I’ve never been one for horror films. I’m the easiest person to scare and until last year, the creepiest movie I’d watched was The Others. But scrolling through Netflix one evening, I decided to watch Carrie. After all, I’ve read the book. Yes, I still may not be a seasoned horror fan, but my enjoyment of this film definitely sparked an interest. Then someone suggested American Horror Story, a show I’d heard of and thought “yeah, like I’ll ever watch that”. Oh, how wrong I was. Read More
Reading Jasper Jones with a bunch of other people on Goodreads was my first introduction to the Aussie blogging community, so in many ways it’s always held a special place in my heart. But it’s also a damn good book. Since I read the novel and was lucky enough to meet Craig Silvey in Brisbane, I’ve been waiting for this film. First, there was a stage play, but living in regional Queensland I was realistic about my chances of ever getting to see it. Even when the movie was announced and the release date drew nearer, I didn’t want to get my hopes up about being able to see this story on the big screen. Cue my extreme ALL CAPS excitement when I saw it was scheduled at our cinema. Of course, I had to bring my book blogger bestie Caitlin along for the ride.
I’m not usually one for watching movies over and over. But since it was released at the start of the year, I’ve watched Spotlight at least five times. That is definitely a record for me. This film, this story, is incredible. In all my re-watching, it’s never failed to leave me feeling completely inspired.
There’s a brilliantly dark and harsh quality to many of the British crime dramas I’ve come to love. The somewhat softer Heartbeat and New Tricks will always be favourites, there’s something undeniably gripping about those shows which aren’t afraid to go deeper, no matter how unsettling it may be for the audience.
Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr promote Eight Days a Week. Photo: MPL Communications/Charlie Gray
There are few cinematic releases I have been quite so excited for, such is the extent of my enduring love for the Fab Four. I spent months counting down to this documentary’s release, bought my tickets a week out and dragged my two best friends along with me. Judging by their reactions, this isn’t just a movie for Beatlemaniacs (although they both don’t see the need to watch any other docos on the group again).
Generally I try to avoid the ‘it’ books everyone is raving about, but when the movie adaptation comes out I end up caving. I ignored Me Before You for most of the year, despite the super-sized hype and seemingly endless stream of reviews and Instagram shots. But what did grab my attention was the snippets of criticism I started seeing on social media.
I haven’t read the book and I’m not going to, so I can only judge the movie adaptation, but I must admit I went into the cinema with very low expectations and disapproval in mind. Watching it left me feeling pretty conflicted so I wanted to try and sort out my thoughts in this review. It’s going to include plenty of spoilers, so if you haven’t read the book/watched the movie and don’t want it ruined, don’t keep reading.
If you’re not familiar with the plot; wealthy, adventurous finance mogul Will becomes a quadriplegic after a traffic accident. Despite having no formal training or any experience as a carer, Lou is hired by Will’s family to act as a companion and, it is later revealed, reverse his decision to end his life through euthanasia.
I don’t want this review/discussion to be entirely negative so I will say I loved Emilia Clarke as Lou. She was so warm and bubbly and has the most amazingly expressive eyebrows I have ever seen. There were quite a few aspects of her personality I loved; her open and friendly nature, eccentric dress sense and loyalty. But Lou was also very sheltered and naive. I guessed she was about 20, but was shocked when it was revealed she was 26.
Lou’s stupidity when it came to caring for Will angered me. She was hired despite having no experience of caring for anyone, let alone someone with serious medical conditions. Lou doesn’t even bother to read the comprehensive document about Will’s medical needs, leading to him falling seriously ill at one point. But the fact she was hired at all shows she’s not the only one incapable of making the right decisions in this film.
I found the trip to the races utterly ridiculous. I can’t believe Lou didn’t research accessible parking options and ignored the advice from Will’s nurse about parking near a patch of mud which the wheelchair becomes bogged in, leading to extreme embarrassment for Will. I was absolutely fuming when Lou refused to listen to Will’s concerns about eating at a restaurant, making a scene despite his asking if they could leave. There are also issues around the holiday to a tropical island, but if I continue to nitpick everything this discussion will be endless.
