THE HANDMAID’S TALE, 1.7 – “The Other Side” (TV Review)

Channel 4 – 9pm – Sunday 9th July 2017

Teleplay by: Lynn Renee Maxcy

Series created by: Bruce Miller – Based on the novel by: Margaret Atwood

Directed by: Floria Sigismondi


 

COLLECTING STRAYS

Last week we deviated from June/Offred’s (Elisabeth Moss) tale by flashing back to her new mistress’s life pre-Gilead. In episode 7 of this ten-part Hulu/MGM adaptation, our eponymous handmaid is even more of a bit-part player as the fate of her estranged husband, Luke (O-T Fagbenle), is presented to us.

… Keep Scuttling!

THE HANDMAID’S TALE, 1.6 – “A Woman’s Place” (TV Review)

Channel 4 – 9pm – Sunday 2nd July 2017

Teleplay by: Wendy Straker Hauser

Series created by: Bruce Miller – Based on the novel by: Margaret Atwood

Directed by: Floria Sigismondi


 

THE QUIET HALF

I was well aware I had dragged my heels with my (now completed) weekly Doctor Who series ten reviews (you can read all of them HERE), but I honestly thought I was just one or two episodes shy of keeping up with Channel 4’s terrestrial UK broadcast of Hulu’s ten-part adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale. Turns out I actually fell FOUR episodes off-pace, so the catch-up begins NOW!

Continue reading

THE HANDMAID’S TALE, 1.5 – “Faithful” (TV Review)

Channel 4 – 9pm – Sunday 25th June 2017

Teleplay by: Dorothy Fortenberry

Series created by: Bruce Miller – Based on the novel by: Margaret Atwood

Directed by: Mike Barker


 

FISH HOOK, OPEN EYE

“Every love story is a tragedy, if you wait long enough.”

Now 34 games of Scrabble into her clandestine encounters with her potentially-sterile Commander (Joseph Fiennes), handmaid Offred (Elisabeth Moss) is gifted an old-times fashion magazine. Long thought destroyed, the nostalgic memento awakens in her memories of her first encounters with her husband, Luke (O-T Fagbenle), at a street-side hot dog stand while best friend Moira (Samira Wiley) interrogates Luke about Offred/Kate’s Tinder profile.

… Keep Scuttling!

THE HANDMAID’S TALE, 1.4 – “Nolite Te Bastardes Carborundorum” (TV Review)

Channel 4 – 9pm – Sunday 18th June 2017

Written by: Leila Gerstein

Series created by: Bruce Miller – Based on the novel by: Margaret Atwood

Directed by: Mike Barker


 

THE SOUND OF GLASS

“How did you survive her?”

Isolated to her room for 13 days after bursting Selena Joy’s (Yvonne Strahovski) pregnancy bubble by getting her “monthly woe” in “Late” (reviewed HERE) last week, a cabin fevered Offred (Elisabeth Moss) takes to laying in her cupboard, wherein she discovers the Latin phrase which this fourth episode is named after, scratched into the wall. Believing it to be written by her predecessor in the Waterford house, Offred is determined to find a translation to the antiquated message and decipher the meaning.

… Keep Scuttling!

THE HANDMAID’S TALE, 1.2 – “Birth Day” (TV Review)

 

Channel 4 – 9pm – Sunday 4th June 2017

Created by and teleplay by: Bruce Miller

Based on the novel by: Margaret Atwood

Directed by: Reed Morano


 

THERE IS AN US

At the close of last week’s series debut (reviewed HERE), reluctant concubine Offred (Elisabeth Moss) was warned that a despotic Gilead spy (known as an “Eye”) is watching her, even while she goes about her demeaning slave-like duties as a sex-surrogate for wealthy Commander Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) and his stuck-up wife, Serena Joy (Yvonne Strahovski). In “Birth Day”, Offred feels herself stuck ‘tween two extremes and pulled both ways: should she go against the strict new conventions and meet with her new master alone, or use her unique position to betray his trust and provide intel to a network of rebellious Handmaids, led by “carpet-munching gender traitor” Ofglen (Alexis Bledel)?

… Keep Scuttling!

THE HANDMAID’S TALE, 1.1 – “Offred” (TV Review)

Channel 4 – 9pm – Sunday 28th May 2017

Teleplay by: Bruce Miller

Based on the novel by: Margaret Atwood

Directed by: Reed Morano


 

BREEDING STOCK

As intrigued as I was by its release (and Channel 4’s acquisition for UK transmission), I am a week behind on Hulu/MGM’s new ten-part adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s speculative dystopian novel because I wanted to view the 1990 film version first. While not out-and-out disappointed by the Natasha Richardson-starring production (which you can read my review of HERE), my enjoyment was tempered by the outdated feel which crippled the suspension of my disbelief and meant I never felt truly engaged enough to appreciate the abject horror of the notion. A reader on my blog commented that I should still give the new series a try, as it improved upon the earlier attempt.

… Keep Scuttling!

LOADED, 1.1 – “Lawsuit” (TV Review)

Loaded. Image shows from L to R: Leon (Samuel Anderson), Ewan (Jonny Sweet), Josh (Jim Howick), Watto (Nick Helm).

Channel 4 – 10pm – Monday 8th May 2017

Written by: Jon Brown

Directed by: Ian Fitzgibbon


 

FILTHY RICH AND CAT APP

My disappointment at learning that series 3 of Nick Helm’s refreshingly honest BBC Three sitcom Uncle was its last was somewhat assuaged when I learned that the brash bearded comic was playing one of four lead roles in Channel 4’s new eight-part comedy-drama Loaded, which sees Helm’s ex-junkie computer genius Watto and three life-long mates become overnight multi-millionaires when they sell their Candy Crush-alike mobile phone app, Cat Factory, to an American company for a staggering $14billion EACH.

… Keep Scuttling!

Willie Dynamite (Blu-ray Review)

Image result for willie dynamite

15 – 102mins – 1974


DIG IT?

“Seven women in the palm of his hand…”

I open-handedly own up to the fact that I laughed when the check disc for Arrow Video’s recent high-definition restoration of this forgotten Blaxploitation classic turned up in the post unannounced. I’d never heard of amoral pimp Willie D, so my expectations were low for a film to rival Shaft, Super Fly or Sweet Sweetback.

… Keep Scuttling!

The Inbetweeners 2 (Blu-ray Review)


15 – 96mins – 2014


EPIC BANTS

When I walked out of the cinema last August, parroting choice lines and giggling like an over-excited bumder, I was certain that the second big screen outing for bezzie mates Will (Simon Bird), Simon (Joe Thomas), Neil (Blake Harrison) and Jay (James Buckley) was a briefcase-sized success: funny, crude, cathartic and heartfelt in perfect quantities.

Yes, I just said “titties”.

But with a bit of distance between me and Channel 4’s lovable geeks, I returned to the Oz-trotting sequel last week, and… was somewhat underwhelmed. It’s not a baaaad film, and I did chuckle along once again at the most infectious zingers, but what struck me most second time around was how thoroughly uninspired it felt, emanating a strong whiff of concept-repeating, franchise-lengthening, straw-clutching.

The sitcom rule of thumb is “don’t mess with the status quo”, but for a big-screen spin-off there needs to be some invention and expansion from the half hour format. This is why so many head abroad. So what do we get in The Inbetweeners 2? Another foreign holiday! Yes, there’s a Harry Potter-spoofing title sequence and Jay’s hyperbolic email from the other side of the world is acted out with outrageous verve, but once the UK is left behind you realise all the fish-out-of-water schtick was already covered (and liberally smothered in smut) in 2011’s first …Movie (reviewed HERE on my old blog).

The social misfits returned from their first holiday sans-parents happy, content, confident – and with actual real-live girlfriends. That was their silver screen send-off. But money talks, and one year down the line (for our characters) all the good work has been undone and they have reverted back to form; no-one has grown up and everyone is worryingly miserable.

The horrors of work, further education and psycho-girlfriends! Worst of all, put-upon Will is still being picked on. Only now by supposedly more mature and worldly students at Uni – a place where all types of people are meant to converge and feel welcome amongst peers – in a far crueller and less forgivable way than he ever was at Rudge Park Comprehensive. I genuinely felt for him.

The only character afforded any growth is Simon’s girlfriend, Lucy (Tamla Kari), and not for the better. Genuine and reserved in …Movie, she has morphed into an out-and-out hoodie-cutting nutjob, simply to give Simon a reason to feel the same despair felt by bullied Will and directionless Jay. Lucy has been given such a radical – hideous – personality transplant she may as well be a different character.

I may be over-stating my niggles. It’s not all cruelty, awkwardness and doom-and-gloom – this is a comedy, after all! The dialogue is still quick, witty and genuine. Furthermore, Neil’s dolphin training debacle and waterpark “accident” is a vomit-inducing standout. Will also gets a moment to, erm, shine when he “dazzles” potential love interest Katie (Emily Berrington) with a wince-inducing campfire recital. Sadly, it feels like a laboured attempt to replicate the guffaws of the first film’s robot dance sequence – and falls short in comparison.

Nothing is terrible here, but it has been done better before. I’m back on my niggles again, then, and repetition is The Inbetweeners 2’s biggest downfall. As touching as the camaraderie and epiphanies during the dehydrated Outback climax is, I couldn’t help but feel like it was a forced attempt at a second happily ever after – and one that had already been executed more authentically in the first film. I like these characters a great deal and don’t want to see them treading water – even if it is in somewhere as exotic as Byron Bay!!

CR@B Verdict: 3 stars