Personal Favorite Television Shows of 2021

As I sometimes feel closer to television than with a cinema, I decided to post my recommendation list of the shows that were, for me, best this year. 2021 was a rich year for television. We’ve received many surprises. Many shows became beacons of hope and comfort for those deeply affected by the pandemic and overall state of the world.

I, too, discovered gems that greatly influenced how I perceive certain things. Moreover, the below positions brought me much-needed comfort, sometimes thrill, sometimes tears. Similar to my list of personal favorite films, the list is not ranked nor in any particular order. I haven’t had a chance to watch all the shows that the television offered us so treat this list as merely a suggestion and, sort of, a love letter to the shows that helped me survive this year, thrilled me, often shocked me, or thoroughly made me laugh.

What We Do In The Shadows: Season 3

FX Networks

After two hilarious seasons, the third season of What We Do In The Shadows maintains a steady pace while making us laugh all over. The cast and crew deliver even more ridiculous, humor-laced situations and character development. With its new season, it remains a magnificent, bloodthirsty spectacle of laughter and absurdity.

When we think of Staten Island, we can’t help but think of Nadja (Natasia Demetriou), Laszlo (Matt Berry), and Nandor (Kayvan Novak), who live there with an energy vampire, Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch), and Nandor’s familiar and vampire enthusiast, Guillermo (Harvey Guillén). Following the shocking season 2 finale, the pack must deal with Guillermo’s brutal, albeit phenomenally coordinated vampire slaughtering who additionally turns out to be a descendant of the one and only Van Helsing. What does one do with someone who has killer instincts towards fangs in their blood?

What We Do in the Shadows maintains its momentum, with more entertaining adventures and engaging interactions for the audience. Season 3 unequivocally demonstrates that the series is one of those that never gets old. The characters of Berry, Demetriou, and Novak, as well as Proksch and Guillén progress and grow, taking us to places we’ve never seen them go before. You don’t want to miss it.

My full review here.

The Handmaid’s Tale: Season 4

Hulu

The fourth season of The Handmaid’s Tale brings the audience something that they’ve been waiting for—a taste of long-awaiting freedom, rebellion, and sweet revenge. The newest chapter delivers an utter satisfaction with characters evolving in a way that we’ve never seen before.

Each episode is filled with tension, often showcasing the rawness of the characters’ feelings. The creators take us outside the impenetrable walls to the outskirts of the country, where rebellion in the Southern and majority of Northwest and Northern District is alive and well. There are many people, rebels who actively fight against Gilead’s government. All the cards are on the table, and nobody is safe. Reunites ensue as well as heartbreaks that struck us into our seats and hold us there throughout the whole season. The Handmaid’s Tale is a television series that masterfully teaches us a lesson about the power of resilience. Although we’ve been reminded of it throughout three seasons, each new episode reminds us that the fight never ends. 

This season is unlike anything that we’ve seen before. Be ready for a wild, anxiety-filled rollercoaster that will leave you questioning your favorite characters and deeply realizing the damaging impact that Gilead leaves on its victims. 

My full review here.

Mare of Easttown

HBO Max

I’m sure that we all heard of Mare Of Easttown, if not through watching it, it’s certainly thanks to the sketch with Kate McKinnon on SNL.

When Easttown’s detective, Mare Sheehan (Kate Winslet, Ammonite), is awakened by her elderly neighbor and informed of a prowler on the front yard, it’s just the start of the day straight from hell. She’s soon reminded of her long-lasting guilt when Dawn Bailey (Enid Graham, The Sinner), a woman battling cancer, goes on to the local tv and publicly demands answers regarding her missing daughter, Katie (Caitlin Houlahan). The young woman went missing a year ago, but the police never found anything. Young women continue to vanish, and a gruesome murder occurs as Easttown is rocked to its core. Mare joins forces with a county detective, Colin Zabel (Evan Peters, American Horror Story), to look into the murder and kidnappings.

Mare of Easttown is a thrilling, surprising murder-mystery drama. Many cliffhangers and startling moments keep the audience invested as they follow Mare’s investigation and want to know who the killer/kidnapper is. Although it’s not anything extraordinary, that’s what is best about it. The series has all the components we need: a compelling, mysterious murder, interesting characters, and a feeling of thrill. We don’t always need something fresh and reinvented. Sometimes, we simply want to visit a small town, live amongst its suspicious residents, and attempt to solve the murder faster than the detectives.

