Game of Thrones Series 1-7

Okay so I am quite late in getting into Game of Thrones (mostly because I don’t have Sky TV), but with the winter nights being so dark and long and being struck down with flu my husband and I decided to make the most of it by cuddling up on the sofa (on a seemingly appropriate fur throw) and had these past few weeks the binge of all binges. Each evening once the kids were asleep we would immerse ourselves in the world of Westoros and Essos. The Game of Thrones world is now so familiar to me as a fictional world it could be Tolkien’s Middle Earth.

I read once a while ago that Game of Thrones was like modern Shakespeare. The emergence of television series overtaking film for entertainment is that with these long television series you have the chance to spend more time telling a story. Great complex characters can exist as opposed to someone being either the villain or the hero. In Game of Thrones there are plenty of complex characters (excellently acted) and a vast world to explore. Based on the ‘A Song of Fire and Ice’ novels by George R R Martin it is a medieval fantasy epic.

We finished the final episode of series 7 last night and I am sad that I now have to wait a full year to see the final series. Also there being only seven episodes in series 7 was slightly disappointing. One particular episode ‘Beyond the Wall’ where Jon Snow & co went on a mission to get a wight had a number of plot holes and seemed to move the story along rather quickly whereas more episodes and a less ridiculous timings in the plot may have been better, but with each episode costing literally millions I can understand why they decided to condense it, especially as the story comes to a climax filming wars etc is costly and logistically more challenging. However, I am still a fan and seeing the white walker dragon destroy the wall at the end of the series was pretty amazing and terrifying. Apparently series 8 will only have 6 episodes, but I hear they may be feature length. I really cannot wait to be emersed in the Game of Thrones world to see how they conclude the series. I’m going to avoid looking up too much about it online as I don’t want to come across any leaks or spoilers. I look forward to relaxing on my fur throw in 2019 now that “winter is here”.

 

McMafia episode 3 – 8 thoughts

I had high hopes for McMafia and I believe it did set out to do what it intended on doing… which is to illustrate to us, the viewer, how international crime syndicates work. I was so interested in this series initially that I even ordered the non fiction McMafia book that the series is based on, although I have yet to read it.

Spoiler alert…. it turned out that Alex Godman was not a good guy, but then how could he be? He needed to be just a little bit involved in order to show us this world. How it ended was with Alex Godman showing how the ‘old way’ of running an illegal business (the ‘Godfather’ way) of intimidation and violence was over and the new way was in business meeting rooms with criminal organisations appearing to be legitimate businesses. He came out on top, but there was a cost to his family and his relationship with his finance was clearly over.

The series had great international scope and I believe it did show this world but it may have held my attention more as a documentary than as a fictionalised story. James Norton as Alex Godman also was a bit too deadpan. I know we are not supposed to know his intentions until the end of the series and so that may explain his lack of conveyed emotion but his motivations are always unclear. Is he doing this simply to protect his family? This series may have stood out more in a time when there is less good stuff on TV. If it was this year’s alternative to The Night Manager then it didn’t stand out as good.

BBC’s Requiem… nice fringe but not scary

I usually avoid horror and decided not to watch this initially but then I thought I’d give it a go. It was okay… but that is because it actually wasn’t that scary. The best thing about it for me was the main character Matilda’s fringe and also her wardrobe… I found myself wondering where I could buy her coat. So aside the fact that it wasn’t a very scary horror I did stick with it for all six episodes and did find it compelling initially.

It begins with an older gentleman walking into his manor house and upon seeing the cellar door wide open he then decides to smash all the mirrors and then throw himself off the roof. Odd behaviour indeed. What was in the cellar? I think I almost felt that way recently when I realised I had mice living in my garage.

Then we meet the main character Matilda who aside from a striking haircut is also an up and coming cellist. Her life is then turned upside down when her Mum seemingly possessed by some other worldly demon (referenced by the creepy sounds and whispering edited in) slits her throat in front of her in a multi storey car park. Matilda then finds a box conveniently left on her mothers bed containing news clippings about a girl who went missing 23 years ago in Wales called Cerys. Matilda and her friend Hal decide to travel to Wales to find answers.

I used to live in Wales (I actually moved there from London) and it does amuse me how they do this whole ‘girl from big town goes to small town’ thing. It doesn’t do much to encourage us cityfolk to do a staycation. Along with the mist filled rolling valleys and cute welsh villages any charm or quaintness is destroyed by a rude bar maid (oblivious to the fact Wales’s economy needs tourism). In reality a bar maid or shop keeper in Wales would in reality be incredibly welcoming and talk your ear off.

