A GOOD MARRIAGE. (2014) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

A GOOD MARRIAGE. (2014) BASED ON THE NOVELLA BY STEPHEN KING.  SCREENPLAY BY STEPHEN KING. DIRECTED BY PETER ASKIN. STARRING JOAN ALLEN AND ANTHONY LAPAGLIA.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I’ve recently watched some absolutely terrific Stephen King film adaptations- DR. SLEEP, GERALD’S GAME, 1408, 1922- but this one is really disappointing, even weak. We know almost straight away who the killer is, when the protagonist discovers proof early on in the film.

Then the killer finds out almost immediately that the protagonist knows their secret. There are no twists, no more secrets, no more mysteries left to unearth. All that remains is to see what the protagonist does about the terrible knowledge they’ve acquired.

Joan Allen plays Darcy Anderson, a woman with two grown-up kids who’s just celebrated a milestone wedding anniversary with her husband, Bob, played by Anthony LaPaglia. (Does anyone else think that he could play George Bush Jr. in a biopic about, well, George Bush Jr.?)

As a couple, they still seem to have love and affection and even lust for each other after all this time. I mean, they still have sex with each other, despite their advanced years. Eeuw, wrinkly, old people sex, lol. Can you imagine…?

Anyway, Bob is always popping off on business trips and leaving Darcy alone for the night. On one such night, there’s a storm brewing when Darcy pops out to the shed in the rain and the dark to get batteries for the TV remote control, which has left her stuck on an unsavoury slasher horror film, tsk tsk. Whoever watches those must be properly out of their tree, ahem. (Don’t look at me, don’t looooook at me!)

And isn’t that terrible planning on the family’s part, to keep batteries for the TV remote control across the garden in the shed, instead of somewhere in the house, like in a kitchen drawer or something? People in horror movies are crazy.

I mean, you don’t keep your phone charger in next door’s attic, do you, or in the bird feeder down the end of the garden? You keep it somewhere to hand. Jeez. That’s housekeeping 101, is that. Unless the film-makers are using it as a device in order to give Darcy a reason to go into the shed while Bob is away, which they are…

(My housekeeping advice still holds good, though. Keep things close to the place where you’ll be using the things, and you won’t go far wrong. No doubt you’ll be using your boyfriend, husband or significant other for sex and suchlike bedroom shenanigans, so store them upright during the day when you’re not using them in a wardrobe or similar. I keep mine in a tall, narrow alcove when I’m not using them. Dustsheets are optional, but are especially useful if you’re going away without them, say, and won’t be needing to use them any time soon. That way, they should be still in pristine condition when you get home.)

Whilst rootling about for batteries, Darcy accidentally uncovers the identity of the serial killer of women who’s been operating out of their area for a good few years now. Let’s call him Mr. X, shall we, so as not to give away his identity? When Mr. X comes back from his business trip… No, that’s no good. It’s immediately obvious who the killer is from that.

What about this? Try this. While Bob is away on his business trip, Mr. X spies a woman he likes the look of on the road and follows her in his car. When Bob returns home from his so-called business trip, he makes it clear to Darcy that he knows she knows. About Mr. X being the killer, I mean.

Now it’s up to Darcy to decide what her next course of action is going to be. Staying married to Mr. X, erm, I mean, to, um, Bob, of course (Mr. X isn’t Bob, and Bob isn’t Mr. X, how could you possibly infer that from what I said???), isn’t going to be easy, under the circumstances.

By the way, how dare Mr. X keep his murder souvenirs and trophies in a special super-secret hiding place in Bob’s shed, which no-one ever goes into or uses but Bob Anderson? Damn and blast you, Mr. X! Get your own damn shed! Oh Lord. You all know who the killer is, don’t you? It’s just so obvious. We might as well wind this up, lol.

And I will, except to say that the film seems to be setting Busty Betty, Darcy’s younger, sexier friend, up for a bit of the old ultra-violence, courtesy of Mr. X, but then it simply never comes to pass, which feels like a massive swizz.

