9 reasons to watch Peaky Blinders

Peaky Blinders is back and it’s as magnificent as ever.

Continuing two years after we last saw the Shelby family, the period gangster drama will follow Thomas and the rest of the gang as they expand onto the perilous streets of London and, as expected, things don’t run quite as smoothly as they’d hoped.

Here’s why you should tune in as the drama returns:

1. Welcome to the 1920s

The second series picks up two years since we last saw the gang and their business continues to boom. As they look to expand both their legal and illegal operations the Peaky Blinders head to London, but they aren’t welcomed upon arrival.

2. Gangster development

As the Peaky Blinders develop as a gang in series two expect lots of action and plenty of gore as they discover that as you gain more power your actions have bigger consequences (and your enemies become much more brutal).

3. What happened to Inspector Campbell and Grace?

The dramatic series one finale ended with a cliff-hanger that left viewers wondering what became of Inspector Campbell and Grace. Our questions will finally be answered as the show returns.

4. Strong female presence

Women played a key role in the first series of Peaky Blinders and they’re set to be even more prominent as the show returns.

The fantastic Helen McCrory returns as Aunt Polly who will be contending with her own problems as she faces up to issues from her past. Natasha O’Keeffe, Sophie Rundle and Aimee-Ffion Edwards are also back as Lizzie, Ada and Esme.

5. Cillian Murphy

There’s no denying that Cillian Murphy is an extraordinary actor. His portrayal of the complex anti-hero Tommy Shelby is completely compelling and he steals the show.

We can’t wait to see what he does with the character next.

6. Tom Hardy

The brilliant Tom Hardy will appear in the second series as a charismatic leader who’s set to square up against the Shelbys.

If there’s one thing we know, it’s that Tom Hardy makes a mean gangster.

7. More casting coups

Noah Taylor will play the head of an organisation that stands in the way of the Peaky Blinders while Charlotte Riley joins as an aristocrat who crosses paths with Thomas, adding to the already impressive casting line-up.

8. Sleek style

The cast all went under some big transformations to replicate the style of the Peaky Blinders. Not only do they wear suave herringbone tweed jackets and flat caps, the male members of the cast also had to have a directional haircut.

Apparently Cillian Murphy wasn’t too keen on the look, but we think he pulls it off.

9. Stylish cinematography

The show continues to be filmed on a grand scale and looks amazing on screen.

We can expect to see more large-scale sets, explosions and a fair few fights in series two.

It’s going to be amazing…

In The Club: 6 things that need to be revealed in the finale

Will Chris propose to VickyKay Mellor’s done it again. In The Club, her latest compelling drama, has hooked the nation.

The series, which follows six expectant mothers and their partners, has been captivating week upon week, but now that In The Club is reaching its conclusion, there’s still so much left to be revealed.

We’re due a Vicky-centric episode this week, which will see the midwife suffering with excruciating stomach pains, but there’s still plenty of loose ends to be tied up with the other characters as well.

Here are six things that we need to find out as drama comes to an end:

1. Will Chris propose to Vicky?

Vicky’s been not-so-subtly dropping hints to Chris that she wants to get married, but he’s made his feelings clear and, at the moment, it looks like Vicky’s going to raise her baby alone. However, as the midwife starts to have unexpected pains will Chris accept some responsibility for the child and finally propose?

2. Will Kim choose Susie or Neil?

Since getting pregnant Kim has struggled with her feelings for friend and sperm-donor Neil, much to the annoyance of her partner Susie. After Neil assisted Kim during the birth of their child she moved into his flat, but then returned to Susie at the end of last week’s episode. Things are likely to be tense as Kim continues to have conflicting feelings, but who will she choose as the series ends?

3. Will Rick go to prison?

Rick’s still not found out his sentence for robbing a bank and, as his court case looms, he’ll finally discover whether he’s being sent to prison or not. With new-born twins, two other children and their finances in a dire situation, Diane’s hoping that her husband will get a suspended sentence, but will he be that lucky?

4. Does Simon’s dad have feelings for Rosanna?

Now that Rosanna and Simon are living with his parents things have been tense to say the least. Since playing the role of Rosanna’s birthing partner Simon’s mother has been more than happy to stick her oar in but, more intriguingly, as Rosanna met Simon’s dad the pair shared a knowing look. Do they have a history together? If not, sparks were definitely present during their introduction.

5. Has Jasmin got her confidence back?

It’s fair to say that, of all of the expectant mothers attending Parent Craft, Jasmin was the most apprehensive. After last week’s paternity scandal is she feeling better about motherhood? And will her relationship with Dev remain strong following their emotional heart-to-heart?

