Movie Review | Far from the Madding Crowd (2015)

Movie romance is not dead. At least not if director Thomas Vinterberg’s sumptuous adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s beloved novel has anything to say about it. Only when you see something done so right, can you see how so many others have gotten it so wrong. Romantic, realistic, wistful and surprisingly suspenseful, 'Far from the Madding Crowd' easily earns the title of 2015’s best film.

One of the aspects that make its story so striking is that an adaptation of a novel published in 1874, has a better handle on modern day, male-female dynamics than anything based or written in the recent past or present. There are no trite clich├ęs or characters weakened for plot. This is a refreshing tale where the heroine is flawed, the hero truly noble and the outcome unpredictable.

'Far from the Madding Crowd' follows Bathsheba Everdeen (Carey Mulligan), a farm girl with a restless spirit, big ambitions and an immature heart. Over the course of a season spent working on her aunt’s property she develops a friendship with a neighboring shepherd, Gabriel Oak (Matthias Schoenaerts). Readily besotted by the lively Miss Everdeen, he quickly proposes marriage and in her first bad decision, she turns him down and not in the softest way possible. 

She explains her desire to not be caged by marriage and especially not to a man she does not believe can “tame” her. He withstands her rejection, calm yet wounded. Then a reversal of fortune changes their lives overnight; resetting the two on different societal footing when a new day dawns. Oak, having suffered a severe financial setback, moves on to parts unknown and Bathsheba, now an heiress, sets off to run her uncle’s farm.

Movie Review | How I Live Now (2013)

A devastating piece of overlooked cinema, 2013’s ‘How I Live Now’ stars Saoirse Ronan as a teen with a flair for punk rock fashion and a bad attitude. Daisy (Ronan) is a 15-year-old with a loud internal voice, whose father has pretty much abandoned her into the care of her English aunt, despite the world being on the verge of all-out war. Because of this, you can readily sympathize with her jaded disposition, though she takes it out on all of the wrong people. When she arrives in England, she is greeted by her precocious cousin Isaac (Tom Holland), who later introduces her to his siblings, Piper (Harley Bird) and Eddie (George Mackay).

This is where things take a bit of a strange turn. Daisy is immediately taken with Eddie…her eldest cousin; but more on that later. Un-chaperoned, the kids are pretty much left to their own devices. Which means the house is a mess and they spend most of their time playing outdoors. Then one day, their idyllically settled into existence is forever shattered when World War III breaks out; stealing their innocence and plunging them into a desperate bid for survival. 

Over the course of the last 5 years, audiences have been hit over the head with the theme of young people struggling to survive a dystopian aftermath. Many times, the results have been flooded in a deluge of dreamy, high tech futurism. In this adaptation of Meg Rossoff’s novel of the same name, you will find none of that. ‘How I Live Now’ is an unvarnished, sad and searing film, that leaves a haunting heaviness in its wake. How this movie slipped beneath the radar in 2013 is anyone’s guess. It is raw and unseemly, violent and emotionally exhausting. It is also magnificently impactful in how it unromantically displays the horrendous toll of war and the horror of a child having to experience it firsthand.

Movie Review | The Lady in the Car with Glasses and a Gun (2015)

David Lynch meets the French New Wave in this French-Belgian 2015 remake of the 1970 movie of the same name. Set in 1960’s France, director Joann Sfar unravels the tale of Dany Dormeus (Freya Mavor), an eager secretary, who is whisked away by her boss (Benjamin Biolay) to type up important work papers at his home. Having arrived at his palatial estate, she is reintroduced to his wife and her onetime friend/enemy (Stacy Martin). It is a meeting with ominous undertones that invariably leads nowhere. Invited to stay overnight so she can complete the task at hand, she settles into the swanky manor, blissfully unaware that a string of puzzling events and accusations will soon come to plague her.

Eclectic Pop News: Another Major Announcement - Hidden Remote

Hello Readers: I hope this missive finds you all doing exceptionally well. Firstly, I would like to thank Steph Wanamaker (+StephWanamakerGingerNinja) for re-sharing the link on her Google+ page that ultimately led to the following opportunity. I would have probably never learned about it, if she hadn't.

If you noticed the recent flurry of Tweets and Google+ posts linking to articles on Hidden Remote's website, there is a reason. I am thrilled to announce that I am now contributing to HiddenRemote.com as a General TV Writer and will be covering the following shows for them:

Beauty and the Beast (The CW)
Bloodline (Netflix)
Narcos (Netflix)
Penny Dreadful (Showtime)
Pretty Little Liars (Freeform)
Scream: The TV Series (MTV)
Teen Wolf (MTV)
The Blacklist (NBC)
Twin Peaks (Showtime)
Tyrant (FX)
Vikings (History)

#RKC Presents Eclectic Selection #10 - The Complete Playlist

This Friday (May 20), a brand new playlist will premiere on RKC. 24 songs will comprise the latest Eclectic Selection line-up. Below you will find the complete playlist (in order of airplay), the artist, the song and the social media links for you to connect with the featured artists further. I would like to thank all of the talented artists whose music comprises this playlist, as with every other Eclectic Selection it is your music that makes the evening sing! You can listen to the show with the live stream on RKC’s website (rkc.noip.me) or on the Tune In app. Stay up to date with all of the latest musical happenings on RKC by following them on Twitter @RadioKC. Eclectic Selection airs Fridays, at 5pm EST. 

