Saturday, 30 November 2019

As #Autumn Becomes #Winter...

The Park, November 30th

Mr Squirrel!  Pleased this one worked out - by which I mean that you can
actually see the squirrel and he's not blurred!

Saturday, 23 November 2019

Review: #TheWalkingDead S10x08 THE WORLD BEFORE #TWD #TWDFamily

Review: S10x07 OPEN YOUR EYES

Written by Julia Ruchman
Directed by John Dahl

'Let's get to it—screw these freaks' 

The last three episodes really have been outstanding, haven't they?  Excellent dialogue, threads woven together so artfully, and (as Negan would say), some seriously unpredictable shit. πŸ˜†  I can't imagine what is going to happen in the second half, which is just as it should be.

So finally we see the backstory of Dante, though we still don't know where he came from—not that it matters now.  I'm slightly disappointed about the way that whole storyline was wrapped up so quickly, because it had so much potential, but I'm delighted that it was Gabriel who killed him.  Letting the desire for revenge triumph over his usual wise judgement was so much the right thing as far as Siddiq, Rosita and Coco are concerned.

Maybe he will get hassle from some of the others for disposing of Dante before they got a chance to grill him for Whisperer information, thought that won't be a concern right now, seeing as most of the A team are currently stuck down a Walker-filled pit. 

Oh Carol, you were the one who hung back after Daryl had dismissed Aaron's intel as a con; that look on your face said I'm not so sure... I think they're here—so why respond to the bait?  I get it, though—she's on a mission, and not even beginning to work through her grief over Henry.  Before the heads on the spikes, Carol coolly worked stuff out, did what she thought was best, every time, and she was always right, but it seems losing Henry was the last straw, and now she's dashing forth, blinded by her need to avenge his death.

So did Gamma lie to Aaron, or did Alpha send her to him as an unwitting decoy, knowing that she would betray her?  The latter, I believe.

That exchange between Carol and Daryl brought tears to my eyes.  'I'm the one you tell.  Me.'  You could see the relief she felt when she went into his arms ... and the tenderness and concern he feels for her, too.  Also good that it wasn't overdone; I'm glad that the writers aren't laying their relationship on too thick, because Daryl was always a man of few but important words ('Nah'), and Carol, by her own admission, finds it so hard to talk about her pain.

'We have a future.  Don't let her take that, too'

Meanwhile, back on the road, with Michonne and Judith ... it's good to see the lovely Scott get more screentime and lines—to see people like him and Barbara, who were Alexandria residents before our gang showed up; they've become like old friends too, now, as more of the characters from the first six seasons disappear.  

As for Luke—hasn't he learned, after all this time, that you do a sweep through every building before you start looking for stuff?  New character Virgil had 'good guy' written all over him, though we can only guess at what will happen to Michonne now that she's sailed off with him; I hope I don't come to eat my words.  I see the orange backpack now has a new owner; is this symbolic?  

Michonne and Judith make a touching team, strong and sweet all at the same time (how proud Rick, Carl and Lori would be!) though I was surprised to hear no mention of 'give my love to your brother' before Michonne left, or that she had to get back because of him, as well as to give support to the rest of Alexandria.  I loved her mention of 'My mercy prevails over my wrath'; not just Siddiq, but Rick too; and how she underlined to Virgil that his wife and kids must be worried, and wondering where he is: 'Don't put them through that'.  Because she knows what it's like...

A definite theme ran through this episode, reflected in the title ... Aaron's story to Gracie about the relics from the lost Native American tribe, as though he was thinking that the humans still trying to cling onto civilisation might meet the same fate; Dante saying that such communities will 'crumble at the smallest nick', and his echoing of Alpha's philosophy about what people are, these days ... also Rosita's doubting herself as the kick-ass warrior we knew before motherhood.

And so the communities are now left without anyone with medical knowhow.  Then again, who remembers Carol tending to Hershel's leg and planning Lori's C section in S3x02 SICK, because she'd learned some stuff from Hershel?  Still, I can't see her staying home with a stethoscope instead of out there wasting hostiles, of the dead and the undead variety (quote: Abraham, S6x14!).

Other bits and bobs:
  • Gabriel's words of wisdom: 'Feelings don't predict the future'.  Wonderful advice to anyone who suffers from anxiety!
  • I like that Siddiq turned; not many of the main characters get to be a Walker!
  • When Dante said, 'Look what people did to the world', did he mean that the Walker virus was man-made?
  • So Aaron's number plates survived even the fire of two mid-season finales ago!  Wonder if he's got another Alaska one yet?!

