Tuesday, 31 May 2016

TV Show Review: Castle Season 8 (2015-2016)

© ABC | Source: kissthemgoodbye.net
Well, now that the show’s been over for more than two weeks and everybody has had some time to tend to their wounds, we still gotta talk a bit about that train wreck of a last season… and then put Castle to rest for good:

The premise: 

David Amann gave up the position of showrunner after only one year, so there had to be yet another change in that position for season eight. Terence Paul Winter and Alexi Hawley took over the lead position. Season eight was to consist of 22 episodes and had to face the difficult task of continuing to tell engaging stories after all loose ends had been tied in season seven’s finale and all characters been left in a good place. Yet there was promise for the future with Beckett having been promoted to Captain, Castle being more successful and content than ever as a writer, and the rest of the gang happy and ready for new adventures.

What happened then:

Aaaand, it all went pretty much downhill from there. But where to start…? It seems like the people in charge over the summer completely forgot what the show is about: “a writer and his muse”. Seeing
© ABC | Source: kissthemgoodbye.net
that the new showrunners were involved in the making of Castle before, I find it really hard to understand how they could have gotten it so wrong. Well, many people are now saying it was a test run foreshadowing the events that took place after season eight (the whole Stana Katic and Tamala Jones fiasco), but, though plausible, that’s just speculation and simply cannot be enough to justify all choices in storytelling. Anyways, Castle and Beckett were separated in the two-part season premiere “XX” and “XY”, because of yet another conspiracy plot. Even though the partners had learned from mistakes of the past and now operated as a team no matter what, all this was thrown overboard in these two episodes, leading to half a season of minimal interaction between the show’s two leads. The romantic Caskett relationship, as well as their fruitful working relationship that were once the core of the show, now no longer seemed integral and were purposely sabotaged.

While, of course, a show on the air for eight years has to undergo some changes over time to keep things interesting, these new developments actually need to make sense. In the case of Castle, they very much didn’t. The story was taken away from the precinct and into Castle’s P.I. office. It seemed like goofy and untrained, yet creative out-of-the-box thinker Rick Castle was no longer a murder mystery writer looking for inspiration. Instead he now was a full time private investigator. Urrghhh, that horrible P.I. storyline!!! Seriously! Granted Castle got his private investigator’s license last season already. But the only reason he ever did that was when he was banned from the precinct for one reason or another and only to investigate cases of stolen purses and the like. Just a fun little past time playing make-believe detective with super cool gadgets. But no more: Now this guy with no skills, no experience, and no authority in the field is suddenly handling guns and working big time conspiracy cases like it’s nothing. Riiiight…. 

© ABC | Source: kissthemgoodbye.net
If Rick Castle’s transformation wasn’t bad enough, his daughter’s development just takes the cake! Okay, I have not been a fan of Alexis since about halfway through season two, but at least she was such a marginal character that you could ignore her. Again, no more: Alexis Castle, the book-smart owner of a Bachelor’s degree in journalism (or medicine? Don’t know, don’t care), is now the front and center of everything. Little Miss Wannabe Veronica Mars now is an expert in just about everything from computer hacking to surveillance to espionage. If that came out of nowhere, her already annoying character traits from seasons before certainly didn’t. Her daddy’s little know-it-all girl routine taints just about every episode and is often more present than any Caskett scenes.

Season eight also introduced some new characters. Haley Shipton (Toks Olagundoye) is a British former MI6 agent, who now works as a P.I. and helps out Castle in the season premiere. She quickly becomes his inofficial partner and mentor at the office. Haley is a nice enough character, who has a lot going for her, but whose addition seems very forced at many times – especially seeing how she takes over most of the dynamics and scenes that Castle and his usual partner Beckett had before. The other new addition to the mix is Vikram Singh (Sunkrish Bala). He was a technical analyst at the state department, where Beckett used to work and then seeks her out to solve the season’s conspiracy plot. Vikram, except for the season premiere, is merely a token, experiencing no character development whatsoever and only showing up once or twice to be scared or give Beckett some surveillance updates.

With the addition of two new characters and that horrid P.I. storyline taking up large parts of screen time came the neglect of the lovingly created regular supporting characters and their development. Ryan and Esposito advanced to Castle’s on-call fixers, who, it seemed, only existed to look stuff up for Castle, come to his rescue, or provide some slapstick comic relief. Only towards the end of the season they were suddenly remembered. The birth of Ryan’s second child, Nicholas Javier Ryan, and Sarah Grace’s dance recital provided some nice family moments and the episode “Heartbreaker” (8x16) introduced us to Espo’s convict ex-fiance, further estranging him of Lanie Parish and possibly giving him a nuance of room to grow. Speaking of Lanie, the characters that really didn’t get enough screen time this year were medical examiner Lanie Parish and Rick Castle’s mother Martha Rodgers, who each got one important side-plot in one episode and sporadically popped up here and there a few times throughout the season.

But the character that was really done a number on was Kate Beckett. What happened to her character was the most aggravating part of the season. She went from co-lead, inspiration, and moral backbone of the show to what, at times, felt like a mere supporting character. The season premiere,
© ABC | Source: kissthemgoodbye.net
which introduced the LokSat conspiracy and had her running off again in secret, basically erased all the progress Kate made personally in the past seven years. She had beaten the demons of her past, was no longer manic and restless, and had found fulfillment and strength in her partnership with Castle. But, oh well, let’s just make that all go away for some cheap little drama due to lack of other, more plausible plot ideas. As if that wasn’t enough Beckett was ridiculed and subtly undermined left and right, even though she had been promoted to precinct captain at the end of last season. Taking over from the fear and respect inducing “Iron” Gates, Beckett instead became “Captain Hoochie Mama” and the like. After Castle and Beckett reconciled, it sometimes even felt as if the writers used her as mere ‘bed-bunny’ to the writer. Add that to the way Stana Katic’s exit from the show was handled in April and you get a pretty good picture of the importance of her character as part of the show and maybe even the reason for the complete running to the ground of beloved kick-ass Kate Beckett.

The episodes:

What made Castle such a special and successful show for seven years was the well-working mix of mythological story arcs and quirky, stand-alone episodes in between. I hate to repeat myself, but: no more. The big LokSat cased that spanned all season and was hastily introduced in the premiere was sloppily executed at best. That Senator Bracken, the big bad wolf of 6 (!) past seasons, who was methodically investigated and then convicted, should have an even more evil operator in the background that nobody had heard of before, was utterly ridiculous from the start. But the case was only picked up sporadically during the year, with little progress, and the resolution of it in the series finale was far-fetched and came out of nowhere.

