Movie Review – Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)
Written by Bridget O’Conner & Peter Straughan
Directed by Tomas Alfredson

In 1973, Control (John Hurt), the head of British intelligence sends Agent Jim Prideaux (Mark Strong) to Hungary to speak with a general claiming a desire to defect to the West. Prideaux is shot when things go bad, and Control is forced to step down. Retiring alongside him is George Smiley (Gary Oldman), his longtime right-hand man. Shortly after Control passes away and Smiley’s wife leaves him (again). The twilight years appear to be a dark road ahead. Ricki Tarr (Tom Hardy) is a spy for the agency who has now gone AWOL and communicated with the prime minister’s office that there is a mole for the Soviets within the Circus (the nickname for intelligence). Smiley is pulled out of retirement to run a black ops investigation into the very leadership of Britain’s intelligence service, sussing out if the new head (Toby Jones) or his lieutenants are using their position to funnel sensitive information to the enemy. The deep Smiley goes the more he realizes that he’s lost himself in a world of paranoia and mistrust.

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Movie Review – Another Year

Another Year (2010)
Written & Directed by Mike Leigh

Tom and Gerrie (yes, that is their names) are a couple nearing retirement. He’s a geological engineer, and she’s a counselor, but both of them have a great passion for nature and working in their garden allotment. Over the course of a single year, we follow them as they spend time with friends and family. We’re introduced to Mary, a receptionist at the health center where Gerri works. Mary is divorced, and her last meaningful relationship turned out to be with a married man. Tom’s childhood friend Ken is overweight and eats & drinks non-stop. Ken complains about how he’s being aged out of his position at work and that he hadn’t stopped to realize he was old now. Tom and Gerrie’s son Joe is in his thirties and still single which becomes a point of conversation during many dinners. There’s no mystery or deep conflict here; this is just life played out over another year.

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Movie Review – Four Lions

Four Lions (2010)
Written by Chris Morris, Sam Bain, Jesse Armstrong, & Simon Blackwell
Directed by Chris Morris

Nine years after the events of 9/11, with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq raging on, as ISIS was growing in power, four radicalized British Muslims want in on the jihad. They aspire to be suicide bombers but want to do it legit so that they end up as kick-ass martyrs. Two of the men, Omar and Waj, fly to Pakistan to train with al-Qaeda but end up using a rocket launcher the wrong way round and blow up part of the training camp. Meanwhile, Anglo convert to Islam Barry recruits Hassan, a young Arabic rapper who wants to create a “jihad of the mind.” When Omar returns the group devolves into arguments about what exactly to bomb: a mosque and pretend they were Jews, a pharmacy because they sell birth control or some as to be determined target.

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Movie Review – The Children Act

The Children Act (2018)
Written by Ian McEwan
Directed by Richard Eyre

Justice Fiona Maye has devoted her life to the High Court and has ruled on many important cases involving the rights of parents versus the responsibilities of the medical community. A new case comes across her desk that gives her pause though. A 17-year-old boy with Leukemia has refused treatment due to his religious beliefs. He is of the Jehovah’s Witness faith and cannot take a transfusion of blood which is what the life-saving treatment will involve. Fiona hears from the parents and decides she needs to visit Adam, the ailing boy, and speak with him. She discovers a lively young man who is on the verge of death. Meanwhile, Fiona ignores her own personal turmoil as her marriage is crumbling. Her husband has let her know he is going to have an affair and she shuts herself off, buried beneath her work.

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PopCult Watches: Flowers Season 1, Episode 6

flowers

Flowers Season 1, Episode 6 (2016)
Written & Directed by Will Sharpe

flowers 06

There is no fade to black happy ending moment with depression. You keep carrying on, hoping things get better, but with no guarantees. Shun’s story about discovering The Grubbs Family books reflects the one thing that can bolster a person suffering in seemingly unending depression: This is how the world can be, and there are others who feel like you, you are not alone. All we can do in the end is be there for each other, making sure that even someone a million miles away knows you are there for them and you feel the way do as well.

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PopCult Watches: Flowers Season 1, Episode 5

flowers

Flowers Season 1, Episode 5 (2016)
Written & Directed by Will Sharpe

Flowers

Sadness is a painful emotion to express the full experience of to others. Each of our encounters with deep sadness and depression is profoundly personal that it inhibits us from letting others know. These emotions seem to exist outside known language which is what leads to people sound intelligible or merely sobbing, their only avenue of release. Series creator Will Sharpe understands the immutable incoherence of sadness and manages to express his understandings on this state of being with honest humor. In this penultimate episode, characters either reach an explosive pinnacle or find themselves strangled by their condition and unable to speak. Sharpe has stated that Flowers is “comedy with mental illness,” a description that at first may sound merely witty but after you view the series is the very core of everything that happens.

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PopCult Watches: Flowers Season 1, Episode 4

flowers

Flowers Season 1, Episode 4 (2016)
Written & Directed by Will Sharpe

flowers 04

Maurice has his publishing contract terminated meaning the Grubbs Family books are finished. This sends him spiraling into an even deeper depression. Deborah feels immense guilt over sleeping with Barry, the builder. The two refuse to communicate. Barry also feels guilt and confesses what happened to Maurice who honestly is too caught up in his internal struggle and depression. Amy has her first date with Abigail and after an awkward start things suddenly go entirely right, that is until Donald shows up with a camera. Maurice and Deborah accept a dinner invite from Barbara and Steve, who have mended their marriage. This ends up being a breaking point where Maurice can’t take pretending things are fine any longer and Deborah joins him in breaking.

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