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Danny Franks

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  1. I played The Witcher 2 and 3. The second game was very good, but rather unfocused in its narrative, and the in media res start really leaves you struggling to figure out what's going on. Coming into the series from that point meant that I considered Triss to be the primary love interest and integral ally to Geralt. She also quickly became my favourite character, so I really wasn't keen on Yennefer suddenly being thrust to the fore in The Witcher 3. It helped that Yennefer is generally unlikeable and cold for about ninety percent of the time, and that you get to make a choice regarding the djinn subplot as to whether Geralt's feelings for her are real or not. Suffice to say, I made sure that I ticked all the boxes that allowed me to choose Triss as the 'winning' love interest. Regarding the infamous 'Roach on the roof' meme, I don't think I ever saw it when I was playing. It was a pretty polished game, with few of the glitches some other big titles can have, which was very impressive given the sheer size of it.
  2. It's a great movie, with a wonderful soundtrack, but I think the only thing that would save it for a modern audience would be that it was based on a book. However, I did appreciate that it's Chingachgook, not Hawkeye, who is the titular last of his people. People often make the assumption that Daniel Day Lewis is playing the title character, just like many assume that Tom Cruise is in The Last Samurai.
  3. Isn't that the case with every Hitchcock hero/heroine combination? I don't know whether it was the general vogue of cinema in the 50s to make the men condescendingly dismissive and patronising of the women they're supposed to love, or whether it was Hitchcock's particular hang-up.
  4. Okay, so I just said that that Emily the English teacher is great, then they show that she's having thoroughly unsatisfying sex with the beardy teacher who seems to be inadequate in every possible way. Narratively, it doesn't work. She's been written as a serious and inspiring mentor, and he's been written as a punchline. I'm not interested in Adam's storyline. There was nothing likeable about him in the first season, even when it turned out he was a thuggish bully because he was embarrassed about possibly being gay. I'm not going to feel remotely sorry for him, and I do not want the stuff between him and Eric being pushed as romantic. It was abusive. I find it funny that Eric is so extroverted and confident, but when a guy actually likes him, he seems to be utterly clueless about it. Come on, dude, Rahim quoted Pablo Neruda to you! Yeah, Maeve is completely smitten, and Emma Mackey is definitely selling it. I like that she's got a real friend now, in Aimee. And that Aimee is still with the apparently incredibly smart Top Heavy Steve. "I think I'm gonna stick with baker. I do really like toast." But it looks like Maeve's journey this season will be about finding confidence in herself, learning to accept that she's very intelligent and actually deserves to succeed. Lily cutting through all the BS and just telling Otis, "you're bad at fingering" was brilliant. And then she absolutely skewers Jackson - "but you're acting all the time." I'm glad they realised how great she was in season one, to increase her role in the show.
  5. Hey, Otis? Word of advice - wear tighter, more restrictive underwear so that your inconvenient erections aren't immediately obvious to everyone. Also, if he keeps up like he is doing, the damned thing is going to come off in his hand! I love how this show continues to set its stall out right at the start. Forgot what you were watching? Here's a montage of our lead character wanking in ever more unsuitable places over ever more unsuitable things. Gillian Anderson's face when she realised what he was doing was amazing. I love how extra everyone looks. Clothing, colours, hairstyles, it's all practically scifi. Then there's Otis in the same, washed out colours he wore in the first season. I missed all these characters. Eric is such a pure soul, and I loved him pushing Otis to do the right thing and give sex advice again. And the unbridled joy he takes from Otis's boners was great. Maeve looked terrible but also still hot (because she can't not look hot) in that fast food uniform. I thought she looked great with the dark hair, and I think that's Emma Mackey's natural colour. Her face is so expressive, it's hard to believe even Otis wouldn't realise she's got it bad for him. Then again, maybe he's just so flustered by her all the time that he can't see it. They're both playing a dangerous game, thinking they can work together again. Her mother is awful, and I hate this storyline already. Deadbeat TV parents don't come good and actually make amends, they just hurt their kids even more. But her English teacher is still great. I laughed out loud at: "You should wash your hands, you dirty pig!" "I didn't do a poo!" The actor looks like a budget version of Adam Driver.
  6. All the women were more interesting than T'Challa. Give me a Nakia movie, and I'd be very happy. But I agree with those who suggest that this 'rumour' has its roots in alt right trolls like those who still try to insist that Captain Marvel was a failure.
