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The Terminal List

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After a mission gone wrong, Navy SEAL James Reece (Chris Pratt) returns home as the lone survivor of his platoon. Suffering from a head wound and possible hallucinations, James is forced to piece together the events leading to the ambush that killed his men, and soon finds himself in the middle of a convoluted web of deception and betrayal way above his pay grade.

Based on the best-selling novels by former Navy SEAL Jack Carr, The Terminal List fits the mould of the kind of classic action thriller that had its heyday in the ‘90s. Teaming up with his Magnificent Seven collaborator Chris Pratt, Antoine Fuqua takes on the dual mantle of Executive Producer and director of the pilot episode, delivering a bullet-riddled vengeance ride reminiscent of his military vigilante flick Shooter.

At its core, it’s the kind of fast-paced revenge thriller fuelled by patriotism and firepower we’ve seen time and time again, but the layers of political intrigue and psychological twists Carr throws into the mix add just enough tension to keep the plot fresh.

Constance Wu does what she can with her exposition-heavy role as Katie Buranek, the journalist digging into Reece’s story. Her innate charisma manages to keep her scenes from fading into the background when pitted against high-octane explosions and knife-fights, but it’s a shame that she wasn’t given more to do.

Given its origins as a book series well known for its relentless action, the story makes a difficult transition to the screen — after dropping us into the deep end of a war zone with the opening scenes, the pacing takes a hit as Reece works through his recovery and reconnects with his family back on the homefront. The ensuing conspiracy makes for an enticing puzzle, but unfortunately the plot twists are predictable enough to keep them from being truly memorable.

Intrigue and paranoia coalesce into standard-issue twists and turns, but with Fuqua’s deft hand at the helm, the tension is consistent enough to make this a bingeable watch.

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The Summer I Turned Pretty

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A touching, enjoyable addition to the teen romance genre, The Summer I Turned Pretty is author-turned-showrunner Jenny Han’s (To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before) latest work to make the jump from page to screen.

Isabel “Belly” Conklin has spent every summer since she was a baby holidaying with her mum Laurel and brother Steven at Cousins Beach. Joined by her mum’s college bestie Susannah, and Susannah’s two sons Conrad and Jeremiah, Cousins Beach was always a lazy getaway, an opportunity for the mums and the kids to bond. This summer things are different: on the cusp of her 16th birthday, Belly isn’t a little kid any more, and her innocent friendship with Conrad, the boy she’s been crushing on since she was 10 years old, and his brother Jeremiah, are about to get a whole lot more complicated.

On the surface, it’s your standard coming-of-age fare, complete with inescapable love triangle, but as always Han brings a level of charisma and likeability to her characters that makes even the most brooding and angst-ridden teen compelling to watch.

Newcomer Lola Tung takes on the role of Belly, doing an admirable job playing the lead despite this being her very first acting credit. A refreshing change from the “you don’t know you’re beautiful” YA heroines we’ve grown accustomed to, Belly is – as the title suggests – pretty and learning to make the most of it. There’s a self-centred superficiality to the character and yet Tung approaches her with a kind of effortless charm that will have audiences championing her even at her most bratty.

By adapting and updating her own words for the screen, Han brings an authenticity to the teen’s language and social dynamics; gone is the rich bully versus plucky underdog hero trope we’ve seen from this genre time and again. The fictional Cousins Beach is home to its fair share of debutantes and trust fund babies but there’s a complexity to each of the characters, allowing just enough conflict to keep things interesting but never fully straying from the light-hearted emotionality we’ve come to expect from Han’s works.

While the plot touches lightly on some heavier themes like racism, classism, and grief, The Summer I Turned Pretty is ultimately a light and fluffy escape where the summer feels endless and first loves are forever.

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Trailer: My Policeman

Harry Styles, Emma Corrin and David Dawson star in this adaptation of Bethan Roberts' novel about the changing cultural times as the trio develop a relationship in the 1950s, played by Linus Roache, Gina McKee and Rupert Everett respectively in the 1990s. Directed by Michael Grandage (Genius).
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Teaser: A League of Their Own

Abbi Jacobson (Broad City) co-creates (with Will Graham) and stars, with Nick Offerman in the Tom Hanks role (presumably), along with Chanté Adams, D'Arcy Carden and Rosie O'Donnell according to IMDB, but not the press release from Prime Video. They do, however, promise a 'a deeper look at race and sexuality'.

