Monday 26 February 2018

Beside Me The Whole Damn Time

As I'm writing this I can just see the followers on Twitter decreasing because yes, I'm writing about my favourite TV show duo (after Liz Lemon and Jack Donaghy and Tim & Daisy), FitzSimmons.

If you are not an avid fan of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.LD then you might not enjoy this post. However, if you are intrigued by my obession then please do read on.

Last month Screen Rant posted up an article, written by John Orquiola, all about FitzSimmons and why they are the greatest story in the Marvel Comics Universe. My heart skipped a beat when I saw this. I'm so used to skulking off to tumblr to revel in the joys of the fandom which I know is wider than the thoughts, stories and countless epic gifs shared on various blogs but still think that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D is the underdog of the MCU. Its bigger than I thought and the fact that more and more articles, videos and Twitter feeds galore are appearing about the show AND everyone's favourites scienists just brings me so much joy. Seeing articles dedicated to FitzSimmons and praising the fantastic actors who portray them, Elizabeth Henstridge (huge FitzSimmons supporter) and Iain De Caestecker, is more music to my ears, eyes and fandom heart.

This great article was nestled between posts about episode updates, season predictions/speculations and with every fandom, theor posts. Oh the theories. Trying to guess where the writers will go with the characters next hasn't been as predictable as one Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D fan would think. The one tradition that the show did keep up was having FitzSimmons in peril and somehow separated at the end of the season. This of course took a break at the end of season 3 but came back at the fans like a hurricane for the third 'pod' of season 4 with that darn Framework. Although watching the Framework episodes made me want to punch a wall and jump for joy (at how great the episodes were), there was a feeling that the writers didn't quite deliver with Fitz or Simmons. I suppose they were trying to make a point that 'everyone has a dark side' but the bond these two characters have is greater than a virtual world.

Obviously the big news of season 5 is SPOILER ALERT that FitzSimmons are engaged and might possibily be related to one of the new characters, that really annoying Deke guy, they meet in the future. But with joy comes doom, as we, of course they're cursed. Although I think its the writers making the curse 'a thing' and maybe they should just dial it back. The doom of season 5 is that, like all seasons, there is the ever impending feeling that a character will be killed off. Mentions of Jemma's death being described to Fitz is enough to make the fandom start a riot. I believe these characters need a satidfying and happy ending, in the sense, when the show does end, they aren't killed off or separated again and actaully get to settle down, in Perthshire if needs be. The fandom for FitzSimmons doesn't ask for much, just clips and moments that can be made into fantastic tumblr posts. And that their favourite characters are safe.

With the 100th episode aired in a few weeks, tensions and excitment has been rising. Even the cast has been laying it on thick on social media with nostalgic playback photos on set and from the show. This makes me think even more that, going into space and time travel playing a huge part, this will be the last Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D season. Part of me wants that, but part of me wants more, especially with Infinity Wars being released a month after the 100th episode. So much to speculate and not enough time to fangirl about it.

I've got my fingers crossed for the FitzSimmons ending that should happen, that the fans want and deserve and even the cast wants. Here's to the rest of season 5.

Thursday 22 February 2018

TMP Television Edition: Legal Dramas

I was obsessed with this TV show during Uni, rewatched the first series multiple times. Maxine Peake is superb as Martha Costello, defence barrister of the Shoe Lane Chambers. The show had 3 series but last wasn't great, it went off the rails and made sudden and bizarre changes that didn't really make sense. First two series, Martha is in control, rather a workaholic but she always wins (sort of), its just a shame the last series doesn't have a proper ending for anyone really, the characters are disjointed and it has the weridest unexplained intensional cliffhanger end.  But watch the first two series, its worth it.