  • Another bit of clever TWD detail from the old world, always noticed and appreciated—how the Walker that Eugene helped Rosita kill was wearing a dayglo tabard and a helmet, an indication that he was one from the very early days. 
  • Love that Judith is keeping a log—maybe Rick will get to read it one day.  Writers, producers, please let that happen!! 
  • What will happen to Gamma and Lydia?  I assume Lydia is not just gone, as Daryl said, and that Gamma has allowed her feelings for her family to quash any remaining loyalty she has for Alpha.  Will they be instrumental in getting Daryl and co out of the Walker pit?  Or will that just be down to Negan?  'Nah' - I'm sure they can find a way out, themselves ... but where will they end up?

Are those spikes at the Alpha's new border 
ready for a new set of heads?

Not on Carol's watch.....

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Lately I've Been Watching

More mini TV and film reviews, mostly stuff I've seen on Netflix and Amazon Prime.  

For more in this series, please click here: Lately I've Been Watching

Comedy Series: Extras (both seasons, and Christmas special)

5 stars plus ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Yes of course I've seen this before, more than once, but I've recently watched the whole thing again, and loved every minute.  Even more so than The Office, I think.  The cameos by the famous people are marvellous (I particularly liked Robert de Niro and Orlando Bloom, and David Bowie's song), but it's Andy Millman's 'journey' from desperate extra to fame-chasing TV star through to disillusionment with the whole celeb culture that is the real genius.  If you've never watched it, you MUST.

Film: The King

4.5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the early years of Henry V, ending in his return from Agincourt.  I loved that it didn't seem 'Hollywoodised' or sensationalised at all, rare for historical fiction these days; it's actually quite low key.  TimothΓ©e Chalamet is an unusual and inspired choice for Henry; I thought he was perfect.  The lead-up to and the battle itself made it worthy of 5*, but I've taken a half star off because I think the beginning would be quite hard to understand if you didn't already know who all the people are, and their histories.

I very much appreciated the realism of the settings, and, thus, the picture of how the ordinary people lived in those days, too.  Most definitely worth watching!

Mock Documentary: The Magician

4.5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The forerunner to Scott Ryan's terrific Mr Inbetween; a camera follows around Australian hitman-for-hire Ray Shoesmith.  If you love the series as much as I do, you'll want to see this too.  Horrendous, sad and funny, all at the same time. 

Series: The Crown(Season 3)

4 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

After a lacklustre first episode I enjoyed this as I did the other two seasons, not least of all because of the historical aspect (I was born in 1959, so remembered events, clothes, attitudes, etc).  Olivia Colman plays the queen so well; I particularly like how the relationships between her and PMs Wilson and Heath were portrayed (and Wilson's comment about her being a secret leftie!).  A Twitter friend mentioned how much older she looked than the queen would have looked then, but my mother was exactly the same age, and I remember her looking very similar when I was a child; in the 1960s, styles for women over thirty-five were so ageing and, mostly, quite unflattering.  Those terrible hats!

I was less impressed with Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret; she seemed more like a pantomime version of her.  She's too old in the face, too fat around the middle (I've googled pictures of Margaret, aged around 40), and too lacking in class and style.  Vanessa Kirby was a far better choice.  On the subject of that marriage, I notice that Armstrong-Jones is portrayed as a perfectly reasonable chap in this season, (though played by the gorgeous Ben Daniels, so I'm not complaining) rather than the feckless, faithless swine of Season 2.   Charles and Anne I thought were very good; most interesting to see how damaged he was from an early age, and how, like his great uncle, he is probably unsuited for monarchy, at least in the old sense.  This made me wonder what he would have thought then, had he known he would still be the Prince of Wales in his 70s.  Also like the chap who plays Prince Phillip.

I noticed how the format has changed; each one now deals with an 'issue' that is neatly resolved by the end of the episode, with some sort of emotional epiphany on the part of each character.  Not sure about this; seems a bit contrived, in particular the one about Prince Phillip's mid-life crisis.

One more negative: not keen on some of the too-modern language used; phrases like 'Here's the thing', and Prince Phillip describing Anne as 'a royal' - surely that was something that started to be used by the tabloid press in Diana days?  The queen saying 'Not on my watch'?  I look forward to what comes next, though, especially how the whole Diana debacle will be addressed.  

NB: Fans of Mr Mercedes will enjoy seeing the man himself as Roddy Llewellyn!

Series: Fringe

2 stars ⭐⭐

Watched one episode of this X Files type show made in 2008.  That was enough.  The plot wasn't bad but the plot developments and character stereotypes are hackneyed and the dialogue so clichΓ©d that several times I guessed the next line, and was almost spot-on.  Waste of excellent actors like Kirk Acevedo and Lance Reddick, though it has to be said that Reddick always plays the same part.  He usually gets better lines, though.

