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.
I think I’ve seen perhaps three movies at the cinemas this year. Honestly, there haven’t been that many new releases which have appealed to me lately and I feel like there’s more value for money in buying the DVD for less than the cost of a cinema ticket and a boysenberry choc-top (which is undoubtedly the best kind of choc-top). But, a week or so ago, one of my best friends asked if I’d like to see The Intern. It was just what I needed. Life’s been pretty hectic (in a good way) this past month and this film was the perfect, light-hearted escape from reality.
The Intern follows Ben (Robert De Niro), a 70-something New Yorker who doesn’t quite feel content in retirement and needs a new challenge. When he sees a flyer for senior citizen interns at a start-up online fashion label, he leaps at the chance. Unsurprisingly, he charms his way through the application process. But then comes the real challenge. Can he make an impression on focused, ambitious owner Jules (Anne Hathaway)?
When I watch a movie, 90% of the time I just want something fun and enjoyable. I’m a big fan of old school musicals, chick-flicks and rom-coms. Occasionally, I’ll watch something meaningful and emotional (like Unbroken) or a book adaptation, but for the most part, movies are a total escape for me. The Intern was marshmallow sweet and perfectly filled my craving for a lighthearted film. But there was real heart there, and some pretty important messages about valuing life experience and taking a step back from trying to control and perfect every aspect of your career and/or home life.
I loved both De Niro and Hathaway in their respective roles, but adored them as a partnership. I saw so much of myself in Jules and her inability to let go of the company she had built from scratch. I also saw a lot of my dad’s work ethic in Ben, including their need to keep working and contributing to society despite being at an age where many people only see them as being ‘past it’. Apart from that, Ben was such a cute and charming character. One of my favourite scenes was when he set two old school alarm clocks for his first day of work. Bless.
Alongside Ben and Jules were a loveable cast of secondary characters. I loved the young men Ben took under his wing, who initially thought they couldn’t possibly learn anything from the old dude at the desk next to them. Their group scenes were without a doubt the funniest elements of The Intern. But there was one actress who really stole the show: Jules’ daughter Paige (JoJo Kushner).
I must admit the ending didn’t quite work for me, but perhaps this is mainly down to the fact that none of the story lines panned out the way I imagined they were going to. Overall though, The Intern was a lovely film. A fabulous cast and cute, heartwarming storyline make The Intern a film I’d love to watch again.
Given how much I adored the first season of Love Child, I was surprised it took me months to get around to the second season. But this show is absolutely perfect for binge-watching. It took me less than 24 hours to watch all eight episodes because I just could not stop. The second season cemented Love Child as one of my favourite shows of all time. In fact, my notes after watching this started with two simple words: FREAKING LOVE.
Before I jump into discussing this season though, if you haven’t watched Love Child check out my review of season one. Also, what are you waiting for? Go and watch it!
The season kicks off as Sydney celebrates a brand new decade and kisses goodbye to the swinging ‘60s. As with the first season, I love how Love Child continually references real events and social movements of the era, right down to which celebrities Martha (Miranda Tapsell) is planning to marry. The best thing is this feels completely organic, not like the show is trying too hard to be a period drama.
My favourite thing about the move into the 1970s is the exploration of a new wave of feminism. During the first season there was an underlying focus on the inequality between men and women through Joan’s (Jessica Marais) experiences at the hospital, but this is taken to a whole new level when she becomes the only female intern and Patty (Harriet Dyer) discovers Germaine Greer. Love Child also explores casual, ingrained racism through Martha’s experiences.
As I said in my review of season one, I absolutely love the girls of Stanton House. Alongside Joan, who is just a freaking boss for the majority of this season, I adore Patty, whose experiences this season just broke my heart. There’s no way I can fault Love Child for character development, with each of the girls facing so many challenges and growing because of them. The second season also saw some new characters, my favourite was (of course) Patrick Jim (Matthew Le Nevez). Seeing him with a baby is reason enough to watch this show. Honestly. Anyway, I loved the relationship between him and Joan and I absolutely cannot wait to see what happens in season three because this finished on a pretty big cliffhanger. Just writing this post has made me want to go back and re-watch the season (before going back and watching every Offspring episode with Patrick).