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Night Sky

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Laced with intrigue, the new science-fiction drama series, Night Sky, follows an array of characters, centring on an elderly couple, Irene and Franklin York, played by Oscar winners Sissy Spacek and J.K. Simmons.

The Yorks lead a simple life in their quiet hometown in Illinois. Except, their mundane exterior is not quite as it seems. Many years ago, Irene and Franklin discovered an ancient chamber concealed in their garden shed, with the ability to transport them to an observer station, overlooking a desolate alien planet with an exquisite night sky. However, this mysterious chamber turns out to be much more than either of them had initially imagined.

The pair have been coming here for years to sit in awe of the planet’s beauty and ponder the possibilities of its existence. But this shared secret that has long bonded their union is now becoming a dividing factor in the Yorks’ marriage. As Irene’s health is steadily declining, Franklin suspects that these frequent trips are beginning to take a toll.

On one occasion when visiting ‘The Stars’, as the Yorks have dubbed it, Irene finds a bloody and unconscious stranger in the hidden chamber. Shocked at his appearance, the Yorks bring him home. Once awake, the perplexing young man introduces himself as Jude. He claims to suffer from amnesia and have no recollection of his former life. While Franklin is suspicious of the newcomer’s inexplicable existence, Irene is reminded of her late son Michael and embraces him with open arms, and proceeds to help Jude with his pursuit of answers about his hazy past.

In the second episode, the series takes an unusual shift that will have you wondering if you’re still watching the same show. In rural Argentina, we are introduced to Stella (Julieta Zylberberg) and Toni (Roco Hernández), a mother and daughter who live an extremely secluded lifestyle. As Toni comes of age and enters high school, she begins to desire more from her sheltered upbringing. This creates a tumultuous relationship between her and mum as Stella battles to keep Toni unaware of their family’s secret legacy and why they must guard an ancient chapel on their land. However, upon the arrival of a shady figure from Stella’s past, she is forced to introduce her daughter into a world of turbulence and danger.

The stories run parallel as the show continues, before inevitability converging in later episodes.

Spacek and Simmons give Night Sky its gravity, their onscreen partnership demonstrating a warm affection for one another. Spacek in particular shines as Irene, conveying a tender presence in every scene, while Simmons brings a vulnerability to his portrayal of Franklin. Kiah McKirnan plays the Yorks’ concerned granddaughter and Adam Bartley plays the sceptical neighbour, but these characters feel like unnecessary filler against the Yorks and mother-daughter duo Stella and Toni.

While Night Sky has an alluring sense of mystery, the sluggish pace and scattered tone, switching between the Yorks in Illinois and Stella and Toni in Argentina, make it difficult to view the series as one cohesive story and not two totally different shows. Also, Night Sky’s focus on relationships and themes of love and loss overshadow the hollow sci-fi plot – a McGuffin if you will. Although it takes its time to build to any real tension, Simmons and Spacek continue to keep audiences engaged.

Performance driven and not particularly ground-breaking, the slow burn sci-fi drama Night Sky relies on its drawcards of Simmons and Spacek to foster its appeal, and thankfully, the two seasoned actors make the trip worthwhile.

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First Look at Lena Dunham’s Catherine Called Birdy

The Girls creator/star has been awfully quiet of late, but returns with this adaptation of Karen Cushman's debut YA novel, a coming of age story set in 1290 Medieval England and starring Hot Priest himself, Andrew Scott, along with Billie Piper, Joe Alwyn, Ralph Ineson and Bella Ramsey (Game of Thrones) in the titular role.
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Conversations with Friends

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In this nuanced coming-of-age drama, Dublin college students Frances (Alison Oliver) and Bobbi (Sasha Lane) collide with successful established writer Melissa (Jemima Kirke) during an amateur poetry night. Seduced by her enigmatic charm, Frances and Bobbi are quickly drawn into Melissa’s world, and the ensuing entanglement between the students, their alluring new acquaintance, and her soft-spoken, far more reserved husband Nick (Joe Alwyn) blurs lines between friendship, sex, and infatuation.

Based on the debut novel of Irish author Sally Rooney (Normal People), the story encapsulates the intricacies of intimacy, navigating those first adult relationships that can feel so fleeting yet leave a mark on you for the rest of your life. Screenwriter Alice Birch reworks Rooney’s words (as she did with Normal People) into something a little less internalised and more suited to the screen, offering an honest portrayal of a relationship between two characters whose leading trait is an inability to verbalise outside of their art — a dynamic that plays well on the page, but no doubt a significant challenge to translate for series.

In her first onscreen role, Oliver carries much of the emotional weight. Frances is an introverted character who struggles to communicate outside of her poetry, often dragged along by the tide of her confident, charismatic best friend/ex-lover Bobbi. Both Oliver and Lane give strong performances, the former toeing the line between awkward and endearing in a way that makes the chemistry between Frances and Alwyn’s Nick not just believable but palpable.

As Frances and Nick connect over their inability to forge connections, their most open and honest conversations are their tastefully shot if frequently occurring sex scenes. Meanwhile, Bobbi and Melissa dance around each other off-screen. The lack of screentime afforded to Kirke and Lane in the first six episodes of the series is truly a shame, what little interaction we do see between them entertains in a way Alwyn and Oliver’s slow-building and stilted romance never quite manages to capture.

The glacial pacing of the series may prove to be a struggle for some viewers, but ultimately Conversations with Friends is an intriguing exploration of ever-changing levels of intimacy — understated, introspective, yet engaging enough to make it worth the wait.

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The Wilds Season 2

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After ending on a cliffhanger in December 2020 and leaving a slew of unanswered questions, The Wilds fans will finally have the answers they’ve been craving in this long-awaited second instalment of the series.

Season One left us with the revelation that our core group of girls weren’t the only survivors who’d gone through hell for the “Dawn of Eve” experiment — somewhere out there was a control group made up entirely of boys.

Having invested the entire first season in getting to know and love Toni, Shelby, Fatin, Dot, and the girls, the introduction of a second group taking up precious screentime is a risky venture for the showrunners. Doubling the character count seems like a clever way to avoid having to divulge too many secrets at once, instead splitting the story between uncovering the mysteries the girls have stumbled upon while also starting from scratch and introducing each of the boys using the same flashback/flashforward scenarios we saw in Season One.

Ultimately, this new expanding world just creates an unwieldy dynamic, which when paired with the shorter run time of the season leaves us desperate for resolution, with even more questions in the end than answers.

Thanks to solid performances from the cast, we do manage to connect with the newcomers. The chemistry between the girls and guys varies drastically, creating a captivating clash between watching the growing bond between the family of girls as relationships develop and friendships are tested, while the boys are still trying to figure out how to fit together in this strange new world they’ve been thrown into.

In turns thrilling, tense, and vulnerable, the show isn’t afraid to tackle darker themes, dealing with race, homophobia, sexual assault, and abuse alongside lighter, more uplifting moments of friendship, faith and found family.

It’s a rapid-paced race for answers, in many ways still as gripping and emotionally fraught as its predecessor, but hopefully a third season will find more even ground, learning to share the narrative between established characters and the newcomers without feeling like the girls had move aside in order to make room for the boys.

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Ten Percent

Acting, behind the scenes, Home, Prime Video, Review, Streaming, This Week Leave a Comment

Taking workplace comedy to a whole new level, Ten Percent explores the day-to-day workings of the showbusiness industry, where the lives of the agents behind the scenes are all equally, if not more bizarre, than those of the celebrities they’re trying to corral.

Based on the 2015 series Call My Agent!, the show takes an original French premise and repackages it with a British accent, putting enough of a unique spin on the concept and characters along the way that devoted fans of the original series won’t feel as if they’re watching a pale imitation.

The turbulent world of this London talent agency juggles a slew of big-name celebrities alongside their own interpersonal drama, scrambling to keep the talent happy while never losing focus on what is the ultimate drive of the story—the tightknit family of misfits that make up the Nightingale Hart Agency.

The celebrities aren’t shy about playing exaggerated versions of themselves, but the biggest laughs come from the harried team of agents dealing with impossible situations, more often than not made increasingly worse by their own absurd hijinks.

Receptionist Zoe (Fola Evans-Akingbola) spends her days fielding phone calls and making tea for anxious celebrities, all the while longing to be an actress herself. Fresh faced new assistant Misha (Hiftu Quasem) is desperate to prove herself, while at the same time doing everything she can to hide a secret that could shake the Nightingale Hart team to its core; and Jonathan (Jack Davenport), son of co-founder Richard Nightingale (Jim Broadbent), is just trying to keep his head above water.

Above all, it’s a love letter to films, to theatre, and to the eccentrics who make up the industry, with cameos from a truly impressive line-up of UK stars including Helena Bonham Carter, Dominic West, and Bridgerton’s Phoebe Dynevor to name just a few.

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