Killjoys: Meet the Parents – Family Matters (Review) Spoilers

 Killjoys - Season 2

Killjoys this week sees Pawter get a chilly reception at home and Johnny gets to meet her parents. Khylen also deals with matters of the family when he visits Telen to see how D’Avin withstood the Level 6 training. Last week Simms was picked up from Westerly and a lot of gifted students were melted in their cryogenic pods.

Johnny and Pawter are on Qresh so she can ask for the exile to be lifted while D’Avin and Dutch are serving a warrant behind the wall in Old Town.  D’Avin does indeed  have a thing for Pree’s new barmaid Sabine(Tori Anderson). When  he stops by for some “painful”  flirting, Khylen makes a connection with the oldest Jaqobis brother. D’Avin become disoriented and  blacks out.

D’Av tells  Dutch about passing out and then begins humming a song Khylen wrote for her.  On Telen, Khlyen and Lee start running tests on Sheriff Jaqobis to learn whey D’Avin could not be turned.

Johnny meets Pawter’s sister Louella (Kimberly-Sue Murray), and her smarmy fiancee Hank (Marco Grazzini). He also meets Weymer Simms (Andrew Gillies); Pawter’s father. Later the doctor catches Johnny swimming naked in the family baptismal pool. 

At the family meal, Pawter is cut short in her request to have the exile lifted.  After the awkward moment  at dinner, the Simms’ butler is frozen to death. A killer fog has enveloped the area around the mansion and the butler walked through it.  Adeline Seyah Simms (Jayne Lewis) begins examining the dead butler’s frozen remains to learn more about this new pathogen.

The other two Killjoys are transporting their  prisoners. Khylen connects with D’Avin again and this time, D’Av fights the Level 6. The two do  a “Freaky Friday” switch where D’Av is in Khylen and vice versa.

At the Simms mansion the killer fog has surrounded the building and Louella gets infected. Pawter saves her life by chopping  off her sister’s hand. On Telen, Khylen is now D’Avin and on the Killjoy ship, D’Avin is now Khylen. At the Jaqobis family home,   Fancy Lee is suspicious and questions his boss.

Rob Stewart and Luke Macfarlene do a splendid job playing each other. The initial bit where D’Avin tries to fool Lee is very funny. On the ship, Khylen taking over D’Av’s body is equally amusing and like Lee, Dutch knows immediately that D’Avin is no longer home.

On Qresh, Adeline injects herself with the virus believing she has a cure. It does not work and she dies. Pawter learns that the fog and its virus can be destroyed by fire. Johnny comes up with a plan.   He will blow the gas lines and save the rest of the family.

Dutch and Khylen, in D’Av’s body, talk and the Level 6 reveals more of what he is doing.  D’Avin’s body begins shutting down because Khylen is in control The Level 6 cannot jump  back out of Jaqobis without Lee’s help as D’Avin has knocked Fancy  out on Telen.

On Qresh, Johnny sets his plan in motion. He leaves Weymer, Louella and Pawter in the mansion. He must get through the fog to blow up the main gas line.  Louella offered up her diving suit so Johnny could  get through the fog.

Johnny goes to place the explosive on the  main gas line.  Hank is waiting in a hazmat  suit and it turns out  that he set up the poisonous fog.  His plan was to murder the Simms family  and take all their joy. He offers to team up with Johnny who declines his proffered partnership.

Weymer walks through the fog to check on Jaqobis.  He is now infected but gets the drop on Hank and Johnny overpowers the villain. Weymer sacrifices himself to save his daughters and the fog is destroyed.

By the end of the episode,  Pawter is the new Seyah Simms and Khylen has learned why D’Avin was resistant to Level 6 conversion. (The army’s operations made him immune.)

The two men get back into the right bodies and both Lee and Dutch are happy to see them return. Dutch learns that she  was not on Arkyn in D’Avin’s memory and Johnny and Pawter share a romantic moment after her ceremony. Later Dutch also appears to be closer to Jaqobis.

After hinting strongly that there are “Two” Dutch’s, it now appears that there may be two of the strong willed Killjoys. (Or at least a twin of some type that Dutch was never aware of.)

Lucy, once again, shows her more human side, by inviting Khylen to “step off the ship” and find better technology. (Dutch reminds Khylen that faster than light is not something that can happen. He replies “not with your technology” and Lucy takes offense. Very funny.)

It was interesting to see that Johnny’s romantic involvement with Pawter may become complicated because of his involvement with Dutch.

Killjoys - Season 2

Pawter is now in a better position to help Old Town and Khylen has information that may help him to convert D’Avin to a Level 6. It looks to be very  interesting times for the Killjoys this season.

