Thursday, 25 March 2021

Review: #TWD S10x21 DIVERGED #TheWalkingDead

Previously: Review: 10x20 SPLINTER



—  S10 x 21  DIVERGED —

Directed by David Boyd

Written by Heather Bellson

I loved this episode!  Centres around Daryl and Carol going in separate directions and struggling through bad days, starting with Carol's narration - I'm really liking these little 'where we're at now' speeches at the beginning of each of the bonus six.  The co-stars of this week's were, of course, Dog and Jerry, both of whom made Carol's bad day a lot better than it might have been.


I'm guessing many cries of 'Think he's trying to tell you something, mate' went up, as Dog chose to follow Carol rather than his master in the clip above that we all saw before the episode aired.  Perhaps he knew Carol was the one who needed him more, on that day.

Some dialogue that stood out for me:

Carol: Every tough decision I've made was always to protect us

and

Daryl: You'll make it work.  You always do.

later...

Carol: I'll make it work

Jerry: You always do.

Carol is viewed like that by everyone, even when she is despairing and sees herself as weak, hopeless and disliked.  I wonder when she will really start to believe it?  Ed did such a number on her - much of the time she does believe in the post-apocalyptic Carol, the person who was inside her all the time, but now and again she forgets that she's the woman who looked up on the internet how to un-dislocate a shoulder, so she wouldn't have to keep going to ER.  And undislocated it herself.  


Then there's the soup out of old potatoes, wrinkled mushrooms and dandelion root - don't forget, she's the lady who used to make miracles happen with water chestnuts, never mind the beet and acorn cookies. The stores are looking a bit different from how they did in JSS, though, aren't they...


When she first got back to Alexandria and was talking to Jerry, I hated seeing her sounding so apologetic just for being there.  Wondering if she should 'get out of everyone's hair'.  Yes, the lady who saved everyone from incineration at the CDC, from becoming dinner at Terminus (including you, Daryl Dixon), and being slashed up by the Wolves shortly after the water chestnut and cola canned ham conversation.  Feels like Daryl's brutal treatment brings out the Wife of Ed Peletier in her, all over again.  

'If someone I love beats me up, perhaps I really am worth nothing'.

But dear Jerry was with her for all those years when she was happy in the Kingdom.  He knows that Queen Carol is still part of her, too.  I loved him for checking up on her, realising that she was in much worse shape than she'd tried to make out, and showing his unconditional support.

'A friend is someone who thinks you're perfect 

even if everyone else thinks you're broken'

Her comment about not needing an apology because it didn't mean anything other than a truce said a lot; Daryl's actions speak, rather than his words.  When she told Dog that she missed Daryl, too, I felt she meant missed him as in the two of them being close, rather than his actual physical presence.


๐Ÿฅฃ๐Ÿน๐Ÿฅฃ๐Ÿน๐Ÿฅฃ

Other stuff that really appealed to me about this episode: how Caryl's killing of the Walkers when she went outside to find plants was almost casual - like they've got so used to them that they're just like pests they have to deal with.


...and the basic survival stuff - eleven years in, those who have made it so far and will continue to do so are endlessly and admirably resourceful.  Carol finding her ingredients for the metaphorical stone soup and mending the solar panel, Daryl fixing his bike with old wires out of age-old cars, not to mention finding some of those skeletal Walkers that have been around for a decade; ex-soldiers, still with MREs, Camels, clips and tools in their kitbags.  What a find!  


And then there's the rat... like the tomato metaphor of Warning Signs, it stood for so much.  The vermin that destroys all they have, Carol's frustration (just when everything is really, really bad, it can actually get a bit more difficult), her determination to fix a problem even if it means busting up a bunch of other stuff, and probably a few others I'll catch next time I watch it (and I liked how Dog came to find his human when he thought he'd detected the rat during the night).

