Show Review: The Umbrella Academy (2019)

If you want a show with an amazing soundtrack, fantastic costumes, an intricate storyline, a diverse cast, lgbt+ rep, and superheroes, look no further than The Umbrella Academy. I finally picked it up now that season two is out and watched all of season one yesterday. I’m actually glad I waited because now I have a whole other season to dive into!

The show is based on Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá’s comic book and follows seven siblings with special powers. The story begins when a bunch of seemingly random women around the world give birth all at the same time – only they weren’t pregnant the day before. A billionaire goes out of his way to adopt the children and manages to collect seven. (I say collect because there’s absolutely nothing paternal or fatherly about him, at least from what I’ve seen, and he uses all of them for his own ends.) The children are trained to be superheroes, at the cost of their childhoods, and it badly impacts them.

Years later, the siblings come home when their father dies, only everything’s changed and no one gets along. One of the siblings vanished into time (Five); one of the siblings died (Ben); one was experimented upon (Luther); one was ostracised (Vanya); one is on drugs (Klaus); one is fighting for custody of her child after her marriage crumbled (Allison); and one has a lot of anger management problems (Diego). (Actually, most of them have anger management problems.) They are also reunited with Pogo, the chic, talking ape, and their Mom, who’s a robot.

In the midst of saying goodbye to their father, the sibling that went missing in time falls out of the sky, the same age he was when he vanished. And there are assassins following him. Oh, and the world is going to end in eight days. Should have led with that.

My favourite characters were Klaus, who can talk to the dead and uses drugs to avoid talking to the dead, and Vanya, a violinist who was told by their father that she would never be special, and whose siblings belittled her as a result. The two are so endlessly supportive of their siblings and have so many layers and I just felt for them at every turn. I adored Ben, Five and Diego, but I did struggle with Allison and Luther. Allison did win me over by the end, but Luther really lost the plot. Every choice he made frustrated me and I feel like everyone should have questioned him a lot more than they did.

The music was sooooo good in this show. You get Sinnerman, Istanbul (Not Constantinople), Exit Music (For a Film), Dancing in the Moonlight, and so many others. It’s seriously so good! I loved the costumes, too. ALTHOUGH WHY THIS IS SET IN 2019 AND THERE ARE NO MOBILE PHONES WAS A HUGE EYE TWITCH FOR ME. Like, if it had been explained, okay. But half the time the characters were using rotary phones and landlines, and I’m like, we are still in 2019, yes? I looked it up and it’s definitely intentional, so that’s cool, but it was a bit confusing at first. The vibe reminds me of A Series of Unfortunate Events, actually.

This is a show for anyone who loves family dramas or superheroes, but wants more diversity and character development than is often shown in movies. Definitely recommend!

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?

Show Review: Godless (2017)

Godless really took me by surprise! I heard about it when it first came out but I wanted to wait until the hype had died down a bit before sinking my teeth into it. But the series absolutely deserves all the accolades! This one’s for anyone who likes westerns, horse-centred shows, enduring brotherhood, lots of ladies, lgbt+ rep, and fantastic music and cinematography.

The show follows Roy (played by Jack O’Connell), after he shows up at Alice’s (played by Michelle Dockery) house, shot up and bleeding. She also shoots him, and the poor thing is utterly ripped up and falls off his horse and Alice ends up taking care of him.

Alice lives with her son Truckee and her mother-in-law Iyovi just outside of the town of La Belle. It’s a town where the majority of villagers are women after a mining accident killed almost all the men in town. However, the few left are the Sheriff and Deputy, Bill and Whitey, respectively. When Roy wakes up, he turns himself in to the Sheriff, who decides to keep his identity a secret because a gang of terrifying men are after him, led by the ruthless Frank Griffin (played by Jeff Daniels), who raised Roy since he was a teenager and tried to steal Frank’s horse.

Bill agrees to keep Roy’s identity a secret until help comes, and puts him in the jail cell, calling him ‘Mr Ward’ and goes off to catch Frank, leaving his kids with Mary Agnes (played by Merritt Wever). Mary Agnes is a tough-talking lady who is dating the town teacher, and former prostitute, Callie (played by Tess Frazer), and is protective of the townsfolk.

