Criminal Minds- Season 8

Season 8 of Criminal Minds was always going to be an interesting year; with the departure of Paget Brewster, who played Emily Prentiss for 5 years and the introduction of a new character (Alex Blake played by Jeanne Tripplehorn), it was key that fans warmed to the new character and kept watching. With the help of some great standalone episodes, and an intriguing season arc with the unsub character of The Replicator.

Criminal Minds is very much like The Mentalist, in the sense that it’s a cop/detective show that has villain of the week episodes, but manages to get its viewers to invest in their characters a lot more than the CSI shows do, delving deeper into their pasts and personalities, and creating a family with its main cast. This season like past seasons, is no stranger to some characters facing difficult emotional situations, and I’ve picked out some of my personal highlights from this season.

The Fallen – After three victims are found burned beyond recognition, the BAU team, quickly decipher that the unsub is preying on homeless victims. Rossi becomes emotionally involved in this one as he discovers an old army friend living on the streets. This was one of the first few episodes to be aired, and although the other episodes were solid enough, this was the first memorable one for me.

The Wheels on the Bus – A bus full of students is kidnapped and although most of the students are found, the team soon discover that a group of them are missing, and are involved in a video game-style environment that resembles the rules of Battle Royale – kill or be killed. I thought this episode was great, I loved the concept and it was a solid episode.

Zugzwang – This is certainly my favourite episode of the season, I reviewed this when it first aired so click here if you wanna read more. This episode was truly heartbreaking. To see Reid finally get a love interest this season and see it quite traumatically snatched away was just a little depressing –I won’t be the first to admit I cried at the end.

All That Remains – We’ve got a couple of strands running in this episode that when it’s brought together, makes a brilliant episode; a father whose wife disappeared over a year ago, and now his daughter has disappeared in the same manner and he can’t remember anything. It soon turns out he’s got a problem with a split personality, and we have the added catalyst of a manipulative daughter who tries to frame her dad for the murders. We also get some extra J.J. back story, making the overall storyline rooted firmly within the story.

Broken – It’s not clear what this week’s unsub’s victim type is and why he targets who he does as two men are killed and then a female, leaving the team puzzled. However, when they realise the unsub is homosexual, but struggling to deal with his sexuality a twisted boys camp is revealed in the woods, which unfortunately could be quite real in America. It’s a memorable moment at the end of the episode when the team storm the camp, and find several boys trapped in a room, drugged, being forced to watch straight porn. Great episode and storyline.

Restoration – This brings the team back to Morgan’s hometown where he grew up to face an old adversary from his past – Carl Buford. When Criminal Minds first touched upon that storyline, it was an emotional and layered episode, and when it’s revisited in this episode it captivates you and certainly leaves you feeling for Morgan.

The season finale left me a little underwhelmed – the death of Erin Strauss (played by the brilliant Jayne Atkinson) was sad, particularly seeing Rossi fall to piece afterward, and Mark Hamill was a great villain, but the story felt a little rushed, particularly at the end. The producers have been tight-lipped as to whether The Replicator is actually dead or not, so the team may be revisiting this case when season 9 airs in September.

Criminal Minds will celebrate its 200th episode early on in the next season, and we’ve already been promised that we’ll delve into the psychology of Hotch and what the events of the series’ 100th episode, when George Foyet brutally murdered his estranged wife, have done to him. Producers have said that both actors who played Hayley, Hotch’s wife and Foyet have been invited back to film extra content in need be, so I’m extremely excited to see what that episode brings, particularly as the 100th episode blew me away when I watched it. We’ve also been told that this season, the team will go back to other unsolved cases from the past to possibly tie up any loose ends that fans may be wondering about. With all this being teased, I certainly can’t wait for my favourite team of FBI profilers to be back on my TV screens!

Garcia: I hope you saved me for dessert.
JJ: Morgan isn’t here, baby girl
(Brothers Hotchner)

What to Expect When You’re Expecting…

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It wasn’t until I watched the DVD extras that I came to learn that this film is inspired by one of the best selling pregnancy book: ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’ by Heidi Murkoff. The film follows several couples as they embark on the journey that is pregnancy as well as a group of Dad’s getting some stress free time in their ‘Dude’s Club’.