Honestly though, gorgeous men aside, Love Child just keeps getting better and better. While not directly based on one person’s story, I love that this show celebrates the strength of women. Both everyday sexism and racism feature heavily in the background of this season, highlighting the fact that these things are still issues in society. An addictive and emotionally-engaging story, beautiful characters and an unflinching portrayal of Australian society in the 1960s and ‘70s combine in Love Child to create one of the best dramas on our screens right now and one of my favourite shows of all time.
When I first saw the advertisements for Love Child last year, I was only going to watch it because Jessica Marais is one of my favourite Aussie actresses. It also reminded me of The Royal, a hospital spin-off of my favourite British television show Heartbeat. Honestly, I had a few doubts about how good the show would be. I certainly wasn’t expecting the characters to have such depth or the storyline to be so strong and compelling. Love Child is definitely one of the best Aussie dramas in recent years.
It’s 1969 in King’s Cross, Sydney. Young midwife Joan Millar (Jessica Marais) is returning to Australia from London to work at one of the country’s largest maternity wards. That’s where she meets the girls from Stanton House, a place for unwed mothers to stay until their babies are born and given up for adoption. Outside the hospital gates, the world is changing fast as the Vietnam War rages and man lands on the moon. Love Child is a moving exploration Australia’s forced adoption policy and the affect it had on the young women at its centre.
There’s so much to love about this series, but perhaps the most outstanding element is the characters. Joan, as a 28-year-old who’s seen the world, acts as a big sister to the girls in Stanton House, taking them under her wing. She’s not afraid to stand up for the young girls or speak up as the only female medical student in the hospital facing a very sexist system (on that point, it’s pretty sad to see that hasn’t changed much in over 40 years). I have so much love for Joan despite some of the decisions she made during the season (hey, you can’t always help who you fall for). I’m interested to learn more about her past in London, which is only briefly discussed in season one, although it’s the reason she returned to Sydney with only one exam left in her medical degree.
It’s impossible to pick a favourite Stanton House girl. Patty (Harriet Dyer), Viv (Sophie Hensser), Annie (Gracie Gilbert) and Martha (Miranda Tapsell) are all amazing in their own right (as characters and actresses), but together they’re formidable. Each has their own strong story which evolves over the course of the first season. Annie and Shirley’s stories undoubtably become more of the overarching focus, but I’m sure that will change in season two. My favourite thing about Patty, Viv and Martha is the little sisterhood they form. They’re there for each in so many ways and also get up to plenty of mischief. Their antics provide real fun and relief from the heavier elements of the storyline which could feel overpowering without a little humour. I could go on and on about every character, but I’ll save you. Just go and watch this yourself!
Needless to say, the soundtrack for Love Child is superb. I love the 1969 setting. It was a time where so much was changing in society broadly, as well as in Australian culture. Love Child perfectly captures this clash of the old traditions and backwards policies and the new wave of liberation and rebellion. I love the way snippets of history are intertwined with Love Child, particularly in early episodes where Mick Jagger visits Sydney and people gather to watch the moon landing.
Love Child is an outstanding Australian drama about a serious, cruel and life-changing policy implemented by the government for decades. Yet, it’s also uplifting, hopeful and perfectly captures the spirit of the swinging sixties. With a superb cast and strong, relatable characters, Love Child is must-watch television.
For those who enjoyed Love Child, I highly recommend Emily Gale’s YA novel Steal My Sunshine.
Sounds like: Love Child || The Supremes
The small seaside town of Broadchurch has been rocked by the tragic death of a young boy. Detectives Alec Hardy (David Tennant) and Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) investigate as the town’s residents feel the weight of collective grief, shock and national media scrutiny.
Broadchurch wasn’t really something that had been on my radar, although I think I’d seen it talked about somewhere in passing. I still had no idea what it was about when I picked it up at the library a few weeks ago. After the first episode I was filled with a compulsive need to know exactly what happened to Danny.
The mystery in season one was superb, with so many plausible twists and turns. To be honest, I think I suspected every single person at some point. Needless to say, the reveal totally flawed me. Season two took this already wonderfully formed mystery and kicked it up to a whole new level. Rather than delving into a new case, it focused on the court room and Alec’s previous Sandbrook case touched upon in season one. I loved this new direction. It would have been too easy to create some new mystery, but I felt it was so much more powerful to explore how the community tried to heal itself.
Throughout both seasons I enjoyed the parallels between the Sandbrook and Broadchurch cases, as well as between the lives of certain characters. I just can’t emphasise enough how brilliant the characters are in Broadchurch. From the start, I felt absolutely enveloped in the lives of Ellie and the Latimer’s. I’ll admit I didn’t immediately warm to Alec, but loved him by the end of season two.
Broadchurch isn’t just another murder mystery. It’s a deep and thought provoking exploration of a town unravelling at the seams. Stunning plot and powerful characters combine in Broadchurch to create brilliant British drama. I am thrilled there is a third season to look forward to and completely intrigued by the direction it will take.
Set in London’s East End in the 1950’s, Call the Midwife is the type of period drama the Brits do best. The series follows the lives of the nuns and midwives of Nonnatus House who serve the families in the surrounding district. At the time many people of the area lived in poverty; tiny rooms housed several people and there was often no running water. Based on a memoir of the same name, Call the Midwife is an absorbing and beautiful series.
This was one of the TV shows I missed first time around. I remember seeing ads for it, but just never found time to watch it. It wasn’t until before Christmas when ABC replayed the first season that I fell in love with Call the Midwife. Since then, I’ve binge-watched season two and the latest Christmas special. I’m eagerly awaiting the third season premiere in Australia, although no announcements have been made by ABC yet.
Call the Midwife isn’t for everyone, but I love the cosy English-ness. Plus, I’m a sucker for any period drama. But the most endearing quality of the show is the gorgeous characters. I’m currently reading the book this series is based on and, although the events which inspired the plot are interesting, I miss the characters I love on the show. Although the series is dominated by Jenny’s story in the first few episodes, I enjoyed seeing the development of all the other characters throughout the series. I love the subtle way a lot of their stories are told.
While there is much tea-drinking and gathering around the fire, Call the Midwife definitely has a grittier tone than shows like Heartbeat or The Royal. The abject poverty many of the families live in was truly shocking to watch. Even more shocking is the knowledge that the show is based on truth. Similarly, the thought that a woman could have dozens of pregnancies is almost unimaginable in 21st Century Australia. The women in Call the Midwife, and the millions of real-life women they represent, are the true heroines of the show. The brilliance of the series is that it doesn’t shy away from shocking situations, or the repulsion some of the younger characters feel when confronted with them.
Call the Midwife is a truly moving series, and one which I cannot wait to watch again.
Mr Selfridgetells the story of ‘Mile a Minute Harry’, a man with a mission to make shopping as thrilling as sex. Pioneering and reckless, with an almost manic energy, he created a theatre of retail where any topic or trend that was new, exciting, entertaining – or sometimes just eccentric – was showcased.
I’ve recently finished watching Mr Selfridge and have found myself well and truly in love. The series is based on the story of American entrepreneur Harry Gordon Selfridge and the famous department store he created in bustling London. It’s perfect for fans of Downton Abbey, set near the turn of the century. Like Downton, Mr Selfridge is full of gorgeous costumes and beautiful sets. However, there is also a lot of depth to the series.
Mr Selfridge explores an array of different story lines including Harry’s business empire and family as well as the personal lives and careers of his staff. The series is set during the time of the Suffragette movement and I was particularly fascinated by the portrayal of the role of women. Mr Selfridge cleverly examines their place in the workplace, their career aspirations, and social expectations in relationships and marriage.
However, the characters were the heart of Mr Selfridge. I couldn’t help loving all of them and was intrigued by their stories. I was particularly frond of Agnes and her brother George as well as Mr Crabb. There were also several historical figures featured during the series including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Anna Pavlova.
As you can tell, I loved Mr Selfridge and am eagerly awaiting the second season. Have you watched the series? If so, what did you think?
I realise I was a little slow to jump onto the Paper Giants bandwagon – it has taken me a shamefully long time to finally watch the DVD, but now that I have I totally get why this show was so popular. And I absolutely loved it. In fact, I watched it twice in the space of four days.
In early 1972, journalist and editor, Ita Buttrose and heir to Australia’s most powerful publishing family, Kerry Packer, started a magazine that created one of the most dramatic sensations in Australian publishing history.
On the surface, it’s the story of a magazine, but it is so, so much more than that. It’s a story of the birth of a magazine, but it is also a story of Australia in the seventies. If you enjoyed last year’s television adaptation of Puberty Blues then I promise you will enjoy this. One of the biggest themes in Puberty Blues which translates to Paper Giants is the role of women in Australian society. In the early seventies Australia was still a relatively conservative nation, but Ita Buttrose and Cleo were on the cusp of the changes which swept through Australia when feminism arrived. The simple act of naming the magazine Cleo was designed to empower women; breaking them from the bonds of magazines like The Australian Women’s Weekly. Initially Cleopatra, the magazine was named for a strong, intelligent women who wasn’t afraid to go after what she wanted, including men.
Cleo was new, it was fresh, it was exciting. It covered everything from female masturbation to breast enhancement and included a nude male centrefold each month. Although Cleo is no longer considered quite so outrageous and daring, it continues to be a quality Australian magazine and is one which I look forward to reading every month. Transformation of the Australian magazine industry aside, Ita Buttrose also did an enormous amount for women in the media and in the workforce generally. As someone who aspires to work in magazines, I personally feel that I have a lot to thank her for. Without someone like Ita it is quite possible that the Australian magazine landscape would look the same today.
Of course, it is impossible to talk about Paper Giants without talking about Asher Keddie. She portrays Ita brilliantly. I always find the challenge with watching biopics is that I feel like I’m watching an actor playing x. However, Asher’s portrayal is completely and utterly believable. I felt like she just became Ita. It is clear that Asher did a lot of research during the production on Paper Giants.
In short, you need to watch this mini-series. It’s a fun, yet insightful portrayal of the creation of Cleo magazine and Australian culture in the seventies. I absolutely adored it and will be buying myself a copy very soon!
This movie is one of my absolute favourites, but I have to confess that I wanted to hate it. I wanted to watch it and scoff at how bad it was. Why? Because I can’t stand Beatles cover bands, especially those that also dress up like them. I get that they’re going for the whole “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” thing, but why watch them when you can watch the originals? Anyway, that was pretty much my reasoning for wanting to hate this movie. In fact, for a while I tossed up not even seeing it. Oh, how I’ve changed my mind…
“Why couldn’t God make me Elvis?”
“’Cause he was saving you for John Lennon”
Named for The Beatles song Nowhere Man; Nowhere Boy is an exploration of John Lennon’s traumatic teenage years as he deals with the loss of his beloved uncle George and seeks the love of his mother Julia, rebelling against his unaffectionate aunt Mimi. However, it is not long before he loses his mother too. It also shows how John found his love for Rock and Roll and charts the birth of The Quarrymen, later to become the famous Beatles.
There are so many things that I love about this movie. So many things.
I love the way there are links in there for Beatles fans (unless of course I’m imagining them?). For example; we see John cycle past Strawberry Fields (yes that is a real place) and get turned away from The Cavern Club – the ‘home’ of The Beatles. The opening scenes of the film also mirror those of A Hard Day’s Night. However, I have to be a bit picky and say that I’m not sure teenage pre-Beatle John would have gone to The Cavern, because as far as I am aware it was a jazz club then, not a ‘club’ club. Add to this that in the movie John states that jazz is shit and you can see why I’m having trouble believing that particular scene. Nevertheless it was a sweet touch.
I love the way John’s cheeky humour is portrayed. Believe me I’ve watched enough Beatles clips on youtube to know they all had a wicked sense of humour. However, it was John’s cutting wit that always impressed me and that comes across wonderfully in this film. For example – in reply to a comment by the headmaster that he was going nowhere John simply says:
“Is nowhere full of geniuses sir? ‘Cause then I’d probably do well…”
Love. Love. Love. (You may sing that if you wish). That may be my favourite line in the whole movie.
“Everything seems better in the sunshine…”
I love the use of light and colour. I always talk about colour because I think there are so many ways colours can represent emotions or personalities. I love the contrast between the dark, rich wood tones of the school and Mimi’s house and the sunlight, blue skies and vibrant green grass of the ‘in-between’ areas where John finds freedom from the stifling rules that control his life. I love the use of red to represent Julia’s vivacious spirit; this is also a major contrast to the dull tones of Mimi’s wardrobe and home. Similarly, I thought it was rather poignant that the sunlight fades as Julia dies.
I love the subtlety. Having read a lot of books about The Beatles (although I still have many more to go) there are so many little subtle references I picked up while watching this which I am sure normal, non-obsessed people would have missed. Or it could just be my imagination. Anyway, let me enlighten you. In some of the first scenes we are shown the bond between John and his uncle, who was in fact John’s only real father figure. Their close and affectionate relationship appears to elicit sparks of jealousy from the austere Aunt Mimi. There are also hints towards Mimi’s affair with lodger Mr Fishwick; in many scenes there are certain ‘glances’ exchanged.
I love the actors. Well, mostly. Aaron Johnson is the perfect John. I thought I’d show some pictures for comparison:
See what I mean? Plus Aaron Johnson is a real hottie. Personally, I think he’s more attractive with the quiff and tight T-shirts under leather jackets, but I also have a soft spot for him in his cardigans and vests. What can I say? I think men dressed better back then…that is before the 70’s. We don’t talk about the 70’s. He also does a fantastic job singing like John – I was almost fooled at the end with his rendition of Mother. There are not many people who can replicate John Lennon’s amazing voice. As I side note, I’d like to mention that Johnson would be the perfect Wolfboy if there was a movie of This Is Shyness, but he would have to don the checked shirt and style his quiff again for that to work.
Likewise, Kristin Scott Thomas and Anne-Marie Duff are perfectly cast. The difficult task of playing the formidable Mimi is handled perfectly by Scott Thomas. However, I think Duff outshines her with a very realistic portrayal of the troubled Julia.
I did however have some problems with the cast; namely Thomas Brodie-Sangster and Sam Bell as Paul and George respectively. I just cannot see the resemblance to the real Paul and George at that age. Especially with Paul. And you all know how much of a Paul McCartney connoisseur I am. Or perhaps I’m being too picky? Anyway,I have to admit that performance-wise they both exceeded all my expectations.
I love the costumes. I absolutely adore Julia’s wardrobe. It’s full of halter-neck dresses with gorgeous skirts and a particularly lovely red coat which I am desperately craving.
And lastly, I love, love, love the soundtrack. This music seems to speak to my soul. This music makes me want to live in the 50’s. The movie explores the birth of The Beatles and the soundtrack compliments this wonderfully, exploring the roots of their musical sound. If you’re interested you can check out this youtube playlist.