Holly knows that Claude is the next on el Cuco's list, and so they have to protect him.
Holly's stuck on a car ride with Jack, as Ralph and Alec start to worry for her safety.
After Grace's death, Tommy must figure out how to move on, with his personal life, and with business.
BBC Two’s Peaky Blinders
Season 3, Episode 5
Directed by Tim Mielants
Written by Steven Knight
* For a review of Episode 4, click here.
* For a review of Episode 6, click here.
Here we are at the penultimate episode of Series 3, and with two more already confirmed series’ ahead. What a treat!
Starting out with David Bowie’s “Lazarus”, a nice sequence shows us Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) at the doctor. His head bashed in. We’re given a view into his past, also seeing his present, and in between. Still, the drugs are holding him tight. Even worse now with the morphine to keep his head from bursting. What will this bring for everything ahead?
He receives a visit from Michael Gray (Finn Cole). He knows things about Father Hughes (Paddy Considine), bad things from when he was a kid. He offers to even shoot the priest himself, long as Tommy shows him how to shoot. Wonder if this is finally the big way in for Michael.
Cut to three months down the road. Tommy’s now trying to kick the morphine habit; good on ya, Tommy boy. Not sure how well that’s going to work, but who knows. Anyway, he talks about mad fever dreams on the drugs. Seeing his housemaid naked, reading from Leviticus. Amazing little moment here, the writing had me in a crack up.
Tommy and Johnny Dogs (Packy Lee) have a chat. Boss wants him to do a few things for him. Seems there comes with it 5,000 pounds, so nothing troubles Johnny much in the end. Better than that the other Shelby brothers arrive with someone who calls himself “the Wandering Jew.” Upstairs, Tommy meets with him – Alfie Solomons (Tom Hardy). The one and only. He’s come back along to tell Tommy about the funny rumours about him since the head injury, and to speak of business.
Meanwhile, Arthur (Paul Anderson), John (Joe Cole), Johnny, and Michael have their own chats. There’s trouble about for Michael, as his life is in turmoil. Yet none of them are exactly living smooth. What I love most is the chemistry these guys have together. They do seem like a big family, which is ultimately the goal of any ensemble cast; these guys are meant to be family, so their natural feeling chemistry as a group is excellent.
Arthur and Alfie have their reunion. The latter wants to bury the hatchet, all just business. Right? He extends apologies of all sorts. The Shelby brother isn’t exactly happy, though his new path to Jesus Christ urges him not to cause a scene. Quite a good scene filled with tension. Alfie’s not exactly there to make things easy. But Tommy’s got plans for how they’ll deal with the Russians, which is the reason for Alfie being there apparently.
Johnny Dogs: “Arthur, if you‘re gonna get on like dis with the Apaches they‘d fuckin‘ scalp you, b‘y.”
Headed out getting ready, Duchess and Princess Petrovna require seeing the brothers’ skin. They need to check for tattoos, et cetera, which may identify them as assassins. A hilarious scene, especially when Arthur’s not pleased. John doesn’t seem to mind, as the Russian ladies check every inch of them. Things get quite intense for Arthur in particular. That Princess is definitely one to watch. “Inside every man there is a devil,” she says ominously, looking back to Tommy.
Aunt Polly (Helen McCrory) and her son Michael are doing business, Ada (Sophie Rundle) along, too. He heads off to make a call to his lady, we find out he wants to get her an abortion. In the other room, Pol and Ada try to forge a “new kind of politics” in order to make a good life for themselves. “Welcome to the bourgeoisie,” Polly tells Ada with a sly smile. Now Ada is a member of the organization – properties and acquisitions. Also, we discover she and Ruben Oliver (Alexander Siddig) are getting incredibly close, soon likely to fall in bed together, as she makes clear to Ada. But tonight, “why should all the boys have fun?” asks Polly. The boys are certainly having fun – Arthur’s given up on sobriety, so it appears. They’re all busy drinking, getting laid or trying to, and all sorts of debauchery; there are even two men getting lustily close on the couch nearby under the radar. John gets some information off Stefan (Josef Altin), as Tommy goes with Tatiana to see some of their operation.
Downstairs, Alfie’s there. The Duchess and Duke (Jan Bijvoet) are there, as well. We further find out Solomons spoke Russian – he has beef with them, over her being hunted down by dogs in the snow. Yikes. He turns the other cheek, all in the name of business. But you better know not to fuck with Alfie, he doesn’t play games. He helps Tommy get an eye on how much the Russians have, and they have quite a bit of treasure.
Ruben has finished the painting of Polly. It is astonishing. She looks upon it admiring the work he’s done, how beautiful he made her look (and she’s a gorgeous lady), and the effort it took to put her form to canvas. For his part, he believes it’s his best yet. Always a charmer. Either way, she’s flattered and wants a relationship with him: “There‘ll be more Sundays,” he tells her. Finally, they consummate their love. Except she’s reminded slightly by her rape at the hands of Campbell. Luckily he is a good man and he apologizes, he’s tender with her. A beautiful love scene, as opposed to so many in shows that are crude and just all for aesthetic pleasure.
Too busy falling down the bottle, Arthur is heading off with a prostitute. At the same time, Tommy sits back with a drink, listening to Tatiana’s bullshit. Later he breaks down a bit in her arms. Is he getting too close to her for his own good? No telling, but we’re close to finding out. A freaky sequence where he imagines being with his dead wife once more.
Tommy’s got some old army buddies with him now, along with Johnny Dogs, Arthur, and the rest of the mad bastards helping the Peaky Blinders. They’ve got the plan ready, maps, blueprints, the whole lot. Boss Shelby lays everything out for them and things are about to get underway.
Snooping around, Polly finds a wedding ring in Michael’s desk. Or so she thought. Inside is actually a literal bullet with Hughes’ name on it. Then Tommy catches his aunt with it right in her hands. Of course she worries for her son. Only she doesn’t know why Michael wants to do the job. She susses it out, though nobody says anything out loud. So now Pol knows why Tommy gave the job to Michael. “By order of the Peaky Blinders” and so on. She doesn’t want that for him. Threatening to bring them all down if her son pulls the trigger. Whoa.
