Goon: Last of the Enforcers (2017)

There’s something about sports movies that just get me going. The storylines are always uplifting and you are almost guaranteed a happy ending. Even if the sequel throws up some new troubles and questions for our sports star, they almost always come out triumphant at the end.
Goon (2011), was the first time I had seen Seann William Scott play a role other than a loud-mouth, fast talking degenerate. The kind but clinically dumb Doug Glatt transforms from bouncer to hockey player and fighter extraordinaire, leading a rag tag team to semi-professional, Canadian hockey glory. He beats the crap out of every team he plays, meeting his one and only match in Ross Rhea, played be Liev Schreiber. The finale of the first movie is Rocky-esque, the two knocking each other to the ground at the exact same time in an icy punch-out.

Seann William Scott

The sequel, Last of the Enforcers, picks up with Doug ‘The Thug’ married to his girlfriend Eva, played by Alison Pill. Injuries are plaguing him and threatening his career, while a new threat in the form of Anders Cain (Wyatt Russel) proves to be too much for our hero. He is forced to retire and prepare for a life of fatherhood and desk jobs. But will the lure of the ring and the bloodshed be too much for Doug, and will his marriage be strong enough to allow him to fight and be a father?

I enjoyed this movie but like most straight to video, or now straight to Netflix, sequels, it is not as good as the first one. I found myself checking how long there was left in the film. Whereas in the first instalment, we knew Doug was stupid yet it was his kind nature and inherent goodness that drew us to him, this time around it is used for far more cheap laughs throughout. Scott doesn’t have much to do here and is just there for the fights.
Alison Pill puts in a strong performance as the suffering Eva, lending a note of seriousness to a production of cheap laughs.
Wyatt Russel is O.K. as the villain of the piece. He is hauntingly good at looking… well haunted, by his fathers domineering nature and lack of love and his own failures as a player.

Goon: Last of the Enforcers (2017)
Wyatt Russel and Seann William Scott

However, when all is said and done, I still love a sports flick, and the Highlanders’, and indeed Doug Glatt’s, journey to the playoffs is full of great hockey moments and fantastic fights.
Schreiber is a welcome addition, reprising his role as the punch-drunk and alcohol-drunk Rhea.

Rating: 3/5.

Hangover watchable: Definitely.

Unbelievable

It is rare that a show or movie leaves me speechless. I won’t lie to you. There were a number of times during the show that I was a bit uncomfortable. The subject matter is extremely shocking and it was tough to watch at times. Rape, especially the rape of women, is a common thing that we hear of almost every day. It fills me with a great sadness to hear of any incident of rape or sexual assault, whether it be from a person I know personally or a random person on the internet who is sharing their story. This show, despite me being hooked and enjoying the storytelling and the acting, made me sad. I can only be thankful that I am just sad at what has happened and what is happening and not suffering from it myself. The women depicted in this story, from Marie, Amber, Lily and Sarah to Detectives Duvall and Rasmussen, are all heroes. The women who live with what has happened everyday, all over the world, are heroes.

Unbelievable tells the story of Marie Adler, played by Kaitlyn Dever (Booksmart). In 2008, Marie was raped at knifepoint, bound and blindfolded. The detectives who took her report didn’t believe her and Marie, after intense questioning and definite coercion, ended up saying she made the whole thing up. Living with the reputation of a false accuse, Marie’s life spirals out of control. Meanwhile, three years later, two detectives in Colorado, Duvall and Rasmussen, feel like they are both looking for the same rapist. Can they catch the monster, and is it all linked to Marie?

My lame attempt at making you want to see the show is unnecessary. If you want to watch a show that celebrates the power of the victims to hold onto their lives and the power of the female detectives who believed when so many men didn’t, then this is the show for you. If you want to watch a show based on a true story in which a violent monster is taken off the streets and his victims can live with at least a glimmer of hope for a better future, then this is the show for you. If you want to watch a show that is unafraid of exploring the brutality of rape and the aftermath of such a horrific act, then this is the show for you. If you can’t bring yourself to watch and see the toxic nature of a lot of male behaviour in the modern world, then this isn’t the show for you. But you should watch it anyways and learn.

