Ed Harris; that charismatic and ever so versatile character actor who has a knack for popping up in so many movies. I can honestly say I can’t think of a bad performance from him, that’s how reliable he is. I admire the guy a hell of a lot for his talent and ability. So which of his many performances really stands out to you?
- Jay Hernandez as Paxton
- Derek Richardson as Josh
- Eyþór Guðjónsson as Óli
- Jennifer Lim as Kana
With it being October and Halloween just around the corner, I thought it well to focus on some horror movies. I chose to review Hostel, the infamous shocker that I will admit I couldn’t finish all of upon first viewing. Now being older, I decided to get a spine and finally watch it all. I have to say that watching it now it deserves its reputation of being a horrifying and stomach churning movie, but also has some rather surprising parts to it. Anyway, back to my review.
College buddies Paxton and are backpacking through Europe in search for ladies, drugs and all time partying. They are joined in Amsterdam by Icelandic Óli, who is similar in interest to them and more than happy to tag along. Around this time, in between excessive sex and drug use, the trio encounter a young man with an intriguing offer. He informs them of a hostel in Slovakia that will make all their debased and carnal fantasies come true. Being horny and only concerned with having a good time, the three friends head to the hostel in Slovakia. Gorgeous ladies, drugs and partying awaits them on arrival and it seems like the perfect time for all of them. Yet it is all too good to be true as the first indicator of something amiss is when Óli goes missing. Later on, Josh also disappears and the people around the hostel are very evasive over what they know. It is left up to Paxton to discover what sinister things are transpiring around him. Searching for answers, he stumbles upon a twisted society of torture that is gleeful in its torment. Paxton is ultimately put into this nightmarish situation and must fight in order to survive the onslaught of perverted brutality.
Eli Roth writes and directs Hostel; clearly having a sort of twisted fun with the set up and then the unleashing of horrifying content. His sense of pace is very well established with how the terror unfolds for us and the characters. A slow burn covers the first half of Hostel, with events playing as a frat brother’s hedonistic dream that will soon become a nightmare. There’s boobs, boozing and all these guys could ask for. The main characters are not the most likable bunch, but they conform well to the overall Jock stereotype Roth is going for. We are given hints of something untoward going on, with the opening titles depicting something murky that will become prominent. Hostel in itself is not a very deep movie, and yet it manages to have some commentary on the gullibility of tourists in an unfamiliar place. Plus, there are many self-referential anecdotes and instances of other horror movies coming into play in an assured way, especially at the start. The last forty minutes of Hostel are a relentless excursion into jaw-dropping horror, with no let up for breathing chiefly through the graphic and gruesome depictions of torture. A strong stomach is needed for Hostel’s brutality, though it is hard to turn away despite the horror on show. Gore is the order of the day and in high supply, with Roth obviously enjoying grossing the audience out with what he depicts. It’s not all mean-spirited, just rather nasty in its unapologetic refusal to compromise on the blood. Twisted is the best word for Hostel, with many of its scenes cutting close the bone(literally and figuratively). One particular scene involving tendons is bound to induce feelings of sickness, along with the appearances of feral children who want more than money from you and will turn violent if you don’t provide it. And while it’s a horror, various thriller elements are on call for a tense finale that is gruesomely and shockingly satisfying( if that is the right word for it.) The visual style, that progressively becomes bleaker as the picture goes on, excellently mirrors the descent into depravity experienced by the characters, and chiefly us. Suspense is handled by the music, that knows how to ratchet up the atmosphere.
The cast is competent and works well within the framework of Hostel. They aren’t there to be the deepest characters going, but once the horror starts you do feel something for them. The three main men at first blend in together because of their attributes, but later one emerges in particular as very effective. Jay Hernandez is given the most to do here as the main frat boy falling into a horrific situation. He starts out as a lady-mad guy with only one thing on his mind, but once the terror hits, Hernandez finds a desperation and determination to survive the torturous world he’s thrown into. Derek Richardson is well used as the not so convinced of the journey member of the group, while Eyþór Guðjónsson lives it up as the Lothario with the gift of the gab. Jennifer Lim, out of the women in Hostel, has the most to do as the rather unfortunate traveler who also falls prey to the horror.
