My Thoughts on Christmas TV shows

The show centres around Johanne, a 30-year-old nurse. She attends her family’s annual December 1st celebrations and when receiving many questions about her love life and lack of boyfriend, Johanne invents a boyfriend and has until Christmas Eve to find one. I think this premise works really well in Norway as December 1st is not a traditional family gathering in the UK or US so there would have to be another reason for the family to get together.

Hello readers,

It has been a strange and stressful year for most of us and I have not been watching as many Christmas films as of late but I have been watching and re-watching some Christmas TV shows. Before Christmas 2019, I did not think that television shows dedicated to Christmas were a genre but they have been popping up on Netflix and I have been watching. It’s a great way to get a short half-hour burst of festive content without dedicating 90 minutes or more to a film.

Merry Happy Whatever (2019)

This was the first and only series I saw in 2019 and kicked off the genre on Netflix for me. If you’re looking to watch something comforting and family-orientated, then Merry Happy Whatever should definitely be on your bucket list. It centres around the Quinn family and their family celebrations over the Christmas period. The main focus of the clan is Emmy who is the only sibling to have moved away from under her father’s thumb. She is also the youngest and this year is bringing her boyfriend, Matt to Christmas in Philadelphia from their home in Los Angeles. While there are some ups and downs during the get together, nothing terrible happens so this is also suitable for kids, especially those with short attention spans as every episode comes in around the 30 minute mark.

The show does have some Disney Channel vibes as there is no swearing or violence and although the dialogue is a little cheesy I think the show has real heart; a great diverse cast showing how American families truly are. Each of the siblings go on their own journey through the show and Emmy (played by Bridgit Mendler, a Disney Channel alum) gets to see that her family aren’t as picture perfect as she once thought and her father sees that he should not try and control his adult kids.

There are a couple of other familiar faces including another Disney alum, Ashley Tisdale and Dennis Quaid as Don Quinn, the patriarch of the family. It’s a nice change of pace to see a show set in a lesser shown city in America but you don’t get to see much of Philadelphia as the show is all shot on a stage or using only half a room to create the impression that it is all staged. Think of other US comedies like Friends or How I Met Your Mother and you get the idea.

Overall, I think the show did a great job at being one of the first shows to focus solely on Christmas and you never get caught up around the festivities too much as there are so many other plotlines that the holiday is more of a backdrop with an excuse for activities and the family gathering together. I watched this show last year and then again this year. It’s an easy watch and all of the actors make you feel relaxed and at home with just enough Christmas spirit.

Home for Christmas (2019-)

This show actually premiered in 2019 but I didn’t notice it until this year. With a second season dropping this December, Netflix must have been promoting it more. This show is a Norwegian original, set in Oslo, although this is never explicitly stated. I watched with subtitles as I’m sure most people will but it didn’t distract me from the humour or heart of the show. There are some genuinely laugh out loud moments in both series of the show along with romance and joy.

The show centres around Johanne, a 30-year-old nurse. She attends her family’s annual December 1st celebrations and when receiving many questions about her love life and lack of boyfriend, Johanne invents a boyfriend and has until Christmas Eve to find one. I think this premise works really well in Norway as December 1st is not a traditional family gathering in the UK or US so there would have to be another reason for the family to get together.

Johanne with the help of her friends and roommate starts actively looking for a boyfriend and has a few adventures along the way. She tries speed dating, online dating, dating older and younger men with a mix of results and in between finds time to celebrate December with her friends, family and colleagues. Every episode shows a few days in December leading up to Christmas Eve and Johanne’s big reveal. The setting of a snow-covered high street with lots of Christmas village-esque shops creates the perfect Christmas setting. By watching the show, you learn a lot about Scandi or Norwegian traditions and rituals and you get to see a lot of the city with the various dates Johanne goes on.

I won’t give away the ending but in the second season, it is a year later and Johanne is hosting Christmas this year and still looking for a boyfriend or possibly her true love. There are a lot of characters to balance in the show but I think it does it well. There could be a little more diversity in terms of LGBT characters but there are a couple in there. Norwegian is such a lovely language and I definitely picked up a few phrases while reading the subtitles. I used to not like foreign shows or films as much as I struggled to keep up with the subtitles but having watched more and with many foreign films gaining better international recognition, I have become more familiar with subtitles.

I don’t personally recognise any of the actors but having looked at their profiles on IMDb, there are some actors that have been in a lot of projects even some English-speaking ones. The cast is great with the actress playing Johanne as a stand-out. She is able to navigate all her relationships and emotions perfectly and you can always tell what she is thinking by a look or gesture. I watched the first series at the start of December and then the second shortly after it came out. Both series were really strong and having most of the characters come back again helped to unite the story from one year to the next.

Dash & Lily (2020)

The only new Christmas show on Netflix this year is based on a book by David Leviathan and Rachel Cohn who have also had their two other joint works made into films. I think this story needed to be a television show as there is a lot to show and the nature of a back and forth works well in this format.

