Category Archives: Analysis

After Nightfall Season 2, Episode 5

Oh. My. God.

W.T.F

I may or may not have needed to down a glass of rosé after last night’s episode. Because I did not see that ending coming. And naturally, I’m here to write about it. There’s a lot to go through in this episode and some tantalising theories to spin, so pour yourself a glass and let’s get right into it.

Episode 5 opens with our friendly neighbourhood drug dealer Dave seemingly contemplating his recent decline, when Leanne shows up. And before I go on, I have to say, I do feel bad I’ve not given actor David Woodland the praise he deserves for his solid performance. So here it is now. He’s wonderful in this role. He sells the danger of this man while also imbibing him with a humanity not often seen with this type of character. This is also down to the writing, but the performance is great regardless. That’s really one of the main strengths of After Nightfall, as I said back in my very first review. The moments we see the characters are short, but the power of the writing and the acting is able to get across a lot with very little. But that’s also an advantage of film as opposed to live theatre.
Anyhow, Leanne shows up and she’s done with the icy reception she’s been getting since Dave discovered her infidelity. She wants to know what she can do to be forgiven, but he’s not sure there’s anything she can do. A feeling I understand all too well.

Next, one of the juiciest scenes in the episode. A big call, I know, but I’m making it anyway for reasons you’ll soon understand.
Hayden shares his suspicions of Wesley (still calling that as a red herring) with Grace and Xavier, and this is where things get VERY interesting.
See, Grace points out something that had actually been bothering me since Season 1. When she and Xavier found Troy’s body, what made them look in the ditch?
Troy’s phone ringing.
And then, Kobie mysteriously got hold of it. Later, they caught him burying the phone where Troy’s body was. Grace rightly wonders how he got hold of it. She suspects maybe the police gave it to him, but we know that can’t be the case; they’ve been looking for it the entire time. Someone else gave it to him, and from the music, the shifty eyes and the camera angle, that person has to be Xavier. Think about it. He’s literally the only one who could have done it. The only question is why? And to that, I have literally no idea. Maybe something to do with Oscar? He did say in season 1 episode 5 Oscar stares at him…

The scene cuts to my beloved Nathan at conversion camp. And this is where I will mildly celebrate the fact that one of my theories has turned out to be correct. Nathan, Yardley, Daisy and two other camp members Finn and Tess (who shares a surname with Leanne. Coincidence?) have joined forces and decided they’re going to try and escape. Next week, we’ll see if they’re successful or not. And I hope to heaven they are. But I’m wondering, did those guards overhear them?

The episode is far from over. Oscar is confronted by an enraged Kobie, and just barely manages to get away. Somehow I don’t think this is over. And I really doubt Oscar is going to survive beyond this season. It’ll be incredible if he survives before the finale.

Meanwhile, at the McLeavey household, Justine discovers the money Isobel’s stolen. But before she can ground her til the age of 18, Zara and Angela arrived with a search warrant…and Brenda.
Brenda claims Troy told her he put his phone and iPad in the kitchen drawer, which she saw Colin do in the last episode. Zara finds it, and after berating Angela for not searching thoroughly in the initial sweep, Colin is taken to the station for questioning.
Since Nathan’s parents and the conversion camp leaders haven’t shown up for me to hate this episode, I shall focus my wrath on Brenda here with no shame whatsoever. What the hell is your problem, lady? You’re so desperate to seem credible you’ll get an innocent man arrested? Sure, Colin’s no angel and he wasn’t polite last week, but why should he be polite to someone who profits off exploiting and scamming grieving families? And it’s not just him, Colin’s not the only one affected by this. Justine’s been through more than anyone should and Isobel may be a scheming little brat but she’s still a kid. Holy hell this woman is a piece of work.
But as Colin is being taken out, Troy appears, causing a chair to fall. Narelle was right. His strength is building.

With bombshell after bombshell, this should be the end of episode 5, right? Haha, no.
The biggest twist of all is coming, in a house Colin is selling for his real estate job. Huh. I picked him more for an accountant. But no matter. Brad arrives, and who should be there waiting for him but Quintin. And he’s come prepared. We have our third death on the show. First Troy, then Simon, and now Brad. I guess that means we can cross him off the suspect list.

Quintin has been on many viewer’s suspect list, including my own, but now we’ve actually seen him kill someone. And he’s clearly premeditated this. He wears gloves to prevent fingerprints. He’s laid down plastic on the floor. It’s almost like he’s done this before….
There’s a massive amount of evidence here. Quintin has a background you could describe as ‘shady’. He reacted to the news of Troy’s murder by angrily kicking a chair, but he hasn’t really seemed overly torn up about it. His father told him last week he wished he’d been the one murdered instead of Troy. He works for his criminal uncle. When Dave was named a suspect, he instantly said “That’s bullshit!” He was in the area where Troy’s body was found, around the time the body was left there. He’s physically strong enough to overpower his brother, and he’s old enough to drive. He obviously attended Troy’s funeral. He knows how police investigations work. He knows how to conceal evidence, and Simon was also stabbed to death. We also know Simon had some kind of deal going on with Troy’s killer, and Dave’s gang had Brad on the payroll.

Did Quintin kill Troy? It certainly seems that way, but this is After Nightfall, and there’s 3 episodes left. Troy was strangled, not stabbed, and there’s definitely a number of people who could have been responsible. But still. This is not going to go unnoticed. A second police officer dead, and in a house attached to the McLeavey name? I think Colin needs to watch out, because there’s every chance he’ll be tied to this murder.

