Remembering Anton Yelchin

Losing a star so young is a tragedy. With a career blossoming and acclaim coming their way, to be torn from the world so brutally is unfair and fills everyone with sorry.

The tragic loss of Anton Yelchin yesterday morning has hit us all. The Russian born 27 year old was involved in a car accident at his home and died due to his injuries.

The actor whose career started young and was cemented in the Star Trek reboot series was mourned by Hollywood and fans alike, many noting his good humour, inquisitive nature, and wise personality. He left behind a legacy of terrific and unparalleled performances that are now a too small collection of an actor in his prime.

To celebrate the late actor, as we are all doing this week, we’re urging you to look at the performances he left behind with the very best of his work. Here’s to Anton Yelchin, may he rest in peace.

Honourable Mentions: Only Lovers Left Alive (2013,) left out because of the minor role as roadie Ian but still Yelchin stands out within the film.

Charlie Bartlett (2007)

Despite starting in the industry as a young performer with films such as Alpha Dog and Along Came a Spider coming beforehand, he made his mark in quirky comedy Charlie Bartlett and everyone started to pay attention. The film sees Yelchin play a teenager who starts to dispense therapeutic drugs to his high school populous to gain notoriety. Also starring Kat Dennings and Robert Downey Jr, Charlie Bartlett sees a young and rambunctious Yelchin own the titular character. The darkly witty character, Yelchin managed to make the somewhat dislikeable role utterly unforgettable.


Star Trek Series (2009 – 2016)

It’s really difficult to take over a role that was immortalised decades before you. Yet Anton Yelchin portrayed Star Trek’s Pavel Chekov by honouring Walter Koenig’s version yet still making him his own. Developed as a conduit to young audiences, Chekov was the Enterprise’s navigator who was energetic and courageous as Yelchin bounced his lines with an exhilaration to save the day and succeed. Cute yet strong-willed, Yelchin became a highlight of the Star Trek movie series.

And we loved Yelchin’s performance so much that when he was made a red shirt in Into Darkness, a pang of fear broiled in our stomachs.

Like Crazy (2011)

If you haven’t seen Like Crazy, then I urge you too because the millennial romantic drama encompasses everything about modern love and long distance. Starring alongside Felicity Jones, Yelchin stars as American student Jacob who falls in love with British exchange student Anna. However, when her visa expires, the pair must navigate their relationship, conducting across the Atlantic. A breathless enchanting work that is embroiled with visceral emotions and sublime aesthetics, Like Crazy is one of Yelchin’s best work, matched by Jones’ exquisite one too. Together they imbue the film with delicate chemistry and bewitching turmoil that is steeped in palpable realism. Yelchin is a graceful and brilliant performer here, telling a painful story with complete class.

5 to 7 (2014)

Making a romantic comedy original is a hard feat nowadays but all players try in charming comedy-drama 5 – 7. The film revolves around a French woman who conducts an affair with a 24 year old writer because of a marital agreement that allows her to cheat between the titular times. With Bérénice Marlohe, Yelchin is able to escape the ensnaring clichés of romantic comedies and actually fleshes out his character beyond the 2D version on the page. A captivating performance, Yelchin captured a refreshing beat of a twenty-something artist looking to connect to something more and, in this case, it is love. The dreamy elements of the film and the somewhat unrealistic premise are no match for Yelchin’s earnest performance here.


Green Room (2016)

Ever since watching Green Room a month ago, not a day has gone by where I haven’t thought about the film. Directed by Jeremy Saulnier, the film is an immersive, heart-thudding thriller that doesn’t skirt around the grim elements either. Yelchin stars as Pat, the lead singer of a punk band who unwittingly play for Neo-Nazis who later trap them in the titular room after they witness a murder. The claustrophobia is rife here and Yelchin’s wide-eyed, scared Pat is wrought with anguish, courage, and strength. Yelchin uses his boyish charms to develop this panicky troubled guitar player into the hero of the piece, and greatly so. Spouting one of the best monologues in cinema, he is engaging, gut-wrenching, and his will to survive completely intense.