Saturday, 16 November 2019

Review: #TheWalkingDead S10x07 OPEN YOUR EYES #TWD #TWDFamily

Review: S10x06 BONDS

Written by Corey Reed
Directed by Michael Cudlitz

Wow!!! 😲 An episode of so many unexpected developments, ending with the plot twist to end all TWD plot twists—my mouth actually dropped open. 😱  I take my hat off to you, Messrs Reed and Cudlitz, and everyone else involved; Open Your Eyes ticked every box.  An atmospheric and emotive masterpiece of suspense with perfect dialogue, and totally unpredictable.  This is what TWD is all about :)

Just when I was thinking that all the theories about Siddiq having 'bought' his freedom from Alpha would have made a much better storyline than him having PTSD, the far more shocking truth was revealed—and this is surely the most sinister of all TWD villainous plot developments to date: because he is walking around Alexandria, respected and undetected.  More worrying still, Dante is now their only doctorwho will, presumably, cook up a tale about Siddiq having killed himself.

'Keep everyone hydrated' ...even more dangerous than the enemy you can't see is the one you have yet to recognise—that we know who the baddie is but our gang don't is a brilliant, previously unexplored slant.  And there was me, finding his 'You're my friend' to Siddiq almost as touching as Rick's 'You're my brother' to Daryl.  Though he did display genuine remorse when he killed him ... hmm.


The conversations between Siddiq and Rosita were a delight, and made my eyes water—I should have remembered that characters always have some exceptionally moving scenes before their least, I assume he's dead, but if Glenn can reappear from underneath that Walker swamped wheelie bin...

Most scary of all: if he's dead no one will know about the water... nah, Michonne will suss it out.  She's good like that :).  And Rosita's as sharp as hell, too; surely she will know what Siddiq wouldn't have killed himself?  Not when he had Coco.

Elsewhere, Carol did her Carol-ish stuff once more, storming in there like the all-seeing angel of don't fuck with us that she is.  Running alongside the potential for danger and death in a way we have not seen before (still can't get over how awesome the Dante plot development is!) is one of hope; now that Gamma knows Lydia is alive, she will see Alpha as weaker.  She was already confused, of course; her guilt about her sister was all too apparent.  When Alpha said (about Aaron), 'He will tempt you with his lies.  Do not be seduced', Gamma's face told us that she wasn't entirely sure who was doing the lying and seducing.

Carol always sees several steps ahead, and knew that the key was the Whisperers knowing that Alpha had lied to them about her great sacrifice ... I'm guessing her plan developed earlier, when Lydia made the point that the survival of a settlement like Alexandria is a threat to Alpha. 'An idea like that is dangerous.  It would spread, and there's nothing my mother could do to stop it'.  Remember some of the other Whisperers talking about how fabulous Hilltop was, when they first saw it?


This episode was masterfully constructed, with every little thread absorbed into the whole, such as the hemlock that was Dante's way of ensuring that the hostage didn't talk (probably?).  Little twist after little twist; Carol's tray of what one assumed to be torture implements turning out to be afternoon tea....

...then the hostage gobbling down his first piece of bread and jam for years that ended up all over Carol's face—and he saw the side of her that isn't all beet and acorn cookies.  Remember, all who would cross her: this is the woman who killed Karen and David.  And lured men to the Kill Floor.  And burned Jed and his band of rogue Saviours alive.  Don't mess with her.

Why else was this episode so stunningly good?  A shirtless Daryl earns a πŸ‘ every time, of course; another one for him having some quality time with Dog, and looking wistfully at the acorns that he appears to have saved as a memento of his and Caryl's day out.  That's how I saw it, anyway!  That aside, it's one I know I will return to again and again, probably seeing a little more in it with each watch. πŸ˜‰  

Other thoughts:
  • Carol's face when Lydia walked off into the night—I've thought since The Storm that Lydia could become another Sophia replacement ... did Carol think of Henry walking off, when he was young, and when Sophia ran off, all those years ago? And she saw Gamma crying; will she, too, end up under Carol's fiercely protective wing?  Tobin was so right when he said what he did about her back in S6—'You're a mom.  And it's not about the smiles or the cookies.'
  • Alpha ticking off Gamma for killing a Walker ('one less Guardian for our hoard') makes me think we're going to get a fabulous Walker herd episode before the end of Season 10!
  • Note to self: stop reading theories about what might happen, and just wait ... of course Rosita wasn't going to be killed off.  I don't imagine the writers saved her from Alpha's spikes (in the comics, she was one of the heads) only to have her die from drinking water.  Hope I don't have to eat my words!
  • When do we get to see Michonne again? 
  • I liked how Gamma and the hostage both muttered the Whisperers' Chant to give themselves strength.  I read that this originated from Ryan Hurst; it's something he would recite to get himself in character, was heard and included into the show.
  • Rosita has definitely gained a more mellow side ... not just since motherhood, but since Sasha died. 
  • When do we get to see Michonne again?