CC – It (1990)

It (1990)The Real Adults:
Children and the Power of Friendship

Take any horror film, look at the list of main characters, and ask yourself the question: ‘are they all adults?’. If the answer is ‘yes’ then there are a few guarantees you can readily assume before watching. One, they will make a terrible decision at some point (or maybe more). Two, they are most likely not going to survive the full film, or at least not make it out in out piece. And three, if they have children, they’ll be in one of two parenting categories, overbearing or oblivious. When it comes to children in horror films when they are deemed the target of the evil, they do have much more of a chance of survival: not only do the children use their brains, their instinct is much stronger. In this way in some films you can see the children take on the responsibilities of the adults, and do more than what the adults could do: both survive, and manage to save others too. The 1990 film adaption of Stephen King’s novel It (1986) is one such example where the children become responsible for the fate of their town, and not only do they defeat the monster, but they survive.

It (1990) is also an example of how adults can not only be oblivious to what their children are doing, but also the reason that their children are the targets of the evil in the story. The adults in the film – other than the future selves of the ‘Losers Club’ – are a collection of abusive, overbearing, or absentee parents who continue to turn a blind eye to both the growing number of missing children, as well as doing very little to stop the children doing what they want. This difference in character adds to the already eerie mood of the town, which is elevated by the deaths of many of the town’s children. Just as much as you can’t trust Pennywise, you begin to feel like you can’t trust the adults either. So those that you are meant to be able to trust, and to rely on aren’t what you think, and so the outcast children of the town are brought into the spotlight. In this case, it is the negligence of the parents which leads to the already alienated children becoming Pennywise’s targets. To punish the parents, Pennywise takes the children, but this backfires and it is this group of children who fight back.

The seven children who make up the ‘Losers Club’, and the main characters of the film are a group who not only take action against Pennywise, but also kill it. The control and power which is meant to lie with the adults gets transferred over to a group of children, and they not only take on this power, they utilise it. At the end of the first fight with Pennywise, the children are only able to defeat it as a group. Not only do they do this together, this scene brings them together in a circle. Within this circle the children depend on and look out for each other, thus generating enough power to eventually kill Pennywise. This shows just how much stronger they are together rather than apart. Like the circle of friends, the story also comes to a well rounded close as they defeat the evil before them.

It (1990) presents a group of children who take on the responsibility of the adults to protect both themselves and the other children in the town. It is this though which seals their fate as they are forever stuck in the mindset of their past selves, and so have never really left Derry. In this way, they are yet again the only ones, and now, the only adults who can really do anything about Pennywise. Those who left managed to move on just like the other adults in the town, but all it takes is for one phone call for everything to come flooding back. Who they were as children when they defeated Pennywise is still there, and so as adults, they have the ability to do what others can’t. They can defeat It again.

The members of the ‘Losers Club’ are given the power and responsibilities of adults in their status as outcasts, and they utilise it against their common enemy. They do this not only as children, but for a second time, as adults. Thus, in the film It (1990), the adults of Derry aren’t the real adults, the ‘Losers Club’ are.


CC – Lucifer (2016)

Lucifer (2016)Dance with the Devil

If the Devil came to earth, what would you expect to happen? Here are two options: Option 1, death, destruction, raging fire, and a little bit of punishment; Option 2, Move to L.A., open up a night club, and end up solving crimes with a local detective. You’d expect ‘Option 1’ wouldn’t you? Well, for Lucifer Morningstar (Tom Ellis), after growing bored of his duties in hell, he went for ‘Option 2’, and honestly, as Lucifer puts it kindly, “L.A. is the land of reinvention”, he himself is a prime example. This doesn’t go to mean that ‘Option 1’ is completely out of the question for him. I mean, the Devil and punishment go hand in hand, but never has it been done in such style.

