Orange Is The New Black – Season 3 Overview

I’m guessing that most people have been sat there, frothing at the mouth and overcome by the awesomeness that is Orange is the New Black, which is soon to re-enter our lives all over again tomorrow. The previous season had come with a lot of promise after two stellar seasons before it, so it’s natural that there was a lot of pressure that it couldn’t quite match-up too. After an emotional pilot episode, exploring motherhood stuck in prison, and the new emotions that come boiling with loved one visits that last so fleeting. Now with Season Four on the horizon, let’s have a look at those epic storylines in a show so totally unforgettable.

Let’s start with the leading character who brought this world of Litchfield into our lives is Piper. This has been a transformation for Piper. True, her character isn’t the most interesting and she never has really, melting more into the background through our love of Poussey and Taystee or Crazy Eyes. But whilst we put her there, she has become so submerged in prison life that her arc has sent her down a controlling road. Starting up a business such as the prison sniffing pantie ones gave her a new purpose and unfortunately it also corrupted her as well. The handle of money and management made her cold, and now she is far from innocent or guiltily innocent, she is a straight up mafia boss which has made riled audiences who used to sympathise. Though many will lament that pushing her into this new form is weakly written, especially when she abandons Alex too easily, it’s a nice personality and character change that will make season four amazing.

It’s an interesting parallel and shows incredible development and writing for the series that we despise Piper so much yet have warmed to her season one antagonist Doggett. Showcasing that you can have an enemy and transform them into something new because of humanity and humility, Tiffany has become an understandable character that connects with us through her new friendship with unapologetic Big Boo. And this is prior to her rape in episode ten, which isn’t used as an immediate plot device to sympathise with her. In fact, they developed her enough for her to flesh out away from religion and into her own character that our sorrow at her attack from new guard (name) is real and non-manipulated. Unlike a certain show, rape isn’t used lightly in Orange is the New Black. Doggett’s backstory is rife with men using her, and she accepts her position because of how they downgraded her. In the prison, the act itself is cold, unjust and ripples away into the following episodes that will help people understand the act and the effect. It concentrates on her journey with it, rather than anyone elses and it is engaging with the aftermath.

With Doggett exploring herself, her attack and her new position within prison away from religion, the prison isn’t without faith and spirituality. The main arch of season three is finding something to invest in that takes the women away from their shitty circumstances. This new narrative for women involved is not as strongly written as some of the great backstories. But the show does well to develop different facets of religion and believe. Even with Crazy Eye’s extravagant and alarming porn story, women find escape within it and the silent Norma became an icon of belief. It highlights a struggle with identity and loneliness as these groups forms around one ideal, giving them a support group. Whilst the religion aspect may not be filled with enough depth as it should’ve been, leaving a lacklustre arc to focus on, it is good to see how religion or lack of has impacted every woman in there. After all, who do you turn to when you feel alone?

Another major theme is motherhood and womanhood and how they mix. With the opening episode focusing on the new dynamics the women have with their children, the show lifted off into questions of parenting when Gloria and Sophia loggerhead over their son’s new friendship and the subsequent criminal fall out. Interesting enough, whilst both women were in prison, they still argued about class and it is nice to have everyday prejudice linger over the pair as though they were women on a playground (this time with the ability to fuck you up, unlike Sharon who was made you didn’t put a pink balloon in Posey’s bag. God, Sharon). These established mother’s and their different handled on their children contrasted with Daya’s pregnancy and impending child rearing that had her question her fitness and qualities into becoming one. This kinetic worry that charges these particular arcs reminded us all that motherhood never ends, despite being behind bars and children are instantly affected by the repercussion of the mothers in prison. On this note, however, it would be better to have more of Maria’s struggle with being refused access to her child after episode one.

Orange Is The New Black has been a seat of sensitivity and this season has been no diferent, particularly with Doggett’s aforementioned rape. But the writers of the show delved into other topics and excavated them with astute awareness and poignancy. Sophia and Gloria’s arguments flowed into some serious transphobic attacks against her, causing her to question her stance within the prison and gave audience favourite Laverne Cox some tentative moments within the show, and by episode eleven, her fate is hanging in balance. Brook SoSo, who has been ostracised by nearly all in the prison for being chatty, deals with depression and cannot find anyone to turn too as she is harassed and bullied for seemingly no reason, showcasing an awareness of troubled thoughts and emotions that the showrunners truly excavated well.

This season is not without surprises though. We said goodbye to Natasha Lyonne’s Nicols in episode three. It was more distressing to learn that, whilst we trusted her mostly in the show, a lot of her character traits was self-serving and ultimately, it was her own destruction that saw her sent away. Healy and Red are somehow romantically involved or fancy each other and Alex became paranoid and deluded when the arrival of Lolly made her believe her ex-drug boss is out to kill her which brought a nice energy to the mix, especially when Lolly’s true nature was revealed. On top of this, the only decent male, Bennett, in the entire show absconded when he found out he couldn’t handle fatherhood and nobody knows what happened to him, leaving Dayan and her child’s fate unknown.

On the whole, the season was triumphant. Though it wasn’t as impressive as season two or one, I’d say it was pretty darn close. The only thing that weighs this season down was the lack of a pivotal arch that affects the entire show. For example, Vee’s reign of terror in the previous series epically set into motion many different stories and powered us onwards whilst in the initial season, it was Piper’s indoctrination into prison life as the focus. However, Norma’s miracle work and science fiction porn may be good fun but weak as a series centre.

That being said Orange is the New Black continues to be one of the best shows and strives to give voices to its women of all backgrounds. The tagline “every sentence is a story” should mar the series by giving us too many characters to invest in. Instead, it is done in such a way that is evolving, developed, and divine. Season Three was enthralling, hilarious, and interesting…

Bring on Season Four!


Macbeth Unhinged – Review

Macbeth is one of Shakespeare’s classic works which means media will reproduce it as much as possible. The Baird’s work has been produced for the big screen quite a few times. One of the more notable depictions is Orson Welles’ terrific but underseen gloomy directorial, which was easily one of best interpretations. But Justin Kurzel’s Scottish romp really takes home the prize. Gloriously flourished with aching hues and phenomenal performances by Marion Cotillard and Michael Fassbender, 2015’s Macbeth is seriously the most excellent depiction of Shakespeare’s text

Now actor Angus MacFadyen tackles the story in his upcoming film Macbeth Unhinged, screening at Edinburgh International Film Festival this month.

The film, set entirely on the streets of an abandoned city as action takes place in a stretch limousine, revolves around the ambitious titular man who is told several prophecies of his future. The big one? That he’ll be King. Relaying this information to his conniving wife, the pair come up with a scheme to kill King Duncan so that Macbeth can claim the crown. However, the act of murder itself sets the married couple on different paths of unravelling and soon they discover that guilt and consequence cannot be escaped.

Directed and lead by MacFadyen, Macbeth Unhinged is a black and white drama that is helped by its weirder elements. The setting of suits and limousines allows the retelling of Shakespeare’s seminal tragedy to be transformed into an opus of paranoia and power within the beating pulse of mobsters and gangs. As the story unfolds, rolling with the wheels of the vehicle, the bizarre setting grabs your attention and really develops the film into a new interpretation of the timeless story. The kaleidoscope of images that perforate your sight note an extraordinarily and defining cinematic experience that blisters with your mind gloriously. All of this matched by the haunting and creepy score and sound design.

The performances are tantalising and fantastic, though (as with all the leading ladies who tackle the role) Taylor Roberts as Lady Macbeth is a highlight. Her yearning and somewhat desperation for power and then her untimely undoing is pitch perfect with the acclaimed character. MacFadyen is brilliant at Macbeth, though there are pulses of awkwardness as the character froths and – well – unhinges madly in the second half.  Compare MacFadyen to the recent immortalisation of Fassbender and there is the sense that MacFadyen has lost something of the character in his retelling, no matter how imbued with madness he is.

The biggest drawback for Macbeth Unhinged is the dialogue. While the interpretive and strange elements of the film enhance the original tone and voice that MacFadyen is promoting here, hearing the same and exhausted text fall from the actors’ mouths seems clunky and unsure. The visceral underlying fragments of the story are conveyed accurately enough but the punching emotion that bubbles underneath is somewhat lost in the premise and the unnecessary need to keep the original speeches. It feels a little false: If you were going to modernise Shakespeare or tell it as unusually as this film does, then I’d commit fully.

Make it outlandish and keep it fresh.  Allow the meaning to flow much more than the historical language. Keep it as surreal as possible.

Unfortunately, as brilliant as it can be, Macbeth Unhinged seems merely ajar.


Storks – Brand New Trailer!

Have you ever wondered where babies come from?

Of course you haven’t, assuming that we are all adults here who know that when a mummy and a daddy really love each other, they hug one another really tight and then – iffy iffy iffy part – a baby arrives! HOORAY!

One of the long-time narratives was that a stork delivered the child and Warner Brothers have taken the idea and run with it, crafting this surprisingly brilliant film Storks.

The film revolves around a stork corporation who have turned into package delivery instead of the old baby business. When Junior accidentally creates a baby, he teams up with orphan Tulip to help find the child a home!

With Andy Samberg leading the voicing talent (which includes Kelsey Grammer, Key and Peale, Jennifer Aniston, and Ty Burrell, Storks has an impressive collection of comedic voices. And, honestly, this looks bloody brilliant, hilarious, and different completely. The dude behind it, Nicholas Soller also helped produce The Muppets and Muppets Most Wanted and directed Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

In short, I didn’t expect to, but I really want to see Storks.


Swallows and Amazons – Brand New Trailer!

There is nothing better than a family based adventure room. Between The Railway Children and The Chronicles of Narnia, children have

Swallows and Amazons revolves around a family of five – a mother and four children – who look to escape to the countryside. Finding an island, they soon claim it as their own, having bouts of adventures until they meet an opposing family and a battle for the island pursues. However, when all islanders are thrust into the core of an adult mystery and soon their adventures become imbued with danger …

Rafe Spall, Kelly McDonald, and Andrew Scott in one film together? Sign me up. Not only that but this is all the treasures of fantasy romps but steeped in the realism of growing up. With imagination, innocence, and intrepid investigators, Swallows and Amazons looks to be an enchanting family film.


The Girl King – Review

There are turning and toiling movies surrounding royalty and aristocracy. In fact, a large chunk of the British film industry comes from pilfering the history of our monarchy. The fascination with families and marriages that would rule a kingdom and live in the utmost luxury will populate our cinematic history as long as we fantasize about princesses and kingdoms far, far away.

Of course, if you were to know the history of Queens and madams of royalty, you’ll know that their history is much graver than Disney could ever portray. Their womanhood, though adorned with jewellery is a scary and grief-stricken one.

Meet Sweden’s vivacious, independent, and strong-willed woman.

The Girl King is the biographical drama revolving around Christina, Queen of Sweden. Directed by Mika Kaurismaki and based on a play by Michael Marc Bouchard, the film revolves around the rambunctious Queen who was an educated woman, pouring over books, manuscripts, paintings, and sculptures. Moody but intelligent, she caused scandal when she refused to marry, and became the figurehead for a theatrical and musical movement. When she comes across Countess Ebba Sparre, the pair fall in love and the scandal causes ripples across Sweden.

The queer storyline and eloquent performances by Malin Buska and Sarah Gadon allow the sublime beautifulness of their love to pepper this sometimes bland work. Buska is particularly ravishing as Christina. The headstrong nature of the royal figure who is compounded in her intellect and exploration of art is embodied in the sensational work that Buska invokes. Through her delicate handling of the Queen and her sexuality unravelling, Buska is an indelible feature on this production; soulful, passionate, and imbued with the hot-headedness that the actual Queen once encompassed. Helped by Gadon to allow the poetic and sexually evocative relationship to burn on screen, the pair put in incredible performances that should hopefully propel them as an important actresses. Especially as their electricity comes through.

The biggest problem with Kaurismaki’s work, as is with other period dramas, is the drawling time and the opulence in place of narrative meaning. There is a lot of chaotic elements here trying to find a voice. Between war and ruling, The Girl King loses footing and teeters into dullness. What you want is more time to evolve with her. Instead, you are blighted with a truncated version of her story that is squeezed into a feature length. One has to imagine that a story such as Christina’s would’ve worked best in a television drama to embellish her in the true glory of her being.

This lacking somewhat blights the overall story but it isn’t too detrimental to the film. True, there is more you’d wish the movie would explore and the nagging frustration that you couldn’t spend more time with Christina sticks with you. But no matter how short the narrative is, The Girl King is helmed by glorious performances and a stunning chemistry filled pairing that will enthrall you until the very end. Not the best period drama, but an exquisite one nonetheless. After all, this is a tale of an independent women at the forefront of artistic expression and in love with a woman – what more do you want from the film?