A movie of extreme violence and horror, Hostel is worthy of shocking credentials and title as a work of twisted depravity. Not for everyone, but a memorably brutal movie nonetheless.
For my first entry into Crystal’s Tracy and Hepburn blogathon, I covered the classic movie The African Queen yesterday to celebrate the talents of Miss Hepburn. Today. I’m going to honour the greatness of Spencer Tracy with my review of the 50’s Western, Broken Lance.
- Spencer Tracy as Matt Devereaux
- Robert Wagner as Joe Devereaux
- Richard Widmark as Ben Devereaux
- Katy Jurado as Señora Devereaux
- Jean Peters as Barbara
- Hugh O’Brian as Mike Devereaux
- Earl Holliman as Denny Devereaux
A western with definite Shakespearean overtones to it, Broken Lance is a resounding success with its fine cast and confident direction that bring drama and emotion to the genre.
Matt Devereaux is the hardened and tough patriarch of four sons and most proudly, a cattle empire that is his life’s work. While successful with his business due to his ruthlessness and charisma, his parenting hasn’t been particularly special. For Ben, Mike and Denny, he has been a tyrant since they can remember and forced his temperament onto them. For his youngest son Joe, it is a different picture as he respects his father and is good at judgement. This doesn’t go down at all well with any of the other brothers. Further animosity is present as Joe is mixed race, owing to Matt’s marriage to the dignified Señora Devereaux, a Native American princess. Ben in particular feels resentment towards this and also the fact that his father is refusing to modernise their business in a changing world. Matt however is too old and determined to change his ways, least of all for his children who he finds largely ungrateful. Trouble brews when a nearby copper mine pollutes the water supply, leading to the death of many of Matt’s cattle. The grizzled Matt takes matters into his own hand and raids the mine. The law gets wind of this and Matt is threatened with prison for his actions. It is here that tragedy and turmoil really come out among the four brothers, leading to eventful and irrevocable changes.
Edward Dmytryk directs this highly charged Western with the right flavour for drama and character. Broken Lance is essentially a Western interpretation of King Lear, with the daughters being replaced with sons and the King being a cattle ranch owner. But the presence of that great play gives Broken Lance more of an edge in comparison with other traditional Westerns. The script, using characters and depth, is largely responsible for this and how it depicts the unfolding tragedy of the family. Plus, in a rare move for a Western of the 50’s, Broken Lance features a positive representation of Native Americans. The vast majority of depictions in Westerns is a negative one; Broken Lance rectified this by having the main Native American characters be people of virtue and right. I respected Broken Lance for taking this stance and also highlighting the prejudice faced by Native Americans. My only niggle with Broken Lance is that I wish it were longer; the film is quite short and while a fine Western, I wanted just a little bit more. That shouldn’t however take away from the excellence of the overall movie and how it has a difference to it that most Western’s do not take. It’s with the drama that Broken Lance particularly excels at and while there is action present in Broken Lance, it never descends into just another shoot out movie. A grandiose score really gets us into the events of this Western with flourishes of strings and drums.
At the centre of it all and completely dominating events is the marvellous Spencer Tracy, in full grizzled and boisterous mode. The character of aging patriarch with his own brand of justice and love for his land( at the expense of the love from three of his sons), Tracy explores the various facets of him with rich texture. On one hand, he’s a domineering man who it must be said has been harsh towards his sons in terms of wanting them to follow him. But in another breath, he’s a very charismatic man who has worked hard to make his cattle ranch a success and is thwarted by the ineptness and animosity of his three older sons. Such a great combination from an accomplished actor is the main source of vitality in this dramatic western. Robert Wagner, in a very early role, manages the decency and respect of a young man who looks up to his father, yet suffers because of it. It’s a good showing from the then young actor. The ever effective Richard Widmark( always exceptional when playing a wrong un), brings seething rage and resentment that lead him to ruin and dishonor the father he thinks has forsaken him for his entire life. There is still some humanity in there, but Widmark most succeeds at discovering the nastiness and bitterness of the part. In support, Katy Jurado beautifully captures the dignity and strength of Matthew’s second wife, who knows all about the prejudice aimed her way but rises above it with grace and humility. Sometimes just a look from her is enough to voice her inner thoughts and love, the role providing a peaceful balance to the frequent clashes between the men of the movie. Jean Peters is the pretty love interest for Wagner and sweet enough to pull it off. Hugh O’Brian and Earl Holliman are honestly not given much to do but follow their older and more resentful brother, but do the job good enough.