I learned an awful lot from this show. Like any series based around the search, capture and imprisonment of a criminal, the intricacies of a police station is extremely intriguing. The different acronyms for scientific tests are interesting to hear about, as are the different hunches that detectives and their partners have. What struck me the most about this was the fact that rape victims have to relive and relay the information so many times. I know that it is important for police, detectives and doctors to have statements and to know what to look for, but I can’t begin to imagine how vulnerable the victim must feel in that moment.
I know that while I’m writing this it may come across as preachy and full of woe. A man, a big man at that, who has never felt at threat on his own walking down a dark road, or been in danger of being sexually assaulted is lamenting the plight of women and being a ‘white knight’. But it is sickening to think about and this show is important for people to watch.
As uncomfortable as it may be for some people to talk about it, the toxic traits associated with masculinity, mainly the perceived ownership of womens’ bodies or their perceived right to touch and feel women in a pub or club, need to be assessed and talked about in detail.

Rating: 5/5. Unbelievable show, pardon the pun. Go see for yourself.

Please read the Pulitzer Winning article of the true story that the show is based on.

https://www.themarshallproject.org/2015/12/16/an-unbelievable-story-of-rape

Stranger Things 3: Tokyo Drift

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Please forgive my title. Whenever I see a sequel or a spinoff I always try and give it the ‘Electric Boogaloo’ treatment or assign it a title from one of the many Fast & Furious Movies. It’s a disease that I will not be seeking help for because it makes me laugh every time.
Anyways, I’m here to tell you about the majesty of Stranger Things 3. I won’t lie, I wasn’t that hopeful going into this season. I mean, how many times can the demigorgon or the mind-flayer terrorise the town of Hawkins without the townsfolk or the people of America taking notice. Every year there was a new story explaining away the deaths of a significant number of members of the community. I think, then, that you’ll forgive me for not waiting with baited breath for Eleven and her comrades. I think, then, that I should hold my hand up and apologise because it was the best season yet.

This season expanded its horizons. The younger kids are growing up and pairing off while the older kids are trying to figure out what to do with their life. The danger has moved away from Hawkins lab and migrated to the Starcourt mall while it is no longer just corrupt Americans that Hopper and the gang have to fight. The Russians have found their own source to the Upside-Down and are trying to break in. It’s what will break out as a result that will be the problem.
I really enjoyed the fact that they explored the kids development and showed them as they tried to navigate relationships and girls. I didn’t care for all the smooching they showed between Mike and Eleven but that’s just me. There are several hilarious scenes between Mike and Lucas in which the latter tries to explain how girls behave when he has no clue himself. He just has a girlfriend for a few months longer than Mike.
This season delved deeper into Hopper and Joyce’s will they/won’t they charade, with comical results in the form of Murray Bauman, the eccentric man who sheltered Nancy and Jonathan in Season 2.
This season also packed some serious emotional punches. While the last two seasons seemed formulaic almost, in the fact that I knew there was no credible danger to the main cast members, this year they differed from type and really let loose with the deaths. I’ll go into detail later.
Overall, a fantastic season and one that will live long in the memories of fans. Unless, of course, you binge watched it and have forgotten most details as it all turns into one massive blur of character, plot and theatre.

Breakout

D’Acre Montgomery, known for his portrayal of Jason in Power Rangers (2017) gave a powerful performance as the tortured Billy. In Season 2 we just saw an angry young man intent on fighting with the local guys and making out with the local girls. He was a colossal douche to his little sister, Max, and was generally unlikable. He was never involved in any of the dealings with the monsters and to the best of my recollection was just used as a device to get the kids to stand up for themselves.
He arrives in season 3 as the hunky lifeguard at the pool. He is the eye candy for every single female in there, especially Mike and Nancy’s mom. He has the town of Hawkins and every female in it at his feet. Unfortunately, he is infected by the mind-flayer and used to do the monster’s dark bidding around the town. His turn as the demented destroyer that Billy evolves into is mesmerising and there seems to be no way out for Eleven and the gang. His final scene in the final episode is beautiful, yet devastating to watch. Montgomery already has plenty of credits under his acting belt but he really showed his acting chops throughout these eight episodes.

Dacre Montgomery in Stranger Things (2016)
Dacre Montgomery as Billy

Millie-Bobby Brown turned in another electric performance as Eleven, or Elle. I didn’t see her in Godzilla because I had no interest in the movie, but I heard nobody really came out of that movie looking great. However, if she goes on to other shows and features while putting in the types of performances she has while playing the pre-teen superhero, she will be one of the best actresses of her generation.
In the penultimate episode she is almost struck down and must rely on her friends to save her. Her depiction of unbearable pain and despair was so real that I almost forgot it was a t.v. show for a moment. The agony was etched onto her face and just showed that as well as being the best character in the show, bar Hopper, she is the best performer.

