Friday, November 15, 2019

Vogue It Up Ladies

It's been a while but once again, a look at some of the recent programs that I have been watching.

Arrow: It's amazing that the absence of a certain ship this season has rapidly improved the quality in the show, even if there's a walking reminder who now thanks to the Monitor is in the present day. On one hand, that takes the flash forwards out of the equation for the time being but on the other hand - yeah, Mia is just awful but at least we get William and Connor in the present day, we've had reappearances from Thea, Talia and Curtis and Katie Cassidy-Rogers did a blinder with her directorial debut for the show.

Batwoman: This show still suffers from Ruby Rose being an incredibly wooden lead (any emotional scene and she struggles badly) but between Alice, the addition of Mouse and any scene that Mary has shared with Sophie and Luke has been rather fun. The show did a decent take on the Executioner but characters like Catherine and Jacob are pretty weak at times and even for a CW show, there can be some cringe worthy dialogue at times. Still, it's not as bad as I thought it would be but there's so much better out there.

His Dark Materials: Confession time: I've never read the source material and have no desire to. I've never watched the movie that came out a few years ago with Daniel Craig and Nicole Kidman and after watching the first two episodes of BBC and HBO's adaptation, I don't think I'll be going much further with this show. Aside from a sublime performance from Ruth Wilson (someone get her for Doctor Who), this star studded fantasy epic has left me largely unengaged. It's gonna be a pass for me.

Pose: For a moment I was worried and feared that BBC2 would drop this show after the ratings for the first season being rather underwhelming to put it mildly. The good news is that they've been airing the second season on Saturdays in double bills and it's been fantastic. The first season was great but this season has been even better. We've seen Angel and Ricky move on with their careers, Blanca and Pray Tell confront their illnesses, Elektra slaying with the quips and a poignant episode focusing on Candy's life/death/funeral was a series highlight. I'm so glad this show has been renewed for a third season. Sublime television.

Supergirl: Of all the CW DC shows on the air at the moment, this one remains the weakest but the most recent episode was a surprising series highlight. I still don't great care for William and Andrea as characters but the latter has become slightly more interesting now they're delving into the Acrata storyline with Leviathian. On the other hand though, Jimmy got a rubbish exit, Lena has crossed too many lines and everything else feels like it's treading water until a certain event in December.

The Flash: Eh, this season has also lost a lot of momentum and it's been building ever so much to that certain event but unlike another show, not quite as well. It also doesn't help that Bloodwork is one of the dullest villains and that I still don't massively care for the new Wells either. Cisco got a decent standalone episode I suppose and Barry/Iris had some offscreen fun but so far this season has been pretty lacklustre.

- The CW have added two future DC pilots - Green Arrow And The Canaries (with Katie Cassidy, Juliana Harkavy and Katherine McNamara) and Superman And Lois (with Tyler Hoechlin and Elizabeth Tulloch) for series orders.
- HBO Max will be doing shows for Green Lantern and Adam Strange within the next year.
- Ryan Murphy's Hollywood Netflix series will be released from May 1st 2020.
- Stranger Things has officially been renewed for a fourth season.
- Expect fan favourite actors for American Horror Story's tenth season, which might be it's final season.
- Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been renewed for an eighth season by NBC.
- Sarah Michelle Gellar will also be starring in the FOX miniseries Sometimes I Lie along with the upcoming series, Other People's Houses.
- The Gossip Girl reboot will be going ahead on HBO Max and will be more diverse than the original series was on the CW.
- Titans has been renewed for a third season with Blackfire being posed as the main antagonist for the next season.
-  Gemma Whelan, Predrag Bjelac,Steve Pemberton, Raj Bajaj,Turlough Convery, Camille Cottin and Evgenia Dodina have joined the cast for the third season of Killing Eve.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

My Review of American Horror Story: 1984 - Final Girl

Written by Crystal Liu
Directed by John J. Gray

Brooke (to Donna): "I guess we're both the final girl."

Gotta be honest - I knew that this show was somewhat going to subvert the infamous trope this episode was named after and having both Brooke and Donna make it out of Camp Redwood alive (even things were a bit touch and go) absolutely worked for me. Of course, we also got a Final Boy in the mix.

Having sat out the previous two seasons, Finn Wittrock came back for the finale as an adult version of Bobby Ritcher and naturally the handsome lad wanted a bit of insight into his father's history with the forgotten camp. Both Montana and Trevor were more than happy to fill him in on that while at the same time doing their best to protect him from Richard Ramirez.

