Tag Archives: TV Review

On Chesil Beach by vs On Chesil Beach (2017) – Book Review, Film Review

On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan

It’s the early sixties, Edward Mayhew and Florence Ponting have just become engaged and headed to their Honeymoon at Chesil Beach. They are both virgins, and have had no sex education. So things are tense, each comes with their own baggage and things don’t go well.

I found this read long, slow and tedious. It had moments which almost seemed to get emotional but then it just dragged on. I saw that it was a film starring the wonderful Saorise Ronan and had to give it a try, to see how they could possibly have taken a story I found so dull and made it into a film.

On Chesil Beach (2017)

As it happens, the film was a pretty decent reflection of the book, which unfortunately meant it was slow and dull. Though apparently I might be a bit alone on that one… there were a lot of good reviews, though there are also a few clankers in there.

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Wentworth – TV Review

A soap opera set in a woman’s prison… what could be better? I’m a bit young for the original Prisoner: Cell Block H which ran from 1979 to 1986 (though I’ve seen some best moments from it), so when it was essentially rebooted as Wentworth a few years ago, I was ready to get on board. So good, so ridiculous, the corruption, the violence, the very stupid decisions. There have been several storylines which have made me angry (not least the whole ‘man abuses woman, women eventually ends up in a relationship with said man’ which is appalling and should never be used), but most are your stock standard soap fare. It was good when eventually some indigenous characters were introduced to the main cast (especially when the wonderful Leah Purcell joined the cast), though the cast remains very caucasian-heavy. I felt like Season 7 was starting to drag a bit, but it definitely kicked back into life Season 8. Though the closing image of the season shows that we are about to drop back into the utterly insane in Season 9.

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The People vs. O.J. Simpson; American Crime Story – TV Review

One of the mostly highly publicised cases in US history is that of OJ Simpson over the murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her boyfriend Ron Goldman. This dramatisation of the events around the crime and the trial tell the story – or some parts of the story. It has a strong cast full of very familiar faces – from  Cuba Gooding Jnr playing OJ, John Travolta as Robert Shapiro and David Schwimmer as Robert Kardashian- to just so many other familiar faces.

While I was old enough to follow the case, I wasn’t overly interested at the time. I saw the news updates, but there wasn’t the type of access to media there is now. I read articles and I sort of know what happened, but I wanted to see how it was going to be depicted in this series. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it felt like a pretty cheesy, true-crime re-enactment, which I supposed is exactly what it was. I don’t think I’d exactly recommend it, but I wouldn’t tell you to keep away.

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Pride and Prejudice vs Pride and Prejudice – Audio Book Review and TV Review

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – Audio Book Review

I’ve been an Austen hater for as long as I can remember. Well, no, I know when I became an active hater. It was Year Twelve, I was doing literature, we were studying Mansfield Park, my literature teacher was swooning and gushing about it and I was bored out of my brain. I remember trying to enjoy it, but I just didn’t. And ever since, I’ve shunned and mocked everything Austen, despite many good friends urging me to give it a go.

Finally, I decided to give it a go. I went the Audible audio book of Pride and Prejudice read by Rosamund Pike. And… It’s bloody good. There were points while I was listening and driving where I was shaking my head, frustrated at being proved wrong. I mean, I knew enough about the story through general pop culture that nothing was a surprise, but it was the detail that got me. Austen was clever and made some pretty decent comments on society. And I have no doubt that my enjoyment was absolutely fuelled by the wonderful performance by Pike. I’m not sure that I’m ready to hit Mansfield Park again yet, but I was prepared to give the BBC production which everyone raves about a go.

Pride and Prejudice – TV Review

This is the one with Colin Firth, with the infamous pond scene, with a cast filled with familiar faces. It’s a six-part adaptation and it’s great. Cheesy and wonderful, and I will forever be quoting (or knowing me, misquoting) Mrs Bennet. I can’t say that I feel the passion that some do, and honestly, the wet shirt scene wasn’t all I’d built it up to be, but it’s a good watch. Now, time to take a turn around the room.

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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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Waco – TV Review

In 1993, on information about a stockpile of weapons, the ATF stormed the compound home of a cult known as the Branch Davidians. David Koresh led this strange group who believed he was divine. It went badly, turned into a standoff and the FBI came in to negotiate. 51 days later, unresolved, the FBI went in. Most of those remaining in the compound, including children, died, many after the tear gas that was sprayed into the building caught fire. It is widely considered to be a huge disaster.

This short series is based on two biographies, one by a survivor from the Branch Davidians and the other and FBI negotiator. I remember watching a documentary on the siege, Waco: The Rules of Engagement, back in the late nineties and it was pretty clear that the whole situation had been pretty badly handled. As with any drama based on real events, it’s hard to know just how true-to-life it is, but it seemed plausible. I’m somewhat fascinated by the way some people are able to get a crowd of people to follow them in such an intense way. The leaders don’t even have to have great ideas, just this strange charisma that draws people in. Amazing… in a very horrific way.

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Vikings – TV Review

It starts with Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel) wanting to lead raids to the West, where Vikings have not yet gone, and over seasons we see his adventures, the difficult relationship with the wonderful shipbuilder Floki (Gustaf Skarsgard), Ragnar’s wife, Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) – the most magnificent kick-arse on the battlefield, his brother, Rollo (Clive Standen) and his son, Bjorn (Alexander Ludwig) amongst so many other fabulous characters.

Oh, I just love it. I have no idea how representative of Viking life it is, but I like the battles and these awful female fighters and the betrayal and the sneaky tricks – it’s fabulous and sexy and ace.

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