Fatal Attraction

Film Title

Fatal Attraction

Director

Adrian Lyne

Starring

  • Michael Douglas as Dan Gallagher
  • Glenn Close as Alex Forrest
  • Anne Archer as Beth Gallagher

A torrid affair has terrifying repercussions for a lawyer when the other woman won’t let go in Fatal Attraction, a suitably infamous thriller that deeply unsettles and disturbs. Infidelity and obsession combine in this well-acted and frightening tale of a woman’s scorn.

Dan Gallagher is a young lawyer who has a beautiful wife Beth and a young daughter Ellen. Fatal Attraction PosterHe first meets the intriguing Alex Forrest at a book event, and though attracted to one another, he is unavailable. But when Beth goes away for the weekend, temptation gets the better of Dan and he engages in a steamy fling with Alex. Dan then wants to go back to his family and it is here when he first gets the idea that Alex is not going to let him go when she slits her wrists. After helping her clean her wounds, he returns to his family, yet Dan soon finds his life turned upside down by Alex. She incessantly calls him at work, she throws acid on his car, sends him a chilling tape detailing her love for him and famously kills the family’s pet rabbit( spawning the term bunny boiler in the process). It becomes very clear to Dan that Alex has now become obsessed with him and won’t take no for an answer. Terrified, he tries to smooth things over but Alex’s campaign of terror is only just beginning and she won’t stop until every obstacle is out of the way. What began as a fling morphs into a nightmare for Dan as the spurned and unstable Alex refuses to let go of that weekend and will go to the most extreme lengths to destroy everything in Dan’s life, including his family.

Director Adrian Lyne contributes a steamy and suspenseful atmosphere through his crisp direction that highlights the heat of the affair and later the increasingly disturbed and insidious ways that Alex takes revenge on Dan. It’s all about the build up in Fatal Attraction, as we witness Dan’s family life, the affair and slowly but surely the obsessions of Alex. Fatal Attraction Alex attacks DanThis is chilling to watch as it started out so simple and then became very complicated as the terrified Dan comes to see that his mistake is coming back to bite him. Fatal Attraction contains many moments of suspense and terror, most notably Alex sitting alone flicking the light switch on and off as her eyes become catatonic and when she follows Dan who is listening to her bone-chilling message about how she isn’t going to let him get away with leaving her. The unnerving atmosphere is held up very well and only loses it in the finale which goes overboard but still emerges as tense and creepy. An electronic score excellently backs up the realization of Dan that Alex is very dangerous indeed and that he is not going to escape her campaign of terror on his life.

Michael Douglas excellently portrays Dan as a man who has had his fun and now wants to leave, but witnessing that this isn’t going to happen. By turns sympathetic and unsympathetic, Douglas gives his all as Dan becomes more terrified at the prospect of what his fling will cause. Fatal Attraction AlexGlenn Close is the standout performer here, rightfully seen as iconic in this role. Exhibiting rage, obsession and terrifying intensity, Close knocks it out of the park and really becomes a frightening embodiment of a woman scorned acting out her anger. What really makes it such a great performance is the subtlety that it builds with. Alex in the beginning seems like a rational and flirty person with nothing sinister about her. But after Dan’s dismissal of her, the fury begins to emerge and Close reaches chilling heights displaying the anguish and warped mind of this woman. Anne Archer brings her great credentials to the supporting role of Dan’s wronged wife Beth, who is left reeling by his affair but who is willing to protect her family nonetheless.

A lurid and unnerving thriller if ever there was one, Fatal Attractions still remains sinister viewing.

Desperate Housewives Season 1

And now I’m going to begin another Television review, this time of the popular Desperate Housewives. I remember hearing a lot about the show when it aired but only ever catching a few episodes. I decided to rectify this as I’d always been very curious to see if I enjoyed the show. A dark cross between comedy, drama and devious mystery that focuses on the troubled lives of the women of Wisteria Lane, Desperate Housewives just keeps you wanting more. It’s safe to say I’m now hooked on the show. So here is my take on Season 1. Be warned, spoilers will be following in my review.

