Thursday, February 22, 2024

My Review of Feud: Capote vs. The Swans - The Secret Inner Lives Of Swans


Written by Jon Robin Baitz 
Directed by Max Winkler

Capote (to James Baldwin): "My Swans are trying to kill me."

Well, if you spend your time revealing all of your supposed friends innermost secrets, then that might be the most natural of responses. Why was it that the episode that focused the least on the Swans turned out to be the best?

Not only was it a nice episode for Tom Hollander to display some more vulnerability as Capote, the big reason why this episode hit so well was down to Chris Chalk's excellent guest performance as James Baldwin. I'd even go as far as to say, it's the best performance of the season in regards to this show.

Truman was in full self pity mode, feeling the effects of being a social outcast, due to revealing Swans. Enter James Baldwin, who insisted that Capote met him at the scene of the crime for a much needed reality check. He wouldn't put up with Capote's bullshit and the episode was all the better for him.

Effectively this episode could've been a two hander in that restaurant and it would've been perfect. However as Capote talked trash about the Swans, we cut to flashbacks of them being largely portrayed in a negative light. Truthfully this episode highlighted their foibles and hypocrisy.

We saw how the likes of Lee and Slim mistreated Ann themselves as well as their own extra marital affairs. We also how both the likes of Babe and CZ were poor mothers, not to mention a biting commentary on their classism, body shaming and covert racism. This was all the while we got some details on actual Swans themselves.

By the end of this episode, James Baldwin had snapped Capote out of his self inflicted and the latter was back to writing/trashing his former friends. Truman talked about the Swans trying to kill him, only for a certain meal by a cute waiter/chef (Will Hochman) signifying that he won't be so easily killed. He ate a fucking Swan.

- I noticed that Joanne was the only Swan that Capote didn't talk shit about and was the only one who didn't appear in the episode.
- Although they didn't actually sleep together, the chemistry between Capote and Baldwin was the best. Tom Hollander and Chris Chalk played off each other so well.
- Lee didn't hold back with her biting comments on Capote's looks at all.
- Chronology: This episode was set during 1975. 

The Secret Inner Lives Of Swans was by far the best episode of the season. Tom Hollander and Chris Chalk were on excellent form and the dialogue the most pithy as well. I think we needed more focus on Capote's thoughts on his Swans and this showed he didn't care for them at times.

Rating: 9 out of 10

My Review of Mean Girls (2024)


Written by Tina Fey
Directed by Samantha Jayne And Arturo Perez Jr

Regina: "My name is Regina George and I am a massive deal. Fear me, love, stand and stare at me."

Last month, I went back and rewatched/reviewed the original movie and now that I've had the time to catch up, it was time for me to watch this musical remake. I'm not gonna lie, it doesn't surpass the original but there's a lot of fun to be had with nevertheless.

Going over familiar territory, we've got Cady Heron (Angourie Rice) who with her mother (Jenna Fischer) traded in Kenya for Northshore and it's not long before everything felt familiar but that little bit different. Given that it's a musical, why not, right?

Cady quickly befriended fellow outcasts Janis 'Imi'ike (Auli'i Cravahlo) and Damian (Jaquel Spivey), developed a crush on popular school boy Aaron (Christopher Briney) and of course, there was the Plastics. Yes, the reason the original movie was so iconic in the first place.

You've got Regina George (Reneé Rapp) and her minions Gretchen Wieners (Bebe Wood) and Karen Shetty (Avantika) and yet again, Cady went from befriendin them, scheming against them to becoming a tad worse than them. Like I said, it's familiar territory but being a musical certainly made things a little different.

Given how iconic the roles were for certain actors, I will give the cast here props. All of them are well cast in their respective roles with particular shoutouts to the likes of Reneé Rapp and Avantika really bringing a new energy to Regina and Karen.

However to keep things familiar, both Tina Fey and Tim Meadows reprise their roles as Ms. Norbury and Mr. Duvall while there's fun performances from both Busy Philipps and Jon Hamm as Regina's mother and Coach Carr respectively. 

- Lindsay Lohan appeared briefly as a moderator at the Mathletes competition while Ashley Park appeared as French teacher, Madame Park. She played Gretchen in the stage version.
- Originally this was slated for just a release on Paramount+ before getting a theatrical release. 
- In this version, it's made clear that Janis actually is a lesbian, even getting a spring formal date as well. 
- At one point in the movie, both Janis and Damian are watching Friday The 13th Part 2.
- Standout music: A lot of highlights but Cautionary Tale, Meet The Plastics, Apex Predator, Revenge Party, World Burn and Not My Fault.
- Chronology: It's definitely been updated for 2024.