A character driven Western that has the right amount of drama and action to it, Broken Lance showcases great direction and acting, particularly from the legendary Spencer Tracy.
I was recently tagged by Gill to take part in the Five Flaming Hotties post. This was set up by her and the fabulous Cat I want to thank them for tagging me for this fun challenge. Sexiness is a common thing on this blog, so this gives me yet another excuse to feature it. Anyway, here are the rules.
- You must add the name of the blog who tagged you AND those of the 2 Reel Quirky Cats, Thoughts All Sorts and Realweegiemidget Reviews with links to these sites as given here.. and use the natty picture promoting this post (found later in this post).
2 Reel Quirky Cats
and Thoughts All Sorts
2. List 5 of your all time greatest hotties from TV or Film. ie crushes / objects of your affection. If you want to (I know some of you who do), musicians and sports stars can be included.
3. Say how you were introduced to them, and why you like them (keep it clean)
4. Link to 7 other bloggers.
5. Add lovely pictures of those you selected.
6. Oh…and post the rules..
And onto my hotties…
Kylie Minogue: The pint-sized pop star has the distinction of being my first celebrity crush. I can’t remember the exact age at which I was introduced to her, but I remember it being something of a schoolboy crush. It was seeing her in her music video for ‘Spinning Around’ that I saw her, specifically for those gold hot pants. She just radiated a gorgeousness that still carries through into today. A luscious beauty with a lovely smile is how I think of Kylie.
Sarah Michelle Gellar: It must have been when I was 10 when I was first introduced to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And from the moment I saw Sarah Michelle Gellar, my heart skipped a beat. Her athleticism, attitude and feistiness made her one of my favourite television heroines and crushes. She projected a sex appeal and enthusiasm that was impossible to ignore and still continues now for me.
Sophia Loren: A cinematic goddess of loveliness and talent, Sophia Loren is Old-School Hollywood at its most glamorous. It was my Grandpa who introduced me to her and I was most thankful to him for that. Her exotic beauty captured my heart, but most of all it was her eyes. So feline and piercing, eyes that were made for the camera to last forever.
Alyssa Milano: The first time I saw her in Charmed as a young boy of 8 or 9, I was struck. Not only by her gorgeous looks, but by her innate liveliness and charm. She projected a rebellious and loving quality as the youngest sister of a long line of powerful witches. And her gorgeous figure was featured in an array of daring outfits that were spellbinding all of their own. My eyes were fixed on her and her beautiful presence on screen.
It was at age 12 while finally watching The Lord of the Rings Trilogy that I encountered the dazzling Cate Blanchett. Her pale skin, her blue eyes and that undeniably regal demeanor left me entranced. But although she is physically striking, it is the talents of Blanchett that really intrigue. She’s such a chameleon and after my first sight of her, I watched many of her movies and was truly amazed at her versatility. Truly one of the finest and most beautiful actresses today.
And here are my nominees for this:
I hope everyone enjoyed reading this post and once more I would like to say how grateful I was to take part.
The sensational Crystal is hosting a blogathon dedicated to the talents of icons Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. I was more than happy to join in and celebrate the fineness of these two stars. For my celebration of Miss Hepburn, I decided to review the excellent adventure that is The African Queen. The next review for Spencer Tracy will be of Broken Lance.