Killjoys airs Fridays on SyFy and Space. Do not forget to tune in and catch the latest “lock and serve” episodes.

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Stranger Things Chapter Three: Holly Jolly – Silent Hill-ish (Review)

Finding Will...in Stranger Things

Each episode of Stranger Things appears give a sly nod and wink to existing horror films and/or video games. In this instance “Chapter Three: Holly Jolly” thrusts the viewer into a Silent Hill-ish environment at the very start of the episode. It is also evocative of Stephen King’s  “From a Buick Eight,” not the overall plot but the subplot or plot device  of an alternative world. Something  that King’s book and this  series, also have in common with Silent Hill.

(Fans of the game Silent Hill will recall that the alternative world was in James’ head, for all intents and purposes, but that is still  a parallel or alternate setting nonetheless)

It would not be surprising to find that Will has been taken into a parallel world. Take away the falling ash, a’la Silent Hill the 2006  film and the theme is of another dimension. A place where Will is hiding from the faceless creature who chased the boy to his home and took Barb.

(Speaking of nods and winks in relation to Stephen King: Look at  the scene where the explorer goes into the alien looking entrance with a cable attached to his suit.  Just as the brave chap discovers some growly thing is in there with him,  the cable begins to whip back and forth and whirl about in circles.  Dr. Brenner orders the man reeled in and the cable suddenly goes limp.  At the end of the cable, instead of the explorer there is a bloody bit of suit. Who did not think of  Stephen King’s “The Mist?”)

It is all too tempting to watch Stranger Things just to find out how many loving homages the Duffer Brothers have included.  However, the storyline itself is the main attraction here. In this installment, for example, more is learned about Eleven.

We find out  that the girl’s powers are enormous. She kills  the two technicians who take her to the room, after refusing to kill a cat.  She also suffers nose bleeds, or leaks blood from her ears, when she uses her power.

*Sidenote* The funniest bit in the series thus far was Dustin holding the Millennium Falcon model up and releasing it so Eleven could  make it fly.  The thing drops to the floor twice as the girl looks blankly at Dustin. Later, when she is on her own, the model is floating in the air while she fiddles with the handheld radio. Very funny indeed.

Joyce Byers learns that she can talk to Will via the lights.  Her son Jonathan believes that she is having a breakdown. She puts up Christmas lights and uses them to communicate with her missing son.

Eleven explores MIke’s house while he is at school. (Another funny bit has Mike frustratedly bellowing at his mother when she tells him to hurry up, again.)  This is used to tell us more about Eleven.  Some things are not clear, such as her emotional reaction to the music box and the pictures on Nancy’s wall. Her interactions with things in the house peel back more layers.

MIke’s mother, along with his little sister Holly,  bring Joyce a casserole. The little girl goes into Will’s room and the thing in the wall reaches for her.  Joyce realizes that Holly actually saw the creature in the wall as well.  She sends the two away.

Steve and his friends rip up Jonathan’s pictures of the party  and break his camera.  Nancy is not impressed and she starts to help Byers pick up the torn photos. Later, when she expresses  concern for  her missing friend, Steve turns out to be a bit of a douche.

Eleven re-lives the cat episode, triggered by the cat she sees behind Mike’s house.  We learn that the child was monitored and observed. She was put through trials and forced to use her powers.  (Once again, a little reminiscent of another King book and protagonist;  “Firestarter” and Charlie McGee.)

Nancy goes to Steve’s house and finds Barb’s car. She goes into the woods behind his pool  and sees the faceless creature that took Will and her friend.  Joyce speaks to Will using the Christmas Lights. Eleven takes the boys to Will’s house and as the boys argue, the police and an ambulance zoom past.

Will tells his mother that he is “right here” and then tells Joyce to “run.” The faceless thing claws its way out of the wall and chases Joyce into the night.  The three boys and Eleven follow the police to the local quarry.

They watch in horror as Will’s body is taken from the water. Mike is furious with Eleven and accuses her of lying about his missing friend.

Stranger Things is clearly about parallel worlds or universes.  The clues are all there. Take for example the name of Dr. Brenner’s testing facility  and the town it is located in – Hawkins. This is very close to “Hawking” as in Professor Stephen Hawking, who touts the theory that black holes may lead to parallel universes.

Just a thought…

Kudos to Winona Ryder and Millie Bobby Brown. When the Emmys roll around for this year, both these performers should be getting gongs for their performance.   Ryder and Brown managed to evoke laughter and tears in Chapter Three alone.

