The Weekend Binge: Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Every now and then, there are television shows that come along that sweep nearly everyone up into the frenzied world. Series that are heart-felt, hilarious, and honest. Shows that filter through the drudgery of life like beacons of hope, cupping your heart in their beaming world, and making you smile. Even if it was just for 20 minutes at a time. There are television shows such as Parks & Recreation or Community, that would bring you so much unbridled joy.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine was one of those shows.

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Sadly, Fox have deemed it unworthy of continuing, choosing to cancel the show after five seasons, much to the dismay of countless fans across the world.

So, if there was any way of another studio picking it up, we’d have to flood them with viewers and figures. Which is why I’m here to convince the those of you who haven’t seen this show (I’m assuming you have other important things to do) to get watching.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a comedy cop procedural show starring Andy Samberg as police detective Jake Peralta. Die-Hard obsessive, lazy, and wishing his life were an action film. In the workplace, however, there are enough hijinks with an abundance of characters that populate his life including the food connoisseur and over amorous Charles Boyle, the deadpan and tough Rosa Diaz, the eccentric Gine Linetti, the hard-working Amy Santiago, and the soft but muscular Terry Jeffords. Their world is shaken when they get an uptight boss Captain Raymond Holt yet could he be the right fit for the Nine-Nine?

Yes. Yes he can. Because everyone in this show has their moment to shine and then some. The series may be filled with hoopla and whacky situations but the strives in it’s character development and how exactly this team fit into one another. The stunning writing adds depth to the hilarity and bounces with exuberance. Every actor is having the best time with their roles; giving each other room to breathe and transform with the show. Andy Samberg is an impossibly charming lead but it really is everyone’s efforts that craft it into an impossibly delightful show. An impeccably ensemble.

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine is the perfect balance of silliness and street smarts. It knows how to work a scene with amounting tension or sugar your soul with sweet sentiment. This is one of the shows that’ll spark within you. It’s diverse – filled with POC and LGBT characters that share the screen simply because they are. It’s progressive and powerful, a highlighted episode is when Terry gets stopped by a police officer and the show intricate depicts racism within the force, as well as the effect it has on Terry as well as Captain Holt. There’s also an arc where Rosa comes out as bisexual. This visibility makes the series that much more impactful for fans worldwide.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine is one of the most brilliant shows around, with side-splitting cold opens, fantastic character development, and absolutely great story-lines.

So Fox, TELL ME WHY…..

Brooklyn Nine-Nine is available to watch on Netflix. 

In Celebration of Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl

Rosamund Pike stars alongside Daniel Bruhl in hijack thriller Entebbe, which is out on DVD & Blu-Ray now. There is also upcoming Oscar buzz for her leading role as Marie Colvin in A Private War! 

So that means I can pull my soapbox forward and talk about how Rosamund Pike gave us one of the best performances of all time in David Fincher’s Gone Girl. And I love Julianne Moore. And I love Still Alice. But the Academy Award for Leading Actress should’ve 100% have gone to Rosamund Pike as Amazing Fucking Amy.

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If you have been in the vicinity of my reality self over the past three years, you’ll know far too much that I have carefully and calmly broken down the reasons as to why Rosamund Pike deserved to clinch this award. By carefully and calmly, I mean frothing at the mouth to flailing all over it like Desi all bloodied up on the bed. See, Gone Girl was a truly triumphant thriller that rejuvenated our love for Ben Affleck, whilst similarly adding another level of excellence to directing legend David Fincher. It told the story of a seemingly perfect suburban couple, Nick and Amy, whose lives are flipped upside down when Amy goes missing on their wedding anniversary.

There  are many reasons as to why Pike delivered perfection and then some and I’ll get on to the actual performance in a paragraph’s time. Firstly, Rosamund Pike, roughly a year ago, was not the most assuming of actresses. Sure enough, she had plenty of roles but none that quite cracked into the talent that we knew she had. She was frosty in Die Another Day, wifey in Hector and the Search for Happiness, and crumbled a little in Edgar Wright’s The World’s End. A general audience hadn’t heard much about the actresses, disappointingly, and it felt as though she hadn’t been given the roles she deserved; roles that glinted in her eyes like a jilted wife out for revenge on her cheating husband.

And then she was cast in Gone Girl. Now, with all that back catalogue of films, many would’ve been surprised that Fincher went for this British actress. Sitting down in the cinema, bums firmly on seats, there was tension surrounding just how well she could handle the role. Not only did she handle it, she fucking nailed it on every level. As Amy, Pike encompassed everything about the psychopathic villainess without overplaying the role. She smiled sweetly and enamoured men into her web of lies and deceit. The big lie? That she has no personality and she sickly plays the character that would attract you the most.

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Pike resonates loudly on screen, taking you through a journey of ambivalence and murder all the while fooling even the audience into believing she is the abused and downtrodden wife. As she unravels her schemes in the second half, Pike goes beyond this American beauty and into one of the most disturbingly alluring characters of 2014 (or, indeed, this century) and the actress gets her hands bloody to deliver every last awful blow to those around her. Amazing Amy? Nah, Perfect Pike and she has had us obsessed with her ever since.

As great as the other actresses were, it has all become a little samey for the Best Actress category. It seems that all you have to do to win a Best Actress, is to be suffering from a debilitating illness or a downright awful backstory in order to win. It’s not that The Academy Awards haven’t nominated a psychopath since Rooney Mara straight up went for it as Lizabeth Sander in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. While I know the other nominees were outstanding and the stories they were telling were both pivotal and important, how great would it have beeen if a woman who stood up and gave the role of her lifetime won it? I mean someone who really gave it gusto and a fucking murdering psycho that is fully imagined and undeniably portrayed.

That would’ve been fantastic. No wait, fantastic is too flippant.


Entebbe is out on DVD & Blu-Ray now! 

Skid Row Marathon – Review

The inspirational documentary Skid Row Marathon focuses on the work of Superior Court Judge Craig J Mitchell, who begins his days at the Midnight Mission in the Skid Row district of Los Angeles leading a group of broken ex-offenders and ex-addicts in an early morning run. He encourages the best of them – or the most in need of support – to enter overseas marathons, financing their travel and accommodation by working the phones to encourage charitable donations. Those who run with him appreciate the community spirit that he instils as they replace one addiction with another. Running, as the film explains, is a means to an end. The most important aspect is that the runners have a sense of self worth restored to them, that they can stay clean and sober to fulfil their dreams, whether it is finally being discharged from parole, moving back to Seattle or enrolling in the San Francisco Conservatoire.

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It is hard to fault the message of the film, though director Mark Hayes gives no indication that the constant pounding of pavement and tarmac can lead to plantar fasciitis, for which there is no cure. Oh, for marathons on spring grass on a mild day. Hayes focuses on the effect the judge has on four runners: David, an ex-addict who used to live in an alcove; Rafael, a former gang member jailed for 29 years for murder, who was recommended for parole by Mitchell and, five years later, was out, sharing his story at schools as a warning to others; Ben, a former musician seduced by alcohol and drugs, who harbours ambitions to be a composer for movies (this is L.A.) and Rebecca, a single mother whose heroin addiction took her to rock bottom but receives help from the Midnight Mission and Mitchell’s running programme.

In an early highlight, Mitchell takes David and Ben to Accra in Ghana to run their marathon. The poverty of a less developed nation shocks them. The pre-marathon group run – slow and reverential – is the closest the film gets to lyricism, and makes a change from the traditional pasta and potato party. There’s plenty of running scenes but little about shoes and nothing about diet. Mitchell plays a trip to Rome to inspire David, an artist – he wants to introduce him to Michelangelo, naturally. But David leaves the group to try to manage on his own. The Mission’s strict ‘no recidivist’ rule places a pressure that we sense he doesn’t want to live under. Plus, who likes getting up at four in the morning?

We are introduced to Ben in his studio, working on his audition piece for the Conservatoire and cursing. He has a young girlfriend who is his biggest fan. Rafael faces the biggest challenge – an arrest for breaking parole by drinking; if found guilty, he will go back to prison to continue his life sentence.

There is a fifth runner, Mody from Senegal, who starts his own business selling luggage. But the Midnight Mission can only provide so much support and he relapses.

The Judge looks a healthy guy, but later we learn that his body is underpinned by metal. When we see him crumpled on the ground after a run, we don’t know if he’ll get up. His wife and teenage son attest to his near religious zeal – if he wasn’t a judge, Mitchell would be a priest. There are no dissenting voices against the programme and nothing about the selection process for participation in overseas races – donations can’t pay for everybody.

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The film asks us to think about rehabilitation and to identify with those who have committed crimes and self-abuse. It makes a compelling case for community and grant based rehabilitation. Although Skid Row Marathon has only had one off screenings on 9 May, it deserves to be shown to criminal justice policy makers. Both the Justice and Home Secretary should be sent DVD copies.