The African Queen
- Humphrey Bogart as Charlie Allnut
- Katharine Hepburn as Rose Sayer
- Robert Morley as Reverend Samuel Sayer
Filmed largely on location in well documented circumstances and benefiting from the direction John Huston and pairing of Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn, The African Queen is high adventure that remains evergreen and always exciting.
It is 1914 in German East Africa and prim spinster Rose Sayer is along with her Reverend brother Samuel working as missionaries with a local village. With the First World War occurring at this point, uncertainty rises and escalates when the Germans set upon the village and burn it down. An injured Samuel submits to fever and quickly dies, leaving Rose devastated. Hope comes in the unlikely form of gin-swigging and uncouth tramp steamer owner Charlie Allnut; who delivers supplies to many villages and has met Rose before. Taking pity on her, he takes her aboard his steamer, known as The African Queen. Immediately, the two clash over a difference of opinion and anything they can. Rose is a well-bred, respectable lady who doesn’t take kindly to Charlie’s man about the world behaviour, while Charlie finds his lay about lifestyle challenged by a woman he considers prissy and obstinate. As they continue down the river, their bickering temporarily stops as Rose unusually suggests helping the War effort. Knowing that a German patrol ship blocks any path or form of attack later down the river, Rose suggests fashioning some of Charlie’s supplies into an array of combatants in order to sink the ship. Charlie thinks the idea is ridiculous at first, but getting to know Rose, agrees to her terms. Thus resumes the sniping and arguments as their journey to adventure is fraught with hot weather, dangerous tides and animals. Over this time of surviving the river, Charlie and Rose begin to fall in love, after much reluctance to acknowledge such feelings.
John Huston is the captain of this movie and his maverick spirit is never far from view. Choosing to shoot largely on location in Africa posed difficulties, but his sense of fun and blend of adventure, romance and humour is ideally pitched and depicted to such a loving degree. The initial set up is well done, but The African Queen truly gets going once both Rose and Charlie are on the eponymous boat and the oil-water dynamic sets in. Observing them clash due to different upbringings and divides is what gives The African Queen its playful spirit that no amount of time can diminish. Their impulsive plan to thwart the Germans is daring and the stuff of a Boy’s Own Adventure; ranking it for me as definite must see movie for anyone who hasn’t yet had the pleasure of viewing this classic. We have so many memorable moments to entertain here including riding through the rapids, Rose applying a multitude of salt to Charlie’s leech infested body and the overall journey down the river are just some of the highlights from this gloriously engaging adventure. There’s nary a dull moment as the script and energy keep things bubbling at a nice, exciting temperature. The African Queen is practically a roller coaster on water, with every turn bringing with it gorgeous views, multiple dangers and romance for our two principal characters. The location shooting, which has been extremely well documented for its tribulations, that ultimately added with the flavour of the film, make it adventure and fun of the highest denomination. A grand but always puckish score is the great accompaniment for Rose and Charlie down the river.
Humphrey Bogart collected an Oscar for his winning portrayal of a rough and ready but dissolutely charming captain. With his cheeky grin and gruffness being offset by the fact that he’s really a decent guy underneath it all, Bogart makes the role his own. Katharine Hepburn is equally as excellent with a blend of uptight primness and burgeoning spiritedness that is most accomplished. Hepburn is sharp, strong yet vulnerable and full of life, a mix that she inhabits with vigor. Watching as Rose emerges from her refined nature to becoming a lively heroine of resilience is a great thing and completely down to the greatness of Katharine Hepburn and her talent. And watching the chemistry between the two as they bristle and bicker, before coming to love the other is just another string in the movie’s impressive bow. It’s a shame these two stars didn’t make any other movies together as their chalk and cheese personalities would have been well served if given the chance. Robert Morley appears briefly as Rose’s brother, whose death fills her with a desire to help the War effort in her own way.
The African Queen is fine movie making and a deserved classic that has lost none of its original charm or fun factor. If you haven’t seen it, I implore you to do so for its adventure and pairing of Bogart and Hepburn.