The freshly mowed lawns and picture postcard image of suburban Wisteria Lane is changed when a seemingly happy housewife by the name of Mary Alice Young( Brenda Strong) shoots herself. To the outside world she appeared to have it all, but there was something lurking behind that. The show opens with Mary Alice’s suicide and focuses on the reactions of her group of female friends as they attempt to decipher why she killed herself, while also dealing with their own individual dramas. Desperate Housewives Season 1 PosterThere is Susan Mayer(Teri Hatcher), a clumsy and self-doubting woman prone to embarrassing herself who is looking for love after her divorce. Her mature teenage daughter Julie(Andrea Bowen), who often acts as a confidante to her mother and a supportive presence, helps her out in various situations. Susan sees an opportunity in the form of nice guy Mike Delfino(James Denton), who is the newest neighbour and is guarding his own personal secrets. Lynette Scavo(Felicity Huffman) is a former career women who is now looking after her troublesome kids and struggling to hold it together while her husband Tom(Doug Savant) is away regularly expanding his career. Bree Van de Kamp(Marcia Cross), the prim and perfect wife whose marriage to the dissatisfied Rex(Steven Culp) is falling apart underneath the image of domesticity she presents to the world. Despite this, after a brief break up with Rex, the two get back together only for a vindictive tragedy by an obsessive admirer to scupper the reconciliation. Former fashion model and lover of finery Gabrielle Solis(Eva Longoria), is unhappy in her marriage to the high-powered but neglectful Carlos(Ricardo Antonio Chavira). She finds comfort and excitement in the arms of her hunky teenage gardener John(Jesse Metcalfe). But this illicit relationship is complicated as deep down Gabrielle does love Carlos and has to contend with him being arrested for dodgy dealings at his work. There is also the street’s trampy serial divorcee Edie Britt(Nicollette Sheridan), who is always after a man and engages in battle with Susan for Mike’s affections.Mary Alice YoungWatching over this is Mary Alice from beyond the grave. She provides the narration to the show and observes her friend’s lives and dilemmas as they slowly unearth secrets about her life and the reasons for her suicide. And with skeletons rattling loudly in closets of the residents of Wisteria Lane, the dirty secrets and concealed facts are soon bound to spill out into the open for all eyes to see. Especially those surrounding Mary Alice herself, her past actions as well as her shifty husband Paul’s(Mark Moses) murderous ways of burying the past and the behaviour of her disturbed teenage son Zach(Cody Kasch).

What immediately struck me upon watching Desperate Housewives was the way it incorporated multiple genres and did it well, where so many others have fallen flat. Through the combination of sharp writing and great performances from the cast, it emerges victorious. We’ve got the sardonic humour that subverts the rose-tinted view of suburbia, the many eventful dramas that befall the ladies and the sinister mystery of Mary Alice’s death. Desperate Housewives LetterThere’s something very mischievous about the way the show pulls these together and takes what could be considered clichés and makes them seem very fresh and lively again.And while people often say that Desperate Housewives is about the drama and comedy, it’s the mystery that invests the show with its pull and dark foreboding as we unearth the scandal and secrecy behind the facade of niceness put forward to everyone else. This leads to some excellent cliffhangers that immediately make you want to watch the next episode as soon as possible. I liked how this season slowly but surely began to expose the past of Mary Alice, including the fact she changed her name, there is murder that she committed in her past and a secret involving the paternity of her son. I was literally questioning every possible avenue in trying to figure out what lay beneath the seemingly docile serenity of her life. A sly score, laced with humour and peppered with sinister suspense, perfectly accompanies thee unraveling stories of the women’s lives and the discovery of mystery and unusual events.

The excellent cast, particularly the main ladies, brings even more of a reason to watch the show with their impressive performances. Teri Hatcher has splendid comic timing and emotional depth as Susan, and really makes you root for her as a character, especially in her search for love. Desperate Housewives Susan Locked OutHer many instances of humiliation, such as her locking herself out the house and losing her towel get you to feel for her and make her very human. This is a role that fits Teri Hatcher like a glove and is a joy to watch. Felicity Huffman is on spectacular form as the frazzled Lynette, who is clearly at the end of her tether with her young children running rings around her. Huffman successfully delineates the loving side of Lynette with the slowly neurotic half that is close to cracking up completely by combining humour, stressed out emotion and a look of indignation. Marcia Cross steals all of her scenes as the model housewife Bree, whose icy and imperious facade hides that her life and marriage are really a lie. Bree and RexBree is a woman on a mission to ignore the hurt in her life by busying herself with work, but who can’t deny that there is significant trouble in paradise. All of these conflicted emotions and traits are embodied with full force by the talented Marcia Cross who peppers Bree with humour, supreme need for control and fraught worry. Desperate Housewives Gabrielle and JohnThe stunning Eva Longoria is feisty, selfish but hurting underneath as Gabrielle, who is conducting a dangerous affair with her gardener and fears what fearsome Carlos will do if it is discovered. Longoria adds significant sex appeal to the show and brings a whole lot of sassy personality to the discontented Gabrielle. Nicollette Sheridan adds spice to the already heady mix of sexy scandal and outrageous events with her performance as the queen bitch and tart Edie, who will go with anything that has a pulse and is more than willing to cause controversy.