  7. Well, I didn't know I could hold my breath for two hours. That was amazing. So packed with tension and suspense that I genuinely could not relax for a moment. The opening is the opposite of Saving Private Ryan - there is no adrenaline packed, visceral assault on determined defenders, no wondering at the intensity of the action. It's all suspense. From the moment Blake and Schofield enter the trenches on their mission to the moment they emerge into the abandoned German artillery batteries, the screw just tightened more and more. There isn't a sound louder than a man shouting for about thirty minutes, and when that quiet is broken, it's by a rat. But still, Mendes created the most immersive, complete and unflinching look at the First World War trenches that I've ever seen in a fictional movie. The mud, the craters, the bodies that you just can't avoid, the rats and the alien waste of no man's land. My abiding image of First World War trenches was forged by Joe Colquhoun's artwork on Charley's War, and this movie matched it perfectly. I knew the conceit of the movie was that it would be a prolonged tracking shot, for the entire run time, albeit with one very obvious and deliberate cut, and a bunch of hidden ones. I didn't know how well that would work, but it was amazing. It helped sustain that tension and sense of dread. The amount of coordination and preparation that must have gone into those long, tracking shots, with hundreds of extras, must have been insane. George MacKay deserves so many plaudits for carrying this movie from the opening shot all the way to its final moments. A brilliant performance, which was resolutely stoic and unshowy, and probably won't get any awards recognition. But this movie absolutely does deserve awards. It's the best made film I've seen in a long time - I was wowed both by how technically impressive and precise it was, and also by the visuals and the story being told. I liked the peppering of known faces, in amongst all the faceless soldiers. Big names who would never normally take a role with just a couple of lines. And yes, it's great that we've got a first rate movie about the often neglected First World War, just as it passes out of living memory, based on the stories an actual veteran told his grandson. It was horrific and stupid and it should be remembered as vividly as possible, for the horror and the stupidity, but also for the heroism of ordinary men.
  8. He's probably the second best Sheriff of Nottingham we've had on screen, after Alan Rickman's wonderfully absurd pantomime villain. It's not just his attitude that is infuriating, it's that folksy, 'aw shucks' voice that sounded like a thousand cantankerous-but-honest old cowboys in 1950s movies. His motivations, from what I know, weren't dissimilar to the Disney version. He was greedy and venal, and had so many insecurity issues as the last of five sons, and clearly the least of them. I've read a few great book versions of him, but one of my favourite was in Elizabeth Chadwick's books about William Marshal. We only ever really see John framed as the imposter trying to steal his brother's throne (not that Richard was any good as a king either), when most of his true villainy came after he held the throne in his own right - Having Arthur of Brittany murdered, losing most of the lands his father had painstakingly carved into an empire, imposing ever more demanding taxes on his nobles, then stripping many of their lands on false charges. He was even excommunicated from the Catholic Church in a dispute over his wish to grant the archbishopric of Canterbury to one of his supporters.
  9. That's why I see our cluster as being much bigger than just eight people. Of course, they had Amanita from the start, and I'm sure they'd all consider her the ninth member - I still wish we'd seen some scenes with her and other people in the cluster, and I like the beat where she, Dani and Hernando went out to get breakfast, because they were surely all gossiping about how crazy the whole thing was - but everyone who finds out accepts it. Diego is most resistant, and understandably so, because it's Riley telling him and he has no idea who she is. But when Will proves that it's real, he quickly accepts it. I did like Rajan's reasoning - 'you're not insane, and all of those people in the other room don't seem insane, so I would be foolish to dismiss what you're telling me.' I don't know if the Wachowskis were making a generational observation, with all the trusted and understanding people being in their mid-to-late twenties while the older characters are either in the dark or sceptical of the whole thing. There's definitely an analogue there in how younger generations are more accepting of other people, particularly LGBTQ people. Anyway, by the end the cluster is what, sixteen people? That's how many are involved in the raid on the building where Lila's cluster are, I think, and even those who aren't Homo Sensorium seem to be firm friends already. Then you have Puck and the ridiculously attractive woman from his cluster helping out too. I think that's something that the show should always be remembered for. I've said in the past that Sense8 really got me to think about issues that I always casually agreed with but wasn't too invested in - LGBTQ issues around acceptance and equality, and in particular the ability to see trans people for who they are. It's easy to be prejudiced because you don't understand and you haven't lived that experience. Is it going to change the minds of anyone who is staunchly homophobic, transphobic or racist? No, probably not, because they probably stopped watching as soon as that rainbow dildo hit the floor. But Sense8 makes you want to be a better person, and there aren't too many shows on TV that can claim that.
  10. So sad to hear about Terry Jones. I knew he was unwell, and obviously he was getting up there in years, but he was such a gentle and erudite force of nature, it's hard to believe he's gone. I've been reminded of some of the great moments of comedy he was responsible for - characters like Brian's mother, Sir Bedevere (the whole witch scene is one of my favourite comedy bits ever), Mr. Creosote - as well as his historical TV programmes. The Crusades taught me a hell of a lot, when I watched the series as a young lad. Michael Palin is my favourite Python, and when he dies I'll truly be crushed, but Terry was a close second. They both always seem like such nice, kind gentleman, completely unaffected by their achievements and their fame. Palin talked about Terry's condition just a few weeks ago, and it sounds awful: It's so cruel when someone who had such a wonderful mind begins to lose it.
  11. I was kind of excited to see a new med student, when the season 5 opener started. She wasn't really likeable, but let's give her a chance. Then we got beardy Carter moping that Anna left because " there was this ex..." and Lucy looking sort of pityingly at him. She was an early example of the ER writers trying way too hard to force a character. I guess she foreshadowed the way the likes of Abby and Sam would be imposed on the viewers, whether we liked it or not. Then she was almost immediately incompetent and unwilling to learn, hiding the fact she couldn't do procedures, but still found a way to blame Carter for being a bad teacher.
  12. I like Bug. Yeah, he's awkward and commits some faux pas when addressing Nomi, but he really does the best he can. He respects her choice, and never once seems to judge her decision to become a woman. It's noticeable on rewatch that it takes Neets a while to warm up to him. She does get offended on Nomi's behalf, more than once, when Bug says the wrong thing, but by the Christmas special she seems to accept that he does have a good heart. Then, later in season 2, there's a lovely little moment where Bug contacts Nomi on facetime and Amanita is in the background, she stops to say "hi, Bug!" in a genuinely pleased tone. Will and Kala also have a nice little moment in the first season, when Will inhabits her to threaten that Hindu priest. Then he tells Kala, "they'll be back." She responds "so will I," and Will says, "well, so will I." Again, he's so kind and unquestioningly supportive, even though he and Kala have shared very little to that point. As a fiction, I can accept all that. The show is a science fiction show, with elements of fantasy and wonder, and there's definitely a heavy emphasis on the best there is in humanity - love, acceptance, unity and understanding. All of which are demonstrated in abundance by the Sense8 satellite characters. And, given time (probably the time that the Wachowskis originally intended to take), the idea of Rajan, Kala and Wolfgang in a poly relationship would make sense and be fully justified. But the rush to accomplish it in this special just didn't really work for me. I feel it veers too much into the idealistic fantasy for a normal man to learn all this, accept it, see that his wife loves another man as well as him - one he only just learned exists - and accept that, so quickly. I also think there's an unspoken issue with this poly relationship that, in the real world, would eventually come up - Two of the three are connected by a psychic bond that allows them to literally feel everything the other does, and to communicate instantly and privately. One of the three doesn't. At some point, it seems inevitable to me that there would be an element of jealousy, envy or just of feeling left out. But my personal perspective is that I could never be in a poly relationship anyway, whether it was with two women or a woman and another man. It doesn't compute for me, but I accept it does for other people, and they manage perfectly well, negotiating whatever obstacles such relationships might face. I've always liked Freema Agyeman, and find her charming, funny and sweet in every role she's played. Amanita must have been an absolute blast of a character, because she is basically a force of nature - she's tough, brave, smart and emotionally honest in ways that few people are, and she believes utterly in the people she loves. I do get the sense that some of the actors became lifelong friends working on the show, in various combos. And even those who didn't still got along really well and have very fond memories. Some more bits I've noticed and loved: As Will is the big brother, Nomi is the big sister. She's often the one people go to when they're depressed or worried - She and Lito share that great scene in the museum, but he also mopes around her place in his onesie when he thinks his career is over. Will bothers her when he's worried about Riley, she's very gently admonishing of Sun for "getting upset" over Joong-Ki's interview on TV. She just has a calm, reassuring energy that puts me in mind of that knowing, wise older sister. I can't remember the episode or the details, but Amanita points out that Nomi is feeling a certain way because of subconscious insecurities, which she herself hasn't admitted. Nomi says "see, that's something my cluster wouldn't know" and I found it really interesting - that if Nomi herself hasn't realised something, the others won't. At least, not until they know and understand her as well as Amanita does. from the finale: Teagan's husband, Tom, is obviously a great guy. At the end of the finale, when Nomi's family arrives, her mother is still bitching about Nomi daring to celebrate her love for Amanita, but Tom has this excited, wondrous look on his face and says "I think it's awesome!" then he enthusiastically shakes the hands of Amanita's dads. It just made me happy that Teagan clearly picked the right guy. Sun being kind of shy but clearly pleased to meet Jela and be introduced as "the spirit of Jean Claude." Will being so nervous about meeting Riley's dad, and just how radiantly happy Riley is. Her dad probably thought he'd never see her like that again. Bug seeming really attached to Sun - He calls her Born Free again, he tells her he hates Joong-Ki and gives her a sly little shoulder nudge when they learn Moon is okay, and he's sat next to her in the chateau celebration dinner. I've been watching Mark Oshiro's reactions to the show, and he said something that summed up what makes this show so great - that he'd never seen a show that conveys joy as well as this. In the party scenes, the montages of dancing, celebrating and having fun, and everyone seems so full of life. The show even manages to make clubbing look like fun, and I've always hated nightclubs. I really would have liked more of the non-Sensates marvelling over how it all works - stuff like Nomi casually mentioning Hernando's job or Will mentioning Rajan's cooperation with the investigation in India. Just little bits of 'wait... how do you know that? Oh right, of course.' We kind of skipped that step and went right to acceptance. I guess, really, I resent the fact that we didn't get three more seasons to tell all these stories properly - Rajan, Moon, Hernando, Daniela and Jela all learning to accept this whole thing, and the developments of a larger cluster including them all, as well as Neets, Diego, Riley's dad and others. Lila and her cluster were worthy nemeses for our cluster, and I wish the show had more time to develop that. As hateful as she was, Lila effortlessly taking guys out with a silenced pistol was the epitome of cool villainy.
  13. I hope they think carefully about a replacement for Sandi. Richard Ayoade, for example, would be an awful choice. He's very funny, but has just about the worst energy for the show you could imagine. But Channel 4 have a stable of comedians that they use for their panel shows, and I'd be surprised if they picked someone from outside that group - Roisin Conaty, Sara Pascoe, Katherine Ryan, Aisling Bea (who is probably far too busy). Sandi was already an offbeat choice.
  14. I couldn't agree more. I know Luka was popular with some, but I could only square it as being women who found him handsome and wanted to mend his poor, broken heart. He was so hangdog and determinedly miserable that I lost any sympathy for his genuinely tough backstory. Doug definitely had high spots, to counter his often self-indulgent misery. And I think you're right that some of that was down to Clooney's naturally fun loving personality. There were plenty of moments where he'd be flashing that twinkly smile in scenes, even if Doug didn't really have many lines. It did a lot to make him seem like a real person, and one who was understandably attractive to a lot of women. Luka? I don't see how anyone could spend more than about twenty minutes with him without wanting to jump out of a window. He and Abby were perfectly matched, as orbiting black holes of navel-gazing misery. But I think part of it was down to a decrease in the quality of the writing. Susan was a really great character, in the first three seasons. Even with her troubles with Chloe and Suzy, she was a lot of fun, and had a very attractive energy. When she came back in season 8 she was kind of bland but sometimes a weird combination of schoolmarm and schoolgirl that just didn't work.
  15. She definitely wouldn't have been as prominent a character, and probably wouldn't have been played by Kellie Martin. Lucy was a scramble when Maria Bello upset the plans they had for her character. I don't know if they had an inkling that she might leave, because season 4 ended with her having the offer of going back to Philadelphia with the her ex. With Lucy, they seemed to be trying to kill several birds with one stone - replace Anna as a love interest for Carter, get a new med student character so they could redo the whole 'what do I want to be?' storyline, and help fill the impending star-power gap that George Clooney was about to leave. It's a shame, because the stabbing was incredibly well executed and genuinely shocking. I remember being incredibly grateful that Sky One aired both episodes back to back, because I could not have waited a week to find out what would happen with Carter and Lucy. The drama worked because it was out of the ordinary, and a real departure from the normal E.R. storylines. We'd had Mark get beaten up, which was also shocking, but that was really the only 'one of our own is in trouble' storyline the show had done, to that point.
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