Requiem had the recipe for horror with all the unsettling noises and strange going’s on with sheep bothering and haunted houses but some of it was just a bit too ridiculous and not particularly origional. The biggest plot hole for me was how the whole time I am thinking… if you think you are the missing child Cerys then why doesn’t anyone suggest a flippin’ DNA test! The final episode was deeply unsatisfying and a bit bonkers. At the end of it all I wished I hadn’t bothered.

Hard Hitting Hard Sun

The end of the world is nigh! 5 years to be precise. Sometime during 2017 storm Orphelia whipped up some saharan sand creating a red sun. I remember posting a picture of the eerie dusty orangeness on Instagram like many others and some even said “it looks like the end of the world”… the funny thing is with the current political climate (Trump and Kim Jong Un comparing nuclear button sizes) a lot of us just shrugged at that suggestion and thought “yeah… it probably is”.

The drama begins with former model Agyness Deyn being attacked by what turns out to be her mentally ill son (whom she must have had in her early teens). Her character is detective Elaine Renko. She has swapped the catwalk for the screen as a knuckle dusting, butt kicking detective who has been paired up with Detective Charlie Hicks (Jim Sturgess). She is secretly investigating Charlie for the murder of his former police partner. Charlie has issues of his own (as well as apparently murdering his former partner) he appears a happy family man but is having an affair with his dead ex partners wife. So already this is a bit messy… and confusing… and that is even without the fact they stumble across a government secret that the world is ending in five years.

They come across a flash drivefrom a murdered hacker with information about an impending apocalypse and then find themselves being chased by a bunch of spooks in a brilliant scene where they are cornered on a quiet residential street. They smash car windows with their retractable police batons (a great self defence tool… where can I get one?), setting off car alarms and loudly telling the residents within the homes their names and to call the police (brilliant idea… will have to remember that one if I find myself in a similar situation). Elaine Renko manages to get the ‘end of the world’ flash drive to the media in order to save their lives… for now… they only have five years remember? It’s all quite depressing in an action packed gritty kind of way.

Then the detective work starts. Basically the mainstream media running the story that there is only five years until the end of the world has led to all the crazy murdering weirdos to come out of the woodwork. Crazy and far fetched? Yes. It is all a bit ‘Luther’, and that would be because it is by Luther creator Neil Cross. I recall a while back watching on bbc iplayer a “the story so far” 30 minute mash up of Luther and it was so bonkers that I then just had to binge on the box set. Watching Idis Elba is well worth all the nightmares you get from a good Luther binge. Neil Cross has actually dreamt up the concept from a David Bowie song Five Years. So great idea and very compelling. Agyness Deyn is believably tough and gives a great performace in her first lead role. I also was impressed with the cockney accent that Irish comedian Aisling Bea has mastered in her role as Charlie’s mistress. This series will pack a hard punch, especially with it’s knuckle duster wearing detectives. The tazer, retractable batons and knuckle dusters are a good advertisment as to why the British police don’t need to be armed. Perhaps the Americans should see this? Although it’s pretty spooky… and crazy… now the murdering weirdos are out… anarchy will begin… oh err.

McMafia: series one episode two

Well… I didn’t have to wait long for episode two. I turned on the tv and there it was! This turned out to be a right globe trotting affair. Cairo, Prague, Mumbai, Moscow, Cayman Islands. I am sure many more locations will appear as the series goes on, we already visited Dubai and Tel Aviv in episode one. It’ll be funny if most is being filmed somewhere like Pinewood studios. Although aside from the diverse locations this series is more grit than glamour. The story opened up like the film Taken as we see a girl arrive in Cairo Airport following a scam job offer soon be snatched into human trafficking and by the end of the episode sold to Semiyon Kleiman. Following this girls experience is eye opening and uncomfortable to watch. The fictional Alex Godman has made the decision to take the investment from Semiyon Kleiman and so through doing so is showing us how big crime stretches across the globe like a multinational companies. Even if it is unbelievable how quickly Alex Godman has embraced this criminal world in the space of one episode James Norton gives a good performance and we are supposed to believe he is doing it to protect his family (and save his business).