Sadie Sink and Millie Bobby Brown in Stranger Things (2016)
Millie Bobby Brown and Sadie Sink as Eleven and Max

Final Goodbye?

I told ye that I would go into detail about the emotional punches that are landed on your heart and soul throughout this season. It was tough guys. It was like Game of Thrones Season 3 when most of the Starks die. Except a bit more lighthearted throughout the rest of the show and not all doom and gloom.
In the final episode, as the final battle with the shadow monster rages on elsewhere, Joyce and Hopper have a chance to end it once and for all. Due to Russians and other unforeseen circumstances, Hopper gets caught on the wrong side of an explosion that will close the gap between worlds forever. Our Dad-bod hero is gone and it seems like there is no way back for David Harbour in the show. It wasn’t his death that got me, although that was devastating; it was his final look at Joyce and into the camera and the emotion that he showed. As his eyes welled up a chill went up my spine and I realised that Hopper had no way out. He would finally give his all to save Eleven, Hawkins and Joyce.
Now, there is a cut scene at the end which shows a prisoner being sacrificed to one of the demidogs from season 2. The scene is set in Russia in a military compound and as the guards approach a certain cell that is blocked from view, they say, “No, not the American.” Certain speculation has gone up online in which the ‘American’ could be Hopper who was somehow rescued from the blast or miraculously survived.
If the Police Chief is to return in the next season, he would have to be changed somehow by the blast and would not be himself. It could be a totally different American but for the moment we have to believe that Harbour will return for another outing as chain smoking legend Jim Hopper.

Winona Ryder and David Harbour in Stranger Things (2016)
Winona Ryder and David Harbour as Joyce and Hopper

What Next?

Will, Jonathan and Joyce are moving away from Hawkins and Elle is going with them. The rest of the gang are staying put. How will the story be played out next time? We know there is a creature in Russia used to eat prisoners and that that creature will most likely facilitate the spread of the monsters again.
Despite the explosion and the inference that the portal to the Upside Down is gone forever, we get no verbal confirmation that this has happened.
Where did the Russians get the demidog?
Will Elle get her powers back? Does she even want them back? She has a chance at a proper normal life now. Well, as normal as being psychologically tortured up until her teens, not getting a chance to know her mother and losing the only caring father she ever knew can be.
Will Mike grow out of being a shithead teenager? Pressing questions indeed.

Verdict

A solid 8/10 for this season. Loses a few marks for all the smooching I was subjected to and that we didn’t get to see more of Wheeler’s mom in a swimsuit. I am but a man.

Trailer Watch – Disney Edition

The world of the cinema is awash with remakes and sequels, and this week’s Trailer Watch is no different. Disney, long the proprietor of heartwarming, animated tales, has now become a relentless machine intent on remaking every single one into a live-action blockbuster. So, naturally, here is three trailers recently released by the corporation.

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Mulan (teaser)

The latest in Disney’s attempts to keep their finger in the pie is the remake of the 1998 animated hit, Mulan. The trailer dropped Sunday to millions of views and a clear indication of how well the film will do when it is released.
However, die-hard Disneyites (new knickname I’m trying out for all you Disneyites out there) would do well to read the description for the video on Youtube. This movie is based on the 6th century poem, the Ballad of Mulan. While the animated version is dear to many of us, this one will take a different direction; one more true to the original ballad and more sensitive to Chinese culture and history. I, for one, cannot wait for Spring 2020 and can’t wait to see Yifei Liu as Mulan kick ass.

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

I was pleasantly surprised when Maleficent (2014) turned out to be a rather good movie. I wasn’t convinced that a villain’s origin story would be appealing as a Disney movie but it was dark, hopeful and filled with enough emotion that I thought it worked very well.
The trailer for the sequel dropped yesterday and it looks fantastic. More family drama looks in store for Maleficent and Aurora when the young princess is sought out for marriage. Michelle Pfeiffer plays a definite villain judging by her glances to the distance as a plan forms behind those wonderful eyes.
There is a twist in the tale as the trailer gives away pretty much the whole story. But I won’t. So have a look.

