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365Flicks (235 KP) rated V.S. (2019) in Movies

Nov 20, 2019  
V.S. (2019)
V.S. (2019)
2019 |
8.0 (1 Ratings)
Movie Rating
That is the synopsis for VS. on the IMDB. I am here to tell you that this movie is so so much more than this. This is one of the most powerful, thought provoking, superbly acted, respectfully told and emotionally driven movies I personally have had the pleasure of seeing in quite some time. I will get into the plot and subject matter now in a minute, but up front I would like to admit that this movie spoke to my heart and broke through a wall I didn’t think needed broken through. Yes a low budget independent movie from a debut director about the underground battle rap scene in Britain reduced this 34 year old man to being about 10 again (and not in a Jurassic park seeing dinosaurs on screen for the first time nostalgia kind of way).

Ed Lilly (debut feature film)

Connor Swindells (The Vanishing, Netflixs Sex Education) Adam ‘Shotty Horroh’ Rooney
Fola Evans-Akingbola (Game of Thrones, Death in Paradise) Nicholas Pinnock (Fortitude, Marcella)
Ruth Sheen (Another Year, Vera Drake) Emily Taaffe (War & Peace)

First time Director Ed Lilly has put together an amazing group of young and fresh, up and coming stars and crafted a truly beautiful, gritty and raw tale of one mans use of the lyrical poetry that is Battle rap to simultaneously mask his pain and anger while working through his inner demons, only to discover a true family and camaraderie in the last place he expected. That’s just whats on the surface. Here is the trailer…


Adam has spent a life in the foster care system and it hasn’t been great to him, passed from home to home and never truly settling in wherever he is. His next stop is Southend and this could be the last chance saloon for Adam. Enter Makayla a young idealistic woman trying to make the best of it. Adam instantly takes a liking to Makayla as she introduces him to the underground Rap Battle scene. While Makayla sees this outlet as a way of making a better more tolerable life for herself and the colourful competitors, Adam sees a place he can truly let his hurt, pain and rage flow. While Adam proves to be a rising talent on the scene he is also dealing with the re-introduction to the woman who gave him away aged four… Both of Adams worlds are on a collision course and we are about to find out the type of man he wants to be.

Out Now
VOD 4th Feb. 2019
DVD 11th Feb. 2019
It is very easy to say that this is trying to be the Brit equivalent of 8-Mile (and people have been) but while I love that movie it can only wish to have the heart of Vs. I do love the rap battle sequences and having Shotty Horroh (legend on the UK Rap Battle scene, Youtube him for an education) in the movie really adds to the sense of them trying to portray this life properly. However this movie lives and breathes with the Outstandingly raw and real performances from the core cast.

Connor Swindells as Adam is unbelievable. A true revelation, A 10 out of 10 performance. Now I have to put it out there and be honest, I myself grew up in the system and while I didn’t exactly have the worst time of it I can absolutely relate to the portrayal put in by Connor. This is also a testament to the writing team of Director Ed Lilly and Daniel Hayes, they hit the nail on the head completely, The writing is so visceral that one scene in particular was a gut punch to this reviewer because I had legitimately lived the conversation and Connors performance in that scene is on another level (no spoilers but its the first real conversation he has with his mum). Swindells makes this movie an intense but rewarding journey to be part of.

Fola Evans-Akingbola is wonderful as Makayla and really holds the key to this movie. Most of the choices made by Adam revolve around her actions, while we are more focused on what is happening in his life Akingbola pushes her performance forward to show us she also is struggling through. Nicholas Pinnock, Ruth Sheen and Emily Taaffe round out the care system aspect of the movie as Adams care worker, foster carer and biological mum respectively. These sections of the movie are dealt with a great deal of attention and respect which was refreshing because here in the UK we tend to be very harsh on the system (especially in the media) but this movie shows both sides of the story. Then there is the scene I briefly spoke of earlier… Emily Taaffe, take a bow because damn you are incredible in this scene.

