News Reel & Blog

Written by Flora Kimberley on 19th March 2019

Ever since the stand out success of Netflix’s Making a Murderer (Laura Ricciardi/Moira Demos), documentaries have become more mainstream, getting more competitive viewership then drama shows. Since the beginning of 2019 there has been a tidal wave of fantastic hard hitting Documentaries airing on broadcast channels and streaming services. The popularity of which has soared to some of the highest viewing figures in the industry.

The big stand out of the year, (so far) goes to Fyre (Chris Smith) documenting the disastrous Fyre Festival that took place in 2017. The documentary (which is available to stream on Netflix) depicts the events that lead to and caused the catastrophe. This included hiring a 21 year old ‘never booked a festival before’ booking agent and asking an employee (Andy King) to go give a border agent oral sex to release the bottled water which they bought for the festival. The festival’s director Billy McFarland was later sued for fraudulent advertising, he is now serving time for his responsibility in Fyre Festival. This documentary is shocking because it depicts the role social media has on influencing the public. Fyre Festival sold out with only one promo video. McFarland got successful models such as Kendall Jenner, to post on Instagram whilst shooting the promo video about the festival. The models were all bikini clad on a private island to promote a celebrity atmosphere and luxury concepts. It proved to be a damming indictment of the modern world and the way you can be manipulated through the internet.

This was followed by the divisive documentary Leaving Neverland based on the allegations of abuse against Michael Jackson. This harrowing four hour two part documentary has caused mass outcry on social media, dividing peoples opinions. However, it is clear that Michael Jackson fans don’t believe the allegations and since the airing of the show Michael Jackson’s albums have re entered the top forty. Which may be proof of the old saying “any publicity is good publicity”.

True crime documentaries are still most popular for viewers. The morbid fascination of the public has been truly stimulated with the material within the genre lately. Firstly, Vincent Lambe’s Oscar nominated short Detainment which illustrates (a dramatized version of) the confessions of the two boys who killed Jamie Bulgar has become infamous. Lambe himself has said that the film will “break” his career as it can be seen to be sympathetic towards the guilty boys. Then on Friday the 15th of March Netflix released its new documentary season based on the disappearance of Madeline McCann. The disappearance of Madeline McCann (Chris Smith) is an in depth look at the investigation which has been on-going for over a decade. It debates many different possible theories and discussion of what could of happened. Yet, Kate and Gerry McCann have both refused to take part in it and have called it a “hindrance” to the current investigation.

On a lighter note, I have a list of documentaries to look out for coming out this year below. These documentaries have been flagged as continuing this momentum in the genre for the rest of the year.

Untouchable- Simon Chinn – The uncovering of Harvey Weinstein.

One Child Nation- Nunfo Wang – Personal story surrounding China’s policy to have one child per couple.

The Great Hack- Jehane Noujam and Karim Amer (Oscar nominated for the square)- Based on the Facebook data hack scandal.

Midnight Traveller- Hassan Fazili- The filmmakers autobiography about how he escaped Afghanistan to then be targeted by the Taliban.

  >>


Written by Flora Kimberley on 11th March 2019

Last week HBO's epic drama Game of Thrones revealed the eighth and final season trailer. Which for many of us is some seriously exciting news. No television show has never reached this type of popularity before.

Game of Thrones, based on George R.R Martin’s novels, has received forty seven Primetime Emmy Awards; including Outstanding Drama Series three times; which is more than any other scripted television series ever (which includes shows like the Sopranos and Breaking bad). It first aired in 2011 and now averages thirty million viewers per episode. Pre warning this article *contains spoilers* from all the Game of Thrones series.

There could be several reasons for its ever rising popularity. One of which could be its portrayal of strong female characters. As it moves into the final season almost all of the powerful houses or factions include or are run by Queens. Throughout the broadcast of the show female viewership has grown from series to series. During this #Metoo era, Game of Thrones celebrates intelligence and strength within its female character. Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) has become a feminist icon through her powerful persona and quotable lines in the male dominated world of Westros. Most famously, stating “The next time you raise a hand to me will be the last time you have hands." This theme continues throughout the series with different female characters coming into strength. An example of this is young Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) who’s biggest dream was being married off to the king in season one, to being a leader of her own house. The portrayal of females within Game of Thrones can be summed up in one quote “all men must die, but we are not men”.

Also, it has become one of the most interesting shows in terms of moral narrative. George R.R. Martin does this brilliantly within his novels by showing the complexities of morals, especially in a world where being moral is unrewarded and difficult. Within Westros, there are no good or bad people but rather people who do good or bad things. For example, Jamie Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) starts off as one of the most contentious characters in the opening seasons. Lannister pushes a Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) out a window crippling him to hide his incestuous relationship with his sister (Lena Headey) whist coldly retorting: “the thing(s) I do for love” . Yet, in the most recent series he ends as the redeemed hero after leaving King’s Landing to join the fight against the dead and honour his promise to his rivals. These character developments cause Game of Thrones to stand out as it allows you to form opinions on characters which overcome the stereotypical good guy/bad guy narrative.

Frankly, it has become one of the most quotable shows in history. The script by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss is witty, emotionally multifaceted and gripping with unexpected twists. Lines such as “you know nothing, Jon Snow” went viral and has been memed, made into merchandise and often quoted on other television shows. Similarly, the line “that’s what I do: I drink and I know things” has had similar success.

Game of Thrones has truly been an absolute phenomenon for HBO. It has taken on a life of its own, with a prequel already being filmed and George R.R Martin completing the book series.Iif you are an avid fan you will be feeling excited and nervous towards the upcoming season. Good Luck to us all, and remember “what do you say to the God of death? Not today”.

  >>


Written by Flora Kimberley on 5th March 2019

Since the release of The Ted Bundy Tapes on  Netflix, Twitter has exploded in an unexpected way. Netflix had thousands of tweets mentioning Bundy’s 'hotness'. So many in fact that Netflix US’ Twitter account sent out a tweet saying “there are thousands of hot men on the service- almost all of who are not convicted serial murderers”. It’s got me thinking, how often as a society do we romanticize aggressive and manipulative men?

When reviewing all shows that have come out focusing on a male serial killers it does seem peculiar that they all contain very classically good looking men. From Dexter (Michael C. Hall) , The Fall  (Jamie Doran) and to more recently: You (Penn Badgley). You is a Romcom Horror about Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley) who falls obsessively in love with Beck (Elizabeth Lial) where he starts stalking her physically and electronically. Joe eventually manages to trick Beck into starting a relationship with him where he becomes controlling and sees her as his possession. Meanwhile, convincing Beck that he is a ‘good guy’ and a ‘feminist’ whilst portraying toxic behaviour. Eventually, *Spoiler Alert* he starts to murder everyone around her and inevitably Beck herself. It is a pretty damming portrayal of how manipulation in a relationship.

But.

The response on Twitter is something that no one would expect. A sample of this: “Joe can serial kill me anytime he wants”. Penn Badgley himself came out in response to the insane onslaught of people normalising his characters behaviour. Badgley wrote “why audiences (are) still fascinated with a white evil man in the #Metoo era”. In one of the most progressive era’s in history, the fascination of the ‘beautiful angry man’ seems a poignant contradiction.

Similarly, Joe Berlinger’s (director of The Ted Bundy Tapes) new film (also about Bundy) called Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile has had a character-driven cult-like fascination catered for audience reaction. Bizarrely, it stars Zac Efron – not usually typecast as the villain. The celebrity of Bundy as a Serial Killer goes back to his original trial. Due to the nature of his crimes, his trial was the first ever televised trial in history. Bundy became a sex symbol (oddly) with women sending him pictures of themselves dressed as his victims and attending his trial in support of him.

This trending glorification of evil and beauty could be toxic, though fortunately it would seem the industry are taking responsibility when necessary. Yet, there is something bizarre and almost uncomfortable about the opening episode of The Ted Bundy Tapes being called ‘Handsome Devil’. As an audience, there may come a point where we need to ask ourselves, are we romanticising heinous crime? Or are we simply infatuated with the historically dangerous ‘bad boy?’

  >>


FIND US ELSEWHERE

;