So far this series is showing us a criminal underworld that is intriguing. It makes me want to read the McMafia book. Apparently the “dog show” scene was taken from the book. Sometimes fact is stranger than fiction which makes me interested in reading the book and to keep on watching this series.  I’ll have to wait till Sunday now for episode three.

McMafia: Series one episode one review

McMafia… he (Alex Godman played by the lovely James Norton from Happy Valley and War and Peace) is the son of a Russian Mafia Boss that was driven out of business and Moscow by a rival. Why the “Mc”? Some unknown Scottish link? Don’t be daft… I only just got it as I typed “McMafia” in the heading of this blog. It is because a character used McDonald’s and Burger king as examples in comparing the size of businesses… but fast food this ain’t! No clowns in this drama! (so far anyway). This BBC drama is 2018’s The Night Manager (which featured Tom Hiddleston auditioning for the role of James Bond, with James Bond reimagined as a hospitality night shift worker). Perhap’s now this drama has aired its first episode James Norton will be the next front runner.

So McMafia, what is it all about? Less burgers and fries and more caviar and er Mafia, Russian Mafia to be precise. So far so good and very current as apparently Russians are the bad guys, just ask Hilary Clinton. So… Alex Godman is the son of a Russian Mafia Boss but Alex is very much British after his familys forced exile. He has lived and studied in the UK most of his life and he now works as an emerging markets fund manager, which translates as ‘banker’ for us normal folk… definately with a B. He is an upstanding citizen and refuses to use any of his Russian connections or money. Unfortunately someone circulates a rumour that is using his Russian connections and then all of a sudden his investors desert. It turn’s out his own Uncle Boris is the one behind the rumours in an attempt to lure Alex back to the family business and it all kicks off from there. His uncle Boris (I recognised as David Dencik from Top of the Lake series 2) didn’t stick around for long as he was murdered (for attempting to murder the rival boss Vadim Kalyagin who had kicked them out of Moscow all those years ago). Boris has a Israeli friend, Semiyon Kleiman, who is keen to use Alex’s firm to launder £100 million in “shipping” proceeds. Alex asks Semiyon for advice on how to keep his family safe following Boris’s murder and he advises Alex to go and speak to the rival mafia boss man Vadim Kalyagin at the Palace of Versailles (but looked to me like Waddeston Manor) who ends the episode by asking Alex if he would like to go to see one of two rooms, the room of war or the room of peace? Which one was it? Ooooh gripping stuff. He should have said “Actually… I’ve already been in both War and Peace”.

This drama is based on a book titled “McMafia: Seriously Organised Crime” which is actually a factual book and not a work of fiction. So the fictional story and characters are a way of exploring a criminal world that is real. So far the script, characters, exotic locations and intriguing storyline make me think this series will be a winner. I don’t mind subtitles and like how international this series will be. There are a lot of crime dramas, some even loosely based around real events (Narcos, Snowfall etc) and lately I’ve gotten a little tired of some of these, but McMafia I’ll stick with, for the time being.

BBC’s ‘Little Women’ adaptation ends 2017 as we enter 2018 ‘the year of the woman’

The best time of year for watching TV is Christmas. It is the only time of year I buy a Radio Times so I can best choose what will be on. I flicked through my Radio Times and picked out Little Women as one to watch this year and I was not disappointed.

I admit I have never read the book, but I do recall seeing the adaptation that featured Winona Ryder. This adaptation was well cast. The most complex character, strong willed Jo, was played by Maya Hawke (Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke’s daughter) and she gives an excellent performance. Unlike the Winona Ryder film version the character of Amy being played by one actress didn’t seem strange, at the beginning she was able to seem like a little girl even though being similar size to her sisters, the actress Kathryn Newton had a baby face but mostly was able to portray her characters age just simply through great acting. Emily Watson was a strong matriarch for the family and also Michael Gambon as the wealthy neighbour Mr Laurence and Angela Lansbury as Aunt March provided great cameos.

I felt that the adaptation had a similar feel to Netflix’s ‘Anne with an E’ (Anne of Green Gables) especially with it’s title sequence, which has a modern folky feel to it, but was possibly the only thing I didn’t care for. This adaptation was full of heart and nostalgia. Some shots appear like a Christmas card, but there was a lot of substance. 2018 is to be ‘The Year of the ‘Woman’ and this old book seems to have a strong message of feminism as it portrays all these different sister’s. It is really a coming of age story and ‘growing up’ and I enjoyed the journey with this family of ‘little women’.