Bobby managed to make it out of Redwood alive, even though Ramirez did get to stab but things didn't become totally clear for him until he met up with Donna and Brooke in the second half of the episode. Donna working in an asylum filled Bobby in on his father being a victim of Margaret's machinations while also pointing out how the latter eventually got her just desserts.

Of course there was also the mystery of who was giving Bobby money all the years throughout his childhood and that was resolved when it was revealed that Brooke was alive and had built a pretty nice life for herself, even though she had kept her distance from Donna. It was nice to see both women reunite and while the makeup department didn't convincingly age up either Emma Roberts or Angelica Ross that much, I'm just glad both of them survived.

As for Bobby - he went back to the camp again, nearly got killed by Margaret, was saved by his father and grandmother and told by Montana to live his life but not to forget the ghosts of the camp as they've formed their own peaceful-ish community to punish Margaret and Ramirez for the rest of time.

I wish we had gotten more scenes with Bobby, Benjamin and Lavinia but the material we did get was satisfying enough. I also forgotten how great Finn Wittrock can be on the show and I seriously hope he's back next season in whatever capacity that Ryan Murphy and company can get him for.

- Chet apparently swings both ways and he nearly copped with Chef Bertie while they were watching over Ramirez.
- Ray was the one to make sure Brooke didn't die in Redwood and Brooke herself made sure that Trevor died there after Margaret killed him outside the camp.
- Standout music: Mike + The Mechanics The Living Years for the final moments of this episode.
- Chronology: 2019 for the duration of this episode but also Halloween 1989 for the flashbacks.

Final Girl marks a very satisfying ending to what was a wonderfully fantastic season. While it would've been to have kept the whole in 1984, the second half of this season really ramped things up and this finale brought it all home. This season is definitely now a Top 3 favourite for me.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

My Review of Titans 2x10: "Fallen"

Written by Jamie Gorenberg
Directed by Kevin Sullivan

Mercy (re Gar): "He says he wants to be a Titan, reunited with his team. I think it's an excellent idea."

Why do I get the impression that Mercy isn't coming from an altruistic place when she agreed to that idea at the very end of this episode? Also, can I say that without the Gar/Conner/Mercy subplot, this episode really would've been a write off as the main plots were not that compelling by comparison?

Conner tried to distance himself from Krypto and Gar with little success as neither one of them would let him wallow in his guilt and for that I'm pretty happy. Of course their reunion became shortlived when Cadmus closed in on them and Mercy managed to talk Conner into surrendering himself over while also taking an interest in Gar.

It's been three episodes and so far, out of the live action versions of Mercy Graves we've had in the last three years, this version has so far been the most successful of the bunch. Natalie Gumede is playing a blinder with the character so far and we even got a little glimpse into Mercy's home life before she put a game night on hold in order to catch up with Conner. The woman is certainly committed to her job but doesn't thankfully have an infatuation with Lex Luthor either.

As for the first main plot - Dick in prison. Yup, this reeks of filler as he mostly wants to be left alone, refused to do favours for a clearly corrupt prison officer while grudgingly stepping in to help some sympathetic prisoners from being deported.

Aside from the obvious allusions to a Nightwing origin, this is a subplot that needs to be quickly dealt and soon. At least Donna has managed to put her annoyance aside to try and reach out to the rest of the team though.

Then there was the Rachel segment of the episode. She headed to a homeless shelter, saved a nice girl from an abusive boyfriend and accidentally brought a gargoyle to life, which means that Donna has now mistakenly assuming that Rachel has succumbed to her dark side. Although a marginally better plot than Dick's prison one, it's also a storyline that needs to come an abrupt end by next week.

- The episode casually revealed that Mercy has a wife and children, making her the first LGBT character on the show, though Chella Man (Jericho) is the only LGBT actor on the series so far.
- Dick was held in the Kane Holding Correctional Facility while his cellmates were going to be transferred to Corto Maltese.
- Jason, Rose,Hank, Dawn and Kory were all absent from this episode. I only missed two of them.
- Chronology: More or less from where Atonement left off.

Fallen isn't a terrible episode but neither is it a terribly exciting episode. Both Dick and Rachel's storylines reek of filler material that might have worked a little better earlier in the season but now feel a bit too late in the day to be dedicating screentime. The Cadmus was fortunately more successful though.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

My Review of God's Own Country (2017)

Written And Directed by Francis Lee

Johnny (to Gheorghe): "I want you to come back. With me. And I want us to be together. I don’t want to be a fuck up anymore. I want to be with you. And that’s what I need to say."