The other members of the cast are no slouches either. Brenda Strong provides the wise voice of Mary Alice, observing life from beyond the grave with acute insight. Strong has such an engaging voice that you could listen to for days and gives Desperate Housewives a somewhat mordant theme of beyond the grave. James Denton brings the necessary charm and secrecy to new guy Mike, while Steven Culp is suitably frustrated as Bree’s husband Rex, who can’t stand her strive for perfection all the time and is ultimately ill-fated just as they decide to give it another go. Mark Moses is excellent as the enigmZach Youngatic Paul, who will do just about anything to stop the truth about Mary Alice being unearthed. Cody Kasch as the troubled and very disturbed son Zach is riveting to watch as you don’t know what you’re going to get from him. One minute he seems to be calm and collected, then the next he is full of deep anger and haunted expression. Andrea Bowen provides amusingly mature charm as Susan’s daughter and in many ways best friend Julie. Jesse Metcalfe as the hunky gardener John who falls into lust with Gabrielle, Ricardo Antonio Chavira as Gabrielle’s fearsome husband Carlos in trouble with the law and Doug Savant as Lynette’s businessman husband Tom all fill their roles with considerable presence.

  1. Pilot – A+
  2. Ah, But Underneath – A
  3. Pretty Little Picture – B+
  4. Who’s That Woman? – B+
  5. Come In, Stranger – B
  6. Running to Stand Still – C
  7. Anything You Can Do – A
  8. Guilty – B+
  9. Suspicious Minds – B
  10. Come Back to Me – B-
  11. Move On – B
  12. Every Day a Little Death – A
  13. Your Fault – B
  14. Love Is in the Air – B+
  15. Impossible – B+
  16. The Ladies Who Lunch – A
  17. There Won’t Be Trumpets – C
  18. Children Will Listen – B+
  19. Live Alone and Like It – A-
  20. Fear No More – B
  21. Sunday in the Park with George – B
  22. Goodbye for Now – A
  23. One Wonderful Day – A+

Sardonic, devilish and oh so entertaining, Season 1 of Desperate Housewives is well-crafted television that is wholly addictive. And below is a promo for this season which is very tempting indeed.

Chicago

Film Title

Chicago

Director

Rob Marshall

Starring

  • Renée Zellweger as Roxie Hart
  • Catherine Zeta-Jones as Velma Kelly
  • Richard Gere as Billy Flynn
  • Queen Latifah as Matron Mama Morton
  • John C. Reilly as Amos Hart
  • Christine Baranski as Mary Sunshine
  • Taye Diggs as The Bandleader

A flashy, well-mounted musical based on the stage show, Chicago smolders with dark sensuality, exuberant, sensational music numbers and tons of smoky atmosphere. This jazzy film is a feast for the eyes and ears and full of scandal, sex and corruption to entertain all.

1920’s Chicago: meek housewife Roxie Hart desperately wants to be a vaudeville star. Although married, she is having an affair with a sleazeball who has been promising her a path to stardom, but has been stringing her along. When she finds this out, she flies into a passionate rage and shoots him dead. Chicago Movie PosterAt first, a panicked Roxie tries to get her lovingly devoted husband Amos to confess to the crime, but the police see through the story as Amos becomes aware that his wife was having an affair behind his back. Subsequently arrested for her crime of passion, she is sent to the Cook County Jail to await trial. While there, she meets her idol Velma Kelly, an established star who has been imprisoned for shooting dead her husband and her sister/stage partner after discovering their affair. Velma is the queen bee of the spotlight and has no intention of giving it up. Meanwhile, Roxie is prompted by the corrupt but caring Matron Mama Morton to enlist smooth talking lawyer Billy Flynn to represent her in trial. Roxie accepts and soon becomes something of a sensation under the ruthless and manipulative tutelage of Flynn, and proves herself as equally cold-hearted and deceptive in her rise to the top. The media pounces on the story and it seems that murder and ensuing trials are just as much a form of entertainment as vaudeville. Chicago VelmaThis sudden turning of the tables doesn’t sit well with Velma, who wants her stardom back. And with there only being room for one person at the top in the cut throat show business industry, it’s a fight for the spotlight indeed as music, celebrity and murder meet in glamorous fashion.

