Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press Review: Are billionaires destroying free speech?

Netflix has a funny way of slipping in and out of one’s life. I can go for weeks not watching new content and all of a sudden a hidden gem appears from near enough nowhere. It’s worth mentioning the content of this review is not new, but the message is important.

I am going to talk about one particular docu- feature called Nobody Speak: Trials of the free press. It’s no secret that I have been and still am to some degree a wrestling fan. The Hulk Hogan sex tape scandal broke a few years back and yes they are words that should never be put together, but hey it happened.

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The background…

The outcome of such a high profile case wasn’t about the money it seems. Hogan was rewarded (140m) but how he came about getting it came as a big surprise. In fact the Hogan Gawker case is the tip of a somewhat potential totalitarian iceberg that threatens freedom of speech and traditional journalism.

Gawker was, and I stress the word was, an online news blog with a gossip/satirical edge to much of their coverage. Celebrities were called out and even reported in a bitchy light. Headlines sometimes had an ultra-honest message with the website having a core value of saying things how they saw it.

Some years before Hulk Hogan in the light of his marriage break up found himself being filmed by his apparent best friend at the time. The footage showed acts of a sexual nature towards this best friend’s wife. Later on there was even footage of him saying some racial and offensive things. Gawker was approached by someone with the footage and of course they jumped at the opportunity to publish this heavily edited version albeit heavily damaging. Now this is where it gets really interesting.

Secret Benefactor…

It turns out after Hogan sued Gawker the film revealed that he was in fact backed by a silicon valley billionaire. What is even more interesting is during the latter stages of the court case Hogan dropped a particular charge. This charge involved any damages that would be paid to Hogan being done so through Gawker’s own insurance. This meant any damages would have to instead come direct from Gawker – this would in turn liquidate the firm. So it became apparent Hogan wasn’t just looking for compensation he was trying to bury Gawker; and he did!

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Trump and Thiel 

Peter Thiel; billionaire supporter to Donald Trump, Paypal founder and beneficiary to Facebook early on turned out to be financially backing Hogan’s law efforts and hence comes the main theme of this blog post.

A billionaire essentially funded the destruction of a major media news outlet. Of course this is subject to opinion but Peter Thiel had once been personally attacked by Gawker in a particular article that outed him as ‘gay’. He essentially funded the bankruptcy of a news blog for revenge and even went on to say the Hogan Gawker win was “one of my greater philanthropic things that I’ve done.” 

The argument..

Hogan v Gawker only took up a portion of this hour and half documentary that instead lifted the lid on how close we are to billionaires controlling the press. The days of traditional investigative journalism are dying, and yes even if it was ‘wrong’ to publish a sex tape of a former wrestler it is still freedom of speech and having a media company like Gawker stamped out of existence all because of a billionaires grudge, well that’s a dangerous path.

Trump Factor

At the moment we have a billionaire in the White House and a man who hates the media with a passion. The documentary touched on this subject showing footage of Trump directing audience members at various rallies to yell abuse/attack the media and press! Of course he pretty much established the concept of fake news and has a somewhat fixation of allowing the media to be sued. One of his ambitions is to make this easier whilst in office.

First amendment…

The right to journalism and freedom of speech in America is governed by the first amendment. After consulting google this is what I found:

‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.’

The truth

So my conclusion after watching this insightful and eye opening film is that freedom of speech and the truth is being stamped out by people with enough money to do so! Does this mean journalists will stop covering people who they are afraid of being sued by? Is this what the word has become? I thought democracy was based upon freedom of opinion and speech? To me this is just bullying from people who think they have more power!

In the past journalists have journeyed for the truth and found it. Can the truth just be bought and sold by billionaires? That’s the true message this film is giving us. Of course this is all the more prevalent today especially with a global pandemic and Presidential election campaign in full swing.

Have you watched Nobody speak? What do you think? Is the destruction of Gawker damaging to the future of free speech?

Spooky Season Movie Recommendations

To be perfectly honest I’ve been neglecting my horror/thriller passion since this year kind of turned into one but now October is upon us and for those like me who enjoy Spooky Season; let’s explore what movies I recommend to celebrate this time of the year…

Halloween (2018)

I’ve been a fan of the Michael Myers Halloween saga for quite some time and it probably stands as my favourite slasher film series up to Halloween H20. Yes there probably are a few ropey sequels in that collection but the first one was also the first ever slasher film and it paved the way. Spooky season would not be the same without that piano tune straddled by the good old mask wearing knife yielding speechless murderer who stalks the leaf fallen neighbourhood of Haddonfield in search of kills. The concept has been emulated many times in cinema but without the same effect.

A few years back some wise folks decided to reboot the franchise but effectively started again by discounting every film that followed the original to pretty decent standards. I thought it was so good upon release I visited the cinema twice to watch this sequel that packs one hell of a kill count. Jamie Lee Curtis deserves an honourable mention as she returns and picks up forty years later albeit hardened by the trauma of the first film’s events.

Fun fact: The town which my debut novel is based takes inspiration from Haddonfield and also the name of the high school I went to called Harlington making the name ‘Haddintgon’ – cool huh?

Jaws

Every attempt to create a scary film about an evil fish has fallen flat since 1975’s Jaws which holds up incredibly well for today’s standards. The evil fish or great white shark serves as just a side vessel for the story which is really about people being stupid and knowing there is a threat out there so don’t go out there – this sounds incredibly 2020…

The small town trope (which works in near enough every horror setting) or the quiet Island of Amity relies heavily upon seasonal trade in the summer and now a man eating shark could threaten that. The main character is new in town and also the Sherriff, he tries to balance local politics while taking down this threat which looms every so gradually in a film that is perfectly paced, characterised and overall quite scary. The sheer chemistry later on in the film between the three main characters hasn’t been emulated too often in cinema after making things all the more immersive. The shark, which looks kind of fake and was only used sparsely for that reason just heightens the terror. Don’t go into the water – it’s October anyway…

Grave Encounters

I’m a huge fan of found footage films probably because the concept of reality is heightened with in them. Over the years and since the Blair Witch Project some film makers have gone out of their way to make a film seem real and so comes along ‘Grave Encounters’ which is not only a found footage film but it also ticks a huge amount of horror boxes.

The film is a collection of footage all spliced together in continuity that relays the making of a paranormal investigation show called Grave Encounters. You see behind the scenes shenanigans from a highly likeable team as they put together the last episode of their first series, this one being a ‘lock in’ at a vast but mostly abandoned institution. The setting of this film is harrowingly perfect. Corridors upon corridors lay untouched from the primitive days of mental health care. Wheelchairs and gurneys lay empty, doors are wide open from the hundreds of cells, a bathtub sits unused – trust me they got the location bang on in this one! The first person view of this setting at night is one of nightmares.

You see all the usual stuff that paranormal investigation shows do, they even bring in a physic who is just a guy in shades and a leather jacket. For the purpose of the show, they ask the caretaker to lock them in overnight and that’s when it begins. You’ll have to watch it to find out, but trust me it’s worth a look and it’s terrifyingly awesome.

The Cabin in the Woods

For some this may appear to be an odd choice to include but to me the Cabin in the Woods is an incredible yet wonderfully fun film that turns every trope of the genre on it’s head. We like genre bending here at the Hall of Information and if you didn’t like this film it’s probably because you expected it to just be about a creepy cabin in the woods – that’s been done too many times before and even this film knows that.

Joss Whedon had a lot of involvement in this one, you can tell by the casting and the story telling which starts in one place and takes you to somewhere completely random and unchartered. It’s fun, outrageous and overall unexpected. Give it a try.

The Conjuring Series

Yep, the whole series that falls under the Conjuring umbrella is worth your time. I must start with a fair warning; these films are full of jump scares, but not the cheap jump scares you see in cheap horror, the jump scares in this series normally build to one with purpose and these films are well written, well paced and stand nowhere near the usual hokey-ness of the genre. From the first one all the way through to the creepy ‘Annabelle’ series and even ‘the Nun’; these films are chilling, thrilling and walk the tightrope of paranormal and possessions.

Fascinating Horror Youtube Channel

I might have a problem with being obsessed with true but horrifying tales and although this is not a movie it’s a recommendation because the Fascinating Horror channel over on YouTube is one I cannot get enough of. You can see from the screenshot below how many videos I have steamed into. From bizarre naturally occurring events to man made disasters that have truly chilling outcomes, this is a channel not to be missed. The narration style is clear, concise and well paced. Saying that the subject matter is also very well researched but a little fu**ed up also.

Over to you…

That wraps up just a snippet of stuff I’ve been watching so far but October is a long month so hit me up with any recommendations in the comments below…

Revisiting ‘The Staircase’ – I think he did it…

True crime documentaries have taken a huge leap in quality as of recent. One of the culprits of that is Netflix and a few years ago I watched a documentary called ‘The Staircase’ and within a few episodes I was hooked and immersed. 

For those who have Netflix, this is essential if not mandatory viewing and covers the story of Michael Peterson – a man who is accused of pushing his wife down the stairs to a bloody death. The circumstances are odd and suspicious. After a second viewing of the whole deal, I am more than certain he did it… but why?

This post is best suited for those who have watched the Staircase. But those who haven’t be warned this will contain spoilers… 

The Staircase | Netflix Official Site

The whole docu-series is candid and unique look from the accused side of view,  for most it is seemingly on his side and it’s one hell of a roller coaster. Even with my now stance of thinking he did it, I am still aligned with how he was treated by the justice system of America. You do feel for the man and his journey. The District Attorney and Police force played some very dirty games and did everything they could just to get a conviction.

Peterson for all he’s accused of, seems like a nice and fair man. A veteran from the Vietnam conflict and father to four children, two of which are from a previous marriage and the other two, daughters from, well this is where the alarm bells begin to ring…

It turns out a close female friend previously died in very similar circumstances in Germany some years previous. After her death Peterson adopted her two daughters in an act of what appears to be kindness. But then the evidence begins to unravel.

All of this is just my opinion but I think he deliberately murdered these two women because both times they reacted badly to realizing his (bi) sexuality. Now this is just me spit-balling here but the sexuality concept is a big deal in the case. The police found stuff on his computer to suggest he was intending to do ‘stuff’ outside his marriage. While this alone isn’t any cause for murder and especially today with bisexuality and homosexuality being much more tolerated and considered the norm. Both times these women had to of found out and he either wanted to silence them or they didn’t accept it.

Another important point I noticed the second time around is that Michael Peterson loves the camera to a point where he is revelling in the coverage but not in an obvious way. We all know Ted Bundy loved the spotlight and so does Peterson but in a subtle way. He did it and that’s perhaps something we will never know.

What do you think? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lock down Survival Binge-watch Recommendations

I love me some good TV and the longer a series is the better. Call me a character development buff because I am, and seeing as many places all around the globe are facing lock down situations this is a perfect opportunity to kick back and watch some good shows!

Here are my binge watching recommendations for surviving lock down!

For a show that started way back in 1993 you would have thought as a 90’s kid I would be down with the X-files but the truth is (no pun intended), I have only just started watching it!

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Now my Mrs finds the show’s theme a little eerie and vividly remembers being scared by the Simpsons X-files episode (which was awesome too) but I will admit this show is great and even for something on the more retro scale it holds up quite well.

For those who haven’t seen it, here’s my upshot…

‘Fox Mulder’ (A young David Duchovny) plays a ‘believer’ of a Special Agent in the FBI who spends his time investigating the macabre to the paranormal and everything else in between. These investigations are known as the X-files and Agent ‘Dana Scully’ (an even younger Gillian Anderson) is tasked with finding out if the x-files is a viable resource in the FBI while inadvertently being swept up in the storm of belief.

Their on screen chemistry works incredibly well and very early on they become good friends, their partnership carries the show in what follows a monster of the week formula (anything and everything in sci-fi) while also delving into a longer ‘the man is always watching’ type story arc.

The main selling point is that the X-files is available on at least one platform wherever you are in the world and the amount of episodes (8 series worth) is a sure fire way to spend lock down and survive it! 

We’re going to continue with the Sci-fi theme and look at what I consider to be the best ever Robot fiction show and possibly story…

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Westworld ticks nearly every damn box available for a show with such a high quality. I was blown away by the first season which introduces us to a distant future world with a living, breathing and gun toting amusement park; hence the name of the show.

Guests pay money to basically live and stay in a Red Dead Redemption type world; they can befriend people, go on quests and pretty much do what they like. The world is populated by ‘people’ who are in fact very real looking robots and this is where the performances grip you.

Evan Rachel Wood is exceptional in this as ‘Dolores’ and for television it’s an all star cast including James Marsden, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright, Ed Harris and the one and only Anthony Hopkins who brings a master class level of acting to this show that explores the morality of robots in confinement who are forced to do everything over and over again.

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Evan Rachel Wood

The first season is just the tip of an incredible underbelly with twists and turns but most importantly, revelations! Even for those who think sci fi isn’t their cup of tea, the performances and story will grip you, trust me! 

There are currently 2 seasons available with the 3rd currently being broadcast over the next few weeks!

We’re going to take an almost swerve in another direction now and head into true crime which is a genre if done well that I cannot look away from.

Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes sheds a brand new murderous light over one of the most infamous serial killers of the 20th century. This show also introduces it to a brand new generation of folks like me who was born the year (spoiler alert) Ted Bundy was executed…

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The tapes consist of interviews Bundy did while on death row as he reflects on a life that involved brutally murdering many many women. For a 4 part series it manages to cover in detail his chronology in doing what he did. It’s stylishly cut and put together with archive footage and interviews that make it a chilling but ever so addictive binge watch!

Available on Netflix this one will distract you for a while! 

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Continuing with the Netflix documentary theme this one you’ll find to be absurd and a little bit harrowing because the Devil Next Door is like something from a film but it actually happened. Quoting the google (because this pretty much covers it), a Cleveland Grandfather is brought to Trial in Israel, accused of being the infamous Nazi death camp guard Ivan the Terrible…

Trust me when I say this one is addictive, gripping and of course it pays homage to the so many people who faced atrocities during WW2 who still deserve to be remembered for what they went through. Here’s my full review… 

It’s not all Netflix originals or HBO because here at the Hall of Information we have to give credit where credit is due and AMC have put together some awesome shows over the years. Even if it has fallen out of favor from me The Walking Dead is a binge watch institution and I am going out on a limb to say, just watch the first 5 seasons…

 

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The characters, the setting, the special effects, the story and hell the theme song along with everything else cannot be faulted with the first 5 season of TWD. Considering what’s happening just outside our windows this one will capture your imagination and heart.

Seeing as the amount of time we’re all going to be in lock down may change, you shall probably be seeing more television rec’s quite soon! 

Have you got a binge watching recommendation for lock down?

 

 

 

 

‘I Am Not Okay With This’ – Mini Netflix Review

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This was an exceptional mini series! So much so I felt compelled to pen a pint sized review just after watching the dramatic finale episode and trust me it was both dramatic and a little graphic!  

On the surface ‘ I Am Not Okay with This’ looks like a ‘Carrie’ parody but think of it more as a sophisticated, funny, slick and modern version of it with the volume turned all the way up.

Led by Sophia Lillis of IT 2017 fame is fantastic and carries what is a great diary style story of a young high school girl who discovers she has telekinetic powers amongst her struggle with the many problems of recently loosing a parent. The whole deal unfolds in short manageable episodes leaving you wanting more – this one has got classic Netflix binge-ability written all over it. Another familiar face from ‘IT’ Wyatt Oleff brings the sometimes laugh out loud but endearing comedy of the MC’s love interest as they journey through teenage angst of not fitting in and discovering themselves.

From detention shenanigans to the typical teenage parties this short series manages to pack in one hell of an image that modern kids have of school and their individual struggles. It’s fun, powerful and immersive!

For anyone looking to watch something a little different, check it out! The soundtrack is great also!

 

Do you have a Netflix rec? 

The Irishman – Review

Martin Scorsese delivers with his impeccable standard while managing to make a story heartfelt and a tribute to a timeless genre by way of some fantastic performances…

I haven’t seen Joe Pesci in a film since probably ‘Casino’ and even after all that time he hasn’t lost any of his presence and the same can be said about everything else in what is arguably the Netflix film of the year

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For a gangster epic ‘The Irishman’ feels subtle in some senses, especially for Scorsese who is known for that ‘Goodfellas’ style of telling you it how it is and who could forget the fourth wall breaking style that he adopted yet again in ‘the Wolf of Wall Street’.

In the earlier stages of this film it takes a little while to work out that this is the story of a Henchman/Problem Solver/ ‘House Painter’ known as Frank Sheeran portrayed by Robert De Niro who may be the greatest actor of a generation. It is on this journey that Frank delves deeper and deeper into the world of ‘bosses’ and he meets Russell Bufalino (Pesci); a somewhat quiet but powerful type. In this world Frank becomes renowned for ‘problem solving’ and it isn’t long until his perhaps not so reputable ways of handling business is noticed. Al Pacino plays the man (Jimmy Hoffa) who notices Frank’s efforts and they develop a bodyguard/adviser friendship.

It’s obvious to see these three greats of cinema have aged but that doesn’t take anything away from their performance, in fact they may be older but arguably better than ever at portraying the characters they did. There’s a combination of computer generated effects and make up that works well in showing their age and perhaps youth. This is a story that is told over time.

For a Scorsese film it runs long but with a sense of freedom this time around. Scenes of dialogue feel extended almost as if the camera starts rolling prior to the plot lines being anywhere near said. The truth is I never noticed the film’s length even if I did watch this in 2 sittings (I go to bed early on weekdays, it’s how I stay looking this good…). Not once did my attention waver and the story felt somewhat final in some senses like this could be it for a generation of gangster films like this. Easily I could imagine a story like this being turned into a serial of five or so episodes. The three hour plus running time would let you watch it that way.

Those who are familiar with Scorsese’s works will thoroughly enjoy this, a film with cinema worthy presence. Anyone else I would recommend it to just for the level of performances that compliment a great story. I enjoyed it.

9/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘The Devil Next Door’ – Netflix Review

In quite recent times Netflix have led the way in creating some truly gripping and informative documentaries. Over the past year I’ve kind of become obsessed with the stack of true crime programs that the now giant of streaming has to offer. Even though many of these stories are harrowing, chilling and disturbing; I find myself fascinated sometimes.

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Last week I came across a new release and at the time it appeared in the #1 trending thingy that Netflix have recently introduced – a feature somewhat better than ‘stuff you might like’ – in terms of television shows and their popularity the masses don’t lie most of the time.

‘The Devil Next Door’ happened to be sitting in that #1 trending spot and the trailer began playing before I could do anything and I was instantly hooked on the premise. That premise being the story of John Demjanjuk a retired Ukrainian who lived in America and was an American citizen until he was arrested for being identified as a Nazi war criminal.

Even now the subject matter is pretty heavy and to this day there isn’t a definitive answer why so many Jewish people lost their lives in what was a mass extermination during world war two. For me, even thinking about it and how much those people suffered is enough to first make me angry and then upset. So some of this 5 part documentary not only covers some harrowing subjects but it also shows some footage of what is probably just the tip of a sinister iceberg – this one isn’t for the sensitive types.

John Demjanjuk or ‘Ivan the terrible’ as he used to be known as while working in Nazi death camps finds himself extradited to Israel and what unfolds is a lengthy court case which could lead to conviction and possibly execution. The whole thing is spread out over a long time and throughout I found myself asking have they got the right guy here? Evidence isn’t as definitive as it would be today and this court case took place in the 80’s. Photo’s of him as a younger man are from identification papers from the world war era and it’s obvious to see he’s a lot older. This is just one of the many variables in what is a gripping account of court room footage and angst amongst the people this man might have committed vile acts against.

The whole morale dilemma runs parallel to a battle of identity along with right versus wrong. If this is the right guy should they be entitled to execute him? Would letting him live be a compassionate act that rises above what all of those people suffered? Should the court case have taken place on neutral ground? The whole concept is layered intricately with these questions and a roller coaster ride that I couldn’t look away from. The outcome might come as a shock which I won’t share but recommend you watch.

 The Devil Next Door is an enduring watch with a heavy subject matter, a subject matter that history cannot and will not ignore, it’s graphic in some places but it has to be because what we are shown is nowhere near as bad as what the real people suffered. It’s dramatic and even shocking in places but will hold your attention throughput. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s talk about the Breaking Bad film…

A slight delay in reaction over here at the Hall of information because I have been in the cave of intensive writing and with the fear of my brain becoming mush I’m attempting to pallet cleanse as well as discuss the fact Netflix have announced a Breaking Bad movie.

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‘El Camino’ will grace the screens (of those who have paid, mostly) this October and from the reaction I have seen, only present’s one real question:

AM I THE ONLY ONE CONCERNED ABOUT THIS? 

I’m trying not to be a party pooper here but can anybody entertain my point which I fully intend to defend.

Breaking Bad is simply a masterpiece, a fu**ing masterpiece of modern television storytelling. Some of you will know my favorite show of all time is Buffy the Vampire Slayer but even I know and appreciate there is a difference between something being the outright best and my personal favorite.

Digressing here but you can link the two shows, they both would have shared the same number of seasons initially but Buffy was basically ordered by the higher ups to keep running. (spoilers here but it’s no longer 2001) Buffy’s season five and it’s finality of the main character’s death sort of expressed that and quite honestly it’s the most powerful and beautiful moment of the whole deal. The same goes for the finality of Breaking Bad’s final episode (well we think ‘W.W’ died anyways). The story of Breaking Bad had a beginning and middle and finally an end. And it avoided cancellations, apart from the writers strike all seasons were of decent length and above all it finished on its own terms.

Of course the second billed ‘Jessie Pinkman’ rode off into the sunset during that finale but can’t the rest be left up to the imagination? A lot of what I liked about this show was killed off during the experience – the characters.

The defense

I am only suggesting this if ‘El Camino’ is bad, so my counter is simple.

Vince Gilligian – the genius behind Breaking Bad has returned for this film. So no matter what, we are in safe hands right?

Your opinion?

Don’t come at me with that ‘I haven’t seen it’ crap and I mean that in the most polite of ways, but seriously its the show of the decade! I’m excitedly concerned and look forward to seeing how they carry on what is a perfect story.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orange is the new black Season 7 – Review

A show that isn’t afraid to be the mirror of truth displaying a reflection back to the modern world…

Orange is the New Black carved a path for modern television. Being the third ‘Netflix original’ it introduced the entertainment world to a brand new concept; binge watching. But that isn’t all this show is responsible for and quite honestly I’m a little cut up that it’s finished.

There aren’t many shows out there that make you laugh, think, get angry, feel sad and overall feel fulfilled like ‘Orange’ does in one episode. I have always raved about this show and I will proudly say there isn’t one bad episode or one bad series.

Piper is finally on the outside, her struggles intertwine with what it is like to be someone in this day and age struggling the find work and life balance while still trying to maintain her probation. Her story steers this season which feels like a change as the ensemble have had the floor for the past few years. We see Larry again and Piper’s journey seems to close after going full circle. Although I never approved of Alex their relationship finally finds balance.

Taystee is reeling from the shocking outcome that saw the riot pinned to her or at least the killing of Piscatella. She starts with nothing to lose but we see her eventually reform and it probably becomes the most rewarding journey seen in this show, even though she was knocked down, she found a way to get back up and we always knew Taystee was the one of the good guys.

Nicky seems to find only struggle and is caught between her prison family – both Lorna and Red are essentially receding into their own minds and the performance of these three in particular stands out along with ‘Crazy Eye’s Suzanne’ who may be the best actress in the whole damn thing.  

Joe Caputo really is a victim of the times as he is thrown into a ‘me too’ scandal and cannot help himself along with trying to maintain relevance and a relationship with Fig.

The prison itself is thrown into political and moral dilemmas such as the new warden being chosen simply for PR reasons and an ever growing drugs problem.