Ah, I'm a little late to the party with this one. Released over two years and put in a relatively late time slot on Film4 last night, I have heard this movie often being compared to Brokeback Mountain and while there are some justifiable comparisons, I feel it does this lovely movie something of a disservice. It's actually better than the infamous Oscar winning movie from over a decade ago.

Starring Josh O'Connor (The Durrells) as a lonely, closeted and general messed up young farmer named Johnny Saxby. In the first few minutes of the movie we see that Johnny struggles to win the approval of his own father, Martin (Ian Hart) while being treated slightly better by his grandmother Deirdre (Gemma Jones) as he manages the family farm and cops off with a stranger during a farmer's market.

Resentment does seem to play a role in Johnny's life. He harbours it towards his own father and even towards a former friend who has moved beyond the Yorkshire village he seems to resent being trapped in and then there's the arrival of Romanian farm hand Gheorghe (Alec Secareanu) who also bears the brunt of Johnny's anger before things heat up in a different way between the pair of them in the middle of a field.

The love story between Johnny and Gheorghe is beautifully played out for the rest of this movie. It's by no means perfect, especially as Johnny can't help but hit the self destruct button but before he does, he livens up with Gheorghe's influence and there's a lovely sense of domestic bliss between the two of them that even Johnny's family can't help but notice as well.

Speaking of Johnny's family, they're nicely realised as characters and when Martin becomes the victim of a stroke, there's a noticeable shift in how him and Johnny relate to one another and if it were not for Deirdre, we may not have gotten the fan pleasing ending that this movie bows out on.

Both Josh O'Connor and Alec Secareanu have effortlessly natural chemistry with one another and everything about their love story feels authentic from start to finish. Director Francis Lee added a lot of his own personal experiences into this movie and it certainly paid off as well with the sheer truthful nature of this movie and it's characters.

- Both actors were sent to live and work on a farm to prepare for their roles and those scenes didn't use body doubles either.
- The movie's title is a big reference to Yorkshire where the entire movie was shot.
- Standout music: The use of Patrick Wolf's The Days was a sublime choice to end this movie.
- Here's a link to Francis Lee's Twitter thread, giving a wonderful break down on his thought process for the whole movie ....

I watch more than enough LGBT cinema (and still there's lots I need to catch up on) and I have to honestly say that God's Own Country is one of the best gay male led movies I have ever watched in my life. Everything about the movie is completely on point - acting, characters, writing, cinematography, atmosphere, music, editing and so. It's such a beautiful piece of cinema that deserves to be seen by as many as possible. If you've not seen it, amend that now. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Rating: 9 out of 10

My Review of How To Get Away With Murder's 6x07: "I'm The Murderer"

Written by Laurence Andries
Directed by Lily Mariye

Oliver: "I'm the murderer, arrest me!"

Well, I didn't expect that flashforward moment at all, no I did not. So is the mostly innocent Oliver Hampton a killer? According to his outburst that even Frank couldn't stifle at the police station, it would appear so but with two episodes left until the mid season finale, there's of course going to be some twist or simply Oliver's actions playing a role in the "death" rather than him having actual blood on his hands.

Yes, seven episodes in and I'm still skeptical as anything about Annalise actually dying. I still just don't believe it's actually going to happen and these flash forwards continue to convince me more and more that it's fake out but whether or not everyone else is in the dark or playing along with Annalise, I'm still not so sure on.

In the present day though, Oliver finally found out that Connor was the one to dismember Sam's body after Asher had brought up that there were things about that night he didn't know. We didn't really get to see Oliver react to that monumental bit of information due to the flash forward but I'm sure it's going to be an interesting one when we get to the next episode.

This episode to it's credit had a lot more going for it than the last few had. First of all, we saw Annalise reluctantly go on a date with Robert from three episodes ago and while it took her a while to get used to it, they had some nice scenes together.

Of course when Annalise wasn't getting her love life on track, she was also voicing disapproval over Frank's interest in Bonnie when she wasn't getting the latter to scare Tegan off helping Nate a little. Then there was the return of Governor Birkhead, who now has Bonnie in her sights, so that will probably wind up in disaster for the latter as well, despite being warned off by Frank.

Elsewhere in this episode, the main case revolved around a closeted gay man shooting a student and it was certainly one of the more complex cases the show has done this season. I did like the involvement of Asher and Gabriel (and that was miles better than their pettiness over Michaela), even if the result was still the teacher being sent to prison for 25 years.