Many other people have written about the problems in this film much more eloquently than I’m able to. Basically, I’m concerned by the message this film sends about disability. Will’s decision to commit suicide sends the message life isn’t worth living with a disability and I feel that’s dangerous. I’m able-bodied so I don’t feel like I have any authority to comment, but I’ve read the opinions of people who have a disability and when they’re raising issues with content, I think we need to listen. I also question why a quadriplegic actor was not cast. There’s an argument movies need well-known faces, but surely people can’t become more well-known unless casting becomes more diverse?
Even a year ago I probably would have loved this book and wouldn’t have understood the criticism. But I’ve changed so much in that time and have become much more concerned with how my actions and words impact those around me. I want to understand why this film is problematic and I want to continue the conversation with people who haven’t seen the issues. I don’t want to condemn anyone who enjoyed this book or the film, but I don’t think the very valid concerns raised by so many can be ignored.
Despite my anger at aspects of the plot, I enjoyed a night with some of my best friends escaping reality. Don’t avoid Me Before You, but if you watch it do so with representation in mind.
Further reading‘I’m not a thing to be pitied’: the disability backlash against Me Before YouMe Before You: life disability and ‘inspiration porn’
I have a habit of stumbling across fantastic television shows on the ABC and No Offence is the latest unexpected delight. I’m both pleased and relieved to hear a second season has been commissioned because I couldn’t stop thinking about the conclusion to this dark and utterly compelling crime drama.
Set in Manchester, No Offence follows a group of detectives and police officers as they attempt to solve a series of particularly gruesome killings. As well as this overarching, season-long mystery, each individual episode has the officers facing everything from drug manufacturing, black market organ transplants, slavery and murder.
It’s hard not to compare Cuffs and No Offence. They’re both similarly gritty British crime dramas and I watched them together as they aired during the same period on Australian television. In contrast to Cuffs, it was the cast of No Offence I fell for immediately while the mystery didn’t immediately convince me I needed to keep watching. I was pleased to see the three leading detectives were women and loved the way Viv (Joanna Scanlan), Dinah (Elaine Cassidy) and Joy (Alexandra Roach) worked together. I’m excited to see where they go in season two, especially after the final few minutes of the season one finale. But the general interplay between all characters was brilliant and really hinted at a lot of depth which I’m hoping will be revealed as the show progresses.
No Offence is a crime drama with guts. It doesn’t shy away from tough cases and it certainly doesn’t hide the flaws of its characters. Although the characters are definitely at the heart of No Offence, there is more than enough mystery to keep every viewer on their toes. Bring on season two!
A gritty crime drama set in Brighton is just my cup of tea. Cuffs delivered in every way for me and I must admit I’m quite gutted to find out it’s not been renewed. This is such a shame because I don’t think I’ve seen a more contemporary, diverse and genuinely thrilling crime show on television and certainly not one which also has superb storytelling and character development.
Each episode involves several cases, which usually interweave and overlap at some point. These cases range from hate crimes, kidnapping and armed robberies to harassment of people on a nudist beach and neighbourhood squabbles over dogs. I really enjoyed the humour alongside the confronting cases.
I think perhaps the most impressive element of Cuffs is the storytelling. It’s quite beautiful really, the way seemingly unconnected cases weave together in surprising ways and I’ve never seen it done quite so well in a crime drama before. The characters are also absolutely brilliant. Each of them came to grow on me, but I had soft spots for Lino (Alex Carter) and Jake (Jacob Ifan). I enjoyed the depth of their storylines (although everyone had surprising histories). I loved the way this depth was slowly revealed over the course of the series until the characters became one of the most compelling aspects of the show.
Another fabulous thing about Cuffs is diversity and this is perhaps why I’m so disappointed there won’t be a second series. The cast of main officers was the most diverse I’ve seen including muslim officers, those who are gay and people of colour. On top of this, the cases themselves are diverse and deal with confronting issues like hate crime and different types of domestic abuse. It’s such a shame the BBC didn’t see fit to continue the series and to keep these diverse characters and stories on mainstream television.
Despite not being renewed for a second series, Cuffs is a television show I highly recommend. A brilliant, diverse cast with real character depth and gritty, compelling cases, all set against the colourful backdrop of Brighton. What more could you want?
