Show Review: Peaky Blinders (2013)

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I’m late to the Peaky Blinders fun, but I’ve finally joined in! I’ve been hearing about this show for years and tried to start it a few times, but I think it’s one of those ones you have to be in the right mood for.

Basically, the show follows the Peaky Blinders, a family-run gang in Birmingham, England, in 1919. So it’s just after WWI has ended and a lot of the characters are veterans suffering from PTSD. (The PTSD side plot is so heartbreaking.) The central plot focuses on the Shelby family who run the Peaky Blinders: Tommy, Arthur, John, Ada and Aunt Polly. There’s also the new barmaid Grace, who has a lot of secrets; Chester Campbell, who works for the Royal Irish Constabulary; and Freddie, Tommy’s childhood friend-now-enemy who’s in love with Ada, Tommy’s little sister. When the Peaky Blinders acquire stolen cargo that gets the attention of Winston Churchill, Campbell shows up in Birmingham and everything goes wrong.

Firstly, this show is gorgeous. The cinematography is gorgeous, the costumes are gorgeous, the scenery is gorgeous. Fabulous all around. I really want flapper fashion to come back in and this series is filled with it. Another highlight is definitely the soundtrack! It’s amazing. The theme is ‘Red Right Hand’ by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, which is an exquisite choice, but every scene is wonderfully scored. I’m just getting more impressed with each episode.

Cillian Murphy, Sam Neill and Iddo Goldberg are always great in everything (seriously, I adore them all), but I’m utterly blown away by Annabelle Wallis. Her singing takes my breath away! I always feel like the mark of a great singer is one who can sound perfect without any background music and she can. Her songs are haunting and melancholic. Amazing.

I’m not finished with season one, but I have a feeling I’m going to be marathoning this throughout this lockdown. (I’m almost done with my Shameless rewatch, too.) I definitely recommend this to fans of costume dramas!

Hope everyone is safe and well! ♥♥♥

gifs found online, not mine*

Film Review: Paul (2011)

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One of my absolute favourite movies of all time is Paul. I was introduced to it by my partner just after we started dating and now it’s a frequent rewatch. It’s one of those films that’s just genuinely feel-good. It’s fun. It’s light-hearted. Honestly, you finish the movie in such a good mood and I think we’ve rewatched it 10+ times at this point. I mean, you really can’t go wrong when your film has Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Seth Rogan, Jason Bateman, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Blythe Danner, Joe Lo Truglio, Jane Lynch, Jesse Plemons and Sigourney Weaver. I MEAN C’MON, THIS CAST IS AMAZING.

So Paul follows two best friends, Graeme and Clive, on holiday from England to New Mexico. The movie begins as the pair embark on road trip throughout the southern United States after going to Comic-Con. When the con ends, they start a road trip through the New Mexican countryside, taking pictures of famous alien locations and encountering some locals who really don’t like them. The first night of the trip, they’re almost run off the road by a car that turns out to be driven by an alien named Paul. Immediately, the pair agree to help Paul get to the ship that’s going to take him back to his home planet before the agents chasing him catch up and arrest him. What ensues is honestly just one laugh after another. I don’t want to say more because the movie is best with little knowledge of what’s to come, but I absolutely adore this film. If you’re having a bad day, it’s one to watch! 

If you’re a fan of movies with aliens, friendship, road trips or anything to do with Roswell*, definitely check this one out!

 

 

*You should also of course check out the new ‘it’s a real bisexual alien blast out here’ Roswell, New Mexico television show. Trust me. The rep and story lines are fantastic. Get into it before season two starts! ^_^

Show Review | Slasher: The Executioner (2016)

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Slasher is a horror/mystery show that follows a new case/new cast every season. The first season, subtitled The Executioner, follows Sarah Bennett, played by the brilliant Katie McGrath, and her husband Dylan, played by Brandon Jay McLaren, after they return to Waterbury, Canada, a town with a dark past. Sarah’s parents were murdered before she was born (the death scenes are gruesome and yes, that’s how she was born, it’s awful). But despite this horrific past, she and Dylan are coming back to town because the house is empty and they want a fresh start and figure the past is in the past. Almost immediately, bad things begin to happen. The neighbour is horrible to Sarah, she finds shocking videos of her parents in the basement, and then a copycat killer begins hunting townsfolk. Each new murder takes on the theme of one of the Seven Deadly Sins and the storylines unravel the mystery of the town and everyone’s secrets. Pretty much everyone turns out different than you’d expect and there were some serious shocks.

Sarah was definitely my favourite, but I also really loved the character of Robin. Robin and his husband are old friends with Sarah and welcome her back with open arms. Cam, another friend and now one of the police, is also delighted she’s back in town. His wife June is far less thrilled. Sarah spends most of her scenes with Dylan, Cam or Robin. Dylan, Sarah’s husband, was a more complicated character and sometimes I found him frustrating, but he was a good husband to Sarah. He’s the editor-in-chief at the local paper and is very hungry for success, often taking things too far, but he’s not irredeemable. 

I thought Katie McGrath was absolutely brilliant in this and she totally stole every scene she was in! I’ve loved her since Merlin and she’s just so captivating. The character of Sarah was wonderfully complex and I rooted for her the entire time. She’s one of the best final girls of horror and was very capable and intelligent. I thought Brandon Jay McLaren and Christopher Jacot were fantastic as well.

Now, fair warning, this show is a gore fest. I looked away a good few times as the show isn’t shy with its gruesome scenes and there’s only so much I can take. But overall the mystery was very interesting and the cast were great! And I love watching shows set in Canada. ♥

On to season two!

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.