The whole feeling I get from this movie adaptation is one of incompleteness, or of something that isn’t properly finished or that someone hasn’t put enough thought into. Or a massive swizz, if you prefer.

Joan Allen is great in it, to give her her due, but the script is weak and the finished product is not as good as it could have been. Sorry, Steven King! I- mostly- love everything else you’ve done, but this one, erm, sucks a bit. Over and out.

  AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
 
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:
http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO
Her new book, THIRTEEN STOPS EARLIER, is out now from Poolbeg Books:
https://amzn.to/3ulKWkv

BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM. (2020) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM: DELIVERY OF PRODIGIOUS BRIBE TO AMERICAN REGIME FOR MAKE BENEFIT ONCE GLORIOUS NATION OF KAZAKHSTAN or BORAT 2 or BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM. DIRECTED BY JASON WOLLNER. BASED ON CHARACTERS CREATED BY SACHA BARON COHEN.
STARRING SACHA BARON COHEN, MARIA BAKALOVA AND TOM HANKS AS HIMSELF.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘I must protect my daughter’s vagine from American mayor.’

‘Take my anoos!’

I’ll be honest with you. I love this film. I love this character, Borat. Borat’s bluntly expressed political incorrectness is exactly what we need in this day and age to help us laugh at how crazily ‘woke’ we’ve become. The more politically incorrect the better, I say. Bring it on.

This film is a sequel or at least a follow-up to the original 2006 movie, BORAT: CULTURAL LEARNINGS OF AMERICA FOR MAKE BENEFIT GLORIOUS NATION OF KAZAKHSTAN. In it, journalist Borat Margaret Sagdiyev- yes, Margaret!- has been imprisoned in Kazakhstan since the previous film was released for bringing shame on his home country with his cinematic offering. It makes Kazakhstan look like a poor and backwards nation of ignorant peasants, lol, but that’s the joke, see?

Anyway, he is released by his country’s Prime Minister on the condition that he makes it up to Kazakhstan by delivering a gift from there to Donald Trump’s second-in-command, Mike Pence. (There are reasons why Borat’s not allowed to get near Trump himself…)

The gift, which will hopefully endear Kazakhstan’s Premier to the biggest world leader, will take the form of Kazakh’s very own Minister of Culture and Kazakhstan’s most famous porn actor, Johnny the Monkey. Yes, Johnny really is an actual monkey, lol. Borat goes to say goodbye to his family, only to find that a ‘non-male son’ of his, actually a teenage daughter named Tutar, is living in the barn.

Tutar is overjoyed to see her Daddy, and stows away to America with him in Johnny the Monkey’s trunk. Johnny doesn’t survive the journey, so it’s just as well that Borat has something else he can gift to Vice President Pence on behalf of Kazakhstan… his lovely daughter, Tutar…

Tutar is thrilled to bits at the thought of being made-over into a Disney-style princess like Princess Melania Trump, and living in the kind of beautiful ‘bride-cage’ in which Trump keeps his stunning missus. It’s all she’s ever wanted. She gets a blonde hair-dye job and a crash course in how to be submissive and agreeable to the American male, because that’s how American males apparently like their ladeez…!

Tutar in a dress shop: ‘I want man to make sex attack on me…!’

Borat in the same place: ‘Where are your ‘no means yes’ dresses…?’
 
There are some hilarious moments at a pro-life medical centre, where in all the confusion it appears that Borat has accidentally impregnated his own daughter, and also at a posh debutante ball, in which Tutar’s monthly period or ‘moon blood’ makes at least as big a splash as her and Borat’s father-daughter dance.

We learn that the coronavirus that brought the world to a standstill in 2020 is a ‘fake’ or ‘hoax’ virus, and also that the Holocaust, ‘our country’s proudest moment,’ according to Borat, meaning Kazakhstan, didn’t actually happen.

But then Borat meets a friendly Holocaust survivor who convinces him that it did happen, so then he’s as happy as Larry again. (Don’t the Kazakhstanis like the Jews, then…? I’m afraid I’m not at all au fait with the history there.)