There are five episodes left of this Netflix series and many viewers have already binged the entire season. For those who cannot bear for this to be over just yet, join us as we watch one episode at a time.

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Between: Extraction – Pressure (Review) Spoilers

Adam, Wiley and Jason

Gord dies as a result of last week’s shooting.  Adam becomes strident in his mistrust of Liam and Chuck has a major meltdown.  Ronnie stages a coup out at the survivalist camp and Franny is hellbent on revenge.  Between’s “Extraction”  is quite dark this week. In spite of Wiley’s amusing attempt at banter with Liam,  the pressure has become intense.

Adam comes back to the group after finding Liam’s name on the dead prison officer’s sat phone.  Waving his gun about and repeatedly demanding that Liam tell them the truth, he becomes a major annoyance.

(While he is supposed to be the good guy in this scenario, as opposed to his evil dad, Adam come across as shrill and irritating. He is, after all, immune to the virus.  His almost hysterical accusations and demands on Liam are just annoying. Wiley obviously thinks so as well.)

Wiley finally steps in and tells him that the only choice  they have is between Liam Cullen (Steven Grayhmand death.  Adam backs down and now Cullen has to find a 22 year old to try the cure on.  It is time crucial as Adam turning on the sat phone alerted the Horatio drug corporation. The next step is to evacuate Liam and kill the remaining survivors of Pretty Lake.

Liam and Wiley search records for possible 22 year old survivors. The first one  they find is already dead.  Renee Foley is now the only 22 year-old that the virus has not killed yet. Their next move is to find the young woman and inject her with the cure.

At the survivalist camp Ronnie catches Renee with her secret food stash. He locks her in with her hoarded food and begins orchestrating her removal as leader.  He is still haunted by Pat (Jim Watson) and later has a fight with his dead brother.  

(Sidenote: The most amusing moment of the episode has Pat telling Ronnie that he will stay there and see that Renee does not escape.)

(Sidenote number two: Ronnie gets the best line of the episode.  After telling Renee he is hurt that she did not tell him it was her 22 birthday, he tells her he got the perfect gift.  “What’s that,” she asks. “Tuesday,” he replies. In other words, a chance to live another day via Liam’s drug.)

Franny learns that Renee shot and killed Gord. She gets a gun, and Harrison,  and heads to the survivalist compound to kill Foley.  Mark also heads out to the camp to kill Renee.  Everyone arrives at roughly the same time.

Ronnie  ousts Renee and as Mark readies himself to shoot, he sees Franny and Harrison. He fires his gun in the air and stops Gord’s sister from committing murder. Renee’s former  followers begin shooting at the woods. Wiley, Liam and Renee use the distraction to escape.

Back at the lab, Renee gets her injection.  Later Franny, Harrison and Tracy get theirs.  Franny stops by Gord’s body to grieve. She sees Renee and points a gun at her.  They struggle and Franny shoots Renee. The young woman falls to the floor.  Franny drops her gun and walks away.

Ronnie settles in at the camp in his new role as leader and Wiley finds Renee.  Liam goes to his extraction but he does not leave Pretty Lake.  Adam takes his place leaving Cullen locked in the trunk of his car.

Adam may be annoying, with his immunity, but he is now he attempting to “set things right.”  It may be too late if Renee dies though.

The population of Pretty Lake in Between has gotten smaller. That combined with the limited amount of inoculations available means that very few are going to live if things go south.   Adam’s leaving could have  disastrous consequences for  the survivors if he is caught.

As it stands, he could already have signed Liam’s death warrant.

Between is streaming on Netflix with all six episodes available to watch at once. Binge the lot or space them out. Either way stop by to see who lives and who dies.

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Queen of the South: El Engaño Como La Regla – Squeeze (Review)

Queen of the South - Season 1

Things have become tense on Queen of the South.  In “El Engaño Como la Regla” events from last week are catching up to Camila and Theresa.  Mendoza is still upset with James for letting Eric murder the man in his bedroom  and things have cooled down between them. Epifanio has put the squeeze on Camila, cancelling all her shipments. He also informs the DEA about her Colombian delivery.

Just as Camila feels back in control, the DEA swoop in and take the shipment. Theresa and James barely escape as the shootout leaves many Columbian’s dead.  Brenda is increasing production, “stepping on the product” massively to increase her profit.

She asks Theresa to pick up Tony from the ‘Y’ as she cannot. Theresa is working on a delivery so she cannot either.  Brenda calls her son and tells him to get a bus. She texts him the address and Tony tells her he will be fine.

With the supply cut,  Allen (Grant Garrison) tells Camila that he has been talking to “The Birdman” aka Eric.  Vargas is not pleased that the Jimenez cartel are squeezing into her territory.

Theresa makes her first delivery  to immigration lawyer Russell (Will Beinbrink). In short order the legal eagle offers her some cocaine and then a free bonus. All Russell wants is a little preferential treatment. ” If,”  he says, ” it ever stops snowing in Texas,  please think of me first.”

James calls Mendoza back to the club and Camila orders her to pick up the Colombian shipment with him. The DEA strike at the parking garage and the two escape by jumping over the railing.  James takes a trolley  and  Theresa  goes back to the car they took into town.

She calls James and says she will collect him.   He tells her to head back to the club and that he will meet  her there. As Theresa starts to take the ramp back she changes her mind and gets James.

Later he sends his girlfriend Kim (Blair Bomar) into hiding.  She is not happy about staying at the “rusty old trailer” by the lake. Kim  complains that the “last time”  used up all her sick leave. 

Camila asks James what happened and The Charger (Juan Felipe Barrientos) suggests selling Theresa  to Epifanio for $5 million to repay the Colombian’s.  Camila appears to be thinking about it.

After Russell takes an interim supply of coke from Eric,  Camila calls Epifanio and asks for permission to take the Jimenez man out. He refuses.  He claims that the treaty with the Jimenez family protects Eric and Camila.

Theresa starts planning a means of escape for her,  Brenda and Tony (Adolfo Alvarez). She first approaches a priest whom she believes is spiriting Mexican illegals into the country.  He tells Theresa that this is not what he and the church are doing.

With her cocaine supply choked off by Epifanio, Camila is feeling the squeeze and it will not be long before she takes desperate measures to fix the problem.  Theresa is also desperate to get that book back from below the border.  Her safety with Camila is at risk now that the drug supply has dried up.

Epifanio is concentrating on getting Camila to give up Theresa while he is running for governor, it cannot be long before he makes a mistake. Cesar is not looking too happy about the continued campaign either. Could the Batman be ready to turn?

The rift  between James and Theresa has been mended somewhat but so far Camila’s right hand man is still more interested in Kim.

 Queen of the South - Season 1
James

Early in the episode the “Queen of the South” gets a visit from her future self again.  This time she is advised that sometimes a lie is needed to survive.  Regardless of what lie she chooses to tell, Theresa’s life is in danger again.

Camila now has no supply and is about to have some very angry Colombian’s banging at the door.  The battle between the Vargas couple has intensified and it will be interesting to see who wins.

Queen of the South airs Thursdays on USA.

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They’re Watching (2016): Shut Up and Eat Your Goat D**k (Review)

Brigid Branagh as Becky in They're Watching

Written and directed byJay Lender and Micah Wright They’re Watching is a vastly entertaining blackly comic horror film set in Eastern Europe.  It is yet another POV film, but without a unique device like the 2015 horror film “Nightlight.” While that medium is wearing out its welcome, this film manages to almost make it work.

They’re Watching is about a US home improvement show gone international.  Potential American home buyer Becky Westlake (Brigid Brannagh)  finds a “fixer-upper” in Moldova.  The artist and her professional soccer player boyfriend renovate a dilapidated house and outbuildings in Pavlovka. 

The camera crew of this realty show return to Moldova to see Becky’s progress on the house.  This group of “ugly American’s”  manage to annoy everyone and outrage the community.  Before doing their bit to create an international incident, they meet up with local estate agent Vladimir (Dimitri Diatchenko) who sold the property to Becky. 

Greg (David Alpay) and Sarah (Mia Faith) are caught filming a funeral service for three dead children.  They get found  out when Kate (Carrie Genzel)  calls Sarah on the walkie. Alex (Kris Lemche) buys some pot from a local while Greg and Sarah  flee the church. he local cop tries control the situation. 

They’re Watching is a good bit of POV fun.  The crew and star of the house renovation show bicker and argue . They also take time to have some laughs.  The production crew are split into slightly more savvy world travelers and the new kid Sarah.

The newest member of the crew is amazed that this tiny European village has no Starbucks. “How do they live without caffeine,” she cries.  The locals burned a  witch at the stake 100 years before and it seems that they still believe in witches.

This film is more a comedy of errors  than a comedy of terrors. Although to be fair the last few minutes of the movie does have a good bit of horror in it.  In keeping with the theme of a horror film that does not take itself seriously, however,  the “magical’ effects are rather schlocky.

Show host Kate Banks  is pushy, arrogant and strong willed. Camera man Greg is haunted by an event in Afghanistan.  Sound man Alex takes nothing seriously and Sarah has just graduated from film school. 

Banks is  thoroughly unlikeable and Sarah is cute in that puppy dog sort of way.  Alex is the funniest of the lot as he literally takes nothing seriously..  Vladimir, gregarious Moldovan realtor,  is the comic relief; full of homilies and advice.

The film is not to be taken seriously as a horror film. It is a good bit of fun as it makes fun of the reality realty television market. It also has a jab  at the horror genre.  The movie does feel a little like a  comic version of Hostel or The Shrine.

Lender and Wright also appear to give a sly wink to the  1972 film Frogs, starring Ray Milland and a very young Sam Elliott. Their  film changes direction several times before ending on a hokey magical massacre in the outskirts of Pavlovka. 

In terms of fun They’re Watching is  a solid 4 star film.  Despite using the tired POV format it is enjoyable and fun.  As long as the viewer is not looking for serious scares they will enjoy this film.

The film is streaming on Netflix at the moment and is worth a look or two. How can one not love a film with the line, “Shut up and eat your goat d**k?”

Mr Robot eps2.2_init1.asec: Interlude (Review) Spoilers

 Mr. Robot - Season 2

Written and directed by show creator  Sam Esmail, this week’s episode of Mr. Robot is an interlude of sorts. Eps2.2_init1.asec is a sort of necessary evil. A pause in  the second season’s pace where everything slows down…to…a…stop.  The expository look at the beginning of the whole “taking down E Corp” plan and Elliot’s battle with himself has to be presented to build up the payoff.

The prologue to the episode starts with Darlene turning up with the “Monopoly” mask of Fsociety and having a visit with her brother.  She is having issues and needs a break from it all. She says to an evasive Elliot Init1.  A password of sorts between the two of them which equates to teaming up.

As the two watch a faux ’80s slasher film, the score sets the mood.  An ethereal mix of orchestra and a chorus of wailing that is both evocative of science fiction and fantasy.  (The music is, incidentally, “The Planets: Neptune, the Mystic” – by Gustav Holst – a grateful thanks to Jeff Jensen over at EW for finding that one out.) 

The episode spends a lot of time focussing on Elliot’s fight for control with Mr. Robot.  The peripherals show Joanna Wellick  having  money issues.  Darlene fighting to protect Elliot while simultaneously asking for his help.

Angela is also seen playing her own chess game with Price. Her boss clearly has her in line for something as he speaks with the Dark Army rep Whiterose, played by BD Wong.

Whiterose asks, cryptically, if Price is sure he wants to bank everything on her, and his answer is yes.

Later Joanna confronts Scott Knowles (Brian Stokes Mitchell) about Tyrell’s severance package. A drunken Scott is belligerent and refuses to authorize it even after Joanna offers to stitch her husband up. 

Evidence seems to point to Angela being the next E Corp sacrificial lamb. A young blonde version of the on-air suicide man himself, James Plouffe.  Angela believes she knows where Price is headed with his constant tests. Unfortunately she gets it wrong.

Agent Dieperro (Grace Gummer) shows the rest of the FBI team at the arcade the shell casing found “tucked behind  that Mallard Murder game.” Once more the idea of Wellick being murdered crops up. 

The main thrust of this episode is chess. Elliot plays it with Ray (Craig Robinson).  Leon offers to give Elliot a game and later, he  plays with Mr. Robot, in other words himself.  Unsurprisingly each match ends in a stalemate.

 Earlier, after playing Ray and losing, the winner suggests Elliot plays against himself and says “Who knows, you might beat yourself.”

Before taking on Mr. Robot, who actually suggests playing chess for control, Leon urges Elliot to dream.  In this sequence, Wellick is seen for the first time since this season started.

He and Joanna are seated at a long table in the street. (Very evocative of the V.E. day celebrations.) At the table are a group of Elliot’s friends and loved ones, Angela, Darlene, et al. Strangely missing is his dad, Mr. Robot.

At this street banquet a tall imposing building in the distance begins to crumble and fall. The skyscraper is obviously E Corp and this is the manifestation of his real life dream of annihilating the company.

Angela confronts Price who tells her that all this in in her head. “Wait,” she says, “I’m not wrong.” “Go home,” replies Price.

Later, after the successive stalemates, Elliot takes back the chessboard to Ray.  He offers to fix Ray’s computer problem and immediately begins talking to Darlene on the web. Ray tells Elliot that hearing voices is a trait shared by Moses, Abraham, John, Paul and Jesus. “You could be divine,” says Ray.

Elliot learns of the FBI finding the arcade, Romero’s death and the “Berenstain”  program.  He begins to hack the FBI.

Mr. Robot - Season 2
Elliot

Esmail as director makes short sharp cuts between scenes.  This leaves the viewer veering quickly between vignettes and sometimes feeling a little off balance.  It works for this episode but is not a technique needed for others.

Mr. Robot taking a moment on more backstory and allowing more focus on Elliot was needed to move things on. No one else had died yet, but the FBI have traced, Mobley back to Vegas. This   means that other’s can as well.

The series airs Wednesdays on USA.   Stick with this one it gets under your skin and stays there.

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Wayward Pines: Season 2 Finale – Oedipus Wrecks (Review)

Wayward Pines

Wayward Pines finishes on “Bedtime Story” with a season finale that follows though with  the Oedipus Rex storyline introduced last week.  Although in essence it could be called Oedipus “wrecks” since Jason is instrumental in the town’s downfall. To be fair, Pilchard’s chosen one was  a culmination of the town father’s misconceptions and disastrous beliefs, who did as he was taught.   The byproduct of incest was also Pilcher’s  fault full stop.

As Jason goes under Theo’s knife, the town prepares for evacuation to the pods. The residents still do not know that more than half of them will not be “leaving” Wayward Pines.  The boy leader dies and Yedlin tells those gathered outside the hospital that Jason is dead.

The doctor  delivers a speech about dictators and moving forward. Theo’s sycophant; Oscar,  realizes that Yedlin  murdered Jason.  He questions his hero and Theo lies. Arlene approaches Theo and puts in her bid to be Rebecca’s replacement.

Ocar later points out that the dead leader’s blood type matches that of Kerry Campbell.  Theo says nothing.  CJ passes over Jason’s choices for who will be “sent forward” and who will die.  People who are important to the Pines’ survival,  nuclear families and the children will all be saved.

Yedlin talks to Mitchel about Jason and  the horticulturalist cuts him short.   Theo goes to  see Kerry. She stands up for Jason and says there have been enough lies.  The doctor then trots out all the clues Kerry needs to realize that she was her son’s lover. The Oedipus connection is made, after a few moments and Kerry vomits in a waste bin.

The good doctor seemingly could not wait to pass on the incestuous information to Campbell.  No matter how hard this show attempts to show Yedlin as a up-front savior of the town, his actions prove otherwise.

At one point, while the town dissolves into riots and full scale panic,  Yedlin records his plans. He will give himself injections of the three most viral diseases. After  the incubation period Theo plans to allow the Abbies to eat him. His plan will help to eradicate the true inheritors of this new Earth. In the end, Yedlin is no better than Pilcher or Higgins.

Despite this projected  act of  self sacrifice, Yedlin pounces the moment Kerry stands up for Higgins. His thinly veiled hints allow Campbell to realize she was her son’s lover.

It destroy’s Kerry.

(One could argue that it also pushed Jason over the edge.  Jason, however, reacted very differently to his mother.   Higgins pulled his gun, twice, and the second time attempted to shoot Kerry. Jason was a damaged product who struck out against everyone and anyone  when his reality or will was threatened.)

The rest of the season finale of Wayward Pines consisted of certain people being put in pods and everyone else being left to face the increasing horde of Abbies’ outside the fence.  Those left behind resort to mindless violence and some, like Frank and Xander;  Rebecca’s husband,  are given last minute reprieves.

Arlene, who was initially to be left behind is given a pod by Theo. Although it is doubtful that she got one that worked properly.  No matter how you slice it, Yedlin is not a “Mr. Humanitarian” sort of guy.  In the end the medico cares only for himself.

Kerry finds Yedlin’s  recording and gives herself the viral  injections.  Theo decides to grab a pod for himself and Campbell goes outside the fence to infect the Abby community.

The series ended rather  ambiguously.  Throughout the episode the Abby build up is shown in intercut sequences. Margaret and one of her entourage screaming at the creatures and occasional glimpses of the growing army of destruction are shown with no pay off.

(Somewhat annoyingly, what with  all the emphasis on procreation and the need for more children, there  are loads of “under 18s.”  A lot more than one would expect, but the show’s makers obviously felt this would be more dramatic…)

A fraction of the Wayward Pines population is sent back to sleep.  Mitchel comes close to not joining his fellow denizens but changes his mind.  The final message, relayed to CJ earlier in the episode,  is that Pilcher got everything wrong.

It will be interesting to see if the show comes back for another season.  Originally slated to be a “one off” the show was brought back because of good viewing figures.  This second season was a let down from the first. Patric is not Matt Dillion, the hero of season one, and it hurt the show.

Wayward Pines should really have stopped while it was ahead.  This meandering re-vist to the verse was nowhere near as addictive as the first season.  Hopefully FOX will now let the residents of the town sleep in peace.

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Captain America: Civil War – Epic Intimacy (Review)

Team Cap in Civil War

Captain America: Civil War has, to date, pulled in a box office returns in excess of $1 billion worldwide.  The Russo brothers put their own stamp on this next installment in the development  of the Avengers.  The film pitted superhero against superhero and introduced another Marvel character while “borrowing” a couple more.

Thor and The Hulk were conspicuous in their absence but there was a reason that these two were left spending time in the bleachers.  This theme of trouble in an uneasy Xanadu of heroic men and women was more compact in nature than previous Marvel outings.

There were many who complained, when the film premiered, that the scenes were too cramped. There were none of Joss Whedon’s vast vignettes where action filled the screen on an epic scale. Once again there was a reason that the brothers Russo, Anthony and Joe, kept the shots tight and almost intimate.

Each of the prior films dealt with the Avengers learning to work as a team. Building up trust and, most importantly  learning to share the power.  The group were always going to have issues, but, as long as there was a strong leader, Samuel L. Jackson‘s Nick Fury in most of the films, it could have worked with few problems.

Then came the dissolution of SHIELD after  HYDRA staged their almost successful coup.  Fury left the controls to Captain America and  then along came Bucky the “Winter Soldier.” The previous films all dealt with issues that were bigger than life. Alien invasions orchestrated by Thor’s brother Loki,  Tony Stark’s self aware “man machine” trying to destroy his maker and everything else,  SHIELD struggling to defeat an organization bent on taking over the world.

All these threats came from without.  Captain America: Winter Soldier featured problems from within. Each superhero had a personal issue to deal with. A leader to back and support based upon their own perception of right and wrong.

The UN mandate where The Avengers were controlled via the council was the trigger and while, surprisingly, Tony Stark agrees with the move, many of the team do not. Cap, who got used to running the show disagrees and the team, that worked so hard to come together before, are now split in the middle.

Thor and The Hulk being excluded made sense. Thor is not from this world and therefore any help he renders is down to his personal choice.  The Hulk is a reluctant participant and works only when needed, the big green guy’s need for solitude outweighs the team’s needs.

All the fight scenes and action sequences were on a smaller scale for a reason.  This film was all about individuals and their beliefs and reactions.  Over and above that  was the realization that this all boiled down to issues between Stark’s Iron Man and Captain America. Cap’s friend Bucky, when he was the Winter Soldier, killed Tony’s parents.

And Cap knew.

Ultimately this film was all about the two most forceful members of the Avengers disagreeing and fighting for what they believe to be right. It is also about betrayal and loyalty to friends who do not fit into the bigger picture.

The film serves as a reminder that however much we the audience love “Team Avengers” these heroes are their own entities.  Each one with a system and agenda all their own.  ‘

The  intimate feel backs this theme of individuality brilliantly. There is no need for panoramic vistas or sweeping epic scenes where all of New York City, for instance, is used as backdrop.  The story does not require either.

Even the addition of the new “team members” are comprised of more solitary players. The superbly funny Tom Holland as the, seemingly, 12 year-old Spider-Man or his competition for comic relief Paul Rudd‘s Ant-Man and even Chadwick Boseman‘s The Black Panther are all solo acts here.

The new kids on the block take sides in what is, essentially, Cap and Iron Mans’ war.  Because the battle is internalized, the cinematography is more compact and intimate. It fits the story and the struggle perfectly.

Captain America: Civil War is a more personal tale. The Russo brothers have presented the film just as it should have been.  Tight shots to emphasize the internal battle of each super hero.

This is blockbuster cinema at its finest and presented just as it should be.

Tastes Like Medicine (2016): Schism (Review) [Update]

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[Update] It was pointed out that the character who speaks with Drew at the shower was omitted in the review, in terms of casting. This has now been rectified. Mike’s Film Talk apologies for this oversight.

Written, directed and edited by Steven Alexander Russell Tastes Like Medicine  is a stark look at relationships, people and trauma.   A young man has the love of his life leave him and five years later is invited to her baby shower.  He goes through a meltdown at the party and creates a schism within himself.  One where reality takes a different path from his own tortured perception of events.

Allison (Marisa Rambaran)  leaves Drew (Damion Rochester) and he is a broken man because of it.  At the start of the film, he has an inner monologue with himself while looking at Allison’s face.  Later, he arrives a the baby shower and  brings along a call girl as his date. 

Kake (Wi-Moto Nyoka) is quiet and much more than she seems. Inside the party, the two separate and Drew withdraws into himself. Alex (Randall Hollowayattempts to talk with Drew but he is not overly interested. Alex,  however, makes a valid point in his discussion about crime and criminal records. Once a murderer always a murderer is the theory. In other words,  once an act is committed the reality of it stays regardless of one’s future actions.

It seems to apply to Drew in his prior relationship with Allison.

Once the announcements are over, Drew behaves badly, so badly in fact that he appears to separate himself . His other self watches in helpless horror as his actions get worse. As the things progress Drew’s grasp on reality gets weaker and tougher to maintain.

This short film by Russell is brilliantly presented as an almost fugue state of surrealism.  The film is shot in black and white, which is clearly meant to convey that in Drew’s world of relationships things are rather stark.

At the party, as things become more stressful for Drew, there is a sound that is evocative of fingers rubbing across a balloon or stretching rubber. This shows that Drew’s ability to deal with the situation is out of his control.

Later, in Kake’s apartment,  Drew wakes up and Kake looks on.   Above the bed is a small mirror where her face shows and it looks as if there are two Kake’s watching Drew. This further example of a schism, the first being Drew’s “out of body” experience at the shower, shows how far things have gotten out of control.

Russell’s message appears to be that once the deed is done, refusal to accept the consequences affects everyone.  Drew looks so closely at the issues of Allison leaving and why that he fails to see he has to move on.

Considering that most of the cast are first-time actors, the film moves along crisply and each character is presented well and with moments of truth.  The storyline has a number of hints and almost subliminal messages about Drew’s state of mind.

Tastes Like Medicine   is a 4.5 star film, only losing a half star because of sound issues. The effects of Drew’s out of body left  some of the dialogue incomprehensible.  Apart form that the presentation was nigh on flawless. (That mirror shot alone was worth the price of admission.) And the psychological aspects were just brilliant.

This is Steven Alexander Russell’s first time out of the gate and he has created a clear winner with this film. Russell is another one to keep an eye on. Tastes Like Medicine is currently on the festival circuit.

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Mail Time (2016) Silence is Golden (Review)

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Written, directed, produced and edited by Sebastian Carrasco Mail Time shows what can be done with a minimal amount of production staff and money.  At under 7 minutes long, this “silent” short film proves that “silence is golden” when done properly.  (There is one spoken bit of dialogue, but that is done by actor Ed Norton in a clip from the 2006 film The Illusionist.) 

Ted (Timothy J. Cox) delivers the mail every day on his normal route. To spice things up, the postman uses magic with little positive reaction from the people he delivers to. In fact, the only resident who seems pleased to see the lonely chappy is the woman at 280 Mead Street (played by Makeela Frederick). 

The magician does his tricks for an unappreciative audience who have most likely seen the tricks a million times.  Undeterred, the postman maintains his smile. Although at the doors, his grin starts to resemble an almost desperate rictus of hope as he presents his limited bag of tricks.

Ted is robbed by a hooded man with a knife. The criminal not only takes his money, he empties the postman’s bag and kicks the mail about.  Later, Ted is watching “The Illusionist” and the film inspires him.

Sebastian Carrasco has deftly taken a short subject; a tiny glimpse at a man’s repetitive and boring job and turned it into something special. With a reported budget of $1 thousand dollars  and a very intimate cast of two, the film creator has come up with a little bit of magic.

A splendid mix of fantasy and comedy set against a classical score that reeks of gravitas makes for a brilliant short film. (Another of those under 10 minute films that could be classed as “Flash Films.”)  Mail Time delivers across the board in terms of cast, Cox never turns in a mediocre performance he gives his all every single time, and story.

For a film of such short duration, Carrasco manages to insert not one but two twists and ends the film on a high.

As yet another  “cottage industry”  filmmaker, Carrasco’s short effort looks crisp and clear. The editing is spot on and the choice of music, combined with the subject matter of a magical postman, is nigh on perfect. This is a chap to keep an eye on.

The character of the postman is amusing and rather single minded. This works for the film, turning the surprise twists into something quite special.  It also makes the man more likable thereby making his rejection from the residents all that more disconcerting.

Watching the man excitedly notice that the woman from 280 Mead St. has mail, the viewer can feel and empathize with his pleasure. She is, after all, the only person to acknowledge his existence as a fellow human being.

The smile, the small wave, and the shared pleasure at seeing one another could have sent the film toward a romantic setting . Although, the bit of  magic later on does seem to indicate that the woman really is rather special to Ted and vice versa.

Sebastian Carrasco has fired on all cylinders here. His story and use of a silent film delivery with a fantasy storyline really works.  A full 5 star effort and very entertaining.

Bravo.