This is yet another episode showing the advancement the series has made this season. The music, the camera shots, the locations, the effects budget, the performances, everything has stepped up to the next level. The story is continuing, not rehashing or falling into the trap of writing without an endgame in sight. You can tell every scene is important in the overall arc. Every single moment is racing towards something, and now it’s full steam ahead on all fronts. It’s a remarkable achievement and everyone involved should be commended for what they’ve done.

I need hardly remind everyone that Season 1 had six episodes, so this time last season we were almost at the end. Here, we have 3 episodes left, and a huge amount of stories to tie up. There’s questions that need answering, and characters that need closure. If I’m honest, part of me is wondering how this is going to be accomplished in such a short amount of time, especially with no guarantee of a third season, which would have a new storyline. But I have confidence that whatever happens in the final three episodes, it’ll be worth the ride we’ve been on, and I’ll be here to write about every moment. Because if there’s one thing After Nightfall deserves, it’s to be talked about. And I’m going to give them that.

 

After Nightfall. Questions, theories, suspects, clues!

I’ve done it. I’ve rewatched the entire first season, and the first three episodes of After Nightfall. Ahead of  Season 2 Episode 4 airing tomorrow, here’s a detailed look at our suspects, questions that need to be answered, theories on what’s to come, and clues you may have missed!

Season 1

Episode 1

  • As the episode opens, we see Quintin, Dave and Ryan appear to be in the area near where Troy was found. Is this a coincidence, or could they have just dumped Troy’s body?
  • In Kobie’s first appearance, Kobie is seen breaking into a car, but there’s no blood on his shirt. His timeline of that night is clearly unfinished.
  • As Ursula reads the tarot cards, Viv’s reaction indicates she knows something has happened.  Possibly she sees Troy for the first time? I freely admit to knowing literally nothing about tarot, but I’m sure the Tower card is significant.

Episode 2

  • The pathologist says Troy was killed around five hours earlier, and he’d been moved. So that would put Dave’s gang in the right place at the right time.
  • When Dave is on the phone, Leanne seems nervous. Dave only says “My nephew’s dead,” and Leanne responds ‘Troy?” Red flag or red herring? How did she immediately know it was Troy and not Quintin? However, it’s possible she knew Quintin was the one on the phone because he’s so deeply involved in Dave’s drug ring. Still, her reaction to Dave’s rage can’t be coincidental.
  • Kobie is seen washing blood from his shirt. It can’t be Troy’s, because he was strangled. And it wasn’t on his shirt when we first saw him, so whoever’s it was, it happened after his first scene when he broke into the car. And my money’s on Wesley. He’s the only character who’s had an injury consistent with that sort of bleeding, and with the timeline of Troy’s funeral being in the same week, that adds up.
  • Oscar is looking at the news sites of Troy’s death. Why would he be looking at these? He’s clearly concerned that his disturbing predatory behaviour will be discovered during any kind of investigation. Could there be more than just that? While it might be too obvious that Oscar did it, I’m not quite ready to strike him off the suspect list yet.

Episode 3

  • The iPad needs to be explained at some point. As I said before, why would Troy leave it there if it was so important? There was a huge focus on the iPad in Season 1. If this adds up to nothing, I’m not going to be very happy. Troy led his father to it, so there has to be something there.
  • Why does Isobel have a stash of money in her room and where did she get that much?
  • Kobie wasn’t surprised that Troy was dead. Clearly, he knew already. Did he come across the body or did he have something to do with it? I’d like to think not because that would be far too simple an explanation. And if it did turn out to be Kobie, I think a lot of us would feel ripped off. There has to be a better twist than that.
  • Oscar says the news site said Troy’s body was found without his bag or phone. This doesn’t seem like the kind of thing journalists are typically able to report, especially in the first few hours. How did he know this?
  • Viv knows Oscar isn’t to be trusted. She might not be able to say much, but she’s very perceptive.

Episode 4

  • What exactly happened between Nathan and Troy? Why did that relationship end? Was Nathan worried about his parents finding out? Still doesn’t seem enough reason to kill Troy over.
  • When did Kobie get hold of Troy’s phone and why? Was it before or after he was dead? I’d assume after, since he obviously knew what happened.
  • Troy was angry that Hayden gave the tip off about Dave’s drug circle. That explains why Hayden and Troy weren’t speaking that day. Probably found out while walking to school together.
  • Why does Isobel film Ryan and Leanne? How did she know about the affair? But we may have an answer as to where she got her money from. I think she’s been swiping it from Dave. As she searches the shed, she says “Where’s the money gone?” And technical question, how on earth did they not see her filming them?

Episode 5

  • Could Nathan’s parents have had something to do with Troy’s death? If they’re willing to pack their son off to a torture camp anything’s possible. Also, strangulation indicates that Troy’s murder may have been on impulse rather than premeditation. We’ve heard almost nothing from Pat Kelty so far, but she was very quick to say Nathan wasn’t involved.
  • In the final scene, you can see Troy speak to Viv. I’m no lip reader but I can tell he uses the words “…killed me”. Viv’s reaction suggests that Troy may very well have just revealed his killer to her. But I’m a little skeptical, because she really can’t communicate sufficiently with anyone. If I was killed, came back as a ghost and could communicate with people, you better believe I’d be snitching first thing.