Great episode right before the finale. Cannot wait to see what they have in store for us in Episode 6. Lots to which we can look forward. Plus, they’ve already confirmed two more seasons. Glory be to the Peaky Blinders!
BBC Two’s Peaky Blinders
Season 3, Episode 4
Directed by Tim Mielants
Written by Steven Knight
* For a review of Episode 3, click here.
* For a review of Episode 5, click here.
The lads are out hunting. They gun down a fine buck, the whole clan out and about, from Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) to Arthur (Paul Anderson) and all the rest. Love this opener, as it’s strangely ominous. And these dudes know how to ride a god damn horse.
Good Friday’s come round. Tommy gets a letter that their father is dead. A woman he was with while he died wrote them, saying he asked their forgiveness. Finn (Harry Kirton) and John (Joe Cole) are too young to really remember him. They hunt, in part, to do some honour to him. Piece of shit he was and all. Otherwise, Tom talks business about the upcoming robbery.
Meanwhile, Aunt Pol (Helen McCrory) is in the confessional. Is there one big enough to contain all her sins? Doubt it. Anyway, she chats with the reluctant father. She reveals little bits. About the murder of a policeman, Inspector Campbell. What she tells him is that she feels no regret for it. That his murder was just. And I somewhat agree with Polly.
At the Shelby organization, the women are doing a good bit of the work. Not just Polly, but Lizzie (Natasha O’Keeffe) and others, as well. Turns out, she’s sleeping with Tommy, now and then. When he feels like it. “It‘s hard to sleep bent over a desk, isn‘t it?” she laments.
At the same time, Michael Gray (Finn Cole) is slipping further into the business of his family. Tommy’s giving everybody the low down with the Lanchester Factory blueprints to boot. They’ve got big plans ahead, if only the robbery goes as planned. Set them all up for life and then some. One last job. Not everyone’s so eager, such as family friend Charlie Strong (Ned Dennehy), though everybody’s in all the same.
Now Linda (Kate Phillips) is over trying to help at the organization. Only thing is she’s too proper and prim for any of the illegal stuff. She’s fine with doing little bits and pieces around the place. Then there’s lots of talk about female empowerment, strikes on Good Friday by disenfranchised women, which sends Polly off. She and the women march downtown, visually similar to earlier when we saw Tommy and the lads ride their horses. LOVE the stylish camera work and techniques they use throughout the series, as well as again having to mention the anachronistic music. Often this might hinder a period piece. Here, it enhances the fun.
Over at his office, Tommy meets Princess Tatiana Petrovna (Gaite Jansen) to talk more business. He mentions being hurt to kill a stag. Yet would feel nothing to “put a bullet in the priest‘s face.” May be more than business on the table, apparently Tatiana comes as part of their deal. Then John rushes in quick to tell his older brother about the women gone on strike. Also, John has trouble with his wife Esme (Aimee-Ffion Edwards) who can’t keep off the cocaine while she’s pregnant. But everybody is trying their best to turn things around, in all sorts of ways.
Tommy and Tatiana end up in bed together. Of course. They get closer, chatting about their weakness, desire. More importantly, they speak of possibilities. Well, she’s a bit wild. Taking his gun and running off through the halls of his nice big house. She leads him on a little chase. Then opts for a bit of Russian Roulette, y’know, a game she used to play. This freaks him out: “And I don‘t want your mad fucking Russians brains all over me fuckin‘ walls.” What a way to follow up some old fashion lovemaking. Tatiana tries to run the house, showing Tommy what it is to be royalty, to have money and be a big shot. Except that’s not who he is, really. And still there is a part of him that likes the dark madness in her. Above all else, she encourages him to do what he wants. Not to be afraid of freedom any longer.
The Shelby brothers get together once more. More maps and plans to help them during the robbery. They’re looking for a Russian speaker, possibly finding one in a young man that’s looking to get himself a bit of cash. Lizzie and the rest of the women have formed a union. Polly’s in a bit of a hangover state, so part of her hubris is alcohol. But there’s no backing down. They have terms. Before that, Tommy discovers Arthur’s been telling his wife lots. About the robbery – not the factory, but their other one. The robbery that’s been planned undercover from the women and everyone else. So that’s not going to be good. He knows Linda finds out everything. Moreover, Tommy later talks to Linda. She knows far more than is good for health. The extent to which Arthur lets his wife in on things worries the brother in charge. What’s more is that Arthur wouldn’t be happy to find out these talks are happening behind his back, he may see that as something emasculating. Regardless, Linda wants to get away to America instead of sticking around Birmingham.
Simultaneously, Father Hughes (Paddy Considine) is finding out there may be danger coming his way. And that’s certain to set off a counteracted action on his side.
Ruben Oliver (Alexander Siddig) is still painting Polly, in all her glory. He is quite seductive and charming in his own way. Although, she does not fall for it. She is one of the strongest women on television.
Polly: “I think when men want sex they become hilarious, like a dog when you pick up a lead and he knows he‘s going for a walk.”
Tommy’s off readying to get the deed done on Father Hughes. He slyly follows the priest until getting ambushed in a toilet by a couple men. They beat Tommy badly before loading him into an ambulance. He’s carted off somewhere dark and mysterious where Father Hughes stands over him with MP Jarvis (Alex Macqueen). They want to know why Tommy tried killing the priest. Mostly he just goes in and out of consciousness, managing a “fuck you” in between. Hughes talks about passing information over to the Soviet Union, as well as expecting an apology in front of the Russians. Big threats, too. Directed towards Tom’s son. “We have people in your life,” warns Hughes.
Wow. So with all the reach of the Blinders, this priest seems to have even more. His grasp is tough and vicious. Back at the house, Tommy sacks most of the people in his employ. Can’t trust a soul any more. Worse, he has quite a concussion by the looks of it. Not doing well at all. He shows up to the Russian dinner half concussed, half blown on the cocaine. At the table with the Grand Duke and Duchess (Jan Bijvoet/Dina Korzun), he does his best to apologize with Hughes ranting on about punishment.
Saying a prayer in repentance, Tommy winces through. But everyone in attendance knows there’s something wrong. Tom rushes off to another meeting. Only he can’t manage to keep it together much longer. The concussion finally takes its toll on him. He collapses, telling Ada (Sophine Rundle) to get him to a hospital, that he has internal bleeding, a fractured skull. Then he fades away.