It turns out as well that the men of Kazakhstan, Borat included, have been lying to their women for years in order to keep them down. Tutar is shocked but delighted to discover that masturbation won’t kill her and that women are not only allowed to drive but physically able to as well. Their country’s ‘Bible,’ or the Ministry for Agriculture and Wildlife’s Daughter-Owning Manual, as it’s often known, might be a tad out of date, harrumph harrumph…

The controversial ‘Running of the Jew’ has been replaced by the ‘Running of the American,’ but Jewish viewers still must cope with an anti-Semitic chocolate cake and Borat’s wildly inappropriate choice of destination when he’s feeling suicidal…

Rudy Giuliani (he doesn’t acquit himself terribly admirably) and Mike Pence appear in the film, seemingly without their permish, and the scientific community will be excited to hear that the real source of COVID-19 is revealed in the film. Never mind the Wuhan flu, Borat Margaret, we’re looking at you…!

Oh, and Borat wears a ‘mask-ini’ in this film as a loving tribute to COVID-19. I just love this guy, and I want to see more of him, not less. The ‘mask-ini’ is as good a way as any to achieve that, I suppose!

I love the way that Sacha Baron Cohen has no qualms at all about making himself look foolish. It’s great when actors are brave like that. Sign of a true professional, that is. Oh, and I want to dedicate this review to Billy Sexcrimes. He knows who he is…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
 
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:
http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO
Her new book, THIRTEEN STOPS EARLIER, is out now from Poolbeg Books:
https://amzn.to/3ulKWkv
 
 

DARK MONEY. (2019) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

DARK MONEY. (2019) DIRECTED BY LEWIS ARNOLD. WRITTEN BY LEVI DAVID ADDAI.
STARRING JILL HALFPENNY, BABOU CEESAY, OLIVE GRAY AND MAX FINCHAM.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This four-part drama mini-series made for perfect viewing for a sort of ‘meh’ Sunday afternoon. It’s very topical and on trend, what with the #metoo movement and the whole thing of people in positions of power being called out on their sexual abuse of the people who work with them or below them.

Most recently, we’ve had Prince Andrew shelling out a hefty whack of dosh to Virginia Giuffre Roberts, the woman who was procured for him by paedophile Jeffrey Epstein and with whom he had sex when she was still underage. Super-rich socialite and Daddy’s Girl Ghislaine Maxwell was found guilty of being Epstein’s accomplice, also in recent times.

Then, way back before that, there was Jimmy Savile, who was unfortunately dead by the time the worst stories about him were released and so he was never really called to account for his appalling behaviour. I wonder if monies from his estate were ever donated to his victims or to charities supporting victims of sexual abuse…? That’s a job for Wikipedia, lol.

Anyway, way back before that, of course, a certain musical moon-walking superstar settled a fair-sized sum of money on the family of a boy whom he’d been accused of sexually abusing, and that’s a great segueway into DARK MONEY, a Netflix Limited Series about this exact topic.

The Mensah family are a perfectly ordinary, mixed-race British family living, with the usual financial struggles, in council accommodation. Manny is the big burly dad, Sam the devoted mum, and their kids, Jess the college student and Isaac, the little acting phenomenon who has just returned from a three-month stint in Hollywood filming the latest blockbuster movie, VALIANT & SON, with real bonafide Hollywood movie stars.

Everyone Isaac knows, including his wanna-be actress sister Jess, is green with envy at Isaac’s wonderful opportunity and success. The papers are full of it. Local Boy Makes Good, and that type of thing. He’s a celebrity at school and in the local area. So why isn’t Isaac deliriously happy with himself? The answer is contained within a recording on his iPhone…

Time to put things in a nutshell. Isaac has been sexually abused no fewer than three times by Jotham Starr, the bigshot producer of the blockbuster movie. The Mensah family- to be precise, the dad, Manny- accepts a payment of three million dollars from Starr’s lawyers to keep quiet about it.