Episode 6

  • It may open with a dream, but we can start piecing the timeline together. Troy and Hayden walked to school together that morning, where he and Hayden likely had an argument over Hayden’s tip off. That’s probably how Troy ended up alone, and likely not long before he was killed.
  • If I had to take an educated guess, I’d say Isobel stole the phone to send the video to Dave, so he wouldn’t recognise the number. But why she did this at all is a complete mystery.
  • Why did Kobie bury Troy’s phone where the body was found?
  • Oscar’s horrified reaction to what he’s done to Faye indicates that he’s not as violent as we’ve been led to believe. But he certainly has a temper, and a tendency to lash out.
  • Troy’s killer also killed Simon, who seemed to have some sort of corrupt arrangement with them. Also, we know the killer is old enough to drive.

Season 2

Episode 1

  • Zara is tough as nails, and carrying a lot of anger. Why is this?
  • What’s Wesley’s role in the story and how did he get injured? I suspect Kobie, but I could be wrong.
  • We know Viv lost a child because Colin mentioned it in episode 5. I think Kate will be important later on.
  • Colin’s aunt Narelle is likely going to play a role in finding Troy’s killer, since she shares the family gift.
  • This is likely just a coincidence, but funeral attendee Harper Smith shares the same last name as Yardley, Nathan’s love interest. Hmmm.
  • Troy’s strength is building. Does this mean he’ll soon be able to talk to Colin?
  • If Troy’s killer is at the funeral, that REALLY cuts down the suspect list (I think we can safely assume the new characters of Season 2 weren’t involved!) leaving us with Colin, Justine, Isobel, Quintin, Viv, Dave, Margie, Pat, Kobie, Hayden, Grace, Xavier, Ursula. Apparently Oscar was meant to make an appearance but the actor was unavailable.
    I’ll leave a list of the suspects down below and whether or not I think they could have done it, but this is huge.

Episode 2

  • I’d love to see more about Zara and what makes her tick. She’s one of the most interesting characters in Season 2, and that’s saying a lot.
  • Will Maddie be able to tell Kobie what really happened to Faye? Or is she too young and traumatised by what she saw?
  • For reasons I discussed last week, I firmly believe Brenda is a fraud.
  • Now that Hayden and Colin are working together, what’s going to happen? Is Colin going to wind up in trouble with the law for taking matters into his own hands?

Episode 3

  • Brad is off Dave’s payroll. And does his comment “I’ll be forced to tell (Zara) what you’ve been up to” mean more than just the drug dealing? Either way, Dave no longer has a shield to hide behind. This can’t end well.
  • Why does Angela have this drinking problem? And what exactly is the nature of her relationship with her ex-husband?
  • We see a softer side to Zara in this episode. Could her tough exterior merely be a coverup? And she’s a fan of tarot, so that could be a help or a hindrance.
  • I believe there’s going to be some kind of revolt/escape attempt at the camp. Nathan should have no shortage of allies to help him, and what he’s already gone through is motivation enough, let alone his new roommate Daisy.
  • Oscar is seeming less likely to have killed Troy. He sure is a coward, but his terror and denial seemed genuine. However, he’s a skilled liar.
  • Faye has woken up. What does she remember?

Now, we must ask the question,

Who Killed Troy McLeavey?

  • We know it can’t be Colin because he can see Troy, as the creators have confirmed.
  • It can’t be Viv because she can see Troy and her severe disability makes it impossible.
  • I highly doubt Isobel was involved because she’s so small. How could she possibly overpower Troy? Also, we know Troy’s killer can drive, and while Isobel may be a devious little brat, I highly doubt she can pull that one off.
  • I don’t think it was Justine because of how distraught she is.
  • As for Quintin, he’s done nothing to really alleviate my suspicion. He’s always been in trouble, according to Justine, and he’s not afraid to get his hands dirty. Could he have killed Troy? He certainly has the physical ability, the means and the opportunity. But he’s still Troy’s brother, so it’s not so simple.
  • Ursula I’m honestly not sure about but from what we’ve seen of her, why would she do something that would rip her family apart?
  • Hayden appears to be off the list. He loved Troy too much and the texts he sent indicate he wasn’t aware Troy was dead. Also, Colin is working with him, so Hayden seems unlikely.
  • Unlikely to be Grace or Xavier. Grace found the body and why would Xavier suggest a tryst in the area where he dumped a body if he’d done it?
  • It can’t be Faye. She’s pregnant.
  • I REALLY hope it’s not Kobie because that would be an infuriatingly obvious solution, and so far the series has strongly hinted he wasn’t actively involved.
  • It can’t be Nathan. He’s stuck at the camp, and honestly he just seems too gentle for that kind of violence. I know, I know, I’m biased because he’s my favourite character. But still!
  • It can’t be Angela. She recognised Troy when she arrived at the crime scene.
  • It can’t have been Simon. He was murdered by Troy’s killer and that would make for a phenomenally stupid way out.
  • What motivation could Margie have for killing her son’s boyfriend? I never thought she was likely but appearances can be deceiving.
  • Were the Keltys involved? They had a motivation, and the cutaway to Pat at Troy’s funeral when Narelle said Troy has unfinished business can’t mean nothing. Especially with what they’ve done to Nathan.
  • Dave’s gang seem to have been in the area around the time Troy’s body was abandoned there.
  • Brad might have been involved. We know he’s corrupt, and he seems genuinely concerned about Zara’s vow to change the local force.
  • Leanne and Ryan have been acting very suspiciously throughout the series. They are firmly on the list of suspects. Is it possible Troy caught them together and he had to be silenced?

So, what do you think? Did I miss anything? Who do you think killed Troy? The answers are on the way, but there’s still time to speculate. Let me know in the comments, and watch out for my review of episode 4!