I found this series by accident on ABC one night. Being set in the 1960s, it looked like something I’d enjoy. Set in a London hospital, Breathless follows the lives of several doctors, nurses and their families. Despite taking a while to grow on me, I enjoyed the series and was sad to hear it was never renewed for a second series.
Breathless has the same vibe of shows like The Royal and Heartbeat (some of my favourites), but is focused more on the personal lives of each character than either of those shows, rather than following a particular medical case within the hospital. It took me one or two episodes to get my head around everyone, but the complex web of story lines and connections between characters was ultimately what made the show compelling.
The cast was great, with some characters really surprising me. Successful surgeon Otto Powell (Jack Davenport) turned out to be a very different man to the one I imagined he would be after the first episode. But my favourite character was Angela Wilson (Catherine Steadman), a young nurse who has a strong sense of right and wrong, and is caring for her sick father.
Aside from the gorgeous composition and filming of the series (the costumes are beautiful), my favourite aspect of the series was the exploration of abortion. Still illegal at the time, Otto and other doctors and nurses perform private procedures outside the hospital. It’s such a small element of the series, but it continues to be an important topic to discuss, particularly in popular culture.
Although Breathless isn’t a favourite for me, or really something I’d go out of my way to re-watch, I did enjoy it. I would have liked a second season to see how things progressed for the characters, who all grew on me throughout the series. Having said that, the conclusion didn’t have too many loose ends, which I appreciated knowing the story wouldn’t continue. Breathless was enjoyable, with a compelling series of story lines.
One of my closest friends has been begging me to watch Mad Men since we met when we started university. Now I can see why. I’ve just finished the fourth season and am desperate for friends to watch it so we can discuss everything. Part of me wishes I’d written reviews for each season because I have SO MANY thoughts about every aspect of this show. Instead I’ve settled for reviewing the first four seasons and hopefully I don’t miss anything. I’ve no doubt this is a series I will be re-watching frequently.
To be honest, when I started watching Mad Men I questioned if I’d continue past season one. That was until I got to the final few episodes. It’s not that there’s anything much wrong with the start of the series, except that I disliked almost every character and it felt like very little was going on plot-wise when it came to the overall direction of the show. Despite this, I adored the setting and was intrigued by every episode and every character. By season two, I was absolutely hooked.
One of the things I love about Mad Men (and Love Child) is the subtle integration of real historical events and movements. Things like the civil rights movement, election and assassination of John F Kennedy and (my personal favourite) The Beatles historic Shea Stadium concert are all woven into the fabric of the show. This adds to the quality of the show; these events aren’t just slotted in to provide context for the time period. It’s an essential part of bringing the 1960s to life on screen and creating a totally believable world. Likewise, the fashion and styling of the era also create the feeling of stepping back in time.
Unfortunately, with that comes the confronting exploration of overt sexism, racism and homophobia in 1960s America. Honestly, some scenes have made my jaw drop and I am almost constantly frustrated by this absolutely disgusting behaviour. But, I think the way these issues are explored fully is fantastic. As a white woman who’s led a privileged life in what is, by comparison, an accepting society, I was shocked that this behaviour didn’t even raise an eyebrow amongst the characters. But after hearing my mum’s own experiences with sexism in the workplace as a young woman, I know Mad Men isn’t accentuating this behaviour for dramatic affect. While there’s no doubting society still has a long way to go on so many fronts, I am thankful things have started to change.
Mad Men’s pivotal character, Don Draper, continues to leave me with so many conflicting thoughts. My feelings towards Don can change rapidly from minute-to-minute within an episode. Yet, his character as a whole has grown on me despite his flaws. I’m enjoying seeing his relationship with daughter Sally deepen as she grows up and I’m hoping this continues in the series. When it comes to other characters, I’ve been surprised my hate for Pete has lessened, while my love for Peggy and Joan has also continued to grow. Overall, I now adore every character for their complex, and often flawed, personalities. For me, that’s always the mark of a truly great story. It’s easy to love something when you like and can relate to a character, but it takes masterful storytelling for me to love characters I don’t really like and to care about them so much I’ll stick with them for hours of viewing.
I love how the dynamics of the office and industry are explored. It’s an integral part of the story; not just a pretty backdrop of the character’s personal life and drama to play out on. So much has happened during the first four seasons and I can’t wait to see how the later seasons develop.