Odd Thomas (2013)

Although Odd Thomas was a box-office bomb and critically rotten, the film has developed a cult following that increases yearly. The film revolves around a clairvoyant cook who has supernatural powers and can see the dead but is embroiled in a sinister plot. Odd Thomas, directed by Stephen Sommers, has many different elements too it: comedy, romance, horror, and scares that lack the perfect balance to make it a fantastic and applauded film. Yet its off-kilter presence and rambunctious nature keeps you invested. Especially because Yelchin portrays the lead role. He is snarky, optimistic, troubled and then some – echoing a young Bruce Campbell in the midst of The Evil Dead. Odd Thomas is the ultimate Yelchin role, portraying a supernatural hero who is more than a bit disturbed too. Hilarious a lot of the times and a perfect actor to ease you into the mesh of tones here.


Rest in Peace Anton Yelchin

The Best Of…Anna Friel

Anna Friel plays Marcella Backland in ITV’s critically acclaimed drama series, Marcella. Created by Hans Rosenfeldt, writer and creator of Nordic drama The Bridge, the series brings the riveting world of the Scandinavian noir thriller to London’s beating heart to create this year’s must-see crime-thriller. The story follows Detective Inspector Marcella, who has returned to work after the breakdown of her marriage, investigating a case that seems disturbingly familiar and leading her to a suspect from her past that seemingly got away. As the case continues Marcella begins to question her own state of mind and ability to solve the crime, after suffering from severe blackouts and violent outbursts. As the story unfolds it appears that no one can be trusted and everyone is brought into contention for being the sadistic killer.

Never backing down from a role, Anna Friel has had a career full of varied and diverse characters, and in celebration of Marcella arriving on DVD and digital download from 20th June through Universal Pictures (UK), we take a look at some of her best work to date.

Brookside (1993 – 1995)

Friel’s first major role in British TV saw her emerge as Beth Jordache in this soap opera set in the suburbs of Liverpool. Even after all these years and experience in the biz, this could be the role Anna is most remembered for, especially as she made television history when she kissed Nicola Stephenson, providing the first on-air lesbian kiss on a British soap. During her two-year run on the show, her character was also victim to abuse from her father and imprisoned for conspiracy to murder him. In 1995, Friel won the National Television Award for Most Popular Actress for her work on the soap opera, and it was onwards and upwards from there…

 

Pushing Daisies (2007 – 2009)


In Anna’s first venture across the Atlantic (and the debut of her American accent), Pushing Daisies is a quirky, surreal TV series focusing on a man named Ned (Lee Pace) who has the ability to bring dead things back to life with his touch; be it a rotten strawberry or his childhood sweetheart, Chuck (Friel). If Ned touches anything he has revived a second time it dies again, this time permanently, meaning that he can never touch the love of his life again. Chuck obviously makes this particularly hard for Ned, acting extremely sweet and lovely through the two-season run. Racking up 17 Emmy Award nominations (and seven wins) – Anna’s first nomination for Best Supporting Actress – this is certainly one to check out for followers of her diverse and impressive career.

 

Land of the Lost (2009)

Another example of Anna’s diverse range of roles is Land of the Lost, in which she took a step into American comedy alongside the legendary Will Ferrell and Danny McBride. In the film, all three are sucked into a space-time vortex and spat back through time. The band of misfits now has no weapons, few skills and questionable smarts to survive in an alternate universe full of marauding dinosaurs and fantastic creatures from beyond our world. Anna plays Ferrell’s crack-smart research assistant Holly, who eventually proclaims her love for the scientist in the depths of the alternate dimension they find themselves in. Admittedly the special effects could use some work, but Friel holds her own perfectly against these two Hollywood heavyweights!

 

The Saboteurs (2015)

Anna Friel’s interest in taking on Marcella, which draws upon the Nordic noir genre, could be linked to a role she took in 2015 in this Norwegian World War II series about a group of soldiers who destroyed a Nazi-controlled water plant in the mountains of Norway. The drama was split across three different languages including English, Norwegian and German, and Anna Friel played the only fictitious character; Julie Smith, a British agent bombshell who helps plan the Sabotage whilst also creating a lot of sexual chemistry with Norwegian scientist, Leif Tronstad (Espen Klouman Høiner). Friel’s first step into the Nordic dark arts was an impressive one, and surely paved the way for her starring role in Marcella.