#1
Artist: Jude Pearl
Song: Can't Wait to See You
Social Media Links: Twitter and Facebook

#2
Artist: Augustana
Song: Steal Your Heart
Social Media Links: Twitter and Facebook

#3
Artist: The Avett Brothers
Song: Kick Drum Heart
Social Media Links: Twitter and Facebook

#4
Artist: Vanessa Forero Song: Same Boat
Social Media Links: Twitter and Facebook

#5
Artist: Brandi Carlile
Song: The Eye
Social Media Links: Twitter and Facebook

#6
Artist: Sugar + The Hi-Lows
Song: Right Time to Tell You
Social Media Links: Twitter and Facebook

#7
Artist: Green River Ordinance
Song: Dancing Shoes
Social Media Links: Twitter and Facebook

#8
Artist: Ian Roland
Song: Outside
Social Media Links: Twitter and Facebook

#9
Artist: Andy Shauf
Song: Hold Out
Social Media Links: Twitter and Facebook

#10
Artist: Sam Tsui and Max Schneider
Song: Demons (Imagine Dragons Cover)
Social Media Links:
Sam Tsui: Twitter and Facebook
Max Schneider: Twitter and Facebook

TV Rundown: Week of May 8 | The Mother of All Twists Rocks 'Bates', 'Reign' Makes 'Strange Bedfellows'

Bates Motel – Season 4, Episode 9 – ‘Forever‘
Micro Synopsis: As Romero (Nestor Carbonell) and Dylan (Max Thieriot) take a stand to get Norman (Freddie Highmore) re-committed to the mental institution, Norma (Vera Farmiga) makes the fateful decision to stand by her afflicted son. (Major Spoiler Ahead...)

The Rundown: I once heard a story on morning radio. A caller said that she loved sleeping with her pet python, lying in the bed beside her. Eventually she started noticing her beloved snake lying completely vertical, stretching itself to its fullest length. Alarmed, she asked the vet about this odd change and they explained the snake’s behavior. It was physically preparing itself…to eat her. This is in a lot of ways, the perfect parable to describe what became of “Bates’” tragically flawed, central figure in the penultimate episode of its fourth season.

Top 10 Most-Read Posts of April 2016

April showers brought an interesting downpour of viewer traffic on Eclectic Pop. There was a spring of new activity as movie reviews dominated reader interest for the second month in-a-row, landing 6 of the Top 10 spots. Out of those movie reviews, 2 were superhero-centric (“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Deadpool”), 1 was a sports dramedy starring an actor from a superhero franchise (“Eddie the Eagle”), 1 was a highly anticipated comedy that knocked the aforementioned superhero clash, off the top spot at the box office in its opening week (“The Boss”), 1 was a dystopian adaptation (“Divergent”) and the other; a new thriller that debuted on Netflix in April (“Hush”). 

The first installment of the new feature ‘Entertainment Inquiry’ debuted in the #5 position and its follow-up pieces are primed to make strong finishes when they qualify for next month’s tally. As to how older and newer content stacked up, 8 of the Top 10 finishers were posts that were originally published in April. While the other 2 posts that landed in bookend positions (#10 and #1) were not only older but from previous years. #10 was originally published in 2015 and #1 in 2014. The latter referred to post’s popularity was curious in many ways. 

It was the review of the first movie in the “Divergent” series that took the top spot and what makes that of special interest is that the latest installment in the franchise (“Allegiant”) which was released in early March, mightily underwhelmed at the box office, indicating a possible downturn in overall interest for the dystopian franchise, though that clearly proved not to be the case with Eclectic Pop's readership. Also of note is that in March's Top 10 Most-Read Posts, Eclectic Pop’s review of the direct sequel (“Insurgent”) came in #6 and this month it dropped off the list entirely. While the “Divergent” review, which did not place in last month’s Top 10, zoomed into first place the following month.

TV Rundown: Week of May 1 | Part 2 | 'Penny Dreadful' Makes S3 Return - Plus, 'Reign' & 'The Blacklist'


'Penny Dreadful’ – Season 3, Episode 1 – ‘The Day Tennyson Died'
Micro Synopsis: Thanks to Lyle (Simon Russell Beale), Vanessa (Eva Green) begins recovering from her mental breakdown by seeking psychological help from a shrill doctor with a familiar face (Patti LuPone). Miss Ives also makes an intriguing new acquaintance in a Dr. Sweet (Christian Camargo). Elsewhere in England, Dr. Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway) recruits his old friend Dr. Jekyll (Shazad Latif) to assist in his attempt to save Lily (Billie Piper) from herself. In America, Ethan’s (Josh Hartnett) transportation to the gallows is interrupted by his father’s hired guns. In Africa, Sir Malcolm (Timothy Dalton) meets a stranger (Wes Studi) with ties to Ethan. In Antarctica, The Creature (Rory Kinnear) remembers a pivotal piece of his past.

The Rundown: A return that spanned several continents, the season premiere of “Penny” was neatly polished and ready to bring out the brightest aspects of its characters. The introduction of the four new ones mentioned above has already shown signs of enlivening an already vibrant series and vividly enriching its central characters. Shazad Latif, in particular, made a very strong first impression as Dr. Jekyll.

Missing in the season premiere, were Lily and Dorian (Reeve Carney), though the former was certainly there in spirit. How “Penny’s” exquisite ensemble will find their way back to each other is an intriguing mystery unto itself. Getting a breather from Victorian England has already done the show a world of good, allowing it the room to expand beyond its pre-existing parameters and increase its level of suspense. Episode Rating: 8.5/10

Side Notes/Burning Questions: How long do you think it will take for everyone to reunite? Did the reveal of this season’s big bad surprise you? The poetic prose in every line of John Logan's script never ceases to amaze. “Penny Dreadful” deserves a major tip of the hat for bringing Patti LuPone back.