‘Fifty Shades Freed’. Don’t Miss the Climax

No matter what some people say, ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ trilogy is a box office hit. Obviously, I couldn’t ignore it and watched the new one, as well as the previous two earlier.

Without any doubt, the books are better in terms of the storytelling. I had read all of them before the 1st movie came out, so I know something to make a comparison.

The 1st movie ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ was quite interesting ‘cause it was the very beginning of the whole story. It was unusual, compared with other films premiering at that time. It wasn’t new–people who have seen ‘9 ½ weeks’ will get it–but anyway…

grey26f-1-webFifty Shades of Grey (2015) is based on a 2011 erotic romance novel by British author E. L. James. Dakota Johnson plays Anastasia “Ana” Steele, a college graduate who meets a young billionaire entrepreneur Christian Grey, played by Jamie Dornan, to conduct an interview for the college newspaper. Christian takes an interest in Ana straight away, and they eventually start dating. But, as it turns out, Mr. Grey has a very specific taste in sex: submission, and all the BDSM stuff.

 

The 1st movie is easy to watch, even though there are a lot of sex scenes. And by “a lot” I mean A LOT! Nevertheless, the plot is close to the book, and there’s an amazing song by Ellie Goulding ‘Love Me Like You Do’, as well as a sexy and slower rendition of ‘Crazy in Love’ by Beyoncé, and her ‘Haunted’; and The Weeknd’s Oscar-nominated ‘Earned it’…and Annie Lennox’s cover of ‘I Put A Spell On You’. Come on, you can’t say the OST isn’t great! I still consider Ellie Goulding’s song the best soundtrack song among all that we could hear in the 3 films.

Thus, all that altogether deserves 7 out of 10 from me.

Then, there was ‘Fifty Shades Darker’ (2017): while Christian wrestles with his inner demons, Anastasia must confront the anger and envy of the women who came before her (c)IMDb. This one receives 8 out of 10. Why this one gets 1 point more than the 1st? The story is more developed, great soundtrack again (this time there’re Zayn & Taylor Swift with ‘I Don’t Wanna Live Forever’), less sex scenes but this time they are more “in place”, if I can say so, – there where they look appropriate in a scene and happen not every 10 min., like in the 1st film. We get to see more locations and Christian’s family (among which are Marcia Gay Harden and Rita Ora), the drama, the romance, the proposal, and, as an interesting bonus, – a Kim Basinger’s cameo (a nice cross-reference to ‘9 ½ Weeks’, isn’t it?). Even the leading actors look better and more mature, or something. This is clearly visible.

If in the 1st film there was some awkwardness between the leads, this time–in the 2nd one–the actors are more confident, and the chemistry between them, which was supposed to be felt straight away, according to the books, is finally visible.

fifty-shades-freed-wedding-dress-01Today I’ve watched ‘Fifty Shades Freed’ (2018) and I can say that I liked the 1st & 2nd films more than this one. I don’t know why exactly. There’s everything crucial for the ‘Fifty Shades’ trilogy – romance, music, locations, style, even the feeling of a thriller at times (Ana and Christian get married, but Jack Hyde continues to threaten their relationship = (c)IMDb) – but something is definitely missing. I guess it’s the scenes’ proper duration. The beginning is nice. There are lovely wedding- and honeymoon shots in Paris and Nice (aww, watching that, I had so many happy memories in my head of my vacation in Paris a short time ago). There was pleasant music again: this time I’d like to mention Liam Payne and Rita Ora’s song ‘For You’ (very light and catchy) and especially highlight Bishop Briggs’ cover of ‘Never Tear Us Apart’ of my all-time favourite band INXS:  I really liked the new darker sounding of it! I need to admit, the scenes closer to the end were good, too. But between the beginning and the ending, everything is happening rather quickly: the locations, situations, interaction are shown like “one – cut, two – cut, three – cut, and next one…”, like some digest. Well, you’ll see when/if you watch it. Taking that into account, I can only give 5/10, unfortunately.

Oh, I almost forgot, keep in mind that at the end there’s a pleasant bonus for those who have watched all three parts (and ‘Love Me Like You Do’ is there too). And do not run out of the cinema hall immediately after the start of the final credits–like some people who jump out of their seats like there’s a fire somewhere when even the lights aren’t on,–there’s an additional scene!

All in all, ‘Fifty Shades Freed’ is worth watching to have a good time (a date or a girls’ night out) and to see the whole picture – you know the beginning and now you’ll see where all the events have led to. Do not expect something supernatural and you will get what you need from the movie. It is still a must for movie-lovers, like me.

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‘Wonder Wheel’. Classic Woody Allen

I must confess, I’m not a huge fan of Woody Allen’s films, but I actually enjoyed the new one – ‘Wonder Wheel‘. If you want something different from what is being shown in cinemas now, this movie is for you. I found it unusual. That’s why it got me interested when I, as a member of the mass media, was invited to attend a press-screening here in Kiev.