It’s not an admission of guilt, the lawyers are quick to point out. It’s just that Jotham doesn’t want negative publicity impacting the film and ruining everyone’s hard work. Oh. Well. That’s all right then, I suppose. The money changes hands. The die is cast…

The series then moves on to a year later, where we see the Mensah family living in a fantastic private house with a magnificent garden and in-house swimming pool and gym, but they’re not happy. You might even say that Jotham Starr’s money has only made things worse. What gives? We are shown then how each family member has coped, or not coped, with the abuse of Isaac and with dad Taking the Money…

What it all boils down to is this. Was dad right to take the money? Or should he have punched Jotham Starr’s lights out for laying a hand on his precious son? Should he have tried to have the fancy pants movie producer prosecuted, which, remember, would have to take place in America, as the British police have no jurisdiction over a bloke who lives in the United States?

Should dad have gone to the newspapers and exposed Starr for the sleazy abuser that he is? Or should he just have taken the money, as he did do, and used it to better his family’s lives? There’s some notion going around that there’s something wrong, something dirty, about taking the money, as if it’ll make you look like a common gold-digger, as if taking the money won’t help get justice for the abused child.

Well, what if instead it helped the child to have a better life? And why shouldn’t an abuser pay financially for what they’ve done? It’s a form of retribution, isn’t it? The Magdalene Laundry Survivors here in Ireland deserve all the financial compensation they can claw out of the system that for decades allowed them to be treated like less than dirt.

I’m glad for Virginia Roberts that Prince Andrew was obliged to pay her such a life-changing sum of money. I hope it really changes her life for the better. The only downside is that it was probably the Queen’s cash that was paid out in the settlement, and not Andrew’s own pocket money, which means that he probably won’t have learned anything from the experience, worse luck.

To be honest, I think I’d take the money if it were my child, God forbid, who’d been in little Isaac Mensah’s place. If I couldn’t uproot my family and go chasing a come-uppance in America for some guy who’d probably wriggle out of it anyway because he’s Hollywood royalty and loaded to boot, then I’d just take the goddamn money and use it to try to improve my child’s life and chances for the future.

That’s the issue, anyway, that the Mensah family are struggling with in this excellent domestic drama. I love Manny’s ‘second’ family, his son Tyrone and Tyrone’s feisty mum, Sabrina, who shows more warmth and affection towards Manny than his actual wife, Sam, who draws farther and farther away from her bewildered husband the more stuff happens. The two, Manny and Sam, are the world’s worst communicators, which doesn’t help matters.  

I love Jill Halfpenny as the wife, Sam. You’ll already know her from soaps, CORONATION STREET and EASTENDERS, but she recently turned up in excellent Netflix drama LIAR as well, as the Afghanistan veteran and wife to a detective in a same sex, mixed race couple.

I must say that television dramas are becoming so inclusive lately of same sex and mixed race couples and people of all genders and ethnicities that it would gladden your heart to see it. Sure, they probably go out of their way at times and end up being a little too politically correct, but surely that’s better than not making any effort at all. Isn’t it?

There’s an interesting point raised in the drama as well about ‘chaperones,’ the people who are paid to look after your child when he or she toddles off to Hollywood to star in the latest blockbuster movie featuring giant ray guns and CGI aliens.

If a child is abused on, or off, set, to what extent is the chaperone culpable? Have they failed in their job? Should they be relieved of their duties? Good question, one that I must admit has never come up for me, but worth a wee ponder, nonetheless. Great drama, this one. Well worth your time.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

Her new book, THIRTEEN STOPS EARLIER, is out now from Poolbeg Books:

Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:

The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:

Wanna Be a Paperback Writer? The Scoop on Writing Series Books! – by Melodie Campbell… — Chris The Story Reading Ape’s Blog

on Anne R. Allen: This month, I will have the privilege of interviewing both Ian Rankin and Linwood Barclay, at separate conferences and festivals.  Both are world-renowned crime writers (and wonderfully witty men besides.)  As I read through their latest books in order to prepare for being the hostess with the mostess (naughty thoughts aside […]