With a host of famous actors and actresses the film is very enjoyable. Cameron Diaz, who plays a weight loss instructor, is paired with Matthew Morrison as the ‘celebrity couple’ who got together after taking part in the film’s version of Dancing with the Stars. I enjoy Diaz as an actress and in this film I cannot fault her! She gives 100% the entire time and it is clear that she has researched to the max what it can be like to be pregnant. In the birthing scene she is seen drenched in sweat, screaming and it really brings a lot to the film.  She’s not scared to embarrass herself and it’s great. The only thing I can comment on is that Matthew Morrison looks a lot like Justin Timberlake….that was strange.

 J-Lo pairs up with Rodrigo Santoro as a couple trying to adopt a child from Nigeria, and although I still don’t see J-lo as an actress, she does seem to get better with every film she’s in….practice makes perfect I guess. Anna Kendrick and Chase Crawford (who is smoking hot F.Y.I.) play a young couple who fall into the ‘one night stand gone wrong’ group. As both have acted in major ‘young people’ franchises (Kendrick: Twilight; Crawford: Gossip Girl) it was exciting to see what they would bring to the table alongside the greats such as Chris Rock and Cameron Diaz. Their age brought a lot of dynamics to the film and it was great to finally see Kendrick playing something other than a shy character – I was beginning to think that was all she had, but I’m wrong and VERY excited to see her next role, hopefully a lead!   

Elizabeth Banks (man I love her), is paired with Ben Falcone who play a couple who has been trying to get pregnant for what seems like forever. These two are great in the film, again we see Banks unafraid to step out onto the ledge of embarrassment, as she does with many of her roles, and really bring it home.

This is a great feel good film; you fall in love with every character and only want the best for them. Definitely one for the girls, it will make you laugh and make you cry, but definitely not make you broody! 

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Real Steel

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I watched this film with little expectations of it being anything special, despite the trailer being rather enticing; the prospect of Hugh Jackman staring in a Transformers wannabe was too much to have any real excitement over.

However, I stand corrected. Despite being very predictable, this film is awesome!! Yeh okay the predictability does have a slight niggle at you during certain parts, but by the end you’ve totally forgotten about it and are literally sitting on the edge of your seat, shouting at the screen in sheer anticipation of what is happening.

Based on a father and son taking on the world of robot boxing, starting at the bottom and making their way to the top, it is clear that John Gatnis (screenplay writer) has been inspired by a certain famous boxing storyline….Rocky (and maybe a little bit of Robot Wars – YouTube this if you do not know what it is and you will see the resemblance).

Don’t worry, this is nothing like Transformers, and doesn’t try to be in any way. It’s a story about family bonding, shared passions and determination; definitely one to watch if you’re looking for something with a happy ending.

The Other Side of the Story by Marian Keyes

When picking my next novel, I wanted something a little more light-hearted to read so picking a Marian Keyes novel, I thought I couldn’t go wrong – and I did get what I wanted. A fairly light-hearted read, it flowed easily and didn’t require too much thought. However around 90 pages in to the story, it hit me – I had read this before. I felt a little cheated that I wasn’t reading a brand new book but felt it needed to be re-read and in the words of John Humphrys from Mastermind “I’ve started so I’ll finish”.

Three stories are intertwined into one – we first get introduced to Gemma, an event organiser who’s parents break up unexpectedly. A classic, they’ve been together for all their lives and the father gets a mid-life crisis and shacks up with his secretary. Her mum goes through a slight mental breakdown, and it’s quite funny to see what situations Gemma gets herself into. Secondly, we have Jojo a successful literary agent who just so happens to be having an affair with her married boss. And thirdly we meet Lily, a mother of one who has just been published (Jojo is her agent) and the ex-best friend of Gemma. Their friendship was left in tatters when Lily began dating and subsequently became pregnant with Gemma’s ex-boyfriend Anton, a betrayal Gemma took very personally. Across the book, their stories become intertwined with Gemma also becoming a published author –guess who her literary agent is? The book also is written in the point of view of the three different characters, with each having their own sections.

I must say I remembered some of what happened as soon as I realised that I had read it previously. I enjoyed Jojo’s story the most, despite the fact her character should stereotypically be the most hated – the ‘home wrecker’ as it were. However that may have something to do with the fact I am extremely interested in publishing as a career and I admired her tenacity and determination within the business. I warmed to Gemma’s story over the novel, although didn’t particularly care for her at first. Lily’s character was the hardest to care for, I think partly because I didn’t particularly like Anton. I found myself wanting her sections of the story to be over, and at times skimming the story, just so It would move.

Overall, I enjoyed the second read of this novel although to ensure that I didn’t read it again, promptly sent it to the nearest charity shop. I would certainly recommend this novel as a great holiday read.