The pilot episode of Lucifer (2016) opens up on a black screen with the song Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked (Cage the Elephant, 2008) overlaying the words:

“In the beginning…the angel Lucifer was cast out of Heaven and condemned to rule Hell for all eternity. Until he decided to take a vacation…” (Lucifer, 2016)

Though a possibly cliched choice of song for the opening of such a television show, the lyrics are apt to what becomes the main drive for protagonist Lucifer Morningstar. Not only that, but the almost playful twang of the guitar and sickeningly smooth lyrics of this song manage to embody the suave character of Lucifer himself before he has even come on screen. This is reinforced as the scene opens up on, a well-dressed man speeding through the streets of L.A. in a shiny black ‘61 Corvette, a character later introduced as Lucifer Morningstar. Sirens soon blare and a smirk lights up the man’s expression, as he is pulled over Lucifer is disturbingly calm, and it is as the policeman pulls him over that things get, well, to put it simply…weird. Lucifer is asked if he knows why he was pulled over, and his response manages to sum up the smooth talking characterisation which makes up the first and most visible layer to his personality.

“Well, obviously you felt the need to exercise your limited powers and punish me for ignoring the speed limit. It’s okay. I understand. I- I like to punish people, too. Or at least I used to.” (Lucifer, 2016)

As the scene plays out, Lucifer proceeds to try and bribe the police officer before prompting him that he breaks the law sometimes too. The strangest thing is though, the policeman answers with an almost glazed look in his eye. This interaction becomes commonplace within the episode, but there is something beautifully comical about a policeman answering that “Sometimes, I put my siren on and drive really fast for no reason at all, just ‘cause I can.” (Lucifer, 2016) plus for me, it was near impossible to get Lucifer’s gleeful smirk from my mind as I watched the rest of the episode.

Something within the episode which could only be seen as minor but really plays a larger part in making this new embodiment of such an overly done character who he is, is through the addition of perfectly timed father related humour. Not only does this reinforce the character of Lucifer as a rebellious child but also embeds him within the L.A. culture as he rejects his father, God, in an almost snarky manor. As well as this, this level of humour is very cleverly played within the overall story of the episode, and manages to defuse moments of tension as they arise. As it is not something over worked, the cleverly written humour within the episode not only adds to the character of Lucifer, it creates him.

As far as pilot episodes go, Lucifer (2016) creates a protagonist that you know from the beginning you are going to hate to love. He is charming, dramatic, playful, and – for some – quite sexy, but his morals (unsurprisingly – he is the Devil, of course) are far from that of an angel, or so you think. As the episode progresses, you are able to peel away the layers of suave charm, bitter sarcasm, and his lofty demeanour to reveal someone rather sensitive, and possibly even kind – even if Lucifer can’t see it himself. This adds a very interesting level of characterisation which not only keeps you guessing but also paints a very different picture of what nearly everyone understands Lucifer to be.

CC – Rosie Waterland

Rosie Waterland#WaterlandWritestheWacko

If you’re like me, and you find yourself (somewhat reluctantly) skimming the range of cringe worthy reality television shows which take up the 8:30pm timeslot on numerous commercial channels, there is a high chance you’ve come across The Bachelor. The cringiest of the cringe, a show where twenty-something young women all compete for the attention of this year’s Bachelor. If so, like me, you have probably become caught up (somewhat sceptically) in the seemingly scripted romantic tension of the whole thing. Rosie Waterland is someone who has not only watched the show, but expanded upon it as a sort of commentator, and in doing so she has made my Bachelor focused evenings not only much more entertaining, but she has almost made them redundant.

Rosie Waterland is an Australian television writer, author, and comedian based in Sydney. To quote from her own website: “I’m a writer of all the things and generally find my own jokes particularly hilarious” (Waterland 2017). The more of Waterland’s writing you read it is impossible to separate this statement from what you’re reading, and honestly, you are better off for it. In the terms of her ‘Rosie Recaps’ segment in MammaMia [A blog written by women for women], to understand how Waterland’s writing works you need to be familiar with just how ridiculous The Bachelor is as a form of entertainment. Looking closer at Waterland’s ‘Rosie Recaps’ not only sheds new light on The Bachelor itself, but also brings into account what one can do with such well-honed comedic talent which Waterland has.

It is simpler though, with Waterland’s writing, to show rather than tell. The 2015 season of The Bachelor introduced us to #BachieWood, and me also, to ‘Rosie Recaps’. Waterland titled her recap of this season’s first episode ‘Bachie Wood meets his 19 girlfriends’ and it was from this moment on that I knew I was in for an all new form of television ‘review’, plus, I was already hooked. In addition to the title, the opening lines of this piece not only introduced me to Waterland’s ‘Rosie Recaps’ persona but also the attitude of her writing. With this next line I knew exactly what I was in for, and honestly, I was excited to read the rest: “His last name is so perfect, I don’t care if it’s referring to his brain or his peen I just want to christen him Bachie Wood and have nobody call him by any other name ever again” (Waterland 2015). Though there is a certain finality in Waterland’s tone there is also cleverly played humour, which is something which hooks you into her clever writing style.