On the Rap Battle side of things we have massively talented Adam “Shotty Horroh” Rooney in his acting debut, I will admit when I first saw him I was dubious but he is essentially playing a version of himself and the moments that he gets to do something other than rap well he holds his own. The same can be said about MC Paige “Paigey Cakes” Meade as Miss Quotes to be fair though this isn’t her first time.

Okay then I guess its no surprise to anyone by now that I would hugely recommend this movie. I went in expecting to see 8-Mile or Bodied set in the UK but what followed was a story I just did not expect, performances that blew me away. Then again though I am a bit of sissy when movies hit me where I live. Is it perfect? Not at all what film is but hey its pretty damn close. See this movie soon as you can.

Hadley (567 KP) rated Frankenstein in Books

Apr 30, 2019  
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley | 2016 | Fiction & Poetry
7.7 (28 Ratings)
Book Rating
Great main character (1 more)
Beautiful writing
Over usage of some words (1 more)
Secondary characters have hardly a back story
In the horror genre, I have very few favorite female writers, but Mary Shelley is one of them. The way she weaves environments with character defining scenes is beautifully done in 'Frankenstein.' At the tender age of 18, Shelley was able to convey grief and loss through a single story. She created a relatable 'creature' that many readers will have pity for, but also an obsessive young man that can hardly be hated. Some people may be intimidated by the more diverse English language from the early 1800's, but, in my opinion, the story would not have had the same impact if it had been written today.

Not just horror readers will enjoy 'Frankenstein,' but also those who like to read philosophy. Shelley brings up life discerning questions that even society meddles with today. It's amazing to think that a two century old book discusses problems we still deal with.

The book begins with a sea captain that picks up a stranger that was stranded on a raft of ice, and this man has a fascinating story to tell. The entire book is a letter written by the sea captain to his sister, which he details every bit of Victor Frankenstein's several year tale. Readers get to follow Frankenstein's life from the moment his 'creature' is made to the end of his days, which traverses the globe. When Shelley begins to lull over her love of environments, she quickly picks up with character or story development that keeps our attention from wandering.

'Frankenstein' focuses on the need to be loved and accepted to live a happy existence,as well as reaching our dreams, but Shelley shows how achieving such things can cause a crushing defeat in the latter pursuit: "Night was far advanced when I came to the halfway resting-place, and seated myself beside the fountain. The stars shone at intervals, as the clouds passed from over them; the dark pines rose before me, and every here and there a broken tree lay on the ground: it was a scene of wonderful solemnity, and stirred strange thoughts within me. I wept bitterly; and clasping my hands in agony, I exclaimed, 'Oh! stars, and clouds, and winds, ye are all about to mock me: if ye really pity me, crush sensation and memory; let me become as nought; but if not, depart, depart, and leave me in darkness.' "

There are other characters we read of, including Frankenstein's best friend, Henry, and his long time love interest, Elizabeth (both of who grew up with Frankenstein). Henry comes from a well-to-do merchant family, while Elizabeth was orphaned from a wealthy family, then adopted by the Frankensteins as a future wife for Victor. Unfortunately, we learn little about them or Victor's family, that when any of them do die, it's not felt personally by the reader. There are other characters that had major events in the story, but as with the friends, they weren't developed enough to bring up any emotion at their passing.

After Frankenstein sets out after his creation,we meet the 'creature' at the top of a mountain. He is devastated that his creator hates him, and that the other humans he has met also hated him. "I expected this reception,' said the demon. 'All men hate the wretched; how, then, must I be hated, who am miserable beyond all living things! Yet you, my creator, detest and spurn me, thy creature, to whom thou art bound by ties only dissoluble by the annihilation of one of us. You purpose to kill me. How dare you sport thus with life? Do your duty towards me, and I will do mine towards you and the rest of mankind. If you will comply with my conditions, I will leave them and you at peace; but if you refuse, I will glut the maw of death, until it be satiated with the blood of your remaining friends.' "

The 'creature' gives Frankenstein an ultimatum: he either makes him a female companion or he will kill everyone Frankenstein loves and adores." 'What I ask of you is reasonable and moderate; I demand a creature of another sex, but as hideous as myself; the gratification is small, but it is all that I can receive,and it shall content me.' " Although, by this time, the 'creature' has already murdered Frankenstein's youngest brother, Victor agrees to make him a companion, but with serious regret soon after.

