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Connor Macgregor Reviews...Miniseries/TV Movies

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Connor Macgregor Reviews...The Diary Of Anne Frank (2009)
Episode Two


INTRO: Episode Two resumes the scary cicumstances the Frank family and co are in, with more people slowly coming in.

SUMMARY:
WARNING: "Summary" spoilers below
It is now October 1942. In the secret annex, the achterhuis, the toilet is blocked and her father, Otto, is forced to try and unblock by hand. Their helpers in the offices downstairs call a plumber, and the family are terrified that he will need to come up to the annex.

Anne finds Mrs. van Daan increasingly hard to bear, as she orders her around and criticises her in a way that her liberal parents never do. But overall they are getting used to their time together, and the strict routine by which they must live. Otto begins to oversee their school studies so that they won't be behind after the war. During an air raid, Anne is so scared that she runs to her father for comfort.

One day Anne invites Miep and her husband Jan to dinner and to stay overnight in her room. When they agree, Anne draws up a special menu in their honour, which Mrs van Daan cooks for them. But Miep brings bad news, which she tells only the Franks, that the van Daans' apartment has been ransacked and all their property confiscated. Also another person arrives to stay at the annex, a dentist called Mr Dussel, who will sleep in Margot's bed.


THOUGHTS: More people are entering the space, where therefore makes things very crowded and tight. There was a scene with Anne Frank in the bath which was a bit out there for my taste, although I really appreciated the acknowledgement of Margot Frank being on her period. This episode has some good performances, with Ellie Kendrick doing another good turn as Anne Frank. Her mixture of innocence and confidence works well, playing into the fact that she is a terrified teenager in a horrifying situation. Otto Frank does his best to truly keep the peace within the small space, with Iain Glen doing a great performance here. The end sees more people enter the space, which makes for an uncomfortable situation for Anne Frank going forward.

RATING: 75% - B+





Connor Macgregor Reviews...The Diary Of Anne Frank (2009)
Episode Three


INTRO: Conflicts, Teenage love, quiet time with the drama, Anne Frank has a lot to juggle in this episode.

SUMMARY:
WARNING: "Summary" spoilers below
It is now November 1942. The routine in the rear annex is now well established - as are the squabbles. Otto is shocked to discover that the building has had to be sold. They fear that the new owner will demand access to the annex and they will be discovered. The lease won't be exchanged for months yet, so for now the threat is over.

When Miep arrives she tells them their helpful grocer has gone missing. Miep also gives Mr Dussel the latest letter and food parcel from his fiancÚ - this annoys Anne as she thinks he is putting them at greater risk. Her parents agree but do not want to intervene. That evening Anne helps to wash her mother's hair and for once they are close. Soon it is Hanukkah and everyone in the annex gathers for the ceremony around the dinner table.

Food shortages are getting worse and Bep Voskuijl from the office now comes up to the annex for lunch every day. Anne asks Mr Dussel to let her use their shared bedroom for the agreed time but he isn't ready to give up the desk and they row. Otto talks to Dussel and persuades him how important writing is to Anne. Mr Dussel also begins to learn Spanish for his life post-war.


THOUGHTS: A good chunk of the episode focuses on Mr Dussell, the recent now resident within the hiding place of The Frank Family and friends. There emerges a point of conflict between Anne and Mr Dussell which at times can be funny but at times immature and silly with Anne. What is good for Anne however is the growing bond between herself and Thomas. There blossoms teenage love between the two which is lovely to watch unfold. Another thing to note is the family domestics which can be easy to relate to at this time during Covid-19 what with all the claustrophobia and the desperate need for space and peace.

RATING: 77% - B+





Connor Macgregor Reviews...The Diary Of Anne Frank (2009)
Episode Four


INTRO: Anne has a birthday, yet also a very intense and emotional exchange with her father as she continues to come of age in the worst possible world.

SUMMARY:
WARNING: "Summary" spoilers below
It is June 1943 and Anne is dreaming about her fourteenth birthday party. Suddenly she wakes up and remembers she is in the annex. Her family give her whatever they can, but the only present that really excites her is a bar of chocolate.

Also, the families are wearing out their clothes and don't have the money to replace them. In fact, the van Daans have little money left and argue about whether they should sell Mrs van Daan's fur coat. Otto measures Anne and Margot against the wall and finds that Anne has grown three inches in the last year. They learn on BBC radio of the capitulation of Italy (September 1943).

Anne is growing into a young woman and is amazed by the changes happening to her body and emotions. Her periods have started and she is becoming aware of her feminine sexuality. She has even started to look differently at Peter. When Peter comes up to the attic she tells him that she sees him differently now and apologises for having teased him in the past. He invites her to accompany him down to the warehouse to collect the potatoes. However, one day on his potato run, Peter forgets to unlock the front doors, forcing the employees to break in. Later, in response to her feelings, Anne writes her parents a hurtful letter.


THOUGHTS: The episode begins with Anne's birthday, a sweet scene with a rare happy atmosphere within the space. What follows is Anne's struggle to grapple with puberty, with the growing fear and anxiety that comes with it. Her relationship with Thomas continus to build, with Anne seeing him differently, with a fun scene of him walking by her in a towel. This episode bring with it a real sense of enjoyment, despite the limited storytelling in one setting. Yet I do not feel very stressed out or critical about this as the space has a real sense of cosiness to it as well as relatability given the current siutation. The ending itself is also very interesting, with Otto and Anne having a very emotional exchange over Anne's letter to him. It is not at times easy, yet at the same time I feel very nessacary for her to say.

RATING: 77% - B+





Connor Macgregor Reviews...The Diary Of Anne Frank (2009)
Episode Five


INTRO: The last episode in this miniseries is a strong and hopeful episode, but not before ending with a tragic conclusion.

SUMMARY:
WARNING: "Summary" spoilers below
It is June 1943 and Anne is dreaming about her fourteenth birthday party. Suddenly she wakes up and remembers she is in the annex. Her family give her whatever they can, but the only present that really excites her is a bar of chocolate.

Also, the families are wearing out their clothes and don't have the money to replace them. In fact, the van Daans have little money left and argue about whether they should sell Mrs van Daan's fur coat. Otto measures Anne and Margot against the wall and finds that Anne has grown three inches in the last year. They learn on BBC radio of the capitulation of Italy (September 1943).

Anne is growing into a young woman and is amazed by the changes happening to her body and emotions. Her periods have started and she is becoming aware of her feminine sexuality. She has even started to look differently at Peter. When Peter comes up to the attic she tells him that she sees him differently now and apologises for having teased him in the past. He invites her to accompany him down to the warehouse to collect the potatoes. However, one day on his potato run, Peter forgets to unlock the front doors, forcing the employees to break in. Later, in response to her feelings, Anne writes her parents a hurtful letter.


THOUGHTS: The final episode is a tense one, given that the end is pretty grim viewing. It begins however with burglars entering the compound, with adds a lot of stress for the characters as whether or not they will be found. The Frank family and friends however are given optimism when the Allied forces enter Europe, leading to the belief that they will all be saved and for this to be a happy ending for them. With futures on the horizon, Anne begins to round up what she wants to do and that is writing, with a discussion about her aspirations had with her sister Margot. We see Margot herself come out of her shell a bit more, talking about her hopes and dreams too, with Felicity Jones giving a good performance also. However, the story ends in a heartbreaking conclusion as the Frank family and friends are finally discovered by the SS. The final scene is a haunting and sad end with each of the stowaways leaving the space slowly and hauntingly. It makes for a very sad and emotional end.

RATING: 81% - A-





Connor Macgregor Reviews...A Midsummer Night's Dream

INTRO: Russell T Davies takes on another legendary writer's work, and adds his own spectacular charm to it.

SUMMARY: Tyrannical dictator Theseus brings his captive bride, Amazonian queen Hippolyta, to Athens for a forced, dynastic union whilst statesman Egeus sentences his daughter Hermia to death for spurning arranged marriage to Demetrius in favour of true love Lysander, with whom she escapes to the woods. Demetrius follows, along with Helena who is besotted with him. Also in the woods a group of amateur actors, including pompous Nick Bottom, are rehearsing a play to perform at the ducal wedding. All are unaware that the fairy rulers of the woods. Oberon and Titania are engaged in a feud with Oberon taking revenge on his wife, helped by the sprite Puck, which involves her falling in love with the first person she sees - namely Bottom wearing a donkey's head. The four lovers are similarly bewitched by the charm and much confusion results before order is restored and the play goes ahead, with the fairies ensuring happy endings - for those who deserve it.

REVIEW: Russell T Davies attempts shakespeare and I think it ultiamtely manifests as his most Un Russell T Davies project to date. It does look lovely though, with what seems to be a very good budget put forward with a mixture of excellent acting talent attached, a mixture of established and fresh faces mingled together. The cinematography stood out to me as lush, combined with smashing VFX effects from beginning to end. The dialogue of shakespeare is a hurdle in itself, though I found to see it in the perspective of poetry if anything. It's a nice story to tell also, with more fantasy from shakespeare than his other stories, with less gritty gloom. It becomes his most fun and imaginative story, added with that the wonderful modern performances that spark the story to life. One particular highlight is Matt Lucas who is delightful and witty as he always is. He interacts well with the other various characters, whether that be curious fairies or warring couples struggling to untangle their love problems. The story tells itself in two halves, with the first taking place entirely in the forest, before moving into the palace for the second half. The ending is also lovely, attached with a sweet feeling and a magical expansive climax. Overall, Russell T Davies tells a terrific story and a worthy adaptation of Shakespeare.

RATING: 85% - A-





Connor Macgregor Reviews...The Pale Horse

Episode One

INTRO: Agatha Christie is a legendary writer in British literature, with her work quite often getting adapted. And now, we reach a story that I've never heard of until now.

SUMMARY: A year after discovering his first wife, Delphine, electrocuted in the bath, antique dealer Mark Easterbrook is summoned by the police when a woman, Jessie Davis, is found dead in the street. Hidden in her shoe is a list of names that she had written on a piece of paper. Among the names are those of Mark and Mark's paramour, Thomasina Tuckerton, whom Mark later finds dead in her bed. Mark discovers that Delphine and Jessie Davis had both visited the village of Much Deeping to consult a trio of women living there. Another person on the list, shopkeeper Zachariah Osborne, who had employed Jesse Davis, tells Mark that the women are witches, and responsible for the deaths.

REVIEW: The historical setting is good and fits with an Agatha Christie story. I love the erie start to the story, and all the murders that follow. The central male character has a very murky, mysterious feel to him and doesn't even trust or open up to his own wife. Kaya Scodlario is good in this, though she isn't as expressive in this story, and is much more closed off. As the story continues, so does the mystery, and more murders continue to take place with the possibility of witchcraft being involved. As the setting moves into a cosy english village, the story gets somewhat sinister and references from things like The Wicker Man emerge, with the supposed witches giving a very eerie feeling also. The feeling of obsession and paranoia also builds, with the central character feeling very usettled, betrayed and mistrusted by those close around him. These themes play very deeply into the story. I do enjoy Agatha Christie as a writer, and this adaptation gets off to a good start with an intriguing story to follow.

RATING: 83% - A-





Connor Macgregor Reviews...The Pale Horse

Episode Two

INTRO: Part two of an adaptation of Agatha Christie's mysterious, somewhat supernatural novel.

SUMMARY: Mark's hair begins to fall out, as had Jesse Davis's and Thomasina Tuckerton's before they died. He succumbs to a growing paranoia towards the witches and their supposed power. He suspects that his second wife, Hermia, is plotting against him. Mark's godson, David Ardingly, admits to having enlisted the trio to bring about the death of his Aunt Clemency, so that he could inherit sooner. Inspector Lejeune disputes Mark's version of Delphine's death. Mark visits Osborne, who tells him that he can only be cleansed by fire. Mark then visits the witches and asks them to remove the threat posed by Hermia and Lejeune. Mark discovers Hermia in a coma, and while at the hospital where she is being treated, he sees the dying Lejeune brought in. Mark's flashbacks reveal that he caused Delphine's death and covered it up. He confronts Osborne, who confesses to having poisoned the other victims. He taunts Mark, who kills him and sets fire to his workshop. Hermia wakes up in the hospital with the three witches at her side and the three women tell her what Mark has done. Mark returns to his house and reads the morning paper. The headline is the announcement of his own death. Mark is now reliving Delphine's death over and over again in his nightmares, which he had been plagued with previously.

REVIEW: Part two continues to unravel the mystery from part one, as the deaths continue to build, and the suspect list dwindles down even further. Eventually, the truth is revealed who the killer is and why these murders have been taking place. It's a good unexpected twist, and one that works very well with the story. There is also the truth regarding the death of Mark's first wife, which surprised me also and was very well done. I also think Kaya Scodelario puts in a better performance here, in particular when her mental health is put into question. Unlike the novel, the final scene is ambiguous, and we are left without a clear fate for our central protagonist.

RATING: 84% - A-