6. Will Kim continue to support Rosie?

As Kim decided to return to Susie she left Rosie staying with Neil and Jude, but will Rosie cope without her biggest supporter so far? And how will Neil manage with his son, Rosie and his granddaughter staying under his roof? If Susie decides to support Jude and Rosie, Kim could remain an active role model for the young mother – she certainly needs one now that her father isn’t fit to care for her.

Pretty Little Liars – A Pretty Little Television Adaptation

 

Pretty Little Liars has become somewhat of a cultural phenomenon in the US. The show’s third season has just finished and is going from strength to strength with ABC picking it up for another two seasons. There’s also a spin-off show, Ravenswood, in the works.

Based on the captivating book series by Sara Shepard, the show follows four girls who are tormented by the disappearance of their best friend Alison. Aria (Lucy Hale), Emily (Shay Mitchell), Hanna (Ashley Benson) and Spencer (Troian Bellisario) are all stereotypical teenagers with different interests. The girls are fundamentally different yet pulled together by Alison, the glue of the group. They share secrets like all best friends do, but Alison seems to have dirt on everyone in town so when she disappears and is never seen again there are many suspects who could have been involved.

Alison’s disappearance causes the girls to drift apart and they believe their secrets are buried with her… until a mysterious person starts sending them intimidating messages revealing things only Alison knew, signing off the messages with “-A.” Initially the girls think Alison is still alive but when her body is found buried under the gazebo of her old house, the girls regroup to find the perpetrator.

The original book series has proved to be extremely popular, with twelve novels published as well as a companion novel. Two more books are planned for release by the end of this year.

Due to the loyal fan base of the novels, there has been a lot of controversy about the production of the television adaptation. Whilst certain elements remain the same, such as the characters names and the general plotline, some viewers have complained about more major differences. For example, some truly sinister characters in the book series have been transformed into love interests and well-received characters are still featured in the television series despite being killed off or leaving in the novels.

Whilst it’s fair that dedicated fans get frustrated about the differences in the adaptation, it’s clear to see why the production of the show doesn’t follow the same narrative as the original series. Most of the novels only span a timeline of a few days, which wouldn’t transfer easily onto a weekly television show of 20 or so episodes a series. New plotlines need to be introduced, or drawn out, to have enough material. The pilot episode, for example, was based entirely on the first book. If the show continued at this pace, there wouldn’t be enough material to make one series.

The show features many shocking scenes full of suspense.

The show features many shocking scenes full of suspense.

The issue with television adaptation is that suspense needs to be built in every episode, which usually only focuses on a few plot points. In the case of Pretty Little Liars, with four main characters, it is essential to address a number of different plotlines in each episode. Due to the amount of content that needs to be addressed, fans often become frustrated when questions remain unanswered and sub-plots are forgotten about.

Marlene King, the executive producer for the show, constantly comes under fire on social networking websites for the show’s direction. Fans either criticise her for digressing away from the books or for leaving too many unanswered questions. But that’s surely what good television is all about – Intrigue, suspense, shocks and debate.

Fidelity to the source text is important to some extent, but with television adaptations, you never know how long the show is going to run for. To remain popular, producers will respond to what audiences want.

It can be frustrating as a viewer when questions remain unanswered and characters disappear for a number of episodes and it can be annoying when promos are edited to suggest viewers will receive answers when they don’t – but is fidelity in adaptation as important when it comes to television?

With Pretty Little Liars’ incredible fan base, and the go-ahead for at least two more seasons, it’s likely that producers will be able to plan ahead for what needs to be revealed and when. They have many hours of content they need to fill with plots so it is clear they will need to bring in new ideas rather than remaining entirely faithful to the books.

After all, if the show followed the exact plot of the book series surely we’d all be passive viewers, never excited about character developments and never intrigued about what would be happening in the next episode. It’s far more exciting to be an active viewer, continually being shocked by characters and wondering what will be revealed next. Pretty Little Liars is, in my opinion, a great example of how adaptation should be done for a continuing series.

What is your opinion on adaptation for television? Is fidelity less important for a continuing series?

 

Preview: Gavin and Stacey’s US Remake – Us and Them

Cast of 'Us and Them' [Image: Independent]

Cast of ‘Us and Them’ [Image: Independent]

The pilot of the American Gavin and Stacey adaptation, Us and Them, has officially been picked up by Fox TV.