Alice, who is reviled by everyone in the town except Bill and desperate for help with her horses, breaks Roy out of jail and brings him home, despite Whitey’s protests. Roy begins to bond with Alice and Truckee, although Iyovi hates him. Meanwhile, Whitey (played by Thomas Brodie-Sangster) is falling in love with Louise (played by Jessica Sula), which her father, one of the leaders of the real life historical free town of Blackdom, disapproves of immensely. Tensions start to break out when Ed Logan (played by Kim Coates) arrives to lay claim to La Belle, putting him at odds with the women, especially Mary Agnes. And all the while Frank and his gang are cutting their way through the countryside trying to find Roy and kill him, Bill hot on their heels.

Godless is a great character-driven western. It focuses on the relationships between everyone and how brutal and cruel the wild west could be. The flashbacks were gut-wrenching but really added an extra layer to everyone’s emotions: you see how Alice lost her first family, how Roy and his brother went different ways, how Frank raised Roy, etc. I loved Roy’s background with his brother and that storyline tugged at all my heartstrings. The plot is slow and understated, which really works for westerns, and the characters are given plenty to do, while having great moments to grow and shine. I can see why not everyone would be satisfied with the ending, and while there were some things I wish hadn’t happened, I actually did like the way it all wrapped up. The show illustrated the grim realities of the wild west while giving heartfelt endings that are very believable, even when they made me cry. Overall, this is definitely a series to watch!

Show Review: Plan Cœur [2018]

In the mood for a really well acted comedy? Plan Cœur (also known as The Hook Up Plan in English) is definitely a great one!

[This review contains some spoilers] The series follows Elsa (played by Zita Hanrot), who’s still getting over a breakup. She’s not handling it well at all, especially because her relationship ended two years before. Her ex, Maxime (played by Guillaume Labbé), cheated on her and is still with the woman he left Elsa for. To perk her up and help her get over a 25-month dry spell, Charlotte (played by Sabrina Ouazani), one of her best friends, hires a high end prostitute (played by Marc Ruchmann) to woo her. She shares the secret with Emilie (played by Joséphine Draï), their other best friend, who wants to immediately tell Elsa the truth. The problem is, every time they try, the subject changes, someone arrives, or Elsa’s just too happy with Jules, the man in question, who’s also starting to fall for her. Their adorableness is off the charts, for sure!

When Emilie and Charlotte push Jules to ‘dump’ Elsa, he instead keeps seeing her, no longer getting paid to do so. At the same time, the other two women are dealing with issues of their own. Charlotte is the sister of Emilie’s boyfriend Antoine (played by Syrus Shahidi) and living upstairs in their apartment with Matthieu (played by Tom Dingler), Antoine and Maxime’s recently unemployed best friend. Antoine and Matthieu are also Maxime’s continuous voice of reason and the three play off each other well. But as Else moves on with her life, happy with Jules, Maxime gets more and more jealous, something his new girlfriend picks up on. Of course, the secrets can only last so long …

Jules is my favourite character on the show by far, although I do like Elsa, Matthieu and Antoine. Emilie and Charlotte are funny, but stringing their friend along on a lie ain’t cute. It’s Matthieu and Antoine that really push for honesty, so points for them. There’s a lot of deception in the show, actually, and it goes on into the second season and it gets a little frustrating. One of the reasons I like Jules the most is because he owns up to everything and really tries to win Elsa over, which is super endearing. And his friendship/brotherhood with Roman (played by Yvan Naubron), and his love for his mum are really lovely.

Overall it’s a cute show with some great laugh-out-loud moments and an endearing central cast. I’m excited to see how season two ends!