The Good Wife
Ah Alicia Florrick, infamous by name and later by nature as well. Her and Diane Lockhart make the show. About a wife of a disgraced politician (so far so 'seen it before') but she starts her life again, going to work at the firm of an old law school friend, Will Gardner who is in love with her. That's really the premise for the first couple of seasons, will she stay with her husband or leave blah blah. Its really good saying that. BUT by season 6, a major character was killed off in season 5 and it had an effect, it became more over dramatic and not in a good way. I stopped halfway through season 6, no regrets! The first 4 seasons were amazing then it lost track. But it did have some of the greatest character, not including ones mentioned, Eli Gold was amazing, played by Alan Cumming and the stone faced army of one, Kalinda played by Archie Panjabi were my favourites. The show also had some great repeat guest stars such as Nathan Lane and Michael J Fox - loved their episodes. I don't whether to say, watch it for the first 4 seasons, as most people would want to watch to the end, but for me, if the stories are lacking, I see no point.

American Crime Story: 
The People vs OJ Simpson
ACS knows how to ramp up tension and intrigue, even though everyone knows the outcome. A case played out in the media over 10 episodes, much better than 25 episodes where half the episodes are 'so so'. Recreating the courtroom drama and events leading up to, is a mixture of what happened and fictional take on what happened. It's brilliant storytelling. The cast are fantastic, the look and style of the show is also great to absorb, the 90s man. Having grown up in the 90s, I always get excited for that era. I'm also enjoyed the latest ACS on at the moment but I won't go into it.

Don't forget to check out where it all started over at
Wandering Through the Shelves

Monday 19 February 2018

Remember that show...Bored to Death

Remember that show where a writer decides to become a private detective after his girlfriend breaks up with him. Then he gets his lazy comic book artist friend and pot smoking boss involved and they all go on weird adventures/cases together. Remember that show?

It feels like 'Bored to Death', created and written by author Jonathan Ames, didn't end that long ago, when in fact it the three seasons it aired last my entire time at University. I think this was another show that out of my friends, I was the only one watching it. It grabbed my attention because it was a writer trying to be a private detective, two things that I am really just a sucker for. If the character had also been a hitman, well, that's all three boxes ticked. HBO described the show as noir-otic comedy, focusing in on the central character, Jonathan Ames and his problems, mainly how he copes without his girlfriend, will he ever be a successful writer and when will he stop be dependant on weed and wine. The show also had the an amazing opening animated title sequence, accompanied by the theme song being sung star of the show Jason Schwartzman.

Jonathan Ames, you might recognise his name as his short story, 'You Were Never Really Here' has been adapted into feature film of the same name, directed by Lynn Ramsey and starring Joaquin Phoenix, and its a brilliant film. Ames named his main character after him, even using his first novel, 'I Pass Like Night' as the show's Ames' novel too. The first series follows Jonathan (Jason Schwartzman) as he struggles with losing his girlfriend, trying to finish his next novel and trying to solve cases, where he ends up with quite a few more problems. His boss, friend and mentor, George Christopher (Ted Danson at his best), editor of fictional magazine, Edition, who enjoys smoking pot and trying to take down his enemies, as well as having an affair with his married again ex-wife. Jonathan's best friend Ray (Zach Galifianakis) a comic book artist and the laziest person in Brooklyn, lives with his long time single mother girlfriend who gives him an allowance each week. He gets roped into cases sometimes by accident other times by force. But the fun and madness happens when all three are thrown together.

The second season was an extenstion of the first, but the cases were more madcap adventures that happened inbetween the character's personal lives. Jonathan, having failed to get his second book published, ends up working as a night school teacher. Ray, now broken up with his girlfriend has series of relationships with women, stranger than he is and gains some popularity through his work. While George finds out he has cancer and faces issues with his magazine's owner.

By the third season, Jonathan is a sort of celebrity having found popularity through his next book. The episodes are as always entertaining but feel all over the place in terms of story. The running story/case throughout is connected to Jonathan directly after he finds out his father isn't his biological father. There is also an unsavoury end to the whole show and the characters aren't really given a 'proper' send off. For me, I  could see the cancellation of the show coming throughout the third season. There were petitions to keep it going but HBO didn't change. Then with cancellations comes rumours of a movie, with the real Ames saying he has written a two drafts of the script but nothing was working and since 2014 there hasn't been further word of the film.

