Peaky Blinders – Season 2, Episode 4

BBC’s Peaky Blinders
Season 2, Episode 4
Directed by Colm McCarthy
Written by Steven Knight

* For a recap & review of Episode 3, click here.
* For a recap & review of Episode 5, click here.
Pic 1Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) visits the freshly dug grave of the young man whose throat was cut for the Blinders in prison. Naturally, he’s met with an angry mother. He pays what cash he has, then leaves; bloody temple and all. Then another clandestine meeting with Major Chester Campbell (Sam Neill), who’s invited a couple people: Irene O’Donnell (Simone Kirby) and Donal (Rory Keenan). All in the same bed of Irish greens. Tommy taunts about their mixing the “personal with the political” and the IRA frowns upon such things. This is one hell of a shaky alliance. Christ almighty! This is what happens when… common interests arise. Or I guess here it’s common dislikes, common problems.
So, Tom needs to kill someone. For the Crown, and for the cause. People not wanting to get their hands dirty. He refuses to do the job. Alone together, the leader of the Blinders tells Campbell that there are darker things at play here, specifically with those two. And what happens next could get extremely volatile.
Irene: “Did you ask why in France?”
Tommy: “Yeah
Pic 1AArthur (Paul Anderson) and some of the lads are in Camden Town. Gearing up for a row. They storm into a club, beating the shit out of any man who steps near. Bashing the place to pieces. The oldest Shelby’s making a statement and sending a message. He stabs the manager in the face with a broken bottle, announcing he’s taking over.
A man finds a body under a pile of coal at the mine. Is that Mr. Duggan?
At the office, Tommy gets a visit from Michael about a bookkeeping job. He wants to be part of the family, the business, he hopes to help in making them legitimate. Best of all, he offers loyalty and pride. Yet the boss is reluctant as always to take him in.
May Carleton (Charlotte Riley) turns up to see Tommy, at the bookies. Only Esme (Aimee-Ffion Edwards) is around, she’s not exactly welcoming. Although they do chat a bit before John (Joe Cole) and Tom arrive. The horse trainer gets to know the place, a feel for the bookie business and the operation in general. Then they go see the new horse, where Curly (Ian Peck) sweetly looks after it.
This woman is very curious about the Shelby man. They go down to the Garrison, where May has a bit of a culture shock over booze and talk of sex. She denies any attraction, which he says it perfect; less complicated. But I feel they’re both lying.
Screen Shot 2017-06-14 at 12.29.18 AMMichael is officially of age! They have a party to celebrate, also letting him in on the business finally after Pol and Tommy chat. So there’s plenty to be celebrating, indeed. They toast and have fun together like a big, happy family. Next day’s back to the grind like usual. They’ve got an export business ready to thrive, starting by setting off for Halifax, Nova Scotia. Taking advantage of Prohibition in Canada. Whiskey for the Canadians; these lads are right on.
In other news, Tommy isn’t pleased with Arthur and how he’s running the business. The books aren’t adding well at the end of the month. His issues with drink and cocaine are making him fuck up. “Its under control,” though. That’s what he tells his brother.
Tom goes to see Ada (Sophie Rundle). She’s got a man around named James (Josh O’Connor), renting out a room; a gay writer. The brother explains to his sister that he’s setup a trust fund for her boy, his nephew Karl. Not particularly surprising, as he likes taking care of his family. This is sort of an acknowledgement of mortality.
Screen Shot 2017-06-14 at 12.55.46 AM
Alfie Solomons (Tom Hardy) meets with Darby Sabini (Noah Taylor), they discuss their mutual acquaintance. If one thing is clear, the baker does not stand for any antisemitic bullshit. Seems the Italian likes to make jokes about the Jews. They’re definitely not buddies, these two. Nor does Sabini like the Shelby clan, whom he refers to as savages. The Jew and the Italian have been friends and enemies for a long, long time. So there’s a lot to navigate between these two and the Blinders.
Alfie: “The great big fuck off elephant in the room…”
Tommy goes to May’s home, where they have a drink and talk some more. It gets late and he’ll be staying there for the night. Furthermore, he makes clear his intentions to bed her later.
It’s payday. Isaiah (Jordan Bolger) wants to get served properly, so he takes Michael with him for a drink. While they’re out someone gets in a racist twist, calling Isaiah “darkie” and worse. This starts a rowdy fist fight with the Blinder boys doing a good deal of damage. The name Shelby alone causes a ruckus. Worse happens once John and Arthur get a whiff of it all, too.
Tom meets Campbell once again. Three weeks and the mission must be complete. He also tells the Major if he dies suspiciously, then someone will kill him. But that’s why he’s preparing, acknowledging that mortality instead of riding a wave of lucky breaks in the face of death. He knows it could, and will eventually, come for him. That’s why he tries calling Grace Burgess (Annabelle Wallis), hanging up when a man answers the phone. OH, MY.
Screen Shot 2017-06-14 at 1.11.49 AMFucking love this episode. There’s a lot to pack in sometimes, but it’s great because the writing fleshes out the characters every episode, and explores so much in each one. Can’t wait to see more of what happens between the IRA, Campbell, and Tommy; a bad standoff that can only end in nastiness for possibly all sides.

Advertisements

Taboo – Episode 2

FX’s Taboo
Episode 2
Directed by Kristoffer Nyholm
Written by Steven Knight

* For a recap & review of Episode 1, “Shovels and Keys” – click here
* For a recap & review of Episode 3, click here.
screen-shot-2017-01-14-at-7-49-42-pmOn the tail of his refusal to sell Nootka Sound, James Keziah Delaney (Tom Hardy) is a man apart after returning from Africa to his old home in London. Over at the East India Company, Sir Stuart Strange (Jonathan Pryce) isn’t happy with those beneath him, with whom he’s charged the task of killing James. And it’s either play ball, or lose your job. Meanwhile, Delaney’s in the wilderness with a shovel; he retrieves a small bag. Of money? Or something more?
Back at the house with Brace (David Hayman), James charges the caretaker with arming himself against whatever’s coming next. We find out more about old man Delaney’s last days, how he rarely ate and only drank beer from a man who sold it for cheap. The paranoia is setting into James, and rightfully so, as his father was poisoned, now there are people fitting to do the same, or worse, to him. A storm is brewing. A bad one, too.
At a ship auction, James puts in a bid of 800 pounds on a merchant vessel. He buys it under the name of Delaney Nootka Trading. Now there are many more knickers in knots. Strange is less than pleased with the news. He wants to understand – “Why did he know so much about the border negotiations?” among other things. Strange comes to believe the Americans are responsible, backing Delaney. But I think it’s all in the name of proper vengeance.
screen-shot-2017-01-14-at-7-57-37-pmJames finds a note with the name Atticus written on it, and he comes across the man whose name he seeks, a rough looking chap named Atticus (Stephen Graham); tattooed from head to toe, covered with butchers blood. They sit and chat. Atticus plans on writing a book, which is awesome. Furthermore, we’re told “when someone wants a man killed they come to Atticus.” We’ll be seeing more of this lad.
Solomon Coop (Jason Watkins) brings a map for whom I can only assume is George IV (Mark Gatiss) in his later years, though the Prince Regent doesn’t approve of the colours for the British ships as blue when the Americans are red. He’s a bit of a crass man, both in terrible health and with an equally terrible attitude. Fuck everybody, is the basic message he sends out to all.
Along the dark harbour at night James runs into a young girl named Winter (Ruby-May Martinwood). She lives at the whorehouse, though insists she’s a virgin. She brings unpleasant news about Helga (Franka Potente) who’s conspiring to do James harm.  So off the pair go – “Are you tricking me?” asks James, perhaps knowing there’s a good chance she is, indeed. Although they have a nice little chat, and Winter feels genuine. She even asks James to take her to America one day. When they come near a ship James swims on by himself. Aboard the boat he lights a fire to blow it sky high.
At home James continues doing what he can to make sure things go smoothly with Nootka Sound. Poor Brace is caught in the folds of the Delaney family mystery, and sees nothing ahead but tragedy. Simultaneously he watches James go through all the same things as his father Horace, speaking on a strange tongue and talking to ghosts. By himself, James comes across a paper from a stage show, the name Lorna Bow circled on the back.

screen-shot-2017-01-14-at-8-14-26-pmOut on the town James goes to see Helga, he tells her about Winter. He susses out that Winter is Helga’s daughter, which is why she doesn’t rent the girl out. This is all a way for James to try bringing her into the fold, to help him gather intel: “Secrets to me are weapons.” Plus, he wants information on the man Winter told him of, the gent with the silver tooth. And off James goes, farther on his quest. He takes a look at the ship he’s purchased and sizes it up. Down below he feels the pull of memory take him  back to the ship he fled, the slave ship; and what other nastiness lies in those memories? Eager to find out. We get snippets of flashbacks to the ship; brief, sparse moments.
What grave sin has James committed? It’s something which haunts him, that’s all we know for sure.
He goes on trying to thwart the plot against his life. In a crude hospital he finds Dr. Dumbarton (Michael Kelly). He’s an interesting character – a doctor, a merchant, and a spy, so James says. This doesn’t impress the man. Soon James makes clear he wants help contacting the government of the United States, and hopes Dumbarton, an American, will facilitate this for him. I guess he won’t entertain the idea, as a gun comes out and James leaves rather than test the doctor’s trigger finger.
Zilpha (Oona Chaplin) receives a letter. Inside, a large piece of crystal (is it a diamond?). Hmm. Interesting. Across town, James meets with the lawyer Thoyt (Nicholas Woodeson), and lays things out on the table. “You are their whore,” he chastises Thoyt for passing information over to the EIC. And the spineless lawyer has nothing, only excuses and defeat.
Later they head over to the division of old man Delaney’s estate. Everything goes to James. this doesn’t sit well with anybody, least of which brother-in-law Thorne Geary (Jefferson Hall): “That legacy is your death sentence.” Surprising everybody, however, James brings money enough to pay off his father’s debts, making some of the men present happy. Then up turns a woman claiming she was Horace’s wife, Lorna Bow (Jessie Buckley). Even has the paperwork to prove it. Thoyt and James are taken quite off guard. Afterwards, the lawyer goes to see Sir Strange and the others, to whom he must confirm the legitimacy of Lorna’s marriage to Horace. They mull over what their opportunities are with this information. All roads lead again to the death of James Delaney.


The tension between James and his half-sister Zilpha is nearly unbearable. During a grand ball they lock eyes, though she is less thrilled about it, so it appears. Even their body language speaks of a more intimate relationship than just half-brother to half-sister. She feels the lure, yet clearly wants him away from her. “Did you really eat flesh?” Zilpha asks him; one of the many rumours about James and his time in Africa. For now they’re kept apart. I feel like this is simply another avenue in life that will possibly bring ruin to James Delaney. Because there are so many angles from which death and destruction come at him already, another one is bad.
Speaking too soon, as James heads out into the streets he’s finally attacked by a random assailant in the night. He’s stabbed in the guts, left to die in an alley. Not before he kills his would-be killer, biting a chunk from their neck in bloody chaos before slumping against a wall and passing out.
screen-shot-2017-01-14-at-8-27-42-pmscreen-shot-2017-01-14-at-8-43-46-pm


What will become of Mr. Delaney?
I loved this episode, a fantastic follow-up to improve on the first one and makes things more intriguing. The writing from Steven Knight is excellent, as usual. He keeps a lot of nice stuff, plot-wise, close to the hip. Letting things unfold in a slow burn here is perfect for the mystery of James and his time in Africa. Can’t wait to see more. I anticipate there are many more conflicted feelings in regards to our anti-hero, and I’m hoping that Knight is headed where I think he’s headed with the story.

Catch Me Daddy: A Grim Ride Into the Reality of Honour Killing

Catch Me Daddy. 2014. Directed by Daniel Wolfe. Screenplay by Daniel & Matthew Wolfe.
Starring Sameena Jabeen Ahmed, Connor McCarron, Gary Lewis, Barry Nunney, Adrian Hussain, Anwar Hussain, Ali Ahmad, Shoby Karman, Wasim Zakir, Nichola Burley, & Kate Dickie. Emu Films/Film4.
Unrated. 110 minutes.
Thriller

★★★★★
POSTER
Does a film need to have a massive plot? Can an entertaining bit of cinema simply have a small, intricate plot that runs on atmosphere? Catch Me Daddy is a movie that certainly has a plot. All the same, the events move towards a conclusion that doesn’t particularly satisfy. Nor does it let down, either. Essentially, director Daniel Wolfe, along with screenwriting partner on this picture Matthew Wolfe, crafts a chase into the extended series of events which frame the story of love, honour, betrayal, culture, and so much more. The tone of the film is gritty, its look equally as raw. In addition, Wolfe uses mostly a cast of relative to completely unknown actors, which further grasps that aim of realism. Most of all, this movie tackles the issue of honour killings and the culture clashes amongst the lower class in England without getting too controversial. Not that controversy is bad. But Wolfe’s film takes on a different air, instead of diving deep into dialogue or exposition on the cultural and racial issues, and what results is an endearing, tense, even brutal ride through the streets of England, the countryside, the caravans. Best of all? We’re never spoon fed all the ingredients. Rather, the crew of filmmakers alongside Wolfe give us plenty to look at, listen to, and leaves us with a hunger for understanding.
Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 9.18.19 PM
Laila (Sameena Jabeen Ahmed) is a young Pakistani woman living in Britain. She hides from her strict religious family in a caravan out in the country with her Scottish boyfriend, Aaron (Conor McCarron). They get by, as she works assisting a hairdresser, and Aaron does his best to track down a job.
But there are men looking for them, specifically Laila. Her brother Zaheer (Ali Ahmad) leads a group of his friends in the charge. Also, two white men named Tony (Gary Lewis) and Barry (Barry Nunney) are on the trail. When Laila and Aaron find themselves discovered, and she accidentally kills her brother, the chase is on. Unable to trust anyone, the two lovers rush like mad to escape their fate. Through the countryside, into the streets of London, Laila must run for her life. Or else she’ll lose it.
Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 10.15.33 PM
Cinematographer Robbie Ryan takes us right into the world of these characters, offering up a beautiful style and at the same time giving us a gritty, dark visual atmosphere that you can almost chew. Ryan is particularly adept at capturing those gritty landscapes, as evidenced by his previous work on such films as IsolationRed RoadFish Tank, and he has a unique flair that’s quite noticeable in the recent Slow West. This film is almost a mix of those qualities. While Ryan finds all those raw, rough qualities that are worth seeing when tackling a story highly based in reality, he simultaneously infuses many of the scenes here with a gorgeous look, nearly radiant at times. The rich, vibrant look of certain shots combined themselves with the grittiness of all the lower class neighbourhoods, caravans and other locations, and this aesthetic creates an interesting space in which everything plays out.
Not only is the cinematography excellent, the score from first timers Matthew Waston (a.k.a Matthew Wolfe) and Daniel Thomas Freeman is wild. Whereas a few scenes contain popular music, it’s the music Watson and Freeman add that helps make so many of the scenes chug along filled with adrenaline, fear, and suspense respectively. When Laila is first forced to flee the caravan where she and Aaron hide, the frenetic music propels the entire film forward, and it prepares us for a chaotic cat-and-mouse thriller.
Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 10.17.26 PM
I love the screenplay for this film. There are so many elements that are only alluded to briefly, which is always a plus. Stories that try jamming exposition and unneeded dialogue down the audience’s collective throat are the worst. Not to say there shouldn’t be anything concrete. On the contrary, I hate when scripts are vague simply for being vague’s sake. In direct opposition, Catch Me Daddy focuses very clearly on its present events, while all the past, the backstory, the characters and their lives remains distinctly behind them. We get allusions to previous events, the lives of the characters. Nothing is spelled out plainly, though. And all the better for it. Because once the end comes around, this film throws us for a curve. We want answers, we’d like to know everything. But what will that help? Will anything give us a clear path towards understanding Laila’s father? We already recognize her clear hopes to be her own woman, separate from the wants and wishes of her family, the expectations of her culture. Left with an ambiguous ending, no answers offered up, the screenplay defies explanation. Likely, we all know what happens after the credits roll. Although, Wolfe & Wolfe give us nothing perfect, nothing that fits entirely into the right box. The mystery surrounding some of the film’s plot and events is what makes it so intriguing. If everything were laid out, we might have come to a fully formed idea of what happened, perhaps even see exactly what comes next. Without that, director Wolfe leave us in a position where the agonizing questions, the lingering, sore emotions are still up for debate. Nobody here is trying to make a statement, so much as the filmmakers are presenting us with a harsh reality of what goes on within certain pockets of culture bent on fundamentalism, and the path hardcore belief can lead brothers, fathers, sisters, lovers on.
Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 10.18.06 PM
The central performance from Sameena Jabeen Ahmed is quality. She is amazing, even just when it’s her eyes on camera. Her expressions, her demeanour, it is all perfect for this role. Her acting talent, as well as the excellent Gary Lewis, provide Catch Me Daddy with an anchor. Even when it feels as if not much is happening, the actors allow us to stay rooted, and the film carries you away.
A definite 5-star affair. From cinematography to acting to score, this is one hell of a ride. The slow burn nature of the plot may get to some, but trust me, if you hang in there every last bit is worth it. Again, if you prefer expository dialogue and having every last detail of the characters and plot explained in long-winded scenes, then this is certainly not your cup of tea. If you do like a challenge, a film that tries its hand at storytelling instead of dishing out concrete evidence for every last move, this is up your alley.
There is a ton of great stuff to enjoy here, and it’s impressive this small film is capable of holding the weight it does. Wolfe does a spectacular job in the director’s chair, giving us a glimpse into a world foreign to many of us, yet gives us enough that we feel involved in that world, at least for 110 minutes.