THE IT CROWD. (2006-2013) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. PS, HAVE YOU TRIED TURNING IT OFF AND ON AGAIN…?

THE IT CROWD. (2006-2013) CREATED BY GRAHAM LINEHAN.
STARRING CHRIS O’DOWD, RICHARD AYOADE, KATHERINE PARKINSON, CHRIS MORRIS, MATT BERRY AND NOEL FIELDING.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This is one of the funniest, un-woke-est sitcoms I’ve ever seen, and no wonder, as it’s written by Graham Linehan, the guy responsible for FATHER TED and BLACK BOOKS. All three sitcoms are modelled on the same, seemingly fail-safe, formula:

Take two blokes with hopeless social skills and poor life skills in general (Fathers Ted and Dougal, Bernard Black and Manny Blanco, Roy Trenneman and Maurice Moss) and put them in the sort-of-care of a woman who’s nearly as bad as them (Mrs. Doyle, Fran Katzenjammer and Jen Barber), and off you go; you’re away to the races!

The London-based show is set in the building of Reynholm Industries, a sort of media and communications business of whose exact purpose we’re kind of unclear.


It’s owned by the bombastic, moustached, corrupt and arrogant Denholm Reynholm, who commits suicide by jumping out a window when there are found to be ‘bizarre irregularities’ in his accounts, just like in FATHER TED. That’s an example of Graham Linehan borrowing from himself, lol.

Down in the dingy, untidy basement room in Reynholm Industries, we have the titular IT or Information Technology crowd. (Even Jen doesn’t know what IT stands for!) Chris O’Dowd plays Roy Trenneman, ‘a man from Ireland.’

He’s a big fan of Internet pornography and trying to get women to go out with him (maybe if he did the former less, he’d achieve the latter more!), he has lovely curly Irish hair and he always looks like he’s just crawled out of bed, a look that women do generally seem to find attractive. (Well, the girls on the seventh floor might dig him, I don’t know…!)

He’s horribly work-shy and resents the customers who phone him looking for assistance with their computers. He invariably responds with the by-now-famous line, ‘Have you tried turning it off and on again…?’ and beyond this he’s not really prepared to go, the lazy article.

He’s got a great selection of T-shirts and looks like the kind of big, tall, lopey, hairy Irish guy who might be in the band the Coronas or something. (I wonder are they still called that, or did they change their name after the COVID-19 pandemic??? I would have.)

I love when he’s out for the night at GAY: A GAY MUSICAL, and pretends to be ‘leg-disabled’ when he gets caught out using the theatre’s ‘Disabled’ bathroom. Hilarious. I also love the episode in which he tries desperately to convince a more-successful-than-he-is friend from school that he’s absolutely, definitely, positively not a window-cleaner, lol.

The funniest thing in the whole entire show is probably when the barrister asks Roy to place a cut-out of Ralph Ineson’s face on the exact place on the diagram of Roy’s buttocks where Ineson kissed him after he gave him a massage, it’s just too flippin’ funny. Maybe google this particular bit to see what the hell I’m talking about here…!

Richard Ayoade plays the adorable genius-nerd Maurice Moss, who definitely passes the autism test and who should never be allowed to run after his bullies with a gun, but there you go.

He loves counting and watching COUNTDOWN, being on COUNTDOWN and, when he’s not engaged in any of these worthy pastimes, he adores playing STREET COUNTDOWN with various former COUNTDOWN winners. Me? Well, I’ll have a ‘P,’ please, Bob…

The ravishing red-headed Jan Barber (Katherine Parkinson) hasn’t the first idea about computers but convinces the CEO to take her on as ‘relationship manager,’ or the person who liaises between the IT department and the rest of the company.

She’s only moderately good at doing this, but her personal relationships with men are a disaster, lol. I love the episode where everyone thinks she’s dead and she appears to be haunting a boastful tosser called Bill Crouse, who will certainly never tell anyone he slept with her again…!

Noel Fielding from THE MIGHTY BOOSH plays sometimes-character Richmond Avenal, the strange and forgotten goth who lives in the building behind a red door in the basement, a door which Jen has been warned by her colleagues, Roy and Moss, not to open, so naturally the first thing she does when their backs are turned is… open the door…

Douglas Reynholm, the work-shy son of the late Denholm Reynholm, is a fantastic character. ‘You don’t need to tell ME where to sign on a sexual harassment suit…!’ Loud, super-sexist and with a fantastically booming, carrying voice, he dresses like a reject from SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER, he has no idea what his father’s company does, even though he’s just inherited it, he hits on every woman he meets and has fabulously funny lines such as, ‘Damn these electric sex pants!’ and ‘You there, computer man, fix my pants!’ I love when he tells Jen to ‘dress up like my sexy dead wife!,’ and he has the outfit already there and ready to go, the pervert…

The #metoo crowd would make mincemeat of poor Douglas. Would a super-sexist character like his even get written into a sitcom anymore, or is that day gone now too? I can imagine what he might say, in his dramatic booming voice, to such a bunch of marauding feminists as might confront him in his office in Reynholm Industries:

‘You there, ugly hairy men-women! There’s no need to be bitter, and jealous of your prettier female counterparts! My massive knob is an Equal Opportunities Employer! Mind you, I’ll have to shag all of you from behind; I don’t want those earnest, make-up-less faces putting me off my stride while I’m poking the fireplaces, haw-haw-haw!’ The ‘woke’ crowd would tar and feather him, and then run him out of town on a rail…

THE IT CROWD, which also features a great theme tune with nifty graphics, is as funny as Graham Linehan’s other works, FATHER TED and BLACK BOOKS, as I said earlier. He just has a genius for writing about these types of ordinary situations that turn farcical, ridiculous and out-of-control very quickly when you put the right characters into the mix. The show is on Netflix now and is so well worth watching. I’ll leave you with some classic lines…

‘Did you catch that ludicrous display last night?’

