BOOK REVIEW: My Sweet Revenge by Jane Fallon

In the summer, my cat makes me sit outside where I can’t get any WiFi. Apparently she is too scared to stay in the garden by herself, and just feels safer if I’m there.

I suppose I could spend my enforced no-WiFi time doing Yoga and meditating on how I became so devoted to such a demanding creature, but it’s really a great chance to catch up on some reading. It’s like relaxing on the beach with a good book, only with cat babysitting thrown in, and lots of purring.

My Sweet Revenge was written under the furry supervision of author Jane Fallon’s diva moggy Ollie (she’s a girl) Fallon-Gervais, so it’s only right it should be read while under the paw too. Let me explain: Ollie has her own Twitter account (37,000 followers) and my familiarity with her social media antics clued me in that I would love Jane’s world. Not that Jane writes Ollie’s Tweets, of course.

So I really have to thank Olls – because this isn’t the kind of book I’d grab off the shelf; I know it’s not necessarily a popular term, but ‘chick lit’ isn’t generally for me. Fair play to all such writers out there –  I know I would never have the talent to write it.

As expected, Jane Fallon’s work (she is now the author of six best-selling books) has far too much drama and deceit to be fluffy or girly. It’s like chick lit written by a secret evil genius with a blonde ponytail.

Jane’s latest heroine, Paula, works in a bakery (hence that mouthwatering jacket cover) and her idea of getting back at her (apparently) cheating husband isn’t just to fling a cream pie in his lying face.

See? That would be the plot of my own romantic revenge novel.

Paula and her husband Robert met at drama school; his acting career took off, hers didn’t. Robert’s not exactly Benedict Cumberbatch famous, more like second-billed lead on a soap (or ‘long-running drama’) famous, and beloved by the nation’s grannies. The couple’s teenage daughter Georgia is the only celeb sprog on the planet to not be an aspiring actress/photographer/model, and has her heart set on medical school instead.

Their life is shattered when Paula makes a discovery leading her to believe that Robert is having an affair with a gorgeous co-star named Saskia, who is married to a producer on their show Farmer Giles (!). Paula doesn’t confront her husband, deciding instead to execute a scheme for retribution that will make him fall back in love with her, while scuppering any chance he has of happiness with Saskia.

The story is mean, addictive, and about as unlikely as a sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, calorie-free pastry ever tasting good. But Jane Fallon was a producer for shows like EastEnders and This Life, and is a famous-adjacent person herself. With her powers of observation, she’s made this book really authentic and insightful. Paula is a great main character – likeable and with enough gusto to keep the reader engaged.

I honestly could not see the twists coming. The book has been an absolute joy and a great vacation read.

Verdict: I haven’t enjoyed a story partly-set in an eatery so much since Pushing Daisies folded.

The Mummy and Wonder Woman

I haven’t been enjoying the cinema very much lately. I keep getting hit with mild vertigo every time I go. I think I’m overpowered by all the fragrances and aftershave that people seem to douse themselves with before they head to the multiplex, and well, I’m sensitive.

Yet I have bravely fought on, just like the wondrous Diana of Themyscira charging across No Man’s Land into enemy fire. (OK slight exaggeration.)

I realise everything has already been said about Woman Woman so I’ll keep it very brief: It’s a really good superhero movie. Gal Gadot and Chris Pine are great (all the cast are), and I thought the decision to shift the backdrop to WWI worked really well.

Well done DCEU, I always knew you had it in you.

The Mummy was… a different experience.

The Tom Cruise-starrer kicks off Universal’s Dark Universe thing but hasn’t done too well. Ultimately I think there just wasn’t any appetite for another Mummy. It needed to be exceptionally good and have amazing word of mouth to entice people.

My first surprise was that it was a 15 certificate, although as the movie progressed I couldn’t figure out why it wasn’t a 12A. It starts off a bit creepy and intriguing, with Russell Crowe in the modern day finding some crypt, then a load of exposition involving Ancient Egypt and a curse, before we’re back to the present where tomb raider Tom Cruise triggers said curse.