Mean Girls (2024) might not quite hit as big as the original but it's a pretty entertaining update on a classic movie. The roles are well cast for a second time, the musical numbers are great and there's plenty of fun to be had. Plastic can be fantastic second time around.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Monday, February 19, 2024

My Review of The Iron Claw (2023)


Written And Directed by Sean Durkin

Kevin Von Erich: "I used to be a brother."

I got to be honest, sports movies are generally not my thing and I have a very sporadic interest in wrestling at best. Saying that, there's been hype for this particular movie, so I decided to watch it out of curiosity.

Again, due to my sporadic interest in wrestling, I didn't have a clue who the Von Erich family were or their legacy as a wrestling team but it appeared that this movie summed up everything I needed to know.

The Von Erichs themselves comprised of brothers Kevin (Zac Efron), David (Harris Dickinson), Kerry (Jeremy Allen White) and Mike (Stanley Simons), all of whom had various aspirations to be the best wrestler with their father, Fritz (Holt McCallany) essentially playing off them each other while their mother, Doris (Maura Tierney) seemed more detached than Fritz from the boys at times.

One of the most interesting things about this movie was the discussion of a family curse for the Von Erichs. Fritz seemed dismissive of the idea while Kevin very much believed in it and given how death followed the Von Erichs, Kevin was right to believe it.

As the movie progressed, the deaths of David, Mike and Kerry all weighed heavily on Kevin to the point where it even affected his marriage to Pamela (Lily James) before his own sons were able to pull him out of his despair. The bond between the Von Erichs definitely anchored this movie.

However while decent screen time was given to the brothers, for logistical reasons, the focus was largely on Kevin. It's a pity this movie has been almost left out of the awards love because Zac Efron alone definitely delivered a career best performance here. He's grown a lot as an actor over the last few years and he did some fantastic work in this film alone.

- Maxwell Friedman appeared as Lance Von Erich when Mike had to sit out a wrestling match due to toxic shock.
- Doris admitted that she had aspirations to be a painter and Mike originally wanted to be a musician before going into wrestling.
- Yes, the scene where all the dead brothers and Jack Jr was a very emotive moment in the movie.
- Chronology: From 1979 to 2009, going by the textual epilogue.

The Iron Claw turned out to be a very engaging movie with some great performances and fight scenes nicely recreated. There's some bits that lag a little but overall, it's a strong movie that probably should be getting more award love that it's getting.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Sunday, February 18, 2024

My Review of Justice League: Warworld (2023)


Written by Jeremy Adams And Ernie Altbacker And Josie Campbell
Directed by Jeff Wamester

Superman: "Where on Earth are we anyways?"
Martian Manhunter: "Not Earth. Warworld."

With the last two Tomorrowverse movies giving focus to characters like Green Lantern and Supergirl, it was time to focus back on the Trinity and by doing that, we got a movie where our three heroes were scattered in different time zones.

First of all Wonder Woman (Stana Katic) ended up in the Wild West where she had to contend with both Bat Lash (Brett Dalton) and Jonah Hex (Troy Baker). It's a simple enough tale with Diana struggling to remember her name as well as controlling her rage when Hex stepped out of line. 

Then there was Batman (Jensen Ackles). He ended up on the world of Skartaris where he went from being a mercenary/slave of the warlord Travis Morgan (Teddy Sears) to allying with him in order to raid the castle of Deimos (Damian O'Hare) for freedom and gold. It's during this plot that a certain slave woman and a golden lasso along with the mercenary that both realised they needed to get to a portal to be in their own time.

Then there of course Superman (Darren Criss). Stuck in 1950s town of Grovers Mill, he was a federal agent along with King Faraday (Frank Grillo) and quickly reunited with both Bruce and Diana. There was also subplot here involving White Martians before it turned out that the setting wasn't real to begin with it.

It was revealed that the our Trinity along with Martian Manhunter (Ike Amadi) were being kept prisoner on Warworld by Mongul (Robin Atkin Downes) with Lobo (John DiMaggio) assisting him. Fortunately having Martian Manhunter helped in turning both Mongul and Lobo against one another.

Then there was the final few minutes of the movie. Warworld got destroyed and a mystery woman, who the next movie would reveal to be Harbinger (Kari Wahlgren) informed the Trinity about the coming Crisis as this particular continuity of animated movies would head to it's three part send off.

- Superman's plot was in black and white, riffing off The Twilight Zone.
- There's another brief appearance of The Flash (Matt Bomer) in this movie as "old man".
- Other characters who appeared included Ginsburg and Snapper Carr. 
- Chronology: Various timelines, considering what Mongul was subjecting the Trinity to in this movie.

Justice League: Warworld I guess should be lauded for trying something a bit different. Much as the various timelines for the Trinity was an interesting idea, it didn't quite gel as well it could've done. Still, this movie did serve it's purpose as a prelude to a much bigger event on the horizon.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Saturday, February 17, 2024

My Review of Legion Of Super-Heroes (2023)


Written by Josie Campbell
Directed by Jeff Wamester

Supergirl (to Superman): "Batman's right. I don't belong here. With Krypton gone. With Mom gone, I don't belong anywhere."

Back on to the Tomorrowverse side of things and perhaps I timed this movie well. With a certain Maid of Might getting another casting, this movie largely focused on Supergirl (Meg Donnelly) and all the better for it.

The opening scene focused on the destruction of Argo City with Kara Zor-El and her mother, Alura In-Ze (Jennifer Hale) being separated from one another. Then we cut to Kara in Metropolis struggling with Earth life.

Even donning the guise of Supergirl and working with her cousin Superman (Darren Criss) and a sceptical Batman (Jensen Ackles) didn't exactly help. A fight with Solomon Grundy (Darin De Paul) only made Kara feel more isolated and for that, Superman had the perfect solution - send Supergirl to the 31st Century.

Yup, Supergirl got to go a thousand years into the future thanks to a time bubble device Superman had and train with the Legion of Super-Heroes. That meant initially finding Mon-El (Yuri Lowenthal) charming and aggressively coming to blows with Brainiac 5 (Harry Shum Jr). Kara assumed he was going to be like his famous grandfather and for at least a few scenes, we were led to believe she might have been right.

Of course it turned out that the original Brainiac (Darin De Paul) was the main villain of the piece with both the Dark Circle and Mon-El as his faithful acolytes. That along with previous Brainiac clones entrapped into the current Brainiac meant that both Supergirl and Brainiac had to rescue their fellow Legionnaires and teachers in order to stop Brainiac.

As for the rest of the heroes, there was a nice amount of screen time given to characters such as Dawnstar (Cynthia Hamidi), Triplicate Girl (Daisy Lightfoot), Bouncing Boy (Ely Henry), Phantom Girl (Gideon Adlon), Invisible Kid (Zeno Robinson) and Arms-Fall-Off Boy (Ben Diskin) to name but a few. Not to mention between stopping Brainiac's grand scheme, there was a hint of a romance between Supergirl and Brainiac 5.

- The Flash (Matt Bomer) briefly appeared in this movie, following Grundy's capture.
- Meg Donnelly who voices Supergirl in this universe did audition for the character in the DCU. Milly Alcock would get the role.
- There's a post credit sequence, leading to the next movie, Justice League: Warworld.
- Chronology: Both 21st and 31st centuries for the movie.

Legion Of Super-Heroes was an enjoyable trip to the 31st Century with Supergirl being a great focus along with a very strong plot for Brainiac (all of them). I had a good time with this one.

Rating: 7 out of 10 

Thursday, February 15, 2024

My Review of Feud: Capote vs. The Swans - It’s Impossible


Written by Jon Robin Baitz 
Directed by Gus Van Sant 

Capote (to Babe): "You should buy that dress anyway. So what if there's no party. Who needs parties anyway?"

We're halfway into this season and after last week's Black & White party from 1966, it was time to go back into a later period. The focus again being on both Truman and Babe's declining health and essentially the notion of forgiveness.

Babe felt like being in a forgiving mood, much to the chagrin of the somewhat hypocritical Slim this week. Capote wanted to accelerate the Swans forgiveness of him by recreating the Black & White party. It nearly worked but it didn't.

Initially it seemed like Slim was going to derail Capote with her own acts of revenge on her former friend. Blind items definitely felt like they were beneath Slim as Lee was only too quick to casually point out but this episode really highlighted Slim's own hypocrisy. Specifically Lee did it and with such style that Ryan Murphy better be lining Calista Flockhart for a future project. 

Anyways for all of Slim's anger towards Truman for exposing secrets, it was both Lee and Babe who were aware of Slim's affair with Bill. Lee called Slim out on it and rightly so while Babe chose forgiveness, which only made both Bill and Slim feel worse than they already did for deceiving Babe.

As for Truman, Jack nearly got him to take responsibility for his deteriorating health but Capote preferred booze and continuing his destructive relationship with John O'Shea until the latter decided to go back to women. The arrival of John's daughter, Katy though gave Capote a protégé he didn't want but seemingly embraced.

The last scene between Capote and Babe was the highlight of the episode. A bittersweet moment between two friends who wanted to reconcile but weren't quite there yet. I do wonder if Babe's death will be before the finale, given that the episode reinforced that she hadn't long to live. 

- The episode was dedicated to Treat Williams (1951-2023) who passed away after filming for the series. 
- Of course Truman was happy to tell both CZ and Joanne about his sexual antics while he was supposed to be getting better. Jack also went to Switzerland after Truman relapsed. Truman also gossiped about Richard Avedon's sexuality.
- Standout music: The use of Perry Como's It's Impossible throughout the episode was nicely done. It was also Babe's favourite song.
- Chronology: I'm guessing around 1977 or 1978. The episode doesn't specify though Jodie Foster is referred to as a starlet by John and Truman.

It's Impossible was a delightful episode that certainly did well on the talks of forgiveness, even if one character wasn't willing to go down that route. The last scene was my favourite but I really want more of Lee Radziwill in the second half of the season.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

The Fantastic Four - Cast Officially Announced & New Release Date

After months of possibly the worst kept secret in the industry, Marvel decided that Valentine's Day was the best day to reveal the cast for The Fantastic Four.

The news will not shock you one bit.

Complete with a gorgeous poster and a release date, the following actors have been cast as the following characters. The poster alone also seemingly confirmed a long standing rumour of the movie being set in 1963.

Pedro Pascal will play Reed Richards, Vanessa Kirby will play Sue Storm, Ebon Moss-Bachrach will play Ben Grimm and Joseph Quinn will play Johnny Storm. As we've known for the last several months but at least they're finally announced and today was a good day to announce it.

As for the release date, originally it was going to early 2025 but now will be July 25th 2025 and will undoubtedly be the summer blockbuster along with Superman: Legacy and the next Jurassic Park movie. Summer 2025 will be insane with three particular movies released so closely to one another.

Filming for The Fantastic Four will begin shortly for it's July 25th 2025 release date.

Monday, February 12, 2024

My Review of Big Boys - Series 2 (2024)

After the surprise success of the first series of this charming show, Channel 4 finally premiered the second series and now I'm reviewing it.

Written by Jack Rooke
Directed by Jim Archer

Jack: "I keep fancying straight guys."
Danny: "Yeah, that's going to be a problem."

If you watch the first series, you know who the main players are. You've got Jack (Dylan Llewellyn), his straight best mate Danny (Jon Pointing) and fellow students Corinne (Izuka Hoyle) and Yemi (Olisa Odele). It's their second year at university and once again, they're trying to find themselves as best they can.

It's a good depiction of that struggle as the foursome tackle mental health issues, new partners, an unexpected pregnancy which lead to an abortion as well as an episode dedicated to work experience. While Jack put his mouth in it at a radio station, you had both Danny and Corinne somewhat in their element while working for a lads magazine. As for Yemi, there was a brief look into his work as a cam guy, which naturally also connected to Jack in a way.

Specifically it connected to the character of Oscar (Jake Dunn). He's the closest to a love interest that Jack got this series but Oscar was also a big fan of Yemi's and hooked up with him too. Jack almost copped off with Oscar for real in the penultimate episode this series, only for another major storyline to impede said hook up going ahead. Oscar's quite the cutie but we don't see enough of him to get invested.

Jack's love life really didn't progress that much this series. We didn't get a lot with him and Oscar and there was an episode where he was a bit too obsessed with knowing what his abrasive tutor Tim's (Robert Gilbert) sexuality was that even Danny had to call him out on it. As for Danny and Corinne, the show kept hinting at an endgame for them but we didn't quite get it, in spite of some genuinely great moments with both characters throughout this series.

One thing that also stood out this series was a larger focus on Jack's cousin, Shannon (Harriet Webb). At times, the focus was a bit more than expected as Shannon fell pregnant by nice delivery guy Tariq (Shane Zaza) and ended up giving birth in the last episode. As for the name she gave the baby - Nanny Bingo (Annette Badland) wasn't wrong about the child getting bullied. The last episode alone had some great flashbacks to the last few days of Jack's father, Laurie (Ian Burfield), especially for the scenes with Shannon and Nanny showing their softer sides.

Speaking of softer sides, I absolutely loved the various scenes that Peggy (Camille Coduri) had with both Jack and Danny this series and I thought her burgeoning romance with Russell (James Doherty) was rather sweet. Peggy definitely proved to be a better parent to Danny than the latter's father, Dennis (Marc Warren), who really was awful and wanted to take poor Iris's (Sheila Reid) flat during Danny's birthday. There's a great line about choosing family that really packed a punch when it came to the finale.

- Episode titles were The Boys Are Back In Town, Strictly Cum Dumping, Tennis Table Tennis, Surprise Surprise, All Work And No Play Makes Jack A Dull Gay and The Night When.
- Jack Rooke appeared in the very last scene of the series, giving this a very final feel.
- I did laugh at that glory hole gag Jack had to endure in the first episode.
- We got a Derry Girls reunion as Louisa Harland popped up as a midwife in the last episode.
- All4 released the series in December but Channel 4 waited to air it during Sundays from January.
- Chronology: A few months after the first series before heading to May 2015.

Series 2 of Big Boys felt like it could've been a good place to have the series end, given that final scene but at the same time, it kind of left me wanting one more series. There was a lot to enjoy with the series and yet again, the male friendships are some of the best depicted on telly. 

Rating: 9 out of 10