The majority of the story concerns Frankenstein trying fool-hardly to protect all those he loves while the 'creature' murders them one by one. The most surprising of the murders is Henry's. After Frankenstein changes his mind on making another creation, the 'creature' quickly finds Henry and kills him, but Frankenstein is accused of the murder and spends quite some time in prison for it. "But I was doomed to live; and, in two months, found myself as awaking from a dream, in a prison, stretched on a wretched bed, surrounded by gaolers, turnkeys, bolts, and all the miserable apparatus of a dungeon. "

Frankenstein is eventually released from prison when the evidence doesn't add up, and witnesses come forward, claiming to have seen Victor elsewhere at the time of the murder. Frankenstein is, at this time, in a drowning melancholy and madness, but this doesn't stop him from marrying Elizabeth. The 'creature' foretold Frankenstein that he would be with him on his wedding night, and Victor uses this to his advantage - arming himself with pistols and knives on the honeymoon. Yet, to no avail, Frankenstein is unable to outlive or outsmart the 'creature' at any turn.

'Frankenstein' is a must-read for all readers. Although many horror stories today pertain to a creature killing it's master, none of them can reach the grief stricken peaks as Shelley has. Every passage in this book reads like poetry. Every interaction between Frankenstein and his 'creature' is fascinating to the reader. And, before Frankenstein dies, he leaves the sea captain with words of wisdom that even readers could benefit from: "Seek happiness in tranquillity and avoid ambition, even if it be only the apparently innocent one of distinguishing yourself in science and discoveries."

Highly recommend!
Tales from the Loop
Tales from the Loop
2020 | Sci-Fi
7.0 (4 Ratings)
TV Show Rating
Such is the competition for our attention on the major streaming services, and such is the daunting depth of choice, that sometimes something of real quality can slip through the net for a while. I like to think that eventually, everything gets the audience it deserves, because eventually enough people that appreciated it will find it and pass it on. But it is apparent that good things can go under the radar very easily for one reason or another.

Everything about the production and presentation of Amazon’s Tales From the Loop suggests they thought it might be a bigger hit, or at least they had enough faith in it to let it be different from the mass appeal conventions that apply to sci-fi shows. They have proved this many times in recent years, with shows like The Man In the High Castle and The Expanse favouring patient and mature story-telling over interminable flashbangs and whizzpops usually found in the more action based sci-fi on Netflix and others (The Handmaid’s Tale being another notable exception).

Having raised myself auto-didactically on the oldest traditions of science fiction writing in novel and short story form since my teenage years, I can say with some amateur authority that the point of using sci-fi ideas was always about the people and the parallels to social reality and politics that could be highlighted by putting them in a “what-if” situation. The lazer guns and spaceships and evil aliens were much more a product of Hollywood, and still are. Great science fiction writing can and usually does revolve around a very simple change to the world we know, an inversion or a convention or a technology that turns how we live on its head. At its best it is philosophical and moral poetry.

Tales From the Loop, inspired by the beguiling paintings of Swedish Artist Simon Stålenhag aspires to return to these principles, eschewing breakneck pace and unnecessary exposition at every turn – it is entirely content to confuse and sometimes even bore you with its patient, melancholy approach, testing almost if you are worthy to reach the prize of deeper meaning buried away in the final few episodes.