The bad episodes by far outweighed the exciting and logical episodes this season, but there were a few highlights none-the-less: “Dead Red” (8x11) caters to the Caskett mythology and had some nice meta layers to it. The murder of a Russian diplomat’s son has Castle and Beckett dive into the murky
© ABC | Source: kissthemgoodbye.net
waters of international politics. They have to work with a security officer, who turns out to be a huge Nikki Heat fan and is super excited to be working with the real-life Rook and Heat – good times. “Death Wish” (8x17) not only has a crazy Castle case involving Aladdin’s lamp, but also has a heartfelt family moment after the complicated birth of Ryan’s second child. Episode 8x16, “Heartbreaker”, gives us a bit more of Espo’s backstory involving and ex-fiance, as well as the nice bromantic Rysposito moments we’ve been waiting for all season, and even an Esposito family dinner. “PhDead” (8x03), “The Last Seduction” (8x07), and “Mr. and Mrs. Castle” (8x08) involve some on-duty sparks and banter that I missed dearly in many other episodes this year, and some secret off-duty romance.

The highlight episode for me this year was “Fidelis Ad Mortem” (8x15). The gang goes back to their old hunting grounds at the NYPD academy, when a recruit is murdered there. This episode is action packed with some cool close combat fighting scenes and a The Departed twist. We also get some
© ABC | Source: kissthemgoodbye.net
more background information on the team’s education at the academy and Beckett’s exemplary status even back then. For once this year we get to see Beckett treated with the respect she deserves and her skills and character are integral for solving the case. While Castle and Beckett are not actually working together here, their interactions still reflect some believable depth to the Caskett relationship.

Sadly, a lot of other episodes could not live up to the expectations or were downright horrible. I talked about the two- part season premiere before (“XX”, “XY”), which was supposed to be an innovative way of storytelling by showing things from Castle’s perspective in the one and Beckett’s perspective in the other episode. Needless to say that didn’t really work and storywise any character developments of past seasons were radically undermined. “The Blame Game” (8x12) took Castle and Beckett hostage in a Saw-like game. A Saw reference in 2016? Come on! Things only got worse from here: In episode 8x13 (“And Justice For All”) Castle went undercover as an English as a Second Language student at community college. Could have been fun, but was just too ridiculous. For one Castle faked being a French Canadian – as if he could and would not have studied English in this bilingual country right next to the U.S.. I mean WTF?! That the accent he spoke in was horrible and insulting only underlines the ridiculousness that was 8x13.  

Then we had another L.A. episode this season (“G.D.S.”, 8x14) that strongly reminded you of the similar season three episode, only this time Castle had Haley and Alexis as partners instead of Beckett (that already tells you all you need to know). Castle goes there to find out more about the time he was missing two years ago, a mystery that was just warmed up out of nowhere and of
© ABC | Source: kissthemgoodbye.net
convenience, since it kinda was solved last year already… The whole thing is staged in a way that strongly suggests Flash Forward knock-off and had me rolling my eyes even more, when in the end not only Haley is involved in Castle’s disappearance, but it turns out Castle was investigating LokSat at that time. Sure…. 

In the past episodes suggesting supernatural happenings and playing on Castle’s child-like eagerness to believe in anything from Bigfoot to vampires were always told with a winking eye. But this year things got way out of hand. In “Dead Again” (8x19) the team investigates three attempts to murder a guy, who just can’t seem to die. To Castle he therefore must be immortal and is worth studying. What Castle himself would have just seen as a fun and charming turn of events that he himself would only have liked to believe in the past, now turns into reality for him. He more than harasses the poor guy in the hospital with superhero theories and advice. Castle throws things at the man to force him to reveal his other powers among other things. It is annoying as hell and way too much – a far cry from the charming, tongue-in-cheek man-child that just loved to let his imagination guide him for a bit. Now he is no longer charming and more of a spoiled, rich brat that doesn’t know any boundaries. Incidents like this one happen more than once throughout the year, although this one is the most extreme.

Finally, I won’t say anything else about the disappointment that was 8x22 “Crossfire” as I have done so in length in an Episode Close-Up.

The Verdict:

I would have loved to give Castle a lovely final send-off and I will definitely always remember and re-watch the show’s first seven seasons fondly. But as for season eight all I can say is: What the hell
© ABC | Source: kissthemgoodbye.net
were you thinking?! There were a few heartfelt moments and funny scenes in between the mess, but overall the focus of the show was off, the dynamics between the characters were off, and, after all we know now, I can’t help thinking that some of the apparent behind-the-scenes drama must have found its way onscreen. While I would have loved for the show to go on in its established and beloved form for many more years, I am glad it’s over now. And for the life of me I can’t understand why you’d make a season eight just for money’s sake if you didn’t have any ideas what to do with the show or how to further story and characters. 

So farewell Castle! Thanks for the laughter and the tears, and the romance and drama over this almost-decade! And say “Hi” to my other beloved shows residing up there in TV heaven ;)


Monday, 30 May 2016

Manic Monday: Easing Tension X-Men Style

Source: YouTube screenshot
It's Monday yet again and we're all angry. For obvious reasons. It's grey and rainy outside, the weekend is over and we have to endure five more days of toil and trouble until it's Saturday again. Damn you, Monday!

Fortunately, the cast of the latest Marvel comic adaptation, X-Men: Apocalypse, knows all about releasing some tension and unleashing inner demons. But instead of going out yourselves to shoot a BB gun or play the slapping game, we strongly advise you to rather sit back, prop up your feet and watch James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Nicholas Hoult and Olivia Munn tell you all about it.

Have a good Manic Monday, BSPeeps!

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Film Review: The VVitch: A New-England Folktale (2015)

© Universal Pictures International | Source: New England Folklore
USA, UK, Canada, Brazil; 92 min.; horror, mystery, drama
Director: Robert Eggers
Writing: Robert Eggers
Cinematography: Jarin Blaschke
Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, Harvey Scrimshaw, Ellie Grainger, Lucas Dawson

"We will conquer this wilderness. It will not consume us."  -- William

In early 2015, The VVitch took the Sundance Film Festival by storm. It was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize and won Robert Eggers the Directing Award. Since then, the film has played some more festivals, received raving reviews, released a perfectly creepy trailer and, this year, finally got a wide release. According to critics and audiences alike, people queuing up for a ticket to see this New-England Folktale are in for one of the most intense and terrifying cinematic experiences of their lives. The buzz was big, indeed, and I myself got crazy-excited and terrified simply over anticipating the moment I would, finally, behold The VVitch in all its eerie and unsettling glory.