I should never have started this thing with him, Jojo thought. I could be in love with someone else right now, someone who wasn’t married. Well, shoulda, woulda, coulda. (p145 The Other Side of the Story)

Fast and the Furious 6

The Fast and the Furious franchise was thrown a lifeline in the form of director Justin Lin who directed the fifth instalment of the series. Add to that the box office power of the Rock introduced to the series and Vin Diesel returning to the films, excellent (but far-fetched) car chases and a decent script and the Fast franchise was back in business. Fast and the Furious 6 was inevitable, especially the teaser at the end revealing that original character Letty (played by Michelle Rodriguez) was in fact alive. So, did Lin’s second outing ramp up the momentum built in Fast Five to land the film in fifth gear or did it stall and end up left by the way side (see what I did there with the car puns? Next stop Top Gear….or maybe not)

After some initial, but unsuccessful attempts to catch the bad guy himself (Shaw, played by Luke Evans), the Rock enlists the help of his once former nemesis Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) asking him to re-assemble his crew to help take down the criminal mastermind and his organisation of mercenary drivers. The old gang is thrilled to be back together, and it’s certainly inferred that their lives have been a little boring since they walked away with their own share of $100 million. To get them back in the game, they’re each offered full pardons and the chance to rescue one of their own. The stakes seems even higher this time, as its personal and that their dealing with an underground criminal, rather than the official hand of the law leads our crack team often scratching their heads, and feeling one step behind Shaw.

There’s some lovely development between Toretto and Letty as well; we learn early on that Letty suffered severe amnesia after a car explosion although I’ve never really 100% sold on the idea. She’s slowly realising Shaw views his crew as indispensable and you can see the chemistry that Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez can still generate on-screen. And it even allowed Diesel to show some of his other acting abilities, instead of his constant hard man image. And whereas the villain last year had very, to little on-screen charisma, Luke Evans has it in bounds as Shaw. It easy to see why Evans is becoming a star in his own right having films such as the second two instalments of The Hobbit and the Dracula remake under his belt.

There’s plenty of action sequences in this film; there’s a lot more hand-to-hand combat in this one as well, with Rodriguez and Gina Carano getting into a couple of scrapes and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is put through his paces by someone who is built like a house – seriously it looks as if the producers cast him purely to challenge The Rock and say “look we found someone bigger than you!”

The car chases and stunts are on par, if not better than the previous instalment – the bridge jump and explosion along with the truck flip is a personal highlight, along with the chase down the runway segment. However, this film does have a knack of having various different endings – just when you think it’s over – they add an extra 20 minutes to it. The actually ending comes full circle, as the crew are still given their pardons and their back at their old address, like a family. And that morale and mantra is repeated throughout the film – bringing the family back together, never turning your back on one of your own which is a nice sentiment to bring out in an action movie that’s mostly aimed at boys who love fast cars.

Fast 7 has already been billed for next year, but not with Justin Lin directing. James Wan (best known for his work in the horror genre with the Saw franchise and more recently Insidious) puts on the directing hat which sees Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and Dwayne Johnson all back. This film will also see tough guy Jason Statham become involved in the franchise as the bad guy for the next film as he play Ian Shaw – you guessed it Owen Shaw’s brother, who is out for revenge.

Brian: Maybe the Letty we once knew is gone

Dom: You don’t turn your back on family, even when they do

The Cripple of an Inishmaan

Early on in July, I took the opportunity to see another play in the Michael Grandage season at the Noel Coward theatre, this time to see Daniel Radcliffe (better known as the boy who lived, Harry Potter) appear in The Cripple of an Inishmaan.

Daniel Radcliffe stars as Billy, a cripple that lives in a small community in Ireland. The play says a lot about the way a small community interacts together and presents it in a very humorous way, as well as creating a sense of sympathy and pathos for the character of Billy. All the cast are great in this production, and it is a very funny play. Some of the actors use authentic accents and the ones that don’t put across great versions of it. The accents are a little hard to understand at first, but you get used to it soon enough.

To be honest, after coming out of the play I thought about it and I found I cared more for the other characters that I did for Billy, despite the fact the play is named after him. Having said, the character doesn’t feature that heavily in the play, with periods at a time where the character doesn’t appear.  Even though Dan put in a great performance, squashing the last of the critics claiming he can’t act, I connected more with some of the other actors on stage, particularly the aunts.  It’s also certainly a play that you have to pay attention to – a lot of the jokes tend to be ongoing one’s so if you missed the link the first time, then you may not laugh as much as some audience members.

