Thursday, November 21, 2019

My Review of Titans 2x11: "E.L._.O."

Written by Bianca Sams
Directed by Millicent Shelton

Bruce (to the girls): "So glad you all could make it."

I'll be honest, this show's version of Bruce Wayne is an oddity for me. It's been eleven episodes and the character has appeared four times and while I like Iain Glen as an actor, I'm still not entirely convinced by his take on Bruce.

It also doesn't help that Bruce seems so unhelpful, even when he's actually trying to help as well. You could boil it down to him wanting Dick to help himself out, but even that doesn't entirely work either. This week he was mostly again in Dick's head, spurring the latter to get out of prison, even if it took Dick long enough to get the hint.

Now that we're really nearing the end of the season, the next episode really does need to bring this prison plot to a quick ending and fast. Despite Bruce's mediocre efforts, it was only Kory and Rachel who stepped up to try and help Dick while Donna and Dawn focused on finding Gar as the latter went through some rough stuff this week.

I could've done without seeing Gar having his brain opened up at Mercy's behest and the episode did seem to end with him clawing some scientist to death once again. Again, this is another plot that needs to be speedily dealt with as the Deathstroke storyline has to come to an end pretty soon.

Keeping with the Deathstroke plot, two unsurprising revelations came to pass this week. One was that Dick figured out that Jericho somehow managed to survive and two was the reveal of Rose actually working for her father all along.

Neither were shocking but neither were terrible, even if Rose's bitchy attitude at times towards Jason did grate before the two of them opened up a little more to each other. I hate to admit it, but I've not really warmed to Rose this season even if this episode was great in showing a more vulnerable side to Jason.

- Jason revealing himself to be a thespian nerd was a rather sweet moment with the character. Rachel also had dreams of Deathstroke attacking Dick at the latter's funeral a few times.
- Kory nearly copped off with a hot shrink before he tried to psycho analyse her.
- No Hank or Conner this week. It's actually interesting that this was the first episode to feature Dawn but not Hank, though he's the focus of next week's episode.
- Chronology: From where the previous episode more or less left off.

E.L._.O was an okay diversion I guess but we're two episode left from the finale and it's time to really ramp up the action. Enough with the brooding, enough with the main cast largely separated from each other. It's more than enough time to see everyone band together and finish this main arc.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

My Review of How To Get Away With Murder's 6x08: "I Want To Be Free"

Written by Hadi Nicholas Deeb
Directed by Alrick Riley

Mystery Caller (to Annalise): "Once you arrive, we'll call you with further instructions."

And we have it or do we? Going by the flash forward, it actually did look like Annalise was finally done with everything and was about to fake her death and get the hell out of there. However going by the trailer for the mid season finale, something else could be happening as well.

As for present day stuff, we got the whole Nate vs. Birkhead trial with Bonnie quickly being taken out of the mix as the former's lawyer and Tegan stepping in with some shadowing from Annalise on the snarky front. Then the case resulted in Jorge being publicly outed as a murderer and Birkhead having to do some damage control.

Of course this happened after Bonnie had to suffer from making herself rather known and ended up in a car accident, resulting her in being rather mad with Frank and Annalise once she was aware that her boyfriend really was an innocent man after all. Bonnie certainly didn't catch a break in this episode.

Speaking of breaks, Asher thankfully did get one this week. Sure, things with him and Michaela are still on shaky-ish ground thanks to Gabriel being a dick but at least he was able to solve the Snow White case and bag himself a nice cheque to boot. By the way, I thought the use of that particular thought experiment was pretty clever and worked well in the overall episode.

As for the rest of the gang - the sooner both Nate and Gabriel are gone, the better. Why any of the others bother with them at this point beggars belief. Michaela certainly let Gabriel cloud her judgement a bit too much this episode but Tegan was on fine form yet again.

Then there was Connor and Oliver. Even though we didn't get follow up on last week's flash forward with the latter, I did like that the elephant in the room was addressed with Connor's confession. Both Connor and Oliver made some fair points about the situation at hand as well.

- Just realised that the Snow White case was a bit of a metaphor for what Annalise is clearly planning to do.
- Oliver with the puppy party. The obvious highlight of the episode of course.
- The first episode this season not to address Laurel in any way at all. I guess we've finally moved on from her.
- Chronology: A week before the events of the mid season finale.

I Want To Be Free is a solid if not spectacular lead in to the mid series finale. I did like the use of the Snow White case, more backstory for Tegan and it was nice to see Asher get a win as well this week. I just hope they pull off this final mystery satisfyingly though.

Rating: 7 out of 10

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