‘What was Wenger thinking, putting Walcott on so early…?’

‘The thing about Arsenal is that they always try to walk it in…’

‘Moss, you’re saying football things…! In a football voice…!

Classic lines indeed. Happy Christmas, folks.

LUDIK. (2022) A NETFLIX CRIME DRAMA SERIES REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS.

LUDIK. (2022) A NETFLIX CRIME DRAMA SERIES REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
WRITTEN/CREATED BY PAUL BUYS AND ANNEMARIE VAN BASTEN.
STARRING ARNOLD VOSLOO.

This South African crime drama series premiered on Netflix just a couple of weeks ago, and I’m here to tell you that if the writers come up with, say, another eighty episodes at least as good, we could be looking at the new THE SOPRANOS, still the best television programme ever written.

LUDIK, the first Netflix show to feature the sexy-sounding Afrikaans as a language, has several parallels with THE SOPRANOS, starting with an anti-hero who could give Tony Soprano a run for his money in the heart-throb stakes.

Daan Ludik is a handsome South African furniture billionaire in his fifties who smuggles a few diamonds on the side. Well, he didn’t get that mansion and that car and that trophy wife by selling a few pouffes, innit? Tony Soprano is a mafioso whose waste management business is a front for his other less savoury activities. Less savoury than waste management? You’d better believe it.

Daan has a beautiful blonde trophy wife called Anet, who spends all day swilling wine in her bathrobe. She probably married Daan for the luxurious lifestyle he can afford to give her, yet she bitches at him for working all the time instead of dancing attendance on her and their young son, Danie. Tony’s blonde bitchy wife Carmela has to contend with goomars or mistresses as well, so Daan’s wife should at least be content that he’s faithful.

Each wife will be unfaithful, or at least nearly unfaithful, one with a priest followed by an underling of her husband’s, and the other wife with another woman, a psychologist. (In LUDIK, it’s the son Danie who’s getting the psycho-analysing, and in THE SOPRANOS, it’s the head honcho himself.)

Daan was not pampered or spoiled as a boy. He endured savage whippings from his father in his childhood, and he got nothing for nothing. Both Daan and Tony favour tough love, and the odd clip on the side of the head, for their soft-as-butter ‘sensitive’ sons, Danie and Anthony Junior, but the mothers intervene to keep the lads tied to their apron strings, much to the fathers’ joint disgust.

Daan’s beautiful but temperamental, bitchy grown-up daughter Louise seems to have a similar kind of love-hate relationship with him to the one Meadow Soprano has with her Pops. Neither girl wants their alpha male Papas to be telling them what to do at this stage of their lives, either with their careers or with their respective black boyfriends. That’s not me being racist there, by the way. That’s the two dads. Tony comes straight out with it, though Daan is just marginally more subtle about it. ‘Stay away from my daughter!’

Daan’s dad, a preacher due for retirement, is a mean-spirited old bastard called Viljoen. His successful and generous son Daan will pay for everything for him, no matter how much it costs, but the old buzzard is rude, ungrateful and horrible to Daan about it. When he has a cup of tea at his son’s house, he says, how much do I owe you for the tea?

Tony Soprano also has a nightmare parent, his mum Livia, who for a long time refuses to go into a nursing home for her own good and safety. (‘It’s not a nursing home; it’s a retirement community!’) Let’s not forget how she puts an actual hit out on her son at one stage in the series, and how she resists all Tony’s attempts to make the old witch happy.

Both men, Daan and Tony, have their fair share of lame ducks and hangers-on swinging out of them. Daan has his dead sister Linda’s deadbeat alcoholic hubby, Swys, to contend with. Tony has his drug-addicted, hot-headed nephew Christopher, his loser friend, restauranteur Artie Bucco, his hippy sister Janice with the carpal tunnel syndrome and her disability cheques, and finally his elderly Uncle Junior Soprano, a man who’s having a hard time coming to terms with the fact that he’s not the capo di tutti capo anymore…

Daan has the evil gun-running gangster Arend Brown as his sworn enemy, and Tony has new enemies every week, ranging from rival mob boss Phil Leotardo to the FBI. They each have a rat in their camp too, by the way, and feelings will be properly hurt when the news comes out.

