Revisiting Poldark Series 2 – Episode 3


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Now that Ross is free and clear, George not only sleeps with a loaded gun by his bedside, he is practising his boxing. His spy, Tankard (Sebastian Armesto), thinks it’s a good idea. Ross, however, has bigger things on his mind. The hefty 40% interest on the loan he took out the previous year is about to come due. To make matters worse, they still have not found anything of substance in Wheal Leisure and one of the shareholders has sold their shares to Mr. Coake. But it is George’s representative, Tankard, who appears on Coake’s behalf at the shareholder meeting.

It has now been four years since Wheal Leisure reopened but they have yielded little. However, Captain Henshawe (John Hollingworth) and Ross explain to the shareholders that they believe there is copper to be found at Trevorgie – about halfway between Leisure and Wheal Grace, another inactive mine owned by Ross. They convince shareholders to divert all profits to the new cause.

Ross is spending all his time down in the mines. His relationship with Demelza is cold – when Captain McNeil (Henry Garrett) visits Nampara, he accuses Demelza of flirting with the soldier because she is attracted to a man in uniform. She still has not told Ross of her pregnancy after he told her he does not want to suffer the same heartbreak as they did after their daughter, Julia, died of the Putrid Throat. But he does finally tell her of the money he owes and they begin to sell off whatever they can spare, including her prized cow sought after by Sir Hugh Bodrugan (Patrick Ryecart).

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Revisiting Poldark Series 2 – Episode 2


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Poldark 202 trialOn the eve of Ross’s trial, his lawyer Jeffrey arrives with a list of the prosecution’s witness – mostly people paid off by George to testify against him. He sees Jud’s and Prudie’s names on the list – disgruntled servants.

Out on the streets, mobs are starting to rumble about the election results. Caroline is bemused by the rioting and Ross’s upcoming trial. She tells Unwin they should be setting Ross free to go home to his wife. As we have quickly learnt, having been brought up in the strict confines of London society, she is already very taken by Dwight’s steadfastness and refusal to be impressed by money, Ross’s care for the masses despite being a gentleman, and curious about the scullery maid whom he married for love.

When Demelza is caught by George at the Assembly while she is speaking to the judge set to preside over Ross’s case, she asks George why he hates Ross so much. He tells her that she would not understand. He was a blacksmith’s son but he is now a gentleman and she is a miner’s wife. Continue reading

Revisiting Poldark Series 2 – Episode 1


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As we prepare for the much-anticipated return of Poldark Series 3, let’s recap what happened in Series 2.

When we last saw Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner), he was being arrested for inciting a riot and plundering the wrecked cargo ship owned by George Warleggan’s (Jack Farthing) cousin. Now facing the local magistrate, Ross is no less repentant. In fact, his honesty, for which we all applaud, does nothing but rile up the local gentry even more. He is sent home to get his affairs sorted and to report to Bodmin for the assizes in five days’ time.

On the other side of town, George is determined not to let this opportunity to bury Ross once and for all slip by, and starts bribing witnesses, including Jud (Phil Davis) and Prudie (Beatie Edney), to testify against Ross. The scheming weasel even goes so far as to pay someone to write the eighteenth century equivalent of tabloid trash about Ross (without naming him, of course) to discredit him.

It seems Bodmin is soon to be brimming with activity as elections are also due to be held, which brings along parliamentary hopeful and friend of George’s, Unwin Trevaunance (Hugh Skinner). By his side is a beautiful and head-strong young heiress, Caroline Penvenen (Gabriella Wilde) whose uncle Ray (John Nettles) also happens to be a wealthy and respected Bodmin local. Continue reading

Their Finest – Film Review


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It is 1940 and Britain is once again at war. With air raid sirens becoming a part of their daily lives, the ordinary men and women on the home front seek escape from reality on the big screen. The Ministry of Information, headed by Roger Swain (Richard E. Grant) is tasked by the Secretary of War (Jeremy Irons) with the job of spreading propaganda stories of positivity and optimism to garner support for the war effort.

Their FinestIn an era when women are treated as second-class citizens, Catrin Cole (Gemma Arterton), a former secretary, is brought in to help scriptwriter, Tom Buckley (Sam Claflin), write the female voice – a.k.a. the “slop” – in a film about a rescue at Dunkirk.

Since the war effort has taken away Britain’s biggest stars, casting becomes a difficult task. Ambrose Hilliard (Bill Nighy), once Britain’s third-most-popular star in the 1920s, struggles to stay relevant. His lunch meetings with his agent, Sammy Smith (Eddie Marsan), are comical until even those precious moments are taken away from him. Hilliard gets a new lease of life when Smith’s sister, Sophie (Helen McCrory) takes over managing his career.

Based on the novel by Lissa Evans, originally titled Their Finest Hour and a Half , Their Finest has been described as a feminist dramedy war story. With the female voice very much at the heart of this film, we see the struggles faced by an intelligent woman who is not trying to be “better than” her male colleagues, but simply to fit into a male-dominated world. She is not paid as much as her colleagues, and even as she enters the office she shares with her colleagues, she is relegated to a cramped corner, not so much because she is being bullied, but because she is not given the kind of respect one would expect of colleagues. Continue reading

The Search for Life


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LifeMan’s obsession and curiosity with life beyond our tiny part of the universe keeps growing stronger with every new discovery. Sending scientists out to live on the International Space Station (ISS) for months on end is part of our everyday life now. And so it is likewise on screen and in books.

Each year we are presented with new imaginings of what lives beyond our planet and what those extra-terrestrial beings might think of us should we ever meet. Are they trying to explore our world just as we are exploring theirs? What do they look like? How do they communicate?

When a six-member crew of international astronauts – Russian Commander Ekaterina Golovkina (Olga Dihovichnaya), American engineer Rory Adams (Ryan Reynolds), British biologist Hugh Derry (Ariyon Bakare), Japanese pilot Sho Murakami (Hiroyuki Sanada), American crew doctor David Jordan (Jake Gyllenhaal), and British quarantine officer Miranda North (Rebecca Ferguson) – on the ISS retrieves what they believe to be a soil sample on Mars, the smartest decision they make is to not bring it back to Earth. Continue reading

Beauty and the Beast Is Still A Feast For the Senses


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IMG_1326The first time I saw the 1991 animated Disney classic, Beauty and the Beast, I was already a grown-up, but I remember crying at the scene when the Beast is beset by Gaston and the villagers trying to kill him. The little girls in the row in front of mine turned around to see why these crazy grown-ups were sobbing behind them.  Those same little girls would be all grown up now, and perhaps taking their own children to see the updated, live action big screen version of this tale as old as time.

I rarely get excited about news of “reboots”, “remakes” or sequels of classics. But when casting news for this 2017 version of Beauty and the Beast was announced back in 2015, I could not have been more excited. And thankfully, I have not been disappointed.

IMG_1325As a United Nations Ambassador on women’s issues and outspoken feminist, there could never have been any doubt that Emma Watson was destined to be the 21st century Belle. Not only is this updated version of the beautiful farm girl a bookworm – just as Watson is in real life, but she is also an independent thinker and an educator, happily teaching other girls to read. In 1991, it is Belle’s father, Maurice (played now by Kevin Kline), who is the inventor but now, we know the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

With a widened mythology, we now have a better understanding of what happened to Belle’s mother and an explanation of how the Beast (Dan Stevens) came to be such a spoilt brat in his youth and the part the castle staff played in this.

Living in the small French village of Villeneuve is returned soldier and self-proclaimed “most beautiful” Gaston (Luke Evans) and his right-hand man, LeFou (Josh Gad) who is somewhere between wanting to be Gaston and wanting to be with him. With both Evans and Gad coming from a successful musical theatre background, the Gaston-LeFou pairing is perhaps the strongest in the film. The song-and-dance sequence in the tavern is one of my favourites in the live action transformation. There is no doubt that Gaston is as bad a villain as they come, thanks to the wonderful performance by Evans. Continue reading

Before I Fall


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Before I FallIt’s Cupid Day and high school senior, Samantha (Zoey Deutch) is getting ready to celebrate it in a life-changing way with her boyfriend, Rob (Kian Lawley). She wakes up like she does everyday – sassy and mean to her parents (Nicholas Lea and Jennifer Beals) and little sister (Erica Tremblay). She is picked up for school by her best friend Lindsay (Halston Sage). Ally (Cynthy Wu) and Elody (Medalion Rahimi) complete their inseparable foursome.

Though technically a school day, classes are nevertheless interrupted by special “cupids” distributing long-stemmed roses to the girls and boys from their boy/girlfriends and assorted admirers, which can be a special kind of Hell for those less popular.

We soon find out that, behind their pretty faces and friendly demeanour, the popular foursome are not much more than a group of mean girls. They take immense joy in bullying and terrorising the class loner, Juliet  (Elena Kampouris) and deliberately ruin the relationship between Anna (Liv Hewson) and her girlfriend. When Sam receives a surprise rose from Kent (Logan Miller) who is hosting a Cupid Day party that night, she rejects his attention as well. Continue reading

Hugh Jackman Gives One Of His Best Performances in Logan


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loganIn the year 2029, Logan (Hugh Jackman), a.k.a. “Wolverine”, is working as a limousine driver and hiding out in the Mexican desert with an ageing Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Caliban (Stephen Merchant). The once-powerful Charles is losing his memory and no longer able to control his powers without the help of drugs. The mutant population is virtually extinct. Charles and Logan have dreams of buying a boat and living out their days in the open ocean where the world would be safe from their powers.

When a mysterious woman, Gabriela (Elizabeth Rodriguez), begs Logan to take her and her daughter, Laura (Dafne Keen), to Canada, he rejects her. He changes his mind when a wad of much-needed cash is offered, but it is already too late for Gabriela.

Logan soon learns that a group of mercenaries led by Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) working for “scientific researcher” Dr. Xander Rice (Richard E. Grant) at Transigen, have been breeding a new generation of children to become mutants and training them to be super-soldiers. When the nurses at Transigen discovered the true purpose of the children they have been nurturing, they helped the children escape, with the aim of getting them across the US border where Eden awaits. Continue reading