Well, where to start? There really is nothing scary about it. At all. The lack of intensity, thrill and horrifying moments is quite disappointing. As it often happens, the marketing has taken some misleading measures in making us believe that we’re about to witness the greatest horror movie ever made when, really, there’s nothing horrific about it. I mean, feeling horrified obviously is a very subjective emotion. And while I can see some more sensitive people shriek at the bloodier parts and hide their eyes behind their hands whenever the camera forces us through the thick and gloomy forest, I myself never felt uncomfortable. I did enjoy the film, though, because once I could shove away my disappointment over not feeling any fright, I came to appreciate the fact that it’s a truly atmospheric social study – with a hilarious camp factor that just cannot be disregarded.

I’m one of those people that really like to read Nathaniel Hawthorne. When someone brings out The Scarlet Letter, I cheer with joy and am totally game. So, what do I do when Eggers transports me back into the 17th century to watch a strict Puritan family be banished from their settlement for “dishonour[ing] the laws of the commonwealth and the church with [their] prideful conceit”? You get the idea. When that little family then finds itself at the edge of the woods, all alone and without much food? Perfect. And when the oldest daughter of that family then is under suspicion of conspiring with a local witch to wreak havoc among her relatives and worship the devil? Hellooo, you have my full attention.

The VVitch is much more than a couple of cheap jump scares and a bit of butchering on the side. It’s Young Goodman Brown on his first period... or something. It’s about daughters emancipating themselves from their families. About religious tyranny and its effects on the individual. About temptation and budding puberty. About men and women against nature. About civilisation and wilderness. And in handling all these themes, the film really isn’t subtle. There’s this air of exaggerated Hawthorne-ism and, just like the author, the film embraces stereotypes to get its point across. There are naked old women stealing newborn babes and drinking bloody milk. There’s a possessed child and an evil, dancing goat. There’s a black mass around a campfire.

And then there’s this family. For most of the film, they’re screaming hysterically at one another. Mother Katherine’s (Kate Dickie) blaming father William (Ralph Ineson) for provoking the banishment. The young twins Mercy (Ellie Grainger) and Jonas (Lucas Dawson) are blaming their older sister Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy) for, allegedly, worshipping an unholy power. Brother Caleb (Harvey Scrimshaw) blames himself for finding pleasure in looking at his sister’s neckline. So there’s shouting and accusations and drama – sometimes intriguing, sometimes annoying, sometimes ridiculous, sometimes boring, often redundant, and yet hard to look away from. It’s like your favourite glossy evening soap opera has been transported back into the unglamorous New England of the 1630s. It’s unnerving. And weird. And, still, somehow mesmerising.

In all its weird- and unevenness, one thing is certain, though: The VVitch is crafted beautifully. Jarin Blaschke’s cinematography offers washed out colours and exciting camera angles. The makeup, hair and costume design makes it easy to dive right back into the early colonisation period on US soil, and gain an understanding of the simplicity of Puritan life. Add to this a haunting score and Ralph Ineson’s melodic, growling voice and you got yourself an atmospheric period piece.

Robert Eggers feature debut is a rollercoaster ride of moods and emotions. I was disappointed in it, at times slightly bored, often annoyed and irritated. However, I also found it entertaining and just sheer fun to watch. It’s clichéd and over the top. Complex, yet simplistic. For me, it’s not a horror movie but, just as the tagline suggests, a folktale. Brothers Grimm, only darker. Maybe the initial promotion for this film put me off and prevented me from fully enjoying it – not as a tale of scares and terror, but as a weird mix of camp, history, gore and social criticism. And a dancing goat.


Thursday, 26 May 2016

Characters We ♥ : Emily Prentiss (Criminal Minds)

© CBS/ABC | Source: imfdb.org
Since my mind is rather television inclined, the next character I love that I am going to present to you is in fact another kick-ass TV lady: Supervisory Special Agent Emily Prentiss. As one of three women on testosterone-heavy Criminal Minds she regularly graced our screens for six seasons from 2006 to 2012 and with two guest appearances since then. Prentiss, from the start, was a full field agent for the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) of the FBI, opposed to the other two females who mostly had organizational and behind-the-scenes duties in the beginning.

Introduced as the new agent in Criminal Minds’ second season under less than ideal circumstances –
© CBS/ ABC | Source: screencapped.net
Section Chief Erin Strauss had, unbeknown to Prentiss, put her on the team, hoping she would be her spy – Emily Prentiss spends large parts of her first year trying to prove to the close-knit BAU that she, in fact, deserves to be there. Her background doesn't do her any favors here: Since her mother was a U.S. ambassador, everybody just assumes that Prentiss has gotten the job because of her mother’s pull. Yet, from the beginning, Emily Prentiss shows that she is more than qualified to work for the BAU. Throughout season two, the team quickly learns to trust her skills, strength, and sympathy. When Prentiss chooses to quit in the season three premiere, rather than report back on the team to Section Chief Strauss, her loyalties are once and for all cleared up and her status at the BAU is quickly reinstated. 
"It’s like Goldilocks became a serial killer." - Emily Prentiss, 4x05 "Catching Out"
© CBS/ ABC | Source: photobucket.com
Her addition to the team (as well as that of David Rossi) leads to the strongest seasons of Criminal Minds and the best functioning unit, especially in seasons three to five. Emily Prentiss proves vital in cases dealing with children and foreigners. She never hesitates to put herself in harm’s way to protect her team, which becomes blatantly obvious, when she takes off on her own at the end of season six: Ian Doyle, a brutal and well-connected arms-dealer she helped to put behind bars, comes after her. To not put anyone she loves in danger, Emily foolishly takes him on herself, leading to her being flocked in the stomach and almost dying. Doyle escapes and Emily is put in witness protection with most of the team believing her to be dead. The importance of Emily Prentiss for the BAU and as a friend to its profilers is felt in their mourning process and ruthless hunt for her ‘killer’. 
"I know what the world can do to a girl who only sees beauty in it." - Emily Prentiss, 6x17 "Valhalla"
She returns ‘from the dead’ at the beginning of season seven to help finish off Doyle and everyone feels a mix of relief, excitement, and betrayal. It takes a while for things to go back to normal and the team dynamic to work well again. While Emily seems fine on the surface, there are cracks in her perfect façade and it feels like a part of her never returned from the dead. She is not the strong and prominently featured character of past seasons. There is something missing in her life and, at the end of the season, Prentiss is desperately looking for some way to balance herself. Chickening out of buying a house, she instead makes a more drastic move. Deciding to leave the BAU, she takes the job of running the London office of Interpol, once more proving she is one heck of a badass lady, that you just got to love!