I Have Returned

For the last year, my blog has been very quiet without any explanation to my subscribers and friends. I’ve posted very little, and very rarely. I wasn’t in any space to give notice or reasons, or to give a ballpark when or if I was going to blog again. This is all going to change right now.

Without going into all the gory details, or naming any names, in October 2017 my life fell apart in every single way. At the risk of sounding melodramatic, in just a few moments, everything I was sure of was gone. Just like that.

It’s hard when other people make bad choices. It’s hard not to blame yourself and then come to terms with the fact that you haven’t done anything wrong. Especially when people insert themselves into a situation, thinking they know the truth when they really have no idea. It’s hard when you find out you were lied to and used, for absolutely no reason.
It’s hard when people you thought were your friends, who you would have trusted with your very life, betray you in the worst way. And thanks to social media, escaping it is also next to impossible. My whole identity was brought into question, through no fault of my own.
On top of this, and really because of it, I was battling some serious health issues. Still am, even though I’m a million times better than I was.

I tried to write. But I couldn’t. I was physically incapable of doing it beyond the occasional short review, and I was too afraid to share it around like I normally would.
Writing is something very dependant on mood, emotions, headspace and personal feelings. I don’t know how on earth J.K Rowling wrote the way she did with the kind of pressure she faced.

I’m not going to sit here and pretend that everything is perfect now. It’s not. I’m still rebuilding the person I want to be. But I feel I’ve reached a point to bring this blog back, and make it better than ever on top of everything else I’m doing.

I am sorry to all my subscribers and friends who’ve missed my work. I’m truly sorry for dropping off the radar like I did.  But I had to take care of myself first and foremost, and I have plans for my blog.

What’s coming….

  1. My Wanderlust recap of my incredible solo trip to Europe will be completed by the end of the year, as I plan my next overseas adventure. Travel blogging is definitely going to be a new venture for me, but obviously the arts are my number one passion and my site will ALWAYS be about them above all.
  2. As I take on new acting projects, you can expect to be kept in the loop and brought behind the scenes.
  3. My first artist interview is coming very soon, something I am hopeful will become a semi-regular occurrence.
  4. Yes, I have many critiques, reviews, lists and analysing blogs in my backlog. And they will be released as I see fit.

It’s great to be back.

 

After Nightfall Episode 3

Troy McLeavey is dead. Armchair detectives may already have their suspicions, but the investigation is getting underway as Episode 3 opens.

Troy’s grief-stricken father Colin is practically catatonic, his son’s spirit having seemingly led him to his iPad, hidden in the cubby house for reasons unknown. Troy’s sister has a box of cash hidden in her room for apparently nefarious purposes. The police force begin questioning persons of interest, including resident bully Kobie, who was washing what appeared to be blood from a shirt in the first episode (which I’d like to think is a red herring because that would be an infuriatingly obvious solution), and Troy’s drug dealing uncle.

The beginnings of a darker underbelly were revealed in Episode 3. Troy’s boyfriend apparently gave a tip off about a suspect, the ever silent Viv seems to have her own suspicions, one of the investigators seems to be playing on both sides and Kobie apparently knows a lot more than he’s letting on.
However, the storyline which caused the most emotion for me is the fate of Nathan, who awakens handcuffed to a bed in a conversion camp, where his ghastly parents have banished him. The image of him literally being snatched up by masked intruders in the middle of the night may seem a bit farfetched at first viewing, but no, this is honestly what happens to a lot of “troubled” teens, especially in America. I don’t like to think about the horrors likely ahead of him, but at the same time I want to see him come out the other side. Kudos to writer/director Wayne Tunks for exploring this very taboo subject matter, and we’re only 3 episodes in.

The beauty of After Nightfall is that even though there’s a huge ensemble cast, they all feel real. We don’t know all that much about them yet, but the mystery is intriguing rather than frustrating. We aren’t in Lost territory, where the writers were just making it up as they went along. There’s a sense of purpose here, like the answers are tantalisingly close but not within grasp. Not yet anyway. There’s certainly a lot of subplots, but it’s told in such a way to never feel over saturated or pretentious. There’s no other way to put it. The writing in After Nightfall is simply masterful.

It’s a shame that episodes are only ten minutes long, but I suspect the purpose of this was to leave the viewers wanting more. In which case I say, mission freaking accomplished.

CLICK TO WATCH AFTER NIGHTFALL

 

Love is a Rainbow

Now that the bigots have run for cover after seeing the rainbow banner, I must ask you a question.

Have you ever been afraid to express your love to someone?

I don’t mean in the sense that you’ve not expressed your feelings to them, fear of rejection or the BS concept of “friendzoning”. I mean actual, literal fear of what might happen to you if you express any sort of affection to your partner. Fear of being mocked openly, losing relationships with friends or family, risking jail time in a country like India, or in Saudi Arabia, actually dying for it.

This is what the LGBTQ community faces on a daily basis.

Whether you agree with it or not is irrelevant. All I’m trying to do here is paint a picture here for you.

I’m a 25 year old female who’s been with my boyfriend for almost four years. We have no qualms in telling the world about our love.
We can walk down the street holding hands and nobody bats an eye.
We can kiss lightly in public without fear of a hateful comment or scornful glare.
He can give me that adorable doe-eyed look on the train without having to hide.
I can say he’s the one I want to spend the rest of my life with and I will never hear that it’s just a phase I’m going through.