My full review here.

Midnight Mass

Netflix

Midnight Mass, starring Hamish Linklater in the lead role of Father Paul, manages to completely perplex the viewer and provoke further discussion on the subjects of faith, its abuse in the hands of a human, and rebirth, both presented metaphorically and literally in the show.

In Midnight Mass, Flanagan takes the theme of rebirth quite literally. After the “angel” drinks his blood, Father Paul is reborn, and the man then makes the decision for his parishioners and takes the choice away from them. They, too, are reborn for a brief time.

However, the rebirth can also be interpreted symbolically, as in Riley’s character. The Flynns’ oldest son, brilliantly portrayed by Zach Gilford, begins his life anew after returning to the island. Riley, who is still haunted by his past actions, keeps seeing a young woman he murdered while driving drunk. His rebirth is slow and subtle. In the final scene with Siegel’s character on the boat, we see him truly reborn. He lets go of the guilt, and he allows himself to be forgiven.

Midnight Mass has many other wonderful aspects. Among them are a stellar cast, stunning direction, and an emotional soundtrack composed by The Newton Brothers. Furthermore, the series tells a unique story and brilliantly explores it. In today’s world, the topic of faith and its abuse for selfish purposes has become personal. Midnight Mass becomes one of the scariest series this year due to this aspect, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Reservation Dogs

FX Networks and Hulu

Written by Serlin Harjo, Taika Waititi, and Bobby Wilson, Reservation Dogs premiered this summer and is currently available to stream on Hulu.

When I watched the first episode of this brilliant show, I couldn’t believe that we’ve been presented with so little Indigenous representation on screen. Reservation Dogs features all Indigenous writers and directors, along with an almost entirely Indigenous North American cast and production team.

The series focuses on and follows the lives of four Indigenous teenagers, as they spend their days committing crime and fighting it, in an effort to get to California. The main cast is absolutely amazing. Paulina Alexis (Willie Jack), Lane Factor (Cheese), D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai (Bear), and Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs (Elora) will make you laugh and cry, that much is guaranteed.

Ted Lasso

Apple TV

The second season of Ted Lasso delivers even more utterly hilarious, easy-to-repeat lines while providing the audience with insight into the soccer team’s daily life coached by a well-crafted character portrayed by Jason Sudeikis. At the same time, the show created by Bill Lawrence, Jason Sudeikis, Brendan Hunt, and Joe Kelly puts a focus on the development of the supporting characters, who realize that mental health is just as important as physical health.

The show’s success would be meaningless without the eloquent, witty, and refreshing writing, which only grows more powerful as it progresses. In some ways, the new season of Ted Lasso changes right in front of our eyes. Previously a baby, the story is now reaching its full potential, with the characters maturing and learning new things about life.

There is one constant in Ted Lasso that will never change. We feel it palpitating and surrounding us whenever we spend time with Ted, Rebecca, and the team. It’s the characters’ unending love and passion for football. “Football is life,” as Dani says, and the creators continue to follow this rule while creating characters so well-crafted and complex that anyone can fall in love with this exceptional series.

Yellowjackets

Showtime

Yellowjackets, by Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson, was the biggest surprise to me this year. Ever since I heard about the show coming, I planned to watch it. However, I didn’t expect that it would swiftly become one of my favorite shows of 2021.

Adapted from the Lord of The Flies, the series tells the story of the soccer group including high-school students female—the titular Yellowjackets. As they fly to attend the competition, their airplane crashes in the middle of nowhere. Surrounded by wildlife, the girls alongside their coach and two male students, are forced to search for food and safety. But what happens when the winter comes?

As we see the glimpses of the crash and the past, Yellowjackets presents the lives of the girls as grown women—at least those, who survived and were later rescued. When the threat from the past appears on the horizon, Shauna (Melanie Lynskey), Natalie (Juliette Lewis), Misty (Christina Ricci), and Taissa (Tawny Cypress) must reunite to find the one who threatens them and forever close the doors to the brutal past.

I could not recommend Yellowjackets enough as it currently airs on Showtime. The series and its creators remind us that, while binge-watching is fun, there is nothing more special than anticipating that one day of the week when your favorite show is on.

Dexter: New Blood

Showtime

Dexter comes back. I didn’t think I would ever say (or write, rather…) these words. New Blood was another big surprise at the end of this chaotic year. The creators take on the sociopathic, albeit polite and charming killer once again and attempt to rewrite what they, frankly, messed up at the end.

We pick up where we left it. Dexter Morgan, now widely known as Jim Lindsey, is a “golden, very helpful resident of Iron Lake—the town is now covered in snow. If Jim aka, Dexter doesn’t work in the hunting shop, or meeting his partner, a Chief of the Police, Angela (Julia Jones), the ever-smirking vigilante attempts to deny his true self.

But, the Dark Passenger eventually comes out of the shadows, just in time to meet his student in the person of a 16-year-old Harrison (Jack Alcott), who not only seeks the answers about his life, but also wants to meet a man who so wanted to be dead.

What I like about this show is that its cast is quite diverse. Besides Julia Jones in the first supporting role, we see Johnny Sequoyah as Audrey, Angela’s daughter, or Alano Miller as Logan.

The most important and, especially important factor of the show is the town’s relationship with the nearby Seneca Nation of Indians and the plotline revolving around it. The narrative talks about missing girls, many of whom are Indigenous.

The show takes unexpected twists and turns as it takes us on the nostalgic ride with the quite interesting present and future. Dive in if you didn’t yet.

That’s all! I do hope you enjoyed reading my list while finding out why I selected the above positions.

Personal Favorite Films of 2021

In terms of change, it was an interesting year for the cinema as well; it demonstrated that we are maturing into diversity and its rightful representation on screen, but we still have a lot to learn. Nonetheless, the creators delivered positions that, I am confident, will become timeless as the years pass. Each is unique, and each had something that piqued my interest in some way.

Each year goes by, and each year I think to myself: hopefully, the next one will be better. However, this is not entirely correct because every year has its ups and downs. As the year 2021 is drawing to a close, and the year 2022 will soon welcome us in its embrace, I think it was quite special in terms of achieving personal goals and keeping healthy in these trying times.

In terms of change, it was an interesting year for the cinema as well; it demonstrated that we are growing into diversity and its rightful representation on screen, but we still have a lot to learn. Nonetheless, the creators delivered positions that, I am confident, will become timeless as the years pass. Each is unique, and each had something that piqued my interest in one way, or another.

When I watch a movie, my mind is drawn to the meaning behind the script and the lenses of the cameras first. Each of the films listed below captivated my attention and lingered in my mind long after the film séance. There is no specific order to the list. These are simply the films that have had the most impact on me this year. I also want to state that I have yet to watch films on my list that I’ve been meaning to watch. The list is ever-changing, so take it with a grain of salt–just some films to watch if you didn’t.

Petite Maman

Joséphine and Gabrielle Sanz in Petite Maman.

I’ve been a fan of Céline Sciamma for some time now. Petite Maman was one of my anticipated positions when covering the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival. What I didn’t expect is for this precious, illuminating film to become one of my ultimate favorites of this year.

The film tells the story of Nelly (Joséphine Sanz) who loses her grandmother. As the little girl assists her family in cleaning her mother’s childhood home, Nelly meets Marion (Gabrielle Sanz). The girls grow closer to each other over time, sharing many secrets that connect them in an unusual, beautiful way. 

Petite Maman tells an extraordinary story. The film’s imaginative viewpoint and truths hidden behind the lines of the script all resurface at the film’s emotional conclusion. Joséphine and Gabrielle Sanz are at the heart of the film, stealing the spotlight from every other supporting character.

The Matrix Resurrections

Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss in The Matrix Resurrections / Warner Brothers

There is no secret that The Matrix trilogy is one of my ultimate favorite, dearest films. When I was in middle school and others were talking about how many cool things they got for the holidays, I’d proudly say that I got the original trilogy on DVD.

Finally, 21 years after we first met Thomas Anderson, aka, Neo (Keanu Reeves) —an IT by day and hacker by night, the beloved characters are back. Although the film feels more like a familiar, warm embrace and not a breath of fresh air, the new characters, new technology, and more elaborate fight scenes make up for it. It’s one hell of a comeback to Matrix. 

The excellence of the film lies within nostalgic script and dialogues that become an ode to the previous parts. Matrix Resurrections will undoubtedly divide the audience with its polarizing narrative. However, I’m sure that it’s excellent viewing for those who are just discovering the franchise and slowly following the white rabbit. At the same time, it becomes a great love story and nostalgic ode for the original trilogy fans. 

My full review here.

Mass

Jason Isaacs and Martha Plimpton in Mass by Fran Kranz, an official selection of the Premieres section at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Ryan Jackson-Healy.

I still, to this day, think about Kranz’s debut at least once a day. Mass truly breaks any boundaries and is one of a few films that delve into another side of the story.

The film tells a story of two pairs of parents—one of them the parents of the school shooter, while the others are the parents of the victim.  When Gail and Jay (Martha Plimpton and Jason Issacs) arrive at the chapel, they meet Linda and Richard (Ann Dowd and Reed Birney). Momentarily, all bets are off. The anxiety and uncomfortable tension arise from the very moment both families meet. It’s an indescribable kind of stress, the one that only people who can relate on a personal level can truly feel.

Kranz’s film will stimulate many conversations about the mental health system in which the United States lacks much, the issue of easy gun access, and much more. Mass is not an easy film to watch, but we must view it and talk about it. The film is a very powerful depiction of loss, forgiveness, and the coming together of two sides. The names of Plimpton, Dowd, Issacs, and Birney are worth remembering.

My full review here.

CODA

Emilia Jones in CODA / Apple TV.

CODA was such a surprise during Sundance 2021 and I quickly realized that it will become one of my favorite films of the year.

The heartwarming film by Sian Heder tells the story of Ruby (Emilia Jones), who’s the only hearing member of her deaf family from Gloucester. At 17, she works mornings before school to help her parents and brother keep their fishing business afloat. Ruby soon dreams of changing it after joining her high school’s choir club. The young woman finds herself drawn to both her duet partner and her passion for singing.

CODA’s entire cast is beyond incredible. Marlee Matlin, Troy Kotsur, Daniel Durant, and Eugenio Derbez deliver an incredible performances with Emilia Jones shining the brightest.

Heder presents a story that is often dismissed or not talked at all. CODA is an incredibly important, empowering, witty, and amusing portrayal of the family—you don’t want to miss it.

Censor

In the Sundance premiere Censor, directed by Prano Bailey-Bond, Enid (played by Niamh Algar) has an unusual job. Depending on the amount of violence in each film, her assignment is to determine whether the horror film passes or is rejected. Her days are saturated with scenes of blood, gore, and oftentimes rape. But she believes thoroughly in her work. Enid prevents people from seeing too much, continuously thinking about their mental health and psyche. She is the titular censor, and she thrives on it.

Censor is set in the 1980s and Prano Bailey-Bond attempts to visualize the streets of Europe of that time period. Viewers have the chance to explore the subject of C-level horror movies and see the United Kingdom as it was forty-something years ago. ’80s Europe is much different than 80s America. In the film, it’s much more poignant. Gloomier. The director captures that gloom perfectly well. It manifests itself not only in the characters. We can see it in the phenomenal production design by Paulina Rzeszowska (also of Saint Maud) who uses every surface she can work with.

Censor is one of the films that shock you by what you see on the screen. The reality blends with a dream while we experience the spotlight on video nasties and how they thrived. Very worth watching.

My full review here.

Playing with Sharks

Valerie Taylor in Paying With Sharks

In the documentary, Playing with Sharks, which premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, Sally Aitken showcases Taylor’s remarkable life and ends this documentary with a touching finale. The film is now available to watch on Disney+.

Valerie Taylor, a remarkable scuba diver, started spearfishing in the ’60s. She was one of the few women who took part in this activity. One could always notice her. Taylor always wore a pink or a red suit; a color that was not accidental. It was to commemorate the legendary Jacques Cousteau and his ever-present red cap. She was a force of nature wherever she went. Even in the typically masculine field of work, Valerie quickly showed other divers that she was equal to them. Aitken ensures that we, as an audience, fully see Valerie’s adventurous life by presenting us the footage that has been collected over the decades of her and her husband’s journeys.

Sharks are one of the most magnificent and powerful creatures of ocean life. Their majestic beauty manifests in many of their species. People like Valerie Taylor uphold said beauty and showcase it to us everyday individuals to better understand them. Playing with Sharks is a must-watch for everybody. It’s a film that gives us an interesting insight into the life of one amazing woman who wasn’t afraid of playing with sharks. 

My full review here.

Barb and Star Go To Vista Del Mar

Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo in Barb And Star Go To Vista Del Mar.

The plot of Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar can be divided into two parts. First, we are introduced to two middle-aged best friends, Barb (Mumolo) and Star (Wiig), who lose their jobs at “the hottest place in town”, a furniture store, Jennifer Convertibles. After their mutual friend convinces them to try something new, Barb and Star travel to the mysterious, most gorgeous place on Earth—Vista Del Mar. However, before the audience even gets to know them, there is an opening scene that contains something else entirely.

Soon after, we discover that Sharon Gordon Fisherman (portrayed by Wiig also) seeks revenge on a small ocean town; surprise, surprise, it’s Vista Del Mar! As she was bullied because of her skin condition, Sharon, with Edgar’s help (Jamie Dornan)—the man who holds a massive crush on his boss, plans to send mutated killer mosquitoes to the vacation place. That, of course, is supposed to happen when Barb and Star are there.

As this love letter is being written, the words aren’t enough to fully articulate how much we needed this film right now. While it’s always worth it to watch a film that fills our hearts with emotions and lets our minds reflect long after, we are also in dire need of something light that will take us and surround us with as much confusing yet hilarious weirdness as possible. This is what Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar achieves. Please don’t wait and go see it because it’s just a so gosh darn great film. 

My full article here.

Nomadland

Frances McDormand in the film NOMADLAND. Photo Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2020 20th Century Studios.

Nomadland, directed by Chloé Zhao and based on Jessica Bruder’s book, is a captivating story of a woman’s journey across America and becoming a modern-day nomad in the post-Great Recession era. While the film explores the issues of poverty and the consequences of economic failure, its true magic lies within the amazing stories that Fern (Frances McDormand) hears throughout her voyage, and the strong relationships she builds. Nomadland, in its most prominent aspect, teaches us the value of living in the now.

Over the course of her travels, Fern re-learns how to live and experiences newfound happiness caused by seemingly insignificant events. Zhao infuses the simple task of Fern learning how to change a tire with unexpected import. Just dancing with her new friends, or going with Dave to the zoo and marveling at the animals she sees, we get to live in the joy of the mundane along with her.      

The story of Nomadland is a humbling experience to me and makes me think about my own past life experiences. It helps me appreciate seemingly inconsequential moments between me and my relatives or friends. In perspective, they are the ones that I come back to the most.

Nobody

Bob Odenkirk in Nobody.

The first scene that comes to mind when I think of Nobody is when Hutch Mansell (Bob Odenkirk) gracefully approaches the record player, inserts the vinyl, and slowly lowers the needle. Suddenly, everything bursts into flames. Hutch’s entire vinyl collection burns in front of our eyes. As an avid vinyl collector, I was deeply hurt by the scene. But, as a fan of Nobody and Ilya Naishuller’s thrilling direction, I was blown away by almost every scene and fight choreography in the film.

If you had to describe Odenkirk’s Hutch, it appears that “quiet” and “ordinary” are two of the best words to use. The lead, however, makes sure that we keep changing our minds and second-guessing the next move. When Hutch’s home is broken into, the man is driven to violent vengeance and an inevitable reckoning with his own past.

Nobody is a film that is worth seeing multiple times. It’s unlike anything we’ve seen before–it’s not your typical action film. Odenkirk wreaks havoc, and after watching this one, you’ll probably want a kitty cat bracelet. And there’s nothing wrong with that at all.

Don’t Look Up

Jonah Hill, Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence in Don’t Look Up / Netflix.

Don’t Look Up is definitely amongst my favorite films of 2021. The dark, hilarious and extremely relatable satire by Adam McKay is off the chains. The entire cast ensemble brings something interesting, witty to the table. Each of them represents something else.

But who deserves the standing applause? It’s, without a doubt, Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio. This talented duo of actors, as Kate and Randall, two geeky astrologists who discover the comet coming to the Earth really stood out and did an incredible job. It’s one of the films that will remain relatable for quite some time.

Another solid part of the film is the script. You know that moment in Don’t Look Up when Cate Blanchett’s Brie says “I’d rather get drunk and talk shit about people”? Similar witty one-liners fill the script, making it very relatable.

McKay and Sirota wrote brilliant characters and a great premise. One of my favorite part is Lawrence’s Kate trying to figure out why the guy charged them for free snacks the entire movie

The entire film is built around funny situations while delivering a rather sadder, depressing statement. Definitely worth visiting again in the future.

These are the films that, somehow, stayed with me even after watching them. The list is quite personal, with surprising positions. Just a little recommendation at the end of the 2021.

May your new year brings prosperity and happiness!

‘Halloween Kills’ is A Bloodthirsty, Gory Spectacle Filled With Campy One-Liners

Halloween Kills is a crazy rollercoaster filled to the brim with blood, a high body count, elaborate kills, and a hysterical, entertaining script. The slasher directed by David Gordon Green, a creator of the 2018 chapter, will be a feast for the Michael Myers fans, but it may not be to everybody’s taste.

Michael Myers (aka The Shape) in Halloween Kills, directed by David Gordon Green

When we hear Michael Myers’s name, we immediately think of a white mask, a work coveralls in a dark blue/gray color, or a bloody knife. Everyone knows his name, whether they’ve seen the slasher franchise or not. This Halloween season, Michael Myers is back, wanting to spill more blood. Halloween Kills is a crazy rollercoaster filled to the brim with gore, a high body count, elaborate kills, and a hysterical, entertaining script. The slasher directed by David Gordon Green, a creator of the 2018 chapter, will be a feast for the Michael Myers fans, but it may not be to everybody’s taste.

Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) has been on the run from the masked killer for quite some time. Forty years, to be exact, as mentioned frequently by the film’s characters. Following the events of the previous part, Laurie, her daughter Karen (Judy Greer), and her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) are transported to Haddonfield Hospital. Meanwhile, the infamous Boogeyman flees the burning building (sic!), killing many first responders in the process. Shortly after, the plot of Halloween Kills picks up when Tommy Doyle (Anthony Michael Hall), Lonnie (Robert Longstreet), Lindsey (Kyle Richards), and the nurse Marion (Nancy Stephens)—all of whom are survivors of previous encounters with Michael—band together with other residents of Haddonfield to apprehend the killer and ultimately defeat him.

There are horror films that shake the audience to their core and psychological horror films with deeper meanings. There are also slashers, a horror subgenre. Its most significant components are blood, killings, and cheesy dialogues. Halloween Kills has all of the above. The horror is a fun ride for fans of the franchise and horror films in general. This time, Laurie Strode takes a back seat as the younger generation takes the reign. After the turbulent events and the death of her husband, Karen is shaken and more cautious, insisting on keeping watch by her mother’s hospital bed. Allyson, on the other hand, desires the opposite – the young woman is filled with rage and a want for vengeance. Greer and Matichak are a fabulous mother-daughter duo who especially steps into the spotlight. Especially Matichak as determined Allyson who refuses to give up gives a great performance.

Dylan Arnold, Andi Matichak, and Robert Longstreet in Halloween Kills.

The return of Kyle Richards and Nancy Stephens is a tempting prospect that tremendously intrigued the audience and die-hard fans of the 1978 slasher; finally, two of the original characters return to confront Michael. Unfortunately, while it was a great idea on paper, the film doesn’t devote enough time to the legendary characters. Instead, Anthony Michael Hall takes the narrative and transforms it into a battle between Michael and the residents of Haddonfield. Beware, the phrase “Evil dies tonight” is repeated frequently, and whether it was a coincidence or a deliberate goal, it provides excellent entertainment and an occasional eye roll. It also opens a possibility to a great drinking game.

The Halloween franchise is a lot of things, but cheesy was never one of them, at least not to this extent. However, because of Kills‘ over-the-top script, many hilarious one-liners become stuck in one’s head. The chapter ups the ante on the body count, which is exactly what we want from a slasher. Michael also gets very creative with the death scenes, whether it’s eyes popping out of the skull, a cracked bottle slicing the neck or a chainsaw.

It’s not advisable to look for logic or an ambitious script. Otherwise, you’ll be let down. Michael Myers is The Shape, The Boogeyman, the figure in the shadows who creeps up on you and murders you when you least expect it. But he won’t die, no matter how many times you shoot him, slice him, kick him, or even try to burn him. Instead, he wants to return to his childhood home, walk upstairs, and stand quietly by the window, staring at himself in the mirror. The sooner people grasp it, the better!

Best advice? Expect blood, guts, broken limbs, and cheesiness, and you’ll have the best time with the slasher. That is precisely why the film works. It’s difficult to say if this was David Gordon Green’s specific goal or not. Nonetheless, if you’re a Michael Myers fan, Halloween Kills provides plenty of entertainment. It’s a film that will surely diversify the audience and may spark a polarizing discussion. But, without a doubt, it’s a great position for the spooky season.

Grade: 7 out of 10

Halloween Kills is currently in cinemas as well as on Peacock with an upgraded subscription.

Mike Flanagan’s ‘Midnight Mass’ and The Show’s Themes of Faith and Rebirth

Midnight Mass manages to completely perplex the viewer and provoke further discussion on the subjects of faith, its often damaging influence, and rebirth, both metaphorically and literally in the show. The series also addresses the issues of guilt and sobriety.

This article contains spoilers to Midnight Mass.

There is no doubt that Mike Flanagan, the director of Doctor Sleep and The Haunting of Bly Manor, is a master in creating a unique, elevated type of horror. Instead of focusing on the display of blood or jump scares, the director uses real-life terrors to affect the viewer. Through this procedure, his works are one of the scariest productions in the contemporary horror genre. For example, Bly Manor‘s topics of passing without being remembered, grief, and tragic love story made the series personally terrifying.

His most recent television series, a Netflix original series titled Midnight Mass, was something he had long wanted to make. The show, which stars Hamish Linklater in the lead role of Father Paul—the main and only priest of the close-knit community on a Crockett Island, manages to completely perplex the viewer and provoke further discussion on the subjects of faith, its abuse in the hands of a human, and rebirth, both presented metaphorically and literally in the show. The series also addresses the issues of guilt and sobriety.

The subject of faith is central to Midnight Mass. The majority of the scenes occur in a small church on Crockett Island, whether subtle or intense. The show is a slow burn, with the first episodes focusing on the characters’ study. Flanagan devotes his full attention to each character. As a result, the audience gets to know them very well. Amongst them are Riley Flynn (Zach Gilford)—a man who returns to the island after spending years in prison for driving drunk and killing a young woman, Erin Greene (Kate Siegel)—a soon-to-be-mom teacher, and Beverly Keane (Samantha Sloyan)—a particularly annoying and God-fearing woman who is willing to die for the priest if he asks.

As Father Paul mysteriously arrives on the island, strange things begin to happen, such as dead cats appearing on the beach or creatures with shiny eyes hiding in the dark. Nothing is scarier, however, than the resident’s unexplainable de-aging. Sarah Gunning (Annabeth Gish), a doctor on Crockett Island, surely attempts to solve the mystery, especially since her barely walking mother, Mildred (Alex Essoe), can suddenly stand, run, and even attend mass. But, while solving the puzzle is intriguing, the main issue is the residents’ God-fearing and Catholic attitude. They all have a strong faith in God, and while not everyone can afford to go to the measures of one Beverly Keane, the townspeople soak up every word of Father Paul like a sponge. Once could even say that the priest easily manipulates and brainwashes them, yet they still follow him “in the name of God.”

Mike Flanagan does an amazing, mind-bending job of demonstrating how dangerous and toxic faith—and faithful people—can be. It’s so simple for Father Paul to twist the words of the Bible to fit his needs and agenda. After being murdered by an “angel” and reborn, he poisons the residents with his blood “in the name of God.” Father Pruitt, who was previously old and suffering from dementia, is now young and practically indestructible. He’s using Bible verses as an excuse to tell lies and goe even as far as overlooking a murder. The latter is truly terrifying, especially when compared to real life. People of faith who believe that being a part of the LGBTQ+ community is an unforgivable sin don’t yet justify murder, but they are on their way to saying less and doing more.

Midnight Mass brilliantly depicts the aftermath of faith being used to mask the agendas of others. The show’s final three episodes, particularly its heartbreaking finale, truly encapsulate it. When Father Paul realizes what he has done, it’s too late and simply impossible to undo.

The identity of the “angel” responsible is unknown. Although the priest wholeheartedly believes that God sent the bloodthirsty creature to resurrect him and the residents, he is more likely to be an ancient vampire. It’s unclear whether Father Paul truly believes he’s an angel or if he’s just using it to mask his plan, and we can only speculate.

In Midnight Mass, Flanagan takes the theme of rebirth quite literally. After the “angel” drinks his blood, Father Paul is reborn, and the man then makes the decision for his parishioners and takes the choice away from them. They, too, are reborn for a brief time.

However, the rebirth can also be interpreted symbolically, as in Riley’s character. The Flynns’ oldest son, brilliantly portrayed by Zach Gilford, begins his life anew after returning to the island. Riley, who is still haunted by his past actions, keeps seeing a young woman he murdered while driving drunk. His rebirth is slow and subtle. The man spends the most time with Erin now that he is sober. In the final scene with Siegel’s character on the boat, we see him truly reborn. He lets go of the guilt, and he allows himself to be forgiven. The intensity of the moment, filled with emotions, grows even stronger as he burns to ashes.

Midnight Mass has many other wonderful aspects. Among them are a stellar cast, stunning direction, and an emotional soundtrack composed by The Newton Brothers. Furthermore, the series tells a unique story and brilliantly explores it. In today’s world, the topic of faith and its abuse for selfish purposes has become personal. Midnight Mass becomes one of the scariest series this year due to this aspect, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

TIFF21 Capsule Review: “Jagged” Showcases The Success of Alanis Morissette’s Most Famous Record and Its Aftermath

Alison Klayman’s documentary Jagged depicts Alanis Morrisette’s life, particularly the beginnings of her extremely successful album, Jagged Little Pill, and the tour that followed.

Alanis Morrisette

Alanis Morissette’s dark, wavy hair falling over her face, the role of speechless God in Dogma, or Ironic – the audience all over the world recognizes her for a variety of reasons. Throughout the years, the Canadian musician released several successful albums. There is, however, one that started it all. Alison Klayman’s documentary Jagged depicts Alanis Morissette’s life, particularly the beginnings of her extremely successful album, Jagged Little Pill, and the tour that followed.

As Alanis sits in the chair in front of the camera with her legs folded, she explains that Jagged Little Pill was an attempt to become empowered. The singer talks about the writing, her childhood tv show titled You Can’t Do That On Television, shooting videos, and about You Oughta Know, the song from the album that essentially sparked her career and made her famous after airing on KROQ-FM. 

But Jagged is more than just an illustration of Alanis’ efforts to create one of the most successful albums in the world. As the documentary progresses, the musician delves deeper into more serious issues, such as her struggle with eating disorder and Hollywood’s rape culture. “Women don’t wait. Culture doesn’t listen,” she says why we hear about women coming out with accusations years later.

As Jagged progresses, there is a furthermore discussion about partly negative reception of the record. Many interviewees mention it in talks with the producers and express their frustration with the critics and, specifically, male critics’ response to the “female rage” emanating from Morissette’s album.

In summary, Jagged is a film about Alanis Morissette’s most famous album and its execution, but it goes deeper than this sole topic. It discusses the singer’s life after her worldwide fame erupted and the depth of of her lyrics. It showcases the maturity of then 19-year-old musician and the way she handled sudden fame and stress that goes with it.

It means even more to me to see the work on Jagged Little Pill because it is my favorite Alanis Morissette album. Growing up, it had a big influence on me, especially You Oughta Know and Ironic. The documentary hits home even more for those who have personal ties to the album. It’s a must-see for music fans, Alanis fans, and those who have yet to discover the singer’s angelic voice and powerful lyrics.

Despite recent reports that the singer doesn’t want anything to do with the new HBO Max documentary, it’s still worthy to view the documentary and see the path to creating Jagged Little Pill.

Grade: A