© CBS/ ABC | Source: tumblr.com
Every member of the team of profilers brings a particular skill set to the table and Emily Prentiss really doesn't have to hide hers. As the daughter of an ambassador to the United States, she lived in many different countries as a kid, including Ukraine, France, Italy, and different places in the Middle East. Due to moving around a lot growing up and never really being able to put down any roots, Prentiss is self-reliant and able to adapt to new situations easily. She is quick-minded, level-headed, and great under pressure. Additionally, she speaks an impressive seven languages: English, Arabic, Spanish, French, Italian, Russian, and Greek. A Yale graduate, Prentiss worked for Interpol and the FBI for ten years before joining the BAU. Experience and knowledge –  not just book-smarts –  let her hold her own in the boys’ clubs of the BAU, Criminal Minds, and male-focused TV network CBS.

© CBS/ ABC | Source: cmcaps.com
In this tough line of work, it would be really easy to close yourself off and lose touch with your humanity. Not so Emily Prentiss. While there never seems to be a significant other in her life due to the difficult and time-consuming character of her job (besides her cat Sergio), she is in no way cold or friendless. Prentiss sporadically keeps in touch with college friends and former colleagues at Interpol and has forged strong bonds with the members of her team, who have become somewhat of a family. In episode 4x03, “Minimal Loss”, she and younger colleague Spencer Reid are taken hostage and Emily shoulders all the blame and takes a bad beating to keep Reid out of harm’s way. She protects him like a big sister and is the one he confides in, without having to fear any judgement. Derek Morgan and Unit Chief Aaron Hotchner are her partners in the field, who she trusts unconditionally. Dave Rossi is someone she respects greatly and confides in, while he also trusts her with his emotional baggage. When Jennifer 'JJ' Jareau is in grave danger in episode 200, Prentiss doesn't hesitate to come back from London to help her old team. Likewise, she gets their help in season 11, when a killer she’s been hunting for years turns up on their turf.

© CBS/ ABC | Source: cmcaps.com
But it’s not all heavy emotions and serious interactions with Prentiss. In a drama as gory and serious as Criminal Minds, she is a breath of fresh air teasing boy-genius Reid, going out on girls’ nights with JJ and Garcia, or planning “sin to win”- weekends in Atlantic City. She is never shy of voicing her opinion, sarcastic commentary, or giving hugs when needed – all admirable qualities when you look at what a tough job and life she’s had.

"When a woman tells a man about her feelings, she doesn’t want him to fix her. She wants him to shut up and listen!" -Emily Prentiss, 3x08 "Lucky"
Yeah, Emily Prentiss’ life wasn't all sunshine and butterflies. She had an abortion when she was 15 and living in Italy and as a consequence was shunned by her Catholic congregation. As an assignment for Interpol, she had to infiltrate an arms-dealing ring and start a sexual relationship with Ian Doyle, putting herself and her emotions directly in harm’s way. She’s witnessed and been subject to the negative effects of politics many times in her life, last but not least leading to her placement with the BAU and making things much harder for her than necessary. Yet, her ability to compartmentalize and her inner strength always let her come out on top.

© CBS/ ABC | Source: tumblr.com
SSA Emily Prentiss is portrayed by Paget Brewster, who does not only have the fierce, yet feminine looks to make her character look the part, but also the skills to bring across her emotions. Known for her comedic talent, this is something Brewster can’t really show due to the character of the show, yet when she gets the opportunity her timing and delivery of jokes, one-liners, and quips is to the point. Yet, her serious acting is not lacking either: Prentiss’ empathy is felt strongly even through the TV screen and it feels like that woman has great chemistry with everybody – seriously! While of course Brewster has a stunt double for the really hard parts, the strength and fierceness of the Prentiss character, while still retaining a certain vulnerability, is all her.
"I've always heard every ending is also a new beginning, we just don't know it at the time, I'd like to believe that's true." - Emily Prentiss, 7x24 "Run"
As a woman able to hold her own in the boys’ club that is the FBI and unwilling to appease any petty political agendas, SSA Prentiss immediately impresses. Yet, there is much more to her than immediately meets the eye and, thanks to a long-running TV show, we have six full seasons to get to know the complex and multi-faceted Emily Prentiss: An able agent, a loyal friend, an imperfect human being – a character to love.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Manic Monday: Yes, we Cannes look forward to something!

Official Cannes 2016 Poster | Source: The Siver Times
Today's Monday does not only mean the beginning of a new week. No, it also signifies the end of one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world. As you probably know, the closing ceremony for this year's Cannes Film Festival took place yesterday. The awards have been handed out (you can find a complete list of all the winners here), the jury has spoken, the final goodbyes have been said.

However, the end of Cannes 2016 only marks the beginning of some exciting months for us moviegoers, since most films from this year's competition are bound to hit cinemas some time sooner or later this year.

So, in order to light up your - most certainly - dreadful start of the week, I'd like to cheer you up with my personal list of favourite Cannes movies which you can look forward to in the upcoming months.

I, Daniel Blake (Ken Loach | UK, France | 100 min.)
© Wild Bunch | Source: The Playlist
Official Cannes Synopsis: Daniel Blake, 59, has worked as a joiner most of his life in Newcastle. Now, after a heart attack and nearly falling from a scaffold, he needs help from the State for the first time in his life. He crosses paths with a single mother Katie and her two young children, Daisy and Dylan. Katie’s only chance to escape a one-roomed homeless hostel in London has been to accept a flat in a city she doesn’t know some 300 miles away. Daniel and Katie find themselves in no-man’s land caught on the barbed wire of welfare bureaucracy as played out against the rhetoric of ‘striver and skiver’ in modern day Britain.

Ken Loach's film has - to, admittedly, much surprise - taken home the Palme d'Or yesterday. While critics have rated it from utterly brilliant and sadly topical to fairly conventional, yet powerful, only time will tell if I, Daniel Blake can win the hearts of a broader audience. I am looking forward to it. On the one hand, we pretty much know since John Osborne that the Brits know how to stage a good social drama or two. On the other hand, the synopsis hints not only at well needed social criticism, but also at a tale about a sweet, age-defying friendship.

Elle (Paul Verhoeven | France, Germany, Belgium | 130 min.)