From the very first minutes, I felt like I was at the theatre, not at the movies. Everything had a theatrical feel to it: the dialogues, the actors’ coming in and out of the scene, dramatic acting, and even the locations.

Even though there is a lot of the theatrical spirit, it doesn’t harm the movie. It is easy to watch and makes you wonder where it all leads to.

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An interesting aspect of the ‘Wonder Wheel‘ is the way Woody Allen uses lights – they are so intensive, colourful, and different to correspond to various moods of a scene. Music also plays an important role. From the very beginning, when you hear the 1st song (opening), you know “this is a Woody Allen’s film”. The score is light and perfectly suitable for presentation of the ’50s mood.

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What is new about this movie is that we see Justin Timberlake telling the story instead of Woody Allen, as it happens in many of his films.

Surprisingly entertaining is the role of the boy, who plays Kate Winslet’s onscreen son. His obsession with setting a fire in various places is one of the key funny elements of the film. Everyone laughed so much every time the boy was on the screen.

As for me, Woody Allen’s movies are often a bit weird and sometimes even dull. Among the few ones I like are ‘Midnight in Paris‘ (2011) and ‘Hannah and her Sisters‘ (1986). Therefore, I was going to see the ‘Wonder Wheel’ with caution. It had a 50/50, hit or miss, chance for me. But all in all, I can give it 6 out of 10. The reason for not the highest score is that Woody Allen’s films are for people who like films full of intense conversations, monologues, and theatre-like drama. And another reason, the crucial one for me, was an open ending. I like to see the full story when I go to the movies. At least, most of the time.

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The film was “saved” by perfect actors Kate Winslet and Jim Belushi. These people really do know how to get into their roles! Kate was so into the character that I even was annoyed with her heroine at times, as it was planned by the director, I guess. And Jim was Jim – doing his work 100% amazing both in serious and pretty funny scenes. Nice acting of Juno Temple and Justin Timberlake. But, as I’ve said, that little boy-firestarter had stolen the show!

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So, if you want to enjoy a light and atmospheric movie with great actors, funny and dramatic scenes full of dialogues and monologues without a super-intense action on the screen, and feel like you are watching a play at the theatre, without actually going there, go see the ‘Wonder Wheel‘! Woody Allen is still the master of dialogues! 

DETAILS:

USA, 2017

Genre: Period drama

Written and directed by: Woody Allen

Cast: Kate Winslet, Jim Belushi, Juno Temple, Justin Timberlake

Runtime: 101 min

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Here’s the TRAILER for you:

“A Bad Moms Christmas”. Ho-ho-ho!

 

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As a representative of the mass media, I watched this movie at the press screening yesterday.

The 1st movie (‘Bad Moms’, 2016) was a hit, as for me: good plot, nice soundtrack and cast (Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn, Christina Applegate), and what is most important for a comedy, super funny.

Here’s the trailer to remind you of the plot:

What can I say about the sequel, ‘A Bad Moms Christmas’?

I LOVED it!

If you’re tired of preparation for Christmas & New Year and want to relax and have a good laugh, this movie is for you!

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Knowing the long list of great films’ sequels, which turned out to be a failure, I was cautiously happy about the ‘Bad Moms’ sequel coming out so as not to jinx. But as it turned out, I didn’t have to worry, and expectations were justified.

a-bad-moms-christmas-20179074Bad Moms’ (2016) plot was based mostly on Amy Mitchell (Mila Kunis) and her family. This time, surprisingly, the main place in the story, as for me, Mila Kunis’ Amy shares with Kathryn Hahn’s character – Carla – as 90% of the movie’s funniest parts belong to her. At the screening, people were laughing to tears. Especially, during the scenes at the spa – where Carla works – when she meets Ty (played by Justin Hartley – yes-yes, the one who plays Kevin in ‘This Is Us).

 

badmoms2_1A great addition to the movie was the invitation of such superstars as Christine Baranski and Susan Sarandon to play Mila Kunis’ and Kathryn Hahn’s on-screen moms. They are incredible and fully transform into their characters. The remaining 10% of the funny moments belong to them.

If you haven’t watched the film yet, don’t expect the plot of ‘A Bad Moms Christmas’ to be too different from the 1st movie. There’re 3 friends tired of their routine life (this time during the winter holidays), who just want to have fun. But this time, they need to deal with their moms (and one dad, played by Peter Gallagher), who have arrived to spend some time with them (and complicate their daughters’ lives a little…or a lot).

Taking into account, the actors’ performance, the Christmas feelings, and the funny moments, I give this movie a firm 8 out of 10. I took 2 points for the lack of a more complicated storyline, compared to the 1st film.

All in all, ‘A Bad Moms Christmas’ is an awesome, very funny movie with an unbelievable cast and a holiday spirit. A quality sequel to the original! Go watch it!