Frozen II

2 Frozen 2 Feckin’ Cold will be released towards the end of this year. Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, Josh Gad and Jonathan Groff will reprise their roles in the sequel to the 2013 smash hit which drove parents crazy. This time around Anna, Else, Kristoff and Sven head off to save Arendelle and the world while discovering the origins of Elsa’s powers. Stay strong, Moms and Dads. Stay strong.



X-Men: Dark Phoenix

It is with a heavy heart that I must write my first terrible review. Up until now I’ve thought most movies were, at the very least, average. I’ve made excuses for how bad they were. I’ve solved plotholes and bad performances to justify the money I’ve spent on the film. That time has passed. Dark Phoenix has broken the mold, and broken my heart.

The latest installment in the X-Men franchise tells the story of how Jean Grey, played by Winterfell’s own Sophie Turner, becomes the powerful Phoenix. After a rescue mission turns sour, Jean absorbs what seems to be a solar flare and is perfectly fine..for about ten minutes. She subsequently proceeds to kill close friends, alienate all around her and become an intergalactic fugitive. Charles Xavier (James McEvoy), Magneto (Michael Fassbender), Blue Beast Man (Nicholas Hoult) and a host of other mutants try to save/kill/contain her in a movie that is not even saved by a fantastic action set piece aboard a train.

Problems

I must admit that I haven’t seen Days of Future Past, so I’m not entirely sure what was wiped out in this timeline. Pretty much everything, I’ve been told. I know that this movie is more truthful to the comics and that The Last Stand has been eradicated, thankfully. Although the aforementioned action scene was fantastic, the first hour and a half are so boring and predictable that it doesn’t really matter.
The X-Men go on a dangerous mission -> Someone nearly dies -> People get annoyed at Charles because he thinks he’s never wrong -> Jean can’t control her powers -> A mysterious villain tries to take over Earth -> A major American city is nearly decimated -> The X-Men and Magneto save the day -> Fin.

I was really looking forward to seeing Jessica Chastain. Ever since Crimson Peak and Molly’s Game she has been one of my favourite actors. It is a shame, then, that she shows no emotion in this movie and has about ten minutes screen time.

I feel like there’s always a scene involving somebody’s parents abandoning or disapproving of their child’s mutant powers in a cul de sac estate in an X-Men movie. Maybe it was only X-Men 2 but the police always get involved and get absolutely owned, not realising that pulling a gun on a powerful being who can control your fu***ng mind is a bad idea. Pulling a gun on any mutant is a bad idea. Wolverine took a bullet in the head, rejected it and kept on keepin’ on. Different timelines, I know, but come on. Don’t pull guns on superheroes and don’t @ me.

I’m like a broken record with this timelines shpiel but I honestly have no problems with it. Keep churning out X-Men movies and I will more than likely go see them. However, different timelines doesn’t mean different appearances I would imagine. So if this movie is set in 1992 and the first X-Men was released in 2000, that means Magneto and Professor X have eight years to go from handsome, charming young men in their forties to totally different looking but no less handsome and charming men in their late sixties.
And yes, you might say to me that it’s a film about mutants walking the Earth and co-existing with a species that can’t even co-exist with other humans of a different colour. And I might say to you that I told you to not @ me and that it makes no Gawd Dayum Sense.

Positives

Train scene. Many fighting and impressive CGI. Cian happy with violence.

Rating

Rotten Tomatoes: 20%

IMDB: 5.9/10

TheRathpeaconRambler: 4/10.

Happy Friday folks and have a good weekend. I’m off to Snow Patrol and Metallica. I haven’t listened to either band since I was 14 so I can’t wait to not know the words and get smashed.

Ballad of the Rescuer – The Lost Gecko

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Artwork for the band’s latest release

Happy Friday, folks. I hope ye all have a lovely weekend planned and that the sun will shine, or at the very least the rain will stay away. In my last post, a review of Meghan Ali’s new song, Far Off Shores, I waxed lyrical about the talent that Cork has to offer. What I would like to clear up is that that is not a new phenomenon. Cork is the real capital and with legends like Rory Gallagher and travelling troubadours like Clare Sands to talk of, we can be very proud! Emerging talents can be found in any number of pubs, clubs and venues around Cork, plying their trade in the hope of making it big.

The band that I’m talking about today are far beyond the moniker of ’emerging talent’. It would be much fairer to call them an established set-up. Having formed in 2006 in Cork, The Lost Gecko have recorded 9 EPs, released an album and are due to release another later this year. They have performed in festivals in Amsterdam, Finland, and numerous ones in Ireland.

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The Lost Gecko merchandise is available on their Facebook page

If you get a chance to listen to their 2018 album, Solasta, meaning ‘Luminous’ in Scots-Gael, I would recommend Fan Liom as the go-to track. This song stood out to me not just because of the Irish language but because the arrangement before the verse kicks in is uplifiting and magical. Which brings me onto the song we’re hear to read about!

Ballad of the Rescuer was released on Spotify on May 20th. It has over a 1’000 plays on Spotify, and a good 100 of them are from me the last few days since I first heard the track. It is hard to describe the feeling I get when I hear the opening section of the song. The fingerpicking pattern that opens is beautiful and sad, especially when the low notes of the cello accompanies it. Then, an ethereal, mystic voice fills your eardrums and the ballad of the rescuer begins. For a brief minute I thought to myself that this song and sound was Bon Iver-esque. I copped myself on and saw it for what it was: authentic, beautiful sound from a talented trio.
“There’s nothing left inside of me” is a line that sticks out from the first verse, the minor notes picked at just the right time. I became invested in the rescuer’s journey, living every dip and dive in his mission.

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Malcolm, John and Elaine at a gig last year

A cacophony of sound greets us toward the end of our journey as the percussion comes to the fore. The ballad of the rescuer rings out as all three members of the band give their all for the last act; Malcolm Urquhart on guitar and vocals, Elaine McCarthy on cello and John O’Connor on percussion. It lifts you up for the final scene of the song, an image of the rescuer, exhausted and on his knees at the end of the day, played out by the same beautiful guitar playing and cello accompaniment that we heard at the start.

Well, that review got quite a bit more emotional than I ever intended! You will agree with me once you hear the haunting opening of the song. I can guarantee that as I never lie. Honest Cian, they call me.

Look out for The Lost Gecko’s new album, The Ghost That Minds the Crows, due to be released this year at Claycastle Studios in Youghal with John Burke. They are on Spotify and Youtube so give their pages a follow! The Lost Gecko are playing a number of gigs around Cork in the coming days but they are also supposrting Meghan Ali next month in Maureen’s bar in Cork City. June 23rd, pencil it in. Keep an eye on the blog for more music reviews and news of the bands and artists I’ve already reviewed. Have a good one!

Far Off Shores – Meghan Ali

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Cork is full of thriving, talented musicians. From rap to traditional, hip hop to indie-pop, the Rebel County is a hotbed of young, up and coming artists. I am lucky to have played with some, attended the gigs of others, but one of my greatest honours is calling some of them my friends.
Meghan Ali is a singer songwriter and guitar player from Rathpeacon. Technically, she is from just off the Mallow Road/Old Mallow Road, but we’ll claim her here in Rathpeacon when she goes big. She has been making music her whole life, but it has really been the last six or seven years in which she has been most productive. She has released popular single after popular single, receiving generous airtime on Cork radio stations. Her latest release might just be the best of the bunch, and that’s saying something.

Far Off Shores was released earlier this week and with already over a thousand plays on Spotify it is showing how Meghan’s star continues to rise. On first listen to the lyrics it espouses the same message as Meg’s previous releases Coming Home for Christmas, which was later re-released as Coming Home (ft. Clare Sands). Each of these songs tells the story of our generation; always going to far off lands, never knowing when we’ll be home next and hoping that our relatives are doing O.K. without us.

The song starts with the low notes of a flute resonating around us, a faint chime in the background, echoing the sounds of the hit Irish animated feature, Song of the Sea. Meghan’s music is undoubtedly Irish, her accent shining through in songs as well as her use of the violin and acoustic guitar. Each instrument provides a light backing for Meghan’s powerful voice through each verse, rising to a crescendo just before each chorus. Far Off Shores is catchy and the chorus will play again and again in your head after each listen.

Watching the video after listening to the song changes the meaning. This is a tribute to Meghan’s late grandfather, played by his twin brother, John. The video is just like the singer herself, full of love for family close and far. It is truly a Maguire and O’Brien affair!
It would be criminal to mention the video and not bring your attention to the awesome panoramic shot that leaves John looking out at a lake/river/water feature, circle around and then back in to the main man himself.

