To the Moon – Got to Love Selene and Luna

To all those who got the classical references in this title, I salute you. And to those who looked it up on Wikipedia I applaud you, and if you’re still reading this already too long appraisal then you’ve passed the endurance test.

Wiki-backgroundIt’s weird to think that I bought this game at the same time as The Fall and have only recently played them and now done reviews for them. What’s weirder is that they both involve the moon, To the Moon having it in the title and the production company of The Fall being Over the Moon. You might even think I have a thing about the moon.  But in any case, here’s the obligatory overview of the emotional tale that is To the Moon.

You play as Dr. Eva Rosalene and Dr. Neil Watts who work for Sigmund Corp., a company which create artificial memories for those who seek wish fulfilment on their deathbeds (and yes, it does sound a little bit like Inception). Their client, John “Johnny” Wyles, wishes to go to the moon, although he cannot remember why wants to go; only that he does. With this as the wish they must fulfil, Rosalene and Watts begin into Johnny’s mind to create a new reality for him, although as expected, things do not go their way.

TTM-Ss3To the Moon has the look reminiscent of Golden Sun, having that same RPG style that has captured the hearts of many, as well as their time and money. But To the Moon rejects the RPG formula and has very few gameplay mechanics that RPG’s are associated with, i.e.: turn-based combat. Instead To the Moon is focused on telling you a particular story and in that it excels.

Emotional is a one-word description of this game, even the cynical humbug within me was a little touched by the story and being invested in all its characters. For a game that can be completed within three hours, it really crams as much characterisation as it can.

You feel as if you have known these characters all their lives, and for some of them you can almost argue that. Even though you get snippets of their lives, they are all very important and that accumulated feeling is very important for what is chapter one of a larger game.

to-the-moon-4But, alongside all the heartfelt and saddening moments, Freebird Games have also managed to cram in as much comedy and pop culture references as possible so that every heavier moment has it corresponding lighter moment. While Eva and Neil have their parts in the drama filled moments, they really shine in the comedy filled ones, with their working relationship becoming almost palpable in those moments.

But credit where credit is due, the game is very well written. Every line of dialogue has its purpose and with a game that has very little else aside from occasional puzzles and obstacles later on, the game is incredibly dialogue heavy. It really gets you feeling that Eva and Neil have being doing this job for a while and, despite their eccentricities (mainly Neil’s) they have a job to do and will do their utmost to see it through.

A quick mention must also be given to the game’s use of music as it is excellently used, the highlight being the song For River played on the piano as, while the song is very repetitive, it has a certain beauty to it which becomes significant in the game itself, but is also a grand piece of music in itself.

ss_1ad788262b8d672b5fd70299320c5c2323ba15ef.1920x1080While the game has been out for three years and a true sequel hasn’t arrived, although a spiritual sequel called A Bird Story is being released on November 7th, it is still worth playing and waiting for the next instalment. If games that can leave you with “the feels” and have you laughing loud enough to make your relatives wonder what the hell you are doing, then this is the game for you.

Thanks for reading! If you liked what you read then please follow me here on WordPress or even on Facebook and Twitter as well. Also, if you fancy writing for The Chronic Chronicler, then send me an email at Thanks again for reading… wait, I reviewed The Moon is Down by John Steinbeck as well. God I do have a thing about the moon!

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Gold – Everyone Deserves A Chance

I suspect many of you may not have heard about this film. Neither had I in fact until I found out my local cinema was doing a few showings. I watch the trailer and thought “Well that looks… interesting”.

“But Chronic Chronicler”, you may be asking again you very questioning reader, “doesn’t interesting usually mean something is, or was, terrible and you just don’t want to say it?” You are very observant mystery reader and yes I agree with you.

Interesting is a word that allows to get your point across to someone without being a complete prat about it. But not this time, this time I mean what interesting means in the dictionary. I know. I can hear your intake of breath in shock. But let me remedy that by going into that most sacred of Chronic Chronicler traditions, the obligatory overview.

Gold_PosterRay (David Wilmot) has been away from his family for twelve years, spending time in hospitals and psychiatric therapy in order to come to terms with a past suicide attempt and has been brought back into their lives due to his fast declining father.

Having returned to the County Dublin suburbs, Ray decides he must also try to re-establish ties with his estranged daughter Abbie (Maisie Williams) and his ex-wife Alice (Kerry Condon) who has married his former P.E teacher Frank (James Nesbitt). Although, out of pity, they take him in for a while; plans for rekindling familial relations, do not seem to come to fruition.