What an excellent episode that progresses plot and character. Not only that, Tommy Shelby is proven once again to not be a completely invincible, untouchable gangster, as awesome as he is there’s no need for him to be completely God-like. So I love that this is a new move towards a more vulnerable Tommy, and Shelby organization as a whole. Excited for the next episode. Stay tuned with me, fellow lads and ladies!
BBC Two’s Peaky Blinders
Season 3, Episode 3
Directed by Tim Mielants
Written by Steven Knight
* For a review of Episode 2, click here.
* For a review of Episode 4, click here.
After the vicious events of last episode’s finale, Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) is most certainly ready for vengeance. His wife is dead now. Grace is gone. Or is he deciding on something else instead of revenge?
Everybody’s worried about him, as he’s been leaving all day on horseback and doing his own thing alone. Things are touchy, of course. No one wants to push him any further over the edge than he seems to be headed. Polly (Helen McCrory) clearly cares, but he wants none of it. Arthur and John (Paul Anderson/Joe Cole) are a bit pissed they weren’t all called in.
However, brothers is brothers. It all gets along. Well the Italians are getting locked down and the score’s ready to be settled. Tommy’s taken to writing up lists for everybody, so like Polly and Michael Gray (Finn Cole), the brothers likewise get their slip. John’s not happy that Michael was brought in before him. This eventually prompts Tommy to yell at his younger brother. He’s most concerned with “legitimate business” now after the death of his wife.
A little later Arthur gets up in Michael’s face after egging him on. Although nothing comes of it. They eventually sit back down for a few more drinks. For her part, Polly wants them all to start acting more appropriate to people with a big house, money, et cetera. And to unite with Tommy.
Only Tommy’s off with his little boy and Johnny Dogs (Packy Lee) headed for Wales. To see a woman, he says. Back in 3 days he tells them via note. A journey is needed. On a little stop, Tommy tells his child about his mother, what happened, and how things will be ahead of them. Though, he expresses: “I‘m not much good, Charlie. You‘re gonna find that out soon enough.”
Teaching Michael how to shoot turns out wild for John and Arthur, as he puts the gun to both of them being led on by their taunts. Seems like there’s going to be actual fallout between these three. After all, Arthur continually pushes at Michael for being a ‘boss’ even though the latter doesn’t have any ambition to jump over them. Yet the insecurities of the oldest Shelby are abound. Either way, they try and teach Michael about their “side of the business” until Polly breaks it up. Michael makes clear he ain’t no little boy. GREAT SONG included here as “Burn the Witch” by Queens of the Stone Age plays and the Shelby brothers fire away on their guns. Nice little scene. Maybe Michael’s going to start getting his hands dirty and into the shit. We’ll see how it plays.
Down at the factory, the Shelby brothers meet with Connor Nutley (Ralph Ineson). They hand him a list of people involved with the Communist Party. He’s got six weeks to “sack them” or else, y’know… but Connor isn’t so easily convinced. The man is clearly just a working bloke and the Shelby clan are forcing his hand.
At the same time, Polly’s getting painted by Ruben Oliver (Alexander Siddig). She plays coy, but does have interest in him. I get the idea Polly is used to things going poorly, or downright awful. She’s seen hardship galore. So that’s perhaps a reason why she stands back at a distance. Here, she breaks down a bit in front of Ruben. He seems a sweet man. A bit eccentric, not weird just a painter type. For a moment she believes he’s into the fact she’s a “gangster” but he is more so into her, as subject, and a hopeful lover.
Tommy’s out on the marshlands and meeting a gypsy woman named Bethany Boswell (Frances Tomelty). He brings her the sapphire that’s supposedly cursed, the one his wife wore while getting shot. He believes in the curse, it seems. Although, Ms. Boswell doesn’t appear to get any bad vibes off the piece. Mainly, he hopes the curse is real so that is absolves him of guilt in his wife’s death. “All I have is you,” he tells the gypsy. No religion, none of that. She believes it’s cursed, saying it nearly burns her flesh. Then he heads out: “All religion is a foolish answer to a foolish question,” he explains to Dogs.
Vicente Changretta (Kenneth Colley) is headed to get on a ship in the midst of a massive crowd. His look increasingly nervous. Soon, he sees a suspicious man heading for him. He flags down a polcie officer and feels safe escorted onto the boat. Little does he know, the law is bought and paid by Shelby money. It’s all worse because Changretta’s wife taught the Shelby boys, she pushes them to let him go, reminding them of their youth under her tutelage: “I gave you sweets and cakes!” she cries. They disobey Tommy by letting his wife go, though. There may be hell to pay for this decision. Now, Mrs. Changretta is off to America on her own. You can see it definitely bothers John, so underneath the rough exterior of a gangster still lies the heart of a boy.
Some nice Nick Cave in this sequence with “Tupelo” jamming. The Shelby clan is busy in this episode, man. They don’t stop with the aggression. Certainly after the death of Grace, this is expected. Tommy is there now to do what he will with Changretta. The gig is up. Only Arthur steps in to finish Changretta off quick, as John also reveals they didn’t kill his wife. They don’t want to be that sort of gangster. Like a distinction can be made.
Tommy (to Changretta): “I forget who I am. I‘m a Blinder, I‘ll take your fuckin‘ eyes first.”
So Tom goes home with his boy and he tries getting back to business. He and Lizzie have a chat about her place in the Shelby Company. All sorts of legal stuff, selling perfumes and all that proper stuff; in Boston no less. Maybe things aren’t so bad for her after all.
In a jail cell, Tommy meets a gentleman who has information he needs. Wants. Badly. About Section D, or whatever they want to be called. The man warns the people he’s after are “dangerous“, but Tommy isn’t deterred. The Blinders are pretty fucking dangerous.
Arthur’s back on the booze. Although I doubt his wife is aware. She’s more happy about the baby they’re going to have. Wow! Papa Arthur. That sounds like a god damn mess all around. He seems happy as hell, but I’m not so sure he’s cut out for the family life like a normal chap. Or could it be the thing which turns him around? Maybe he’s not as ruthless any more after having spared Mrs. Changretta. There’s possibly a turnaround.