This is a biased review in that I’ve known Meghan for years and love all of her music. However, it is also a truthful article because we’ve all lost someone. Although the song deals with the loss of a loved one, as I said before it could also be a homage to those closest to us departing these shores for a better life abroad. Therein lies the beauty of Meghan’s songwriting.

Meghan Ali can be followed on all social media platforms. Far Off Shores is available on Spotify now, and the video is on Youtube. I’ll even post the video below here so you don’t have to type anything in. No problem guys! Happy Thursday.

Pet Sematary

For decades now, audiences around the world have been mesmerised, terrorised and astounded by adaptations of Stephen King’s works. The prolific author has seen many of his novels make the big screen. The Shining, Stand By Me and Shawshank Redemption, to name but a few, are all classics and examples of how well a book can be transferred onto the big screen.
Jeté Laurence in Pet Sematary (2019)

Some of King’s more dark and terrifying pieces have found new audiences over the past few years. It was a hit worldwide and a sequel is now being filmed. Like Pet Sematary, it was a remake of a well received take on the horror master’s work. I saw the latter over the weekend and can inform you now that it is as terrifying as the trailer makes it out to be. As King himslef said, it is the one work that kept him up at night. And that’s saying something ya freak!

Pet Sematary opens with the Creed family on the way to their new home in Ludlow. Louis Creed, played by Jason Clarke, is moving to the countryside with his wife Rachel (Amy Seimetz), daughter Ellie (Jetee Laurence), son Gage (Hugo and Lucas Lavoje), and cat Church. Trying to escape the frantic city life of Boston, the Creed’s have bought a lovely house with 50 acres of woods attached. In an attempt to work better schedules and reconnect with his kids, Louis takes the day shift at the University health centre where nosebleeds and sprained ankles are the port of call.
Rachel and Ellie discover a graveyard for pets located within their property. They meet Jud (John Lithgow), an older neighnour who seems to know more about the pet cemetery than he’s letting on.
After a shocking death at the univerity, Church being knocked down and terrifying nightmares, Jud shows Louis a place where the living don’t dare to journey and the dead don’t care to stay.

Jason Clarke in Pet Sematary (2019)

Jason Clarke blurs the line between rational professional and unhinged father in this terrifying film. His performance of a man slwoly unravelling while attemting to hold onto his beliefs and what is right was a pleasure to see.
Amy Seimetz was equally as powerful in her role as a guilt ridden wife with a terrible secret. It was in her scenes where she relives her terrible nights alone with her sister that had me fully back in the seat with my eyes almost covered.
The star of the show was young Jetee Laurence. She turns seamlessly from angelic daughter to demonic satan-child at the blink of an eye. I hope she isn’t typecast in the future because she was fanatstic. Terrifying, but great.

I do wish that the film explored the relationship between Rachel and her latte sister. It was terrifying but didn’t finish its journey. The filmmakers teased a horrifying reveal towards the end but left it at that. Just a reveal.
Although I was extremely scared throughout and still don’t know how i manged to eat popcorn while simultaneously, it hasn’t kept me awake at night like I thought it would. I was on edge for a few hours but I’ve moved on. I’ve grown as a person it seems and don’t put too much stock in horror movies anymore. In saying that, give me a romcom anyday.

4/5.

Us – Movie Review

Jordan Peele’s latest horror offering is as mindbending and thrilling as Get Out. However, Us is its own film with its own ideas and impeccable twists and turns. After viewing this earlier tonight and searching twitter for user responses and funny gifs, I’ve decided that it is hard to pick a favourite between the two. There is a lot more going on in this instalment, sometimes to its detriment, but it is clear that it requires at least two viewings.

The film opens in 1986 with a young Adelaide (Madison Currey) walking the boardwalk of Santa Cruz with her father and mother. The parents bicker throughout and when her mother goes to the bathroom and her father ignores her, Adelaide walks down to the beach. She sees a mirror funhouse and enters. Inside, the lights shut off and after trying to find her way out she bumps into a doppelganger of herself. Adleaide begins to scream and the movie cuts to the present day.
Adelaide is now en route back to Santa Cruz with her husband and two children. The adult Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o) does not want to revisit the boardwalk where she encountered that terrible horror all those years ago. Her husband Gabe (Winston Duke), obviously doesn’t share her fears. Gabe and the two kids, Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and Jason (Evan Alex), are all wrapped up in their own material worlds, choosing image, technology and a mask instead of realising that their mother would rather be anywhere else. Adelaide’s fears come true when a strange family appear at the top of their drive. The doppelgangers have come and are out for blood. What follows is an hour and a bit of intense scares and breathless thrills.

It is another offering from Peele that blurs the lines between horror, psychological thriller and action. The film touches heavily on class divide and the segregation of people. The wealthy and lucky only need worry about their appearance and possessions in life while the doppelgangers, or tethered, only know that they are not worthy of such things and must suffer life down below. Themes such as faith, materialism and ethics are rife throughout. I would implore any viewer to take most of the dialogue very seriously. You don’t know what throwaway line, action or scene might rear its head later on.

Nyong’o steals the show as Adelaide and Red. While Wright Joseph is extremely impressive in her dual performance also, it is the Oscar winner known for her portrayal of Patsey in 12 Years a Slave that blows the audience away. She plays the terrified Adelaide so well while also portraying the deranged and vengeful Red with frightening reality.
As I said earlier, this movie is similar to Get Out in that the twists and turns are impeccable. Us is a proper headscratcher. I won’t give away any spoilers but I guarantee that by the end of the movie you’ll be walking around in your day to day life wondering whether your doppelganger will pop out at any second and take your place. You’ll also be thinking of every line that has been said in the film and linking it all together. The only problem is that just like Det. Kujan, you’ll be too late and Keyser Soze will have been off on his escape already.

Netflix Selection: Umbrella Academy and Russian Doll.

The digital streaming behemoth has had a great start to the year. After producing some dubious figures and some questionable stats about the viewing figures of a number of shows, Netflix has come good again with a selection of Originals, their own personally funded and produced shows, and new additions from established artists.

The Umbrella Academy

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The first of these shows that I watched was Umbrella Academy. Revolving around a group of unwilling superheroes who were plucked from their mothers at birth by the eccentric and mean Sir Reginald Hargreeves, the story centres on the apocalypse and how life, or the end of all life, pulls you back to the ones you are closest with; in this case, your superhero brothers and sisters.

I really enjoyed this show. 10 episodes at 55 mins approx. each might seem like a lot but it flowed easily enough. There was a spot around episodes 6, 7 and 8 that dragged a bit but the end of the 8th episode and the final two installments are superb.
Robert Sheehan plays Klaus, one of the troubled supers, almost like a supercharged Nathan from Misfits. He is so effortlessly funny, flighty and camp while also developing as a character throughout the season. Although his accent doesn’t stay true the entire time, much like his role as Darren in Love/Hate, he still steals the show for me.
Aidan Gallagher as Number Five was also a joy to watch, as was Mary J. Blige as one part of a fiersome hitman team out to get Five. Colm Feore’s turn as the madcap billionaire was fun to watch in flashback scenes, even if you did feel for the neglected heroes.

I’d definitely recommend this show to most people and would urge you to power through the mid season lag.

Russian Doll

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Another show that deals with the marching of time and also the reset, is Russian Doll. Natasha Lyonne stars and produces in this show about Nadia, a thirty-something New Yorker who spends her nights drinking, smoking and doing whatever she wants. It is her birthday, and after going home with a smooth talker, she gets knocked down while running across the street for her cat. In the blink of an eye she is back up at her party the night before while all the other guests carry on as normal.
Nadia thinks she is on her own until she meets Alan in a hurtling elevator shaft before impending death. He reveals he has the same affliction; they both die and reset to the same point in their lives. The two go on to try and solve their problem, learning some dark truths about each other and themselves along the way.

Lyonne is fantastic as the witty, clever and self-sabotaging Nadia, still suffering from her mother’s abuses and struggling to see a happy ending. I haven’t watched OITNB but she is brilliant in this, playing the tough talking, streetwise New Yorker with ease.
Charlie Barnett plays Alan, Nadia’s unfortunate companion in their horrible situation. He is the polar opposite to Nadia; he is clean, rigid and sticks to a schedule. He is also hiding some mental health issues and refuses to face them, prompting both to wonder why they are in this mess. Barnett comes alive when he shows real emotion and both Lyonne and he work well together.
I enjoyed this show also, partly because it was set in New York and I got to live vicariously through the characters and remember my time there. A word of warning, though, is that the show gets incredibly dark in the last three episodes. The show is not for everyone.

Tomorrow I will review Ricky Gervais’ After Life and the indie buddy-comedy Paddleton, starring Ray Romano and Mark Duplass.