This play was great and I had an enjoyable evening, although it was interesting to see that Radcliffe was not the best thing I enjoyed about the production, despite the fact he was the reason I had booked it. If you do go and see it, you’ll have to be quick as the production only runs to the end of August. If you have hopes of trying to meet him at the Stage Door after the production however – don’t hold your breath. I’ve never seen a scrum like it – disorganised, poor and quite frankly a little dangerous.

Life of Pi – Yann Martel

Life of Pi - Book review

Another of my poolside reads however this one was not intentional (a mix up in books I brought led me to have to rely on the little treasure chest that is created by other holiday goers – the hotel book stand). Although most were love stories or murder stories, this little gem shone out and I snapped it up before anyone else could.

I couldn’t wait to get into this book, the film having wiped the floor at the Oscars; I knew it must be good!

****SPOILERS****

I am so glad I didn’t spend £8 going to see this film at the imax, or any cinema for that matter. I knew the basis of the story – a young lad gets shipwrecked and all he has for company is a Bengal tiger. Post read I realise now that ‘basis’ is an understatement: that is the whole story. Over 100 pages of just being at sea – okay you built a raft; caught a fish and ate it; caught a turtle and ate that; blah blah blah. Unfortunately I can’t suppress the need to skip forward and see how many pages there are to go before the next chapter and so knowing there were 100+ between me and the next section of the book was soul destroying. But I persevered.

And I’m glad I did, because now I know I will never have to watch the film. As the story got going a thought crossed my mind ‘if this ends up as a dream I will be SO pissed off’ – well it wasn’t quite a dream but the ending did make me want to rip the book in half and throw it in the pool in a strop. Let’s just say I’m not a fan of endings like this – especially when the book hasn’t exactly been enticing me the whole way through.

Although I wouldn’t care to see the film, I would be interested to see what they filled the two hour gap with as I’m pretty sure this story would not suffice – but then maybe they just filmed him catching a lot of fish, which would be equally boring to watch.

In a way the story represents that of imagination and the imagination of the young, I could imagine my little cousin coming up with something like this after her summer holidays, and for that it is good. On the whole I was very disappointed with this one..a theme you can probably see running through my holiday book choice.

“To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation.” – Life of Pi

P.S. I Love You – Paperback

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Another of my well awaited holiday reads. This book has been top of my ‘read before see’ list for quite some time – probably since the film came out – and it  was with great anticipation that I finally got round to reading it. Now, I am probably going to offend a few people with what I am going to say, so if you love this book I would probably stop reading this post now…..

I hated it. I’m not sure if the hype it got from everyone may have done this, or if it just wasn’t my thing, but I did not see what everyone loved so much about it. I was so sick of Holly’s whinging that it took the story away from me. I get her husband died and I can’t begin to understand how that must be, but does it really have to be in every single chapter, sentence, word? (Can you tell I don’t care for love stories yet?) It just felt so girly and flimsy, that there was no real story to it.

I was rather disappointed that this book I had waited years to read had let me down, but I guess that’s what happens after rather a long period of super-heroes, mafias and medieval kings. It’s safe to say I’ve lost my girliness when it comes to love stories.

 

Don’t be afraid to fall n love again. Open your heart amd follow where it leads you….and remember, shoot for the moon…P.S. I will always love you… – Gerry – P.S. I Love You

Glee Season 4 – An Overview and a Look to the Future

When Glee’s third season ended with Rachel in New York without Finn, and the rest of the graduates dispersed across the US, with only half a National winning Glee club remaining at McKinley, it’s safe to say the fans were more than a little concerned – will there be an entire new cast now that most of the originals have graduated? How were they going to work being at McKinley and seeing how Rachel was getting along at NYADA?

Glee season four could well have been a bit of a car crash, what with the amount of storylines the Glee writers were juggling, but actually the new additions to the cast fit in beautifully and they had nice mixture of Ohio and New York, and managed to fit content in for the other graduates that made regular guest star appearances.

A brief rundown; Rachel started at NYADA and found it to be very different from McKinley, perhaps something to do with no-nonsense dance teacher Cassandra July (played magnificently by Kate Hudson – who knew she could sing and dance like that?!). Kurt soon joins her in the Big Apple, landing a job at a fashion magazine (queue another great guest star in the form of Sarah Jessica Parker) but soon lands a second chance saloon audition to join NYADA, thrown by Whoopi Goldberg.