 

American Odyssey (2015)

Around the same time as The Saboteurs’ run on British TV, Anna was also kicking ass and taking names as part of a US Army team in Mali, who make the startling discovery that a US corporation is supporting an Islamist terrorist group. Shortly after this revelation is unearthed, Friel’s character Odelle Ballard’s squadron is attacked and mostly killed by their own government in an attempt to cover-up the findings. However Odelle survives and is taken hostage by extremists, facing a major challenge to escape and reveal her government’s secrets to the world. One of the most impressive things about this performance is Anna’s faultless American accent; you’d never have thought she was a born and bred Northerner!

 

London Boulevard (2010)

From one of the more saucy performances in her back catalogue, Friel plays Colin Farrell’s slightly ‘wild’ sister Briony in this sexy, stylish gangster thriller bristling with wit and brutal intrigue. London Boulevard stars Colin Farrell and Keira Knightley as star-crossed lovers who run afoul of one of London’s most vicious crime bosses and have to do their best to avoid the inevitable consequences. Friel spends most of the film drunk and causing mischief, bringing a burst of cheekiness to the audience in every scene, and becoming an increasing nuisance for Mr. Farrell’s cheeky protagonist. Never shying away from an accent, it seems Cockney is another one that she’s got in her locker!

 

Marcella (2016)

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From the mind of Hans Rosenfeldt, creator of the Scandi-Noir drama The Bridge, this hit ITV drama could be one of Friel’s most acclaimed roles yet, with her performance drawing plaudits through the realism and raw emotion that she brings to the title role. In her long awaited return to British TV, Friel plays a detective who recently returned to the force, and she becomes involved in the investigation of a serial murder case where the modus operandi of the killer bears a striking resemblance to an unsolved case she was previously involved in. With everyone a potential suspect or victim, Marcella must determine if an old hunch has come back to haunt her, or if her own fragile state of mind is placing her in the frame. The series takes many twists and turns and by the end of it you’ll even be suspecting yourself as the killer, no one is free of suspicion, even Marcella herself…

 


MARCELLA IS AVAILABLE ON DIGITAL DOWNLOAD AND DVD FROM 20th JUNE, 2016, FROM UNIVERSAL PICTURES (UK)

Orange is the New Black – Season Four Overview (Spoilers!)

Earlier this year, executives, directors, and writers have been lamenting about how the latest season of Orange is the New Black is going to be much darker than the prior episodes.

“Pfft,” we said. “We’re able to handle anything.”

To our dismay, those pen-touting bastards were absolutely right: This season was going to break us into a thousand, millions pieces, and we’re struggling to pick ourselves up from it. Honestly, I am personally writing this overview from the comfort of my blanket fort after stuffing as much comforting chocolate down my gullet, and crying to Sarah McLachlan.

Orange is the New Black did the unbelievable and we’re still reeling from the final episodes of season four.

Now before I truly wade in like the inmates did at the end of season three, I must warn you, there will be spoilers here. Go watch the season before reading this then come join us in the blanket fort where the candlelight vigil and hymn ceremony will commence…


With that out of the way, I’d argue that season four is the best to date. Second only to season two which was equally mind-blowing. Season four took a running leap into the more visceral deep-end and we’re practically drowning in emotions. There is one big issue I’d like to focus on for a majority of this article but let’s look at the highlights and lowlights of the episode first.

On the positive end, Alex and Lolly’s murder of the former’s hitman spiralled the pair out of control. While Lolly’s mental illness surrounding the act threatens to reveal the murder, it’s her that we ultimately feel sorry for. In the best handled backstory of this season, we see her as a good-natured homeless women (who used to be a journalist) plagued by paranoid schizophrenia and treated poorly by the police and institutes. As she unravels and is sent to Psych, you kind of will the show to bring her back so you can hold her forever.


The return of Nicols was also a treat and her leaps on and off the wagon were crucial in depicting a drug addict. Piper finally got comeuppance for the mishandling of her business. There is a pang of sorrow as she is branded a Nazi BUT she did unwillingly unleash a white power group when Maria setup her own panty business. It’s about time the “lead” of the show saw the brutal consequences of her actions as she was somewhat held back from the violence of the prison. Sophia Burset’s falling apart in SHU despite being in there for her own protection was a harrowing watch as the once fiercely proud trans-character was treated so shoddily by the system. There was also the usual balance between comedy and horror that made it an evocative watch.

As for the negative parts of the show, a brand new tough guard named Piscatella was a great addition to Litchfield but he became overbearing by the final episode. An irritating character who is self-righteous may have begun as a wonderful and intriguing guard but his ruling soon became cartoonish. As for the guard Humphreys – or eloquently named Humps – his sickening intentions with the inmates (to force them into fights or to eat baby mice) was disgusting and completely unnecessary. Judy King was a fine comedic element to the show but soon her Southern drawl and special treatment became irritating.

So this may seem like small coverage of the rest of the season but seriously, the biggest event in season four has weighed heavily on our souls and it is only natural to focus on it.

What big event?


That’s right, actual ray of sunshine and the best character on the show Poussey Washington was killed.

Following a protest by inmates, Suzanne (Crazy Eyes) had a breakdown following the fight she was forced into the episode before. Tackled by the simple and young officer Bayley tried to forcefully sedate her. Poussey – remember, being an actual ray of sunshine – tried to aid and attempted to calm Suzanne down which Bayley misconstrued as hostility, pinning her down with all his weight. Due to the kerfuffle, no one could see that she was actually suffocating and despite her pleas, she died.

That was so difficult to write.

The season had been leading up to this moment and it’s weaving of the narrative worked fantastically. This only enhanced the heartbreak. On the pragmatic side, Piscatella’s iron-fist and his ferocious and untrained staff paved the way for the inmates to take a deafening stand against a harsh and completely inhumane regime. Each prisoner took a stand, placing foot upon table, and saying no, charged with rage and anger.

The emotional side is what gave this event more pain. The season saw Poussey finally happy. After being turned down by Tastyee, pursued by Big Vee, and feeling completely alone, Washington had found solace in Brooke SoSo and even after their fight – ironically about peaceful protesting – the pair seemed set to have a future (Poussey had even found a job with Judy King.) A loving relationship and an actual relationship plans is TV speak for “we’re gonna kill one of them off.”  Sadly, the character out of the pair that would impact audiences more by dying was Washington.


Credit to the writers and performers: Episodes The Animals and Toast Can’t be Bread Again (12 and 13 respectively) were important, crucial, and devastating. They saw many different corruptions on different levels. The officers who rallied to protect Bayley with lies, Caputo who once showed an ounce of humanity to his inmates abandoning them for his officers, and the MCC are ready to bear their fangs and dig through Poussey’s history to portray her as violent thug. When they couldn’t because, again, she was a literal ray of sunshine, they turned Bayley more villainous than he was. Orange is the New Black certainly borrowed from real-life events, mirroring mostly the unjust death of Eric Garner who was strangled to death when he was being restrained and other cases of black and/or LGBT lives dying at the hands of govern institutes.

Juxtaposed against a memorable moment for Poussey – a wild night in New York with drag queens, monks, and more – the episode enhanced how a loving and amazing character was snuffed out by ill-training of the Litchfield guards. Her amazing night out, where promised danced in the skyline of New York, underscored her brutal treatment. The episodes were peppered with images hard to escape from: Jefferson’s breakdown at seeing her friend’s body (complete praise to Danielle Brookes), SoSo being rocked by Nora whilst grieving, and the ultimate riot will echo with you in skilled directing and writing.

So let’s address the actual death itself. There have already been a lot of criticism and praise surrounding the handling of Poussey Washington. On the critical side: Many have argued about choosing this particular character to die. Poussey was an openly gay black woman played by an openly gay black woman who had a minor crime she was repenting for. Involved in an interracial couple that didn’t involve a white woman, Poussey was objectively the best example of diversity on the show. Despite this, Orange is the New Black killed her off echoing the “Kill Your Gays” trope that is still rampant in our media. Not only this but some audience members feel that Orange is the New Black writers were going for shock value and borrowed from actual tragic events without thinking about the significance of the character. Understandably, people are upset.

Pictured: Actual ray of sunshine with Judy King (played by Blair Brown.)

Even more so that they was an apparent attempt to sympathize with Bayley.

On the other hand, the backstory of Bayley and his recoil at the events alongside Poussey’s epic night helped solidify and flesh out these characters, especially as the guard genuinely mishandled the situation, causing a wrongful death. The biggest issue here is that dealing of Washington: The lack of support for inmates, leaving her on the ground for a day, and non-inmates so ready to vilify her. The other argument is that Orange is the New Black has always been steeped in realism and this is not the first black or gay woman killed off (the first in season one was a white lesbian, season two both deaths were a straight Latino and a straight black woman, )  Using a tragic fictional event to open the dialogue about prison practises and police brutality could prove beneficial in the long run though one does have to stress that it shouldn’t take a show to feel empathy with victims of these kinds of attacks. Orange is the New Black has never been unrelenting against its characters and this is a prime example of their “realism.” 

However, you feel about the death, your opinions are still valid and hopefully, this will be used for show creators to tackle how they see characters and for folks to see that this type of oppression is real. Orange is the New Black dealt a difficult card and whether the reaction is good or bad, you cannot deny that it affected you in some way. Poussey Washington, played so indelibly and unforgettably by Samira Wiley (please, industry, shove her in every show ever made), is going to leave a massive hole in our lives when watching season five.

In fact, without her, I don’t think I can. Although you have to. Because season four ended on the mother of all cliffhangers: Daya holding a gun to Humphreys during a prison riot sparked by the mishandling of Washington. We have to wait until next year to find out what happened.

Now, I’m going back to my blanket fort.


No. This is not OK…


ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK SEASON FOUR IS ON NETFLIX NOW 
What do you think of Season Four?

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years – Brand New Poster and Trailer!

Everybody in the history of man has a rich, vibrant, and divisive music taste. But we can all agree on our legends. Elvis, Prince, Michael Jackson, and, of course, The Beatles.

Now the foursome from Liverpool have a brand new documentary!

Directed by Ron Howard, The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years (no really, that’s the length of the title. Like, any one of those parts could work as a title,) looks at The Beatles on tour and tells the stories that many people may not have heard of before. With interviews with the surviving members Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr.

Ok. So. I may not be the biggest fan of The Beatles and there is enough media about them but genuinely, there is some intrigue here. Who knows? This could be a great!


THE BEATLES: EIGHT DAYS A WEEK – THE TOURING YEARS IS OUT 15TH SEPTEMBER FOR ONE DAY ONLY!

Denial – Brand New Trailer!

One of the most shocking things in the history of the world was the Holocaust. Thousands of Jewish, homosexual, and minority people were put to death at the hands of the Nazi party.

However, what may hurt people more is that there are people who believe this never happened. This is the topic of new drama Denial.

Starring Timothy Spall and Rachel Weisz, the film revolves around the very true story about Deborah E. Lipstadt who is taken to court by David Irving after she declared him a Holocaust denier. Because, well, he denied that it ever happened. Soon it becomes a battle to solidify one of history’s most horrific events as an actual happening.

The film does look epic and important to watch…Especially because these people exist. Despite all the alarming evidence, folks out there chose to blindly believe that the Holocaust. Also, the leading talent in this is going to be remarkable!

What do you think?


DENIAL IS OUT SEPTEMBER 30th

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children – Brand New Trailer!

Tim Burton has become an exhausted commodity in the film world. His work, which was heralded as inspired and unique, has become overbearing and garish – particularly as he continued to work with Johnny Depp. Die-hard Burton fans, myself included, even gradually spiralled tiredness around our eyes as his work became lazy and uninspiring.

Big Eyes, a campy departure from Burton’s usual escapades was a rather lacklustre affair but proved that he could step forward in a different direction. Could Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children do the same?

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children is based on a book by Ransom Riggs. It revolves around a twisted Mary Poppins who takes unusual children into her home. Each resident there has special powers and…powerful enemies. New boy Jake discovers that his own “peculiarity” can save his new friends.

With Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, and Chris O’Dowd, the film looks interesting and somewhat inspiring. Burton could genuinely bring his classic talent of making those who feel odd and out of place feel at home within cinema. But as this is just a trailer, we’re still on tenterhooks. Could Burton be back on form? Or is this the final nail in his coffin?


MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN IS OUT 30th SEPTEMBER