Tagged Xander Berkeley

The Walking Dead – Season 7, Episode 5: “Go Getters”

AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 7, Episode 5: “Go Getters”
Directed by Darnell Martin
Written by Channing Powell

* For a review of the previous episode, “Service” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Swear” – click here
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After the events of the season opener, we’re back at Hilltop with Maggie (Lauren Cohan). She’s safe and sound, feeling better. At least physically. Dr. Carson (R. Keith Harris) helped her out with pregnancy troubles; she’s out of the woods, for now. The baby is fine, as well. A little Glenn or Glenda is still on the way down the road. Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) is well, too. They both go to where their men are laid to rest. Sasha gives Maggie the watch Hershel gave to Glenn, still in his pocket the moment he died. “All Abraham had was a cigar,” she quips. Going forward, these two women will be even stronger than they were already. They’ll take this and make it into more strength. You just wait.
Jesus (Tom Payne) is on the side of Maggie and Sasha, but Gregory (Xander Berkeley) isn’t keen on having the soon-to-be mother around any longer. He feels they’ve put themselves out enough on their behalf. I don’t like this dude’s attitude. Although he was promised to have the Saviors taken care of, and that didn’t happen. He’s concerned with “plausible deniability” and wanting to not get his head cracked open by Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). For his part, Jesus does his best to stand up to the Hilltop leader. Not that it does much to sway the guy.
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Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Aaron (Ross Marquand) are headed out from Alexandria, leaving a pissed off Carl (Chandler Riggs) and a reluctant Michonne (Danai Gurira) behind. Nothing is good in their world, still with a Negan boot against their windpipe permanently. One nice thing is that Michonne and Rick feel back on the same page again. She refuses to let up with him, unlike when he had Lori around only to bitch at him, to tell him what he’s doing wrong. Now, Michonne does her best to both encourage Rick, as well as let him know when he’s out of line. Even if she doesn’t, she always makes sure there’s a Plan B. As for Carl, he’s always concerned, about everything. That shit happens when you lose your mother, lose your eye. He sees Enid (Katelyn Nacon) sneaking over the walls to go to Hilltop, to make sure Maggie’s okay. And Carl says he doesn’t want to save her anymore, like a cocky little prick. Up at Hilltop, Jesus tries to reassure Sasha things will be fine. But he isn’t the take charge-type, he isn’t a leader admittedly. She does her best to help him realise he might have to “do more” in order to make Hilltop what he wants it to become.
Later in the night, music starts playing from a car. The Hilltop gates are open and fires are lit nearby. Sasha and Maggie try to figure out what the hell is going on. Walkers invade the premises by the dozens. When Sasha heads into the streets, so do Jesus and others. It’s take charge time. The car with the music is locked tight, caged in. And what does cowardly Gregory do? He cowers inside while the others work hard. Then Maggie shows off, driving a bit of farm equipment through Hilltop to crush a bunch of zombies, as well as that damn car. Good show, Mags!

 

 


Carl catches up with Enid on the road, running down walkers in his own car. They then walk on the road together. He tells her about needing to watch what Negan did to their friends, to remember. For the day when they need to kill the bastard. Enid likewise worries for Maggie, not wanting anything bad to have happened to her. They share a kiss together afterwards. Once she realises Carl is trying to hunt Negan and his people. She tries to stop him, but you know him. Hard-headed just like dad.
Simultaneously, Gregory is bitching about Maggie, not wanting her around, as Jesus fights for her. I mean, she helped them fight off an attack the night before. And he’s quite ungrateful. The Saviors have shown up, that makes it all worse. Simon (Steven Ogg) is there to have a little chat about going forward, recent developments and all. He brings the message that people at Hilltop ought not forget how bad things are out there in the world, outside the walls. He’s impressed the walkers were all cleared up by the Hilltop citizens. But worries Gregory’s people are getting “soft.” One thing is painfully evident, that Gregory is Negan’s full-time bitch, on his knees serving the master.
When the meeting’s over, he takes Simon to where Maggie and Sasha were hiding. But not for them: for Scotch. This will make a nice gift for Negan, though Simon takes the credit. Plus, they’ll take half of the supplies on-hand at Hilltop. On top of that he makes Gregory kneel for him. Like a bitch, as I said. Seeing the whole thing makes Jesus sick to death looking at their supposed leader. Gregory actually tried giving up the women, though Jesus did the right thing and hid them elsewhere. He’s taking charge a little more, or at least he’ll be making sure the leader makes less decisions without the whole community.

 

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Maggie finds Enid outside in Hilltop, near the graves. They head inside after and eat, chatting about old times, laughing a little. Sasha soon joins in and they’re like a family again. In a sweet gesture, Maggie gives Enid the watch Glenn was given by her father. However, she also says they don’t need any items to remember the dead by; they have each other, they have the memories in their minds, never to be forgotten.
And their time will come. They’ll have revenge, in some shape or form, some way. Maybe not today or tomorrow. Someday, though. Amazing enough, Jesus sneaks on the Saviors truck as they go, meeting Carl stowed away out back.

 

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Very slow episode, yet there was a lot going on all the same. We’re getting a shape and sense of the whole world going on in the zombie apocalypse, instead of the finite plots and stories of Rick and his crew. Lots of things happening as they mingle together.
Next episode is “Swear” and I feel like Season 7 is gaining steam with every episode, setting up good things for the latter half.

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Candyman: White Guilt and Urban Horror

Candyman. 1992. Directed & Written by Bernard Rose; based on the story “The Forbidden” by Clive Barker.
Starring Virginia Madsen, Tony Todd, Xander Berkeley, Kasi Lemmons, Vanessa Williams, DeJuan Guy, Marianna Elliott, Ted Raimi, Ria Pavia, Mark Daniels, Lisa Ann Poggi, Adam Philipson, Eric Edwards, Carolyn Lowery, & Barbara Alston. PolyGram Filmed Entertainment/Propaganda Films.
Rated R. 99 minutes.
Drama/Fantasy/Horror

★★★★1/2
POSTER The idea of a hook hand often has its roots for people in the area of urban legends. So already the infamous, titular Candyman plays on fears. Add to that an excellent basis in the short story “The Forbidden” from Cliver Barker’s Books of Blood. As well as the fact Bernard Rose – proven by his 1988 feature Paperhouse – has a proven ability to give people the creeps.
This 1992 horror film is an amalgamation of different ideas. You can see it as a straight-up slasher horror. Then again, can you? It’s part slasher, part ghost story sub-genre. So there’s a definite crossover of genres here. Some of my favourite movies weave from one genre to the next. Rose expertly crafts a spooky urban legend into a living, breathing work of horror that reaches out of its roots in the past and grabs hold of us. On top of it all, Candyman can be taken as an allegory for urban horror and the white guilt people feel standing on the outside looking in, encountering worse horrors after invading places where they just don’t belong. Or maybe it’s anti-colonialist, set in the sprawl of the urban jungle of the Cabrini-Green housing development of Chicago’s North Side. Either way, Rose takes us to the heart of darkness. He touches on everything from the ghosts of slavery to very real, visceral horror. This is one of my favourites out of the 1990s in terms of horror. I still remember first seeing it, and now when I watch it still scares me. A great ride through fantasy-horror territory, along with a solid dose of human drama to give the terror some actual weight.
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Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen) and her friend Bernie Walsh (Kasi Lemmons) are students that decide on writing their thesis concerning local urban legends and myths. At the Cabrini-Green housing complex, they investigate the legend of the supposed Candyman (Tony Todd). He is a one-armed man that appears from nowhere if you repeat his name five times at the mirror. What Helen and Bernie decide, not believing in such legends, is to do their thesis on how those legends are actually based around real events, which create these sorts of entities that then dominate a culture.
Only, this legend? May just be true after all. And when Helen finds herself framed for a murder committed by that very same Candyman which she could not bring herself to believe in, the horror of its reality becomes brutally clear to her.
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One thing I love about this one is that, at the beginning of the 90s, this movie came out with some real mature horror. The rest of the decade included Scream (though I love it) and other stuff like Urban LegendsI Know What You Did Last Summer, and other similar slashers, which are all filled with pretty young teens. And I’m not saying Virginia Madsen isn’t a beauty. But the fact this story is all centered around adults is something special. Sure, it isn’t innovative for that, it’s not like there aren’t tons of other movies out there in the horror genre involving adults. There’s simply a perfectly timed aspect to Candyman, jammed between the late 90s and those aforementioned titles, and those which came before it in the 80s where slasher movies were often populated with teens being sexualized and promptly murdered after their various debauchery. This is one horror villain whose range exceeds the typical slasher. Not only is he a ghost, an entity of the wretched past, he doesn’t need a stable of teenagers for victims. So it isn’t some schoolyard ghost story, or an urban legend told in the dark around campfires or in the bedrooms of teenage boys and girls during sleepovers. The legend of Candyman moves beyond the realm of childish scares and enters the adult world of nightmares.
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While Clive Barker’s original story “The Forbidden” is based in England, the adapted screenplay from Rose moves things to America, specifically to Chicago and the Cabrini-Green housing development. I dig the story, Barker has a knack for all things macabre. However, I also dig the way Rose has transposed the story into an American setting. Because so much of this screenplay deals with the white guilt of Americans over their racist past. In a sense, Madsen’s character Helen embodies the ultimate experience of white guilt. She wants to investigate the supposed Candyman murders, she goes to Cabrini-Green, a place completely out of her element, and she superimposes her perspective over that of the black residents. She wants to shape their story for them, just like all those other white folk that come in wanting a story, wanting something. So through a metaphysical ghost story Helen becomes a real part of the legend, framed for murders committed by this entity, Candyman. Her white guilt has taken her from an outsider’s perspective, to one of a woman whose guilt is palpable and all too real. So now she no longer tells the story, she lives the story. She is the story.
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Most of all, Helen’s experience with the Candyman is symbolic of America’s constant, consistent struggle with its racial history. All the horrors of slavery, everything that came out of that period. The story of Candyman’s becoming and the men who terrorized him is a vicious tale, befitting of the post-Civil War era where those memories of slavery still linger, haunting the people, descendants of those who endured amazingly savage experiences fueled by the irrational hate of racism. And it can never be escaped. In the end when Helen tries to do the right thing, or at least the best thing she could at that point, she must purge herself in the fire outside Cabrini-Green. Because it is not her place from the start to interject herself into the black struggle. So she becomes the opposite of what she’d hoped, a woman who kills black people, steals a black baby, all setup by the Candyman. Her white guilt and need to be the white saviour is shockingly derailed, which allows Rose to also give us some wonderful, vividly nasty horror, too.
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The gorgeous, dreadful vision of Bernard Rose and Clive Barker collide in 1992’s Candyman, still one of the movies that scares me most. There will always be unsettling aspects to Tony Todd’s villainous persona. But everything down to the writing and execution of the effects, all of it, works as a complete package. Horror and sociology come together to make this ghostly slasher something bigger than the sum of its parts. It isn’t a by-the-numbers sub-genre horror that simply goes through the motions. At times Candyman plays perectly into those expectations, others it subverts the norm we’d usually expect. Regardless, it is a terrifying modern horror that plays on white guilt and repressed racial history. It haunts my nightmares to this day. You can’t ask any more of a scary movie.

The Walking Dead – Season 6, Episode 11: “Knots Untie”

AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 6, Episode 11: “Knots Untie”
Directed by Michael E. Satrazemis
Written by Matthew Negrete & Channing Powell

* For a review of the previous episode, “The Next World” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Not Tomorrow Yet” – click here


Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) and Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) give us a bit of enjoyable banter to start this new episode. Their relationship is a whole lot of fun, two very different yet like-minded individuals. A new watch post is starting, with Eugene (Josh McDermitt) taking Sasha’s place alongside Abraham. He doesn’t appear to want that at all. Then we cut to him waking up next to Rosita (Christian Serratos). Everything with the zombies going on, and then they’re all still dealing with real life issues from before: love, relationships, jealousy, falling out of love. The zombie apocalypse makes life shit, but even worse is the fact that humans are the worst part about it all, deep down.
In the garden, Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Glenn (Steven Yeun) do some gardening. They’re hoping crops will grow. Meanwhile, there’s a panic on the street.
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Cut to Jesus (Tom Payne) sitting on the steps outside Rick and Michonne’s (Andrew Lincoln/Danai Gurira) room. Then Carl (Chandler Riggs) pulls a gun on him. The kid also learns about his “mom and dad” hooking up. Uh oh. Well, everyone shows up now, Rick shirtless, Michonne, Daryl (Norman Reedus) and the rest arrive.
We find out now that Jesus is from a settlement. They grow crops, and they’re a lot like Rick’s group. Turns out they trade… with other people.
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Jesus: “Your worlds about to get a whole lot bigger
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Preparing to head out and see what Jesus has to offer, Rick tells Carl about him and Michonne, that he would have said something regardless, only it literally “just happened” that night. But Carl’s fine, like any understanding young fella.
On the ride out, Abraham asks Glenn, roundabout, whether or not him and Maggie were intending to make babies. Glenn tells him: “Were trying to build something.” Along the road, the crew find an overturned car, zombified corpses already hanging out the side, screaming. Rick immediately holds Jesus at gunpoint. Nobody is playing around at this point, not in any given situation. They’re always on guard. Although, Jesus looks worried for his people; Maggie stays behind holding a gun on him, hands tied behind his back, as the others investigate further inside a nearby building.
Inside, Rick, Abraham, Glenn, Daryl and Michonne find several people who they help out and into the R.V. The people have medication which they’re bringing back. One of them happens to be a doctor. This group also has their sad stories. Soon enough, though, Jesus brings them to their community: Hilltop. The perimeter is lined by large wooden posts, almost like an old pre-18th century settlement. Very cool.
Except at the gates, those guarding it get antsy about Rick’s group having weapons. Jesus calms the situation. Even convinces Rick to trust them, allowing them to keep their weapons rather than giving them over. Inside, it’s very much like a 1700s settlement, with a few modern touches. Supplies from a power company made things a little easier. Barrington House sits in the middle of it all, a historic house preserved, which they built Hilltop around. They’ve also got trailers on the land. We meet Gregory (Xander Berkeley), the boss of the whole operation. He tells them to wash up, then they’ll meet. On the way to get clean, Rick tells Maggie to go first then talk with Gregory – when she asks why, he advises: “I shouldnt.”


When Maggie does meet with Gregory, he talks about the museum, the historic site of the house. She grills him about how they’ve managed to survive. Jesus told Gregory about the group’s situation. Gregory comes on a little too strong, treating her like she’s got nothing to offer. Unfortunately, it seems like Gregory doesn’t want what they’re offering – mostly ammunition.
Jesus hopes to help the group. He wants “a few days“, which they agree to.
Then there’s problems with Negan. Gregory’s people come back, without a couple friends. Then one of them stabs Gregory. Hell breaks loose. Daryl breaks an arm. Abraham is almost choked to death. Rick has a knife to is throat, but manages to stab the guy holding it through his neck. More guns are drawn on Rick. Yet Jesus diffuses the situation.
Later Rick asks more about Negan – head of “The Saviors” and a nasty dude. Appears there’s no messing with Negan, a man who beat a 16-year-old kid to death in front of Jesus and their group, to make them “understand” immediately. Hilltop is forced to give half of their supplies (et cetera) over to Negan. Daryl is more than willing to go find and kill Negan, after meeting some of those bikers on the road. If done, Jesus agrees they’ll strike an agreement with their group.
In his bed, Gregory calls for Maggie. She tries to convince him they’re fit to do the job on Negan. He isn’t so hot on making a deal with them. But Maggie stress they’re “willing to work for it” and Gregory finally decides to go for it. She wants half, though, which Gregory wasn’t prepared to hear. She’s got him figured out.


Gregory: “You want anything else? Kidney, maybe?”
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Rick and the others seem to be taking this lightly. They feel invincible, almost. They’re willing to go up against a man about whom they’ve got no idea. Anyone who’s read the comics is aware. For those uninitiated, Negan is a terrifying individual. Michonne knows “its gonna be a fight” – Rick assuages her doubts: “Well win,” he tells her.
At the same time, Maggie and Glenn have Dr. Carson (R. Keith Harris) do an ultrasound. They see their baby for the first time. A rare gift in the post-zombie world. Everyone gets a glimpse as it’s passed around the R.V. There’s a certain light in Abraham’s eyes, looking to Glenn in understanding now.
Everyone drives off into the sunset. But rest assured, their world will not be sunny much longer. The approach of Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan is coming. And there will be blood, no doubt. Plenty.
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Next episode up, getting closer and closer to the end of the 6th season, is titled “Not Tomorrow Yet” and I cannot wait.