It had a good run and seemed to have a spark of inspiration throughout, but ultimately it lost the show was winding down and I'm sure somewhere Jonathan, Ray and George are enjoying drinks and pot in Brooklyn somewhere, plotting their next spa day.


Tuesday 13 February 2018

Happy Galentines!


To accompany BFI's new season, Girlfriends, which is exploring female centric friendships, featuring some excellent films which I will be covering over at VultureHound with the help of Park Circus and BFI too, I thought I'd write an interlude.

Great friendships have been portrayed on screen, whether it be the genre breaking 'Thelma and Louise' or the comedic mess of 'Bridesmaids', or the weird outsiders like Enid and Rebecca, as well those that have been toxic such as in 'Heathers'. But looking over my collection, I can name a handful that are about female friendships and a maybe a dozen more that explore a friendships.

In the name of Galentine's Day (thank you Lesley Knope) I wanted to discuss three films about friendship featuring women.


Nadine Labaki's feature debut was one that I bought on a whim. Reading a few reviews and intrigued by the story and setting, I bought a copy and was delighfully bold over. Centred around a group of friends who work in and frequent a salon on Beruit. These women trust and love each for who they are. They don't expect or ask for anything more. Supporting each other in difficult times, offering comfort when things in their life don't go according to plan. The characters featured in the film are also of various ages, showing what it feel like for a women as she ages as well as challenging what is expected of her, subtling showing what or who makes them happy. Beautifully filmed with a script that is never over dramatic and sensitive to certain subjects, there aren't many films out there like this.

Mistress America

Co-written by Greta Gerwig, now Oscar nominated director for her film, 'Lady Bird', 'Mistress America' is about an unexpected friendship between two women who find out their parents are getting married. Lonely student Tracey meets her soon to be step sister Brooke, who is a fast talking, fast moving New Yorker who knows where all the best places are to eat, meet people and enojy culture, while trying to open a restaurant. From the minute these two meet they connect and genuinely have a great time together. Brooke seems selfcentred but really does care about Tracey and as the latter is a shy writer, Brooke bring out the best in her but at the cost of their whirlwind friendship. This was one my favourite film of 2015 and I was absolutely devastated that there is still no DVD release for the film in the UK. Luckily I was saved by Netflix so I could relive the highs and lows of this genius unstated gem.

We Are the Best

Technically, the leads of this Swedish film from Lukas Moodysson based on the graphic novel 'Never Goodnight' by his wife, Coco, aren't quite yet women, they are 13 years old. But they still learn about friendship and what's important. Outsiders Bobo and Klara, love punk muisc, have punk hairstyles and despite not being able to play instruments, decide to start a band. They forcefully bring naive Hedvig, a talented guitarist, into the fold, as she doesn't have any other friends due to her strict Christian upbringing. But the two punks soon change this, by cutting her hair and writing songs together and the duo become a trio. This is more the beginnings of lifelong friendships being moulded and has a sense of nostalgia. The trailer for the film actually says, this is for anyone who is 13 years old and for those who remember being 13 years old. The three teens have a true friendship founded on wanting to start a band and isn't that how many bands are formed anyway? An upbeat and fun fueled example of female friendships that is relatable even if you don't like punk.

There are many friendships out there featured in films so I hope you all have a fantastic Galentines day by watching one or two or three of them!

Friday 9 February 2018

Thursday Movie Picks: Romance

 In Your Eyes
 The lost Joss Weadon (writer) film as I refer to it as due to the film not get any cinematic or DVD release over here (that I know of). It finally appeared on Netflix and never left (thankfully). When fragile sheltered housewife Rebecca in New Hampshire and trying to go straight on parole convict Dylan in New Mexico realise they have a connection, over time they fall in love with each other but have to deal with the physical long distance between them. Being able to hear each other and see what the other sees, as well as feel each other's emotions, their intimate relationship is like no other. Slightly sci-fi but mainly romantic, it's all about that last desparate dash to the freight train. 