I previously wrote about the remake, originally under the working title of Friends and Family, over on Yuppee Magazine but the trailer for the pilot has finally arrived:

Some things are clear from the trailer, there are new jokes but the general plot remains the same – a pair of young lovers start a relationship whilst dealing with their eccentric families. Gavin (Jason Ritter) is now a city slicker from New York and Stacey (Alexis Bledel) is from small town Pennsylvania.

Whilst adaptations are always exciting to watch, part of the beauty of Gavin and Stacey was the simplicity of its scripting. Catchphrases from the show weaseled their way into common phrasing and whilst the representations of characters were stereotypical, they were always relateable.

I think the main contribution to the success of the remake in America will be how viewers warm to the characters. In the original version of the show all of the characters were likeable and hilarious so hopefully with Ruth Jones and James Corden on board as executive producers this will be the case with the remake.

I’m excited to see the show when it airs but as a huge fan of the original I can’t help but be dubious about how it will translate on American television and whether it will do the show justice. I know that this has been the general feeling amongst UK viewers (and even American fans who have watched the original series) but others have expressed their excitement on social media at seeing the show being reinvigorated, stating it will fill the void left when Gavin and Stacey finished.

What are your thoughts based on the trailer? Will it be a tidy remake or a big mistake?

Everything You Need To Know About Monsters University

Mike and Sulley return as teenagers in 'Monsters University'

Mike and Sulley return as teenagers in ‘Monsters University’

It’s hard to believe that we were first introduced to Mike and Sulley from Monsters Inc. a little over eleven years ago.

The loveable duo captivated hearts as their friendship, and careers as professional ‘Scarers’ in parallel city Montropolis, were put to the test when they accidentally let a human, Boo, through to their world. The story followed Mike and Sulley as they attempted to keep Boo secret and return her to her own world.

This Summer a prequel, Monsters University, is being released and will show Mike and Sulley during their university years and explain that, despite their closeness in Monsters Inc., they weren’t always friends. 

Here’s the low-down on what we know about the prequel so far:

It’s been a long time coming…

Plans for a second Monsters Inc. film have been in process since 2005, however, disagreements between then-Disney CEO Michael Eisner and Pixar CEO Steve Jobs caused issues. Changes in management at Disney and renewed negotiations led to the confirmation of a Pixar-made film in 2012.

In a screenshot from the film we see villain Randall is featured in the film. [Image courtesy of www.filmofilia.com]

In a screenshot from the film we see villain Randall. [Image courtesy of http://www.filmofilia.com]

Many of the characters from Monsters Inc. will be returning…

John Goodman (Sulley), Billy Crystal (Mike), Steve Buscemi (Randall), Jennifer Tilly (Celia), Frank Oz (Jeff Fungus) and John Ratzenberger (the Abominable Snowman) are all reprising their roles for the sequel. Kelsey Grammer will replace James Coburn as Henry J. Waternoose III following Coburn’s death in 2002. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Boo will be returning.

New additions to the cast include Ken Jeong as a character named Mack, Rob Riggle as a character named Jenny and national treasure Helen Mirren will appear as head of the school Dean Hardscrabble.

You can enroll too…

In order to prepare for the film release, Pixar have revealed a fully functional website for Monsters University

The website is presented as the university’s own and includes admission information, campus news and a store where you can buy merchandise.

Here are some of my favourite elements of the website:

The website features many humorous articles including "Excel at the Art of Extreme Creepiness"

The website features many humorous articles including “Excel in the Art of Extreme Creepiness”

Comments by “students” are the kind of sickingly sweet quotes found in actual university prospectuses

A short film will be released alongside it…

As is the case with it’s predecessor, Monsters University has a short attached to it for it’s theatrical release. The short in question is The Blue Umbrella, directed by Saschka Unseld and produced by Marc Greenberg.

According to The Big Cartoon Database, the synopsis is as follows:

Amidst the rain in a singing city, two umbrellas– one blue, one red– fall eternally in love. The blue umbrella notices and takes a shine to the red umbrella. Distance and natural forces halt their attraction, but objects on the street- such as construction signs and a mailbox- come to life to help bring them together again.

The film will be featured in Disney Infinity…

If you’ve yet to hear about Disney Infinityit is the upcoming video game that uses collectable figurines of Disney characters that are then virtualised into the game. These virtual characters are then available to interact with in the game.

