Review: The Exorcist (2016)

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‘There are rules in place for a reason. We maintain purity, we don’t harm the innocent, we put duty before self.’

The Exorcist stressed me out. And grossed me out. And freaked me out. But oh holy moley, it was amazing and I loved it. I came at this show never having read the books (yes, there’s two!) or watched the movies (there are a lot!), so I really didn’t know what to expect. I just saw Alfonso Herrera and went, ‘Sounds awesome.’ Ben Daniels being in it was even better.

**spoilers for both seasons**

‘There’s this tall guy and he’s got a black jacket and short hair and a moustache, but not like a porn ’stache. Like a good ’stache.’

The show follows Father Tomás and Father Marcus, Catholic priests and exorcists. It also picks up where the movie left off, which again I haven’t seen, but the main girl Regan MacNeil who was the kid possessed in the movie/book is the mother of the girl possessed in the show (she’s played by the fabulous Geena Davis!).

Tomás is the priest of a poor, struggling parish and he starts having dreams of Marcus performing exorcisms. This leads him to Marcus after some time, and together they try and help the poor MacNeil family that just keeps getting possessed. Poor, poor family. As you can imagine, pretty much everything goes wrong throughout the first season as Marcus and Tomás try to help Casey Rance, Regan’s daughter.

Season two follows the priests’ encounters not just with more possession — this time in a group home run by Andy Kim (played by the amazing John Cho) — as well as people faking possession to get attention. That latter case really hits you hard. And it hits Marcus especially hard. As a result, he becomes deeply protective of the girl who was abused, and I love their interactions throughout season two. In fact, all of the kids in the show are fantastic actors. John Cho also freaking wrecked me in season two and was thoroughly phenomenal. His acting is amazing, I cannot stress this enough.

‘You’re not an apprentice anymore, Tomás. You’re an exorcist. And I’m proud to stand beside you, brother.’

I loved Marcus and Tomás. They both have their own personal obstacles that they’re dealing with in addition to all the exorcisms, and as characters they’re both so wonderful and believable. And I’m not gonna lie, Marcus and Tomás have mad chemistry and their relationship is hands down the best aspect of the show. Marcus is also revealed to be bisexual, which is something we see so little of on television and I totally cheered. 

‘I don’t want to lose you.’
‘Then bring me back.’

Unfortunately, The Exorcist was cancelled after season two, but the creator revealed that season three would have revolved around Tomás finding his way back to Marcus, who was consumed with guilt after the events of season two and went off on his own. I would have loved to see more of this show, but it ends right at that place where you want more but you’re not totally lost not to have it. I generally hate unresolved cliffhangers, but it works for this one and isn’t too frustrating. As a result, I can totally recommend it and I’m definitely going to be rewatching it. I also really want to read the book now, which I’ve since done a little research on and find myself rather intrigued by. I had no idea the writer was once most famous for his comedy work.

Overall, a thoroughly enjoyable, if very frightening series.

‘You said I have nothing. You are wrong. I have love, I have hope, and I have faith. These things are not weaknesses. They make me what I am.’
‘And what’s that?’
‘An exorcist.’

Review: Handsome Devil (2016)

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‘I never knew I’d been lonely until I found a friend.’

I’d liken this movie to a modern day LGBT Dead Poets Society (but with a happy ending, fear not!)

*review contains spoilers*

The story follows Ned, who doesn’t like his school or any of the boys at his school. He really doesn’t like his roommate, Conor, the new star of the rugby team. It’s a school obsessed with rugby and fitting in, which is something Ned decidedly doesn’t do. He’s bullied for being gay and after a confrontation with the rugby players in his bedroom, he makes a ‘Berlin Wall’ out of his bookshelves between his half of the room and Conor’s half. The sign changes from ←Ned | Him → to ← Ned | Press Ups → before their friendship solidifies and the wall comes down.

Other than Ned and Conor, there’s Mr Sherry, played by Andrew Scott. He’s a frustrated teacher, funny and kind and acerbic in equal measure. His rants are truly epic and wonderful, and Andrew Scott does a brilliant job. Hands down my favourite character, although I loved all three of the mains.

‘You spend your whole life being someone else, who’s going to be you?’

One night, Ned follows Conor to a gay pub only to be turned away for being too young. Inside, Conor sees Sherry with his boyfriend. Sherry sees him, too, and both panic. On the train back to the school, Conor and Sherry agree not to say anything about seeing each other in the pub and carry on. But when they are seen coming back to the school together by the rugby coach Pascal, he tells one of his players to look into the reason Conor was expelled from his previous school. The school bully learns that Conor’s gay and blackmails him into ignoring Ned, who is still hated by everyone else for being unapologetically gay. This leads to a confrontation between Sherry and Pascal (i.e. Sherry is the BEST and Pascal is the WORST).