It was just good to spend so much time with Carol in this one - and let's hear it for women in their fifties who look great with long grey hair!  Sometimes, with those wispy tendrils hanging down over her face, I think Melissa looks really beautiful in an ethereal sort of way, much more so then when she was younger.  Talking of post-apocalyptic sex appeal, any man watching this (with the knowledge that 50% of the known female world adores Daryl Dixon, however dirty he gets) should realise that metrosexual is not the way forward. ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿคฃ 


Yes, he always comes back. This current spat is only a blip; they'll find their way back to each other again.  Fear not.  

...and here's a little reminder of some of those things Carol does to protect people....








Next week... it's Negan time :)




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Friday, 19 March 2021

Review: #TheWalkingDead S10x20 SPLINTER #TWD

 Previously: Review: S10x19 ONE MORE



~ S10 x 20  SPLINTER ~

Directed by Laura Belsey

Written by Julia Ruchman and Vivian Tse


Well, that was a strange little episode, wasn't it?  Just when I was thinking, 'Um, why have they given Ezekiel a personality metamorphosis?', the truth was revealed.  Hallucination scenes are not really my bag, but TWD does them better than most - similar to Alpha and Carol in Look At The Flowers, Ezekiel 2.0 played the part of the devil on Princess's back.  I saw it as the lonely girl who invented scenarios with her new friends, to keep her company when she was scared (when reciting North American state capitals in alphabetical order wasn't quite cutting it).



I wasn't sure I was going to like Princess at first, because I tend not to like deliberately 'kooky' characters—I wasn't that keen on Ezekiel and Jerry at first but now I love them, and Splinter has made me warm to Princess; she's resilient and resourceful and has obviously survived much in her life (neglect, abuse, abandonment.... ADHD, PTSD, loneliness, depression....) but she's still standing.  Not just standing, but strutting around with purple streaks in her hair, groovy shades and a pink fun fur jacket.  And she's rather sweet.


Here we are in a train boxcar once more, then, except that this time there's no Glenn, Abraham, Maggie etc., standing at the other end.  On the other hand, I don't imagine the guys in white are going to eat them.  


I admit to being a tiny bit disappointed by this episode; I'd hoped to see more about what actually happened to the four of them, how good or bad the white armoured (Commonwealth) soldiers are, and maybe a little bit of hope for Eugene finally meeting Stephanie....butwith every episode of 10C, it becomes more clear how clever an idea it is; they're kind of side-stories (One More certainly was) that show us more about where certain characters are at—detail there may not be room for once S11 begins.  They're bonus episodes, after all, rather than the continuation of the main storylines.


At the same time, though, they give us a hint of what's on the horizon - that stunning 'OMG WTF' ending this week, was one of those 'TWD at its best' moments - 'I didn't expect that!'.

Maybe when Princess feels that she's a part of a real family again, her head will stay in reality—her happiness at having Ezekiel, Eugene and Yumiko described as her 'friends' was touching, and her hurt when Fantasy Ezekiel reminded her that they Eugene and Yumiko were his friends, and that she'd only known them a week, said a great deal.  

I've added a couple of pictures from the comics this week because I am so impressed by how accurate the TV representations are :)


Next week: Diverged, as we watch Dog decide who's most important....!




Tuesday, 16 March 2021

Lately I've Been Watching

The latest in my series of mini TV and film reviews, with trailers and 'where to watch'.  If you have trouble finding where any show/film is available, try typing 'where can I watch *name of show*' into whatever search engine you use.

If you would like to see more posts, please click here: Lately I've Been Watching.  If you get as far as the bottom, 'Older Posts' will take you to more.

Please note the subtle difference between half star ratings; a 3.5 or 4.5 might be rounded up or down, depending on what I thought of the programme.


Film: The Mauritanian (2021) - (Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, Fandango)

5* plus ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Utterly brilliant. True story about Mohamedou Ould Salahi being held in Guantanamo Bay for 14 years without charge, and without having committed a crime.  Stars Tahar Rahim as Salahi, Jodie Foster as his lawyer, and Benedict Cumberbatch as the military prosecutor, who stood down once he realised that much of the 'evidence' was fabricated.  At the end, you see film of the real people, and what happened to them all.  Highly, highly recommended.