- We got a rundown of some of more Connor's pre series sexual history during one scene in this episode.
- It was pretty obvious that the woman at the start of this episode was going to be a spy.
- We also saw Gabriel looking up a handgun. He did seem surprised when he learned that Annalise and Sam lost a baby.
- Chronology: A month from where the previous episode left off.

I'm The Murderer again is not a hugely plot advancing episode and with two left before the show takes it's winter break, we really do need to get on with things. The main case was great though and there were still plenty of lovely character bits but let's see how these flash forwards really play out without the misdirect now.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Thursday, November 07, 2019

My Review of American Horror Story: 1984 - Rest In Pieces

Written by Adam Penn
Directed by Gwyneth Horder-Payton

Brooke: "All I have is anger."
Donna: "You're wrong, you have me and together we have a purpose. One righteous motherfucking act of revenge and if we can do that without hurting another soul in the process, it'll wash away every shitty thing we ever did."

With the title of next week's finale revealed as Final Girl, it seemed the right time for Donna to give Brooke an education on the most infamous of horror tropes as the two of them made their way to Camp Redwood with a nosy journalist for good measure.

The journalist in question Stacy immediately recognised both ladies at a diner and wasted no time in letting them know that she knew who they were. To Stacy's credit, she was more interested in getting a juicy story more than turning both women into the authorities and agreed to take them to Redwood where Brooke had to be talked out of killing her by Donna. Can I just say this Brooke/Donna team up the last few episodes has been a joy to watch?

As for Stacy, she got her story but she didn't leave Redwood alive as Margaret, Bruce and Ramirez all made sure she was taken out of the equation pretty quickly. Speaking of which, while I admire Margaret's abilities to get two serial killers to work to her interests, Bruce feels like such an unnecessary addition this late in the game. I was disappointed that Richard didn't do us a solid and just kill Bruce but there's always next week though.

As for Benjamin, this was not an entirely great episode for him. He failed to get vengeance on Ramirez, got tortured by most of the counselors and has more or less endangered his son but on the plus side, he was also reunited with his mother and brother and even the former seems to have let go of her burning hatred for him. I guess as long as he stays with Lavinia and Bobby, it might keep the counselors at bay.

Then there was Montana and Trevor. Their love arc seemed a bit rushed and a part of me is surprised that Montana is now suddenly feeling bad that she played a role in the Night Stalker's infamy. Trevor's reasons for wanting to kill himself to be with Montana also seemed a little rushed too but guess death would be a preference for most people than being married to Margaret, who seemed unfazed by her husband shagging a dead woman.

- I should've mentioned them last week but Courtney had the task of getting rid of Kajagoogoo's bodies. It seems every other musician except Billy Idol is destined to be bound to Redwood forever if Margaret's plan is a success.
- Donna's comments on a certain trope, you just know the show is going to subvert this in some way. Maybe neither survive. Maybe it's a Final Boy with Finn Wittrock's character introduced next week.
- Standout music: Eye Of The Tiger and I Wanna Know What Love Is.
- Chronology: October 30th 1989, so Halloween has got to factor into the finale next week.

Rest In Pieces is a fantastic prelide to the finale. Now that we've got all our main players at Redwood, the scene is set for one hell of an ending. Will Brooke get her revenge? Who will be the last girl standing? Will the ghosts be able to move on? I can't wait to see how this season ends.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

My Review of Titans 2x09: "Atonement"

Written by Jeffrey David Thomas
Directed by Boris Mojsovski

Gar: "Conner, how would you like to be a Titan?"
Conner: "I don't think I can, Gar. You guys, you're actual heroes, I'm not."

Alternatively, this episode could've gone with the title of Nearly Everyone Hates Dick Grayson But No One More Than Himself and you could see how this would all play out. Confession might be good for the soul but all it did for Dick was to have everyone except Gar abandon the Tower and get away from Dick as far as they could.

Before getting into that part of the story, let's look at Gar. He's been seriously underused all season long and when he finally gets a moment to do stuff, it's mostly in the weakest episode of the season and with everyone nearly gone. Even Dick leaves the Tower after telling Gar to keep the faith so the only company the latter has is Krypto and Conner and that's where things get messy.

