The Queen’s Gambit (Netflix, 2020)

The Queen’s Gambit is an American drama television mini-series based on Walter Tevis’s novel of the same name, starring Anya Taylor-Joy. It was created by Scott Frank and Allan Scott and premiered internationally on Netflix in October, 2020.

Let’s do things differently this time. Let’s start with the ending.

What I liked especially about the Moscow chapter is that it puts Beth’s relationships with the men, with the chess players in her life, into perspective. The show is very good at putting almost everything into perspective, through the flashbacks when her mum tells her,

Men will come into your life, and they will think that they can teach you something; and, well, maybe they can, but it doesn’t mean they’re smarter than you. It just makes them feel bigger than you. And they will come and they will go, and you will move on, and you will do whatever the hell you like.

And that’s really… the show is quite good at lampshading these things, so just when first there’s Harry and then there’s Benny, and you start to worry about the show miscasting its own heroine, it then becomes clear that that is the motivator for why Beth lets them in. The thing that her mother told her, that in the end you’re your own master. What it really means, however, is that Beth still needs a support system. Those flashbacks explain her motivations, but they also lay the groundwork for her realisation that what her mother taught her isn’t sustainable. Not because these other people are men, but because they’re her friends. (Plus, with Beth being bisexual, that burden of proof, that male-female dynamic is displaced, anyhow. Men were just around more; relationships are what’s difficult for Beth. Another facet that her mother couldn’t have predicted.)

They’re trying to pull the same trick with Jolene, but it doesn’t actually work: because it’s quite hamfisted, because Beth never looked her up, and because they foisted on Jolene a responsibility that shouldn’t have gone to a Black woman in that moment. Because it just throws her squarely into the Mammy trope and calls it done. Suddenly, she reappears to essentially save Beth, but they attempt to subvert it, unsuccessfully, when Beth tells her she’s her guardian angel and Jolene denies it — ostensibly subverting the trope, but not really — and says, “We’re family.” Okay, but…

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Leslie Jones, Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, and Kate McKinnon are the new Ghostbusters

Answer the Call: Ghostbusters (2016)

There’s four new heroes in town.

I watched Ghostbusters this past weekend, making it a point to go see it on its opening weekend here in Germany. I’d been looking forward to it pretty much since the first announcements, and definitely since the first casting news. I watched and up-voted the first trailer everywhere I could, I followed the dudebro/misogynist and racist backlash against this movie as well as its actresses, particularly Leslie Jones, with increasing rage. However, I also read so many good things about it from delighted critics (mostly women) and bloggers, celebrating the many things this movie gets right. In short, I was really stoked to finally see it, make up my own mind, and quite frankly: goddamn enjoy myself for a change.

The setup: I haven’t seen the first two movies in over ten years and I frequently confuse plot points between the two, so I can’t really speak to any similarities in plot or story. I did ponder rewatching beforehand, but I realised one crucial thing: I don’t care. Because I had fun. Continue reading →

Peter Capaldi and Maisie Williams in Doctor Who Series 9

Throwback Thursday — Doctor Who: The Girl Who Died + The Woman Who Lived

Previously on Doctor Who: Before the Flood.

In the first two-parter guest starring Maisie Williams, we’re visiting first the Vikings, and then the (I’m guessing) late 18th century. With war-thirsty aliens projecting a false god Odin into the skies (very Monty Python’s Holy Grail, by the way), the mere fact that we’re visiting the Vikings is not so much the point, except perhaps for the idea of a death in battle being a good way to go. Since the whole episode is set within one tiny village and, intermittently, on one pretty small spaceship, the world-building isn’t as extensive as we’ve known it to be. Continue reading →

Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman in the Series 9 episode 'Under the Lake'

Throwback Thursday — Doctor Who: Under the Lake + Before the Flood

Previously on Doctor Who: The Witch’s Familiar.

In this two-parter opened by Toby Whithouse, we see a bit of a reset — this is, in essence, the first proper adventure after everything that’s happened. After Clara said goodbye for the first time, after Danny’s first death and then his second. Being abducted to Skaro doesn’t really count because, well, it wasn’t the Doctor that called, it was UNIT. So this is the first we see of Clara and the Doctor on the road again, wherever they went at the end of Last Christmas notwithstanding. Continue reading →

Jenna Coleman, Peter Capaldi, and Nick Frost star in Last Christmas (2014)

Throwback Thursday—Doctor Who: Last Christmas (2014)

Previously on Doctor Who: Death in Heaven.

Life — you know, that thing that happens when the Doctor’s not there to fix it. I had my own bit of Life in 2015, and it wasn’t going so well. Hence, I scaled back my usual blogging activity and treaded the Whoniverse more or less incognito. But now, it’s 2016, it’s a fresh start, and I do still love this idiot travelling in a box. So I’ll use the good old tradition of Throwback Thursdays to blog about Series 9, Clara’s exit, and Peter Capaldi’s second year as the Doctor.

In this case, I know I am horribly late to the party, but do indulge me — we’re travelling back to 2014, and Peter and Jenna’s first Christmas Special together. Last Christmas. Speaking as a plot detective, one might also call it The Curious Case of Suspending Disbelief for Strange Men Distributing Gifts. Continue reading →

Sherlock: The Abominable Bride.

Previously on Sherlock: His Last Vow.

There are no ghosts in this world. Save for the ones we make for ourselves.

This is the story of five minutes in the life of Sherlock Holmes. Five minutes in the real world, but a lifetime in another — in Sherlock’s Mind Palace, to be precise. In the time it takes for the plane to turn around and come back down to land in His Last Vow, as John speaks the foreboding words, “There’s an East Wind coming,” Sherlock has already gone deep into himself, into the recesses of his mind, to solve a mystery that has kept us on the edges of our seats for two years.

How is he alive?

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007: SPECTRE

James Bond is back. Three years after the veritable anniversary smash hit that was Skyfall, director Sam Mendes gives us Spectre.

Here’s what I thought of Spectre in a nutshell:

It’s a fantastic James Bond movie, it shows the franchise adapting to a modern way of storytelling. It introduces repercussions and consequences into a narrative previously devoid of actual development. But it also fails to deliver on the big villain reveal, leaving the most hyped and most anticipated aspect of its story lacking and kinda… underwhelming.

If you want more than the gist, there be spoilers beyond the cut.

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