It is absolutely heartbreaking to me that so many don’t have the same freedom with the people they love.

Are you seeing the bigger picture here? Why should anyone go through life alone, without a partner beside them? Life is difficult enough as it is.
It’s not about plebiscites or the sanctity of marriage. I don’t recall seeing this kind of outrage when Married at First Sight was announced. People clamour for The Bachelor or Farmer Wants a Wife, although how many relationships from reality trash TV have stood the test of time?

Same sex marriage will not destroy the world. It’s had years to do that and we’re still here. Britain hasn’t imploded. New Zealand hasn’t ceased to be above sea level. It won’t stop straight couples getting married, the Bible being published, or cause church services to cease.
This isn’t about personal beliefs, it’s about empathy. The world at large has spent so long trying to label the LGBTQ community as just that. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, intersex, genderfluid, asexual. So much time is devoted to labels that we forget they’re people too. People who need to be loved as they are and deserve to be happy.

I wear my crucifix daily. I go to church on Sundays. But that doesn’t mean I (or anybody) have the right, responsibility or understanding to judge anybody else.
Personally, I see same sex marriage as a little more love in the world. Because that is what we need most.

Date with Disney

March 31st, 2017. We’d been planning this night for months. My partner and two of our dearest friends on a cheesy double date to the highly anticipated Beauty and the Beast.
We all met up, oh-so-Australian Malteasers in hand, and went to get the tickets in an episode which would prove to be more dramatic than the film. Here’s a detailed plan on how to make getting tickets far more complicated than it should be.

  1. Turn up and head to the kiosk.
  2. Discover that the next session is Xtreme Screen and the only seats left are in the very front row. Discuss as a group whether you really want to be that close.
  3. Check movie times across the road via phone. Race over to the other cinema only to discover that one is in 3D. Another group discussion follows.
  4. The theatre staff say that the ads are still playing at the 7:35 session and we can make it. Buy the tickets, rush in, and discover the film is halfway through the song Belle.
  5. Leave the theatre, get a refund and go back to the original theatre to get the Xtreme Screen tickets. Discover they have also sold out.
  6. After even MORE discussion, get tickets for the 8:45 session, now one hour away. Also the Xtreme Screen in the front row.
  7. Go kill time at San Churros where you order New York Cheesecake instead of churros.
belleface

WHY MUST EVERYTHING BE SO DIFFICULT?!?

At 8:45pm, we finally took our reclining seats and the film began. All those months of anticipation, all the excitement of seeing my favourite animated Disney film in the flesh, on the big screen.

I left in a state of mixed emotions and mainly asking “Why?” I don’t even know if I can actually decide how I feel about the movie.

angrymob

Here we go again….

Alright, alright, put your torches and pitchforks down for a second and relax. I don’t hate this movie. I don’t even dislike it. There were aspects of the film I absolutely loved. Aspects that were, dare I say, even a slight improvement over the almost flawless 1991 film. Credit must always go where credit is due.
That being said though, I can’t sit back and pretend that this movie even comes close to the brilliance of the original film or the Broadway adaptation. Nor can I ignore the glaring problems with the film.

In the interest of keeping my blog shorter than the Bible, let’s get down to some ground rules. First off, this is not about the debate over whether Beauty and the Beast is about Stockholm Syndrome or bestiality. Those arguments are irrelevant and frankly boring to me. Secondly, if you disagree, more power to you. For all criticism of any art form, good or bad, there’s always going to be conflicting perspectives and we should only learn from them.

The Original

Beauty-and-the-Beast1991.jpg
The animated Beauty and the Beast is bar none my favourite Disney animated film. Everything about it is almost perfect. The characters are memorable, well-written and interesting. Belle is arguably the best female lead in the whole Disney canon. Top three, easily. The movie engulfs itself in the fairytale and throws a few twists along the way. The villain is not your typical bad guy; he’s actually the town hero but failing to get his way turns him to more desperate and evil measures. The animation is spectacular. The music is one of the best scores ever written. It was the first animated film to ever be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. Possibly it’s the reason we have a Best Animated category at all. (Time out – Moana should have won this year. I’ve been stewing over that for weeks! Ok ok, stay on topic…)
The point is, the 1991 original is about as perfect an animated film as you can get. So…really, why remake it at all? What was the reasoning behind it? I know Disney is all about live action remakes lately. And while I can understand the logic of wanting to ‘correct’ the mistakes of the past with Maleficent – which failed hard –  Cinderella or The Jungle Book, with a movie as good and timeless as Beauty and the Beast, it just really seems unnecessary.
But to be fair, it’s entirely possible for a remake to be great, and when I first heard of the remake, I was keen. Maybe a remake of Beauty and the Beast could focus on some aspects of the Beast’s past, or go into greater detail about Belle. I was open to it, and even kind of excited.

The Cast

Beauty-Beast-Cast-Tweets.jpg

All the characters in Beauty and the Beast are nothing short of iconic, and so it only seems logical that the remake have the finest possible cast as well.
When the casting was announced for the remake, I got even more hyped. Emma Watson as Belle? Makes sense. Ewan McGregor as Lumiere? Yes please. Kevin Kline as Maurice? I’ll watch that any day. Ian McKellen as Cogsworth? Absolutely. Josh Gad as Lefou? That works, obviously. Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts? Definitely. Living theatrical goddess Audra McDonald? I’m sold. I had no idea who Dan Stevens (Beast) and Luke Evans (Gaston) were and I admit that with no shame whatsoever.
Obviously this new cast had big shoes to fill, considering the treasure trove that was the original voice cast. Paige O’Hara (Belle), Robby Benson (Beast), Angela Lansbury (Mrs. Potts), David Ogden Stiers (Cogsworth), Richard White (Gaston), the late Jerry Orbach (Lumiere). But there’s no reason to assume that they can’t reach and even surpass the original.
My verdict? Everyone in the remake is at least watchable. Some are better than others, and this is mainly due to screen time and the writing. Which brings me to….