Wanna Be a Paperback Writer? The Scoop on Writing Series Books! – by Melodie Campbell… — Chris The Story Reading Ape’s Blog

HALSTON. (2021) THE NETFLIX MINISERIES REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

HALSTON. (2021) DIRECTED BY DANIEL MINAHAN. BASED ON THE BOOK, SIMPLY HALSTON, BY STEVEN GAINES. EXECUTIVE CO-PRODUCED BY RYAN MURPHY.
STARRING EWAN MCGREGOR, REBECCA DAYAN, KRYSTA RODRIGUEZ, GIAN FRANCO RODRIGUEZ, VERA FARMIGA AND BILL PULLMAN.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘Reviews don’t matter.’

Wow. Ewan McGregor repeatedly has gay sex with big butch black men in this excellent biopic drama series from Netflix, and he seems to mainly be the passive receptacle partner each time, if you get my meaning. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s just that it’s Ewan McGregor, you know? He was Obi-Wan Kenobi.

He’s just kind of the last person you’d expect to see being rogered senseless (from behind) by a big black dude in a carpark wearing assless leather chaps, or admiring a big black guy’s wang before, ahem, chowing down, one imagines. I genuinely don’t mean that to be offensive. It’s just that it’s Ewan McGregor, if you see what I mean!

Anyway, the fifty-one-year-old does a superb job in this five-part Limited Series as the gay fashion designer who became famous in the ‘Sixties for designing the dinky little pillbox hat worn by style icon Jackie Onassis to her husband John F. Kennedy’s inauguration in 1961.

He went on from there to design dresses and create perfume, and he became one of the biggest, most talented designers of his day, up there with Calvin Klein (his enemy, lol!), Ralph Lauren, Givenchy and Bill Blass.

He came from troubled beginnings in small-town America, with the kind of angry, unhappy father who battered his mother and became outraged at the least sign of ‘sissy-ness’ in his young son, such as when he’d come across the fashion drawings penned by the little boy. A young Halston first began designing hats to cheer up his mother, who absolutely loved his creations.

He shook the dust of his home-town off his feet in search of fame and fortune and instead surrounded himself with the gay man’s alternative ‘family’ of close friends, lovers and, sometimes, sycophants and hangers-on.

Jewellery designer Elsa Peretti was his first and favourite model. Liza Minnelli was his muse, model and best gal-pal. He designed her outfit for her wedding to producer and director, Jack Haley Jr.

Joe Eula was his illustrator and confidante and David J. Mahoney, played by Bill Pullman from INDEPENDENCE DAY and SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE, was the CEO of Norton Simon, to which company Halston signed a lucrative deal which gave him the space and protection to create his fabulous designs.

He was gay, as I believe I may have already mentioned, and often cruised the kind of places where you could get anonymous, no string attached sex, either paid for or for free. His long-time live-in lover was a Venezuelan-born wanna-be artist and window dresser called Victor Rojas, whose escort name was Victor Huge-O (Victor Hugo) on account of his massive, ahem, appendage.

Victor was desperately jealous of Halston’s success. He craved the recognition Halston had achieved for himself and his jealousy and bitterness caused many fights with the already stressed designer.

As you’ll see towards the end of this five-parter, Victor wasn’t exactly the best thing ever to happen to Halston. The gay community in America in the ‘Seventies and ‘Eighties all had a common enemy, and that enemy was called AIDS…

Halston was addicted to cocaine and booze as well as to cigarettes, rough trade and dangerous sex. It’s so funny when Liza Minnelli is packing to go away to rehab for her own addiction problems and Halston stares at her in bemusement before saying: ‘But where are you going, darling? Is it some kind of a tour, or something…?’ Someone clearly doesn’t understand the concept of rehab any more than he does that of abstinence…

Probably due to all the drugs and booze and excessive partying at Studio 54, Halston allowed his designing and business to suffer and go into a decline. He even ended up losing the use of his own name for design purposes, something for which I imagine he never forgave himself. He lost a lot of his friends as well, due to his bitchy, selfish and inconsiderate nature, which seemed to become more pronounced while he was high on drugs and alcohol.