Anyway, Arthur reveals the big news to everybody. The boys are all impressed. Tommy is a bit heavy hearted to see his brother happy with a family, yet he obviously loves his brother. “Proud of ya,” he tells Arthur before heading off to a meeting.
At a swanky dinner, Tommy meets Father Hughes (Paddy Considine), Grand Duke and Duchess Petrovna (Jan Bijvoet/Dina Korzun), the whole lot. They chat together, Tommy answering questions about his family, so forth. The shady priest leads everyone in a nice grace. But Tom wants to get down to business. He lays out the update on their mission, all the stuff with the Communist Party and the plan for the robbery. Big event. Tom has it all under control and answers any question they lob at him. Something about Hughes strikes me as odd. He keeps interrupting all over the place, which doesn’t really please Tommy. Nevertheless, Tom slips a note to the Grand Duchess without anyone else getting to see what it says, pretending it’s a price for fuel and vehicles. Then he insults Hughes before leaving them all to their dinner.
The Duchess sends her daughter Tatiana (Gaite Jansen) out to talk with Tommy. He tells her about Hughes passing information over that’s going back to the Soviet embassy. He offers to kill him. Tatiana mouths off a bit about his wife, to which Tommy responds saying Grace is always with him. A strong moment, great writing.
Loved this fucking episode. What a whopper, and unexpected. Really subverted what I thought was going to go typically like other mob-styled shows. Never underestimate the power of Steven Knight as a writer. Great chapter, looking forward to next week’s episode now so bad.
BBC Two’s Peaky Blinders
Season 3, Episode 2
Directed by Tim Mielants
Written by Steven Knight
* For a review of Episode 1, click here.
* For a review of Episode 3, click here.
After a whopper of a premiere, Season 3 keeps on ramblin’. Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) is out taking meetings. He’s talking with Connor Nutley (Ralph Ineson) about a little business. He needs some keys, evidently to some storage. But you know it’s more than for a place to store a few things. Either way, it appears Nutley is reluctant to take money from a Shelby, Tommy specifically. He takes it, though.
And a little later, he ends up speaking to Father John Hughes (Paddy Considine), as the two sit and have a smoke. They talk of choosing sides, so on. And without a whole lot of effort, Considine makes Father Hughes and his talk of “little creatures” into an eerie sort of chap. I’m a fan of his for a long time now, but this is immediately an effective performance. Interested to see where this relationship goes from here. Hughes is a crooked priest with irons in the criminal fire, so there’s no doubt a further end to having a great actor like Considine playing the part. The tension between Hughes and Tommy is excellent, too.
Now I’m blown away. Because an excellent actor I didn’t realize was part of this season shows up – Jan Bijvoet, as Grand Duke Leon Petrovna. This character is also quickly intriguing. Seems things aren’t as lively in terms of social engagements and business asthe Duke had hoped. He’ll be an interesting addition to the cast, as well.
Arthur Shelby (Paul Anderson) and brother John (Joe Cole) are sitting for a meeting of their own. However, not everybody’s too happy living under the rule of Shelbys like Arthur and John. As much as Tommy can get psycho when needed, Arthur and John are most certainly a little less subtle, and perhaps a little less respectful, than their brother. Vicente Changretta (Kenneth Colley) ends up literally spitting at them, making clear they’ve gone too far this time. Nice tense scene that’s sure to bring about a little trouble.
I’m always interested in what Aunt Polly (Helen McCrory) is up to. Because as greasy as she can be like any of them, Polly doesn’t get enough credit. They often walk all over here. But then again, none of them are saints, so what does it matter? Regardless, she doesn’t back down, and always gets her two cents in. Despite getting ignored or flat out mistreated, Polly manages a degree of strength in her male Shelby dominated world. Except right now all she manages to do is rile up her son John over Lizzie and her messed up situation.
Meanwhile, Tommy is making sure he’s on the special list at a swanky hotel. He’s dining and chatting with the Grand Duke Petrovna, who for his part is a bit of a disgusting man eating and drinking and talking in unison. Petrovna makes a bit of a dirty remark about Russian women v. English women, one which doesn’t appear to strike Tommy as very funny. But they get on talking. The conversation has its… ups and downs, including the Grand Duke crushing a glass in his hand, so obviously stressed yet completely composed at once. Another really impressive scene, both in writing and in the execution of the actors. Of course we find out more about what happened in the first episode of the season, re: the killing of the supposed Russian. Now, there’s further business ahead for the Russians and Shelbys. Serious business at that.
And John, he’s busy kicking the shit out of people. That’s one thing that constantly drives the fear of the Shelbys is that they’re very up close and personal fighters. Yes, they use weapons, guns sometimes. But they’re mostly brawlers. This is part of why many fear them. They don’t have to resort to guns in the night, or at least not all the time. These are blokes that’ll take you on, head to head.
When the Shelby brothers come together, along with Aunt Pol, there’s problems over John’s actions. He listened to nobody, and now there’s hell to pay. All the same, Tommy will have nothing but solidarity. It’s his way, or the fucking highway.
The Grand Duke sees his Grand Duchess Izabella (Dina Korzun). This reveals the fact they’ve likely got sinister intentions within their dealing with the Shelbys. She says it’s possible he may have to kill Tommy, with his own hand. Something the Duke is apparently ready for, one way or another. But is he? Without the possibility of death, any show’s characters become stagnant. So while Tommy is strong, all powerful with a wide reach, there is always a possible murder lurking around the corner, an assassination close behind or being brewed in the dark corners of Birmingham, maybe even further than that. Yet what I know for sure is there’s a nice showdown coming for the Petrovna and Tommy.
At the same time, Tommy is giving his wife Grace (Annabelle Wallis) the sapphire Petrovna gifted him for the murder of the Russian (spy) from last episode. And he’s got so much to worry about now with a wife, the child, it’s more to be used against him. Aside from that there’s Arthur trying to fight his demons, aided by his overbearing wife Linda (Kate Phillips). It’s only a matter of time before something in the Shelby clan breaks, snapping like a twig. Violently, I would imagine.
More Radiohead in this episode with “I Might Be Wrong”, a personal favourite of mine out of their catalogue. We see Arthur out on “business” as he tells his wife. But really it’s shit kicking time. So put on your shit kickers. Although, give it to Arthur: he goes home like he said he would. Even if his brother isn’t happy.
Tommy gets scooped up by the coppers. Then up shows creepy Father Hughes with an equally unsettling dog to see Mr. Shelby in his cell. The priest brings news about having Scotland Yard in their pocket. Veiled and open threats at once. Except Tommy is a hard bastard. A fighter to the bone. The two stand toe to toe, might as well be butting heads. Still, there’s a scary element to Father Hughes: “We can reach anyone. Anywhere.” And this puts a proper spook into Tommy, who rushes home to find a further threat. Proving that Hughes and his people really can get to anybody. A highly unsettling moment. Both in its own right, as well as for the fact Tommy is such a powerful man and someone can still go above and beyond his grasp.
As things go on of which she has no idea, Polly is ready to be painted soon by Ruben Oliver (Alexander Siddig). These two are fast becoming a little romantic. Wonder how far that will go, or what more trouble that might get Aunt Pol into with her boys. Because you know there’s only so far happiness goes for her. Mostly it’s a bleak and dreary ride through life for her among the Shelby clan. “A woman of substance and class,” she repeats to herself in the mirror before a party, the words Oliver had said about her earlier.
And at the party, Tommy’s not pleased to see Father Hughes, along with MP Patrick Jarvis (Alex Macqueen). In the dark behind closed doors, the three meet, and Tommy smokes his way through another tense encounter. They discuss an upcoming job, a bit of business. And Tommy really has no time for anybody else’s shit. The MP and the priest have their own ideas about how things will go. Even with the force of their power against him, Tommy will not lie down and take it for anyone.
Tommy: “You know gentlemen there is hell, and there is another place below hell. I will remember everything, and forgive nothing.”
Tommy doesn’t want to bring Princess Tatiana Petrovna (Gaite Jansen) through for a factory tour while the place is being watched. Also, Princess Tatiana is a bit of a bitch. She even goes so far as to play on the whole gypsy angle, saying the sapphire from the Grand Duke has been cursed by one. So Tommy rushes to his wife, asking her to take the thing off.
But it’s too late. A man barges in through the crowd and takes a shot at the happy couple, hitting Grace right in the chest above her heart. As Tommy holds his bleeding wife, the other Shelbys beat the shooter, likely to death.
What a finish! Christ. I am sweating. Looking forward to the next episode, which will undoubtedly bring a ton of exciting developments. Much trouble on the way between the Irish and the Russians. Plus, plenty more amazing cinematography, acting, and lots of fun music. Stay tuned with me.
Macbeth. 2015. Directed by Justin Kurzel. Screenplay by Jacob Koskoff, Michael Lesslie & Todd Louiso; based on the original play by William Shakespeare.
Starring Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Paddy Considine, Lochlann Harris, Lynn Kennedy, Seylan Baxter, Brian Nickels, Hilton McRae, James Harkness, Ross Anderson, David Thewlis, Sean Harris and Elizabeth Debicki.
See-Saw Films/DMC Film/ACE/Film 4/Creative Scotland/Studio Canal.
Rated 14A. 113 minutes.
You either love Shakespeare, or you haven’t got any time for him. That’s just the way it goes. I’ve never met anyone who says “Oh yeah I read a bit now and then”. You read Shakespeare plenty or don’t give a shit. Honestly. He’s one of those acquired tastes. I’ve always enjoyed his work because of the death, the mystery, intrigue, all the murder and deceit and disguises. Shakespeare wrote such wild and exotic stuff, it’s just hard to crack through some of his dialogue if you don’t study it. And that’s why I think you either love him or hate him. Bottom line.
Justin Kurzel came on with an amazing debut, Snowtown, which is based on the real serial killings of Australian murderer John Bunting. That was one macabre yet compelling films. It almost dulled the violence and atrocity to a point where, by the end, you’ve nearly become bored by it. Yet somehow the story, the people involved and those caught up in Bunting’s whirlwind of murderous impulse, it all keeps you interested. So here in Macbeth, there’s a certain aspect of the titular character which parallels that whirlwind feeling. Not in the same way. But the play is of course called Macbeth. We can’t forget about Lady Macbeth, whose power is almost without rival, as well. It’s the attention paid to the characters themselves, which Kurzel did so well in Snowtown, that makes this Shakespearean adaptation thrilling and worthy of respect. The look and feel of the entire film is amazing, the acting even better. But best of all is the resonance Shakespeare’s words still have today, on film, and how Kurzel manages to give us a wonderful take on the source material with a simultaneously beautiful and grimly captured vision of that fearsome Scottish play, so they say in the theatre.
Macbeth (Michael Fassbender), Thane of Glamis, receives a prophecy from a trio of witches, which tells him one day he will become the King of Scotland. Succumbing to his deadly ambition, his own manifest destiny, and driven to action by his equally power hungry wife Lady MacBeth (Marion Cotillard), he murders the current King, Duncan (David Thewlis).
However, after the deed is done Macbeth becomes wracked with paranoia, guilt, fear. He slowly starts to unravel, right from the beginning. Likewise, Lady Macbeth finds herself similarly plagued as her husband. Their murderous, power mad impulses don’t stop there. Later on, she takes to sleepwalking, a living effect of her and her husband’s crimes. Their lives become that of a King and Queen, but their climb to the throne is marred with blood and stained with betrayal.
The atmosphere of the film all around is incredibly well crafted. Immediately the battle scenes take you into a world torn by war. Those sequences are wrapped in fog, slow motion moments which wrap you up inside them before moving to a different, exciting shot. Another aspect of this film I loved: the editing. Specifically I thought the way they did the coronation scene was perfect. Macbeth switches back and forth between observing the people chanting for him and the night where he stabbed King Duncan to a bloody death in his bed; on top of that, Fassbender looks almost sickly already with paranoid guilt, which makes things all the more powerful. There are a ton of instances where editing provides us with that kind of impact. Editor Chris Dickens has done a few solid movies like Slumdog Millionaire, Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead, but I would say this is absolutely his best work to date.
Then there’s the combination of an epic score from composer Jed Kurzel, whose best work is found in Snowtown and Dead Europe, along with gorgeously captured cinematography by Adam Arkapaw who has done impressive things on True Detective, Top of the Lake, Lore, Snowtown and Animal Kingdom. I love how the cinematography captures both the exteriors so vividly and in a sort of morbid light, then all the interiors are in the depths of the darkness, only lit up rarely. Films always impress me when they seek a shadowy look and tone while also keeping that quality throughout, not just in the literally shadowy scenes. It isn’t easy, but Arkapaw has a talent for that quality.
These two elements together, beautifully composed shots with a grim tone and a score that goes from an ominous lull to a crashing roar, fuse into what becomes a shadowy nightmare of paranoia, guilty thoughts, and plenty of brutality. These are masters at work. Jed Kurzel’s music haunts us in certain scenes; always lurking, sometimes crashing down on our heads and ripping us from our moorings. The visuals Arkapaw help Justin Kurzel direct us through a heavy, brooding adaptation of Shakespeare.
Macbeth: “I am in blood, stepped in so far.”
I read a review recently that said Michael Fassbender was boring as Macbeth. Serious? The frailty, the fragile nature of the character which he brought forward is stunning. In similar fashion, Marion Cotillard also conveys the madness of Lady Macbeth so well. They’re each fitted for the role. I don’t see how Fassbender was boring, nor can I see anybody complaining about Cotillard. For his part, Macbeth comes across as violent, ruthless and full of mixed emotions, but he is essentially a puppet. Not saying Lady Macbeth is the root of all the problems, she didn’t literally make him kill Duncan. But Macbeth is not the strongest one. Lady Macbeth is. She has all the ambition, it simply has to flow through Macbeth himself. They’re both fragile, but Fassbender brings out the weakness of Macbeth strong and evident, which allows us to see the power of Lady Macbeth, relegated to the title of his wife. She is the one in charge, because she has to be. Macbeth is almost a statement on these war weary souls who live only to fight, to become King, to rule with power; they’re all fuelled by their ambition, but through a stronger outlet. Often, it is their significant other. For Macbeth, it is the Lady Macbeth who fuels his quest to power. They both do themselves in, she only started things out with their private talks. She feels the guilt just as much. If not more. Fassbender and Cotillard bring to live to well-worn stage characters, transforming them into dreadful, amazing film characters.
For me, a flawless adaptation of Shakespeare. It doesn’t have to have everything the original had because this is version of that Scottish play. But this 5-star film has Justin Kurzel directing the hell out every last frame, giving us a view into the paranoia and guilt of both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth with intensity, savagery at times. The entire film is a haunted portrait of madness. Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard are both engaging, as well as powerful in their own respect. And there’s also Paddy Considine of whom I’m a big fan, he brought his talent to the table here in an unsettling way.
Old scenes are given brand new life in this retelling of William Shakespeare’s (arguably) most famous work. The atmosphere and mood of the entire piece is so thick, so rich you could cut it through with a knife. Absolutely a Shakespearean adaptation worth seeing. Can’t wait to snatch this up on Blu ray.
Tyrannosaur. 2011. Directed & Written by Paddy Considine.
Starring Peter Mullan, Olivia Colman, Eddie Marsan, Paul Popplewell, Samuel Bottomley, Sian Breckin, Ned Dennehy, Sally Carman, Julia Mallam and Natalia Carta.
Warp X/Inflammable Films/Film4/UK Film Council/Screen Yorkshire/EM Media/Optimum Releasing.
Not Rated. 92 minutes.
Paddy Considine is a great artist, in terms of writing and directing. He proves it here, fully. I already enjoyed his talents as an actor. However, the promise he shows in the dual role of writer-director with Tyrannosaur is astounding. Because it’s a grounded, raw and real piece of work. There’s no doubt. Every inch of this film speaks to the core of the lower middle class, hell, anyone who isn’t on the bourgeoisie scale. This movie is about the common man, its heart is in the common people. Considine writes as if he knows each of these characters, from Peter Mullan’s agonisingly truthful/equally painful Joseph to Hannah and her heartbreaking faith in the face of all hardship played perfectly by Olivia Colman. While there is truly a ton to love about Considine’s debut feature (his first work as director was the short film which turned into this: Dog Altogether), the best of everything is the fact that, among an industry almost obsessed with keeping to fads and follow along with trends, this movie touches on real issues and struggles, shockingly true to life situations and all the horrifically honest bits of life people often don’t want to acknowledge exist. At times this is a film you may want to look away from, even if its little speckles of violence aren’t explicit and graphically shown. But trust me, it’s worth the effort to get through because Tyrannosaur has a message beneath it all.
A career alcoholic and a man with constant burning rage in his heart, Joseph (Peter Mullan) has only acquaintances. His one friend, his dog, gets beaten to death one night. By his own hand. After this event, Joseph goes down the bottle even further. Between fighting people at his favourite hole in the wall bar to arguing with an idiot neighbour, something always seems to be following Joseph, to be eating him alive. After taking refuge in a store, he meets Hannah (Olivia Colman) and they form a nice yet tenuous bond. She has her own problems. At home, Hannah’s husband James (Eddie Marsan), a fairly bad drunk himself , abuses her; he urinates on her after she won’t wake up when he’s home from the pub, he later beats her up. When the lives of Hannah and Joseph intersect more intensely, things begin to change for both of them. Although, for one of the two it may not turn out as perfectly as they had imagined. And soon an act transpires which can’t be changed.
On top of the raw, gritty realism of Considine’s writing, his directorial style plays just as well to the story and its themes. There is nothing fancy about the way he presents his subject. In fact, that’s what works. I find there’s a tendency for films with tough subject to often lean into trying too hard for an aesthetic which matches it, in terms of it becoming fabricated. Whereas there are films like this one and something like Nicolas Winding Refn’s Pusher trilogy which use a very simple look, and it suits the raw feeling of the plot and story. Mostly, Considine puts us directly with both Joseph and Hannah. He finds a way to simply let the viewer watch these characters, as well as sit right in on their situation alongside them. We get great looks at the landscape around these characters, such as the lower class housing where Joseph lives and the little pubs and all that. At the same time, we’re closed in with good tight frames on the faces of Joseph and Hannah respectively. We’re as close to in their heads as possible, sort of floating along in their life. Not to say Considine doesn’t do anything interesting. He does. But it’s the way he does it so simply which makes it work flawless, it is understated film making; less is more, in a wonderfully bleak way.
Adding to the realism of the way in which Considine writes and presents his subject/themes, the two big central performances of Tyrannosaur are towering as the beast from which it takes its name.
Peter Mullan is an actor I’ve always loved. The first time I actually took notice of him personally was Trainspotting and then Session 9, but after that I went back and found all sorts of amazing performances. Here, he spreads his wings and flies. It’s utterly amazing. And crazy enough, from the first moments we see the character Joseph when he kicks his beloved dog to death, there’s somehow part of us wanting to connect. Even after seeing such a devastating and senseless, heartless act, there was something in Joseph I couldn’t shake. It’s a repulsive act to begin a film, but that’s part of the redemptive process. Mullan takes us through all the motions with Joseph, working from a despicable moment in time to the finale where surprisingly he makes it through, somehow. Part of why Joseph is able to hold onto us, or me anyways as a viewer, is because of the way Mullan plays him. There are sensitive scenes where Joseph actually appears naked and raw to us with his inner self, a man who wants to be someone else other than what he’s become. Those scenes are juxtaposed with the raging animal inside him, clawing to get out; and sometimes, it does. Mullan was and is the only man to play Joseph. Can’t see him as anyone else. The intensity of this character comes off perfect with Mullan in the role, as does the inner struggle without Considine having to write in a ton of expository back story.
No way can Olivia Colman be left out of the acting conversation. The role of Hannah is not an easy one, nor is it an uncommon life; sadly too many women suffer in disgusting relationships such as the one she and her husband have together. Colman brings a humanity to the role. Many female characters who are abuse/rape victims, such as Hannah, seem to get written wildly one-dimensional. With Hannah, Considine gives us a woman who is religious and at the same time is confronting all these things – alcoholism, physical and mental abuse, rape, et cetera – which directly contradict the heart of true religion. Colman shows us the core of a woman whose faith is holding on so hard to her heart and her mind, yet at the same time she is a woman who can only take so much. At times, I teared up, all due to Colman and her performance. It’s an excellent pairing with the powerhouse abilities of Mullan on display.
Tyrannosaur is a 5-star film. All the way. I love every last second of it, even if it is a grim watch at most points. Paddy Considine proves his worth as a writer-director. He knows how to present the grittiness of real life in a welcomed perspective. While there is an over abundance of the mental and physical violence inherent in many lives around the world, Considine also brings us into a space where redemption is possible. On one hand, the character of Joseph begins driving towards oblivion head-on and even Hannah gets caught up in this whirlwind of rage. On the other hand, both of these characters show us that, no matter what, in the end redemption can be possible. Even someone like Joseph, whose first scenes would have most people believing it would never happen. Maybe it never does, fully. But the faith in humanity, not that of religion, is what triumphs. Underneath the rough exterior, Tyrannosaur has a clear and true heart filled with the dreams of possibility.
An atypical film about revenge from Shane Meadows, examining grief, retribution, and how to live after a tragedy.
BackWoods. 2006. Dir. Koldo Serra. Screenplay by Serra & Jon Sagalá.
Starring Gary Oldman, Virginie Ledoyen, Paddy Considine, Aitana Sánchez-Gijón, Jon Ariño, Lluís Homar, and Kandido Uranga. Lionsgate.
Rated 14A. 97 minutes.
★1/2 (DVD release)
This is one of those films I may never have heard of, if only maybe for a late night search spree on lesser known Gary Oldman flicks, except for the fact I stumbled across it in a $5 bin at a local rental place a few years back; in fact, the disc still has the store’s sticker on it to this day. I saw it, realised that not only was Oldman in it but also Paddy Considine of whom I’m a really big fan, and snatched it up quickly. Turns out it wasn’t just a decent little snag for five bucks. It’s a quality movie. An old school backwoods style thriller. There are times it not only feels set in the 1970s, I truly felt a lot of moments could’ve almost been filmed back then, as well. There’s certainly moments of homage towards both John Boorman’s classic Deliverance, as well as Sam Peckinpah’s 1971 dramatic revenge thriller Straw Dogs. Mainly there’s just a really great nostalgic feel about the story and the setting, which comes across quite well.
BackWoods sees two couples, Paul (Oldman) and Isabel (Sánchez-Gijón), as well as Norman (Considine) and Lucy (Ledoyen), venturing into the Spanish back country. Paul and Isabel now live in the Basque region after they married. Norman, and his young wife Isabel, are heading to visit. An idyllic vacation in the forest turns to a nightmarish situation when Paul and Norman stumble across a deformed little girl who has been locked up in a small shed-like structure, pad locked and hidden away. They bring her back to Paul and Isabel’s home in the woods. But not long after, local men from the village show up looking for the girl, and all is not as it seems in the quaint little pocket of Spain. Paul and Norman find themselves facing a desperate and brutal situation, fighting for their lives, as well as those of their wives.
This goes down some of the same roads we see in Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs. Specifically, the character of Norman is really pushed to his limits here. Initially even the sight of a rabbit being killed by Paul is shocking to him; there’s a lingering shot of Considine looking fairly troubled by watching the rabbit die. However, Paul tells his friend something which resonates through the whole film – “there are hunters and prey, Norman… it‘s the only fucking truth in this world.” While Paul understands the human nature of hunter and prey, Norman doesn’t quite get it. His rude awakening comes later in the film when the men coming to look for the deformed girl appear to be more ruthless than he could have ever imagined. It’s a really great way to introduce these themes, all starting with just a tiny little rabbit. Nice touch.
I really enjoy how this film stayed mostly as a dramatic thriller. It had a few little elements of horror (the backwoods ‘battle’ between city folk & villagers + the deformed girl locked away in the woods/ et cetera), but it didn’t stray into full on terror or anything. This works really nicely as a 1970s style thriller. It’s also particularly performance driven, as opposed to plot. While the plot is deceptively simple, the characters here are rich and very full.