THE SOPRANOS has the Bada-Bing; LUDIK has Andy’s Strip Club. Well, I guess it does exactly what it does on the tin. For a series with such a sexy premise and such a fanciable male lead, there’s a surprising absence of sex in it. I waited all series for a glimpse of Daan Ludik’s sculpted, muscular butt mid-coitus or in the shower, but, alas, he keeps his towel on for the full six episodes. Advice to the writers for Series Two: lose the towel…!

If you think you recognise Arnold Vosloo, the man who plays him, it’s probably because he plays the Mummy in the films THE MUMMY and THE MUMMY RETURNS, in 1999 and 2001. He has hardly any dialogue in these two brilliant action and adventure movies set in modern and Ancient Egypt, but he’s so charismatic and gorgeous that you don’t mind a bit. He’s all about the confident movements of his magnificent, semi-clad body. His sneer is second to none, his arrogant superiority lovely to look at. His gorgeous lips and eyes do all the talking.

And his character of Daan Ludik is not at all the a**hole he was described as by another reviewer. He loves his family, lame ducks and all, and will always put them first in his own way. That might mean mostly neglecting them emotionally and even physically much of the time, but it’s ultimately for their own good, lol. Daan Ludik knows what’s best for his family, and that’s the end of it.

I hope that LUDIK will get the go-ahead from Netflix to come back with a second series. It has got to continue, for me and all the other women who fell in love with Daan Ludik at first sight. It’s kind of set up for a sequel already and, as I said earlier, it’ll just take some exposure to catapult this series into the top ten shows on Netflix. Go now, my pretties, and tell everyone you know about this delicious televisual feast. Daan’s life as a lead character in a hit television show, and mine as his Number One Groupie, depends on it…

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
Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:
https://www.amazon.com/Thirteen-Stops-Sandra-Harris-ebook/dp/B089DJMH64
The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:
 https://www.amazon.co.uk/Thirteen-Stops-Later-Book-ebook/dp/B091J75WNB/
 

THE CATHOLIC SCHOOL. (2021) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.

THE CATHOLIC SCHOOL. (2021) DIRECTED BY STEFANO MORDINI. INSPIRED BY THE BOOK BY EDOARDO ALBINATI. STARRING BENEDETTA PORCAROLI AND FEDERICA TORCHETTI.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Wow. This based-on-a-true-story Italian language film set in the mid-Seventies is a really grim watch. For the first hour and a quarter, say, it’s just a mish-mash of a story about the most awful privileged rich white boys you could ever have the misfortune to meet, and how they practically get away with murder in their exclusive Catholic school for rich boys, which is located in Rome.

The sense of privilege and entitlement just radiates off these late-teenage boys like the stink of rotten fish, with heartfelt apologies to the poor fish, who can’t help it. These boys treat women like possessions, to be used, abused and then tossed aside like so much rubbish. It’s horrible to watch.

Then, when they get in any trouble, Mummy and Daddy, who are filthy rich, bale them out and there are never any consequences for their wrongdoings, unless you count the odd slap from a rich father when he loses patience with the little scut he calls sonny boy.

We are told by the narrator, Edoardo Albinati, that consequences for misbehaviour were so randomly applied that the boys chose to go ahead and do exactly what they wanted to do and just take their come-uppance if- and when- it ever arrived.

These rich boys have sex willy-nilly with their friends’ mothers and sisters, all of whom are inter-changeable gorgeous European women with the long dark hair and terrific bone structure. The boys are brought up thinking that the world and everything in it, including the women, is theirs for the taking. Sort of like a bunch of mini-Scarfaces. If no-one ever tells them any different, how are they meant to know right from wrong? The parents and the titular Catholic school are jointly at fault here.

The film is confusing as hell, jumping between the points of view of various boys who all look the same, and it’s divided up into equally confusing ‘time chapters’ such as ‘six months earlier’ to ‘130 hours earlier.’ I mean, what the hell…? It was difficult to make out, not only which boy was which, but which female they were f**king was which. Was it someone’s mum, someone’s sister or someone’s bloody granny? Who knows?

Anyway, the last half hour of the film sees the crime happening, the true-life crime from 1975 to which the whole movie is leading up, the crime that became known as the Circeo Massacre. In September of that year, two beautiful unsuspecting young Italian students, Donatella and Rosaria, are lured to a fabulous seaside villa by two of the boys from the school.

Once there, they are horribly raped, beaten, bullied, humiliated, taunted and tortured by the two boys, who are later joined by another guy whose father apparently owns the villa they’re using to commit their nasty crimes in. The third guy is supposed to be just out of prison as well. Such nice company they keep, right?

Angelo Izzo, Andrea Ghira and Gianni Guido are the mens’ names, though I use the word ‘men’ ironically. They’re not men. They’re cowardly little bully boys who use their superior physical strength to intimidate and frighten defenceless women. Real men don’t seem to feel the need to prove to themselves and their friends that they’re tougher than women or even other men.

I don’t know how any of them expected to get away with it. It’s probably that awful confidence they have in them that makes them feel that there is no price to pay when you’re a rich handsome young guy and your dad can buy off the police. And the school.

One of the girls will be dead after their torturous ordeal, the other as good as. And all because a bunch of lads developed toxic masculinity in the environment that more or less demanded it of its young men. Violence is what is expected of the boys in this environment, the narrator tells us. To be a man is to be violent.