Vera Farmiga, an actress you might be familiar with from her roles in the CONJURING movies, steals the whole show by at one point willingly placing Halston’s lover Victor Huge-O’s jockstrap over her face and breathing in the earthy aroma, but I’m not going to tell you why, lol. It’s just so gross.

Anyway, I just binge-watched the whole thing in more or less one sitting, give or take a few tea breaks. It’s compelling watching. I think it’s sad the way the kids of today don’t seem to know the name of ‘Halston’ the way they recognise Calvin Klein’s, for example.

Would they know the name of his favourite model’s any better, I wonder, as Elsa Peretti went on to become one of the hottest female jewellery designers of all time, with a collection of her pieces on permanent display at the British Museum. So many talented people, who should never be forgotten. This mini-series will go a long way, I feel, towards taking care of that.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

Her new book, THIRTEEN STOPS EARLIER, is out now from Poolbeg Books:

LIAR. (2017/2020) A TERRIFIC NETFLIX THRILLER SERIES REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

LIAR. (2017 AND 2020) A NETFLIX THRILLER SERIES CREATED BY HARRY WILLIAMS AND JACK WILLIAMS. CO-PRODUCED BY ITV AND SUNDANCE TV.
STARRING JOANNE FROGGATT AND IOAN GRUFFUDD.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

It feels like I’ve been watching this thriller series for weeks and weeks and weeks, because it actually has two seasons of six episodes each, one of which aired in 2017 and one in 2020. It’s bloody brilliant, though, so I don’t at all begrudge the time spent viewing it, and I haven’t even finished it; I still have one tension-filled episode left to go!

Joanne Froggatt and Ioan Gruffudd are phenomenal as the two leads, Laura Nielson and Andrew Earlham respectively. You will recognise the marvellous Joanne Froggatt from such roles as that of Zoe Tattersall in CORONATION STREET from 1997-1998, in which she played the troubled teenaged mother of Baby Katie, whom childless couple Judy and Gary Mallett wanted to adopt but it all went tragically pear-shaped.

She was also terrific as Myra Hindley’s sister, Maureen Smith, in the 2006 ITV mini-series, SEE NO EVIL: THE MOORS MURDERS. Maureen Hindley, married to David Smith at a young age, had no idea what her older sister Myra was up to with her twisted and sadistic lover and co-worker, Ian Brady, and it ruined her life when it all came out, as it destroyed the lives of so many other people affected by the murderous actions of Brady and Hindley.

Ioan Gruffudd (I have no idea how to pronounce his name, be it Owen, Ewan, Ian or whatever else!) has apparently been in a load of things, but I mainly remember him from James Cameron’s blockbuster movie, TITANIC, from 1997. He was the officer who came back to see if there were any survivors left after the massive ship had sunk, shouting, ‘Is there anybody alive out there…?’ while someone else pheep-pheeps on a tiny whistle, lol.

In fact, his shouting provided the stimulus for that selfish wagon Rose Dawson to shove poor old frozen Leonardo DiCaprio off that door to which they were both clinging for life and into the icy ocean so that she and she alone could be saved, the self-centred mare. Have you ever seen a frozen woman move so fast? No? I rest my case…

Anyway, Joanne Froggatt plays Laura Nielson, an attractive and outgoing secondary school teacher who, one fateful night, goes on a date with surgeon Andrew Earlham (played by Unpronounceable Gruffudd), the father of one of her pupils, Luke.

Andrew is handsome, charming, witty and widowed, and doesn’t look a day older than when he was hanging out of the rescue boat yelling, are any a’ youse rich bastards still alive out there, or words to that effect. Laura certainly can’t resist his not inconsiderable charms. She invites him in to her charming little seafront house for a nightcap, while he supposedly waits for a taxi…

When Laura wakes up the next morning, she gets the distinct impression that she’s been, well, drugged and raped. Drug-raped. By Andrew Earlham, the handsome, widowed surgeon who’s supposedly just looking to dip his big toe back in the dating pool again, as it were.