There are so many other characters I possibly couldn’t name that endure their own journey bringing this show to its eventual close but something happened during this final season, and although I know it has always been there from episode 1 but this show turned everything back towards the audience as if we were looking in a mirror but the reflection we saw was the ugly truth about this world. From corporations, politics, immigration, drugs, mental health, education, race and even harassment we saw it all.  There was even a huge dig towards Donald Trump’s immigration policies adding just another relevant dimension.

The performances throughout display some of the finest acting I have ever seen and known. Some win and others lose in what I found to be an emotional finish to what is a show that ended too soon. A show about humanity’s best and worst – pretty much all of the main characters are women which is yet another big important step for society.

You’ll notice this review is hyper vague because there is so much detail I could go into about how this show gave so much to society and I’m not exaggerating. All those hero stories out there get nowhere near Orange is the New Black. 

 

Stranger Things 3 Review

The Duffer Brothers have gradually pieced together a universe that fuses gripping story telling with references from their many childhood influences. Now after three seasons Stranger Things relies less upon the retro callbacks of days gone by and more on its own identity even if they do still tribute pop culture of the 1980’s; the greatest thing that has become of this show is the characters.

Before we start its worth a quick mention that this post contains some spoilers for Stanger Things Season 3….

Character development that falls in favor of the viewer is the real wonder of television. Writers and show runners who listen to their audience give them exactly what they want along with a couple of surprises – exactly what the Stranger Things team have done with season 3 and continuing on with the previous season. There are some formidable groupings of the faces we want to see; Dustin and Steve Harrington continue their friendship and carry a chemistry that is great to watch even if it is berated by new face Robin who finds an original way to slot into the cast. I must also mention Erica for her sometimes sassy but always entertaining swagger.

Of course the original group of kids are center piece and it soon becomes apparent that growing up is probably the main theme of this whole thing and it always has been. They are teenagers now and trying to find your way in this world – now that you are aware of it is daunting and so are relationships. Will, the brunt of two seasons feels held back in moments, he hasn’t been able to have a ‘normal’ childhood and is still catching up; full credit for the writers in giving Will a better purpose than being the missing or possessed kid this time around, perhaps his journey is the most emotional.

Law man Jim Hopper is back and we see him experience first hand the perils of parenthood to a mid teen in Eleven, he attempts to ‘talk’ with his adopted daughter but defaults to his thug ways especially as it’s peace time now. And I say thug because Hopper is but in a totally bad ass way. He teams with Joyce Buyers and together they find a common goal in protecting the kids while having some excellent back and forth dialogue capped off by the returning conspiracy man Murray; who is responsible for creating Jonathan and Nancy – a couple that become an important moving part in the whole duration of this season.

There is something lurking underneath the surface of Hawkins and it makes for an original and perhaps absurd direction for the story, but after all the show is called Stranger Things. The influences come out thick and fast from the Terminator and even the Thing; both of which are done exceptionally. I was happy to see a tribute to 1985’s blockbuster ‘Back to the Future’ which I am sure many were expecting. The music was bang on point as usual along with the synth soundtrack viewers have become used to.

The horror concept of everyone being ‘in’ on it works incredibly well – I should know, one of my books carries the same cliche… Billy becomes a great bad guy; he kind of was anyway and they build upon that while fusing it to the mind flayer,  his story then becomes beautifully explored by Eleven.

Creature feature moves to the central theme later on while we see the Star Court Mall attacked and pretty much destroyed in true 80’s style with the shops, the food places and everything else that makes the awesome production design take everyone back. All of the characters are reunited briefly to fight the threat that is consuming Hawkins; a moment which makes for great watching.

In fact the season is a series of moments; some are fun and laugh out loud, others more emotional and raw; Robin confides in Steve about her sexuality; a step in the right direction for LBGT awareness to a main stream audience- something more shows need to be brave about. Carey Elwes joins the cast as Mayor Kline – although brief, very effective in execution to the main plot.

I found myself quite moved by the ending of Season 3 and came to the realization that this story really is about growing up. People move on and move away; life goes on and friends drift; all of this is the reality of the real world. The performances by everyone throughout might arguably make Stranger Things the best thing out there on television right now.