Series: Berlin Station - Seasons 1, 2 and 3 (Amazon - cancelled in 2019)

5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Stars Richard Armitage and Rhys Ifans as agents for the CIA in Berlin.  Usual thriller/spy/corruption/murder plots, but particularly good.  I liked that it was set in various countries in Europe, rather than the usual American setting.  Definitely worth watching, though I didn't think the 3rd season was quite as good as the first two.  My favourite characters were Ifans' Hector deJean, the disillusioned agent with dubious tactics, and Rafael Torres (Ismael Cruz Cรณrdova), who was in S3 only.

Co-stars Richard Jenkins and Leland Orser, also Michelle Forbes and Ashley Judd (these two ladies are the best illustration I've seen of the argument for leaving your face alone and accepting that you're now an attractive woman of 50+ rather than 35, versus stuffing it with Botox until you look like a surprised chipmunk but not actually any younger).


Film: Grey Gardens (2009) (Amazon, Hulu, HBO Max)

5* plus ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Terrific stuff.  Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore star as 'Big' and 'Little' Edith Bouvier Beale, mother and daughter.  True story; Jackie Kennedy's aunt and cousin who lived together from 1952 in their East Hampton mansion, Grey Gardens, in squalor so appalling that health officials demanded it be condemned.  Jackie Kennedy (by then Onasis) heard about it, and organised the house's cleaning up and rejuvenation.  

The film alternates between the current situation of the two women, and flashbacks to show how they arrived at the circumstances of the early 1970s, when their famous relative stepped in.  Decades on, mother and daughter both lived in the past as the filth piled up around them, spending their time singing the show tunes of their youth, tending their cats, painting their nails, etc.

After I'd seen the film, I watched the documentary made by Albert and David Maysles in 1976 (Wikipedia page HERE), which is also on Amazon.  By the time the documentary was made, the place was falling apart again.

Trailer for film:



Trailer for documentary:


.... and (this is hilarious, if you've seen the original!) the trailer for Sandy Passage, the spoof by Bill Hader and Fred Armisen, from their 'Documentary Now' series. (Netflix, Apple, Fire TV, Roku)


Documentary series: Allen vs Farrow (HBO Max, Sky Atlantic/Sky Documentary in UK)

5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

If you're interested in the 'is Woody Allen a paedo or not' debate, this will leave you in no doubt.  I believed all Mia and Dylan said, btw. Mia Farrow comes across as down-to-earth and charming, in a very 'normal' way, as does Dylan - Allen a great deal less so.

The final episode was interesting, as it dealt with the aftermath - Allen with his huge PR machine kept it all shut down quite nicely at first, but, gradually, over the last five years, the climate has changed, with more and more stars coming out to say that they support Mia and Dylan, and would never work with Allen again.  I was particularly impressed by the support from Mia and Allen's natural son Ronan (formerly 'Satchel').  I ended up feeling so pleased for Mia and her family that they could get this documentary out there.

If you want to read the 'open letter from Dylan Farrow' published in the New York Times, it's HERE.


Film: The Lie (Amazon)

4.5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Liked this a lot - takes place over one weekend, stars Mireille Enos, who is always worth watching, Peter Sarsgaard and Joey King (The Act).  Divorced parents - 15 year old Kayla tells her father that she's killed her best friend.  The weekend then spirals into chaos as the parents try to protect her.  Brilliant end twist - didn't see it coming at all.


Film: Cherry (Apple TV+)

4* ⭐⭐⭐⭐

About a young man (Tom Holland) who joins the US army on impulse, has a terrible time in Iraq, comes out and is chucked pills and little else for his PTSD, becomes addicted to Oxy, moves onto smack, robs banks and goes to jail.  Jolly good.



Documentary Series: Can't Get You Out Of My Head (BBC, Youtube)

4* ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Adam Curtis's 5 part documentary about individualism, socialism, capitalism, the psychology of power, the ghosts of empire, conspiracy theories... 'an emotional history of the modern world'.  I watched it over a period of three evenings, and found that it did become a little repetitive at times.  Historically fascinating (taught me a lot about China), though some of his ideas I didn't agree with, and it didn't seem to reach much of a conclusion.  It made me think of when, in the 1980s, my father gave me a book to read about the troubles in Northern Ireland.  After I'd read it, he said, "The only conclusion I came is that there is no solution."  This made me think similarly.