I would make a crack about Cruise being too old for his action hero thing, but a load of fifty-somethings (and one seventy-year-old) totally crushed me at running 5k (3.1 miles) last week, so actually I’ll just keep my mouth shut on that score.

Chris Martin’s girlfriend is also in the movie as a… I can’t really remember. Archaeologist who has an affair with Cruise. Blonde hair?

I felt sorry for the actress Sofia Boutella because her Mummy is an interesting idea. Ahmanet is an Egyptian princess who got royally screwed over and then makes bad choices by entering into a pact with the evil god Set. She is way scarier than campy old Imhotep. (Weird thing, there was a guy who looked just like that crazy high priest right behind me.)

It’s a heavy, oppressive summer blockbuster, with out-of-control sound levels, but there is a good movie in there – perhaps it was the rumoured troubled production. Keep going Universal, you’ll get your Wonder Woman.

REVIEW: Alien: Covenant (randomly deleted..)

There are probably certain things you just know about yourself – like whether or not you’d be cut out for daring interplanetary exploration. Personally, I can confidently say that I wouldn’t be much good.

In the jumbled Alien franchise, it seems I’d be well-qualified. In Interstellar the crew represent the best of humanity – the bravest, the best scientific minds. Compare this to the inept scientific crew of Prometheus, even the hardscrabble, quotable marines of Aliens; Xenomorph Expedition’s workforce aren’t exactly first draft. No offence, Ripley, ma’am.

This brings us to the Covenant, a beautiful hunk of a ship that houses a crew made up of married couples, all jolted out of hypersleep following a neutrino burst. (Yes I’m going to totally pretend I know what that is.) Playing nursemaid is Walter (Michael Fassbender), the nice android brother/updated model to Prometheus’ smarmy malcontent David.

Now I loved Prometheus. I loved the blueness of it, I loved Shaw – despite everything – and I loved David because the crew were so infuriatingly stupid and hostile you rooted for the evil robot genius. Shaw and David survived the events of Prometheus together and set off to track down the Engineers – the race who created humanity.

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Sadly missed: Dr Elizabeth Shaw Credit: Twentieth Century Fox

I was probably alone in the universe in basically just wanting Prometheus 2, and with ‘Covenant’ in the title it looked like my prayers might still be answered. More dodgy philosophizing please! I avoided trailers and publicity because I wanted to be surprised in the theatre.

People who didn’t like Prometheus (and, ahem, there were a fair few) had made their feelings known, and as with all things, those who shout the loudest tend to get their way. So I had to get over the disappointment that Covenant wasn’t a continuation of the adventures of David and Shaw, but a return to typical – if bloody – blockbuster terrain.

Covenant’s newly-awakened crew are lured away from their target planet by an eerie transmission that I think was Shaw singing John Denver’s ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads’. Upon hearing her, I realized I just couldn’t care about these Covenant losers and I never would.

The only person against deviating from their planned course is Daniels (Katherine Waterston), supposedly our Ripley-esque heroine. Widowed when Captain James Franco got Anakin Skywalker’d in his malfunctioning sleep pod, she’s also now second-in-command to Billy Crudup’s wimpy Captain Arm (OK it’s Oram, but it sounded like they were saying ‘arm’).

Daniels and Arm lead some of the other marrieds and a security team on this strange new world and despite knowing nothing about it, people are soon moaning and stopping for cigarette breaks like this is just a routine rekkie. There’s no professionalism, no training, no common sense. I wanted to scream at the screen: “It’s not Earth guys!”

Luckily David is back, so ha-ha for our marrieds! Bye, suckers! David’s been busy experimenting with the Engineer’s black goo bio-weapon, which infects the Covenant idiots, who are so rubbish with firearms they shoot up their own landing craft.