Official Cannes Synopsis: Michèle seems indestructible. Head of a leading video game company, she brings the same ruthless attitude to her love life as to business. Being attacked in her home by an unknown assailant changes Michèle's life forever. When she resolutely tracks the man down, they are both drawn into a curious and thrilling game—a game that may, at any moment, spiral out of control.

To be honest, my main motivation to be excited for this film is the grand, the splendid, the magnificent Isabelle Huppert, who stars in the lead here. But critics have also praised the film for its exploration of the sexual exploitation of women, and have applauded it for its chlichéd, yet subversive handling of the rape narrative. Verhoeven (director of movies such as RoboCop, Starship Troopers or Basic Instinct), it is said, has created something truly controversial and yet wickedly entertaining here - and, additionally, I love to watch me a film, in which the leading lady, as an assault survivor, refuses to be victimised. Bring it on!

Forushande (Asghar Farhadi | Iran, France | 125 min.)  
© Amazon Studios | Source: kino.de
 Official Cannes Synopsis: Forced out of their apartment due to dangerous works on a neighboring building, Emad and Rana move into a new flat in the center of Tehran. An incident linked to the previous tenant will dramatically change the young couple’s life.

Asghar Farhadi's 2011 film A Separation has won the Oscar and a BAFTA for Best Foreign Language Film and introduced the Iranian director to a broader audience. This year at Cannes, with Forushande (The Salesman), Farhadi was able to win Best Screenplay, and his lead actor Shahab Hosseini, who also starred in A Separation, won the Best Actor award. The premise for The Salesman sounds intriguing, and it's always nice to have an alternative to the usual Hollywood fare that always comes our ways.

The Neon Demon (Nicolas Winding Regn | France, USA, Denmark | 110 min.)

Official Cannes Synopsis: When aspiring model Jesse moves to Los Angeles, her youth and vitality are devoured by a group of beauty-obsessed women who will use any means necessary to get what she has in The Neon Demon, the new horror thriller from Nicolas Winding Refn.

As a huge fan of Nicolas Winding Refn's work, this is probably the film I look forward to the most. The trailer looks nothing short of stunning, the cast - including Elle Fanning, Christina Hendricks, Jena Malone and Keanu Reeves - seems promising and the L.A. fashinon/model industry at the centre of the story is bound to serve for some biting commentary. Refn is known to provoke and cause a stir. At Cannes, The Neon Demon was booed by critics - and this fact only makes me want to watch it more. 

US release: 24 June 2016  |  UK release: 8 July 2016 

American Honey (Andrea Arnold | UK, USA | 162 min.)
© Universal Pictures International | Source: A24 Films
Official Cannes Synopsis: Star (Sasha Lane), a teenage girl from a troubled home, runs away with a traveling sales crew who drive across the American Midwest selling magazine subscriptions door to door. Finding her feet in this gang of teenagers, one of whom is Jake (Shia LaBeouf), she soon gets into the group's lifestyle of hard-partying nights, law-bending days, and young love. 

With Fish Tank (2009), Andrea Arnold has gained critical acclaim and proven that she's a cinematic force to be reckoned with. Now, she's won the Jury Prize at Cannes. I, personally, applaud her for not only bringing a much valued female voice to the film bussines, but also for focusing on the life of teenage girls in her work. Apart from CW TV shows or questionable high school comedies, this hardly ever happens. So, kudos to you, Andrea! On a random note, some people even expect Shia LaBeouf to gain some Oscar buzz for his supporting stint in American Honey. Oh, what I would give to see good, old, crazy Shia dance down the Oscars red carpet next year...

Ah-ga-ssi (Park Chan-wook | South Korea | 144 min.)

Official Cannes Synopsis: 1930s Korea, in the period of Japanese occupation, a new girl (Sookee) is hired as a handmaiden to a Japanese heiress (Hideko) who lives a secluded life on a large countryside estate with her domineering Uncle (Kouzuki). But the maid has a secret. She is a pickpocket recruited by a swindler posing as a Japanese Count to help him seduce the Lady to elope with him, rob her of her fortune, and lock her up in a madhouse. The plan seems to proceed according to plan until Sookee and Hideko discover some unexpected emotions. 

To say that Park Chan-wook is one of the most exciting directors out there probably is an understatement. The man who has given us films such as Oldboy, Lady Vengeance or, most recently, Stoker, presents us with another movie that seems to perfectly unite mindfuck with beautiful, mesmerising imagery. The trailer for Ah-ga-ssi (The Handmaiden) is a feast for the eyes and hints at a story bound to lead us into the darker realms of human nature. I can't wait. ... But please refrain from making people eat any live octopi this time. Thank you very much.

Loving (Jeff Nichols | UK, USA | 123 min.)
© Focus Features | Source: Arkansas Times
Official Cannes Synopsis: "Loving" celebrates the real-life courage and commitment of an interracial couple, Richard and Mildred Loving, who married and then spent the next nine years fighting for the right to live as a family in their hometown. Their civil rights case, Loving v. Virginia, went all the way to the Supreme Court, which in 1967 reaffirmed the very foundation of the right to marry – making their love story an inspiration to couples everywhere.

Loving has generated lots of Oscar buzz during the last couple of weeks. The story of this real-life civil rights struggle could definitely charme Academy voters, and it could also be Jeff Nichols' break into a more mainstream kind of cinema. I'm absolutely looking forward to this because, again, I'm a huge fan of Nichol's work, because the story sounds perfectly intriguing and moving, and because Joel Edgerton is one of my favourite actors working today. The Aussie already has had some exciting past years carreer-wise but Loving could finally turn him into a household name. Ruth Negga, the female lead, has mostly appeared on TV screens so far. Her Cannes debut could change that soon, though. 

US release: 4 November 2016

That's my list, peeps. Let us know which Cannes movies you're looking forward to watching on the big screen in the comment section below.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Top 3: Characters to Spend Rapture Party Day with

Source: dzmind.com
On the 21st of May, back in the year 2011, the world was supposed to have ended. The surface of the earth was supposed to have been swept by calamities – earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, plagues, you name it. And yet surprise, surprise nothing happened. We are still here. Judgement Day was delayed and humanity did not move on to Heaven, Hell, Nirvana, the great Void or wherever else you would like to end up after the shedding of your mortal remains.

Ever since then, May 21 has become one of these special holidays – Rapture Party Day.

And if a failed Armageddon is no reason to celebrate then I don’t know what is. That is why we of BSP have prepared a little game for today and you are free to join in, of course.