Dash and Lily are both teenagers in New York City at Christmas time and they are both alone. Dash by choice and Lily by circumstance. Dash is a cynic and the Grinch of the pair whereas Lily loves Christmas and takes every chance to celebrate. The story starts with Dash finding a mysterious notebook in his favourite second-hand book store and follows the dares inside. He begins a back and forth between himself and Lily who started the book. They trade dares and secrets about each other and gradually come out of their shells. Lily is shy and never ventures far out of her comfort zone or area in New York and Dash believes that joy is dead after his girlfriend left town and his parents divorced. He tells them both he is with the other and plans to spend the holidays alone at his dad’s apartment.

Dash and Lily are each helped in the dares by their friends or family and they both gradually become more well-rounded people. Setting the story in New York City at Christmas creates many opportunities to show the hidden places in the city as well as many iconic locations such as Macy’s, Grand Central Station and Central Park. There are many spots that are not normally used in New York for filming so it is not just the same scenery you have seen a thousand times. There are a lot of emotions in the show with humour and festive cheer included as well as darker emotions. The show is certainly not shielding any realities but there is not any real threats or bad language so suitable for a family watch with older kids.

One of the best parts of the story is showing New York how it really is in terms of its residents and realities. The cast felt naturally diverse as New York has many different people living there with a secondary character having a gay relationship that was relevant and real. David Leviathan has written many books starring gay characters so I would expect nothing less and I am glad it translated over to the screen.

This show will help bring out your festive cheer and show you that there’s more to life than your neighbourhood.

Happy Watching,

Robyn

New Television Shows I have been watching in Quarantine

The premise is fairly straight forward as the current POTUS has announced plans for a Space Force in the US but that’s where reality stops. Some of the situations, the characters find themselves are hysterical yet almost believable. Mark is played by Steve Carell the co-creator of the show and he has some brilliant co-stars. John Malkovich plays his number two, scientist Dr. Mallory, Lisa Kudrow is his incarcerated wife, Diana Silvers is his teenage daughter Erin. There are many other comedy actors involved as well as some I haven’t seen do comedy or anything else.

Hello readers,

It has been a while since I’ve made a blog post. With the lockdown and everything, cinemas have been shut and I have not been watching many new films apart from on streaming services. I have however been enjoying some new television shows and I am finally getting around to reviewing a few.

Outer Banks

Quick Synopsis: Set on the island of Outer Banks, North Carolina; a group of teenagers set out to solve a mystery that spans all social classes on their island. The adventure starts after John B, discovers his missing father’s compass on a sunken boat. Is the mystery linked to the story of the 400 million in British gold somewhere off the coast of Outer Banks?

I love this show and watched all ten episodes in the course of two days. It starts as a kind of Goonies/Stranger Things show without the supernatural elements. As the show progresses, it becomes more intense and like a cat mouse chase mixed with murder and danger. The hunt for the truth and kids turned criminals is what carries the drama of the show. Most of the stars are new to the acting world but do a great job playing either a Pogue or a Kook. 10/10.

Space Force

Quick Synopsis: General Mark Naird, a member of the Air Force in America is tasked with setting up a new section of the Armed Forces: Space Force. The show fast forwards a year when things are up and running in Colorado. Things have changed for Mark. His wife is now in prison nearby, his daughter is struggling to make friends and he is facing new challenges obeying POTUS.

This show only released a couple of days ago but I think it’s one of the funniest new shows I’ve seen in a while. The premise is fairly straightforward as the current POTUS has announced plans for a Space Force in the US but that’s where reality stops. Some of the situations the characters find themselves in are hysterical yet almost believable. Mark is played by Steve Carell, the co-creator of the show and he has some brilliant co-stars. John Malkovich plays his number two, scientist Dr. Mallory; Lisa Kudrow is his incarcerated wife; Diana Silvers is his teenage daughter, Erin. There are many other comedy actors involved as well as some I haven’t seen do comedy or anything else. Many of the jokes either have an episode-long duration or are simple throw away lines. They do not rely on quick laughs but rather use their big budget to create this world that happens to be funny. The Space Force base is really amazing and the show itself is very progressive with lead astronaut, Captain Ali being a black female and head scientist, Dr. Chang being Asian. I would say the show reminds me slightly of The Office just a more politically correct and socially aware version. I would highly recommend to comedy or space fans. 9/10.

Locke & Key

Quick Synopsis: After their father dies, the Locke family move to his childhood home in the small town of Matheson. The siblings, Tyler, Kinsey and Bode slowly discover various Keys hidden around Key House and a bigger mystery begins to unveil itself.

I came to this show later than when it first came out but I am really glad I did as I thought it was well crafted and the young cast that lead the show did a great job. There was a lot of characters and smaller sub plots but I thought everything was fleshed out really well. The locations were great, especially some of the places you visit via the Keys. I liked how elements of the past came back into the present of the show. A Season 2 has been announced and I am looking forward to it being produced when possible. 8/10.

Hollywood

Quick Synopsis: Set in the world of a post-WWII Hollywood, a group of creatives set about making social change with their film. Actors, actresses, producers, directors, writers and others all come together to create a picture more progressive than the film industry has seen before. Hollywood shows how the world could have been if attitudes were different.