Apart from the creepy android-on-android flute scene, we know where all this is headed: an all-action face-off with an Xenomorph through the halls of the Covenant. This is Aliens minus the snappy dialogue and (my earlier disrespect notwithstanding) the memorable supporting cast.

If Ridley Scott couldn’t do a George Lucas and remain unrepentant following Prometheus, insisting this was the prequel story he always wanted to make only he didn’t have the tech – it might have been better if this venerable franchise had stayed in a permanent cryo-sleep since the 80s.

TV REVIEW: King Charles III on BBC2 and PBS

When “Charles III” trended on Twitter last Wednesday there were probably more than a few people who thought that an era had ended.

Luckily, Wednesday’s tweets were not about the accession of Charles III, but the BBC TV adaptation of Mike Bartlett’s award-winning future history play. After the glossy Netflix hit The Crown, and ITV’s vapid Victoria, King Charles III was an unsettling “what if”.

First staged in 2014, the play imagines the current Prince of Wales as a tormented ruler who causes constitutional chaos by refusing to grant Royal Assent to a bill passed by Parliament.

What draconian new law upsets Charles so much he’d risk the monarchy? Banning homeopathy on the NHS? War on one of his other pet causes? Nope, he’s royally hacked off at a nasty bit of legislation that restricts the freedom of the press. (Hooray for Charles! Journalists probably aren’t his favourite people.) Cue rioting outside the palace and Diana apparitions wafting down the corridors.

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BBC/Drama Republic

The actors in this play-turned-TV-drama make the blank verse dialogue sound easy (and most of the cast are veterans from the stage run). The late Tim Pigott-Smith (who died in April), is Charles; Chris Oliver is a dithering, weak-willed Wills; Richard Goulding a dour, hunched, Daniel Radcliffe-like (Prince) Harry.

The cast aren’t attempting precise impersonations of their characters so much as original portrayals of real people in a parallel universe ; the only thing Goulding’s Harry shares with the prince is red hair.

Poor Harry. While the real ‘spare’ has created a role for himself, in the play he’s a ‘ginger joke’. There’s an unlikely love interest in a working-class woman named Jessica (Tamara Lawrance), and embarrassing scenes featuring the lovelorn prince with Working Class Londoners who (weirdly) don’t recognize the fifth-in-line to the throne.

Jessica is definitely no Meghan Markle, the glam, clever, highly-educated American actress and true-life Harry girlfriend. Markle came along too late to be written in, although there is Camilla (Margot Leicester), and there is Kate (Charlotte Riley.)

The BBC were criticised for portraying William’s wife as a scheming Lady Macbeth, a gimlet-eyed Duchess determined to dethrone her father-in-law. After all, Catherine has always seemed more quietly traditional than quietly revolutionary.

While the real Kate doesn’t strike me as someone particularly career-driven or interested in public service or power, in Bartlett’s play her children’s royal status is jeopardized. She’s protecting her children and their future, their social standing. As Riley has pointed out, she’s merely being ‘pragmatic’.

This is an interesting, dark little 90 minute horror which really reminded me of Pablo Larraín’s crazy Jackie biopic: a country is in limbo and mourning; there’s powerful, haunting music (by Jocelyn Pook). But it’s the blank verse that gives the production a creepy, futuristic House of Lancaster vibe. Just unsettling.

REVIEW: Ghost in the Shell

The live-action Ghost in the Shell is a box office dud then, and there are people who are really happy about that. Not necessarily because they are die-hard fans of the original Japanese manga and anime, but because of so-called “whitewashing”.

To some, this movie was actually an “opportunity” to cast a hitherto largely unknown Japanese or Asian-American actress, instead of a big Hollywood star. But Paramount hired Scarlett Johansson, the Tony Award-winning actress who looks good in a catsuit.

Her character is Mira, or Major. Created by the shadowy Hanka Robotics, her brain is housed in a fully cybernetic body. People have all kinds of cutting-edge enhancements, like X-ray vision, but we’re told Mira is the first of her kind and the future of humanity.