Imagine that there has been a mistake and Doomsday was not scheduled for 2011, but 2016. Tomorrow the world will end, and there is nothing to do about it. While you think about what to do on the last day of your life, a magical fairy godmother appears and offers you to breathe life into the three fictional characters you would like to attend your end of the world party. 

Who would you choose?


3. Scarlett O'Hara (Gone with the Wind, 1939)

© MGM | Source: Giphy
Spoilt southern belle Scarlett O'Hara (Vivien Leigh) has no patience with people who try to prevent her from partying hard. After the death of her husband, she's fully in dancing mode - and does not even try to hide the fact. Reason enough to send an invitation out to her. Scarlett doesn't allow negativity to get her down. The end of the world is nigh? So be it. For her, it's all about the fun, the pleasure, the satisfaction of her selfish mind. So while, under normal circumstances, she might be hard to handle, she's just the right person to spruce up any rapture party guest list. She'll keep everybody entertained and the champagne flowing. She'll make sure that the music's playing until the very end and that all feet are twirling on the dancefloor. And who knows, with her strong will and perseverance, she might even stop doomsday from happening at all. After all, tomorrow's another day. 

2. Stu (The Hangover trilogy, 2009-2013)

© Warner Bros. | Source: Everything on Tap
Okay, okay, I admit, I'm actually hoping that Stu (Ed Helms) will bring the rest of the wolf pack along with him. On a night on which you've got nothing to lose, he and his buddies Phil (Bradley Cooper), Alan (Zach Galifianakis) and Doug (Justin Bartha) are actually the ideal people to spend time with. Together, you'll be gambling, drinking lots of tasty drinks, roaming strip joints, losing teeth, getting married and stealing a tiger from Mike Tyson's property. There are no limits and no regrets. And should the mood ever get down - which, to be honest, is highly unlikely - Stu can always sing and play you a catchy song on the piano. With him and the boys on board, you're bound to have the best night of your life. You might not remember it in the morning but, hell, there isn't going to be a next morning anyway.

1. Atia of the Julii (Rome, 2005-2007) 

© HBO | Source: imgur
Atia (Polly Walker) has a reputation of being snarky and slightly mean-spirited. So in case your festivities suck, she'll definitely let you know one way or the other. But since the party we're talking about here is pretty much the very last one she'll ever attend in her entire life, I'm sure she'll be willing to be more amiable. Should your rapture party, therefore, lack spirit, Atia's sure to lend you a helping hand. She herself is an excellent hostess and will provide you with the finest food and drink, music, stunning robes and jewellery - and a broad selection of sexual slaves to choose from. Romans, I know. Anyway, to go down with Atia means to go down in style and pomp. The end of the world has never been such luxurious, wicked fun.


3. Fred and George Weasley (Harry Potter series)

© WB | Source: lovelace-media.imgix.net
Technically, Fred and George Weasley are obviously two people, but - since they are twins - I am counting them as one person since I really, really want them at my end-of-the-world party. Invite the twins and you basically got the entertainment sorted out. Fireworks, magic tricks (or actual magic for that fact), and jokes - you name it, you got it! And if someone you didn't invite and really don't want to see shows up on your last day on earth, just sneak them a couple of Puking Pastilles for sweets and you got that taken care of... Other than that, Fred and George are clever, loyal to a fault, and generally just fun and relaxed people to hang out with.

2. Karen Walker (Will & Grace)

© WB | Source: buzzfeed.com
If I want anyone's commentary guiding me through the last day on earth, it sure as hell is Karen Walker's. People who can say things like "You say potato, I say Vodka" or "24 hours in a day - 24 beers in a case" with a straight face and mean it are the ones you need on a day like this! With Karen you can drink and dance like there is no tomorrow (haha) and talk trash about all the weird people around you one last time. If someone harasses you or tries to judge you - don't worry, Karen isn't having any of that. Finally, a good dose of cynicism really can't hurt at the end of all days.

1. Dick Casablancas (Veronica Mars)

© WB | Source: giphy.com
Nobody puts Dick in a corner... well certainly not at a party! This slightly perverted man-child always knows where there's the most fun to be had and, if nothing's going on anywhere, he certainly has the means and mind to throw an epic evening himself (or day for that matter). So the one guy you really need at your big end-of-the-world bash, it is Mr. Casablancas. He's easy to talk to, knows all the cool guys and drinking games, and isn't a sight for sore eyes either. Should your party suck anyways, you can be sure his often annoying and disrespectful blabbing will start a brawl in no time. There you go: Problem solved and new entertainment secured. After all, Dick always comes prepared:

Dick Casablancas: "Look who it is, most likely to blog and class buzz kill."
Veronica Mars: "You are just who I was looking for, most likely to know where I can find the bar."
[Dick whips out a flask from his belt buckle]
Veronica Mars: "Gross"
Mac: "No"

Nata Lie:

3. Tyrion Lannister (Game of Thrones)

© HBO | Source: gotrecaps

The most likely smartest man in the Game of Thrones universe is the perfect entertainer for any party, no matter how drunk he gets. And, boy, he can certainly hold his liquor! His eloquence would bring just about the right amount of sophistication to the table and awkward silences would be a thing of the past, since he would just talk through them. Tyrion has a sheer endless repertoire of conversational topics: politics, brothels or maybe an anecdote of how he shot his father on the loo? A party with Tyrion is a party with a lot of laughter. Aside from that, he has shown to be a fan of drinking games and his access to wildfire could be used to create a monumental firework, worthy of heralding the end of the world.

2. Tony Stark (Iron Man)

© Marvel | Source: shutupandwatchthemovie
Because now that I’ve invited one witty, rich, sarcastic party lion I feel the need to throw in another. Naturally, Tony would have to wear his Iron Man suit (not such a bad idea in our impending doomsday scenario) and have his other suits act as our waiters and now let the party games begin! Just imagine the heroic Iron Man, clad in full battle gear, putting his back into a game of Twister,a limbo dance or a game of thrones, err, I mean musical chairs. I’d really, really love to see that. As individuals these two are already absolutely hilarious, but can you picture Tyrion Lannister and Tony Stark together? I’m sure they would alternate between being the best buddies ever to hating each other’s guts in an interval of five minutes or less. Frenemyship is predestined.

A conversation between these two would probably be so comical that it would entirely slip your mind that the world is about to end.

Tony: Well, last year I saved the world from an alien invasion and lost loads of my suits.

Tyrion: Oh yeah? I saved King’s Landing during the Battle of the Blackwater and lost my nose in the process.

Tony: Ah, so your face isn’t meant to look like that?

Tyrion: No… and anyway – are those suits for rent?