Monsters University will be one of the worlds in the game and Sulley, Mike and the Abominable Snowman will all be featured characters. The game will see these characters interact with other Disney elements and although marketed for kids, I can’t wait to hear more information about it. Check out some screenshots below:

Sulley and Mike appear in their Disney Infinity set

Sulley and Mike appear in their Disney Infinity set

Mike and Sulley will also play alongside other famous Disney characters

Mike and Sulley will also play alongside other famous Disney characters

The UK will need to wait until 12th July to see it…

Whilst Monsters University is set to be released on the 20th/21st June in most countries, us poor Brits will have to wait a few more weeks to see the film. (Click here to see the scheduled release dates).

Until then, enjoy these trailers!!

Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower – From Page to Screen

The Perks of Being a WallflowerThis feature contains some brief spoilers from both the book and the film adaptation of ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower was a huge success when released in the cinema last year. It is no surprise that the screenplay is faithful to the book, as both were written by incredible writer Stephen Chbosky.

Although an over-used phrase, the book is truly a coming-of-age story that focuses heavily on the disillusionment so frequently felt by teenagers. The plot revolves around Charlie, an apprehensive freshman starting the new school year. He has communication issues and struggles to connect with people following the suicide of his best friend, Michael, the year before the novel begins.

Charlie initially struggles to connect with his family and explains that the only family member he has ever felt close to was his aunt Helen, who died when he was younger.

I read the book for the first time last year when the film was announced and was so captivated by Chbosky’s writing style that I managed to read the whole thing in a day. It’s uniquely written through a series of letters to an undisclosed person meaning that Charlie’s first-person narrative is honest and he doesn’t hold back. As the novel is written in this way, it is so easy to find yourself empathising with Charlie.

There are many themes to the novel, from abusive relationships and sexuality to drugs and adolescence. However, I felt the main theme was loss. Charlie is not only suffering from the loss of his best friend, but also the loss of his youth and, as the novel goes on, his innocence.

Throughout the story, we see Charlie befriend the eccentric Patrick and Sam and adapt to his new, more social, life. Patrick is openly gay and secretly dating popular quarterback, Brad. Sam is his step-sister and has a troubled past, Charlie is immediately besotted with her, but feels he isn’t good enough to do anything about it.

Initially, Charlie is heavily juxtaposed to Patrick. Patrick is over-the-top and obnoxiously loud to teachers whereas Charlie doesn’t have the confidence to participate in classes. As the plot develops and Charlie feels more comfortable with his new friends he gains more confidence and feels free to voice his true opinions.

The novel features many great quotes

The film adaptation of the novel has been a long time coming. The novel was first published in 1999 and has gained a cult following since. It is considered a modern classic by many and features some amazing quotes, including one of my personal favourites “we accept the love we think we deserve”.

The film is extremely faithful to the original novel, which I feel is because Chbosky adapted the script himself. Chbosky has stated in the past that the novel is semi-autobiographical and he can relate to Charlie which may play a part in why the characters do not digress from their original representations.

Usually I find film adaptations don’t live up to the novels they are based on and whilst I still think in this case the novel is better than the film, there isn’t much in it at all.

I think one strength of the film adaptation is that the characters are established much quicker than in the book. When initially reading about Patrick and Sam, I wasn’t sure what kind of people they were as I was only finding out about them at the same speed as Charlie, but as soon as you see the pair on-screen, you understand they are eccentric outcasts.

Logan Lerman is fabulous as wallflower Charlie, especially during party scenes, where he portrays Charlie’s naivety brilliantly. One stand out scene is when Charlie has started dating one of Sam’s friends Mary-Elizabeth. During a game of Truth of Dare? Charlie is dared to kiss the prettiest girl in the room, but instead of choosing Mary-Elizabeth, he chooses Sam. Lerman’s performance when he realises the mistake he has made is great, as Charlie is slowly seeing himself turn back into a recluse as his friends stay away from him.

Emma Watson is also surprisingly good as Sam in the film. Although at times her American accent leaves a lot to be desired, her performance is much better than that in any of the Harry Potter films and after seeing the film, I believe she has the potential to continue as a successful actress for a very long time.

However, it is Ezra Miller’s portrayal of Patrick which is truly exceptional. He is able to go from over-the-top clown to emotionally vulnerable in a matter of seconds and you understand why the character is able to draw so many people in. One outstanding scene is when he is confronting Brad about their affair in front of his friends. The dispute turns violent and Patrick completely breaks down. It is no surprise that Miller received a number of accolades for the role.