As an agent of an elite government task force called Section 9, she is dispatched across a grimy, futuristic city to fight criminals, like the mysterious hacker Kuze. (Forget whitewashing – the robot workforce is coming to take everyone’s jobs.)

There were very mature themes and concepts that were posed by the cult 1995 anime movie. But this 12A (or PG-13) remake really struggles doesn’t really bother with questions like: “What is it to be human in a technologically advanced society?”

Ghost is basically a dark, stylish actioner that doesn’t get too philosophical. As with director Rupert Sanders’ debut movie Snow White and the Huntsman, it is remarkable for dazzling visuals and sounds.

The performances do match the spectacle, with Pilou Asbæk as Major’s second in command Batou, Takeshi ‘Beat’ Kitano as the boss of Section 9, Juliette Binoche as the scientist Dr Oulet, and Michael Pitt as the villain Kuze. Johansson, for her part, has onscreen appeal and proven action prowess. She might not be able to open a $100 million movie, but she can carry one.

This isn’t a kitschy fun film, like Johansson’s 2014 sci-fi hit Lucy. It isn’t as famous a property as other recent blockbuster releases, like ‘Kong’ or ‘Beauty and the Beast’, and it just didn’t capture the public imagination. Ultimately, Ghost was probably doomed to fail.

Still, it isn’t the travesty that the 46% Rotten Tomatoes rating suggests. (The casting negativity may have had a discouraging effect on critics.) Yes, the story needed more work, but the soundtrack, the cool visuals, and the acting make it a solid three out of five stars.

REVIEW: Beauty and the Beast

I was never a Disney kid. I managed to avoid nearly all the studio’s nineties hits, including the ‘classic’ Beauty and the Beast. The only Disney animation I ever saw on a reasonably big screen was The Lion King, and that was just because I was trapped on a ferry to France at the time.

So I wasn’t going to take umbrage with the live-action remake offensive that Disney is on. Still, I was aware there was a lot of fuss surrounding this particular release.

For starters, Belle – or one Ms. Emma Watson – is said to have passed on La La Land for the role, which is pretty understandable: nobody could have known that the Damian Chazelle-directed feature was going to become such an overrated hype job.

And luckily, Watson has come up smelling of roses. She’s made serious bank as Belle and will now have first pick of future roles. She’s young enough and pretty enough – she’ll get her Oscar. Cynicism intended.

Watson has also been front and centre in the media selling Beauty as a modern, empowering, feminist take on the fairy tale. For what it’s worth, I think Belle is brave and courageous. Although a simple village girl, she knows her own mind and has no trouble rejecting Luke Evans’s ghastly Gaston.

Despite all the concerns that the movie was going to be a retread of a ‘problematic’ tale, once the friendship between Belle and Beastie is established, he’s revealed as her intellectual equal, and thankfully he doesn’t turn on her like a snarling dog later on.

To my utter surprise, Emma Watson is not nails-down-a-chalkboard. (Maybe she wouldn’t have been bad in La La Land; she can’t particularly sing, but then neither can Emma Stone.) She looks great too – I was really impressed by the costumes.

The rest of the cast are all on good form, including Ewan McGregor as a candlestick holder, Ian McKellen as a clock, Emma Thompson as a teapot, Dan Stevens as the Beast, Kevin Kline as Belle’s pa, and Josh Gad as Gaston’s sidekick Le Fou (what gay storyline?).

If I’m going to nitpick, I’d say it’s too long and I wasn’t 100% on the Beast’s CGI, but my audience applauded and I’ve been happily humming the songs since I left the cinema. One of the year’s biggest movies.

Blogger Appreciation Award

Last month, I was nominated for the Blogger Appreciation Award by the Green Onion Blog. How cool is that? Very Cool.

I would like to extend my thanks to the G.O.B AKA the blogging superhero Green Onion for this award. I love all things green and oniony.