The idea of Stålenhag’s work is to juxtapose a familiar and mundane landscape with a detail of technology that does not exist in our reality. Often it is something broken, run-down or neglected, leaving a strange sadness and beauty behind that has you wondering who once made this and what was it for, and why is it no longer loved? The untold stories objects and hidden lives, secrets and desires that have been lost, is what this sensitive and delicate show is about. It is about the interconnection of lives caught in time, and the sci-fi / tech conceit is only the hanger that coat is put on. Which… I love.

The surface idea is that we are looking at the inhabitants of a small American town that once relied on farming and community, but now has been changed by the presence of an underground facility that deals with experimental physics and finding ways to make impossible things possible. They call it The Loop. It is never fully explained where it came from, or why, or what it is truly capable of – the mystery is always allowed to remain mostly a mystery – which, again, I love!

Many people in the town work at The Loop and rely on it for their livelihoods and collective economy, including Jonathon Pryce and Rebecca Hall, who are ostensibly the show’s main characters. But most folk have no idea what is really going on. Each episode focuses on one or two members of the community that interweave with one another; several important people begin as background dressing and become more prevalent as the full story of their lives and connections unfolds. But no one character is in every episode… which, you know, I love.

Their lives, that seem simple at first glance, are revealed to be complex tapestries of emotion and personal history, revolving around how The Loop has affected them and the things they love. The progression and unfolding of the detail is so deliberate and usually under-explained that very often you don’t realise the effect the full image will have. And when it does catch up with you it becomes a very moving and meaningful experience. Characters that you don’t understand or even like at first come into sharper focus as we reach the climax of the season and grow to learn why they are the way they are. The story arcs of Pryce and Hall in particular are very satisfying, tragic yet utterly beautiful to comprehend.

A lot of the criticism you will see about the show will concentrate on how slow it all is. I am totally convinced this is a deliberate artistic choice to weed out the thrill junkies. They are very welcome to go elsewhere, and it sounds as if many of them did, basing their reviews on one or two half watched episodes they couldn’t be bothered to engage with or wonder at. Which is why I think in time the respect for this as a work of art will come back around.

There is nothing to fault in the production at all. From the opening credits to the end of each episode, what you get is a very highly polished and considered look and feel, designed to evoke certain feelings over others – a wistfulness, an ennui, a bittersweet smile of knowing, perhaps. It invites you to watch patiently and relate, not to watch eagerly and expect… which, you know, I love.

The photography is crisp and well framed always; the music is subtle but effective; the dialogue is often sparing and well chosen (no detail is merely thrown away); and the direction is of a remarkably uniform vision, considering each episode is a different guest professional, including such prestigious names as Jodie Foster, Mark Romanek and Andrew Stanton.

I absolutely urge anyone that isn’t put off by a little sentiment to give this one a try. Sadness and regret in life is not something to shun and be afraid of, they are parts of human experience, and I love art that explores them as concepts. Put that art in a science fiction context and I am bound to love it even more. Like the final moments of Blade Runner, we know that one day all these moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. We have to take time to see the beauty while we can, even if that beauty is painful.

It may not be for you – I don’t think it is better or worse than other things, just more… me. There is every chance that if it isn’t you… you will hate it. If you do begin, however, please see it to the finish before casting judgement – the final episode directed by Jodie Foster is truly wonderful: a pay-off of such emotion after your investment of seven previous stories, tying it all together perfectly. Rarely have I felt so stupid for not understanding the point of something sooner, or been more pleased that I hadn’t. The final moment of the season is literally unforgettable, and gets richer in my imagination by the day.

Will there be a second season? There certainly could be. Was it enough of a success to justify the investment? Hmm, not sure. Either way, it either sits as a perfect self contained collection of fine, old-fashioned sci-fi stories, or I’d be happy to see it expand, as long as the temptation isn’t to listen to the negative reviews and pander to the fast-food mentality that has already rejected it without fully understanding it. Because nothing needs to change here. A thing of beauty, recommended to those who like beautiful and delicate things.