And was justice done, in the end? Sadly, only partially. One of the perpetrators went on to kill two more women after he was released from prison for his part in the Circeo Massacre. As good a candidate for Throwing Away the Key as I’ve ever come across.

Apparently the Italian carabinieri were not exactly ruthless in pursuit of justice for these two lovely young women. Were palms greased, as they undoubtedly had been at the school? I don’t know. One good thing came out of this whole convoluted mess, and that was that Italian law finally allowed that rape was a crime against the person, and not just an outrage against public morality.

Public morality? One wonders how the Italians had been used to prosecuting rape cases in the past. Did a ton of perpetrators walk free? Don’t tell Donatella Colasanti that rape is not a crime against the person. That’s exactly what it is; a crime against the person, and the person’s body, mind and spirit, a crime against the person’s very soul and psyche. Never mind your public morality.

Is this a good film? I don’t even know. Turn to Netflix and see for yourself, but be warned: as I said at the start, it’s a grim watch.

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:

TWILIGHT. (2008) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

TWILIGHT. (2008) DIRECTED BY CATHERINE HARDWICKE. BASED ON THE BOOK BY STEPHENIE MEYER.

STARRING KRISTEN STEWART, ROBERT PATTINSON, BILLY BURKE, TAYLOR LAUTNER AND PETER FACINELLI.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

All right, all right, settle down now, class. We’ve all seen the memes. Real vampires don’t sparkle, right? Real vampires are Kiefer Sutherland and the Lost Boys, they’re Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie in THE HUNGER. I could go on.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of our collective systems, today I’d like to address the class on the subject of TWILIGHT, the biggest franchise since Harry Potter and without which there would be no FIFTY SHADES OF GREY franchise, because the FIFTY SHADES books started out as TWILIGHT fan fiction. See?

I for one thoroughly welcomed both TWILIGHT, the films and books they said were for teenage girls, and FIFTY SHADES, the ‘mummy porn’ that middle-aged women could supposedly binge-read in perfect privacy on their kindles, like a bunch of sex-hungry, well, mummies. It was about bloody time the film and book industries did something for the female sex!

TWILIGHT (2008) is the first film in the TWILIGHT saga. It features Kristen Stewart as Bella Swan, a seventeen-year-old schoolgirl who got in one little fight and her mom got scared and now she’s moving with her auntie and uncle in Bel-Air.

No, wait, that was totally Will Smith as the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Bella Swan is actually moving in with her sheriff dad Charlie in Forks, a small photogenic town in Washington, after living with her flighty mom in Phoenix, Arizona. Forks has the most fabulous rainy woods, rivers and mountains and is gorgeous to look at, but Bella, shy and not too ugly herself, isn’t looking at the scenery.

She’s way too busy falling head-over-heels in love with a boy-man at her school, Edward Cullen, a member of the mysterious and pale-faced Cullen family. It takes Bella a little while to work out what we all kind of suspected, back in the day. He’s deathly pale and his skin feels freezing cold to the touch. She’s never seen him eat, and he’s unnaturally fast and strong, even saving Bella’s life in a car accident once with his pure-quick-wittedness and the strength of ten men.

So, what else could he be but… a fortune-telling raccoon with a musical ear and the power to see into the future. . .? No, no and no. He’s a deeply introspective vampire, ‘turned’ by his foster father Carlisle Cullen during the Spanish Influenza Outbreak of 1918. Now he lives with his rich immortal father, just mentioned here, and his rich immortal family in their fabulous glass house high up in the drenched and dripping woods of Forks.

Bella is willing to do anything to get Edward to stay with her forever. Edward isn’t so sure. He gets all mealy-mouthed and says things like, But, I’d only hurt you! And Bella just gets all carried away, saying to the shocked Edward, oh, but I’d really love that, bring it on! And Edward says, well, you must be crazy, missus, but if that’s what you really want, who am I to argue?

So they become the school’s hottest new couple, much to the concern of Edward’s family. They’ve survived this long only by keeping their deadly secret from the humans amongst whom they live and mix daily. If Bella leaks this secret, she will not only endanger all of them but she will be the biggest blabbermouth since Kat Slater from EastEnders. She knows what she did. (‘I’m your muvver, Zoe…!’)

Anyway, Bella goes to the home of the Cullens at Edward’s request and is welcomed by them as cordially as if she were a vegetarian hot dog on a stick. Yes, the Cullens are ‘veggie’ vampires, only drinking the blood of animals, as opposed to whatever’s been murdering and mutilating random people in the town of Forks.

It wouldn’t be the three weirdos who’ve just crashed the Cullens’ lame-o baseball game, could it? And, if they do happen to like the taste of human blood and flesh, has Edward just put the still human Bella in the greatest danger since a bunch of toffee-nosed English chaps decided amongst themselves that that nasty little commoner Hitler was in fact ‘all talk’…?