Carry On Cabby
- Sid James as Charlie Hawkins
- Hattie Jacques as Peggy Hawkins
- Charles Hawtrey as Terry ‘Pintpot’ Tankard
- Kenneth Connor as Ted Watson
- Esma Cannon as Flo
- Liz Fraser as Sally
- Amanda Barrie as Anthea
- Bill Owen as Smiley
- Jim Dale as Expectant Father
The seventh Carry On movie, Cabby marks itself out as something a tad different from the norm, yet still boasting all the fun and good time a movie like this is expected too. Combining a keen eye for life at the time and the usual naughty comedy, Carry On Cabby is a resounding and pardon the pun, driving success.
Charlie Hawkins is a cheeky owner of a London taxi company named Speedee Cabs. Although a charmer to a fault, he’s also something of a workaholic to say the very least. His kind wife Peggy has grown tired of her husband’s devotion to his job, that has put a wedge between them that only she can see. She hopes that one day he will show her some appreciation, even though he doesn’t mean to be as inattentive as he seems. Also occupying the taxi company is loyal second in command Ted, whose often bickering with his tea lady girlfriend Sally and new driver nicknamed Pintpot who is prone to all sorts of mischief. Charlie’s dedication to his job finally comes to a head when he misses his wedding anniversary. This proves the last straw for Peggy, who decides that she must teach her husband a lesson. Using her initiative, she decides to secretly set up a rival taxi cab firm. It is named Glam Cabs, which she populates with gorgeous ladies to draw in customers. Staying in the background but pulling the strings, Peggy sets her girls out for a taste of success. The game is on as competition and all bets are off as Glam Cabs begins to succeed and Charlie’s company flounders, all with Peg motivating events to her advantage and giving Charlie a taste of his own medicine.
Gerald Thomas directs with his customary flair for comedy, while expanding on some drama in the piece. It’s clear that this a Carry On that wants to be more than funny and it actually accomplishes it winningly. After the colour of Carry On Cruising, the choice to go back to black and white pays dividends here. While primarily a comedy, Cabby has a certain serious undertone to it which surprises but finds something to say. With the film being made in the early 60’s and with more expression for women, Cabby reflects this change and how there was still a very big divide on what women were thought as and how they should be. Cabby gets in the laughs, but the social consciousness of it is what really makes it stand out in my eyes. Bucket loads of innuendo and sexiness abound in much the way you’d expect from a Carry On, but added in among Carry on Cabby’s virtues is a take on women striking out in a man’s world. Granted this includes using sex appeal and physical advantages, the feeling of fun mixed with the script that tackles what was going on at the time, any worries of overt sexism are cooled as its so well written. A serious topic is displayed with a tongue in cheek approach that still gets the message across; a success in my book. And talking of well written, Carry On Cabby is really the first of the film’s to really focus on character. You really get to know the people here, especially and the battle of the sexes their differences stoke. Combined with various incidents of great slapstick, this depth and character is what really counts in this hilarious outing for most of the team. Many moments stand out here, not least of all the ongoing battle between both companies and the various, sly methods employed to get business. Plus, we get the first appearance of Jim Dale, in a humorous interlude as an expectant father whose mind is rattled and whose constant journeys that he employs Charlie for land the latter in extremely hot water. The music is typically and amusingly jaunty, which is just what you want.
Sid James takes centre stage, perfecting his Cockney charmer and rogue routine that is great to watch. Acting alongside Hattie Jacques, James makes his character a blinded man who is good deep down. Hattie Jacques is beautifully moving and later on mischievous as the aggrieved wife, who takes control and fights fire with fire. Although she was remembered for playing the battle-axe or stern woman of authority, Jacques displays a real sensitivity and strength here that is a fine example of her talents. Charles Hawtrey returns to the fold with his fine brand of hapless pratfalls and slapstick, that is also complimented by the always excellent Kenneth Connor. Esma Cannon, in her last Carry On film, lights up the scream as the mischievous second in command for Glam Cabs. Liz Fraser once again provides the glamour and lusciousness of womanhood. Amanda Barrie has fun as the flirty Glam Cab girl who gets the most attention, while Bill Owen has his last Carry On outing in a funny interlude at the start of the film. The previously mentioned Jim Dale is a real hoot in his debut outing, which would lead to countless more.