When it comes to her writing style it is safe to say that Waterland has a very unique and personal flair to her writing which is hard not to find some enjoyment in. Through the use of a collection of almost absurd metaphorical phrases and outrageous nicknames she manages to convey a multitude of images depending on your own context. In terms of outrageous nicknames, there is no limit. This one from part of Waterland’s recap of episode 5, “Nina heads back to the Girl Prison, and, let’s be honest, aren’t we all just hoping that Totally Laid Back Cool Girl Heather will freak the FUCK out when she sees her [Nina’s] rose?” (Waterland 2015), is one of the less strange nicknames, yet it encompasses perfectly how The Bachelor’s production team painted Heather from the beginning. This speaks strongly for how Waterland manages to take such a formulated reality show and turn it into something which not only surpasses the entertainment value of its source material, but also creates its own genre of writing.

For Waterland, her series ‘Rosie Recaps’ shows how even just a different angle, and a selection of choicest nicknames can make for an entertaining read. Not only is she imaginative in her style, Waterland is wonderfully sarcastic, on the verge of being rather blunt. In any case, this sort of writing in the television industry wouldn’t usually sit too well, yet for Waterland it works, Waterland has made it work. The selection of truer than true statements regarding The Bachelor which are executed in such an overexcited tone, matched with the over the top production of this reality television show cancels out any out of place ridiculousness and makes it the norm. There is a skill to making the ‘out there’ seem common place, yet Waterland does this in such a way that she has made it into an artform.


CC – Good Morning Call (2016)

‘Hate to Love or Love to Hate?’

With a title like Good Morning Call it is quite hard to gage just what you are in for when it comes to this Japanese drama tv-show, nor are you able to predict both the levels of awe and frustration you feel while you watch. Take what you know western drama shows to be like, and then, forget it completely. To put it lightly, JDramas completely flip the concept of the ‘western’ drama tv-show, and then some. This being the first Japanese drama, or ‘JDrama’, I’ve watched, whatever expectations I had – if any – were definitely blown away in a whirlwind of screaming girls, borderline ridiculous facial expressions, and a protagonist pair which I honestly hated to love. Setting this aside, Good Morning Call (2016) brings you a selection of fascinating characters in a situation which seems to go from bad, to worse, to unbelievable…with a side of solid humour, but hey, that is this part of the genre.

Meet Nao (Fukuhara Haruka), high school girl, just moved out of home to live closer to her new school, and hopelessly in love with one of the ‘top three’ Uehara (Shiraishi Shun’ya) – the ‘top three’, we soon discover, are the three most popular and handsome guys in the school, one for each year. Uehara has just moved out in order to live alone, away from his older brother and his fiancé. It is here that things start getting crazy: one rental agreement fraud, a suspiciously smug looking elderly realestate agent, and a reluctant decision made by two almost strangers later…Uehara and Nao are living together. This turn of events leads way to not only the slowest burning love story between two teenagers, but also to the introduction to a character who makes you question why Nao likes him at all. It doesn’t take long though before Nao finds herself almost hating her new housemate, and you finding yourself wanting the secondary love interests to ‘get the girl’, even though you know there is no way they will.

After finding at watching some other JDramas as well, (one, Mischievous Kiss: Love in Tokyo (2013) is very similar in premise), it is easy to see this plot line as a popular trope. This is understandably so, you can’t help but get sucked into the series of endless mistakes being made by Nao in her persute or Uehara, or even get on board with the cycle of rejection her childhood friend Daichi (Sakurada Dôri) endures at the hands of his unrequited love for Nao. It is here you realise you beginning to not really like Uehara at all, as the main love interest he is surprisingly standoffish, quick tempered, and in some cases just plain rude, redeemed only – in the eyes of Nao – by his handsome face and popularity. Daichi, on the other hand, is doting, kind, and for one he actually likes her. So while you know that Uehara will always have Nao’s attention, you can’t help but sympathise with Daichi, and even after just one episode, you can tell this will be a somewhat frustrating show to watch.