The most memorable part, for me, was youth activist Chai Ling being interviewed during the Tiananmen Square massacre.  She suggested that only when the movement ended in bloodshed would the majority of Chinese realise the importance of the student movement and unite, though she felt unable to share this idea with her fellow students.  Or, indeed, be there.  So, not stirring her followers up to die for the cause while she watched from a safe place, like the Generals of World War I, then.  Funny how people behave once they find themselves in positions of power...

There is much old footage from China, Russia, the UK and US; it's worth watching for this alone.  And the bits about Tupac. :)



The Walking Dead 10x18 FIND ME (Amazon, AMC+)

5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Full Review HERE



The Walking Dead 10x19 ONE MORE (Amazon, AMC+)

4.5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Full Review HERE



Comedy: South Park Vaccination Special (HBO Max, Comedy Central)

4* ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Good, but not quite as funny as the Pandemic Special. Usually South Park rips on the loony left so much that this had to be the loony right's turn - the Q Anon stuff was spot on, and there was some other good stuff in it, like the anger against people who were angry at others for having an opposing opinion, some protests being related as 'peaceful' but others not so, and the queue for the vaccine being like a nightclub queue, but it didn't quite hit the spot like some episodes do.  For me, anyway, but humour is such an individual thing.  After 24 seasons, the quality is bound to ebb and flow just a little.



Film: Promising Young Woman (Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, Google, etc)

4* ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Rape revenge story.  Genre: the 'black comedy in really bright colours' that is so popular at the moment. Stars Carey Mulligan as a 30-year-old woman looking to avenge her best friend's high school rape, for which the perpetrators were not prosecuted.  Good, fun, some excellent revenge scenarios, and Carey Mulligan has some drool-worthy frocks and hairdos.



Series: Tell Me Your Secrets - Season 1 (Amazon)

4* ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Lily Rabe stars as a young woman who, allegedly, assisted her serial killer boyfriend in his evil activities.  Opposing her is a mother of a girl suspected to be one of his victims, though she is still missing, body never found.  It's good, though a bit drawn out.  Didn't expect the twist at the end of the season at all, which was pleasing.  



Documentary: Max Clifford: The Fall of a Tabloid King (Channel 4, YouTube)

3.5* ⭐⭐⭐

Documentary revealing how much of a vile specimen Max Clifford was.  'I wouldn't insult pondlife' sort of vile.  Well-made, no stone unturned, but it turned my stomach.

Whole documentary here:



Series: The One (Netflix)

2.5* ⭐⭐⭐

The Netflix version of Soulmates on Amazon, based on the same book - about two scientists who work out a way of finding people's one true soulmate, based on their DNA.  This is about the scientists themselves, rather than individual stories.  The story itself is fun, but the dialogue and acting made me think of El Dorado (a UK soap opera in the 1980s with cheesy dialogue and wooden actors that got cancelled pretty quickly).  Have watched three episodes, and it did get more interesting in ep 3, but I doubt I'll watch all of it.

Trigger warning: includes token white heterosexual couple.


Film: Songbird (Amazon, Apple)

3* ⭐⭐⭐

Pandemic romance romp, set two years in the future.  Only the immunes are free to roam, and must wear a wristband to indicate.  Everyone else must stay in their houses. If an infection is discovered (everyone must do daily checks), the hazmat brigade arrive.  Romance aspect is about young immune chap (KJ Apa, absolutely gorgeous) trying to get his healthy, locked down girlfriend out.  Watchable, not bad.



Film: Dark Places (2015) (Netflix, Amazon, iTunes, etc)

3* ⭐⭐⭐

Starring Charlize Theron as a Libby Day whose mother (Christina Hendricks) and her two sisters were, allegedly, murdered by her brother when she was eight.  She is now thirty, and circumstances converge to send her off to find out the truth.  Okay, nothing terribly wrong with it, but almost instantly forgettable, so much so that I had to look up its title before writing this post, because I'd forgotten what it was called.