The Characters

Belle

In the original, Belle is a role model for the ages. She’s kind, but she has her limits. She’s smart, but doesn’t show off. She’s beautiful, but there’s a lot more to her than that.People talk about her, but she doesn’t let that stop her from doing what she loves. She knows she’s destined for greater things and desires something greater than herself.
Emma Watson was a very fitting choice for Belle, not least because of Hermione also being a massive bookworm. And I’m just going to say here, I think Emma Watson is a decent actress, an inspirational person and beautiful both inside and out.
Her performance as Belle is…ok. She certainly knows the character and heaven knows she’s trying. But compare this performance to the animated version and you will be sadly disappointed.
In the original, the way Belle is animated and voice-acted gives her a real identity and they make it absolutely clear that she is unique. She is the only character in her town that wears blue until the Beast shows up. In the remake, Belle is not the only one wearing blue, and not a lot about her really stands out as different. She talks to more people, she doesn’t really act any different, she doesn’t even read that much. In short, she’s not as interesting.
And yes, let’s get to the elephant in the room. Emma Watson’s singing. Um…how can I put this….it was terrible. I’m not even sorry. She cannot sing and anyone who tries to convince me otherwise is fighting a losing battle. And yes, I can judge since I have a qualification in music theatre and have been singing professionally for over seven years.
Not only was her voice shaky, hesitant and auto-tuned beyond belief, but there was zero acting involved and she also sounded like she was trying to imitate an American teen pop sound as opposed to a grand musical theatre style. Sometimes, like the case with The Rock in Moana or Anne Hathaway in Les Miserables, a non-singer can use charm, charisma, or just incredible acting skills to the point where a not-so great sound doesn’t actually matter. Emma Watson does not do this. It’s really uncomfortable to watch and not pleasant to listen to. Add to the fact that the original film had Paige O’Hara, and the original Broadway production starred Susan Egan, and there’s just no way in the world to make such bad singing redeemable.

Frankly, I’m sick to death of Hollywood casting people who can’t sing (Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, anyone?) in musicals. If you cannot sing, you have no business being in a musical, let alone one of the most beloved musical films ever. I say either cast real singers or bring back dubbing!

The Beast

Oh movie. You tried so hard to make the Beast have more of a backstory. You were so close. You mentioned that the Prince only became selfish because of his father’s influence brought about by his mother’s death.
So why in the name of all that’s good and holy didn’t you explore it? It went absolutely nowhere. This could have been fascinating to watch. We could have seen a major character arc, explored the parental influence, commented on the fact that the servants apparently sat back and allowed this to happen. The ‘flashback’ was so brief it was blink-and-you-miss-it! Also, the animation in the original had a zillion times more emotional expression than the CGI thing you stuck on the screen. When Belle sees Maurice is in trouble through the enchanted mirror, the animation shows the Beast actually struggle with what to do, and ultimately make a very painful decision. When Belle arrives at the castle, you see the regret and even awkwardness on his face. You can see the loss of hope when Gaston arrives to kill him. He’s given up. Then when Belle arrives, you can see the resolve to fight back. I could go on and on about this, giving examples of moments with ALL the characters. You feel the changes and emotions through the music, the acting and the drawings. It’s shown, not told and this is why people loved the Beast so much to begin with. He was freaking interesting!
With the remake, the lack of expression makes it harder to have any chemistry between Belle and the Beast. This Beast wasn’t bad by any means…he’s just not as compelling to watch.
However, to be fair, it made a lot more sense for the Beast to be educated in this context, since that makes sense with the time period and also gives him and Belle some more common ground.

Now let’s get to the absolute best things about the film!

Maurice

I think my mother put it best “I’d watch Kevin Kline do a Coke ad,”
If Kevin Kline has ever given a bad performance, I’m yet to see it, and this film is no exception. He is absolutely beautiful as Maurice and the way he’s written makes the character so much more believable that the original. As mentioned before, he creates music boxes instead of inventions. He’s slightly eccentric, but nowhere near the bumbling fool of 1991. He was brave and could stand up for himself. He has a backstory (although why did he insist on keeping it secret?), he clearly loves his daughter, he’s really fun to watch and that song he sings in his introductory scene…it was magical. He was absolutely perfect in every way.

Gaston and Lefou

I have zero complaints about these two also. Not only are Luke Evan and Josh Gad having the time of their lives in their roles, but Gaston and Lefou have been expanded and made more realistic for a live-action retelling. Gaston being a celebrated soldier makes a lot of sense and having Lefou being given a moral dilemma was quite enjoyable. Every scene with them made me laugh hard.

And in terms of the alleged LGBT moment….I honestly don’t understand why people were having a heart attack over it. It was so unimportant in the grand scheme of things.

Objects

The objects are fine in the remake and they look great. The acting is good, the designs work, they have some fun moments. You have no trouble believing that this is how people might look if they were turned into these items. But I do have one MAJOR gripe that I simply cannot let slide.