Conner did eventually wake up and there was some nice bonding scenes with him and Gar but as soon as they stepped out in public, Conner misread a situation, cops got injured and Gar had no one to turn to help fix things. I have to admit I was disappointed that Rachel at least didn't stay with Gar or tried to give Dick the benefit of the doubt.

Speaking of Rachel, while she was mad at Dick, I did like that she also didn't let Donna off the hook and reminded the latter about her own role in the Jericho situation before abandoning her. Then there was Jason and Rose leaving together but we didn't really get to see what happened with them, post Tower.

As for Hank and Dawn - they flocked back to Wyoming and were doing okay until Ellis's sister had to wade in and spoil things for them. I hate to admit but even though I do like Minka and Alan as actors, it's becoming obvious that the characters simply don't work as regulars and the obvious break up and Hank sinking back to drugs were more eye rolling than saddening to watch.

As for Kory herself - at least she abandoned the Tower for reasons other than Dick's deception over Jericho's death. In one of the better parts of the episode (aside from the initial Gar/Conner/Krypto scenes), we finally got to meet Blackfire and it looks like the war between the sisters is going to heat up over the next few episodes. Too bad that Faddei became a casualty in their feud.

Last but not least, there was Dick himself. He got punched by Dick, abandoned by everyone, left the Tower, tried to make right with Adeline, got a brutal warning from Slade who considered their feud over and then deliberately attacked security men to get arrested. Overall, this episode was the worst one for Dick in the series so far.

- Even though I am definitely Team Kory, it does seem like she was really horrible to Blackfire as they were growing up. Not surprised the latter killed their parents though.
- Does Bruce actually give a toss about Dick or Jason at all? Gar couldn't reach him at all in this episode.
- Standout music: I guess Hank and Dawn's Ain't No Mountain High, proving they're better singers than heroes any day of the week.
- Chronology: From where the end of Bruce Wayne left off. It's also in the latter half of June as well.

Easily the weakest episode of the season. I get that Atonement was trying to salve Dick's conscience over Jericho (and he had some nice home truths even Slade couldn't avoid) but the show needs to sort itself out and actually have a proper team instead of the constant stopping and starting we've had for too long now.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

My Review of How To Get Away With Murder's 6x06: "Family Sucks"

Written by Vanessa James Benton
Directed by Laura Innes

Asher (to Michaela): "You were right, families suck."

Well, Asher's certainly do and given the way things predictably soured in this episode, I take it this will be the last we'll be seeing of his sister and mother for a bit, yeah? It started moderately okay with some Irish dancing and Chloe dancing with Connor before ending with the reveal that Asher's mother still blames him for his father's death.

I can't say I'm surprised by the turn of events really and it did serve as enough of a plot device to get Asher and Michaela to reconnect and sleep together as well. I should be a tiny bit bothered that Michaela is cheating on Gabriel with Asher but that would imply that I care about Gabriel as a character and I really don't.

When Michaela wasn't sleeping with Asher, snarking about how Connor made his way into the K5 or briefly giving Chloe the benefit of the doubt she was mostly mad at her father and Annalise and pretty told Solomon to stay away from her but the chances of that actually happening seem to be very unlikely given that he's being set up as too prominent a character this season to quickly written out - unlike Vivian and Asher's family.

Then there's the Connor bit of the episode. Bonnie's reasons for picking him did make sense but it still surprised me given as we've not had that many nice scenes between Bonnie and Connor during the show's run. Bonnie also cooled things a little with Frank (who seems to be serious in his profession of love to her) and she was there to comfort a bloodied Asher during the last scene so that's another would be suspect to mull over until the mid season finale reveal.

As for the rest of the episode - hats off to Cora for outsmarting Nate and essentially choosing to help Tegan over him. I think Tegan had every right to be mad at Nate but the fact that she's willing to help him get justice for his dad in spite of his obsessively annoying towards her does show that Tegan is the better person.

- Did the show really have to go down the predictable route of having Annalise and Solomon go with a romantic past? Annalise now has the alias of Justine Brooks for when she flees the country.
- This episode was directed by Laura Innes, who should be returning to the series as Governor Birkhead.
- Oliver had little to do other than look after Frank for about a scene. Annalise also tried to file a restraining order against the Castilos.
- Chronology: From where the previous episode left off.

Family Sucks at least gave us closure on the mystery of why Connor was selected for the Keating 5 and threw another good but inevitably misleading flash forward moment. I guess I'm happy that Tegan managed to get one over on Nate and I do like Solomon but right now, it feels like we're treading water til the mid series finale.

Rating: 7 out of 10