The Lobster
Continuing the mini theme within the them, another slightly sci-fi society where everyone must be in a couple or they are rounded up and sent to The Hotel where they must find a partner in 45 days otherwise they will be turned into an animal of their choice. Romance, be it forced and based on a characteristic, is in the air as the singles try to find someone. David is the single we follow throughout as he tricks and fails in finding a partner, he escapes to the woods to be with The Loners where he meets the Short Sighted woman. As both difficulty with sight, they fall in love and plan to run away, but with any odd story, things do not run smoothly. I loved the weird matter of fact-ness about how things are conducted in this strange monotone society. Terrifying concept but with some beautiful moments.

It's All About Love
Rounding up with a sci-fi/thriller story about an estranged couple, still in love with each other, find each other again amidst an epidemic where people are dropping dead from broken hearts. In this version of the future, the planet has cooled, causing snow storms in July and we now have the ability to clone people. When John finds out his wife, famous figure skater, Elena has been cloned by her family so they can make money off her after she quits, they go on the run to escape her being killed off. Its more romantic that it sounds, with Joaquin Phoenix and Claire Danes as husband and wife, there are some great shots. 

Don't forget to check out where it all started over at
Wandering Through the Shelves

Wednesday 7 February 2018

Art + Film

Art is always difficult to define, defend and sometimes understand. I'm not a 'fan' of modern art, I simply don't appreciate it or believe that it is worth anything. But modern art is itself difficult to define. I like going to exhibitions but these are usually of an artist, illustrator or designer I admire. I prefer the world of Etsy and craft fairs when looking for something new. Yet, there is an artist I found through comic books back in 2008.

While looking through the shelves of my local comic shop, I came across Fables. It's exquisite cover depicting various fairytale characters crammed onto a subway train with a pleasing design and colour palette, it caught my eye. The story of course got my attention and within a week I was back buying the next two volumes, ending in me having bought all the volumes I could get my hands on and reading up to date by the end of that Summer. But the artwork was what started it all.

James Jean, a Taiwanesse American artist and a New York City's School of Visual Arts graduate, has recently had the spotlight on him and his work after designing and creating film posters for 'Mother!', 'The Shape of Water' and 'Blade Runner 2049'. He also designed a poster for 'Blade Runner', pictured below.

Jean's artwork is both epic and subtle across his work whether it is designs for Prada, comic book covers for DC Comics and Vertigo comics, installations or temporary tattoos.

The artwork for these films gives hope that the art of film posters will return. No more cheap looking photoshopped images of people standing next to each other with the title below.

Jean's style lends itself to other worldly images that match perfectly with fantastical characters and places unknown. Science Fiction and fairytale surrealism are his realm, which can also been seen in his artwork. Fables will always a special place in my comic book heart and his visionary artwork is partly the reason. I'm hoping that the 'buzz' around these films this and the artwork will produce new poster art and be used in the mainstream.

Monday 5 February 2018

Blind Spot: Murder By Death

Having lapsed pretty bad last year (still a few more to do) I've taken a different approach to how I will do these Blind Spot posts.

Murder by Death may seem like an odd choice as it may not be viewed as a typical classic. But for a murder mystery fan, this is an absolute delight right down to the hilarious DVD cover which features a very large picture of Peter Falk despite being an ensemble character film.

Neil Simon's Murder by Death features Truman Capote as a mysterious eccentric multi-millionaire who invites five of the most famous detectives to a 'murder and dinner' evening at his mansion in the middle of an eery forest. The detectives are tole that their reputatons are at stake when Twain tells them that someone will be murdered and they won't be able to solve the case. With a blind butler and a cook who is a deaf mute as the only servants in the house, as well as the distrust between the guests, strange things continue throughout the evening.

Very much like all murder mystery adaptations, the cast features a host of well known faces. Each taking on spoof version of the original characters, complete with a sidekick, exaggerations of their characteristics and how they deduce clues and observations. Peter Sellers is Sidney Wang, continuing the whitewashing of the original Charlie Chan, made famous in the 1930s-40s films. David Niven and Maggie Smith are delightfully cast as Dick and Dora Charleston, a parody of Nick and Nora Charles from Dashiell Hammet's Thin Man series. James Coco is the 'Belgie' Milo Perrier, an over the top parady of Agatha Christie's Poirot. Jessica Marbles, a parody of Christie's Miss Marples is played by Elsa Lanchester and finally, Peter Falk is Sam Diamond, paroding another Dashiell Hammett character, Sam Spade. With an added Alec Guinness as the blind butler, Jamessir Bensonmum.

The cast is superbly played straight faced and with a matter of fact attitude, the laughs are not over the top nor under sold. Sometimes the lines are so subtley brilliant, the humour very dry, that its tempting to wish this was on the stage rather than the screen, especially with all the technical jokes. Pointing out that the weather is just an effect, hinting at theatricals and the doorbell that makes a screaming sound being a quirk that is treated as something that is acceptable. These off the wall details are what make the film that extra bit amusing.

There is a deleted scene that apparently features Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watspn appear at the end and solve the case, which would have be amazing but was scrapped. Its amsuing to think that the greatest detective was cut out because the other detectives felt upstaged.

A comedy like this would be hard to come by in this age of toilet humour being more important that clever writing and actors being absorbed into their characters. A subtle comedy such as this would not be made and not just because of the Charlie Chan/Sidney Wang element. Appreciation for detective stories may seem like its at an all time boom but because there are SO many crime stories its difficult to sift through and find the gems. Thinking who would be the equivalent if this was written and made today, reimaginings of these characters would jump to mind.

An overlooked and not talked about enough gem of a comedy with witty and amsuing writing, I hope that others out there who appreciate detectives' stereotypical whodunnit tropes will watch or rewatch this film.

To find out how it all started, head over to The Matinee and to see what's happening now, check out Returning Videotapes who is the new host of the Blind Spot Series.

Thursday 1 February 2018

Thursday Movie Picks: Story Within a Story

Bad Education
One of if not my favourite Pedro Almodovar film about two boys, Enrique and Ignacio, who meet while at boarding school and fall in love, but are separted by the priest who sexually abuses Ignacio. As adults they meet again, Enrique a film director and 'Ignacio' an actor. The latter offer the former a short story he wrote asking if this would be his next project, giving him the role. 'The Visit' is the story within the story as it is about their time at school and fictional account of when they are adults. There are flashbacks and reveals in this melodramatic low key thriller that I don't wish to spoil for anyone who hasn't seen it.

The Fall
Although Tarsem has the reputation for quality of substance, this film, I think is both beautifully shot around the globe but has a heartfelt story, part improvised it seems at times by the young actress at the centre. In a hospital in LA 1915, young Alexandria meets and befriends bedridden stuntman, Roy who tells her stories. In between his storytelling he asks her to questions, eventually getting her to bring him more pills. The story within the story is about five characters and their journey across to hunt down the villain who has wronged them all in some way. Its one of the most beautifully shot films I've ever seen, from the costumes to locations, the design is amazing.

This is an odd one. With rather a big name cast, at the time, this British film is part science fiction, part tragedy. We follow four characters, a man recently jilted at the alter, an artist who films her suicide attempts as part of her art degree, a man church warden looking for his son and masked vigilante searching for his enemy. The first three characters' stories take place in London as we know it and the last in a steampunk futuristic place, Meanwhile City, where everyone is part of some sort of religion. The vigilante's story is within the story, as eventually all the characters collide in a heartbreaking moment.

Don't forget to check out where it all started over at
Wandering Through the Shelves