Laura is extremely vocal and loses no time in reporting what she sees as a heinous crime. Andrew, of course, denies all culpability. Oh, we had all the sex all right, but it was wholly consensual, he bleats hopefully. Well, you can’t consent to what you don’t know is happening, can you…?

Laura will spend the whole series trying to prove, not only that Andrew Earlham drug-raped her, but also that he has done it to other women before and certainly will again if he gets the chance. Laura becomes a thorn in Andrew’s side like he has never known before and probably won’t again. Who will come out on top…?

It’s like a soaps reunion here at times, which is great fun. Jill Halfpenny, who once played Martin Platt’s secret mistress while he was married to Gail in CORONATION STREET, is cast here as the gay soldier-slash-wife of the woman in charge of Laura’s rape case.

Katherine Kelly, who played mouthy Becky McDonald in CORONATION STREET from 2006 to 2012, portrays a tough and not very likeable cop in the second season of LIAR, but I can’t tell you what criminal case she’s in charge of because that would be a massive spoiler, and I don’t do massive spoilers. Only little to middly ones, lol.

Amy Nuttall, aka Chloe Atkinson in EMMERDALE, plays another possible victim of Andrew Earlham’s, and Lucy Speed, whose character Natalie was married to Barry Evans in EASTENDERS back in the day, here plays a counsellor to Andrew Earlham’s messed-up son, Luke. Told you it was like a soaps reunion here…!

The show gets very confusing at times, especially in the second season as it becomes a tense and fast-moving whodunnit. And the ease with which the characters apparently break in and out of each other’s cars, houses and work lockers and hack in and out of each other’s laptops and mobile phones is just plain ridiculous, but we can overlook all this in favour of the show’s stronger points, such as the superb characterisation of the two leads.

Laura seems incapable of giving up, or of keeping her mouth shut where she perceives she’s being given the shaft, whereas Andrew’s deviousness and his ability to gaslight, deceive and manipulate people just seems to know no bounds. It’s extremely interesting, therefore, to watch the cracks appear in his previously cool, calm and collected façade.

I hope to finish LIAR tonight before my son comes to hog the telly for the Europa League footy final (Frankfurt vs. Rangers, I’m reliably informed), but I can already advise you to watch this excellent Netflix series if you want a nice long escape from your own problems.

You’ll have to hold on tight, as the twists and turns become almost too twisty-turny to keep up with, but you’ll also have great craic playing spot-the-soap-star and marvelling at Laura’s persistence (past the point of all wisdom, mind!) and Andrew’s utter villainy. Happy watching…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

Her new book, THIRTEEN STOPS EARLIER, is out now from Poolbeg Books:

https://amzn.to/3ulKWkv

THE SHINING. (1980) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

THE SHINING. (1980) BASED ON THE NOVEL BY STEPHEN KING. PRODUCED AND DIRECTED BY STANLEY KUBRICK. SCREENPLAY BY STANLEY KUBRICK AND DIANE JOHNSON.

STARRING JACK NICHOLSON, SHELLEY DUVALL, SCATMAN CROTHERS AND DANNY LLOYD.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This is a good ‘un. Some Stephen King novels- not all of them, admittedly- make for fantastic films. CARRIE is one of these. Ditto MISERY, THE MIST, MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE, SALEM’S LOT, BAG OF BONES, GERALD’S GAME and DOLORES CLAIBORNE. THE SHINING is definitely another. To be honest, it’s probably the best Stephen King book-to-movie adaptation ever made to date. The plot is a real corker. Let’s have a brief overview.

Jack Torrance is clearly not one of life’s winners. He’s a sarcastic, bad-tempered recovering alcoholic and aspiring writer, a terrible combination. He also desperately needs work, any work, so he takes a job as seasonal caretaker at the isolated Overlook Hotel. He and his wife Wendy and young son Danny will live by themselves in the hotel all winter and keep things ticking over until the staff and guests return in the summer.