Rob Marshall invests Chicago with a dark heart and glamorous allure of stardom, complete with a stunning rendering of the scandalous 20’s and the decadent calling of the time. A whole lot of panache is thrown into Chicago that adds to the enjoyment, especially in the musical numbers. Crafted from Roxie’s point of view and filtered through a dreamlike gaze, these are stunning achievements that hark back to the classic musicals from Hollywood’s Golden Era. The opening number ‘All that Jazz’ is sexy and vibrant as sung by the brash diva Velma.  ‘Cell Block Tango’, in which female inmates narrate their crimes while dancing up a darkly seductive storm is a feverish delight. ‘Mister Cellophane’ sung by Roxie’s good-hearted but used husband Amos, dressed as a melancholy clown and reflecting on how he is looked over by everyone because he is unimportant. And my personal favourite ‘When Mama MortonYour Good to Mama’ where Mama Morton explains the process by which she works known as reciprocity, all while performing a burlesque number with an ostrich feather. Everything comes together in the musical numbers and they really help expand the story and move it on. I couldn’t possibly talk about every musical number without going into extreme detail, so I’ll just say that they are knockouts. I was especially impressed with the portrayal of stardom in this film. A corrupt, dark but very entertaining business that can make you a star and then forget about you the next. There’s something amusingly cynical about this portrayal but also truth to it. And while some musicals rely too much on the numbers to carry them, Chicago has a witty script of catty one-liners and waspish remarks to boast.

In the lead role of fame-seeking Roxie, Renée Zellweger is very convincing, showing off excellent vocal skills and dance moves. Chicago RoxieShe encapsulates Roxie’s naive attitude in the beginning and her rise to stardom which makes her a manipulative woman who cradles every ounce of that spotlight. Considering Zellweger had no prior training in either dance or singing, you really couldn’t tell from watching her fine work here. Yet while Zellweger is excellent in the lead, it’s Catherine Zeta-Jones who steals the show in an Oscar-winning performance. Sexy, bitchy and diva like, she is a marvel to watch whenever she is on the screen. And her sensational dancing skills and beautiful singing voice complete this impressive turn that deservedly won her many awards. Richard Gere is a natural fit for the role of the greasy, silver-tongued lawyer who turns his clients into stars. Queen Latifah is funny, sneaky and fabulous as the matron who will help you out if you provide money. John C. Reilly makes the most of his role of Amos, the neglected husband who is walked over by everyone. Reilly just has this knack for really wringing out deep emotion in this part as we witness how he is used by everyone around him simply because he is a decent person in a time of lies and schemes. Christine Baranski is impressive as the sensational journalist jumping on the scandal, while a mysterious cameo from Taye Diggs as a bandleader who introduces the musical numbers completes the impressive acting on show.

Flamboyant and exuberant, Chicago is a triumph of the musical genre that entertains throughout.

 

How to Marry a Millionaire

Film Title

How to Marry a Millionaire

Director

Jean Negulesco

Starring

  • Betty Grable as Loco Dempsey
  • Marilyn Monroe as Pola Debevoise
  • Lauren Bacall as Schatze Page
  • David Wayne as Freddie Denmark
  • Rory Calhoun as Eben
  • Cameron Mitchell as Tom Brookman
  • Alex D’Arcy as J. Stewart Merrill
  • Fred Clark as Waldo Brewster
  • William Powell as J. D. Hanley

Delightfully frothy and immensely witty, How to Marry a Millionaire has glamour, laughs and star power all courtesy of old Hollywood at its best and most gloriously colourful.

Loco Dempsey, Pola Debevoise and Schatze Page are three New York models with not a lot of money. Fortunately, the cynical Schatze has a plan to solve this. With the other two, she rents a penthouse apartment( which unbeknownst to them is owned by Freddie Denmark, who is avoiding revenue by living abroad after he was caught in some dodgy deal) , and plans to find a rich man for each of them to marry, with help from the apartment and the beautiful charms of themselves. How to Marry a Millionaire GirlsThis plan soon becomes very complicated and full of mishaps for the three girls. Schatze catches the attentions of a widowed businessman named J. D. Hanley, while also being pursued by the charming Tom Brookman, who she mistakenly believes is of little wealth but is in fact very well off. The scatterbrained Loco finds company with grumpy louse Waldo Brewster, who whisks her to a lodge that is far from prosperous despite her misconception that it will be luxurious. Around this time, she falls for Eben, a handsome ranger who despite not having any real money, she can’t help but love. The sweet but near-sighted Pola, who refuses to wear glasses in front of men, becomes acquainted with Freddie Denmark, although she doesn’t realise this for a long time because of her refusal to wear spectacles. All three ladies soon find that while they may want money, love may also be an option too if they let it play out and focus on the man rather than his bank account.