When you hear that this film is an “offbeat comedy”, you know that it isn’t going to be a laugh out loud experience, rather it’ll leave you with a smirk on your face at times and that’s is what Gold does. From Frank’s serious and over the top workout videos to Ray revealing a certain nickname students gave Frank in the past, it’ll leave you not in tears laughing, but always faintly amused.

James Nesbitt’s performance as Frank is solid, being the total antithesis to Ray. Whereas Ray has few, if any, plans after coming out of hospitalisation, Frank is focused on achieving his goals and is unmoved by any form of weakness. Not only is attempting to pushy Ray’s daughter Abbie in her venture of becoming an athlete, he is also trying to advance his own career through self-made unwittingly funny workout videos.

Fair credit is also due to Maisie Williams as, if you don’t watch Game of Thrones you may be hard pushed to name something else she’d been in. But to be fair, Maisie thrives as the estranged daughter, trying to reach her step father vision of seeing second place as just the first loser by taking performance enhancing drugs as well as, to begin with, reluctantly making bridges with her absent father.

But the star of the show is clearly David Wilmot as the bumbling Ray. While never really intending to do any harm, Ray manages to accidentally or purposefully with no malicious intent, fractures and ruins the lives of his family. Wilmot has made a character whom you should be annoyed with sort of loveable. You can see why he does the things he does and, while some are stupid, he does have his heart in the right place.

One scene which comes to mind is when Abbie agrees to go with Ray to see her deteriorating granddad on the condition that Ray gets some drugs for her. Assured that they are made from “all-natural products” and that it’ll be a one-off, Ray obliges.

GOLD, starring Maisie Williams and David WilmotThe rational side of me calls him an occasional idiot, or as Irish people may term it, acting the gom, you can see that Ray is only doing it so that he can show his daughter to his fast declining father and, seeing no other way he can get Abbie to come with her, obliges with her request. Ray cares for his family and wants to do his best to re-establish connection with them, even if it does go down a road not many of us would tread.

This film is also good at avoiding the usual tropes of comedy while also getting handpicking the best elements of drama as, aside from the clearly symbolic use of Ray’s sofa tied to the top of his car, Gold seems to stick to the ethos that not every bad thing that happens will have a consequence. They may be forgotten about in the presence of a larger problem or put on the backburner for later, not everything is dealt with in one huge confrontation at the end which is a nice way to go about things.

Gold also tackles the issues of suicide a in a gentle manner as, while not making it the whole point of the film, it is a sombre note in the film’s repertoire which adds to the film’s realism that it tries to propagate which was quite a nice way in which to explain a serious topic.

I wouldn’t say that this film is for everyone though as its seeming lack of overall plot may irk some people, with the film meandering on without any real goal in sight. However Gold is not made with that premise in mind, it’s more like taking a section out of ordinary life. There is no rush against time or final fight to be fought; it’s just events that happen. Mistakes are made, like life and that’s what is most appealing about this film, things happen and, for the most part, you could almost see them happening down the road from you and for that, Niall Heery (director and co-writer) and Brendan Heery (co-writer) must be given great credit for allowing it to flow in such a delightful fashion.

Thanks for reading! If you liked what you read then please follow me here on WordPress or even on Facebook and Twitter as well. Also, if you fancy writing for The Chronic Chronicler, then send me an email at Thanks again for reading!

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The Fall – I Must Not Misrepresent Reality

headerWell the leaves are descending, the barometer is going low and my interest in this analogy is plummeting like a tiny pebble into a vast watery abyss. So with those autumn allusions out of the way, let’s get into the Indie Kickstarter game The Fall.

Crashing from space, you land on an unknown planet and your pilot is unresponsive. You are the A.R.I.D (Arid) on board the mark-7 combat suit and you must obtain traverse the hostile environment to acquire medical assistance for your pilot. While searching for aid, you must face what happened on this planet and how it reflects upon Arid’s use, or misuse, of her inbuilt protocols.

I must admit for a game that is only the first part of what will be a series of games, or at least that is what I hope it will be, the game is very engaging. As has already been well documented in my game reviews that the side scrolling mechanic curries great favour, the puzzles the game brought were far more interesting.

the fall review 1

Well Hello there Caretaker

Even for those who are not great puzzle solvers, The Fall manages to give the puzzles a certain amount of difficulty without making them so frustrating that it makes them a chore. The puzzles are plentiful enough to keep your brain engaged without being done so overtly that you have to sit in another room with tea and a good book so you can recover from the twist your brain has been put in.

However it’s the story that is the real hook of the game. The not knowing whether your pilot is injured, unconscious or even dead makes for gripping stuff, making you feel invested in all the actions Arid performs to keep the pilot safe.

The game’s logic runs almost counterintuitively to how you would attempt to protect your pilot as to protect your pilot, you must put your pilot in danger so that systems may be enabled so that you can advance in the game. Sounds strange but it’s a clever device to get you make Arid a more functional combat unit while adding the danger and the notion that by doing this, you are breaking one of Arid’s protocols, to protect the pilot.

Credit has got to be given to making the main character female. Alison Kumar does a cracking job as Arid’s voice, both giving Arid the cold mechanic voice of a fully operating combat unit whilst also injecting emotion here and there to highlight Arid’s turn towards a more sentient being, as seen in the way she rationalises her breaking of protocol.

Credit must also be given to Sean McQuillan as Mainframe AI (Hank/Morely) and Alejandro Pacheco as the Caretaker. While these voice actors are virtual unknowns, they played their parts exceedingly well, getting me to both love and hate them in equal measure.

Yes, that is a crucifix in the background. Also glowing mushrooms.

Yes, that is a crucifix in the background. Also glowing mushrooms.

The Fall also manages to deliver a creepy environment through its good use of environmental design, such as the notes from former employees, the decaying nature of the entire place and also the darkened visuals to make you feel you really are quite below the surface of the planet.

Also the fact that you have to search for things using the flashlight on your pistol makes the dank atmosphere a much more prevalent feeling, having to scour the surrounding in search of puzzle items. It’s a nice touch that you somehow don’t really think about and those are generally the best ones.

I do not wish to give things away, but the general effect had reminds one of the creepiness of Fallout 3’s Tranquillity Lane. While it does not have the same brand of chirpy surreal-ness, its attempt to make it look like all things are “fine” while everything is dirtied and decayed does bring forth a certain dystopian feel to the game.

the-fall-game-570x320However there are a couple of things that need to be criticised about this game, like its lack of a controls menu. Having taken a small break between gaming sessions, I forgot the button for crouch and had to resort to pressing every button I could to finally be able to crouch again. Over the Moon, if you are making a sequel (which you’d better be) please include a controls menu as it’d make everything just a lot easier for those with the memory of a lemon.

Also combat feels quite boring at times. At first when the sentry bots start coming for you, combat feels a little challenging, especially when you have that moment’s panic when you have to switch between you pistol’s light and laser targeting mode.

But then, as the game progresses, the fighting becomes more about crouching behind boxes or using your camouflage (which somehow makes bullets miss you) and then taking out the robots who decide to remain out of cover for a short while after they finish their short burst. It becomes repetitive and, aside from a later addition to enemies, this will be the standard fighting mechanic which can be a bit dull.

Eagle-eyed and a flashlight usually helps.

Eagle-eyed and a flashlight usually helps.

Yet these small gripes cannot detract from overall quality of this game. As a first step into this sci-fi adventure, it is brilliant and I can’t wait for more. Sure there are areas for improvement but I am sure they can be addressed in the next game. While the price may be a little steep for a four hour game, it may be a price worth paying as you’ll definitely get sucked into this game and will be watching eagle-eyed for the next release.

Thanks for reading! If you liked what you read then please follow me here on WordPress or even on Facebook and Twitter as well. Also, if you fancy writing for The Chronic Chronicler, then send me an email at Thanks again for reading!

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Our Zoo: Episode 6 – Tense, Passionate, Brilliant

Well that was the end. Our Zoo is officially over and, along with all of you; I must now find another TV series to get attached to. That’s how it works. TV gives us something entertaining, fun and at times gripping, but in a few short weeks it’s gone and, depending on the series, may not return for another year if at all.

But that’s the price we pay as TV lovers. I highly doubt that Our Zoo will come back for a second series, although I could see some ways in which they could bring it back, as a single series it gave us a good origin story to Chester Zoo that fitted together brilliantly.

It’s not to say that the ending wasn’t as obvious as it was when the series began. I hesitate to say spoiler warning, but it’s not much of a spoiler really. Chester Zoo opens. We know this as the series was advertised as “The Story of Chester Zoo”. It’d be quite weird to have said that and then gone and finished the series with the zoo never opening. It’d also make Chester Zoo’s website quite suspicious for a non-existent zoo. But I digress and I shall now get on with the obligatory overview.

Fiery Mottershead

Passion Can Take You Too Far

The day of the appeal is quickly advancing and, after his aviary is sabotaged, George hot-headedly refuses the legal assistance of Neville Kelly (Jason Done), resolving to go it alone and represent himself at the hearing, much to Liz’s chagrin. While trying to studying up on law, and using Albert’s pension money to do it, Reverend Webb is recruiting Upton residents to speak against George and his family, making the Mottershead’s hope seem all but lost, with only Lady Katherine Longmore resolutely standing beside the family.

The Enemy Congregates

The Enemy Congregates

But with the case looking bleak with barely any support, Liz goes behind George’s back to hire Mr Kelly and, when the day of the hearing comes, tells George that his easily angered temperament is not something they can trust in the hearing. With the odds against them, they must face down Ronald Tipping (Jason Watkins) of Chester Council, Camilla Radler, Reverend Webb and the majority of Upton in order to get approval.

Well after the third paragraph you might be wondering: what was the point of the obligatory overview? You know the outcome so what was the point of knowing the build up? The point is it doesn’t matter.

I knew the ending by episode one, as I’m sure many of you did who probably haven’t been to Chester Zoo or may not have even knew of its existence before the series started, but you all knew the ending. The ending isn’t the point, it’s the drama and the fact it can keep you invested in the story is what matters. It’s the content not the final flourish, although that’s nice too.

I must admit, while George has been a bit of an anger management problem over the series, not made any better due to the paranoia he feels, seeing everyone in Upton as against him, his easily provoked nature has certainly come to the fore this episode. During the first twenty minutes it was hard to remain on his side as he foolhardily tried to do everything himself, against all counsel both legal and familial.

But in the end George returns to his more likeable state by the episodes conclusion and handles himself well during the hearing. Lee Ingleby handles the role very well, both alienating you by his gung-ho attitude to the appeal hearing and his measured, and even conciliatory stance when he calms down, while all the while maintaining the spark of wanting to do something extraordinary.

Liz Taking Charge

Liz Taking Charge

I have to give a lot of praise to Liz White and her portrayal of Elizabeth ‘Liz’ Mottershead as once again she became the powerful matriarch that we all knew she could be. She does not what is best for George’s ego, but for the family and the zoo, in getting Mr Kelly to represent the Mottershead’s, and in great style no less. I must admit her negotiation scene put a smirk on my face, as well as her clear indignation at being belittled by Mr Tipping despite showing her business knowledge which was even defended by their banker Mr Fenchwood (Jonathon Cullen).

One brilliant although admittedly small part in this series was that of Sophia Myles as Lady Katherine. Her performance in the hearing was exemplary and the way she made Mr Tipping squirm was truly magnificent. It might only be me but seeing that odious man (brilliantly portrayed by Watkins by the way) was a bit of a highlight for me.

Lady Katherine Takes No Prisoners

Lady Katherine Takes No Prisoners

While Myles has appeared in atrocious films like Transformers: Age of Extinction, her performance was reminiscent of a Doctor Who episode I actually like as Madame de Pompadour in “The Girl in the Fireplace”. For this episode, she commanded attention in what was probably her best performance of the series. While Myles was been more of a using prodding stick for the Mottershead’s adventure, her appearance at the hearing left us in no doubt that she doesn’t need other people to be able to throw a knockout blow.

Now I have to admit something here that I thought I wouldn’t be saying at all. I felt sorry for Camilla Radler. There, I said it. I didn’t think it was possible but the way she was torn off a strip during the appeal made for a viewing with mixed emotions.

A Dispirited Camilla

A Dispirited Camilla

While the spiteful, lying woman deserved to be taken down a peg, the way it was done, and so publically, made my feelings of resentment towards her crawl into a ball and slightly wither inside me. Kudos to Hayley Carmichael, as well as Jason Done, for bringing out the true nature of Camilla Radler and making me regret some of my hate.

Kelly Untangling Webb

Kelly Untangling Webb

Stephen Campbell Moore also gave quite a nuanced performance as the equally hateful Reverend. The bile directed at George was almost tangible, as well as his disdainful attitude towards most of the Mottersheads, yet the love he clearly possesses for Liz was also clear as glass. He is not a simple character, opposing George more than the zoo but also getting emotionally attached to Liz in the process. He keeps trying to be the voice of reason despite the fact that his inner demon of hatred and jealousy has strangled that voice and now uses its face to fool his brain into thinking he has a voice of reason guiding his action.

Finally I’ll come to Billy and Frankie. Sorry other characters and actors, you were all good but not overtly important enough to get a huge mention in this review. But don’t worry, you all still acted very well!

Again, while they had small parts in this series, Ralf Little and Faye Brookes had brilliant onscreen chemistry as well as significant parts to play in the hearing. In their own ways they are just as important to the overall story as the Mottershead’s are and they play their parts well. If there is a second series, I guess on how the zoo progresses in its early years, I would like to see more of them as they’ve become such a watchable couple.

Chester_zoocopia (1)The episode was full of tension, biting comments from both sides and, when the need arose, cuteness and light comedy. It was a brilliant way to finish off the series and I hope more people, as I expect they will, will visit Chester Zoo as a result of this charming, cosy sort of drama.

Thanks for reading! If you liked what you read then please follow me here on WordPress or even on Facebook and Twitter as well. Also, if you fancy writing for The Chronic Chronicler, then send me an email at Thanks again for reading!

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Our Zoo: Episode 5 – Fighting for Life

The penultimate episode has been launched and, while it did not reach the heights of the previous episode, it was the perfect way to set up the final clash between Upton residents, led by the Reverend Aaron Webb and Camilla Radler, against the Mottershead clan.

Goodbye AdamWith the zoological venture looking like it has breathed its last after planning permission had been denied, George and Lizzie decide that they need to sell Adam, one of their black bears, to keep any hope of opening the zoo afloat.

Despite the family tension this causes, Frankie manages to give the family hope as, after giving George the petition signed by the residents of Upton, eventually sees George lodge an appeal against Chester City Council, although the situation appears bleak, with the appeal being needed to be seen by the Minister of Health and he’s on a nine month waiting list before even being considered.

But, as ever, Lady Katherine Longmore comes to the Mottershead’s aid as, by chance, she has a nephew working for the Minister of Health and, despite some trepidation on her part, takes George down to London in order to meet the Minister and to get his appeal to the head of the queue in order to save any chance of opening Chester Zoo.

Aww... SweetThis episode, to my utmost joy, once again teased us with the view of Billy and Frankie whose relationship certainly has seemed to have blossomed since the last episode. With Mew applying to become a typist at the city council (in order to bring money into the family which they plainly do not have) and to see Billy balancing a rose while waiting for Frankie, who bestows a kiss on the cheek when she arrives, is tastefully done. It does not distract from the main focus of the episode but allows us a sneak peek into what else is going on outside of the grand plan to open Chester Zoo.

Getting There MewSpeaking of Mew, her relationship with Archie has also taken a bit of a turn, with Archie now coming into a position where Mew cannot boss him around but now must actively seek out his advice and tutorship. What with Mew being a, let’s be frank, terrible typist, she goes to Archie for help which, although wary of his mother’s hatred bordering on violent malice against the Mottershead family, he does out of affection.

While Mew has a fairly decent role in this episode, this is probably the first time that I’ve really paid much attention to Archie as a character. Prior to this he’s been mainly about humanising the previously eternal gormless expression that was Mew. Now, with Amelia Clarkson having got the hang of acting, Tom Hardman can let Archie develop.

One particular instance where he stands up for his withered bitch of a mother against George when he confronts her about the petition shows the inner strength Archie possesses which, perhaps until now, he was unaware of. His role has expanded outside of his relationship with Mew, with the horn-locking with his mother coming into play which, although has not resulted in a massive clash, made for interesting viewing.

Liz WhiteAlso, and quite quickly, I’ll just speak a little bit on Liz White. While Liz has been a independent character of her own, without smothering George like cling-film, Lizzie has finally broken free of her naïve impressions of the Reverend Webb and by God is it satisfying. Lizzie’s sense of betrayal by a man she thought she could trust is quite evident and Webb’s insulting manner towards George makes Lizzie all the more disgusted by the Reverend. White plays this beautifully alongside Campbell Moore and, while not the highlight scene of the episode, it was most gratifying in seeing Lizzie escape the lying clutches of the sinister Reverend.

6968449-largeBut before I move on I will say right now that I’ll be skipping over Anne Reid and Peter Wight’s performances, as well as Honor Kneafsey’s, as I could find nothing new in their performances that deserved particular merit. That’s not to say their performances were lacking, they weren’t and they had some very good scenes, however there was nothing particularly new to talk about in their performances so I might as well say that their performances were enjoyable but nothing we hadn’t seen off them before.

Pressing on we come to the bones of this episode, being Lee Ingleby and Sophia Myles’ performances. Myles, after last week’s performance high, was quite entertaining as the outcast lady of leisure. She shows herself to be, although slightly inept as evidenced by the amusing cake scene, willing to make the best of the situation that she, and others around her, have put her in.

George Mottershead and Lady Katherine LongmoreHowever, in contrast to the first episode, it is George who is pushing Lady Katherine on to go against the social norms and to defy her outcast status. George seems to have more of his old fire back in this episode which, while present in the previous episode, has not been burning so brightly before this episode. Ingleby’s performance keeps your eyes stuck on the screen and keeps you invested in the dream that is Chester Zoo.

This episode has been, in contrast to the previous episode, more about defeatism with the hopes of triumph rather than triumphalism ripped away by sudden loss. It has been a good ride in watching the Mottershead family coming within inches of achieving their dream and, despite the fact I know how it all ends, next week cannot be awaited for more eagerly than it is being now. Remember, the final episode is next Wednesday at 9:00 and you can catch up on this episode on BBC iPlayer.

Thanks for reading! If you liked what you read then please follow me here on WordPress or even on Facebook and Twitter as well. Also, if you fancy writing for The Chronic Chronicler, then send me an email at Anything within reason is acceptable! Thanks again for reading!

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Pride – Handshakes Have Never Been So Powerful

The-Pride-movie-posterI seem to have a thing going on with my ‘inner socialist’ at the moment as, if you read my review on Our Zoo: Episode 4, or know me in real life, you’ll notice I take a bit of joy in seeing the working man rise up against the ruling elite, be it snobby aristocrats or the indifferent government. Well it seems that writer Stephen Beresford and director Matthew Warchus have noticed this quality and decided to make this film so that it would make me nearly have a seizure of joy on seeing two things I love come together: equality and workers’ rights.

It’s 1984 and, in a time when anything other than heterosexual conduct is viewed as deviant and immoral, the annual gay pride parade is underway. But while the vitriol against homosexuality is plain for all to see, Mark Ashton (Ben Schnetzer) sees that vitriol is not only directed against them, but also against the striking miners.

In a show of solidarity against those who are being attacked in the press, by the police and to an extent by the public themselves, Ashton and his friends form Lesbian and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM). Though their efforts are initially in vain, though money begins flowing in, they find a willing donor in the form of a small mining village in Wales.

Dai (Paddy Considine) accepts the offer and invites the group down to the Welsh mining village which, not unexpectedly, causes a bit of friction. Yet, in a time when both miners and homosexuals face persecutions on all sides, prejudices are put aside and alliances are forged.

Where to start on a film which had such a brilliant cast? No-one puts a foot wrong in this film so it is a difficult task to give everyone their due praise, however I shall try to pick out the cream of the crop in this review but for those who don’t get mentioned, it is not to say that they were not brilliant, but I couldn’t mention them without going into a 10,000 word review.

Dominic West as Jonathan Blake in the film Pride.Let’s kick this off with Jonathon Blake (Dominic West). West has been growing as an actor some years now, what with his roles in The Wire and The Hour, as well as twenty years in making film which haven’t found massive success, which makes Pride something as just rewards for West.

Jonathon Blake is one of the older members of LGSM yet he sparks life into every scene that he graces. While being an extravagant dancer, West brings a realistic side to the party-goer as well, knowing what life for a gay man in 1980s Britain is like and how they have been persecuted in the past, making for a well-rounded and loveable character.

While I do love his performance in The Hour, have not seen The Wire, and only other film role I remember him being in is Mona Lisa Smile, this performance is his greatest thus far in his career and I hope casting directors see his great potential from now on as Dominic West must become more of a household name than he already is.

One of the high flying actors of this film, with her name getting feature billing alongside Bill Nighy, Dominic West and Paddy Considine, Imelda Staunton has finally made me see her as an actress outside as her brilliant portrayal of Professor Dolores Umbridge, as the feisty and delightful Hefina Headon.

Pride directed by Mathew WarchusShe’s viciously down-to-earth and has comedic timing which I thought her incapable of for some vague and not well thought out reason. Her support of the LGSM and their members is fervent throughout, as you’ve probably guessed from the trailers, and she acts as a lynchpin between bringing the mining and gay communities together.

Her acting is sublime and, despite being a Londoner, pulls off a terrific Welsh accent that doesn’t err to the side of the stereotypical accent people foolhardily attempt, which to be fair most of the non-Welsh cast do in great style.

But let’s move away from the big names and move onto the smaller actors who burst with live of the big screen, first of which is Jessica Gunning who plays Siân James. Although known for her roles on the small screen like Law & Order: UK and an appearance in Doctor Who, this is Gunning’s first major production, but it doesn’t show for a moment.

Jessica Gunning, left, as Siân James, with Imelda Staunton in the film Pride.Gunning as James is confident, forthright with her views and stands up for what she believes in, even to the police. She accepts the LGSM for who they are, not just because they donate a lot of money to their cause. Seeing Gunning play this role in such an abrasive way makes her a character you really cannot put out of your mind and that, in hopes to the future, her big screen abilities are not forgotten.

Not only Gunning, but Gunning’s on-screen husband Martin as played by Rhodri Meilir also brings much to give hope to humanity as, although he is nervous about gay people coming to their town, he eventually shows his true mettle and how far he will defend his friends, no matter what their sexuality.

To close on actors so I can get a chance to speak on the other aspects of the film, I’ll just quickly brush over George MacKay as Joe/Bromley and Ben Schnetzer as Mark Ashton, although brushing over their roles almost feels like an insult to their performances.

MacKay is yet another actor whom I had difficulty in remembering, having to resort to Wikipedia to be surprised that I’d seen him in Defiance and the two-part TV serial Birdsong. His role as a young half-closeted gay man who although out in public, but remaining partially in the closet from his family is brilliantly done.

PRIDEHe almost represents the audience in a way, becoming a viewing glass as someone newly dropped into a new and wonderfully fantastic and, at times, frightening world of gay activism when being gay was not socially accepted in the way it is today. In doing that MacKay is spot on with his performance, he’s timid and not entirely knowledgeable of the situation, but his wariness to participate is turned into complete belief in the cause of helping the miners as well coming to terms with his private and public profile as a gay man.

Finally, Ben Schnetzer plays the social activist Mark Ashton with great style. The young activist who wants to fight for the rights of all, miners, gay, women, and so on, sees the rights of one and all as linked. While Schnetzer is a strong presence on screen on his own, it is when he shares the screen with Paddy Considine that Schnetzer truly performs to his greatest. They both show they truly believe in working together in order to fight the good fight. And when they shake hands, it is something so powerful that nothing can diminish its true significance.

The significance of this film, in the year when same-sex marriage became legal in the United Kingdom, as well as many atrocities being committed against homosexuals in Russia, Uganda and many other countries across the globe shows how far we have come and yet how far we have to go.

One part that shows that progress is still needed is that Northern Ireland, the place where Mark Ashton originally hailed from, still will not allow same-sex marriage despite the rest of the UK legalising it. But across the world gay people are still persecuted for being nothing more than true to themselves and that needs to change.

pride-still-2While change will not come swiftly, this film gives us hope that by working together, hand in hand, we can go forth as one and help make the world a more inclusive and accepting place. Attitudes need to change; people need to see without prejudices and hopefully, one day soon or in the far future, a person’s sexuality will be universally accepted identity of a person, rather than a mark of otherness.

Paddy ConsidineBut. while LGBT equality is a large part of this film, it is not the whole point of this film, as the Miner’s Strike of 1984-85 is also a large part of this film that I have seemingly underplayed in this review. A lot of films have come out where the basis of the plot is predicated on the industrial base of the UK being shattered, such as The Full Monty and Billy Elliot. It seems peculiar how Britain is focused on its industrial decline but views it in a way to birth new ventures. Pride does this with aplomb by giving dignity to the miners cause, decrying the unfair and bullying tactics the press, police and government used, while showing that the while one movement may die, another will be born from its ashes.

I hope you all go and see this film or, when the time comes, buy it on DVD as I have no doubt it will become a classic. A film has not come this close to greatness this year than any other and, by my recognising, Pride has surpassed greatness. This film has showed us that things are worth fighting for and, even if you lose the fight, you cannot give up as, by working together, you can achieve things you may not have even contemplated you would achieve.

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Our Zoo: Episode 4 – And Our Next Item is…

With Episode 4 having come and gone, I can firmly say that this has been the series high point thus far. From eccentrics to class humour to downright dastardly actions, this episode has by far satisfied in all departments.

After the cliff-hanger of the last episode, where one of the bears escapes from its pen, George and Billy go out to find him and, if necessary, shoot him should he get close to Upton. Although the bear is recaptured unscathed, George is not so lucky, getting a slight clawing from the bear when both Billy and George startle the bear.

While the bear returns to captivity, the effects are felt throughout the Mottershead clan. The realisation that they need to finish soon is brought to the forefront, and they need money to finish it all off. £300 worth and the bank are not exactly ready to hand out another large loan.

p025jzjrHowever helps come in the form of the slightly eccentric Lady Daphne Goodwin (Celia Imrie) who takes a shine to squirrel monkey Mortimer (whom she refers to as Percy). George, through Lizzie’s unwitting advice, realises the potential of charity, asking for donations from the local gentry in order to get the zoo up and running. So, with the mildly tentative assistance of Lady Katherine Longmore, the Mottershead begin to set up a benefit for all the local toffs to sponsor their animals.

Yet all is not well as, not only has June become fearful of animals after seeing George’s injury, but the village under Reverend Aaron Webb and Camilla Radler are beginning to form a petition to quash any chance of the zoo achieving planning permission.

Billy and Frankie

Billy and Frankie having a bit of a chinwag

There is a fair bit going on in this episode and most, if not all characters are given the best portioned out screen time of any episode so far. Even minor characters are beginning to get their own subplots and little romances, with Billy Atkinson (Ralf Little) and Agnes “Frankie” Franklin (Faye Brookes) making scintillating conversation, involving small lies and grand phrases coming mainly from the well-versed hucksterism of Billy, but was still quite amusing to watch as it made their budding relationship seemed all the more real for it.

But romance of the episode goes to Mew and Archie. Archie, as played by Tom Hardman, has been the perfect foil to Amelia Clarkson’s Mew, humanising her character as well as giving them a storyline of at least some interest.

Challenge No 2

Challenge No. 2… not as scary as feeding bears

Archie appears to be at the beck and call of Mew, submitting to challenges that Mew suggests and, while not all are pleasant, Mew’s smile upon Archie’s completion of the not always pleasant task shows that she really cares about him. While one challenge in particular seems to be harsher than the others, their relationship seems to be moving in a way that allows you to forgive her way of proving love.

Lady Katherine Longmore (Sophia Myles) also makes a much more important appearance, lending Selbourne Hall for the Mottershead’s benefit. But not only that, with all the upper classes descending upon the hall, we see how Lady Katherine is something of an outcast within their circles. She becomes more of an interest rather than just a motivation for George to plough on with his zoo.

Also on the upper class of the episode, Celia Imrie plays a wonderful eccentric. Being all the things a widowed women can be as long as they have a stonking pile of cash, like trying to buy a squirrel monkey, running a luxurious car and dressing in finery which the cuttings would probably be worth more than George’s suit. Yet she’s so damn likable in her eccentric yet philanthropic manner that one hopes to see more of her in the future.

This episode is also a huge draw for the villains of this piece with Stephen Campbell Moore and Hayley Carmichael doing magnificent turns as the Reverend Aaron Webb and Camilla Radler respectively. While I feel Webb will get a not unfair amount vitriol directed to him, it is the vicious little pit-bull that is Camilla Radler that gets my dose of utter loathing pointed squarely against her.

Conniving Camilla

Conniving Camilla

While Campbell Moore acting has remained good in all respects, Carmichael’s brand of loathsome subversive antagonism makes you want to jump in the TV via a portal you’ve created with your own mind and throw her out of Upton for her slimy blackmailing tactics. And to inspire such seething anger, Carmichael shows her great acting abilities. And besides, in that almost clichéd phrase, everyone loves to hate a villain.

But from hate to fear, I remembered what pangs of human emotion were like as June, the life of the zoo, became fearful of animals. Honor Kneafsey’s performance is probably one of her better ones as she is not merely the happy child living in a zoological paradise, but a girl troubled by the goings on around her, by both man and beast. While her storyline is resolved a little too quickly and with too little fuss made, Kneafsey still does enough to make her performance quite noteworthy.

Your average County House affair.

Your average County House affair.

But it is not just about the young cast members, but also the more mature, to phrase it finely. Anne Reid and Peter Wight’s performances complement each other so well, with Albert being the proud exhibitor of the many animals while Lucy attempts to charm and awe the Chester set with her culinary prowess, with varying degrees of success and lashing of class consciousness and class humour coming into the mix. They have become such a charming pair to an extent that you cannot believe that they are not paired up in real life. Every scene that they are in is one that has no blemishes in.

But last, and by no means least, comes Lizzie and George Mottershead. While Lee Ingleby’s performance of George is as delightful as ever, Liz White as Lizzie has come to an even greater prominence. While still naïve on the doings of the “good Reverend”, is still a force to be reckoned with, especially with George’s equally naïve use of Lady Katherine’s generosity and how it could be perceived. Yet her strength in standing by her friends, with one scene in particular coming to mind, against those who believe they are superior by birth made the” inner socialist”, if that’s the right phrase, in me jump for joy.

This episode has everything you want from the series and more: dramatic twists, humour, relatable characters and more. The only drawback I can see is that the next episode may not be able to live up to this, yet from the “Next Time” snippets, I have confidence that it can.

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