Show Review: Le Bazar de la Charité [2019]

STOP WHATEVER YOU’RE DOING AND WATCH THIS ONE. Le Bazar de la Charité is the best thing I have seen in a while. (I say that a lot, but somehow it always happens to be true??) But seriously, guys, this one is amazing. Now, that said, it is really hard to watch in parts, so go into it prepared, but it’s seriously worth it. It’s a historical costume drama set at the end of the nineteenth century, but this is definitely a show for everyone. It’s on Netflix as Bonfire of Destiny in most places, I think.

The miniseries follows the lives of three women affected by the (historical event) fire at the Bazar de la Charité in 1897. It was a horrible accident that killed over 120 people. It’s so heartbreaking. I read a bit of the case after watching episode one and learned that it was one of the first instances where dental records were used in forensics. I had no idea. My heart just breaks for all the victims.

The characters in the show are Adrienne de Lenverpré (played by Audrey Fleurot), Rose Rivière (played by Julie de Bona), Alice de Jeansin (played by Camille Lou), Victor Minville (played by Victor Meutelet), Jean Rivière (played by Aurélien Wiik) and Marc-Antoine de Lenverpré (played by Gilbert Melki). So basically, three women and the men in their lives. There’s a good number of background characters as well, and it’s wonderful how much character development they all get. But, back to the main ladies, Adrienne is trying to leave her husband Marc-Antoine, because he’s an absolute psycho; Alice is planning to marry Julien, a really, really rich man; and Rose, who’s Alice’s best friend, is married to the wonderful, lovely, fabulous Jean, and they’re planning on moving to New York. Now, here cometh the spoilers, ye have been warned.

The day of the fire, Adrienne was planning on leaving Marc-Antoine and running away with her daughter. She’s been sleeping with Hugues Chaville in secret and hates her husband (which is good, because he’s the worst). Marc-Antoine figures it out, unfortunately, and sends Adrienne’s daughter off to boarding school and then tells Adrienne that if she doesn’t stop the divorce proceedings, she’ll never see her daughter again. (Like I said, the worst.) He then sends Adrienne off to the bazaar and tells her to act normally. Instead, she gets into a carriage with Hugues and disappears. (I cheered.)

At the same time, Alice is trying to figure out how to tell Rose that she and Jean are heading off to New York. Jean leaves her at the bazaar so that she can talk to Rose about it. He then leaves. Inside, Alice and Rose bump into Victor. Well, for Rose it’s literal. Victor picks her pocket easily, but then hands the bracelet back, calling her ‘your highness’ and clearly flirting with her. Rose calls him a cad. THEIR CHEMISTRY, GUYS.

The fire starts soon after the bazaar opens and soon it’s engulfed the whole warehouse, which has only one exit with a rotating door. I’m warning you now, guys, this scene is horrible. Heartbreakingly, devastatingly horrible. A lot of people die in the fire and the scene is hard to watch.

In the chaos, Julien leaves Alice behind and pushes Rose into the flames. He gets out. Alice witness the whole thing. Victor, who had been outside, decides to be an absolute hero and begins bashing in through the wall of the warehouse, trying to make a hole to get the rest of them out. He manages it. VICTOR IS A WALL SMASHING PRINCE AND MY PERSONAL HERO, OKAY? He gets the firefighters into the warehouse and manages to save Alice. He then doubles back to save more. GUYS.

Outside, Adrienne returns to the warehouse with Hugues and decides to use the moment to fake her death and escape from her abusive husband.

After the fire, Hugues takes her in and she pushes him to help her get her daughter back. Alice, meanwhile, refuses to forgive her fiancé for leaving her to die and, you know, shoving her best friend into the fire (I HATE HIM SO MUCH). She tells her father what happened, but instead of being a good person about it, he tells Alice she has to marry Julien because they’re going to be broke and Julien is rich. (Lovely. /s) Alice isn’t remotely amused and starts meeting up with Victor in secret. And Rose, the poor thing, wakes up in hospital badly burned. When it was revealed that she lived, I straight up started crying. Rose begs a women to get her husband, but instead, the woman takes her home and pretends she’s Odette, the women’s daughter. (Don’t get me started.) The woman, Madame Huchon (played by Josiane Balasko), forces Rose to stay and threatens to lock her up if she tells anyone with the truth. Huchon wants Rose to pretend to be Odette and raise Tomas, Odette’s son. (Messed up doesn’t cover it.)