Director Jean Negulesco gives vivacious life to this comic tale with colour at every corner and comic mishaps present throughout the scheme to marry rich men. He is aided by a witty script, that cackles with one-liners and a nice rapport between the central trio of gold diggers. This was one of the first movies to use CinemaScope and this is highlighted by an orchestra sequence that just brings sparky energy to what will follow shortly. How to Marry a MillionaireCostume design is stunningly beautiful and of the highest standard there is in Hollywood glamour. How to Marry a Millionaire may have the odd snag here and there with some of it a little outdated and slow, but overall it’s a delightful fill of breezy quality and amusing wit. A lively and very brisk musical score compliments the many mishaps that occur with a mischievous charm and glee.

The three main actresses in this film are fine in their roles and boast an excellent rapport with one another. Betty Grable brings eager charms but clueless wide-eyed gazes to the part of Loco, who has habit of finding men at the supermarket. The beautiful Marilyn Monroe How to Marry a MillionaireMarilyn Monroe is pitch perfect as the sweet, dreamy and fawning Pola, whose self-consciousness about wearing glasses leads to many a comedic moment when she almost walks into walls or people. But the scene stealer of How to Marry a Millionaire is Lauren Bacall. With her dry and acerbic delivery and clearly the brains behind the scheme, Bacall is having fun as the opportunistic Schatze and brings a ton of personality to her. Like I said earlier, the three women have a great chemistry around each other as they put their plan into motion, but find unexpected results occur. The men of the picture are suitably good, with Cameron Mitchell and William Powell standing out, but it’s the colourful ladies that you will remember after the film ends.

Witty, vibrant and full of laughs, How to Marry a Millionaire is an excellent showcase for the female talent involved that will no doubt make you want to watch it again.

 

The Others

Film Title

The Others

Director

Alejandro Amenábar

Starring

  • Nicole Kidman as Grace
  • Fionnula Flanagan as Mrs Bertha Mills
  • Alakina Mann as Anne
  • James Bentley as Nicholas
  • Eric Sykes as Mr Tuttle
  • Elaine Cassidy as Lydia
  • Christopher Eccleston as Charles

A highly atmospheric psychological horror-thriller that gains its shocks from the slow building pace and expertly handled visuals, The Others is a haunting movie that is both intelligently and stylishly done. Be warned, you won’t be sitting comfortably after watching this or sleeping soundly either.

The setting is 1945 and the War has just finished. The Others GraceGrace lives in a gloomy isolated house on the isle of Jersey with her two children Anne and Nicholas. Her children are photosensitive and can’t be exposed to sunlight, which leaves the old mansion in a Gothic darkness most of the time with the curtains drawn and only a gaslight or candle to find one’s way. The devoutly Catholic Grace is highly strung and prone to nerves, waiting for her husband to return. She exercises a strict sense of motherhood on her young children and infuses them with strict values and morals of religion. Then, three servants arrive at the house to work, as the previous ones have disappeared. Mrs Bertha Mills is the new housekeeper and nanny, Mr Tuttle is the gardener and the mute Lydia is the maid around the old house. Around this time, strange and very odd events begin to occur within the house. The Others Anne and NicholasThe petulant Anne claims to have seen people in the house that no one else has seen. Grace hears whispers while looking around a junk room. She finds a Book of the Dead, that houses mourning portraits of the deceased. Grace initially dismisses her daughter’s claims of someone in the house, but as the events become more frequent and unusual, Grace is forced to acknowledge that there may be things in the house that she can’t explain away and maybe not of this world. The enigmatic Mrs Mills drops hints about what may be going on, but only young Anne listens to her. Now in a desperate fight to remain sane and protect her children, Grace must confront her fears that her house may be haunted and that there is something not at peace.

As writer and director, Alejandro Amenábar directs with confidence and deft skill, exposing elements of fear through use of sound and facial expressions as opposed to gore. The Others MansionMasterfully creepy contrasts between light and dark conjure up a Gothic atmosphere of encroaching dread and slow burning terror. When the film ventures outside of the mansion the sheer sock of seeing natural light is very unexpected and unnerving, as we’ve been plunged into this almost constant state of near darkness. Rather than having constant shocks, The Others gains momentum and chills through the build up and reveal. This makes the film very refreshing as it could have fell into cheap scares and gore, but instead focuses on character and the nature of fear in an adroit manner. The Others is a classic example of what we don’t see can be more frightening than what we do see. Showing he’s a jack of all trades, Alejandro Amenábar composes the score, that lends its haunting tones and grim sense of foreboding very well to this chiller. And that clever twist at the end will indeed leave your jaw dropping and your heart stopped. If you thought you had figured the film out, just wait for the final third to turn that on its head.