For instance, Oldman’s character Paul is a pretty diverse character. There is a lot to him. I get the feeling he sort of went out living in the forest with his wife as a kind of challenge. One aspect I enjoyed once the villagers lay siege on Paul and the others is how there was so much tension between the two sides. On one hand, Paul feels he belongs there, and he does because he already lives there; he made it his home. The other side, the villagers, see him still as an outsider. Worse still, he has clearly wandered into their world. He is not one of them, regardless of how well he hunts and navigates the male-dominated world of the villagers.
This leads me to another part of BackWoods I enjoyed a lot. Whereas a lot of films might have taken up a portion of the running time drawing out the deformed girl’s story, rounding things out and maybe giving her some kind of history, Koldo Serra leaves intrigue to spare. We don’t get any definitive answers on what exactly the deformed girl is doing out in the woods, in the sense of who she is or where she came from – it’s simply a plot element. It sets up the city versus nature theme running throughout the film, which ultimately drives Oldman’s character. Norman, Considine’s character, is also affected by this theme, as he is even less of the “back country” type than Paul. He is even more thrown into chaos because of how far removed from that lifestyle living in the city keeps him. There’s even a scene where Norman raises his gun to kill a rabbit of his own – ultimately, he is unable to actually pull the trigger. This sets the stage for the real burning question to come later – can he pull the trigger when it’s more than a rabbit staring down the barrel of his rifle? We get the answer later in a very tense, horrifying scene. Of course, what happens then sets off a whole other chain of events.
The entire presentation of these themes is really well done, and made the film more than just a backwoods thriller. It lifted this from out of simple genre fare. This could very well have been some exploitation film, a cheap grindhouse style movie. Instead, it becomes a tension-filled dramatic thriller.
For the most part, a lot of BackWoods surprised me. I figured it might go down the same road as similar films. Instead, it subverts a few of my expectations. For instance, the scene where Norman is finally forced to either pull the trigger, or else face possibly terrible consequences, I really didn’t expect it to pan out the way it ended up going. I was happy because I thought Norman wasn’t going to change whatsoever as a character. His actions both change him and create more issues for his character to deal with. It’s really great stuff.
The ending, as well, was not something I particularly saw coming.
This can safely be categorised as a 4 out of 5 star film. There isn’t a whole lot wrong with it, but it’s not perfect whatsoever. I think Gary Oldman and Paddy Considine did a really wonderful job fleshing out the characters they portrayed. Particularly, Oldman gives a strong and emotional performance, unlike a lot of the roles I often enjoy him in, and I don’t know how more people don’t talk about this one, or at least mention it in passing – solid lesser seen role by Oldman. There are also a couple excellently paced chase sequences which help move the film along nicely. The pacing was helped by how the plot never gets too bogged down in one area, however, that’s also a drawback – I wanted to know more about Paul and Isabel because it seemed there was more to their relationship than what we were given. While sometimes it’s nice when less is more, there are case, like BackWoods, where I could have even done with an extra few scenes just to really give us a portrait of their lives. Oldman does such a spectacular job with his character, I feel even more justice might’ve been done to the film in general had they provided more insight.
Regardless, BackWoods is a pleasant surprise. When a lot of tripe gets doled out in terms of thriller films, this is a refreshing little movie that doesn’t go down all the expected routes.
While the DVD is fairly lame, providing only the film itself (though the picture/sound is beautiful & it looks gorgeous in widescreen) and a trailer, I highly would recommend anybody who can get their hands on a copy of the film do so – it is worth your time. I don’t watch it often, when I do I’m always impressed with the thrill it provides. If you’re a fan of Oldman, Considine, or just those gritty 1970s revenge thrillers in the vein of Straw Dogs and the backwoods city versus nature themes found in classics like Deliverance & even less praised titles like Southern Comfort, this will no doubt quench your thirst. You can do far worse for a movie night than BackWoods.
Honour. 2014. Directed & Written by Shan Khan.
Starring Aiysha Hart, Paddy Considine, Faraz Ayub, Shubham Saraf, Harvey Virdi, and Nikesh Patel. Code Red.
Not Rated. 104 minutes.
There are several reasons why I really enjoyed Shan Khan’s Honour. First, Paddy Considine. He is a fine actor, as well as director, but here it’s really put to the test. He plays a highly unlikable man for most of the feel, though we do see him become someone else through the process. Second, the script is really fantastic; it’s edgy, raw, there is grit to the themes within. Essentially, the story is about a young British Muslim girl who is targeted for honour killing after her brothers discover she plans to run off with a young Punjabi man. After their attempts to reel her in slowly come to a drastic and failed end, the family, along with the mother, hire a bounty hunter in London to track her down, and it just so happens he is a racist; though for a racist, he certainly knows the culture, even their language, well.In a day and age where there is a lot of conflict over extremists and fundamentalists in various religions around the world, I can imagine it was tough to make a film about Muslims and honour killing. The film is a tough one in every respect. At times it is brutal, violent, messy. Other times it comes across as a great crime thriller. The script is tense. The story is told on film in a non-linear fashion, giving us a look at what led to the family’s decision to kill the daughter. Khan did a great job with the script, plus it translated well to screen.
The acting came top notch here. I was very impressed with Aiysha Hart who played Mona, the young girl on the run from her own family, as well as Faraz Ayub and Shubham Saraf who played her brothers. Considine was absolutely incredible though, and it’s his performance which truly shines above all else. The look and feel of the film was gritty, something I always enjoy. How everything looked, dark and sort of grim, really fit the subject matter and the tone of the film.
All in all I have to give the film a 4.5 out of 5 stars. Everything worked together to create a really wonderful film.
The message is presented through Considine’s character. In the beginning, he is truly racist; he hates Muslims, any person of colour. Even though he deals with Muslims, he seems to have a disdain for them. He has white supremacist ink on his body, including an Aryan tattoo, which he later tries to singe off. By the end, after he has come to see the inner workings of the extremist Muslim circles and he sees his own behaviour mirrored in their fundamentalist, violent beliefs. Through others and their hatred, the character understands his own, or better yet he comes to reject it, understanding it is only hate, it is nothing but thoughts and misconceptions and foolish notions.
A must-see film. I highly recommend it. I don’t give it a full 5 stars, only because I felt there was something missing. Perhaps a little more of the past behind Considine’s character, though we get bits and pieces, would have made it a perfect film. Regardless, it’s still an incredible movie. It inspires hope, that people who hate can turn around, somehow, some way.