Not helped by the fact that Theron's character is distinctly unlikeable, or that the grown up characters look nothing like the childhood ones, to the extent that their basic colouring changes.  Only exception being Drea de Matteo as the town slut with a soft heart, a character she always plays so well.




Friday, 12 March 2021

Review: #TheWalkingDead S10 x 19 ONE MORE #TWD

 Previously: Review: 10x18 FIND ME



~ S 10 x 19  ONE MORE ~

Directed by Laura Belsey

Written by Erik Mountain and Jim Barnes


I love these side stories; as Gabriel and Aaron (two of my favourites) go out in search of food, we're seeing the immediate aftermath of a war, rather than six months or a year later when our gang is back on its feet.  One More was like a 45 minute snapshot of the changed world.  Some of the imagery, like the blood tarnishing the beauty of nature, the burned family with the flowers, the door flapping in the wind, was so emotive ... the cars nothing more than rusting, dusty, useless lumps of metal.



Then there was the delapidated shop with the lottery machine outside, and the scene on the rooftop; the couple lying on the mattress, the words 'Save Us', presumably for passing helicopters —must have been there since the early days.  Shame they didn't have Rick's GUTS plan to get them to safety.

Few scenes epitomise eleven-years-on survival in a post apocalyptic world more than a priest and a man with a metal arm and a mace for a hand playing cards for bottle tops and drinking $2k whisky by firelight in a forgotten old warehouse, having just eaten wild boar.  

Aaron: 'The fact that people would pay that much to get drunk is a huge part of what was wrong with the world.'  Loved it!


๐ŸงŸ๐ŸงŸ๐ŸงŸ

As for old warhorse Mays, the custodian of the warehouse—that whole scene had such a feeling of the Wild West about it, and enforced Russian roulette is one of those storylines that never gets old.


Earlier, when drunk, the idealistic Aaron insisted that the world could go back to how it was (presumably minus people playing $2K to get drunk), whereas the more pragmatic Gabriel insisted that it couldn't.  When Aaron said, 'You have to remember who you were', I could feel Glenn's echo across the years, saying 'it's still who we are' as he let the crazy man out of the box in No Sanctuary....

... who then tried to kill Rick.  Later Gabriel said that he'd only made the observation that 'evil people are not the exception to the rule, they are the rule' because he was drunk, but maybe the truth is somewhere in between their opposing outlooks.

After Aaron tried to resurrect the former role that he missed so much, that of helping people and bringing them back to the community, it was Gabriel's more realistic, jaded view that no doubt saved a lot more bloodshed.  'He killed his brother's family' .  I'm not sure that Aaron had quite cottoned onto the story in the words Mays didn't say about his brother stealing the last of his food, though they certainly found out the consequences of the brother's actions when they went upstairs.  Had Gabriel not smashed Mays over the head with Aaron's hand, it could have been Jocelyn or Dante all over again.

A quieter episode, but one with so much good stuff in it.  It could have stood up as a play on its own: two men with different outlooks, wandering the wilderness in a destroyed world.  I liked how it was the man with the killer hand who retained his faith in human nature, but the priest who, despite what he said to Mays about forgiveness, saw the world for what it is now.  Oh yeah, and the scene when Aaron laughed as he helped Gabriel out of the mud, then got covered in it himself... ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜


Next week
... what happens to Ezekiel, Eugene, Princess and Yumiko?

Table read trailer HERE, and...





Thursday, 4 March 2021

Review: #TheWalkingDead S10x18 FIND ME #TWD

 Previously:  Review: S10x17 Home Sweet Home


Should be so close, but they're always moving apart...

~ S10 x 18  FIND ME ~ 

Directed by David Boyd

Written by Nicole Mirante Matthews


Wow, that was a hard one to watch... that scene at the end.  

The harshness of that aside, I thought this was an unexpected and fascinating episode, and I've found that I keep thinking about it.  But first, affairs of the heart...