Nicole Kidman turns in a powerful performance as Grace. Embodying the shifts in emotion from smothering maternal love, stoicism, dismissal and ultimate terror, Kidman doesn’t miss a beat and her work is outstanding and gets to the heart of a really complex character finding her sanity being tested by strange and unnatural events. The OthersIn fact, much of the horror in the picture and the palpable fear is generated through Kidman’s piercing blue eyes as Grace finds her sets of beliefs questioned as terror engulfs her. Fionnula Flanagan excels as the kindly but enigmatic housekeeper, who knows more than she is letting on. Alakina Mann and James Bentley as the terrified and isolated children are excellent in displaying fear and panic. Eric Sykes and Elaine Cassidy inhabit their parts as the other two servants very well, while Christopher Eccleston, despite only being seen briefly, is well cast as Grace’s long-lost husband.

Chilling, ambient and psychologically terrifying, The Others is an excellent addition to the psychological horror genre due to its style, confident direction and high calibre acting.

 

Charmed Season 8

And here it is, the final season of Charmed. After eight years of battling demons and evil, it’s time for the sisters to take a bow in style. Some of the early stuff this season may be a bit flawed, but once it hits its stride it emerges as an excellent and emotional final season of a truly magical show. Major spoilers will follow in my review.

After the events of Season 7 when the girls were presumed dead after battling Zankou, Piper(Holly Marie Combs), Phoebe(Alyssa Milano) and Paige(Rose McGowan) along with Leo(Brian Krause) have taken on new identities and have decided to lead a demon-free life that they have always wanted. Charmed Season 8 PosterYet no matter how hard they try, there is still their calling and events that show them that they can’t run from destiny, it is what they were born to do. After much discussion, the girls change back to themselves again, with the help of a friendly Homeland Security agent named Agent Murphy who covers for them by saying they faked their deaths as they were working for the government. Murphy occasionally asks the girls for help in strange cases that come his way. Now with the demon fighting back, the girls are busier than ever stopping the spread of evil, but this time they have help. A young feisty witch Billie Jenkins(Kaley Cuoco), Billie Jenkinsbecomes Paige’s charge and trains as a witch under the girls, often getting into trouble because of her free spirit and rebellious attitude. Each sister has their dramas to deal with as well as collectively, as this season gets very eventful. Piper has to face the fact that with Leo now a mortal, she may well lose him. Her deepest fear comes true when the Angel of Death comes after him. Rather than just let him be taken, Piper and her sisters make a deal with the Angel of Destiny to freeze Leo until they succeed in a forthcoming battle that is ominously mentioned with intent. Phoebe is continuing her search for love, yet can’t seem to find it anywhere. She, while still in magical disguise, thinks she has found the one in Dex, an artist. But she feels like she can’t be herself around him with the disguise and she ends the relationship. She finally finds love later in the form of Coop, who is in fact a Cupid sent by the Elders. Paige, who is embracing many of her Whitelighter duties with having Billie as a charge, also finds love with cop Henry. Paige marries Henry and does inform him of her supernatural abilities, which he accepts after hesitation. Billie also has her own arc which concerns the kidnapping of her sister years before. Christy JenkinsWith the help of the sisters, Billie finds Christy(Marnette Patterson) in the underworld, afraid and barely able to function. Yet this is a facade as Christy, after all her years in captivity has now become consumed by evil forces that have altered her sense of right and wrong. It is Christy who is in fact the threat that faces the sisters. The introduction of Christy brings the threads and hints of a battle full circle. Working alongside the newly reconstituted Triad, she poisons Billie against the sisters and draws the battle lines. With both sets of sisters against each other, it’s a devastating battle that leads to a moving time-travelling finale. Join me as I relive the many moments of Season 8 as our favourite witches sign off from the screen with a mix of drama, adventure and emotion.

I’ve heard many fans say that Charmed should have ended with Season 7, but I for one thought there was still more story to tell. I mean, the Season 7 finale was epic but it did leave the door open to more plot. The whole identity changing plot is alright but for me doesn’t really add that much to the show. Identity and the girls wanting normal lives has been explored before and should have really just been left. Charmed Season 8 sistersOnce the girls are back to themselves, the season picks up a lot and gains more assertiveness and pace. It helps that the sisters are closer together now than they have ever been and while their lives are separate, their always linked somehow or someway. This is where the strength of Charmed comes from, the bond between them. It is a powerful tool that has kept the show going because we can relate to the girls and their feelings. Sisterhood also plays a key part with Billie and Christy, especially when Billie sides with her and it’s a battle of sisters.

I’ve heard people describe Season 8 as disjointed, but I personally find it very well done and crafted. There is the humour which is great for some one-liners, the romances of the girls and the dangerous threat of darkness they must face. So I really can’t see much of a problem with the season, except maybe a few of the opening episodes are a bit weak and Phoebe’s brief romance with Dex isn’t really that good. but do pick upPiper and Leo Charmed as the show goes on. I can’t say that it is the best season but it certainly wraps things up nicely and has a whole lot of entertaining and emotional moments along the way. Highlights of this season are the heartbreaking goodbye between Piper and Leo when he is marked for death, Paige’s beautiful wedding in the Manor and the last two episodes of the show that I will go into detail about below.

The penultimate episode really kicks things up with an explosive showdown. Both sets of sisters invoke the powerful essence of The Hollow, a magical entity that consumes power and possesses the person with superhuman strength. After the pre-battle niceties, it’s down to business as rage burns. Charmed Ultimate BattleBecause of the power that the both sides have, it causes the Manor to implode. Piper and Billie survive, but the other sisters die. It is around this time that Leo is brought back to help. The battle is one intense sequence and filled with outstanding special effects. The emotional fallout is even greater and leads us to the final ever episode, which ranks as one of Charmed’s finest hours. This episode is an emotional ride that involves Piper journeying to the past to prevent the battle and save her sisters. Charmed Reunion Final EpisodeBut by shifting in time, she goes through various events that bring family members from the past and future into the forefront. Grams, Patty, future Chris and Wyatt from the future, all play their parts in this amazing last hour. There is still the matter of Christy, but this time Billie can now see that there is no saving her sister and is forced to kill her in self-defence and join the Charmed Ones as a loyal friend. There’s just something so beautiful and moving about the final episode as it wraps things up, respectfully tips its hat to old episodes and lets us watch as Piper, Phoebe and Paige finally fulfill their long destiny. I love seeing the futures of the girls, with Piper and Leo growing old together, Phoebe married to Coop with children and Paige also having children with husband Henry and finding her identity while each reflecting through narration their respective journeys as witches and women and all that it has taught them. Trust me, if you don’t feel moved by the finale, you don’t have a heart.

The acting for this season is of a high standard, especially from the central trio. I can’t praise the chemistry between them enough, it’s so convincing and beautiful to put into words. The growth of each of the sisters is also worthy of praise as they have evolved throughout the years. Charmed Sisters Season 8Holly Marie Combs is sarcastic but loving as Piper, who is the beating heart and glue of the family. Combs just brings the warmth out in Piper and the kick ass side when battling demonic activity. Alyssa Milano is beautiful and full of passion as Phoebe, discovering that destiny does in fact lead in the right direction when love is concerned. I must say I’m not the biggest fan of Coop, but I was happy to see Phoebe finally settle down with someone she truly loved. Rose McGowan brings the vivacious and understanding nature of Paige out, as she accepts her Whitelighter duties once more and manages to balance her life. I loved Paige’s marriage to Henry, as he was a mortal who understood her magic and may have not always agreed with it, but still loved her. As I said earlier, the three leading ladies have embodied these characters so well for so long that you can see they have incorporated parts of themselves into the characters and have also grown in the process. These are indelible characters that I will never forget for as long as I live. Brian Krause may be absent for half of the season, but when he’s on the screen he makes up for it with the earnestness and love that he invests Leo with. Kaley Cuoco plays Billie as perky, bratty and sassy and does lighten the show a bit. In some of the emotional scenes she doesn’t quite convince, but she’s a pleasing enough character. Marnette Patterson makes for an angered presence of being consumed by evil and brings out the devious side of Christy that is determined to take down the sisters.

  1. Still Charmed and Kicking – C
  2. Malice in Wonderland – D
  3. Run, Piper, Run – B+
  4. Desperate Housewitches – D-
  5. Rewitched – B
  6. Kill Billie Vol 1 – B-
  7. The Lost Picture Show – C
  8. Battle of the Hexes – D
  9. Hulkus Pocus – B
  10. Vaya Con Leos – A
  11. Mr and Mrs Witch – C
  12. Payback’s a Witch – B+
  13. Repo Manor – B+
  14. 12 Angry Zen – B
  15. The Last Temptation of Christy – C+
  16. Engaged and Confused – B+
  17. Generation Hex – C-
  18. The Torn Identity – B+
  19. The Jung and the Restless – A
  20. Gone with the Witches – A
  21. Kill Billie Vol 2 – A+
  22. Forever Charmed – A+