 

A BAD MOMS CHRISTMAS

Sherlock: Miss me? (Season 4)

I’ve been a fan of ‘Sherlock’ since its first episode (aired back in 2011) and so, I’m desperately waiting for each season for almost 6 years now. Even though the seasons are released not each TV season but every couple of years!

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I really enjoyed season 1 as it was close to the original Sherlock Holmes stories but with an unusual modern twist (mobile phones, Internet etc.) + well played by Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock Holmes) and Martin Freeman (Dr. John Watson), but my favourite season to this day is the 2nd. Not only because there appears Sherlock’s one and only love interest Irene Adler (Lara Pulver), scenes between them are the ones to remember, but most importantly because there we see on the permanent basis Sherlock’s nemesis Jim Moriarty, played by incredibly talented Andrew Scott (in season 1, we meet Moriarty only briefly). The ‘chemistry’ between Ben and Andrew’s characters can’t be described, it should be seen!

rf11 The 3rd episode of season 2 called ‘The Reichenbach Fall’ is considered (at least, by me and everyone I know) the best one ever due to the performance of the actors, great plot, and THAT ENDING! Yeah, it made all ‘Sherlock’ fans wonder in a pleasant shock for a really long time, asking “How did he manage to do that?!

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Season 3 had a nice start with numerous funny moments (John and Sherlock’s reunion, John and Mary’s wedding etc.) and even some ‘wow’ scenes – remember that meeting of Sherlock and Molly (Louise Brealey) at the beginning? 😉 source-pbsbut the ending didn’t leave me as satisfied as it had been after the previous two seasons. Thankfully, the situation saved the final small scene after the end credits with “Miss me?”!

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The Abominable Bride

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Then, on January 01, 2016, we got a gift from the ‘Sherlock’ creators/scriptwriters Mark Gatiss (Mycroft Holmes in ‘Sherlock’) and Steven Moffat in the form of a full-length Sherlock film ‘Abominable Bride’ in which we meet our good old friends (Sherlock, Dr. Watson, Mrs. Hudson, Mary Watson, Molly, and even Moriarty) but in 1890s London. I’ve written a review of this enjoyable movie, you can read it here, so I won’t re-write it in this article.

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And now, at the very beginning of 2017, we are finally able to take pleasure in watching season 4. Ok, my impression is a tough one to describe… While watching episode 1 I thought “I can’t believe that it’s our favourite ‘Sherlock’: too little screen time allocated to solving an intriguing mystery, way too little, something like 15 minutes at most out of 90 minutes! That’s ‘Sherlock’, for heaven’s sake! How can that be? Where’s our sharp-minded detective? And what’s with this John’s cheating thing?!” Those were just some thoughts, so you can imagine my frustration after the episode 1. As for me, it’s the weakest one yet. I understand that it was necessary to somehow show Mary’s (played by Amanda Abbington) death, as it was in the book by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but still, I had a feeling that something important was missing.

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Then, last week, we watched episode 2 and I can’t describe how glad I was to see the ‘Sherlock’ we know and love!!! That was the plot writing we all have been waiting for, those were our favourite funny and exciting scenes, and that was a great ‘wow’-moment at the end! All I can say after episode 2 is that Mrs. Hudson truly ROCKS! Una Stubbs’ character was written brilliantly! That scene with Mrs. Hudson driving an Aston Martin in London as during Formula 1 racing and then having this dialogue: “Do you have any idea what speed you were going at?” – “Of course not. I was on the phone!” Amazing! She is THE BOSS!

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The other thing I was particularly impressed with was the ending of ep. 2. I must confess, I thought that the therapist would take off a mask and that’d be Moriarty! But no Jim, just Sherlock’s sister Eurus! Surprise!!!

The Final Problem

Yesterday, January 15, 2017, I had a strong feeling that we’d see Jim Moriarty in ep. 3. My only wish was to see him not as some Sherlock’s memory or fantasy (as in ‘Abominable Bride’) but as a real character. And my wish was granted. Well, in some way. Moriarty was real…but 5 years ago. Anyway, I liked that typical ‘Sherlock’ twist with return ‘cause Andrew Scott is my super fave in ‘Sherlock’, for sure. That scene with Moriarty stepping off the helicopter to Queen’s ‘I Want to Break Free’ was EPIC! I could watch it on repeat over and over again!

I instantly remembered the good old times during season 2 when he broke into the Tower, his going to the court and the ‘Staying Alive’ roof scene. The moment I saw Andrew on screen yesterday, I knew I want to see more seasons of ‘Sherlock’ with him in them (if any will be)!

What makes ep. 3 better, in my opinion, than the previous two of season 4 is the action: we finally see breath-taking scenes, Sherlock solves ‘riddles’, makes choices, saves the people he loves – he is our Sherlock again, at last! And that is promoted in some way by a thrilling performance by the actress who played Eurus Holmes – Sian Brooke. At times, she seems as crazy as Moriarty.