A great entry into the ongoing franchise, Carry On Cabby mixes a certain social undercurrent to compliment its laughs and bring that something different to the table.
I’ve recently been laid up with a bad cold that has seriously been annoying. I’m getting better, but still not 100%. I thought it best to check in with you all and assure you that I’m still alive. I hate not being able to blog as much, but hopefully this darn cold will subside. Believe me, nothing will stop me blogging.
- Patrick Swayze as Sam Wheat
- Demi Moore as Molly Jensen
- Whoopi Goldberg as Oda Mae Brown
- Tony Goldwyn as Carl Bruner
A hybrid of romance, supernatural and thriller, Ghost still entrances audiences with its emotional heart. And while it would be easy to write it off as just another generic weepy, its heartfelt impact can’t be denied, as can’t find work from the cast, including an Oscar-winning Whoopi Goldberg.
Sam Wheat and Molly Jensen are a couple are madly in love with each other and living in Manhattan. Life is good for them as Sam is a successful banker and Molly enjoys her work as an artist. That is until their bliss is shattered one night. Coming home from a play , they are accosted by a thug and Sam is fatally shot. Yet while dead, his spirit doesn’t move on to the afterlife. Unfortunately, though he attempts to communicate with Molly, he can’t. Molly retreats into grief following his death and shuts herself away. After much shock has settled in, Sam slowly finding his footing as a spirit and how he can impact on Molly’s life and clutch tight their bond. Sam also discovers that his death was not just some random mugging gone wrong but part of a dodgy scheme that he’d inadvertently stumbled into earlier in the film. It was organised by Carl Bruner, who he considered a friend but is revealed to be a contemptible weasel. Realising that Molly is now in danger, Sam frets about how he can help his beloved. His possible answer comes in the surprising form of Oda Mae Brown, a fake physic who ironically can hear him. Oda Mae is reluctant and startled by her gift, which she never actually realised was there as she’s faked being a psychic for money. Yet after much persistence, she agrees to help him reach Molly. The trouble is proving to the grieving young woman that Sam’s spirit is still there. Time is soon ticking for Sam as he attempts to warn the devastated Molly of her impending danger and to finally move onto the next life knowing that she is safe.
On directing duties is Jerry Zucker, who brings considerable skill to Ghost. He really finds so many angles and different genre elements to contend with and he largely gets it right. Ghost at its heart is a romance with immense spiritual overtones to it. Yet it also boasts many moments of fine humour and even has thriller elements that are surprisingly strong and boast some unexpected tension, complete with some detours into the spooky realm. It’s a credit to Zucker that most of the hoops keep spinning in sync with each other, only occasionally stumbling in steps that can be easily forgotten given the rest of the picture. Overall, Ghost is definitely a memorably moving movie that knows the ways to get you deeply involved with the immensely heartfelt story at play. And it’s impossible to forget the justifiably famous scene of Molly and Sam at the pottery wheel that develops into a sensual encounter. It is so sexy and romantic, along with changing the way audiences would see pottery forever. Though it’s been parodied to death, the original scene still holds a special place in cinema as a most sexy and tender scene of two people genuinely in love with each other. Sure Ghost works on your emotions, but it gets right to the heart of the theme of love transcending all that it’s hard to really fault as it sucks you in. If you’re not flowing with tears by the end, you mustn’t have a sensitive bone in your body. For Ghost beautifully and often poignantly highlights that love is in fact eternal and that the feeling of a loved one never leaves, whether they be alive or dead. And I for one bought into it, along with the various melding of genres that I mentioned earlier. Ghost may run a little too long, but that can be papered over given the investment and impact of the movie in general. Maurice Jarre is the man behind the sincere, romantic and frequently atmospheric score of Ghost, that goes a long way to accentuating the themes of love overcoming all and still burning.