And Japanese Cherry Blossomy! Spring is finally on the horizon and hopefully the allergies that have wiped me out for the last few weeks will ease. Until Hay Fever season at least…

Now, I think I’m supposed to write a few things about when and why I started my blog. Briefly – I started this blog a little timidly in 2014. I had no idea what to write about, just that I had always wanted a creative career.

Last year I finally had the confidence to start blogging more regularly. I’m still a bit reticent, but I’m finding my voice at last. I’m not in a position to give any advice exactly, because my situation is of course very unique to me.

But if you’re lacking in confidence, take your time. (Or dive right in, what do I know?!) Eventually you find your niche and make new bloggy friends along the way.

This brings me to the fact that this award is an opportunity for bloggers to share a little appreciation around.

This is difficult really – I’m sure I’m not big enough or influential enough to really boost smaller sites, and I don’t want to pester busy bloggers with yet another award nomination. So I would just like to say that I appreciate the incredible knowledge and hard work of all the bloggers I follow, including The Green Onion Blog, Captain’s QuartersJason’s Movie Blog,  Raistlin0903, English Language Thoughts, & Oliver’s Twist and too many others to name!

Mini Reviews: Doctor Strange, Deepwater Horizon, Kubo And The Two Strings

Well, there was a monumental flub at the Oscars ceremony just over a week ago: I wasn’t invited. I know right! (The organizers obviously read my blog and know that I don’t like travelling. Yes, yes, that must be it.)

Last year I watched part of the show, but that was only because I was up all night with a streaming cold. This year I went to bed, knowing full well there wouldn’t be any nice surprises. Sigh. #OscarsSoDull.

But I don’t want to write about the awards and their tedious machinations and untrammelled sexism/ageism. Instead, I’m going to concentrate on the fact that some of the films I’ve got the most enjoyment from over the last few years have tended to be nominated in the technical categories.

Out of this year’s crop of visual effects nominees, I’d seen Rogue One and eventual winner The Jungle Book, but it was time to check out the other contenders…

Doctor Strange 

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A bunch of baddies led by Mads Mikkelson rip some pages out of a book and chuck it on the floor, so Smug Superior Being Tilda Swinton goes all Inception on them. Meanwhile, Doctor Strange, an arrogant surgeon with a good grasp of popular culture, has a horror car crash and damages his hands.

When he goes to Smug Being for a cure we swap medical blah blah for spatial paradoxes and continuum probabilities. The Avengers may protect us from physical perils, but Smug’s Sorcerers, including Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), guard against mystical threats.

Smug doesn’t want to train Strange because she fears he may fall to the dark side like Mads and start damaging library books, but po-faced Mordo vouches for him. Cumberbatch and Ejiofor score some very actorly shouting matches, but poor Mads and Strange’s GF Rachel McAdams appear to have settled for the more thankless Marvel roles.

At least we don’t get the usual metal-clanging-against-metal final showdown that superhero movies usually give us. Instead, Strange and the crew do some Parkour and freerunning over buildings and stairways that move and shift like Hogwarts on acid.

Anyway, thanks Doctor – I made it through a Marvel thingy without resorting to the headache pills.

Deepwater Horizon

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In Peter Berg’s re-staging of the 2010 offshore rig disaster, early scenes set electronics technician Mark Wahlberg up as a family man married to Kate Hudson, who will be pulling worried-wife-on-the-phone duties.

There’s a scene where their cutesy movie daughter demonstrates her school project (“My daddy’s job”) on deepwater drilling (which goes right over my head because these things always do), and then we’re off to the rig.

Once the predictable one-liners and jokey banter have been mined to completion, we get a highly volatile situation onboard the rig where wild-eyed BP exec John Malkovich is riding roughshod over Transocean employees, including Wahlberg and Kurt Russel. If you’ve ever seen the SNL sketch of Kylo Ren as an Undercover Boss – it’s that kind of atmosphere.

Once the first thing goes wrong on the rig it seems to start a chain reaction and from there the action doesn’t let up. This is devastating movie mayhem that makes Titanic and every other disaster movie look tame. Berg lets the explosions do the talking, at the expense of both characterization, and the sentimentality and jingoism that I expected.

Watching Horizon, I got the impression the explosion occurred because Malkovich was a money-hungry %$&*. “We just the help ya’ll hire to drill a hole”, grumbles Russell. The reality was more complex, but the movie does its best to serve as a tribute to survivors and those that lost their lives.

Kubo and the Two Strings 

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Kubo is the latest stop-motion from Laika studios, the same people behind The Boxtrolls and Coraline. This latest offering got a major thumbs up from all quarters, and was hailed as the animation movie of the year.

Set in ancient Japan, young Kubo (voiced by Art Parkinson – Rickon in Game of Thrones) lives in a cave with his ailing mother. No ordinary boy, he is a one-eyed storyteller who can bring his origami figures to life. He uses his magical gifts to entertain local villagers, but he must be home before it gets dark.

This is because his grandfather and wicked aunts (who dwell in some kind of cold spiritual realm) plan to steal his other eye. When Kubo stays out one night, the aunts appear, and his mother uses the last of her magic to spirit him away.

Charlize Theron voices Kubo’s monkey-guardian in the kind of bored, superior tone she might use for press interviews, while Matthew McConaughey plays a dopey samurai-figure cursed to live as a beetle. Ralph Fiennes resurrects the ghost of Voldemort for the Moon King, and Rooney Mara memorably lends her voice to the fluttering Dementor-like aunts.

Kubo definitely has atmosphere to spare and a beautiful soundtrack, but I could see the plot surprises coming. I have to acknowledge the painstaking work that goes into creating something like this, but I know the child me would have been bored, and far less reverential.

BOOK REVIEW: Lion (A Long Way Home: A Memoir) by Saroo Brierley with Larry Buttrose

In 1980s India, five-year-old Saroo, like many small children in poor communities, looks after a younger sibling; he has special responsibility for his baby sister Shekila. He washes and feeds her, and plays games of peekaboo. Saroo’s streetwise big brothers, Guddu and Kallu, take care of each other and little Saroo.

With no father at home, their mother works on construction sites, carrying rocks and stones on her head in the baking heat. Despite this hardship, Saroo is lucky – his family are poor, but they are, Saroo will recall, “reasonably happy”.

Saroo’s mother is warm and kindhearted, and neighbours in their dry, dusty central Indian town watch out for each other. The little boy loves flying kites, chasing butterflies and tagging behind his older brothers when they hustle for food and money.blogbooks2

On one longer jaunt with his eldest brother Guddu, an exhausted Saroo is left to nod off on a bench on a railway platform. When he wakes up, it is dark, and his brother has vanished. Saroo stumbles onto a waiting train and goes back to sleep.

Childhood memory can be unreliable, but suffice to say Saroo finds himself alone and trapped on a moving train that carries him 1,500km east to the megacity of Kolkata.

In Kolkata, people mainly speak Bengali. The young Saroo speaks Hindi, albeit unable to pronounce the name of his town or his last name. (It later turns out he was mispronouncing even his first name – his name is Sheru, or ‘Lion’ in Hindi.)

He spends a unbelievable three weeks on the streets until an older boy takes him to a police station. After attempts to establish his identity fail, he finds himself first in a frightening juvenile home, and then mercifully in the care of a adoption agency, ISSA, before being flown to his adoptive parents in Tasmania – Sue and  John Brierley.

From the impoverished child with broken teeth and a heart murmour, Saroo grows up into a healthy and amiable adult, a “proud Tassie”. Yet he never forgets India or fully moves on. Nobody can find his original home until a new technology – Google Earth -leads him to months of searching, and reunites him with his past.

My thoughts

This is a remarkable story that captured the attention of the world. Reading Lion, it’s hard not to relive the terror of little Saroo as he finds himself first trapped, and then lost amid Kolkata’s immense Howrah Station.

Despite the pitiless indifference and random cruelty of adults to his plight – not to mention the near-misses he had on the streets – the adult Saroo says that his journey left him with a sincere belief in the importance of grabbing opportunities when they are presented, and in the goodness of people.

Lion is obviously now a major Oscar-nominated movie starring Nicole Kidman, but I’m glad it jumped out at me from the bookshelf first.

TV REVIEW: SS-GB Episode 1

Where The Crown was a soothing, nostalgic view of Britain’s unique greatness, new BBC drama SS-GB is a nightmare vision. Based on Len Deighton’s 1978 alt-history novel, it envisions a dystopian 1941 in which the Nazis won the Battle of Britain and invaded London with their swastika flags and spiky road barriers. Hitler’s head is on postage stamps and Buckingham Palace is in ruins.

Naturally, the conquerors are busy imposing their brutal rule on the country in other ways too. But Sam Riley’s Superintendent Douglas Archer – a Humphrey Bogart-esque detective with a throaty growl that recalls Christian Bale’s Batman (top tip – subtitles ON) – just wants to keep on policing like nothing has happened.

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Mini Reviews: The Girl on the Train, Hell or High Water, Captain Fantastic

It’s that time of year when it’s chilly outside and the stars are busy traipsing up and down red carpets without so much as a coat on and covering themselves in shiny awards, while I’m staying home and covering myself with a giant blanket.

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REVIEW: Manchester by the Sea

Faced with the prospect of going to see Manchester by the Sea, I wondered if I’m a serious movie fan at all. When it’s freezing out, wouldn’t I just be happier staying in and watching Bridget Jones’s Baby?

But reticence and cold weather actually set the tone for Kenneth Lonergan’s Oscar buzzy movie about bereavement.

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Teen Wolf’s Ian Bohen in Sundance hit Wind River and Sicario sequel Soldado

To be clear, I only got my free Netflix trial last year to watch the phenomenon that is Stranger Things. Soon, I was back to my old ways, guiltily exploring ‘TV Sci-Fi’ and even ‘Teen TV’. I tried to reconnect with The Vampire Diaries, but it really should have bit the dust when Nina Dobrev left. I also tried its humourless spin-off The Originals, before binge-watching Tatiana Maslany in the cyberpunk series Orphan Black.

To my surprise, Teen Wolf – the MTV show based on the 1985 Michael J. Fox hit of the same name – has been pretty entertaining. The undoubted breakout is Dylan O’Brien, star of the Maze Runner trilogy. I also liked Ian Bohen, whose scenes with O’Brien have been a highlight.

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REVIEW: Incredible Natalie Portman as Jackie Kennedy in a 90 minute horror

Who in their right mind would want to live in the White House?

In Pablo Larraín’s heady and unsettling look at the days following the assassination of JFK, life at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for widow Jackie is more claustrophobic horror than corridors of power.

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More Royal Drama for 2017: The Crown, Victoria on PBS, King Charles III

Following the Golden Globes last weekend, the internet’s post-ceremony commentary was all about mocking Tom Hiddleston and gushing over Meryl Streep.

But the real star speech was made by Claire Foy, who took home the Best Actress in a TV series (Drama) award for playing HM The Queen in Netflix’s The Crown.

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REVIEW: La La Land

“I hate jazz,” says Emma Stone’s aspiring actress Mia to jazz musician Seb (Ryan Gosling) at the start of their relationship in La La Land. She feels it’s only right and proper to get that out the way pronto.

Well I should say upfront that I had a nightmare screening and I struggled to really give the movie a proper once-over.

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2017 movies

The Year Ahead

It’s my first post of 2017, and I thought I better get it published before this month is over, the Oscars have been handed out, and we’re moving into summer blockbuster territory.

This is about movies slated for release this year that I just might casually wind up seeing, like, um, Episode VIII. If I can find the time, of course. Ahem.

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