Tony: Tell you what. If you manage to grow, say like two inches before all this doomsday stuff takes place you can have them all. As it is I don’t have any child-size versions.

Tyrion: ☠ !? * @ %$ ⚔ #☣ ✣ & ♯✹ * !!!

1. The Genie (Aladdin)

© Disney | Source: animationconfabulation

I don’t think I have to explain why I want the Genie on my guest list, do I? The question is rather who wouldn’t want to invite him? Aside from the obvious, his ability to fulfil wishes (“Genie, the location here is kind of drab, don’t you think?” “Just a second---“ *Moves the party into a palanquin on the back of an elephant*), he can sing, is awfully funny, and could act as a moderator when Tyrion and Tony are caught up in one of their verbal battles again. If the Genie manages to turn our little Rapture Party into anything like that Prince Ali introduction parade, then I’ve seen all that there is to be seen and can bid farewell to the world without shedding a tear.

So these three are my party people – now let the world go down with fireworks and fanfare!

© Disney | Source: giphy

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Episode Close-Up: Castle (2009-2016): 8x22 'Crossfire'

© ABC | Source: stana-katic.net
“Ok men – and women – the big one, the one we’ve all been waiting for….” The time has come to say goodbye to Castle. And how better to start this swan song review than to include a little pep talk from Griffindor Quidditch captain Oliver Wood? A Harry Potter mention at the beginning of a Castle review, you ask (I know, that gives away my age and interests)? Strange, right? Castle’s writers are probably hoping for a cooler analogy, but this is the one I got. Okay, I’ll stop with the HP references for now, yet there’s much that reminded me of the wizarding world in Castle’s final episode “Crossfire”, as you will see – if only the showrunner’s wishful thinking that they could somehow magically fix a beloved show that has been dwindling all season…

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The series finale, episode 8x22, was penned by the guys that took over from Andrew Marlowe and Terri Edda Miller as showrunners last summer, Alexi Hawley and Terence Paul Winter. Veteran Castle director Rob Bowman once again called the shots. They were tasked with winding down a less than stellar season when it came to ratings and their audience’s feedback on the season so far. Additionally, they had to incorporate the possibility of not all cast members returning for the following year, and the planned season finale possibly being the series finale. “Crossfire” was shot back at the beginning of April, so before news broke on exits, behind-the-scenes drama, and, finally, the show’s cancellation.

© ABC | Source: castle-fans.tv
The official synopsis to this episode reads: “With their best lead in hand, Castle and Beckett are ready to take on LokSat. But an unforeseen twist puts their case – and their lives – in jeopardy.” The final showdown with LokSat, right. Introduced as the new (and rather far-fetched) conspiracy theory of the season, this guy was the even bigger and badder wolf behind Senator Bracken, the murderer of Beckett’s mom. Seemingly out of nowhere, this dirty CIA operative murdered Beckett’s former team at the Attorney General’s office, which left her and technical analyst Vikram to investigate in secret. Of course, being the noisy child that he is (and largely due to fan protest caused by the much reduced Caskett screen time), Castle got in on the action and their best lead, Caleb Brown, gave the investigators a cell phone and a date on which LokSat would contact him. The time for the meeting and to follow the most promising lead had now come.

© ABC | Source: kissthemgoodbye.net
The episode starts out in typical procedural drama style with a murder – Duh. We get the close-up of a guy happily swinging in the driver’s seat of a car to "Sunshine Day" by The Brady Bunch. Yet, what looks like a daddy driving his pre-school kids home for the night turns out to be a guy driving to a deserted area to dump and torch the car – with a body in the trunk. Our mystery murderer (much like Peeves the Poltergeist) sings and whistles tauntingly, gives a final quip to the person banging on the car trunk from the inside, and drives off. Cut to Beckett and Castle preparing to take the phone call, that will hopefully give them a trace on LokSat. Castle tries for some levity by wondering:

“Could my ex-wife be LokSat? That would actually make so much sense!”

But it falls flat. The call comes and the detective and writer are informed of a drop point in an abandoned warehouse outside of Brooklyn. Yeah, that’s not suspicious at all… Even worse, surprise surprise, the criminal mastermind has used countermeasures to make his call untraceable. How rude!

Across town, Ryan and Esposito are meanwhile investigating the murder from the beginning of the episode. While the body is unidentifiable, luckily enough, there is a high-end briefcase with the body, whose serial number should conveniently tell the boys who their victim is. Ryan, Esposito and Lanie are still not in on the big conspiracy Beckett, Castle and Vikram are investigating and therefore continue to go their untroubled ways while the others prepare for the big showdown.

© ABC | Source: kissthemgoodbye.net
Castle enlists the help of his P.I. buddy Haley, who he trusts and entrusts with the protection of his family, should anything happen to him (huh, where did that deep connection come from? And can you say foreshadowing?) Meanwhile, Beckett fends off Rysposito’s inquiries as to what is going on. She then sets off for the meeting point with Castle as her backup and Haley and Vikram in the vicinity to help out should things go south. Watching this, I can’t help thinking that, even though this is only supposed to be a stake-out, the Beckett we know would never have taken clever, but untrained writer Rick Castle as her only backup and put him in harm’s way like that…. Needless to say, things do go south from there, as the guy they are observing turns out to be an imposter and the one he was supposed to meet with never shows. Instead, a hit squad shows up in two black SUVs and engages the writer and detective in a shoot-out. With cell phone signals jammed, no bullets left, and Hayley out of range, there is no chance of help. Well, that escalated quickly!

© ABC | Source: kissthemgoodbye.net
The rushed, clichéd and slightly silly drama only continues to escalate from there. A guy in a big-ass barbeque taco truck, who turns out to be Mason Wood, the head of a renowned L.A. detectives’ society from a few episodes back, surprisingly comes to Caskett’s rescue.  Castle and Beckett choose to trust him and the top secret spy equipment he offers them, and decide to put their affairs in order before going underground. Vikram then blabs to Ryan and Esposito about the case, thereby putting the loyal detectives in danger, since they predictably insist on helping their friends. Castle makes sure his mother and daughter are safe, while Beckett tries to guide the investigation from inside the precinct.

Ryan: "You can fire us both for insubordination if you want, but we got this!"