Now, for homework, class, please discuss the following, giving arguments for and against:

  1. Does Edward Cullen exercise the kind of coercive control over schoolgirl Bella Swan that has recently put Welsh footballer Ryan Giggs in a court of law fighting for his reputation…?
  2. Why do you think Bella Swan is so willing to give up everything for the love of this sparkly teenage boy? Is she suffering from extremely low self-esteem, and from where might she have obtained the notion that she, Bella, is a sack of shit, whereas Edward is a total prize…?
  3. Why did I completely forget to mention Taylor Lautner, who plays Jacob Black, Bella’s forgettable old friend whom even Bella has trouble remembering?

One more thing before you go. Jackson Rathbone, who plays the vampire Jasper, is in fact distantly related to British acting legend, Basil SHERLOCK HOLMES Rathbone. There’s the bell, make sure you bring in NEW MOON, the second book in the TWILIGHT saga, with you tomorrow. If we’ve literally nothing else to do, we might have a browse through it. Good afternoon to you all now. No running in the corridor, Matthews, you little shit! Christ, where did I leave my fags?

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/

WOMAN WITHOUT A FACE. (1947) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

WOMAN WITHOUT A FACE. (1947) DIRECTED BY GUSTAF MOLANDER. WRITTEN BY INGMAR BERGMAN. STARRING GUNN WALLGREN, ANITA BJORK, STIG OLIN AND ALF KJELLIN.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

There is no faceless woman in this movie; the facelessness is a metaphor, lol. Even if the heroine had been sans a working visage, I don’t think I’d have minded and would still have loved the film. It’s a black-and-white melodrama about a doomed love affair, penned by the Swedish movie maestro, Ingmar Bergman, and it made me forget temporarily how uncomfortable this bloody ‘Big Heat’ is making me. And I know I can’t complain, because other people, across the UK and Europe, have it so much worse. Who knows where it’ll all end, I can’t help asking myself…

Anyway, Martin Grande is our male lead character. He’s a handsome young man, still a student, who’s already married, with a wife called Frida and an adorable little blond-haired boy called Pil.

Martin’s character is weak, soft. He’s been spoiled and over-indulged by his parents and his wife Frida, who does everything for him but who sees more of Martin’s best friend Ragnar than she does of her husband.

One day, Martin and his son Pil are in a florist’s shop buying ‘sorry I was a big jerk’ flowers when Martin sees a woman. Her name is Rut Kohler. She is beautiful, with wavy blonde hair, huge eyes and a wide sensual mouth which I’d say would have been one of the actress, Gunn Wallgren’s, biggest trademarks back in the day. The two are quickly smitten with each other.

Rut cleverly contrives to see Martin again very soon, without his son. Before you can say cheatin’, lyin’ sumbitch, Martin has moved in with Rut, much to the devastation of his own little family.

Frida and Pil have no choice but to struggle along alone without Martin, hoping against hope that the errant husband and father will see sense and come home after the affair has blown itself out. But will it? That’s the thing, you see.

Rut and Martin are the kind of people who are bad for each other, who should never have got together in the first place. They have big dreams they’ll probably never achieve because they’re all talk. Big talk, granted, but still just talk. They fight, they squabble, they argue. They have sex like it’s the Apocalypse and Death himself is galloping towards them on a black charger with his scythe thingy at the ready.

Martin deserts from his National Service stint in order to see her all the time. He risks actual jail time to be with her. She sleeps with other men and taunts him about it. He loses his temper, she stabs him in the hand with a fork. That’s the kind of couple they are. They fight, they make up, they make love, then they fight again.

It’s the kind of relationship that gets described as passionate and tempestuous, which are often just synonyms for sick-making, poisonous, toxic. It’s like Mercedes saleswoman Gloria Trillo’s relationship with mob boss Tony Soprano in HBO drama series, THE SOPRANOS. Best television series ever, bar none, by the way. Not even BREAKING BAD. So there.

Both Gloria and Rut are deeply damaged women. Gloria is a self-confessed ‘serial killer’ who has ‘murdered’ seven relationships… Rut has been sexually abused in her youth by her mother’s odious boyfriend, the rich businessman Victor.

Somehow, they crave the drama, the abuse. It might be the only kind of ‘love’ they’ve ever known. They can be manipulative, intensely jealous and even dangerous. Certainly dangerous to a man’s peace of mind and his marriage, anyway, if not occasionally dangerous in an actual physical sense.

They’re both the kind of girl who’d say to a guy, hit me, go on, hit me, I know you want to, and then cry, you hit me! when he gives in to their pleas, their demands and entreaties. Head-wrecking, beautiful, sexually alluring, frustrating, even annoying, and seriously addictive.

Oh, and ultimately tragic. Someone who lives like that isn’t likely to die peacefully in her bed after a long, fruitful life. The future doesn’t look too bright for Rut and Martin, no matter how many chimney sweeps’ concerts they gleefully attend…

I found this little Swedish language gem on Netflix, of all places, poor beleaguered Netflix that was plenty good enough for us when we had nothing else but which we’re now deserting in our droves because we’ve got ‘shiny new penny’ syndrome and there are too many other glittering distractions out there trying to grab our attention. Well, don’t worry, Netflix, I won’t desert you. I love you to the ends of the earth and back. You’re my life. I’m nothing without you. Go on, Netflix, hit me, I know you want to…  

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
Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:
https://www.amazon.com/Thirteen-Stops-Sandra-Harris-ebook/dp/B089DJMH64
The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:
 https://www.amazon.co.uk/Thirteen-Stops-Later-Book-ebook/dp/B091J75WNB/
 

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. (2004) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. (2004) BASED ON THE 1910 BOOK OF THE SAME NAME BY GASTON LEROUX AND ALSO ON ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER’S 1986 MUSICAL OF THE SAME NAME.