When the bullying gets worse for Ned, he confronts the whole school and Conor gets outed. Conor goes to Sherry for advice and Sherry assures him that things do get better after secondary school. And while Ned faces the consequences of his actions, Conor runs away, leaving Sherry deeply concerned. He then gets into a confrontation with the headmaster, who’s more concerned with the outcome of the rugby match than with Conor’s whereabouts.

‘Some boys don’t play rugby, Walter! What about those boys?’

Ned’s suspended from school and learns that Conor’s missing. He jumps out of the car while his father’s driving him home and goes to find Conor. After apologising profusely, Ned manages to convince him to come back and play the match.

‘It’s my team if you’re playing on it.’

Unfortunately, Pascal is still determined to be the absolute worst and tells Conor there is no place for him on the team. The following scene where the players quit the team one by one in protest of the coach’s homophobia is fucking awesome.

The movie ends with Conor and Ned as best friends, and Sherry introducing the headmaster to his boyfriend at the match.

Overall, this movie was truly lovely. There is no romance, only friendship and solidarity amidst all the shite thrown at the main characters and the ending is utterly wonderful and feel-good.

The soundtrack is also absolutely fantastic. This one in particular is great.

Recommended for everyone!

Top Books of 2019

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The Lessons by Naomi Alderman | 5/5 | LGBT, Fiction

‘A man made of smoke.’

Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Nuclear Disaster by Adam Higginbotham | 5/5 | Nonfiction

‘If we survive until the morning, we’ll live forever.’

The Fever King (Feverwake #1) by Victoria Lee | 5/5 | LGBT, Fantasy, Dystopian

‘He didn’t plan anything. There was nothing to plan – he didn’t have contingencies, no connections in clandestine places who knew how to make a man disappear. All he had was impulse and the flash-fire certainty that yes, yes, this was the right thing to do.’

The City Always Wins by Omar Robert Hamilton | 5/5 | Nonfiction

‘We are surrounded by the conversations we didn’t have.’

Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moïra Fowley-Doyle | 5/5 | LGBT, Magical Realism

‘Maybe it’s more about firsts. Maybe every first is a loss.’

If We Could Go Back (Camassia Cove #6) by Cara Dee | 4/5 | LGBT

‘Everything was black-and-white until you grew up and saw gray everywhere. There were millions of rights and wrongs in our lives, and blame could be placed with all of us.’

One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America by Kevin M. Kruse | 5/5 | Nonfiction, US History, Politics, Religion

‘In 1954, Congress followed Eisenhower’s lead, adding the phrase “under God” to the previously secular Pledge of Allegiance. A similar phrase, “In God We Trust,” was added to a postage stamp for the first time in 1954 and then to paper money the next year; in 1956, it became the nation’s first official motto. During the Eisenhower era Americans were told, time and time again, that the nation not only should be a Christian nation but also that it had always been one. They soon came to believe that the United States of America was “one nation under God.” And they’ve believed it ever since.’

The Monsters We Deserve by Marcus Sedgwick | 5/5 | Gothic Fantasy

‘Yet every writer worth a good-god damn knows this too, for it is graven into each of us: no one cares for beauty. Not in fiction. Not on its own, not pure, untroubled beauty; not in fiction. It’s what we crave in the real world, of course; beauty, and you know I mean that in its broadest sense: the sense of kindness and wisdom and peace and joy: all the things in the world that are beautiful, and all the things we crave in real life, but which are not sufficient to count, on their own, for anything in the world of stories.’

Notes on Nationalism by George Orwell | 5/5 | Political Essays

‘The point is that as soon as fear, hatred, jealousy and power worship are involved, the sense of reality becomes unhinged. And, as I have pointed out already, the sense of right and wrong becomes unhinged also.’

We Will Not Be Strangers: Korean War Letters between a M.A.S.H Surgeon and His Wife
by Dorothy G. Horwitz (Editor) & Mel Horwitz | 5/5 | Nonfiction, Military History, Letters, Korean War

‘Men killing, destroying, sitting in cold and mud and filth. Do they really hate each other? I doubt it.’

Rule Breaker (Mixed Messages #1) by Lily Morton | 4.5/5 | LGBT Romance

‘Tradition comes from something being so brilliant and such a good memory, that you try to recreate it every time that you can.’

Deal Maker (Mixed Messages #2) by Lily Morton | 4.5/5 | LGBT Romance, Comedy

‘Thank you for enquiring whether I do my own stunts. The simple answer is no. They tell me jumping a puddle is safe, but what would they know? I could slip and damage my face, and then where would the world be?’

Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators by Ronan Farrow | 5/5 | Nonfiction, Politics, Feminism

‘In the end, the courage of women can’t be stamped out.’

Horatio by T.J. Klune | 4/5 | LGBT Romance, Short Story | **freely available at the author’s site**

‘“What happened to free will?”

He snorted inelegantly. “Who knows? It’s one of the great secrets of the universe. Maybe it was fate, maybe it was destiny, or maybe it was nothing at all and we’re just two people in the middle of cosmic nonsense clinging to each other because we can.”’

The one I am currently reading looks like it will make a top list, too, so I’m adding it below. It’s giving me serious Firefly vibes so far which is always a good thing!

Adrift by Rob Boffard | Science Fiction, Outer Space

‘He really, really doesn’t want to die. Not by freezing, not by suffocating, not by anything, not ever. If he dies now, he’ll never fly a ship, never go to flight school […] He’ll never be able to help Mom and Dad stay together, and he’ll never get to tell Mal that he’s a giant dick for filming him while he was in trouble.’

There were so many good books this year! And my TBR pile remains taller than myself. 😉

A Trio of Book Reviews

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Horatio by T.J. Klune: lgbt, short story; freely available at the author’s site.

‘“What happened to free will?”

He snorted inelegantly. “Who knows? It’s one of the great secrets of the universe. Maybe it was fate, maybe it was destiny, or maybe it was nothing at all and we’re just two people in the middle of cosmic nonsense clinging to each other because we can.” He waved his hand dismissively, almost hitting me in the face. “It doesn’t matter. Here you are. Here I am. And there’s no other place I’d rather be. You intrigue me.”

“You don’t know me.”

“I will.”’

I picked this one up at random tonight and put off cooking dinner until I’d read the entire thing. It was so quietly beautiful and haunting. It tells the story of two men facing the possible end of the world. The writing style is so lush and draws you in effortlessly. It’s definitely a story that will stick in your head for long after you read it.

I thoroughly recommend it to everyone! Lovely story.

 

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts: fiction

‘I don’t know what frightens me more, the power that crushes us, or our endless ability to endure it.’

This is a belated review of a favourite book, actually. I mentioned it to someone the other day and it stuck in my head that I ought to actually review it. I’m actually a little shocked I never did, because it’s hands down one of my favourite books of all time, but I read it long before I joined Goodreads and started a blog, and sometimes finding ways to review your favourite book is impossible. How do you describe something that irrevocably moved you? A book that crawled into your mind and heart and soul. Even now, years later, when people ask me my favourite book, I can spew a monologue about this one. Funnily enough, it took me four tries to actually get past chapter one, but once I did, I couldn’t put it down. The same thing happened with one of my favourite shows, Black Sails. A bit of a rough opener and then perfection.

After reading this book, I tracked down the newspaper article that documents his prison escape, just to see that it was actually real. It was. True, a good bit of the book is embellished, but the essence is real. And you know what? Even if it wasn’t based on a true story, this book would still blow me out of the water. It’s the kind of book that blends philosophy, adventure, action, crime and love into one intricate web of beauty.

Recommended for everyone.

 

The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff: philosophy

‘The main problem with this great obsession for saving time is very simple: you can’t save time. You can only spend it. But you can spend it wisely or foolishly.’

This is another one I haven’t reread recently, but felt like just writing a review for. I read this book on a lunchbreak when I was 13/14. I remember being in a truly horrible headspace at the time. Being a teenager is just so fun, right? /s

But then I found this book on a shelf at home and figured, hey, Winnie the Pooh, sounds groovy. And I can safely say that reading this book changed my entire perspective. I remember walking out of the library and feeling better, feeling less like a blackhole of doom and far more capable. I dunno. Maybe it wouldn’t have the same effect on me now, but back then, this book seriously helped me. I honestly think it philosophically kicked me in the butt and made me re-evaluate my perspective, which is fairly impressive for a book to do.

‘Wisdom, Happiness, and Courage are not waiting somewhere out beyond sight at the end of a straight line; they’re part of a continuous cycle that begins right here. They’re not only the ending, but the beginning as well.’

I never fell in love with the sequel (I actually had to set it aside to keep from throwing it at the wall), but this one? This one was beautiful and something I very much needed at the time.

I recommend it for anyone who’s struggling through life and needs a new perspective.

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 🙂

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.