What follows are probably some of the most anxiety-inducing episodes I have seen on television in a while. It’s only eight episodes long and I binged it. It also has a really, really satisfying ending. (I promise!) The characters are so wonderfully done and all the women are just amazing and the romances are on point! Victor and Alice’s chemistry is off the CHARTS; Adrienne and Hugues work together so well trying to save Camille, the daughter; and Jean and Rose are just so precious. There’s also a great mystery to the whole thing that involves a lot of the background characters and just adds an extra layer of intensity to it all. Célestin Hennion (played by Stéphane Guillon), who’s helping Victor and starts investigating Adrienne’s death, is another wonderful character.

I 100% recommend this to everyone! But most especially if you love romance, history and drama all tangled together with a dash of politics and mystery. Oh, and of course, forbidden love!

Show Review: Zone Blanche (2017)

show_film review (1)

Zone Blanche, or Black Spot, is a dark and twisty show. (I’m still not clear as to how a show with the name ‘White Zone’ gets an English title of Black Spot, but I digress …) It follows the residents of a small French town, Villefranche, which is surrounded by miles and miles of forest. It has a murder rate six times the national average and very little technology. (Even microwaves are known to fritz out.)

Prior to the events of the show, the mayor’s daughter went missing. No one knows anything, but everyone’s holding out hope that she’s just run away. When Prosecutor Franck Siriani arrives in the town, he begins poking around in everyone’s business. He immediately butts heads with Laurène Weiss, the head of the local police with a dark past. And when I say dark, I mean dark. There’s a tradition in the town that every teenager spends a night in the forest alone and let’s just say we see it end poorly in more than one episode.

While Laurène and her partner Martial Ferrandis (Nounours, or ‘Teddybear’) try and solve the numerous murders and mysteries of the town, her daughter Cora delves deeper and deeper into a radical group determined to mess with the town’s mayor. The mayor and Laurène have a complicated history that resurfaces as she tries to find his daughter; meanwhile, Nounours is one of the few out of the closet gay men in the village and in addition to dealing with backlash from some of the less-than-open-minded locals, struggles with his burgeoning relationship with a closeted man.

There’s some seriously twisted sides of the town that are slowly revealed as the episodes unfold. Often the characters talk about the forest like it’s speaking to them, and you’re left wondering if it’s a metaphor or if the forest is, in fact, sending them messages. I feel like the forest becomes its own character in the show.

One of the first things I loved about the show is the imagery. It’s so, so atmospheric and beautiful. If you like foggy small town mysteries, this one is for you. It fits right in with Øyevitne and La Forêt, which I just started. Kind of reminds me of, like, a less creepy genre of The Ring. It’s not nearly as horrific, but the atmosphere and creeping quietness are similar. It’s a genre I really, really like.

I definitely recommend this to fans of crime dramas and small town mysteries!

 

**gifs found online, not mine

Øyevitne (2014)

show_film review (1)

 

The series follows Philip and Henning, a young couple in a small Norwegian town, after they go out dirt biking one night and witness a murder. They manage to hide until the killer stumbles upon them and tries to attack Philip. Henning saves him and they flee, getting rid of the murderer’s weapon on the way. They vow never to speak of it again as Henning isn’t out yet and is terrified that his father will find out the truth about him and Philip.

The vow is quickly put to the test when Philip sees the murderer on a train and fears he’s been recognised. Elsewhere, a young girl named Zana is running from someone, although it’s unclear who. All the while the police, lead by Philip’s foster mother, the local sheriff, try to unravel the mystery of the killings, which has frustratingly few leads. As it turns out, one of the dead was an undercover informant in a biker gang and there’s a great deal of fallout from that once it’s discovered that he was snitching to his sister-in-law, a cop. All of the characters have something to hide, all are interconnected.

