son Ronsel is heading off to fight on the frontlines of WWII and the family are saving up to buy property of their own. There’s a sense of hope.

When he returns from WWII, however, Ronsel is disappointed with what he finds. Abroad, he had a relationship and he was treated as a hero. Back home, he finds that nothing in Mississippi has changed. What’s more, the arrival of the McAllens make the Jacksons worry, and tensions begin to mount when Pappy’s racism drives a wedge between the families.

Shortly there after, Jamie, also a WWII vet, moves in with the rest of his family. He quickly bonds with Ronsel, and both reminisce about how different things were abroad whilst struggling to cope their with PTSD and the racism of the society they find themselves in. Their growing friendship is judged problematic by bigots, and whenever Ronsel and Jamie spend time together, Ronsel is forced to hide from passing cars in case someone sees Jamie giving him a lift. It’s utterly heartbreaking and the sense of injustice carries throughout the film. Eventually, the tensions come to a head between the families, and things go from bad to worse.

Do be aware that Mudbound is really difficult to watch in places, very gritty, and there are numerous racist characters. Ronsel and Jamie were by far my favourite characters, but I adored Hap and Florence, too. Laura was a tough one, but I did really sympathise with her. Above all, this film is an important addition to historical movies and features a wonderful cast. The acting is top notch, the cinematography is gorgeous and the directing is fantastic. I definitely recommend watching it.

Show Review: Schitt’s Creek (2015)

Lads. LADS. Schitt’s Creek is one of the funniest shows I’ve ever seen. If you’re looking for something to take your mind off the insanity of the world, this is a great escape. I’ve had this show on my list for ages but never got around to it — until this week, and I’ve now marathoned all six seasons. It’s just so w h o l e s o m e.

The plot revolves around the Rose family after they lose their millions and are left destitute. The only thing left to their name is the town of Schitt’s Creek, which Johnny Rose (played by Eugene Levy) bought for his son David (played by Dan Levy) as a joke years before. Along with matriarch Moira (played by Catherine O’Hara) and the sister Alexis (played Annie Murphy), the family move to Schitt’s Creek and settle into the colourful life of small town shenanigans. It’s hilarious. They meet the Schitts: Roland, Jocelyn and Mutt. (Yes, his name is Mutt Schitt.) There’s also Twyla, who runs the café, Ted, the local vet, and Patrick, a local who catches the eye of one of the mains.

Over the course of the show, the characters have to find jobs (which is a first for three of them), rearrange their dreams (all of them), learn to appreciate what really matters and open their minds to new people. The character growth is seriously good season to season. The Rose family are all quite shallow and out of touch with reality at the start of the show, but as the episodes go on, they grow into wonderful people that you’re truly rooting for.

I also really love that the show is written by Eugene Levy and his son in real life Dan, and that Sarah Levy, Eugene Levy’s daughter and Dan Levy’s sister, is another cast member (she plays Twyla). A show about family, by family. And it really shows! I’ve loved Eugene Levy since I was a kid and he’s seriously so good in this. Dan is a wonderful actor as well! I’m really excited to see the other actors in more things after this, for sure! There’s also wonderful lgbt+ rep and a couple that will steal your heart. Seriously, OTP FEELS.

If you’re looking for something light, sweet, feel-good and uplifting, this is the show for you!

Show Review: Discovery of Love (2014)

Ooooooh, I love a good second chance romance! And that’s exactly what Discovery of Love (aka Discovery of Romance aka 연애의 발견) is all about. This show follows Han Yeo-reum (played by Jung Yu-mi), her ex-boyfriend Kang Tae-ha (played by Eric Mun), her current boyfriend Nam Ha-jin (played by Sung Joon), and her housemates Yoon Sol (played by Kim Seul-gi) and Do Joon-ho (played by Yoon Hyun-min).

Before the events of the show, Yeo-reum and Tae-ha were in a five year relationship that started perfectly and ended rather anti-climatically. To the point where Tae-ha has trouble even remembering why they broke up. But Yeo-reum remembers. She remembers how Tae-ha never asked her what was wrong, how he never had any interest in spending time with her, how he stopped being the guy she fell in love with. So much so that she stopped telling him about big events simply because he wouldn’t think to ask. They break up at a train station, the same place they fell in love, and go their separate ways.

Five years later, Yeo-reum is dating Ha-jin, a plastic surgeon and seemingly all around perfect boyfriend. Her housemates love him and they have plans to get married. But then a new job comes to Yeo-reum – interior design of a wine bar. The wine bar, as it turns out, is owned by Tae-ha and his business partner. Cue, **drama**.

The show is shot in a way that scenes are interspersed with characters giving interviews and insights to the audience, so you get what they’re thinking even when they’re not saying as much to the other characters. Ha-jin, like Yeo-reum, is keeping secrets in their relationship and the secrets spiral out of control. While Yeo-reum is hiding her past relationship with Tae-ha from Ha-jin, Ha-jin is hiding his childhood friendship with Ahn Ah-rim (played by Yoon Jin-yi), whom he sees as his little sister after growing up together in an orphanage and being separated as children. They haven’t seen each other since, but Ah-rim has kept a large scar on her arm in the hopes that Ha-jin will recognise her scar and find her, which he does. Yet he keeps their burgeoning friendship from Yeo-reum, thus leading her to believe he’s cheating. The mix ups continue with everyone (including their friends) trying to convince the couple that there’s no cheating happening on either side.

My feelings on the characters changed from episode to episode. Tae-ha was not a good boyfriend in the flashbacks, but in the present, I really liked him and how much he grew. I was totally Team Tae-ha by the end. Ha-jin was super frustrating when it came to Yeo-reum, but as an older brother to Ah-rim, I really liked him and I loved how protective he was of his little sister. There’s a good bit of commentary about quitting a relationship before it becomes toxic, too.

Overall, if you’re looking for a cute second chance romance with likeable leads, this is definitely one to check out!