Back at McKinley, Will sets about recruiting new members for the Glee club stumbling across Jake (who happens to be Puck’s younger half-brother, played by Jacob Artist) and sweet-natured Marley (played by Melissa Benoist), later picking up Ryder (played by season 2’s The Glee Project winner, Blake Jenner, who I definitely pinned from the start as a contender!) All three are fantastic new additions to the Glee cast; they have brilliant voices and bring a new energy to the group that means the show can certainly move forward.

Another new face appears at NYADA in the form of the handsome Brody (played by the delicious Dean Geyer), who becomes a new love interest for Rachel. The show’s couples go through quite a turbulent year with 3 of the shows integral duo’s breaking up in the episode aptly named ‘The Break-up’ – Rachel and Finn, Kurt and Blaine and Brittany and Santana all go their separate ways, but throughout the first two still bounce off each other, with both reconciling a few times but never fully re-connecting. Brittany becomes involved with Sam and the dup create an adorable couple.

Will and Emma (finally) tie the knot this season but not as fans expected in their wedding episode as Emma fled the church. The ceremony is instead in the season finale – a small intimate affair with the Glee club present, a ceremony that even brought a little tear to my eye. The season ends with Blaine thinking about proposing to Kurt and Rachel waiting to see if she got the job of Fanny Brice in Funny Girl.

Along the season, the show kept up with popular culture, and represented its own themes with what was happening in America and around the world – most particularly that was felt when an apparent school shooting took place in McKinley (it was accidental and no was harmed) but still the episode caused great controversy when it aired because of how current the topic was (the school shooting at Sandy Hook happened 3 months prior to the episode being aired.) The show also tackled anorexia/bulimia, male prostitution and ‘catfishing’ in other storylines.

The season also had its fair share of ups and downs outside in the real life world of its actors – Heather Morris became pregnant and the writers wrote out the character of Brittany in its season finale, with the character going off to MIT. Whether Heather Morris returns to Glee after the birth of her child, it’s unclear but it was an emotional goodbye to the character which again left me a little teary. Cory Monteith (Finn Hudson) also was written out of the season finale having voluntarily checked into rehab for substance abuse. Following his time in rehab, the actor was unfortunately found dead in his hotel room 3 weeks ago after an accidental heroin and alcohol overdose.

Since then more has become clear on what director the show will be taking – when it returns in September there are 3 episodes planned: a double Beatles tribute episode and a Cory tribute episode which will deal with the issue of drug abuse. After this the show will take a hiatus to figure out what their future plans are. Lea Michele, who dated the Canadian actor for over a year and his fellow Glee cast and crew have spoken out about his death and it’s clear their loss is still very fresh in their minds. It’s fair to say when the show returns in September, and certainly for Cory’s tribute episode, there won’t be a dry eye in the house.

I saw something in you. That first day, and I thought to myself ‘This one is special. This one might make it.’ And that’s why I’m so relentless. (Cassandra to Rachel Wonder-ful, Glee)

The 12th Doctor is announced!

Back in June, Matt Smith announced that he would be bowing out in this year’s Christmas Special as The Doctor. Naturally, a lot of fans were heartbroken, but speculation immediately hit on who would be the next Doctor –would he be old? Would the cast the first black Doctor? Would they cast a woman?

Some quite frankly ridiculous suggestions have been bandied around by the British media; Dame Helen Mirren, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ben Whisaw and Tom Hiddleston have all had a mention at some point. The wait was finally over tonight as the BBC revealed the person who would be playing the next incarnation of the Doctor in a special live show. Since the announcement about the announcement, this actor has had only a few days of obscurity left, until they are thrown head-first into a role of a lifetime. And the lucky person is….

PETER CAPALDI!

Scottish actor Capaldi already has built up quite a career for himself, with most knowing him as foul-mouthed Malcolm Tucker in The Thick of It, although it’s fair to say I don’t think he’ll be channelling that character in Doctor Who. He’s actually already appeared in an episode of Who (The Fires of Pompeii) and was also in series 3 of Torchwood, so he’s no stranger to the world of the Time Lord. I think he’s a fabulous actor and a brave choice, considering all those teenagers that love Matt Smith because they fancy him, probably won’t fancy Peter Capaldi (or maybe they will?)

I’m excited for the future of Doctor Who, and I just hope Moffat doesn’t mess it up!

 

Come the fuck in or fuck the fuck off. (Malcolm Tucker, The Thick of it)