DIRECTED BY JOEL SCHUMACHER.

PRODUCED BY ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER.

SCREENPLAY BY ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER AND JOEL SCHUMACHER.

STARRING GERARD BUTLER, EMMY ROSSUM, PATRICK WILSON, CIARAN HINDS, SIMON CALLOW, KEVIN MCNALLY, MIRANDA RICHARDSON, MINNIE DRIVER AND JENNIFER ELLISON.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘Keep your hand at the level of your eyes.’

This is one of my favourite musicals, next to CABARET!, WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY and OLIVER! I can’t think of any others just at the moment, except for maybe THE SOUND OF MUSIC and CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG.

It’s the film version of music genius Andrew Lloyd Webber’s fantastic stage musical from 1986, and it’s absolutely bursting at the seams with vibrant colours, luxurious settings, magnificently opulent flower arrangements and costumes that are literally to die for, they’re so fabulous. It would take the sight out of your eyes, as we say here in Ireland, it’s such a glorious spectacle.

And the hilariously witty lyrics and songs are just terrific, and the storyline is sooooo sad, as you will probably remember from previous re-tellings of the story, the best of which is of course the Lon Chaney silent version from 1925. Just in case there’s any confusion, this 1925 film version is the best of all the film versions, including this 2004 musical adaptation of which I’m speaking so highly today. But this musical might well run a close second.

You know the story, of course. The beautiful young singer/chorus girl, Christine Daae of the Paris Opera, has been secretly trained by a mysterious voice she calls ‘the Angel of Music,’ which we know is actually the Phantom of the Opera, or the Opera Ghost, or the anonymous occupant of Box Five, someone who has lived in the dark, winding bowels of the Opera House for most of his lonely life.

Gerard Butler plays the hideously scarred Phantom, who wears a mask to conceal his ruined visage as much as to hide his identity. Some people, like Miranda Richardson’s Madame Giry, the ballet trainer, aid and abet him in his often funny communiques with the management of the opera, amusingly played by Ciaran Hinds and Simon Callow.

For example, the Phantom insists on being paid a ‘salary’ for his trouble, and is no slouch at reminding his ‘employers’ when they are late with payment of same! He also demands of them that they keep Box Five free for his private use during all performances. Looks like someone’s been consulting pgs. 77 and 142 of the Union of Phantoms’ rule book…

The Phantom has been training the exceptionally submissive and malleable Christine Daae to be the principal singer of the Paris Opera. But the Paris Opera already has a principal singer, a super-spoiled diva in the form of Minnie Driver’s beautifully costumed Carlotta, so the Phantom will have to make it impossible for Carlotta to sing the lead if he wants his precious little protegee to be Numero Uno in the tra-la-la stakes…

The Phantom has another little niggle to contend with, and it’s a wee bit trickier than just making sure that Christine reaches the dizziest of dizzy heights as the Opera House’s premiere chanteuse. Christine, played by Emmy Rossum who looks like a cross between Angelina Jolie and queen of the period drama, Jane Seymour, has another admirer, by Jove, what the Phantom ain’t too pleased about, see?

Yes, folks, and you’ll never guess who plays the Comte Raoul de Chagny, Christine’s devoted admirer and lover! That’s right, it’s Patrick Wilson, who goes on to play the part of Vera Farmiga’s handsome hubby and baby-daddy and fellow ghostbuster in the CONJURING and ANNABELLE films. You’ll hardly recognise him here, with his gorgeous long floppy hair and a pretty damn good singing voice to boot.

You’ll love the underground part of the Opera House, in which the Ghost has made himself comfortable, with an underground lake, ‘room for a pony,’ a la Hyacinth Bucket, a portcullis and various security measures that ensure that the Phantom sees you a lot sooner than you see him.

He has also booby-trapped the shit out of the place so that he can feel safe in his realm, but God help anyone who wanders down there without knowing the lay-out and the pitfalls, which would be most people, if not all people. No wonder Madame Giry more or less says to Raoul at one point, this is as far as I dare go, you’re on your own, bud…!

But is it horribly unreasonable of the Phantom to expect the attractive, talented and vibrant Christine to spend most of her young life beneath the Opera House with him, living and sleeping in the dark and almost never coming up for air or a taste of the rich, varied human life of Paris?

She feels a deep debt to him, and pity for what he is, but pity and indebtedness are very different from love, if you see what I mean. What will the curly-headed songstress decide to do…? (PS, she does look sexually blissed-out when the Phantom touches her and sings to her, so maybe that sexual attraction could help sustain an underground relationship/marriage after all…?)

Such a spectacular, visually stunning film, sandwiched between two black-and-white bits featuring the Comte de Chagny and Madame Giry in ‘old-face,’ as they attend an auction of memorabilia from the ruined Opera House’s hey-day and the Comte goes to visit Christine’s grave in the snow.