Patrick Swayze has the right physicality and decency for the part of the Sam, whose desire and love for Molly is what keeps his spirit alive after he is killed. The part could easily have been bland or boring, but Swayze raises it up to a respectable level and adds his own spin on it that ensures we buy into his mission to save his beloved. Demi Moore, who has never looked more beautiful than she does here, also sells the desolation and passion of her character. And man is she damn effective in the emotional scenes, her tears cause you to shed them too. Standing out the most in proceedings is the scene-stealing Whoopi Goldberg, in an Oscar-winning performance. It is her who injects a lot of humour into the film and gives it yet another dimension. Acting as Sam’s often hilarious and sassy voice piece, Goldberg creates a character of high energy and care. It will be impossible not to laugh at just how funny she is here, being the memorable comic relief yet also finding some soulful honesty too. Rounding out things is Tony Goldwyn; appropriately nasty and sly as the backstabbing man whose actions lead to Sam’s murder. It’s a credit to Goldwyn that you really wish his character the worst and hope he gets exactly what’s coming to him.
A memorable romance that combines other genres like fantasy and sometimes tense thriller into the mix to a largely pleasing and arresting effect, Ghost will both warm and break your heart. So grab some chocolate, get the tissues at the ready and watch this romance that retains a sensitive and soulful presence today.
More drama and eventfulness befalls the Salinger family in the penultimate season of Party of Five. Despite some melodrama sneaking in and muddying the water, Season 5 still has its moments to shine with honest situations and characters you can feel for. Though it is overall a mixed season after the largely successful fourth one, it’s still immensely watchable. Spoilers will most likely follow.
After the unexpected news of Daphne’s pregnancy at the end of Season 4, both Charlie(Matthew Fox) and Daphne have decided to go through with having the baby. But as its so unexpected, both struggle since their plans and personalities are clashing. Charlie is being overly sensitive about everything, while Daphne is in a complete muddle. Everything is halted however when Daphne must have emergency surgery, resulting in the baby being born premature. After much concern and a couple of unpredictable moments, the baby(a girl given the name of the Salinger’s late mother Diana) is born and Daphne is fine. After a while, it becomes that Daphne seriously can’t cope with a baby, which baffles Charlie . Kirsten(Paula Devicq) is on hand for help, but her own marriage is under strain as her husband is of the thought that she is spending too much time with the Salinger’s. Kirsten and Charlie grow closer again, especially given all their history. Owen(Jacob Smith) feels pushed out of everything with the new baby. It soon comes to light however that Owen may in fact have a learning disability. Bailey(Scott Wolf) and Sarah(Jennifer Love Hewitt) are once again a couple and living in their own apartment. While they have to iron out their respective differences, things go pretty well so far. Yet Bailey has to ultimately deal with his growing desire for some control over his direction in life, something heightened when he sees that Owen is being left out. Julia(Neve Campbell) and Griffin(Jeremy London) are in the process of splitting up and keeping distance she to their differences and problems. Julia heads to college and just wants to concentrate on studying, while Griffin ponders what to do with his life. While studying, she catches the eye of intense and brooding Ned and they begin dating. Things are going well with Ned, until his dark, angry side emerges. This results in him physically assaulting and beating Julia, causing her to be one isolated from those around her. Although a strong person, Julia feels trapped in this horrible situation. Claudia(Lacey Chabert), who is now becoming very mature and sassy, is now off to boarding school. While she asserts her independence and individuality, she still experiences lands of longing to be with her family and whether she should be there for them, as she’s done it for so long. She ultimately finds comfort with Griffin when everyone else is busy and he kindly reassures her that she’s a special girl. The situation between Bailey and Charlie gets dramatically more angry and eventually reaches them fighting for custody.