The show is super intense. My heart broke for Philip at every turn. Bless his heart, he tries so hard and gets so much hatred and frustration from those around him. Definitely my favourite of the characters, though I really adored the foster dad. He really tried to be Philip’s dad and I loved him.

The show is short, only six episodes, so it’s a quick one to marathon. Definitely recommended for fans of crime dramas!

 

**gifs found online, not mine

Timeless (2016)

show_film review (1)

Timeless is such an underrated gem of a show. It’s co-created by Eric Kripke, who also created Supernatural and Revolution (very fabulous shows, too). So gather round fellow history and time-travel buffs, this one is a gauntlet of perfection and representation. And when I say representation, I don’t just mean the beautiful, talented cast. The series itself highlights moments in history that are often overlooked and makes a point of focusing on under-represented groups and their contributions.

The show follows historian Lucy Preston, US Army Master Sergeant Wyatt Logan, and coder and programmer Rufus Carlin as they travel through history to stop supposedly crazed-killer Garcia Flynn from wreaking havoc and irrevocably changing the history of the world. The other central characters are Connor Mason, Denise Christopher and Jiya Marri, who all work with the ‘time team’ on their missions, usually staying in the present time and working on the science and bureaucracy that inevitably comes alongside running a time machine. The time machine, nicknamed the ‘lifeboat’, is one of two, with Flynn using the new fancy model (the ‘mothership’) and the Time Team using the original, older model. As their missions get more and more dangerous, the trio realises that the enemy isn’t who they thought and the danger is far worse than they realised. Friends become enemies, enemies become friends.  

The primary antagonists of the show are those who work for ‘Rittenhouse’, an organisation that spans centuries and controls everything from corporations to politics. Flynn’s objective is to destroy Rittenhouse and as the series unfolds, you slowly learn why. Rittenhouse also has a connection to Lucy, who begins delving into the mystery of her past after she accidentally erases her original history for a new one with an unintended, devastating consequence.

Despite the fact that the show only lasted two seasons (WHYYYYYYYYYYY) it covers a phenomenal number of historical moments: The Hindenburg disaster; the assassination of Abraham Lincoln; Las Vegas’ atomic tests, John F. Kennedy and Judith Campbell; Ian Fleming and Nazi Germany; the Alamo, Davy Crockett and James Bowie; the Shawnee tribe and chieftain Nonhelema; Katherine Johnson and the Space Race; Bonnie and Clyde; Sophia Hayden, the Chicago’s World Fair and H. H. Holmes; Ernest Hemingway and Josephine Baker; Marie Curie and Irène Joliot-Curie; Wendell Scott and the Darlington 500; Hedy Lamarr; the Salem Witch Trials; Robert Johnson; Alice Paul and Grace Humiston; Harriet Tubman and many, many more. For history buffs, this show is a straight up shot of awesome sauce.

The relationships of the show, like any show, are the bedrock of the series. The characterisation is great and develops well. The core trio are wonderful friends who have each other’s backs. There’s a burgeoning romance between Lucy and Wyatt, and Rufus and Jiya, and the core couples are adorable. Mostly, though, the friendships are the best part and take a more central role than the romantic relationships.

The show was famously cancelled twice, but ultimately got its finale to wrap up the storylines, so it doesn’t end on a cliffhanger, thankfully! I wish we got more than two seasons, but the two seasons of absolutely wonderful, so get watching!

 

**gifs found online, not mine

My Introduction to Korean Dramas (한국드라마)

korean drama

I don’t know why it took me so long to get into Korean dramas, but I am now deeply enamoured with the genre and have been watching them non-stop throughout the lockdown. Not only is it helping me learn Korean, but they’re just so much fun! The romance is always top notch, the acting is superb, and as a lady who needs bad-ass action scenes in everything, these shows more than provide.

I’ve written up long reviews of Crash Landing on You, Suspicious Partner and When the Camellia Blooms, but all of these deserve their own posts, honestly. And I’m going to try and write up some longer reviews for them when I can.

I’m now almost done with Oh My Venus and My Secret Terrius, which I’m loving. Both have So Ji-sub and he’s definitely one of my new favourite actors. No one enters an action scene like him! (Except maybe Ji Chang-wook, haha.) The action scenes in these shows are just so satisfying to watch.

*All of these are available on (Irish) Netflix, but I think they’re pretty widely available in most countries.*

The K2 (더 케이투) – [action, politics, romance] This one follows a framed soldier-turned-mercenary-turned-bodyguard as he protects a wealthy family with nefarious intentions. The romance and political intrigue in this was great, but the action scenes were by far the best. SUCH GOOD ACTION SCENES.

Suspicious Partner (수상한 파트너) – [romance, comedy, drama, mystery] My review. If you like adorable courtroom dramas with a touch of action, this one’s for you.

Because This is My First Life (이번 생은 처음이라) – [romance, drama] My (short) review. This show is actually one of my top favs despite the short review. It’s really, really good and the relationships are wonderful.

Doctors (닥터스) – [romance, medical drama] This one follows a troubled student who becomes a doctor and the mentor who becomes her co-worker years later. I haven’t finished it yet, but I’m really enjoying the main character. She’s such a legend (and throws quite the punch)!

Descendants of the Sun (태양의 후예) – [romance, military drama, action] Two Special Forces soldiers are sent to Uruk and are joined by a group of doctors. The angst in this one is wonderful, the friendships are so great, and the awesome brotps are fierce.

My Secret Terrius (내 뒤에 테리우스) – [romance, action, comedy, drama] I am loving this one. When a young mother to twins is left widowed, her strange neighbour offers to be her babysitter as he tries to unravel the mysterious circumstances surrounding her husband’s death. This one is just pure fluff at times and I am HERE. FOR. IT.

Oh My Venus (오 마이 비너스) – [romance, drama] After passing out on a plane from a toxic combination of diet pills and an untreated thyroid condition, a lawyer joins a trio of fitness enthusiasts who help her get healthy and fit.

Crash Landing on You (사랑의 불시착) – [romance, politics, drama] My review. My first ever Korean drama and still one of my top favs. Just start this one right now!

When the Camellia Blooms (동백꽃 필 무렵) – [romance, mystery, drama] My review. A cosy, smalltown mystery show with the cutest of characters.

Vagabond (배가본드) – [action, politics, touch o’ romance]  This one is super intense. The chase scenes are some of the best ever. The story follows Cha Dal-gun, a former stuntman as he tracks down those responsible for the death of his nephew.

Something in the Rain (밥 잘 사주는 예쁜 누나) – [romance, drama] This is a quiet, lovely show that follows the romance between a woman in her thirties and a man in his twenties, and the judgements they get from their friends and family. I started this one for Son Ye-jin, but Jung Hae-in totally stole the show.

***

If anyone has any Korean drama recommendations, definitely link me! For once I have the time to watch new television, so I may as well watch them all 😉

Mini Review Roundup [30/04]

mini review

Show Rec: Because This Is My First Life:  I totally recommend this! The main guy’s such an interesting character and the main lady is so wonderful. Let me just say, the otps otp hard. I was a very happy fangirl by the end, haha. And all three couples are just the CUTEST. Without question, the romance in this one is top notch. GO WATCH.

Audiobook Rec: The Magic Finger by Roald Dahl: Okay, this is super cute and I love Kate Winslet’s voice, so I definitely recommend the audiobook version of this. It’s super short, under half an hour, and totally worth it. A must read for kids, definitely, and for burgeoning vegetarians and those who hate hunting. Go Dahl!

Book Rec: Nowhere to Be Found by Bae Suah:  This was a truly strange, deeply melancholy novella. It’s very stream of consciousness style and the main character drifts from day to day, experiencing grim events at every turn. The writing was very good, though.

Book Rec: The Gown of Harmonies by Francesca Forrest: This was such a cool idea! A gown that makes music. LOVE IT.

Currently Reading

Currently Watching

 

What’s everyone else watching/reading in lockdown? Hope you’re all well! (✿◠‿◠)