Sounds like a cushy number, but there are downsides. One of these is the sheer isolation of the hotel’s location. There won’t be a soul for miles around, added to which they’ll definitely be snowed in at some point as well, unable to get to even the nearest town, Sidewinder. No TV and no beer make Homer go something something…

More importantly, though, is the fact that a previous caretaker went cuckoo-bananas during the long cold winter at the Overlook Hotel and ran amok with an axe, killing his wife and twin daughters. It’s just a trifling matter, you know. It shouldn’t be an issue. Will Jack be able to handle the job, his new employers ask him? Sure thing, he tells them. No problem. When do I start…?

The Torrance family move into the hotel, lock, stock and barrel. Straight-away we observe that Jack, brilliantly played by Jack Nicholson, is a little below par as a husband and father, maybe even verging on the abusive. As if we didn’t know this already. A month at the Overlook does nothing to improve his foul temper.

Jack sits around the place pretending to write his version of the great American novel, all the while growing weirder and less and less communicative and civil towards his long-suffering wife. Writing is hard, and there’s nothing worse than a bad bout of Writer’s Blockage. Even a hefty dose of Syrup of Figs can’t shift that.

Then one day cute little Danny, who has the ability to read minds and predict the future (the shining), encounters a ‘crazy lady’ in the bathtub of one of the supposedly empty bedrooms, and what’s more, he has the scars to prove it. What the hell are Momma and Poppy gonna do now…?

THE SHINING is a masterclass in tension-building. Not only do we already know that something horrible has already happened in this accursed hotel, but at every turn we’re confronted with hints and indications that something just as bad, or maybe even worse, is fast coming down the track.

Jack Nicholson gives a faultless performance as the man who is growing crazier with each passing day. In fairness though, I think Jack Torrance may have been a little unhinged to begin with. He gives every indication of being a man on the edge, even before he’s cocooned at the hotel.

He’s absolutely foul to his downtrodden wife. Today, we’d call him a domestic abuser and cancel his sorry ass before you could say get my wife’s name out your mother-fucking mouth in front of an audience of millions at a glittering awards ceremony, lol. Sorry, couldn’t resist that.

Shelley Duvall is equally convincing as the wife who has to face the fact that her husband, the man who’s supposed to love and protect her and little Danny, is quite possibly the biggest threat to her and her little boy’s safety. Nowadays, she’d be calling a helpline to assist her and her young son to get as far away as they could from Jacky Boy, who’s possibly the worst and most abusive husband in cinema history.

Scatman Crothers is superb as Dick Halloran, the old chef at the Overlook Hotel who shares little Danny’s ability to ‘shine.’ He proves to be Danny’s only real ally, besides his mother, against the terrible evil that haunts the hotel.

Lisa and Louise Burns truly ‘shine’ too as the Grady twins (‘Come play with us Danny!’), and Danny Lloyd himself is fantastic as Danny ‘Doc’ Torrance, and he was only eight at the time, which is amazing. The hotel guests are all deliciously twisted and great fun. Watch out for the classic scene with Jack Torrance at the supposedly closed bar in the supposedly closed hotel…
 
The colours and patterns used in the hotel’s decor- the burnt orange, brown and yellow swirls and checks so popular in the ‘Seventies- add to the claustrophobic feel of this supposedly spacious location. What little Danny’s doing on his wee trike along the corridors of the hotel actually looks like tremendous fun. Giz a go of yer trike, Danny…!

Throw in a great script, great direction and a catalogue of ever-increasing shocks and you’ve got yourself a masterpiece. I don’t think there’s any more that I can add, really. If you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go take my bath now. I’ll leave the door open though, if you fancy joining me. You can help me scrub the mould and algae off my back. It’s Room 237, by the way. Come on up when you’re ready. I’ll be waiting…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

Her new book, THIRTEEN STOPS EARLIER, is out now from Poolbeg Books:

Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:

The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Thirteen-Stops-Later-Book-ebook/dp/B091J75WNB/