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The ending sequence was very sweet with some footage of other seasons. But seeing the story closing the circle with season 1 shots, in addition to showing all the important characters of ‘Sherlock’, and even Holmes parents, played by real parents of Benedict Cumberbatch, is a bittersweet moment: on the one hand, you are happy to see that everything is ok now, the story is complete, we have all (or almost all) answers to the show’s secrets but, on the other hand, you don’t want to say goodbye to our beloved show and its actors!

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So, here’s my list of episodes: from WORST to BEST (in my opinion):

#12. The Six Thatchers (s04e01)

#11. The Blind Banker (s01e02)

#10. The Lying Detective (s04e02)

#9. The Final Problem (s04e03)

#8. His Last Vow (s03e03)

#7. A Study in Pink (s01e01)

#6. The Hounds of Baskerville (s02e02)

#5. The Sign of Three (s03e02)

#4. The Empty Hearse (s03e01)

#3. The Great Game (s01e03)

#2. A Scandal in Belgravia (s02e01)

#1. The Reichenbach Fall (s02e03)

Regardless of anything, no matter what season of ‘Sherlock’ we like best or don’t like that much, we will always be glad to see our Baker Street boys, Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson, in future!

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P.S. even Kiev underground can be hacked by Moriarty; this is a photo taken there after the 3rd season…“Miss me?

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© Mariana Shevchenko

George Michael. Last Christmas

This year, it was the Last Christmas for an international pop icon George Michael, who passed away on December 25, 2016.

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“And the wounded skies above say it’s much too late
Well maybe we should all be praying for time”

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George Michael has influenced a lot of artists and it’s he who made supermodels of the 90s SUPERmodels and superstars with his music videos ‘Freedom 90’ and ‘Too Funky’.

I’ve been listening to George since early childhood, and two above-mentioned videos (and songs, obviously) have always been my favourites.

ss86gcin3qeI can’t imagine the 80s and 90s without George Michael’s music: ‘Faith’, ‘Father Figure’, ‘I Want Your Sex’… What is summer without ‘Club Tropicana’ and ‘Careless Whisper’ or winter without ‘Last Christmas’?! I must confess, in Ukraine the latter isn’t just a Xmas song, it’s also a New Year’s Eve song. We can’t get enough of it. So, when I heard it at the supermarket in my home city Kiev yesterday several times in a row, it was a bittersweet moment. At that time, I felt that Ukrainians like and remember George, and I’m not the only one who’s missing him.

I’m an old fan of George Michael, so now I’ll cherish all my CDs and DVDs with his songs and videos even more. I particularly like ‘George Michael Twenty-five’. If you don’t have this video compilation, go get it! There are numerous vids, including Wham! ones and with Aretha Franklin, Elton John, Queen, Whitney Houston, and Mary J. Blige. Talking about collaborations, George was perfect during Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert and Live Aid. As has been revealed this week, he spent millions pounds on charity without advertising it, in secret, and that gesture speaks volumes about him! George Michael was a kind person and amazingly talented artist, that’s why so many people liked him and, I’m sure, will continue being loyal fans or, at least, admirers of him and his music.

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Even though it’s been almost a week since George Michael’s passing, I still can’t get enough of his music and I’m also re-reading ‘Older. The Unauthorized Biography of George Michael’ by Nicholas and Tim Wapshott. I recommend this book to all the (old and new) fans of George: a lot of interesting facts and stories + some nice pictures as well.

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Rest in peace, George. You will be deeply missed!

Thank you for your huge music legacy!

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(c) Mariana Shevchenko

M83: Space Magic in Kiev

On Nov. 17, 2016, a French electronic music band M83 visited my home city Kiev for the first time. That was a night to remember!

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If you are a big movie fan, like me, there is a 99.9% chance that you’ve heard some M83 hits. This band’s songs are soundtracks to such box office hits, to name a few, as: Versailles (‘Outro), Kokowääh (‘We Own the Sky’), Warm Bodies (‘Midnight City’), Oblivion (‘Oblivion’), Divergent (‘I Need You’), The Fault in Our Stars (‘Wait’), 22 Jump Street (‘Midnight City’), Insurgent (‘Holes In the Sky’)…

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I’d seen all the above-mentioned movies and series, loved those songs but at that time didn’t know that they were M83’s. But then, in 2015, I decided to watch new TV series called ‘Versailles’ and in just 30 sec. I fell in love with M83: their hypnotizing song ‘Outro’ was, and still is, in the opening credits alongside with beautiful graphics. I’ve written my impression of this song in the post about ‘Versailles’, you can check it out (including the opening credits video) here.

From that moment, I was dreaming of seeing these guys performing live. Luckily, I didn’t have to wait long for my wish to come true. This September, new tour dates appeared and with them tickets for Kiev concert, so I, obviously, bought my ticket to the 1 fan-zone on the first day of sale.

When the day of Nov. 17 came, I was super excited and wondered what it’d be like to hear my fave M83’s songs live.

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When the band walked on stage, the crowd at Stereo Plaza went wild. Taking into account that that was the first time M83 were in Kiev, such a warm welcome showed that we’d been looking forward to meeting them impatiently. I really hope the band saw how happy we were at that moment. They conquered us right from the start. I was standing in the 1st row right in front of Anthony Gonzalez, so could see everyone on stage and every element of a cosmic stage set. It looked like we all were somewhere in space: stars lit up behind the band, lasers shone all over the place changing colours with each song or a part of a song. At times, it seemed like I was at Pink Floyd concert (they also like this kind of special effects).

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The sound was amazing without exaggeration: no bass overload or cut-offs. Just a clear ambisonic sound of instruments and incredible and unique voices of Anthony Gonzalez and Kaela Sinclair.

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Unlike some bands and musicians, who make their fans wait long to hear well-known hits, M83 successfully mixed songs from the new album ‘Junk’ with their songs that have been hits for a while now; so even a person who, for some reason, hadn’t learnt their new songs prior to the concert shared the excitement of the rest of us already at the 4th song – ‘We Own the Sky’. The whole gig was a great mixture of albums ‘Junk’ (2016), ‘Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming’ (2011) and ‘Saturdays = Youth’ (2008), so everyone could find his/her own favourite during the 1.5 hour concert.

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_iwf3rlsafaApart from great sound, special effects and beautiful songs that made us dance or cry, my heart was won over by Jordan Lawlor, who played the guitar, provided back-vocals and even sang one of the songs – ‘Walkway Blues’.

Jordan was like the Energizer Bunny! 🙂 OMG, his work with electric drums during ‘Sitting’ while dancing around them should be seen!!! He got us all jumping and dancing like crazies! And then closer to the end of the gig again with ‘Couleurs‘. My friends and I couldn’t stop discussing Jordan’s performance for quite a while after the concert.

*** The videos here and below are not mine, but you can still feel the atmosphere*

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Now, several days after M83’s gig in Kiev, I can proudly say that it was one of the best concerts I’ve been at. I can still feel how songs like ‘Wait’, ‘We Own the Sky’, ‘Intro’ and ‘Outro’ took my breath away, and I still start smiling when remember our wild dancing to ‘Midnight City’, ‘Sitting’, ‘Do It, Try It’. I can’t even say that I didn’t hear some song I wanted to hear or that some song wasn’t that necessary in the setlist. Everything was just right and in the proper order – top notch!

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Highest level of performance: sound quality, light effects, bunch of hits, amazing teamwork (all band members worked as one on stage during each song)! I don’t know about others but we in the 1st fan-zone had the time of our lives! М83 must be seen and heard live, for sure!

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I just want to say, huge thanks, M83! As I wrote on my twitter account,

thanks for a magical concert in Kiev! I couldn’t have had a better time!

And I’m waiting for you here in Kiev again sometime soon! 😉

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© Mariana Shevchenko

Bridget Jones’s Baby: Old flame. New fling. Big problem

On Sept. 19, 2016, just 4 days after the official premiere of the new Bridget Jones movie (‘Bridget Jones’s Baby’), I was sitting in the cinema and totally enjoying every single minute right from the start.

I absolutely love the first 2 parts, so when a year ago I heard the news about the 3rd movie was in works, I got a little nervous ‘cause very often sequels don’t do justice to the original films, and the fans of Bridget were lucky already to have a pretty nice second part, but there we were – offered the third one.

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Fortunately, my worries were proven to be needless just 1 minute into the new movie. That classic opening with Bridget sitting in her favourite red pajamas and listening to Celine Dion’s ‘All by Myself’ made me see – yes, our favourite Bridget is back in all her glory! I won’t write any spoilers in case you haven’t watched it yet, so I just say that it’s the same Bridget but with some new twist in every oh-so-familiar scene (including the one with ‘All by Myself’).

Honestly, when the closing credits started, I realized my cheeks hurt because throughout the whole movie I smiled and laughed so hard. There are lots of hilarious situations, which are allocated evenly in the course of the whole movie. You won’t find a boring moment even in serious episodes.

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Don’t expect too much, the plot isn’t that different from the previous two parts – there’s Bridget (although, way skinnier than before), there’s Bridget’s diary (although, upgraded), there are two men fighting to be with her, there are Bridget’s friends but there is one little detail that makes nice difference – Bridget’s baby! And so, the story is based on the events that led to pregnancy + the events during it + guessing who’s the baby’s father + finding out that secret AT LAST! But be prepared that you may be changing your thoughts/guesses on who’s the daddy of the baby (Jack or Mark? / Mark or Jack?!) throughout the movie and even at the very end! 😉

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It was pure joy to see all the beloved characters/actors from the previous 2 films again: Renée Zellweger (Bridget Jones), Colin Firth (Mark Darcy), Gemma Jones (Bridget’s mum), Jim Broadbent (Bridget’s dad), and of course Bridget’s 3 BFFs: Sally Phillips (Shazzer), Shirley Henderson (Jude), and James Callis (Tom). No Hugh Grant this time, but his cameo (in some way) is still present. The ‘gang’ is back! Seeing all of them made me feel like I’m meeting my good old friends. Such a warm feeling; loved that! Even though it’s been almost 12 years since the second movie, Renée and Colin still got it: they are very well accustomed to their roles, so natural and good looking, still have the chemistry; seems like there weren’t all those years in-between. I bought into the continuation of the story right away. And even though Renée isn’t as young as in the first movie, she is still charming as clumsy but clever, witty and strong in spirit Bridget Jones.

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A great addition to the movie is Emma Thompson, who played Dr. Rawlings! She is wonderful, to be precise! Emma appears only in several scenes but, gosh, she is the star in all of them!!! Trust me, you’ll definitely laugh when you watch those episodes and hear her lines! Now, that’s acting!

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Patrick Dempsey did a nice job playing Jack, too. Before I saw ‘Bridget Jones’s Baby’, I thought he’d play another heartthrob, like on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ while trying to take Hugh Grant’s place, but no, he played a nice and funny guy without any womanizer vibes of Hugh’s character, and there was pleasant chemistry between Patrick, Renée, and Colin.

Another new character that I liked was Bridget’s new friend Miranda (played by Sarah Solemani), who works with her on a TV channel. Bridget and Miranda are the core of 80% of the funny stuff in the movie. Pay special attention to their interaction at work and at a music festival – that is something!

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The soundtrack of ‘Bridget Jones’s Baby’ is also worth special mention. The creators of the movie again keep abreast of the popular music. There are plenty of absolute hits. I really like that all of them are added timely, enhancing the effect of particular scenes. Moreover, there’s even a cameo of a famous singer! And they even managed not only to show him but play up with the advantage of having him in the scene with Bridget and Miranda. That was amusing! Well done!

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Bridget Jones movies are a magical aid when you’re feeling blue, no matter why – being single/unlucky in love, having weight problems or troubles at work. Having watched any of the parts (or all of them one after another), you’ll 100% say “hey, everything is not so bad!” What can I say, the third Bridget Jones movie is a perfect addition to the bunch! I personally can’t wait already to add the DVD (when it’s available) to my collection! And I’m secretly hoping that Helen Fielding (the author of the books about Bridget Jones) will come up with the fourth movie that’s as awesome as all the existing ones!

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© Mariana Shevchenko

Happy 70th b’day, Freddie!

Today is Freddie Mercury’s birthday! 👑🎤🇬🇧 Can’t believe he would be 70 already!!!

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I couldn’t ignore this day ’cause  this man has always been a part of my life: I started listening to Queen when I was even younger than 1 year old – yep, thanks, dad, for teaching me listening to the right music from the very beginning 🙂

There were good days and there were bad days, but Freddie’s unique voice has always been somewhere near cheering me up: through my headphones, DVDs or YouTube vids.

How I wish Freddie were still here with his amazing bandmates – Brian, Roger, John. Seeing him on stage with them during the now-legendary (at least, for me) concert in Kiev in 2012 (details here) would be so great, but even more precious would be the opportunity of attending a concert like the one Queen had at Wembley Stadium in ’86! Wow, that’s just the standard of a rock concert! Freddie’s charisma was all over the place. Nothing could stop him. The crowd was all his. What an evening it must have been!

For me, Freddie will forever stay a true rock star with incredible voice and creativity, style and charisma, power and strong will. There will never be another Freddie Mercury ’cause he was one of a kind. “A Kind of Magic”!

Once again, happy 70th birthday, Freddie, wherever you are!  

You are forever my fave!

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I won’t be a rock star. I will be a legend.

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And here’s my list of all-time faves:

#1. ‘I Want to Break Free’

#2. ‘Breakthru’

#3. ‘A Kind of Magic’

#4. ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’

#5. ‘Somebody to Love’

#6. ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’

#7. ‘One Vision’

#8. ‘Radio GaGa’

#9. ‘We will Rock You’ + ‘We are the Champions’

#10. ‘Under Pressure’ = a combination of the legends: Queen + David Bowie

*** ‘The Show Must Go On’: this one can’t be numbered – it’s special and is above everything else! 

***

-Are fans ready to celebrate tonight?

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– Ready, Freddie!

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Versailles: sex, drama & rock’n’roll

Have you ever watched TV series you wanted to re-watch straight after watching the last episode? I bet you have. Well, a novice ‘Versailles’ is exactly like that, at least for me: I’m currently re-watching it, and enjoying each moment as I did the first time!

Let’s look into the plot.

France. 1667. 28-year-old King Louis XIV (played by George Blagden) decides to leave Paris and settle down in Versailles, more specifically, in his father’s hunting lodge, which Louis XIV wants to re-build into the greatest palace in the world – Versailles. That period of time at Versailles is full of drama, affairs within the royal court, political plots and intrigues.

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George Blagden as King Louis XIV

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Maddison Jaizani (Sophie), Amira Casar (Beatrice), Evan Williams (Chevalier)

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Alexander Vlahos as Philippe d’Orleans

What to pay special attention to.

 

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Alexander Vlahos

The storyline of the King’s brother – Philippe d’Orléans (played by Alexander Vlahos). That’s one hell of a character!!! Charismatic Alexander did a great job portraying Philippe.

 

 

He’s some kind of a rock’n’roll star of the 17th century – very eccentric, attention-grabbing and astonishingly looking! To be honest, I fell in love with Alex’s character, well, and him, straight away. The role of Philippe is so interesting to be played: there’s drama, fun, humour, passion… Only an all-rounder could play it well. Luckily, the producers TV-Versaillepicked Alex for this job!  So, after episode 1 I was looking forward to his scenes to see what his character was up to next. Taking into account that Philippe is not only married to the King of England’s sister, Henriette (who is also King Louis’ main favourite, by the way) but has a love affair with a guy, too – Chevalier (played by another great actor Evan Williams), things are quite complicated on ‘Versailles’. The relationship of Philippe and Chevalier is so surprisingly natural and compelling that Versailles fans are ‘shipping’ them from episode 1.

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***And a little funny bonus from these two awesome guys (so, that’s what they do behind the scenes):

***

Another pleasant surprise for me was when I saw George Blagden as King Louis XIV for the first time. I instantly thought that he was just perfect as Louis. The way George acted – said his lines, behaved, looked at everybody – struck home. George knows exactly how to convey the King’s power and superiority, but at the same time show his human side. I really enjoy his chemistry with his colleagues on the screen: both, women and men, especially with his on-screen brother – Alexander Vlahos. They not only look somewhat similar but also act like they’ve known each other for ages. Amazing!

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Details.

The real Palace of Versailles is often used as the series’ set (you can see the Hall of Mirrors at the beginning). Great choice, producers! There’s nothing better than using actual locations to show the magnificence of that time. And that not only helped to create a good picture on the screen but is really a driving force for tourism in Paris, France. I know it first-hand. Before I watched ‘Versailles’, I’d already had a trip to Paris planned for this past July, but after watching the show I just couldn’t wait to see the palace and its gardens first-hand.

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Versailles, the Hall of Mirrors

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Well, what can I say; it really is breath-taking! To be honest, I didn’t expect that I would be so in love with Versailles!

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Me @ the Hall of Mirrors, Versailles

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Me @ the gardens of Versailles

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Me @ Versailles

Ok, let’s continue with the series’ details…

2014555_021-623x350 Apart from the stunning set, ‘Versailles’ presents beautiful costumes and make-up (both, female and male). I mean, just look at those wigs the male characters are wearing!!! Especially, King Louis and Philippe. They could easily be in some hair products ad with all those flowing wavy locks! lol

The costumes and jewellery are well-thought-through as well: every detail says ‘money’ and shows their belonging to aristocrats.

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Elisa Lasowski (Marie Terese, the Spanish Queen), George Blagden (Louis XIV), Anna Brewster (Montespan), Noemie Schmidt (Henriette)

The music.

Outro’ by M83 is used for the opening titles. The song is futuristic with distinctive electronic sound, so it is really modern but at the same time, it is such a great contribution to the show (just listen to the lyrics: “Now and forever, I’m your king!”) that there’s no doubt that it belongs at the series opening.

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Philippe and Henriette

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Henriette

 

 

Aton’ by NOIA can be heard during the end credits. Love it, too! Such a tender melody. To me, it associates with Henriette (played by beautiful and talanted Noémie Schmidt). Especially to the point it sounds after the last, 10th, episode. If you have watched it, you know what I’m talking about. And if you haven’t, you’ll understand…

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m not a historian but I guess the combination of all the above-mentioned details gives the perfect feel of the 17th century France: you don’t think about the present, 2016, even for a moment while watching ‘Versailles’.

I’d recommend watching ‘Versailles’ to

everyone who loves historic series/movies and who deeply misses another amazing series ‘The Tudors’.

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Sarah Winter (Louis de la Valliere), George Blagden (Louis XIV)

Don’t be put off just because one of numerous racy sex scenes of ‘Versailles’ is shown already at the 2nd minute of the show (come on, like you haven’t watched Game of Thrones or/and The Tudors!). At first, it is unexpected and shocking but then you’ll get used to it and will see them as a part of the show. Sex isn’t the most important on the show, what is much more significant is the relationship of Louis XIV and Philippe. That’s, basically, the backbone of ‘Versailles’. And that’s the source of drama and humour.

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My personal rating is 10/10!

I’ve been waiting for quite a while for a show that is so addictive and makes you thirsty for more with each episode. Gorgeous and talented young actors. Interesting plot. Breath-taking set! I highly recommend ‘Versailles’ to everyone if you want to spend time with pleasure!

 

©Mariana Shevchenko

INXS at Wembley Stadium (25th anniversary)

Today is the 25th anniversary of one of the best live gigs ever, if not THE best, – INXS’ ‘Live Baby Live’ at sold out Wembley Stadium, London (approx. 72,000 fans)!

This concert means a lot to me and it has set the highest bar for the quality of concerts. Ever. Each time I attend a gig, I subconsciously compare it to this concert of INXS. At that time, in 1991, I was waaaay too young, so obviously I didn’t attend the gig but I watch it every single year on this day (July 13) ever since I watched it on VHS (yes, VHS). And you know what, I’ll never get tired of this tradition!

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If you haven’t watched the ‘Live Baby Live’ DVD, you really should. Trust me, you won’t regret it! But you should find the DVD with bonus features (there is so much to see, especially if you like / will like INXS frontman Michael Hutchence 😉 )

Every single aspect of the day of the gig was filled with luck: the weather was superb (warm, no wind), so the sound was top notch everywhere at the stadium and perfect for video recording, the concert was sold out, which means INXS were a band powerful enough to easily gather 72,000 fans that day to share a couple of happy hours with them, and the guys of INXS pulled out an AMAZING show! 6 members of the band played like one – they knew exactly when to jam = extend a song (like with ‘Original Sin’ and ‘What You Need’), when to play to Michael’s actions (like during ‘Suicide Blond’ when Hutch teased the crowd first and only after started

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Andrew Farriss & Michael Hutchence

singing: “You know what?”… “What what, I said you know what?”… ”This is a song about…”  (from me: the song is about Kylie Minogue, whom he dated at the time of writing it) *and Andrew Farriss starts to play harmonica* – mmm, my fave song since childhood), and when to make the crowd jump or excited (making a quite noticeable pause in the middle of ‘Never Tear Us Apart’ – another super fave of mine, written by Michael and Andrew – before Kirk’s sax solo).

 

 

These 6 guys on stage weren’t just bandmates; Michael, Andrew, Jon, Kirk, Garry, and Tim were the whole, and they stayed the whole throughout their long career. Other rock bands can only dream about that unity!

Jon, the INXS drummer, was drumming throughout the whole gig with such ease and professionalism that I still have goosebumps watching that crowd jumping to the rhythm he set from the very first song (‘Guns in the Sky’) and, especially, during ‘New Sensation’ – just watch that part – WOW! Every time I watch the concert on DVD, I wish I were there in the 1st row jumping and singing with the crowd!

***P.S. oh, by the way, Jon thanks so much for remaining such a great person, all your birthday wishes on Twitter on my birthday, likes and replies really make my day!***

***… and thanks, Chris Murphy (INXS manager) for your book! I still can’t believe you presented it to me AND signed a personalized message! ***

(if someone missed it, you can read about that story here in the post about Michael Hutchence on his birthday)

10398567_10153963439299192_5899047210247660986_nMichael worth a special mention. That day he showed the best rock performance ever! He was an image of charisma and a true rock god throughout his life (no wonder somebody said Michael was “the last rock god”) bearing a strong resemblance to the sex appeal of Jim Morisson on and off stage but still never copying anyone and being the one and only Michael Hutchence. He knew for sure how to entertain people, his fans, and how to make them like him from the second they met or seen him, and even more, make them love him from the first sight. There will be no one like Hutch ‘cause he was unique! Just cab2b395ab7d8877a353f9d454d4ab27check out some recent and old  Kylie Minogue interviews in which she constantly says that she still loves him, after all these years. Now, that’s influence! By the way, on July 13, 1991, Kylie was at Wembley too (even after breaking up with Michael) along with a Danish supermodel Helena Christensen, his then girlfriend, for whom he left Kylie! You can see KM meeting Hutch backstage in the DVD bonus materials.

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Kylie Minogue & Michael Hutchence

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‘Live Baby Live’ setlist is impressive – 21 songs, and no mediocre one – they all are perfectly picked out and ordered. Great balance between earlier hits and new songs and between fast and slow ones. After hearing (and seeing) ‘Know the Difference‘ (wow, Michael was on fire!), ‘Disappear‘, ‘Need You Tonight‘, ‘Suicide Blonde‘ and ‘Never Tear Us Apart‘ no one will be able to get these songs and INXS out of their heads!

I rate the gig 10 out of 10 for the perfect quality of sound and live performance, awesome co-operation of the band members on stage, great video recording capturing INXS and the crowd from every possible angle (cameras were even moving behind Michael when he jumped off the stage to walk along the 1st row during ‘Wildlife’!), and for overall exciting feeling of presence at the rock concert even watching it all happening on DVD at home – just forgetting for 2 hours who you are, where you are, and becoming a fan at the concert of his/her favourite band – INXS!

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You can watch the full concert here: