Review: Made in Heaven (2019)

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I absolutely adored Made in Heaven.

Made in Heaven follows Karan Mehra and Tara Khanna as they manage their wedding planning business which shares a name with the title of the show. It’s a dark take on the wedding industry in India and the show pulls no punches with showing how grim things can get. From scheming parents to blackmail and bridezillas, each episode shows a different wedding for the company while the characters navigate their complicated personal lives.

Karan is gay at a time when it’s illegal in India and his storyline follows his struggles with being who he is and loving who he wants when it risks jail time. Arjun Mathur was absolutely amazing as Karan, I was in awe. His mother is abusive and homophobic, although thankfully his father and brother are wonderfully accepting. His backstory totally broke my heart (there are a lot of flashbacks to explain the characters’ motivations and secrets) and I really hope we see more of Nawab, a man from his past, in season two. Their complicated relationship requires more screen time!

Tara, on the other hand, is married to Adil, who’s cheating on her with her best friend, Faiza, and constantly belittles her upbringing. He’s far richer than her and reminds her of it when they fight. NOT A GOOD LOOK, ADIL. Adil and Faiza really frustrated me throughout the entire season, but otherwise I adored the entire cast. It’ll be interesting to see what happens to them in season two, honestly. Sobhita Dhulipala stole every scene she was in and made you really empathise with Tara despite the character’s sometimes questionable choices. She’s a new to me actress and she’s definitely a new favourite. She really reminds me of Deepika Padukone, actually.

There’s also Kabir Basrai and Jaspreet Kaur, who work for Made in Heaven and are dealing with complications of their own. Kabir often narrates videos of the weddings and they’re always wonderful observations and really tug at your heart. In particular, the storyline where a woman discovers that her fiancé’s family blackmailed her parents into paying a dowry culminates in a powerful moment where the girl walks out of the wedding. Kabir’s closing refrain was so powerful:

‘That’s all it took to shatter centuries of patriarchy. One tiny moment of courage. […] Our women don’t deserve this. Our women are better than this. And if they only believed that.’

SO MANY EMOTIONS. Honestly, the show makes so many good points about politics and religion. I’m so excited for season two!

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: Il était une seconde fois (2018)

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‘Relationships are all the same, but no one experiences them the same way.’

Il était une seconde fois, or Twice Upon a Time, centres around Vincent and Louise. It’s told out of order, switching back and forth between the past and the present. I did notice it switching from full screen to wide screen as well, so I think that was an intentional method to differentiate between the past and the present. If you don’t pay attention to that, though, it’s easy to get lost. The changes happen without warning.

**contains spoilers**

The series starts off with Vincent basically a drunken mess who’s spiralling into depression and destruction after the end of his relationship with Louise. Over the course of the series, you find out that Vincent and Louise met one night in a pub and instantly hit it off. They agree neither wants a relationship but their chemistry is undeniable and they get into a relationship despite Louise having an unfinished relationship with James, and Vincent still seeing the mother of his son.

One day, a postman leaves a box, ‘the cube’, with Vincent. It’s quite literally just a box. When he’s trying to figure out what it does, he realises the box doesn’t have a back and comes out on the other side nine months in the past with his relationship still intact.

In both timelines, Louise struggles with opening up to Vincent after a traumatic event in her last relationship has left her reeling. It’s revealed later that she was having an affair with a married man and when the wife found out, she jumped in front of a train with Louise there, riddling her with guilt for the rest of her life. 

Madly in love with Louise and wanting to fix their relationship, he goes back and forth between the past with Louise and the present with his son, not wanting to lose either. His inability to pick one leads to both sides missing him and wondering where he’s been for days on end. Louise tolerates it for a time, listening to his ‘story’ about time travel and viewing it as something like method acting for writers. The only person who believes Vincent is his brother, a man struggling with schizophrenia.

In the present, the postman who left the cube keeps stalking him to get the box back, asking Vincent if he can search his house, his car, and generally just being weird. There are a few others who keep up the weirdness and trying to figure out who wants what and why is difficult. The background of the cube is never really explained outside of his brother making a few ideas about light and photons. And there are background figures trying to get the cube back from Vincent, too, but other than a few lines, these characters aren’t delved into. It leaves you with quite a few questions, although I think the point of the series was to make an existential statement rather than a scientific drama.

Overall the series is quite interesting, and Gaspard Ulliel and Freya Mavor have amazing chemistry and their acting is perfection, but I do wish it’d been a few episodes longer, told a little less convolutedly, and the science fiction/time travel explained more.

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.

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 🙂