Where does Daryl's heart lie?  When Leah said that he had to decide whether he belonged with her or his 'other family', he put them first —because, although he clearly loved or at least had strong feelings for her, she wasn't his 'brother' Rick, or Carol, Michonne, Judith.... his ties to those people are too strong ever to be broken, or even emotionally loosened. 

'You ain't gonna lose me...I've just got stuff to do.' 

Unfortunately for Leah, she did the crazy thing many people do when they want all of someone who isn't all theirs to have—she asked him to choose.  Never ends well, that one.

So Daryl goes back to his own camp, only to have Carol visit him again, and tell him, in a roundabout way, that she's putting Ezekiel and Henry first, from now on.  The hurt on his face when he said, 'You don't need my permission to move on with your life.  You're telling me I should move on with mine?' said everything.  Despite her being with Ezekiel, she had always kept him in a special place in her heart to which no one else had access, but now she was saying to him that her Kingdom family were more important.  When he'd just chosen her and everyone else over Leah...



Thinking Carol had said, 'I've moved on and so should you', he went back to find Leah—only to discover that it was too late.  Did she leave? The photo of her and Matthew was gone.  Would she have left Dog, though?  Who thinks she's going to resurface?



He was so brutal to Carol at the end, but that was him screaming out; that's what people do when they feel bad about themselves—they lash out at others.  And he's hurt—after all that he'd been through out there, he went home only to have it all go tits up yet again, and see Carol sail off on her boat. Remember, we weren't there in that year or so after 9x16 The Storm and before Season 10, so we never saw how bad it was for him when she left ... but Daryl is never okay when she's gone.  

Remember that other time she took off, at the end of S6 - how could anyone forget the scene when he found her?  

All those awful things he said to her at the end—I believe they came from the guilt he feels about Glenn, about Beth, about Hershel (remember when he cried in 4x12 Still, blaming himself because he'd stopped looking for the Governor?)...


Seeing Maggie again must have brought all that to the fore.  He feels guilty about not being able to find Rick, for knowing he failed Leah. As for Connie, she's one more person he's cared for and (thinks he's) lost, but he uses it to lash out at Carol for all the times she's left, because he's so broken up inside about every damn thing.  

I wondered what would have happened if Carol had said, 'Does anyone ever blame you for Glenn? No, they don't.'  But because of Ed, she's been conditioned to accept punishment and feel bad about herself, rather than to say, 'Hang on a minute.  You did something that was actually a bit worse.'  It was heartbreaking to see her so rejected by him, and so cruelly - even though it was only the 'hit them before they hurt you' thing, that Daryl has been doing since he was a kid.  Walk away from them so they can't walk away from you....

TWD episode titles often seem to have more than one meaning... I thought this one referred to Daryl and Carol asking each other, silently, to 'find me', as well.  

๐Ÿน๐Ÿน๐Ÿน

Inner turmoil apart, I loved this episode. The cinematography was amazing, of course... and it was good to see Daryl something other than asexual; the immediate attraction between him and Leah was so clear, right from the start.  


Maybe she was too like him... and she wasn't with him in Atlanta, at the farm, at the prison, at Terminus, and in that clearing in the woods with Negan.

๐Ÿน๐Ÿน๐Ÿน


Another reason I loved this episode was that, rather than just being told that 'Daryl lived out in the woods on his own for six years catching fish and eating snakes', we find out exactly what DID happen.  Back when he still had two wings on his waistcoat.  And that it was more obvious than before that Carol had taken fairly constant care of him all the time he was out there.


I liked how both of them, at the beginning, looked tired, worn and dirty, and as if they really had been through all they have.  These are tough people. Hard as nails, in some ways.  Strong, resilient....  


...and as @smoking_reedus said on Twitter said yesterday, this isn't a romcom, it's about survival.  It's about devastating pain and loss, while trying to keep yourself alive—anyone expecting hearts and flowers between Daryl and Carol is going to be disappointed.  I truly believe, though, that they'll get through it—maybe not until Season 11, but they will.  

~ They've still got New Mexico ~ 


(But please, please, can we have some happiness for Carol before that???)





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