Yet, somehow, you still want to know more…

After just one episode with a love sick female lead, and an almost unlikeable love interest you can see there is still a certain charm to the show which you don’t see in ‘western’ drama shows, and it is this which draws you in. You’d expect the main character to be likeable, tolerable even, but Nao – though sweet and good intentioned – is completely oblivious to the feelings of those around her in her persuit of Uehara, and you find yourself endlessly frustrated by her antics. Uehara on the other hand isn’t much better, as a love interest he is almost unreachable, and increasingly more rude as time goes on, even if it is provoked by Nao’s occasional stupidity. It is here you find yourself completely invested in the fate of the side characters: Daichi and his love for Nao, her two similarly clueless best friends, and the guy who works at the Ramen Café. Not many shows could manage to hold an audience with such a frustratingly unlikeable main pair, yet Good Morning Call (2016) has cleverly collated humour, charm, loveable side characters, and the pull of such a ridiculous premise to keep you watching.

CC – Baywatch (2017)

‘Welcome Back Buchannon’

“Welcome to Baywatch. Our team is the elite of the elite, we are the heart and soul of this very beach…”

Sixteen years after the final episode of the original Baywatch series aired, Baywatch is back! This time though, it’s in film, and the beach itself is just as much a beach of fun, sand, sea, drugs, and murder as it ever was. Yes, murder

Baywatch (2017) paints an idyllic image of both the beach and the Baywatch team themselves, however beneath the calm surface there is a much darker plot unfolding. It is this which carries the film, and in doing so, it manages to break away somewhat from the array of ‘beach bums’, toned chests, and slow motion running the film also has on offer. Once you wade your way through the elite of the Baywatch politics you find a simple but strong bond of friendship and trust amongst the lifeguards which is about to be turned on its head. The introduction of Matt Brody (Zac Effron), does this simply and quickly, with no regard for the other characters. He is a loose cannon who will not only butt heads with the team’s leader, Mitch Buchannon (Dwane Johnson), but nearly everyone on the team. So, in a film where ‘team’ is the word, Matt is an outlier who must conform fit in, which honestly, is easier said than done.

Challenge after challenge is thrown Matt’s way in order to prove he can be a team player but it seems that nothing will change the mind of this stubborn, swimming gold medallist. If possible, the more the team try and show Matt the way they do things it the better way to things the more he resists, and unsurprisingly so. As a main character, Matt is abrasive, and while on his own, honestly not overly likeable. In contrast with Mitch, who is the embodiment of charm and loyalty, Matt doesn’t come close. Yet it feels like you are positioned to sympathise more with Matt and his difficulty fitting in with the rest of the group. Once his personality smooths out it is much easier get on board with him as a character, and so follow him as he finally joins the rest of the team in trying to discover the truth of the dirty dealings for which the Bay is their base.

It is here that the film picks itself up, gets out of the calmer waters, and heads through the white wash to a very different world. We leave behind the Baywatch politics and delve into the much darker and grittier side of the Bay. Apart from the story though, and the revelation that all isn’t the perfect place they thought it was, there isn’t too much which changes. It is in this way, beyond their growth in the first half of the film the characters, in both themselves and their interactions, are much the same, and insight little interest beyond the humour they add. So though there is advancement in the story, which does well to keep the interest of the audience, there is little movement in the one way for the audience to really place themselves in the story.

It is here that the comedy of the film really comes into play. Against the backdrop of drug trafficking, murder, and a rather obvious villain, the humour really comes into its own despite the ‘cringe worthy’ way in which it is executed. It is here where, unlike in the beginning the humorous lines were punctuated with obvious places to laugh, the comedy is left to hold itself up and it really falls short of its goal. Though it in no way completely fails, it is easy to see the very forced way in which the humour was presented to the audience.

Beyond all its shortcomings, Baywatch (2017) managed to bring back a franchise with a well-worn history. They do this not only through adopting the tropes of the original series – slow motion running and all – but also through playing with them and trying to make them their own. There is no easy or correct way to bring back something so well-known but this has been done not only in an attempt to bring it back but also to give it new life, which is something it definitely achieved.