I also started this show later than everyone else as I wanted to reduce my continue watching section of Netflix before it got too cluttered. As a film student, this show was always going to appeal, being set in Hollywood but I really enjoyed it and I think non-film people would too. It was amazing to see how society could have been if social change occurred 60 years ago. In the show, the creatives want to produce a film with a female black lead, written by a black writer and directed by a half-Asian director. They are met with many challenges but ultimately it exists which never happened in the 50s. The production design was amazing, as well as the cars, shops, clothing and film sets. The show was created by Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan who have made shows such as Pose and Glee. There were a few of Murphy’s favourites including Darren Criss, David Corenswet, Dylan McDermott, Patti LuPone mixed with some newcomers and experienced actors. I think this limited series would do well with a second series but concludes nicely. 9/10.

Never Have I Ever

Quick Synopsis: Devi, an Indian teen living in California has had a hard time lately. Her dad dropped dead at her school concert then she was paralysed but starting the new school year as a sophomore should be better. Along with her two best friends, Eleanor and Fabiola, Devi juggles family expectations, boy drama, friend drama and therapy. Her life is narrated by tennis player, John McEnroe.

I thought this teen comedy show was really funny with a touch more darkness than usual. It covered a lot of tough topics but kept the audience rooting for Devi and her friends. There was a great diverse cast and as the creator, Mindy Kaling is also Indian, all the Indian traditions and culture seemed very accurate. Devi’s life being narrated by an old white guy could have gone two ways but it added a quirk to what could be just another teen show. Devi has a strong spirit but made a lot of mistakes that I think many could relate too. She ended up in a lot of funny situations . All the main characters were well fleshed out with their own lives away from the main character and I learned a lot about Indian culture. A little more out there than a show made for teenagers. 8/10.

I Am Not Okay With This

Quick Synopsis: Sydney, a teenager in a small town is not part of the the popular crowd. When she makes a new friend in Dina, she hopes that life is turning around until telekinetic powers start. She is trying to replace her late father as a second parent to her younger brother and fending off the admiration of neighbour Stanley.

This show is based on a graphic novel by the same people who did ‘The End of the F***ing World’ and has similar vibes although in America. I thought all the emotions that Syd goes through were very powerful, given that when she feels angry, her powers manifest. The set isn’t as flashy but still helps to create the world. A lot of the props and the costumes give vintage vibes including Stanley’s car and his blue suit. This show has a slow build but an explosive ending. 7/10.

The Stranger

Quick Synopsis: People in an English city all become connected by a stranger who knows all their secrets. Different plot lines all begin to converge as the mystery and identity of ‘The Stranger’ becomes clearer. Weaving throughout is Adam’s need to find his missing wife, Corinne. She is at the centre of this mystery and her son leads a plot line amongst the teenagers.

Another great story from the mind of Harlan Coben who was responsible for another Netflix drama, Safe. There is a plot with adults but also with school kids so I think it adds a great blend. There’s a big cast but everyone gets a chance to show their story. You don’t often see teenage and adult drama mixed together like this which is the unique factor at play in this show. It was highly talked about and remains one of the best drama series I have seen. 10/10.

There are some great shows to come and some I am keen to start include Normal People, Snowpiercer, White Lines and Noughts and Crosses.

Happy Watching,

Robyn

Stranger Things 3 – A Masterpiece of 80s nostalgia

I think that the dynamics between all the different characters were very well balanced. There are more characters than ever this series with new additions of Robin, Alexei, Tom, Larry and Heather. The main cast are split into four gangs, if you will. There is Scoops Troop consisting of Steve, Robin, Dustin and Erica, Lucas’ younger sister who has a much bigger role in series 3. Their adventure below the Starcourt Mall trying to defeat Russians and become American heroes takes them away from the main action of the Mind Flayer and the Flayed.

Hello readers,

Another post so soon? What a shock. I have been travelling a lot recently so haven’t gone to the cinema too much until a week or so ago but now I have the whole summer to watch and review.

In this post I am talking about the new season/series of Stranger Things!

Image result for stranger things 3 promo pics
Stranger Things 3 promotional poster

Thought about posting this earlier but wanted to make sure I didn’t spoil the series for any one not as fast at bingeing as me. So if you haven’t seen all of Stranger Things 3 or are planning to watch it in the future, look away now!

The latest series had a different vibe to the previous: the kids are growing up; they’ve lost people; the stakes are becoming higher and the monsters harder to conquer.

The addition of the Starcourt Mall to Hawkins, Indiana was a great plot idea as it created the location for many of the adventures, shopping trips and final showdowns. Steve and Robin work at Scoops Ahoy for the summer, the group sneak into the cinema and Russians are building something underneath.

Starcourt Mall, Hawkins, IN

I think that the dynamics between all the different characters were very well balanced. There are more characters than ever this series with new additions of Robin, Alexei, Tom, Larry and Heather. The main cast are split into four gangs, if you will. There is Scoops Troop consisting of Steve, Robin, Dustin and Erica, Lucas’ younger sister who has a much bigger role in series 3. Their adventure below the Starcourt Mall trying to defeat Russians and become American heroes takes them away from the main action of the Mind Flayer and the Flayed.

Scoops Troop

Eleven has grown into her new home and place within the group, bonding with Max and having a summer of love with Mike. The kids group consists of Max, Lucas, Will, Mike and Eleven. They are soon joined by Jonathan and Nancy who get up to some investigating of their own involving rats and fertiliser.

Another character off on their own adventure is Billy, Max’s older step-brother and eye-candy of the community pool. Again his role has been expanded this series. Last series, Billy was an enemy, Steve’s school rival and Max’ gate keeper. This series there is so much more to his story. Also stemming from the last series is the relationship that Billy has built up with Karen, Nancy and Mike’s mother. Billy suggests they meet in motel for some private ‘swimming lessons’ and I bet Karen is glad she didn’t go through with it after Billy’s arc this series. Billy recruits Heather into his evil plots but he isn’t himself. The Mind Flayer is back and has taken over Billy’s mind.

Billy and Karen Wheeler
Heather

Our last group of Stranger Things characters are Joyce Byers and Jim Hopper, Will’s mother and Eleven’s adoptive father, Jopper. They team up to investigate mysterious goings on with a loss of magnetism in the town. Joyce also goes to Mr Clarke for help, the kid’s science teacher. They then kidnap Alexei and hold him hostage from a man who could be described as the Russian Terminator. They find Murray as he is the only Russian speaker for miles around.

It was really interesting to split up the characters into new and old gangs to work out what monsters are plaguing Hawkins and I think when they eventually all teamed up together which I was hoping for, they all gelled well with one another.

The setting and 80s culture played a big part in this series as always. The fashion of crazy prints, short shorts and block colours was great to explore and as this series is set around 4th July, the Duffer Brothers could explore what a summer in Hawkins looks like. Particular stand out outfits to me were Eleven’s. Max takes her shopping to the mall and they go to The Gap to get her a new look after she dumped Mike. The clash of patterns and bright colours were great for Eleven and showed some of her quirky personality.

Max and Eleven

Other 80s culture I loved was the films that were referenced. With the new multiplex cinema in Starcourt, the characters had many chances to go the cinema. At the beginning of the series, the group sneak into a showing of Day of the Dead and when Steve and Robin have been drugged by the Russians, on their escape Dustin and Erica try to get them to hide out in a screening of Back to the Future. Other films on the marquee at the front of the cinema are Fletch, D.A.R.Y.L., The Stuff and Return to Oz.

Image result for starcourt cinema stranger things
Starcourt Cinema

Other pop culture items mentioned are Ralph Macchio: Max’s apparent celebrity crush which prompts Lucas to wear a Karate Kid t-shirt; The Neverending Story theme tune: a duet between Dustin and his camp girlfriend, Suzie over radio; Cheers, a popular US TV show that Joyce and Hopper both watch and the New Coke that only Lucas likes.

The monsters were bigger and gorier than before with the Mind Flayer possessing Billy then getting him to kidnap others for the army. In the end almost thirty people end up as Mind Flayer goop. The monster that grows larger, the more it absorbs people is the most gruesome so far and hardest to destroy. Jonathan and Nancy in the hospital certainly try their hardest but don’t succeed. Of course it takes team work, powers and sheer cleverness to defeat the monsters… and the evil Russians.

The series was kept with Stranger Things’ theme and tone and made a brilliant new season. I cannot wait to see what they have in store next year.

Happy Watching,

Robyn

Films I’ve enjoyed recently are Chasing Happiness, Legend, Starter for 10, Rough Night and Wildlife.

What I have been watching this January // 2019

Hello readers,

Another post for me in the same month is rare I know but as I am still on university holidays, I thought I would write about what I’ve been watching this year. I have had quite a lot of spare time so I have been watching many TV series and films. Not everything listed below came out this year. Hope everyone is having a good 2019 so far!

I will start with the films that I have seen.

Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol 2011

I watched this at home a few days ago and as a lover of the latest film I had high expectations. They were certainly met. The dynamics between the main cast: Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Paula Patton and Jeremy Renner really gave the film the human spark it needed to not be a mindless action thriller. There were amazing stunts and cool gadgets – the magnetic suit for one, stunning locations and spine-tingling suspense. I would definitely watch again and I will be watching the earlier films in the Mission: Impossible franchise. 5/5.

Cast:

Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt, an IMF spy, constantly on the run and never out of danger.

Simon Pegg as Benji Dunn, the funny computer genius who has just passed field training.

Paula Patton as Jane, a colleague who is out for revenge.

Jeremy Renner as Brandt, an analyst who gets caught up in Hunt’s mission.

Léa Seydoux as Moreau, an assassin looking to trade documents for diamonds

Mary Poppins Returns 2018

I was quite late to the party with this one but I managed to see it last week at the cinema. This film appear to have sparked a controversy as while some people were disappointed with the outcome, it has been nominated for four Golden Globes and three BAFTAs. I, however, really enjoyed it. I have seen the first one but not for a while so it wasn’t fresh in my mind but the overall feeling of this film is updated yet similar to the original. The songs and sets are different and the characters have grown up but Mary Poppins is still there to save the day. The animated scenes were inspired by but didn’t copy the original. The film gave me a heartwarming feeling. Great bit of fun for all the family. 5/5.

Cast:

Emily Blunt as Mary Poppins, the magical nanny returning to the Banks’.

Lin-Manuel Miranda as Jack, the lamp lighter who joins in on the fun.

Ben Whishaw as Michael Banks, he’s all grown up and struggling with finances.

Emily Mortimer as Jane Banks, she rallies for women’s rights.

Pixie Davies as Anabel Banks, the most responsible Banks child.

Nathanael Saleh as John Banks, the sensible one.

Joel Dawson as Georgie Banks, he likes to wander off and fly kites.

Julie Walters as Ellen, the housekeeper and cook.

Meryl Streep as Cousin Topsy, who can everything but not on a second Wednesday.

Colin Firth as Mr Wilkins, chairman of the bank who is determined to repossess the Banks’ house.

Finding Your Feet 2018

This heartwarming comedy will tug at your heart strings and put a smile on your face. Sandra discovers her husbands affair and runs to her sister’s council flat in London. By finding her long forgotten love of dance again and meeting Biv’s fun friends, Sandra gets a new burst of life and reconnects with her sister. I particularly liked the sequences in Rome and Biv’s eccentric zest for life. It also shows to me that older actors can still make a great entertaining film and younger leads aren’t always necessary.

Cast:

Imelda Staunton as Sandra, whose husband has been having a secret affair for years. She lived in a big house in Surrey but moves in with her sister at the beginning.

Celia Imrie as Biv, a woman who lives every day like it’s her last. She swims in cold water pools, does weekly dance classes, goes on dates and buys her stuff from the charity shop.

Timothy Spall as Charlie who lives on a canal boat and takes a shine to Sandra.

Joanna Lumley as Jackie a fellow dancer and a lawyer, she knows how to have fun.

David Hayman as Ted who lives next to Charlie on the canal. He’s Charlie’s best friend and is always there for support.

Overboard 2018

A hilarious comedy about a woman taking revenge a bit too far. Kate is working multiple jobs to put herself through nursing school and support her three daughters. After a billionaire playboy throws her off his luxury yacht, she uses him for her own gain. Leo, himself falls off the yacht and wakes up with no memory. Kate convinces him that she is his wife and takes him home. She makes him do manual labour and earn money until she can pass her upcoming exam. Full of heart and funny scenes this film was a delight to watch. The only slight downside was as most of the characters were fluent in Spanish they spoke it frequently with no subtitles. It didn’t impede too much on understanding the main plot though. 5/5.

Cast:

Anna Faris as Kate, a wannabe nurse struggling to balance work, studying and looking after her children.

Eugenio Derbez as Leo, a selfish billionaire who becomes a doting husband after her gets amnesia.

Eva Longoria as Theresa, Kate’s friend who is in on the act and helps her keep it up.

Mel Rodriguez as Bobby, Theresa’s husband, he lets Leo work for his building company.

John Hannah as Colin, Leo’s chef and employer on the yacht.

Roma 2018

I’m going to start by saying that I didn’t really enjoy or understand this film but seeing as it won two Golden Globes, some people must appreciate it. The film set in Mexico in 1970 is telling the story of Cleo, a domestic servant and the family she works for. It is in black and white and while this does give the film some atmosphere, I think that the film didn’t have a strong enough setting, dialogue or plot. There were also a lot of long shots such as the beginning and many unexplained events. The acting was okay but I didn’t really connect with the characters enough to care about what happened to them. The family appeared to care for Cleo at some points but still treated her like just a servant. Confusing. 2/5.

Cast:

Yalitza Aparicio as Cleo, the domestic worker who works for Sofia and her children.

Marina de Travia as Sofia, the lady of the house and the mother of 4 children.

Fernando Grediaga as Antonio, the husband and father who works as a doctor and is away a lot of the time.

Verónica García as Teresa, Sofia’s mother who helped out the family.

Attack the Block 2011

I really liked this action comedy. It is set in and around a block of flats in South London. A gang of teenagers find a strange creature and kill it. It turns out to a an alien and the rest of the fleet descend on the block. Sam, a nurse teams up with the gang and they defend their home. They also have to avoid angry rival gang members and keep little wannabees out of the way. Featuring appearances from Nick Frost, Jodie Whittaker and John Boyega, this award winning film is definitely worth a watch. 4/5.

Cast:

John Boyega as Moses, the gang’s leader who is just trying to survive childhood.

Jodie Whittaker as Sam, a nurse who gets sucked in to defending the block

Alex Esmail as Pest, the token white guy in the gang and the first to be injured.

Leeon James as Jerome, Moses right hand man

Luke Treadaway as Brewis, a rich boy who is the wrong place at the wrong time.

Nick Frost as Ron, a drug dealer with his own weed room.

I have also been loving many TV shows, most of them are Netflix Originals.

A Series of Unfortunate Events – Series 3 2019

This third and final series is the climax to A Series of Unfortunate Events. I really liked the film that was made but this series really does justice to the books. It uses two episodes for each book. Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire have been on the run from the evil Count Olaf since their parents died in a mysterious fire. They have discovered that their parents were in an organisation V.F.D but they don’t have all the answers yet. Can they ever escape from Count Olaf’s grasp? What is in the sugar bowl? What is V.F.D? Could one of their parents still be alive? Find out if you dare in series three. I really loved the series. The acting is superb and the story is very well thought out. It definitely does the books justice. 5/5.

Cast:

Malina Weissman as Violet Baudelaire, the oldest sibling and an inventor. She always ties her hair up with a ribbon when she has an idea.

Louis Hynes as Klaus Baudelaire, the middle sibling and the researcher. He has read many books and his extensive knowledge comes in handy.

Presley Smith as Sunny Baudelaire, the youngest sibling, a toddler who likes to bite things and often comes to the right answer before her siblings.

Patrick Warburton as Lemony Snicket, the narrator of the Baudelaire’s tale. He has pieced together the story for us to watch unfold.

Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf, an actor who travels with his troupe and is desperate to get his hands on the Baudelaire’s fortune.

Lucy Punch as Esmé Squalor, the forth most important financial advisor and Count Olaf’s girlfriend. She travels with Olaf in hopes of finding the sugar bowl. She wears ridiculous ‘in’ outfits.

Kitana Turnbull as Carmelita Spats, a spoiled little girl who loves performing and travels with Esmé and Count Olaf as their ‘daughter’. She hates the Baudelaires and calls everyone ‘cake-sniffer’.

Alison Williams as Kit Snicket, the sister to Jacques and Lemony. She has been trying to help the Baudelaires.

COMEDIANS of the world: UK: Ellie Taylor 2019

I watched Ellie Taylor’s special and really enjoyed it. She talked a lot about marriage and impending motherhood but in a very funny way and many of her opinions. She is one of my favourite comedians and it’s great to see her representing the UK in this series. There are many different comedians from around the world in this collection.

The Good Place Series 3: Episode 10 and 11 2019

Since the series has come back from it’s mid series break, it has taken many turns. The four humans, Michael and Janet finally got to the Good Place but they only reached the mail room. They have to work out what to do next. Eleanor and Chidi talk about the events of episode nine and Michael is concerned about the points system. The next episode takes place in IHOP but I don’t want to give too much away. It’s hilarious as always whilst teaching about philosophy and what makes a good person.

Cast:

Kristen Bell as Eleanor, the shrimp loving Arizona trash bag with a thing for mailmen.

William Jackson Harper as Chidi, a philosophy teacher who struggles with choices and gets nervous stomach aches.

Jameela Jamil as Tahani, a rich self entitled party hostess who only does charity for her own gain and grew up in her sister’s shadow.

Manny Jacinto as Jason, a Jacksonville Jaguars fan who has been in many dance crews and doesn’t have much brain power but a lot of heart.

Ted Danson as Michael, a demon who enjoyed torturing the four humans but is now working with them to get to the Good Place. He loves human quirks.

D’Arcy Carden as Janet, a human search engine with powers to get you anything you want. She has been rebooted so many times, she is starting to behave like a human.

Sex Education 2019

This series is filthy, dramatic, funny, quirky, relatable and entertaining. Set in a rural part of England, Sex Education tells the story of Otis Milburn, a 16 year old who wanted to be that person in the corner. His mother is a sex therapist and after one piece of great advice to the school bully, Otis and scary Maeve Wiley set up a sex clinic for the students of Moordale High. People start coming to Otis with all sorts of problems. Otis is also trying to be a teenager and sort through his own issues with sex and relationships. He is helped by his best friend Eric who is constantly pushing Otis out of his comfort zone. Otis’ mother, Jean is an overbearing, involved mother with a vibrant sex life. I loved this series and watched it all in two days. Very graphic so definitely for over 18s. It has been watched by 40 million Netflix users this month. 5/5.

Cast:

Asa Butterfield as Otis Milburn, unlicensed therapist navigating being a teenager and dealing with his embarrassing mother.

Emma Mackey as Maeve Wiley, she has a bad reputation, is very smart and is always broke.

Ncuti Gatwa as Eric, Otis’ best friend who is out and proud but struggles with his father accepting him and his outrageous outfits.

Gillian Anderson as Jean Milburn, sex therapist and single mother, Jean worries about her son and doesn’t do boyfriends

Connor Swindells as Adam Groff, the headmaster’s son. He doesn’t care about school and prefers to bully the student body. His father is constantly disappointed in him.

Aimee Lou Wood as Aimee, one of the Untouchables who struggles with their endless rules, she always has a boyfriend and is friends with Maeve.

Kedar Williams-Stirling as Jackson, the head boy and competitive swimmer. He has a lot of pressure from his mum to do well and needs plenty of advice about girls.

Alistair Petrie as Mr Groff, Moordale’s headmaster and Adam’s dad. He knows how to deal out the punishments and does not let up for anyone, even his own son.

Mikael Persbrandt as Jakob, a plummer that is fixing Jean’s bathroom.

Friends from College – Series 2 2019

The second series in this hilarious comedy drama about six 40 year olds who have been friends since college. Set in New York City, the series concentrates on their relationships with others and each other. In the last series, a lot of drama went down and the gang is still recovering. Max and Felix are engaged now, Lisa and Ethan and separating, Sam and her husband are in trouble, Nick is finally dating someone his own age and Marianne is still living her carefree life. I love this series and the second series definitely delivered on the drama and comedy. A stellar cast, this series is amazing. 5/5.

Cast:

Keegan-Michael Key as Ethan, a young adult author who is desperate to know if his wife, Lisa wants a divorce or not after his affair was revealed.

Fred Savage as Max, a publisher who works closely with Ethan and is engaged to his long term boyfriend, Felix.

Nat Faxon as Nick, a player who only went out with girls in their 20s. He finds a woman his own age but can’t let go of Lisa who has been crushing on for 20 years.

Annie Parisse as Sam, a working mother who is the most successful of the group. She is having trouble with her husband, Jon after her affair with Ethan was revealed.

Jae Suh Park as Marianne, a carefree actress with nothing to tie her down apart from her daredevil on again off again boyfriend.

Cobie Smulders as Lisa, a lawyer who disappears after sleeping with Nick and reappears with a new boyfriend a year later

Billy Eichner as Felix, a doctor who is so done with the drama from Max’s friends.

Lost in Space 2018

This show has been out for a while but I watched the last few episodes in the series this year. I started it months ago but have been watching it sporadically. It’s about the Robinsons who leave Earth for a better future but crash land on a strange planet. They have to work together with others that land there to get back to the mother ship. There are alien robots, lying doctors, brave engineers and daring escape attempts. There is a lot of family drama involved and problem solving. The last episodes were the best for me as the middle of the series dipped from the great opening but still enjoyable. It’s different from the original series and the 1998 film. 4/5.

Cast:

Maxwell Jenkins as Will Robinson, the youngest and bravest. He manages to befriend a robot.

Taylor Russell as Judy Robinson, the doctor and the eldest, she takes risks to protect her patients and her family.

Mina Sundwall as Penny Robinson as the engineer who likes to do her own thing and bend the rules.

Molly Parker as Maureen, the mother and a rocket scientist. She designed their ship, the Jupiter and lied to get her son on board.

Toby Stephens as John, the father and a soldier. He was absent for most of the kid’s childhood and is trying to make up for it.

Ignacio Serricchio as Don West, an electrical engineer who doesn’t have a family so is always up for danger.

Parker Posey as Dr Smith, a survivor who is determined to reach the new world. She manipulates people to get what she wants.

Les Miserables 2018/9

An adaptation of the beloved book, this series is not a musical, but a drama. Only three episodes have aired but I am really enjoying Les Misérables so far. It tells the story of many different characters, a prisoner, a police chief, a factory worker, a little girl, two swindlers. It illustrates the gap between the rich and the poor in the early 1800s in Paris. The acting is excellent and I can’t wait to see what happens. 5/5.

Main Cast from first 3 episodes :

Lily Collins as Fantine, a factory worker trying to feed herself and her child

Dominic West as Jean Valjean, a prisoner who got 19 years for a loaf of bread. He goes from one place to another, escaping his past.

David Oyelowo as Javert, a governor turned police chief, hunting Valjean for his crimes.

Adeel Akhtar as Thenardier, a pub owner who brags about being in the war. He cheats people from their money.

Olivia Colman as Madame Thenardier, a mother who cares for her own children only. Gets as much money as she can from anyone who comes her way.

Thank you for reading!

Happy Watching

Robyn 🙂

Who I think should have won at the Golden Globes 2019

Hello readers,

For my first post of 2019, I’m sharing my personal opinions on who should have won at the Golden Globes this year. There were some unexpected winners and losers for me so I thought I would discuss these and what I thought of some of the films that won. I’m only going to talk about categories in which I have seen at least 3 of the films.

Bohemian Rhapsody – Best Motion Picture – Drama

I was very excited about this film as I am a long time fan of Freddie Mercury and Queen. The film certainly didn’t disappoint and it is one of my favourite films of the year. I found out more about one of my favourite bands and the hardships and joy they experienced in the early days of their success. I’m also really pleased for the cast as they all worked really hard on the film and press tour. I follow them on Instagram and the posts they make featuring each other have really kept the spirit of the film alive.

The category this year had 3 films featuring black actors which is historic in itself as awards ceremonies in Hollywood have been accused of unfair treatment in previous years. The fact that Black Panther, BlacKkKlansman and If Beale Street Could Talk were nominated is a big step towards racial equality. I have seen both Black Panther at the cinema and the Cannes Film Festival in May and BlacKkKlansman at the cinema back in September. Both films were amazing and would have been worthy winners of this award. A Star is Born was one of my best films of the year and it’s one award was disappointing but in this category I think it faced tough competition.

Rami Malek for Bohemian Rhapsody – Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama

Rami Malek was the perfect Freddie Mercury in this film and got Freddie’s movements and mannerisms down to a T. I loved him as the lead singer of Queen and his performance brought the film to amazing heights. I also admire Malek for his roles in Need for Speed and the Night at the Museum franchise.

Bradley Cooper did an amazing job in A Star is Born as I have mentioned in a previous post and John David Washington as Ron Stallworth was powerful and iconic. Ron Stallworth becomes the first black cop in Colorado Springs and he engineers an infiltration into a branch of the Ku Klux Klan. The film by Spike Lee had a lot of powerful imagery and showed how awful and traumatising racism has been and continues to be. I have not seen At Eternity’s Gate or Boy Erased but Willem Dafoe and Lucas Hedges are both worthy nominees.

Alfonso Cuarón for Roma – Best Director – Motion Picture

I personally did not enjoy this film. It didn’t have enough plot or dialogue to follow to be able to empathise or relate to the characters. It was a pretty film to look at but as a drama it did nothing for me. I was disappointed with this winner and I thought the other nominees were more deserving.

Spike Lee and Bradley Cooper both did great jobs with their films and I would have preferred if one of them had won. I love Bradley Cooper as an actor and to be nominated for his directorial debut is a credit to his talents. Spike Lee knows how to tell a powerful tale and this was evident in BlacKkKlansman. Some of the dialogue and events really stuck with me. I haven’t seen Green Book or Vice so I don’t know how good the directing is.

Justin Hurwitz for First Man – Best Original Score – Motion Picture

The score for First Man really enhanced the breathtaking images of the film. When Neil Armstrong is going into space at the beginning the score helped me feel as though I was in the rocket with him. I think this score and composer are worthy winners in a tough category. Marco Beltrami did an amazing job with A Quiet Place, a film with minimal dialogue but the score creates great tension and suspense. I was on the edge of my seat for most of this film. Alexandre Desplat also did an amazing job with Isle of Dogs; another great film of 2018. Directed by Wes Anderson and told as an animation with Japanese and English dialogue, Isle of Dogs was a lovely story about the love between an owner and their dog. Like the Quiet Place, the score for Isle of Dogs helped enhance the story and build tension.

Black Panther’s score was also award worthy and it’s amazing to see a Marvel film nominated for so many awards at the Globes. Ludwig Göransson did a brilliant job and paired with the soundtrack by Kendrick Lamar, the sound is one of the major factors that has made Black Panther one of the best films in recent years. I have not yet seen Mary Poppins Returns but have heard wonderful things about the film.

Shallow from A Star is Born – Best Original Song – Motion Picture

I think this song really deserved to win. It’s a powerful song and sung by Lady Gaga in the film, it tells the story and feelings of her character, Ally perfectly. Bradley Cooper also sings the song very well but I think it is Lady Gaga that truly owns it. I have listened to on repeat for months and it still moves me and empowers me at the same time. The sheer power of Lady Gaga’s voice singing it in A Star is Born gave me goosebumps the first time I heard it in the film. I’m glad that A Star is Born won in this category.

It did have tough competition though as I think every song in this category was award worthy. All the Stars by Kendrick Lamar and SZA from Black Panther has a great beat that is perfect for the film and Girl in the Movies from Dumplin’ by Dolly Parton is a great theme song for the film. It’s uplifting in the same way as the message in the film. I have just listened to Requiem for A Private War and it was a beautiful song but I haven’t seen the film that it was written for. Revelation from Boy Erased is another powerful song that would have been a worthy winner.

The Americans – Best Television Series – Drama

I haven’t watched the recent seasons of The Americans but I have seen it before and I think it’s a good show but this year there were more worthy winners. I think that Bodyguard or Killing Eve should have won. I enjoyed both these series and think they were great television dramas. Bodyguard about the British Home Secretary having an affair with her personal bodyguard. It seem fairly simple but there is so much more to this drama. Plenty of action and romance and the last episode is one of the most intense pieces of television I have ever seen. Killing Eve had more of a cat and mouse element with Eve who works for MI6 trying to track down a female assassin all over Europe. It was a great female lead drama and the drama was more long played than in Bodyguard. Great plot twists and acting. I haven’t seen Pose or Homecoming but I have heard great things.

Rachel Brosnahan for The Marvelous Mrs Maisel – Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy

I think that Rachel Brosnahan is an amazing actress and this is the role that she is born to play. I can’t see anyone else even attempting to play Mrs Maisel. I love this show and have seen both seasons. It is about an upper class Jewish woman in New York City. At the beginning of the show, Mrs Maisel’s husband leaves her for his secretary and to cope she turns to stand up comedy. It is set in the late 1950s when women were not very well received in comedy. The whole cast of the show are amazing and I would highly recommend watching it.

GLOW is an amazing series about female wrestlers in the 1980s and Alison Brie does a great performance as Ruth. I love this show and have seen both series and I cannot wait for the next season. Kristen Bell is also great as Eleanor Shellstrop in the Good Place, a comedy about going to the afterlife. The show while being up to date on pop culture also helps the audience to understand concepts of philosophy and make sense of what happens to us after death. I was really glad that Kristen Bell was nominated. Will & Grace and Murphy Brown are shows that I haven’t seen but have heard good things about.

I would also like to give a special mention to Ben Whishaw who won the award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture made for Television. His role as Norman Scott in A Very English Scandal was great and he was worthy of the award. I have however not seen any other nominations in his category so it wouldn’t be fair to say he is the best, not having anything to compare it to. I watched all of A Very English Scandal last night and it was such a powerful and almost unbelievable true story. It tells the tale of Norman Scott having a gay affair with powerful politician Jeremy Thorpe in the 1960s and then being targeted for murder by Thorpe. Hugh Grant as Jeremy Thorpe was also great and a role we rarely see him play, the bad guy.

I know I only gave my opinions on a few of the categories but I didn’t feel it was right to judge categories in which I hadn’t seen more than 3 of the nominations.

I hope to write on many new and different topics in 2019.

Keep Watching,

Robyn