Jennifer Ellison from BROOKSIDE as Madame Giry’s ballerina daughter Meg is not strictly necessary to the plot, but she has lovely blonde hair and big fake (I think!) bazookas which look adorably bouncy in the little low-cut ballet dress, so, for those reasons possibly, she was left in, lol. Little Emily Shadwick offa Brookie is possibly the last person you’d expect to see in any version of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, but there you go. Boobs are a key that opens many doors…

  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
Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:
https://www.amazon.com/Thirteen-Stops-Sandra-Harris-ebook/dp/B089DJMH64
The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:
 https://www.amazon.co.uk/Thirteen-Stops-Later-Book-ebook/dp/B091J75WNB/

WORST ROOMMATE EVER. (2022) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

WORST ROOMMATE EVER. (2022) A NETFLIX TRUE CRIME DOCU-SERIES DIRECTED BY DOMINI HOFMANN.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I’d been avoiding this American true crime docu-series as I didn’t think it looked much cop, excuse the pun, but it’s actually a really good, gripping watch about some of the most awful people you could ever possibly imagine moving into your house or flat and living with you as your roommate.

The first of the episodes concerns Dorothea Puente, a sweet-looking little old lady granny-type-figure from Sacramento, but don’t be fooled by the pinnies that she wears, lol. Underneath the mauve eyeshadow and the shampoo and set, Puente was a stone-cold serial killer.

She murdered several of the lonely, elderly tenants who rented rooms in her boarding house in the ‘Eighties and buried their remains in her back garden, like a sort of transatlantic Fred and Rose West. Why did she do it? Mainly so that she could steal their often pitiful Social Security checks, which is the way they spell it in ‘Murica.

By the way, today is Happy ‘Murica Day, isn’t it, so fire up those barbecues and illegal fireworks and have yourselves a great day, but for gosh sakes’ don’t go in the waters round Amity Island because word has it there’s been a sighting of a Great White Shark thereabouts. Hey, y’all can ask Chief Brody if you don’t believe me. He’s right over there, talking to Mayor Murray Hamilton and some square from the Oceanic Institute…

The second episode features a Korean man called K.C. Joy (kind of a misnomer, that), who murdered his roommate, the beautiful college student and former US soldier, Maribel Ramos, probably because she rejected him in love. Men sure don’t take too well to hearing the word ‘no’ sometimes, do they…?

Episode three is about a tall, dark and handsome athlete called Youssef Khater who commits multiple frauds on the people he meets; on his roommates concerning a new apartment building, on a fellow marathon runner regarding property investment, and on the entire Palestinian nation by pretending to be from Palestine in order to weasel sponsorship for his ‘marathons’ from a group of genuine people who try to maintain and improve the good name of Palestine through acts like the sponsorship of a fellow countryman in a big race, the proceeds of which go to charity. He’s Danish, by the way, in case you were wondering…

What a jerk. He’s violent and dangerous too, though, this Youssef fellow, and resorts to attempted murder when his schemes go awry, as they often do. He’s not a very good crook, methinks, hence the ‘attempted’ murders, and doesn’t always seem to think things through, the muppet.

This guy’s currently on the loose, I believe, after serving some jail time, so be warned. His modus operandi is a lot like the Tinder Swindler, the guy who fascinated us briefly earlier in the year. How fleeting is our moment of fame on Netflix. One minute you’re SQUID GAME and flying high, next minute you’re old news and we’re skipping and scrolling merrily in fine fickle fashion down to ‘New Releases…’

The next bad roommate is so awful he has the last two episodes devoted to him. He’s the loathsome Jed Creek, aka Jamison Bachman. Yes, he used aliases! His modus operandi was to use his handsome looks- another tall, dark and handsome criminal- and charm, and even his lovely dog Zachary, to worm his way into an apartment-share, without references and often without even a deposit.

Once in, he’d dig his heels in and refuse to leave, pay rent or stump up for bills. He’d become aggressive and weird as well, obviously his real nature showing through, and rearrange the furniture in the flat or take some of it into his own locked bedroom for his own use.

He seems to have targeted only women for his vile shenanigans, as another man would probably tell him to fuck off or even threaten to punch his lights out if he started in on them. What a despicable coward, seriously, to only choose women as his roommates because he could bully and terrorise them.

The fourth episode shows us Jed Creek in all his awfulness, and in the fifth the three women who had the misfortune to room with him tell us about the lengths they had to go through, both legal and psychological, to get rid of him.

In each case, the women lost the homes that meant so much to them (in one case, someone lost their beloved cats to this man), and it’s all because they were unlucky enough to have the psychopathic Jed Creek answer their hopeful ads on Craigslist.

I guess it just goes to show you that you can never be too careful about who you let in your home, and also just what a lot of crazy people are out there. This series really gives you a glimpse into the dark side of advertising for a roommate.

There are some terrific animated sequences in the programme as well, that serve as reconstructions of the crimes. It’s kind of funny, though, when you see the bad guys’ eyebrows drawing together in a ferocious scowl, ‘cause that’s how you know they’re evil, lol.

Anyway, I won’t say ‘Happy Viewing’ because this is pretty harrowing stuff you’ll be seeing, so I’ll just say Happy Fourth of July, peeps, and watch those fingers when you’re lighting your sparklers, Catherine wheels and assorted rockets. Fireworks can be dangerous…

  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:

LEGEND. (2015) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

LEGEND. (2015) WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY BRIAN HELGELAND. BASED ON THE BOOK BY JOHN GEORGE PEARSON, THE PROFESSION OF VIOLENCE: THE RISE AND FALL OF THE KRAY TWINS. STARRING TOM HARDY, EMILY BROWNING, DAVID THEWLIS, CHRISTOPHER ECCLESTON, CHAZZ PALMINTERI, TARA FITZGERALD AND TARON EGERTON.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This is my second favourite screen adaptation of this true-life crime story, my favourite being the one with the Spandau Ballet twins in it, the 1990 one. This one has been described as more of a showcase for Tom Hardy in the dual lead roles of Ronnie and Reggie Kray than an accurate depiction of the gangster part of the story of their lives, but maybe that’s why I like it, because Tom Hardy is a bit of all right as Reggie Kray, the non-crazy twin, lol.

The twins were the leading players in London’s criminal underworld of the 1960s, and were known for the savage violence of their crimes. Ronnie was a paranoid schizophrenic, and is portrayed here almost as a comical, even genial, buffoon, as opposed to the more dangerously irrational and violent in his business dealings of the two brothers.

Ronnie was probably the most feared of the brothers for his unpredictability and the way that you never knew what mad, vicious thing he might do next. He was also homosexual, and is shown in this film as referring to his gay tendencies openly, even to business rivals, as opposed to keeping it as a sort of open secret amongst the gangster underworld, which was my previous understanding of the situation.

Reggie was more ‘normal,’ if you could describe either of the Kray twins as normal, and is shown here having a romantic relationship with Frances Shea, the sister of his driver, Frankie. Frances is stunningly beautiful but is physically and mentally ‘delicate,’ unable to cope with the brutal realities of her husband’s business. What happens to her after their marriage is of no real surprise to anyone, I would say.

The main landmarks of the twins’ grisly ‘career’ are all present and correct here; firstly, the murders of George Cornell and Jack ‘the hat’ McVitie, both indications that the Krays’ lives and actions were spiralling horribly out of control towards the end, and, secondly, their constant pursuit by Superintendent Leonard Ernest ‘Nipper’ Read, the police officer who was determined to take the Krays down.

It’s so ironic to think that the man who locked away the Krays for good should himself pass away from COVID-19 in April of 2020, very early into the pandemic that brought the world to a virtual standstill for about eighteen months. Of course, the poor guy was ninety-five at the time, a grand old age and a jolly good innings by anyone’s standards.

The twins’ relationship with their legendary doting mum, Violet, is barely touched upon in this film, unlike in the 1990 one when Violet is played by the magnificent Billie Whitelaw, a lady I like to imagine was as feisty in real life as the characters she played.

Maybe the director of LEGEND felt like that relationship had been sufficiently dealt with in film, and he wanted to concentrate on the relationship between the brothers and between Reggie and the exquisite but repeatedly-described-as-fragile Frances.

One gets the feeling here that Ronnie was his brother Reggie’s cross to bear, and a heavy enough one at that. In the one scene in LEGEND in which Violet does appear, she reminds Reggie warningly that ‘he’s still your brother,’ and that loyalty to him is paramount.

We all saw what happened to Frances, the one person that ever really came between them. The bonds of loyalty between the brothers, and from Reggie to Ronnie in particular, were too strong for any woman to ever sever…

I love the poor little terraced streets the Krays grew up in, and from where their mother saw no reason to ever move, as far as I know. In this film, they look exactly as I imagine they would have looked during Hitler’s Blitz. I love the nostalgic feeling these streets evoke in me, and I’m not even English…!

I want to fight them on the beaches and on the landing grounds and on the fields, streets and hills of our beautiful green land. I want to dance on the cobblestones of my local street and celebrate VE Day by kissing an American soldier and swapping romantic favours for nylons and bubble-gum and cigarettes.

It’s powerful stuff, this nostalgia. Really sweeps you away with it. I want to have a little American war baby and later go over to the States to try and find his father only to find I’ve been ‘ghosted’ more thoroughly than a single woman on Tinder today. No, wait, I don’t want that bit, lol. I went too far, as usual. I always do that!

By the way, David Thewlis (HARRY POTTER, THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PYJAMAS) portrays the Krays’ business manager Leslie Payne, who played a part in their ultimate downfall, and Taron ROCKET MAN Egerton is here also as Mad Teddy, Ronnie’s yes-man and rumoured lover. Welsh singer Duffy (MERCY, WARWICK AVENUE) also appears in the film as iconic club singer Timi Yuro.

Anyway, great film, and a great acting feat by the delicious Tom Hardy, who plays both brothers. And sometimes they’re filmed side by side as well, which really makes you wonder, how did they do that…? The film’s just dropped on Netflix (yes, I talk like that now!) and it would make great Saturday night viewing over the Bank Holiday. Enjoy.

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

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/

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:

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: