REVIEW: CHATROOM

 

CAST

Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Godzilla)
Imogen Poots (V For Vendetta)
Matthew Beard (An Education)
Hannah Murray (Game of Thrones)
Daniel Kaluuya (Kick-Ass 2)
Megan Dodds (Ever After)
Michaelle Fairley (Game of Thrones)
Opheila Lovibond (Gurdians of The Galaxy)
Richard Madden (Cinderella)
Jacob Anderson (Game of Thrones)

maxresdefault (1)Hideo Nakata takes a very simple idea, that of online interaction between people and turns it into something sinister with this film and targeting the angst-ridden, emotionally-charged teens of London he manages to put together a well thought-out and compelling film which whilst not perfect was still an effective British thriller with plenty going for it. A Film 4  the small cast of 5 lead characters each have their own reasons for seeking solace online and we are given an insight into their lives whilst at the same time are witness to the Machiavellian behind-the-scenes manipulation by William brilliantly portrayed by Aaron Johnson.Matthew Beard, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Imogen Poots, Daniel Kaluuya, and Hannah Murray in Chatroom (2010)Johnson is excellent in Chatroom it has to be said, he puts in a believable performance as William and commands your attention in the scenes he features. A sociopathic character seemingly without conscience he has his own reasons for being the way he is and time is spent getting to know him and his back-story. Whilst not a sympathetic character by any stretch of the imagination his offline persona and personal life do give an insight into why he acts the way he does and provides an explanation for how intelligent and manipulative he is to be able to wield such power over other people.Aaron Taylor-Johnson in Chatroom (2010)it’s an excellent and the film is well worth watching, the acting is terrific at times and I did like the concept and premise of the story.

 

REVIEW: FOR ALL MANKIND – SEASON 1

For All Mankind (2019)

Starring

Joel Kinnaman (Suicide Squad)
Michael Dorman (The Invisible Man)
Wrenn Schmidt (Our Idiot Brother)
Sarah Jones (Alcatraz)
Shantel VanSanten (The Flash)
Jodi Balfour (True Detective)

Joel Kinnaman in For All Mankind (2019)

Recurring / Notable Guest Stars

Chris Agos (Chicago Fire)
Matt Battaglia (Thor)
Chris Bauer (The Devil’s Advocate)
Jeff Branson (All My Children)
Colm Feore (The Amazing Spider-Man 2)
Ryan Kennedy (Tin Star)
Eric Ladin (American Sniper)
Rebecca Wisocky (Devious Minds)
Arturo Del Puerto (Ride Along 2)
Noah Harpster (Transparent)
Sonya Walger (Lost)
Wallace Langham (CSI)
Nate Corddry (Ghostbusters)
Lenny Jacobson (Bumblebee)
Spencer Garrett (Yes Man)
Saul Rubinek (Hunters)
Krys Marshall (Supergirl)
Brian Stepanek (Young Sheldon)
Meghan Leathers (American Waste)
Edwin Hodge (The Purge)
James Urbaniak (American Splendor)
Megan Dodds (CSI: NY)
Olivia Trujillo (The Toy Box)
Leonora Pitts (Manson Family Vacation)
John Rubinstein (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)

Mark Ivanir, Michael Dorman, Wrenn Schmidt, Krys Marshall, Jodi Balfour, Meghan Leathers, and Olivia Trujillo in For All Mankind (2019)Battlestar Galactica and Outlander creator Ronald D Moore heads back into space and back into the past again, with one of Apple TV+’s make-or-break launch dramas, For All Mankind. But rather than robot invaders or time travelling romantics, the fantasy here is restricted to an alternative history, asking what would have happened if the Russians had beaten the Americans to landing the first man on the moon. In Moore and co-creators Ben Nedivi and Matt Wolpert’s version of 1969, the US – driven by the utterly self-serving President Nixon (no need for fantasy there) – refuses to take the defeat lying down and the space race rapidly escalates into a Battle To Control the Moon.For All Mankind (2019)But while that may sound like the title of a sci-fi B-movie, For All Mankind is ostensibly a period drama – with the drama in question alternating between the immaculate suburban houses of the astronauts and their partners, the NASA Mission Control room, the bar where NASA personnel go to blow off steam (if they really did this much drinking, it’s a wonder they ever made it off the launch pad) and, of course, the Moon.For All Mankind (2019)The family politics that arise from hard-drinking, occasionally womanising men waiting to blast off into space are dealt with well, but can drag a little, and as you’d expect, the real moments of tension take place when launch time approaches, in front of not only the controls of lunar modules, but also the TV screens where the astronauts’ wives gather to watch their husbands’ latest nail-biting manoeuvres broadcast live. Whether NASA would really choose to televise in real time so many situations that could quite easily end in the failure of their missions or the deaths of their astronauts is questionable but it’s certainly a good technique for evoking the stresses and strains of having a partner whose job is being shot into space on top of several hundred thousand pounds of rocket fuel.Even the first episode – which has a lot of work to do simply in terms of scene-setting – offers up a couple of great cliffhanger moments. But once we reach the Moon, there are opportunities to really ratchet up the tension, mostly driven by NASA and the astronauts’ questionable willingness to throw the rule book out of the window in their desperation to secure a lunar first over the Russians. Of course, Nasa in 1969 was a very male-oriented world but in formulating the show it’s clear that Moore and co thought have thought hard about how they can put women at the heart of the space-based action too.Dave Power, Sonya Walger, and Joel Kinnaman in For All Mankind (2019)In reality, NASA didn’t begin an astronaut programme for women until 1978 and to this day a woman has still not set foot on the moon (NASA’s current target for that is 2024), but here circumstances dictate that the women’s programme starts much sooner, giving us a second, female-focused, strand to the space race story with at least as much drama as the men’s event and far more emotional impact. Performances are good across the board. The ever enigmatic Joel Kinnaman is well cast as tightly-wound yet soul-searching astronaut Edward Baldwin. Shantel VanSanten plays his equally focused wife Karen, balancing her duties as one of the matriarchs of the astronauts’ wives club with her deeply buried fears about the danger that her husband’s job puts him in.Sonya Walger, Sarah Jones, Cass Buggé, Krys Marshall, and Jodi Balfour in For All Mankind (2019)Sarah Jones is a stand-out as fellow astro-wife Tracey Stevens, overwrought by the infidelities of her husband Gordo (Michael Dorman) but with the possibility of glory of her own on the horizon. And Wrenn Schmidt plays pioneering Margo Madison, a mission control engineer striving to make a name for herself in a man’s world – also the position that the brilliantly laconic Sonya Walger finds herself in as aspiring astronaut Molly Cobb. Aside from Margo, the NASA control room is largely populated by real-life characters (a depressed Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and John Glenn even hang out in the background after their failed attempt to make it to the lunar surface). Colm Feore plays Wernher von Braun – the German scientist who headed up the US space programme – as warm and principled, which may surprise those who know how von Braun’s skills were utilised during the Second World War.Joel Kinnaman in For All Mankind (2019)Eric Ladin as Chief Flight Director Gene Kranz gets to perform a couple of spine-tingling inspirational speeches ahead of some heart-in-mouth moments, and Chris Bauer is great as firm-but-fair Director of Flight Crew Operations Deke Slayton, the man who makes astronaut selections and who must spar with Nixon’s cronies as they attempt to push his mercurial agenda on NASA. And, well, it’s probably best if I stop listing names at this point… Because despite this initial over-abundance of personnel, and some slower moments in the earlier episodes, For All Mankind has a lot going for it – some winning characters and great performances; easy-on-the-eye sets and moonscapes; gripping scenes and uplifting moments – and not least the fact that it’s for all Womankind, too.