Category Archives: Film Reviews

The Handmaid’s Tale (1990) vs The Handmaid’s Tale vs The Handmaid’s Tale – Film Review, TV Review, Book Review *spoiler alerts*

 

Finding the third season of The Handmaid’s Tale a bit of a struggle (I’ve just watched Episode 9, Heroic, and I feel that this has been one of the stronger episodes of the season. I’m hoping it’s gearing up for the last few eps), I decided to watch the 1990 film. Apart from the fact that the poster is highly sexualised in a way that is extremely creepy, especially when you know the content, it’s a very good film. Very dated, but that’s surely to be expected.

Of course, each interpretation has its strengths and weaknesses. I think having a longer time to tell the story means that the first season of the TV show is able to take the time to set up the world – the darkness, the violence, the true horror of the place. While the film shows frightened people being herded off to the colonies, it doesn’t have the same sense of oppression and terror that is created by the long, slow shots and the quiet of the TV show.

There is a lot of criticism about the way the TV series deals with race – do a basic Google search and you will find a heap of articles on it. In the book, non-white people in Gilead were sent to the colonies (and this happens in the film), whereas in the show, they exist in this world as Handmaids and Marthas, and I believe even one of the wives is a woman of colour. I’m big on diversity in the media and love seeing the wide range of races, sexualities, genders, abilities and etc. appearing as a natural part of the TV worlds, and so this is a conflict for me. Gilead is a horrible  place with terrible things happening, and Atwood’s creation included genocide. But I’m sick of seeing TV worlds which are not diverse… I’ve been enjoying Nashville recently, but wow it is a very white and heteronormative world. So, should the show have been true to the book and had anyone non-white in Gilead removed? And then we get yet another almost totally white cast… but a representation truer to Atwood’s Gilead? Or do we accept that race is pretty much ignored in the show, though still the vast majority of the cast are white. It feels like it’s a crappy solution – keep people of colour in the world, but keep the numbers down. It just feels like it’s not quite right.

One of the most notable strengths in the film over the TV show is the casting of the Commander and his wife, Serena Joy. In the TV show, Serena Joy (Yvonne Strahovski) and Offred (Elisabeth Moss) are the same age, but in the film, Serena Joy (Faye Dunaway) is considerably older that Offred (Natasha Richardson). This changes the dynamic between the two characters quite considerably. Each are good, but it changes the relationship between the Commander and Offred a lot, and Serena Joy’s opinion of this relationship.

I’m still torn about the way the television show is moving – this season I’ve been getting fed up of the long shots of Elisabeth Moss staring (and I really hope there is a pay-off to all those shots… three eps to see if that is the case) – but I think both the show and the film are very good, interesting interpretations of the book. And, of course, now I feel the need to re-read the book – I last read it in around 1997, so I think it’s due for a revisit.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Wow. The first thing that struck me about the book having seen the film and TV series recently is how sparse it is. Being told from the perspective of Offred, the reader only knows what she sees and what she chooses to tell us. The reader doesn’t know the whole world, only the space Offred occupies. While both the TV and film tell the same basic story, the book has the power of bringing the reader right into Offred’s world, and it’s truly wonderful.

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Bird Box (2018) Film Review

The world has been attacked by a mysterious force that, when a person sees it, they are sent to extreme suicidal despair. Malorie (Sandra Bullock) is with two small children when she needs to get to the river and travel down the river in silence and blindfolded to find a place of refuge.

I am not good with horror films or suspense. And I watched this alone at night and that was not a great idea. Although, it’s actually not that scary, just very tense. I certainly was clenching my teeth and, at times, I was literally on the edge of my seat, hands in fists. I suspect that lovers of horror may not love this film, I look forward to hearing from others what they think. I watched it simply because I read an article where Stephen King had blasted critics for disliking the film because of ‘Netflix bias’ – that is, a bias against films made by streaming services as opposed to ‘real films’ that get cinema release. Certainly, this film would have been too much for me in the cinema.

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Fast & Furious 6 (2013) Film Review

So, you know how Hobbs (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) was a cop chasing these guys back in the last film? And they end up teaming up, and the good cop realises that the bad guys are not the most bad guys and lets them go after they sort out the really bad guys? Well, guess what? There are more really bad guys, and the good cop needs the crew (you know, all the fast car drivers from the previous films) to sort it out.

Ridiculous, implausible and totally wonderful. I love it. I don’t want my action films to be at all realistic. I want them to be Mission Impossible and Fast and the Furious. (I mean, ideally I’d like to see some more action films with kick arse strong women at the fore, but until Hollywood realises that we want more in the style of The Long Kiss Goodnight, give me these). At some point, things can’t keep getting bigger and faster. But there’s two more out there and so let’s see where it goes.

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Fast Five (2011) Film Review

They’re out of the US, but the F&F crew need one last job to get enough money to live like kings in places without extradition. They’re in Brazil and there’s a big job they can do. Then along comes Hobbs (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) and they find perhaps they have met their match.

Wonderful. Dumb. Fast. Furious. Lots of significant looks, some fabulous one-liners and a lot of general coolness.

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Army of Darkness (1992) Film Review

So, spoiler alert for Evil Dead II, Ash has been sent back hundreds of years and is at a castle somewhere (seemingly England, not sure how that happened) and has to defeat evil to be able to be sent forward to current day.

Magnificent. Wonderful. Fantastic. I loved this so much. Magnificently insane. There are just so many insane things, I really totally and utterly cannot believe that I haven’t seen this film until now. I will absolutely and totally be watching this again. So good.

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Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief (2015) vs Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright

For so long, I’ve thought of Scientology as a joke – you know, some crazy religion made up by a sci fi writer who once said that the only way to make money was to start a religion. It just all seemed dodgy and I felt that if you got sucked in, too bad. Then I read this book and wow. It’s a pretty comprehensive history along with interviews of ex-Scientologists and it’s really a pretty horrible thing. The amount of abuse (physical, emotional), the genuinely insane things that have happened and, really, even just the horror. It’s a fascinating read, and lead to the equally fascinating documentary. For me, I read it with amazement and disgust, but also hope that perhaps it wasn’t true. Certainly, there are plenty of footnotes throughout noting that various people claimed certain things hadn’t happened, but for me this didn’t take away from it at all. It’s exhausting.

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Evil Dead II (1987) Film Review

It’s the same cabin in the woods from Evil Dead, and it’s the same protagonist, Ash (Bruce Campbell). There is some conjecture about whether it is a remake or a sequel, it’s kind of a remake but different. In this, rather than a group of mates in the cabin, it’s a romantic weekend. But the couple are joined by unexpected visitors – including evil.

For me, this was equally as ridiculous and wonderful as the first. Bruce Campbell is fabulous, the effects are as terribly magnificent as the first, it was just great. If you enjoyed watching the first one, you’ll enjoy the second, I reckon. Plus, it’s worth seeing what this guy can do with a chainsaw!

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