So aside from a few flaws which are ironed out later, Season 8 of Charmed is a stunning send off to Piper, Phoebe and Paige and one that ensures the show will remain in my heart forever. I hope everyone has enjoyed reading my reviews of Charmed, as I most certainly have enjoyed revisiting this magical show once more.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

Film Title

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

Director

Francis Lawrence

Starring

  • Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen
  • Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark
  • Liam Hemsworth as Gale Hawthorne
  • Woody Harrelson as Haymitch Abernathy
  • Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket
  • Julianne Moore as President Alma Coin
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch Heavensbee
  • Donald Sutherland as President Snow
  • Jeffrey Wright as Beetee
  • Sam Claflin as Finnick Odair
  • Natalie Dormer as Cressida

The third film of the franchise, Mockingjay Part 1 emerges as a more subdued sister than its previous installments. At times it does feel a bit slow and devoid of action, but at the same time it’s interesting to watch this gathering calm before the storm as it explores political upheaval and the growing sense of rebellion.

Katniss has been saved after destroying the Games in the last movie. Scared and wracked with nightmares, she is taken underground to District 13. Mockingjay Part 1 PosterAfter her act of defiance, her district was destroyed and acts of protest against the corrupt Capitol have been ever-present. The enigmatic Alma Coin and political propaganda expert Plutarch Heavensbee sees Katniss as the poster girl for a full-scale attack on President Snow and his barbaric forces. The wounded Katniss is very reluctant at first to strike back as she worries about what happened to Peeta. But after seeing the destruction of her district and the sheer cruelty of Snow which includes having a brainwashed Peeta as the spokesman to talk down rebellion, that inner fire inside of her begins to burn and she becomes the face of resistance in this time of political strife and corruption. Yet with Snow using his choke hold of tyranny against the districts, it is going to be dangerous for all involved. But the newly resurfacing of Katniss is returning and she will spearhead this campaign to bring down the corrupt powers that be, aided by good friend Gale and bands of rebels wanting to be free from oppression.

As I previously mentioned, Mockingjay Part 1 is the slow build up kind of movie. For times in the film, it works very well in capturing the machinations of political rebellion and the waiting to strike. I did however find parts of it a bit dull and craved a bit more action than what was shown. Plutarch and President Alma CoinYet this doesn’t make it any less effective as a movie, it’s just slightly different from the last two entries. Francis Lawrence crafts this engaging story with a certain topicality in the politics and propaganda used featuring Katniss as the face of resistance. Even though this film is set in the future, many of the issues it deals with are very present in our current climate which adds a further dimension to this series. Mockingjay may be the slow burner, but it has a personal and more intimate feeling to it. It may be risky to have a sci-fi/action movie that only has sporadic moments of action, but I liked the way in which Mockingjay showcases how wars can be waged with the power of words and imagery rather than just violence. An effectively bleak visual style gives voice to the darkness and terror felt by the people under the rule of President Snow. An evocative and building score helps give tension and personal feeling to Katniss as she regains her steel and prepares to fight for the people. The scene of Katniss singing ‘The Hanging Tree’ and it acting as inspiration and a call to arms is an excellent example of this as the melody flows through with urgency.

Jennifer Lawrence rivets the attention from beginning to end as the emotionally tormented heroine Katniss. 2014, THE HUNGER GAMES -  MOCKINGJAYEmbodying rage, pain and steel, she is a strong-willed character who can make a difference in a world of barbarity. With deep clarity, selflessness and toughness, Lawrence is a marvel to watch as the resilient and purposeful warrior due to her mature performance and sheer amount of talent. Josh Hutcherson, although seen quite sporadically this time, is strangely different as the Peeta who has been tortured and brainwashed. Liam Hemsworth contributes the mix of caring emotion and earnestness, while Woody Harrelson continues to be a hoot as mentor Haymitch. I liked seeing Elizabeth Banks as the now dressed down Effie, once the glory of the Capitol and now an ally with freedom. Julianne Moore encompasses the cold, detached persona of President Coin, while the late Philip Seymour Hoffman brings a considerable presence to his part as the propagandist. Hoffman is still missed now and this movie is a reminder of his talent and skill even in a small role. Donald Sutherland is still as menacing and commanding as ever as the despicable President Snow, who is not tolerating rebellion against his tyranny. Jeffrey Wright, Sam Claflin and Natalie Dormer in supporting roles at least make an impact, despite somewhat limited screen time.

Mockingjay Part 1 emerges as a thought-provoker rather than an action blockbuster which may disappoint some, but is still very effective in the way it is gearing up for the next part.