Once more, Party of Five deals with difficult issues with a mostly realistic and moving assurance . And yes some parts of this season don’t work in what it attempts to show, but the main stories are on point and filled with pathos, humour and heartfelt delivery. The prospect of a baby prompts a touch and go aspect to that story line while it unearths the difficulty and transition of being a parent. At first that is set up well, but falls into the trap of overly familiar and stretching credibility. Much more well-managed is the examination of Owen’s feeling of being left out once Diana is born. It’s something that I’m certain everyone can relate to in some way or another, and it’s explored excellently here. The domestic violence story is handled extremely well and with sensitivity, never shying away from the horror and implications of abuse. If anything, Party of Five in its fifth year starts to get a but sensational. There is a feeling of tiredness in some of the execution of episodes. Some of the organic nature in earlier seasons gets jumbled up here, resulting in Season 5 getting knocked down a few pints in my estimations. Not that it’s a disaster by any means Though the vast majority of this season is more than enough to compensate this slip into melodrama, with the fine writing and acting making Season 5 a good addition to the series. What is crucially there is the very foundation of family. We buy into the Salinger’s as a family; they’re troubled, close and flawed but you can’t help but gravitate towards them. And considering the amount of ups and downs their lives have taken, rough edges are bound to be there. Even when close to utter disaster, you hope things can resolve.
Though a more flawed season of the show, Party of Five still gives us an abundance of fine episodes. There is when Owen goes missing in the mall on Thanksgiving, leaving everyone reeling. Even though you can feel that he will be found, you are genuinely left panicking in the situation. Thankfully, Owen is found but it is just the start of him becoming more frustrated and disconnected from his family. Then there is a Christmas episode that ranks highly. Things that have been hinted at get more prominence and come into fruition more, signalling the dilemmas of everyone and doing it with customary honesty. An episode of everyone facing up to their flaws and desperate situations beautifully gets into great areas. This followed by the verdict on he custody situation of Owen, that goes in a way you wouldn’t expect. So amid the decline in some of the realism and strength of earlier incarnations, Season Five has its moments too and gets better as the season goes on.
Matthew Fox gets to Charlie’s pig-headed and selfish need to always have things his way without support, even though a lot of events have featured the whole family contributing. It’s obvious he isn’t completely selfish, but the return of some of Charlie’s earlier traits is noticeable. Scott Wolf really gives it his all in this season, showing us Bailey in a deep predicament while contemplating life. Bailey’s assertiveness grows but he even begins to feel like his compulsion for control is straddling him to a halt. Combined with likable nature that he often gives off and complimented by his self-doubt, Bailey is probably one of my favourite characters. Neve Campbell excellently hits the required mix of doubt and deep vulnerability as Julie goes through a horrible ordeal. Julia is not a stupid or weak character by any means, usually being helpful, strong and considerate while dealing with a multitude of problems. So to see her go through this is shocking but well-played. Campbell gets that feeling of entrapment just right as Ned tightens his grip and she must summon up her strength to do something. Claudia’s has to grow to up in the past very quickly, but now is doing it on her own terms which sees her more decisive and independent than ever. She still cares for her family and we witness how it takes her time to adjust, but Lacey Chabert gets across the need to spread her wings and become who she wants to be. In essence, the battle between familial support and finally being her own person is Claudia’s struggle, which is naturally observed. Jennifer Love Hewitt is given less to do this season and at times the character of Sarah grates, but she’s still pretty solid in the role. Paula Devicq nicely finds the heart of Kirsten wanting to break from her closeness to the family, but finds that she cares too much to do that. Jeremy London is given the most material he has even been given in the show and uses it well; portraying concern and the hope that Julia will come back once more. And not to be forgotten is young Jacob Smith, who splendidly plays the young Owen whose behaviour begins to worry at first but is finally supported when it comes to light the difficulties he is facing.
The wheels start to come off with Season 5 and it’s noticeable, but there are still moments of greatness to be gleaned in Party of Five. Hopefully, the last season can really step it up to the excellence of past seasons.
After my absence, I can happily say I am back now. Everything is sorted and I’m happy to be among everyone again. In the next few days, I promise to catch up with everyone. It may take a while but hopefully you can bear with me. It feels good to be back.