Castle and Beckett then each take off on their own and now we know that we must be headed for doom. He gets abducted and is questioned with a truth serum (really? Been there done that. Can you say Veritaserum? 70s spy thriller? Low budget, C-grade action movie?), while she foolishly agrees to team up with Mason Wood, who, unsurprisingly, turns out to be the big bad wolf. Ryan and Esposito find Castle juuust in time before he is lethally injected and engage in the final battle of Hogwarts an
© ABC | Source: springfieldspringfield.co.uk
epic shoot-out with LokSat’s guys to end all days. Yet, always the clever hero, Castle somehow realizes that one wall of the room they are cornered in is made of paper-like material and leads outside. So he knocks a hole in it and finds Beckett and Mason Wood just in time to distract the latter, so Beckett can disarm and arrest him. The lovers rush to each other and embrace in a desperate and relieved hug. All’s well that ends well.

Well, not quite. We are only in minute 39 of 43 and while the whole episode was filled with far-fetched and artificial drama, this would have been an unmatched letdown of suspense. But one step after the other. Back at the precinct, Castle embraces his mother and daughter, while Kate lovingly watches on (yep, still not part of the family, nice reminder and slap in the face there, Castle writers), and Esposito, Ryan, and new buddy Vikram take off to hit the bar scene – at 7 am (and it’s not like Ryan has a wife and two kids at home, who might be worried about him…).

© ABC | Source: kissthemgoodbye.net
Finally, it’s time for Castle and Beckett to return home and engage in some awkward flirting. While he decides to cook her breakfast, she goes into the bedroom to get changed. And here comes the twist we’ve been waiting for: Out of nowhere, Caleb Brown, the thought dead source of LokSat’s cell phone, steps out into Castle’s kitchen and shoots him in the chest. Hearing shots fired, trained NYPD Captain Katherine Beckett does not quietly rush to her husband’s help, but screams his name, alerting the killer to her presence and getting herself shot. But not before fatally wounding the shooter of course. Riiiight. She then also drops to the ground and instead of trying to reach one of the many phones or technical devices in their apartment, the only thing Castle and Beckett can seem to think of is crawl to each other, lie down, and hold hands in preparation of dying together…. And this, folks, would have been the ending we’d have gotten, had Castle been renewed for a ninth season. ‘Luckily’ ABC gave advance notice to the showrunners that the show had been cancelled, so a sloppily put together, lovey-dovey scene was added at the end.

© ABC | Source: kissthemgoodbye.net
It’s been two days since I watched this and I still can’t get over what the people involved must have been thinking. I mean, nice try and kudos for attempting to give a deserving ending to a beloved show that had excelled for 5 seasons and been decent for seven, and that you spent all season sabotaging left and right with storylines unfitting, sloppy, and untrue to the characters. But let’s take a closer look: A panning shot moves us from the half-dead lovers lying on the kitchen floor to a total shot of the Castles’ empty loft (why?), while in voice-over we hear the shadowy voices of Kate Beckett and Rick Castle from the pilot, where, after 42 minutes of him making advances at her, she flirted back for the first time and we got to see sparks fly. Okay, granted, that did make me sentimental and longing for the good old days. But why the empty loft? Did they both die? Is this what you are trying to tell me happened to that epic love story? No? 
© ABC | Source: kissthemgoodbye.net

Well, the camera keeps moving to the suddenly filled again living room that is now packed with pictures and toys. In rush a young girl and two toddler boys from the direction of Castle’s study with Kate in hot pursuit. We are told by subtitle that it’s now 7 years later (well, hello again, J.K. Rowling with your unrelated epilogue of 19 years later) and everyone is in fact still very much alive. Not only that, but the happy little Castle family turned out just the way the time traveler predicted in episode 6x05. For 30 glorious seconds, while the happy family sits down to have breakfast, we get a glimpse of the future we all wanted for them, but that has no relation to what the show’s been doing to the couple and their story for at least two years. A final voice-over (from the paratext of seasons two and three and Castle headcanon):

Castle: “Every writer needs inspiration and I found mine.”  - Beckett: “Always.” - Castle: “Always.”

Aaand, yep, we are back to reality. While on the surface these seem like the perfect words to end the series (and I admit that there is a certain sap in me that had wished for “Always” to be the last words uttered), they still showcase all the little things that have been going wrong with the series for some time. Are the writers going through the motions of using established Castle-isms? Sure. But it just feels like they don’t get the meaning behind them and what the show is really about. In the last sentence of the show, Kate Beckett is once again, as she has been many, many times this year, simply degraded to an inspiration for a writer. That she is and has been a well-developed, strong, and independent character outside of that and a driving force for the show is once again completely disregarded.

© ABC | Source: springfieldspringfield.co.uk
Besides the obvious lack of understanding for the show, showcased in that addendum, why would you even include the whole shooting scene in the kitchen? It doesn’t change anything that came before or relate to anything that comes after and just feels like bloody and unnecessary torture for the main protagonists. Story-wise I understand the appeal this scene would have had as a cliff-hanger, but in this final version of the episode, designed to give a nice send-off to the characters, the whole ending just once again underlines the sloppy compilation of the whole episode and even season.

So that’s a wrap people! Castle is officially over. The final goodbye, “Crossfire”, sadly served as illustration of why it was due time as well. Sound and score have always been top notch in Castle, with Robert Duncan’s to the point compositions that carry the mood and a sound department up for anything from drama, to comedy, to sci-fi, to romance. Stunts and visual effects deliver good work for the contexts they are needed in. But where the show’s been lacking and lacks here is in writing. Somewhere along the way things just got lost. And that’s not due to the “Moonlighting curse” or supposed behind-the-scenes drama, but simply bad storytelling. Castle and Beckett – their work, interaction and romance – have (until recently) always been the center of the show. While “Crossfire”
© ABC | Source: kissthemgoodbye.net
finally puts the two of them back at center stage (luckily not too many distractions from Alexis, Hayley, or Vikram in this episode), it makes a cliché out of them. Sure, many declarations of love are kind of what you want to hear during the final hurrah of a romance, but if you can’t back it up with actions and especially if you have been working against that all season, it’s just not all that believable. Even the once really funny and enjoyable banter falls flat. And if you can complain about too much far-fetched and highly artificial drama in a fictional series, things must be pretty bad. Also, the community and camaraderie of the precinct family, that was another integral part of the show, is not given too much focus in the final send-off to Castle.  Performance-wise the main cast by now has a clear idea of who their characters are and embodies them to the point. They weren’t given too much to work with here, so the only one who really gets to shine (and does) is Nathan Fillion, when Castle is injected with truth serum and inadvertently sentences his loved ones to death.

All you can finally say to “Crossfire” is: Thanks for trying. And not killing off Beckett. Thank you for not completely ruining a great run and for a half-assed attempt at a happy ending that, if you don’t look too closely, may just pacify parts of the audience.