The production of the film is also well done. Music is a big part of the book and this is conveyed on-screen as the film has an excellent soundtrack. Additionally the editing is extremely clever, with many sound bridges used for transitions, particularly as Charlie recollects about his past. This allows the audience to see the links he makes in order to remember these events.

My only issue with the film itself is that I think it hints too heavily at the films climatic twist, something which was quite shocking and unexpected in the book. However, I often find this to be the case with adaptations.

Overall, I would highly recommend both the novel and the film, but would suggest reading the book first in order to fully embrace and understand Charlie as a character.

 

The Best of ‘Gavin and Stacey’

Gavin and Stacey

L-R: Rob Brydon, Melanie Walters, Ruth Jones, Joanna Page, Mathew Horne, James Corden, Alison Steadman and Larry Lamb

Be warned, this post contains spoilers from the show ‘Gavin and Stacey’

Gavin and Stacey was a huge hit when it started back in 2007 and marked a new era in UK comedy. The show, written by James Corden and Ruth Jones, was critically acclaimed and a commercial success.

The show told the story of the romance between Gavin (Mathew Horne), from Billericay, Essex and Stacey (Joanna Page), from Barry, Wales. It follows key moments in their relationship, from their first meeting to getting married and starting a family.

Their relationship is heavily contrasted to their best friends Smithy (James Corden) and Nessa (Ruth Jones) who end up having  a child together, despite hating each other.

Other characters include Gavin’s mum, Pam (Alison Steadman) and dad, Mick (Larry Lamb), Stacey’s mum, Gwen (Melanie Walters) and Uncle Bryn (Rob Brydon).

With the recent announcement that the show was to be remade for American television, re-titled Friends and Family, I couldn’t resist looking back at some of the best moments of the series.

Gavin meets Gwen and Bryn for the first time

After a miscommunication with Stacey, Gavin travels down to Wales to make things right. He is met by Gwen and Bryn who assume he is a Jehovah’s Witness and don’t let him get a word in edgeways.

 

Smithy’s Best Man Speech

Smithy spends the majority of the episode telling anyone who will listen he’s written an amazing speech. Having heard Gavin’s emotional declaration of love to Stacey, Smithy is too overwhelmed to talk. The speech is featured in the book From Barry to Billericay… and it is indeed a corker.

 

Mick’s going to be on the telly!

The gang are all excited because Mick is going to appear on the news. They are all cheering for the new “local celebrity”, despite the fact it is because he found a dead body. Bryn even describes the moment as the best day of his life… until the report comes around and Mick is only seen saying “well it’s the last thing you expect to find when you come into work in the morning”.

Mick Gavin and Stacey

 

The Barn Dance

Bryn decides to organise a Barn Dance for Gwen’s birthday and invites all of the gang along. He is surprised to find Gwen doesn’t have that many friends and ends up inviting people he knows she doesn’t even like. Bryn and Nessa put on a surprise performance of Islands in the Stream before being interrupted by Stacey’s brother Jason, who has a strained relationship with Bryn due to an undisclosed event that took place at a fishing trip.

 

Oh Doris, Where’s the Salad?

Gwen’s next door neighbour Doris was an absolute scene stealer. She had many standout moments, from flirting with Gavin, taking home toyboys (including Noel from Hearsay) and singing along to The Smiths. Her best, and arguably most iconic moment came in series 3, when she was tasked with making a salad for baby Neil’s christening party.

 

The House of Fun

The gang have a drunken night at Pam and Mick’s house which is just hilarious. There are so many things that make this clip amazing – Dawn falling over, Pete’s general drunkenness, Smithy’s reaction to Pam smoking, Mick coughing and Gavin then imitating him, Pam suggesting shots, the conga line and Nessa and Mick swapping tops. It almost makes you want to get drunk with your parents…

 

Pete and Dawn renew their Wedding Vows

Pete and Dawn decide to use song lyrics as their vows – they decide to recite Coldplay’s Fix You and Michael Jackson’s Ben. Pete is having trouble reciting the lyrics without elongating them as if he was singing the song and Smithy takes his job of giving Dawn away a little too seriously. If you can find them, the outtakes from this scene are hilarious.

 

Nessa’s Wedding

As you can probably guess, Nessa’s wedding day was as far from traditional as you could imagine. There was no white dress, she wore the boots she wears everyday and she traveled to the church with Stacey in a trailer attached to her dad’s car. The episode saw cameos from Noel from Hearsay and John Prescott, who had previously been alluded to being one of Nessa’s past lovers.

There are so many great moments in the show, I could probably list 20 more easily! What are some of your favourite scenes?