Broadway star Audra McDonald is in this movie. She is a living legend. The woman has the voice of an angel and her acting skills are nearly unrivalled. She could sing the phone book from 1998 and make it enthralling. She has SIX Tony awards, more than anyone in human history. She’s also the only person to win a Tony in every acting category.
How dare you only give Audra McDonald about 6 lines. Shame on you.

Essentially the characters are a mixed bag and so is…..

The Story

How can I put this? The movie is almost twice as long as the original yet it felt like it was on fast forward. At times it seemed like an almost shot-for-shot rehash, but all the important moments were almost glanced at.
I didn’t feel there was a single moment when Belle fell in love with the Beast or vice versa. In the original, the Beast knows right from the get-go that Belle could be the one to break the spell. He doesn’t give her a room and actually gets angry at Lumiere for letting her out of the dungeon. He doesn’t invite her to dinner until she’s in her room refusing to come out. He expresses absolutely zero desire to get to know her. In the original, he gives her the library as the most grand romantic gesture possible. He seemed almost bored in the remake. I didn’t believe for a second that they were forming a connection, as none was shown through looks, music or acting. How can the pacing and emotional journey be so superior for an animated film where there’s all kinds of time constraints and restrictions? The original felt like the story was moving, like characters were actually doing something and changing.
That is essentially the main flaw with this remake. It is banking on the fact that you’ve seen the 1991 animated film. This is why characters aren’t as interesting or fleshed out. This is why the most crucial elements of the story are treated as an afterthought. It’s like they thought it wasn’t necessary to throw effort into certain scenes.
There were potentially great plot points that could have been added but were practically glossed over. There was a pre-release mention of Belle being an inventor while Maurice made music boxes and I was totally down with that. But come the movie, and it’s barely even mentioned. The laundry device she supposedly makes appears for about ten seconds. We don’t know how she came up with the idea, how she put it together, or if this is something she does regularly. This could have been an added dimension to an already good character. It was missed. There was a moment where Belle was teaching a little girl to read, which was a lovely scene. But again, ten seconds later and it’s never brought up again. The little girl never reappears and it’s never explored why she would approach Belle.
But the added tangent I actually despised was the scene where Belle and the Beast go into that ridiculous magic book. That was completely pointless and felt like an entirely different movie. Aside from that appalling “tourist” joke which dragged you completely out of the moment, why did this enchanted book even have to be there? It was never mentioned again. Supposedly the Enchantress left it along with the rose and I assume the mirror since the remake never actually said where the enchanted mirror even came from. Again, they rely on the knowledge of the original.
And ok, Belle’s mother died from the plague. Fair enough. So what does Belle do? She brings back that rose pen thing which is presumably infected with plague bacteria and is now going to spread death and destruction everywhere.

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Congratulations Belle. You’ve doomed the entire village.

And finally, the music. I was sorely disappointed and confused as to why on earth four new songs were written for the film when there were six new songs added to the stage musical.
Though I could stomach the lyric changes well enough, the film’s new songs were generally just not as good. The reason the new songs worked well in the stage show was because they were based in the instrumental score so everything tied together. Home, Maison Des Lunes, No Matter What, A Change in Me, Human Again, If I Can’t Love Her. I was dying to see that last song on the big screen. It’s a beautiful piece of music and a great moment for the Beast. I’ll admit I have a soft spot for Evermore, the Beast’s new number, and the moment in the film was a good spot for a song, but it just didn’t have the power that If I Can’t Love Her had. I sincerely wish that they had simply incorporated the Broadway tracks into the film. That would have been fine. Although I’d be lying if I said I wanted to hear Emma Watson’s attempts to sing Home.

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I know, Alice. I know

I realise this review is sort of all over the place, but so is the movie. It seems like the film is trying to be a carbon copy of the original we love, and also be it’s own thing. This half-half leaves an inferior remake behind, trying to fix what was never broken.

Beauty and the Beast did not have to be remade, but it has been, so hopefully you can draw your own conclusions and decide whether it’s worth the two hours. I’m glad I saw it, but I can’t say I’ll be rushing to see it again and again. If you go in expecting a masterpiece you probably won’t find it. You’re more likely to come out appreciating the original masterpiece a lot more. Or maybe you’ll find it a delightful film. Either way, be my guest.

The arts will survive

Last week I published an article about the recent cuts to funding for creative courses. When I wrote it, it was mainly to get my anger and frustration out on paper, and maybe inspire some emails to the feedback line. What I did not expect was the reaction my writing had.

Within days, it had gone viral in the arts community, shared more than 10,000 times on Facebook alone. My phone was constantly buzzing with new comments, shares, messages from people who had read it, and requests for interviews from reporters. I could barely keep up and was completely overwhelmed that my writing was resonating with people to this degree.
But I wasn’t done there. At the same time, I was frantically emailing the feedback line, and sending emails to my local member and the Minister for Education himself. It took a few days, but I did hear back from him (or his assistant), and I’d like to share with you what I received.

First, my email.

Dear Senator

I am a 24 year old actress working in all aspects of the industry. in light of your recent announcement to VET fee help cuts for creative courses, I would respectfully request that you do not go ahead with the bill.
To say you only wish to help ‘legitimate’ students is highly insulting to us as a whole. Have you ever enjoyed a film, a television show or seen a live performance? Have you ever marvelled at graphic design, or heard a piece of music you liked? Then you sir, have enjoyed the arts. And if you take away more funding, you will contribute to its continual destruction.
The arts of all descriptions are not a ‘lifestyle choice’ as you have claimed. Technically speaking, all careers are a lifestyle choice including the one you have chosen. By this logic I shouldn’t have to repay my current VET fee help debt for my Diploma in Music Theatre because I was not a ‘legitimate student’. But I know that won’t happen. These continual cuts to the arts by your government is what makes finding work hard. 
The arts is the very fabric of society. We hold a mirror up to the world, cause people to think and dream and in a lot of cases, re-examine themselves and become better people. By taking away VET fee help, you will be removing jobs from educators and taking away opportunities for talented individuals. Under these proposals only the very wealthy will be able to pursue their gifts. How in the world will this ‘encourage study’, as you claim? 
The arts teaches empathy, humanity and acceptance of all. We pour our hearts and souls into our work and we do it with the majority of the world fighting us tooth and nail every step of the way. 
Please take a few minutes to read my blog on the matter. 
I thank you for your consideration and welcome any response.
In response, I received this email. I’ve also attached a screenshot (with personal information blacked out for obvious reasons)
Dear Miss (Name)
Thankyou for your email of 17 October 2016 to Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham, Minister for Education and Training, concerning the exclusion of the Arts from the eligible course list. I have been asked to reply on the Minister’s behalf.
While I appreciate your concerns, the Australian government has a responsibility to ensure that tax payer’s money is well directed and spent in a way that offers the greatest benefit to the Australian community. To this end, access to VET Student Loans will be restricted to courses that have a high national priority, meet industry needs, contribute to addressing skills shortages and align with strong employment outcomes. This will ensure the Government’s investment in vocational education and training is better targeted and large loan amounts are no longer paid for courses that have limited public good.
The eligible course list is available on the Department of Education and Training’s website at http://www.education.gov.au/vet−student−loans. Stakeholders are invited to provide feedback on the composition of the eligible course list. 
Feedback must be sent to VETStudentLoansPeducation.gov.au by 23 October 2016 and entitled ‘Feedback on the eligible course list’.
Please bear in mind that any proposals regarding VET Student Loans are subject to the passage through Parliament of the VET Student Loans Bill 2016.
Thank you for taking the time to write to the Minister.
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Do you need a minute after reading it? I know I did.
I don’t know how people can make it any plainer to the powers that be. But a few things are clear to me and anyone else with a functioning brain.

1. They have not thought this through.

“Limited public good”. That’s the words they used. That proves that they do not see the arts for what they truly are, and when it’s explained to them, they still do not see the value and probably wouldn’t until there was no art. They seem indifferent to being responsible for the decline of jobs and the value art brings to society.
Imagine a world with no movies, tv shows, radio, paintings, art galleries, designs, jewellery, graphics, musicals, plays, music, anything creative. You can stop imagining now. I know I can’t bear to think of it for more than a few seconds. There’s little doubt in my mind that society would soon cease to function as it does. As I said, without art, life has no meaning.
Imagine for a moment that the government called sports a ‘lifestyle choice’ and referred to it as an illegitimate occupation.

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Artists impression

There would be a riot. National outcry. Everyone would be disgusted. Because in this country sport is practically a religion. What if everyone in Australia could embrace the arts like they do the football? Or cricket? Or the Olympics? I suspect the country would be a much better place.
Several years ago Australian acting legend Tony Sheldon was up for a Tony Award for his performance in Priscilla Queen of the Desert. An Australian actor. An Australian musical based on a beloved Australian classic. He was up for  a TONY AWARD, the Oscars of theatre, and we did not hear one peep about it from the media.
What if a sports star was up for some award, for throwing pieces of leather around while a stadium screams for blood? We would hear nothing else for weeks.
Tony Sheldon, who I had the honour of meeting briefly during the 2013 run of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, was playing Bernadette Bassenger, a transgender character so rarely seen and definitely in pop culture at that time. When’s the last time one of our own was up for a Tony Award? Why didn’t this honour get any attention? It was a tremendous achievement!

2. They are attempting to do good by attacking the wrong people.

The main reason these cuts are being made is allegedly to stop sub-par courses taking advantage of students. I want to make one thing very clear. I am not against the idea of this. What I am against is the disrespect shown to the arts and the fact that quality courses are inevitably going to get caught in the crossfires here. Places like the Actor’s Centre Australia. Founder Dean Carey has built this college up for nearly 30 years to bring arguably the finest acting course in the nation, as well as part time courses, workshops and drop-in classes for working actors. Hugh Jackman himself graduated from here and is the proud patron.
I do not understand why genuinely good courses are going to be penalised. Furthermore, the people in charge of this decision have not consulted a single person in the industry itself while ultimately deciding the fate of so many. What is wrong with these politicians?

Colleges are going to have to rework their courses and get extra credentials in order to keep going and make the courses affordable. Educators are going to suffer. Students are going to suffer. The industry will suffer.

But we will not fall.

At the risk of sounding over-dramatic, the arts will survive. They survived the Holocaust and Soviet Russia. They survive communism and fascism. They survive indifference and disrespect. They survive budget cuts and limited funding. Because at the end of the day, art is what makes the world a better place.
The bill will likely pass parliament, and we will have to regroup. And we will. We will find a way forward until people see the light. Nothing lasts forever. And as long as artists push ahead with what they do, breaking the barriers and holding a mirror up to society, we will win.

Because

“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see” – Edgar Degas

“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls…The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider’s web,” -Pablo Picasso

“It is through art, and through art only, that we can realise our perfection.” – Oscar Wilde

“Layer by layer art strips life bare,” – Robert Musil

I just wonder how much longer it will take for those blind politicians to see art for what it is.