Barry Review: One of the Best Shows on Television.

For a while now, I have heard constant praise about the show Barry, with plenty of people making comparisons to other amazing shows like Breaking Bad when refrencing it.
Knowing that the third season was about to be released, I decided to watch the first two seasons and then the third as it was airing and, after finishing Barry, I can say that all of the praise and comparisons to other fantastic series is definitely warranted.
Created by Bill Hader and Alec Berg, the show stars Hader as the titular character, Barry Berkman, a former marine turned hitman who feels lost in life.
After being sent to Los Angeles by his handler, Monroe Fuchs (Stephen Root), to kill a man for the Chechen Mafia, Barry finds himself being drawn into an acting class taught by disgraced actor Gene Cousineau (Henry Winkler).
Barry comes to believe that he has found his calling, and tries to get out of the hitman business to pursue acting, with both hilarious and dark results, sometimes a mixture of the two.

The dark comedy of Barry can be both hilarious and terrifying.

Along with the dark comedy and excellent writing, what also keeps the show together is its stellar cast of characters.
Hader is incredible as Barry, making the hitman trying to be an actor someone I sympathised with while feeling guilty for doing so because of the absolutley horrible things he does.
Winkler is also amazing as Cousineau, a sympathetic mentor figure who probably bears the biggest loss from letting Barry into his life out of any of the main characters.

Seeing what Barry puts Cousineau through is some of the most tragic stuff in the whole show.

Fuchs is probably the scummiest character in the entire sseries, with his sociopathic manipulation of Barry and those closest to him to get what he wants.
Noho Hank (Anthony Carrigan) is the exact opposite of this; a somehow charming member of the Chechen Mafia, who I am so glad they did not kill off in the first episode, like they originally intended to do.
Last, but certainly not least, there is Sally Reed (Sarah Goldberg), Barry’s acting classmate and later girlfriend, who maintains the trend of characters being flawed, yet sympathetic, excellently, with Goldberg delivering various excellent monolgues.

One monologue from Sally in Season Two was so fantastic that I would have been rendered speechless had it not been for the following joke making me bust a gut laughing.

The situations all of these characters are placed in, and often cause in Barry’s case, are also darkly humorous, resulting in multiple masterpiece episodes, like “Loud, Fast and Keep Going”, “Know Your Truth”, “Ronny/Lily”, “Berkman > Block”, and “710N”.
The final episode of Season Three, “Starting Now” is a particularly intense ride, with Bill Hader stating he wanted the episode to feel like an anxiety attack.
He definitley succeeded in giving the episode this effect, with there being one scene that absolutley terrified me, not because of what we see but because of what we hear.

This is probably one of the best examples of sound being scarier than sight. I felt like Hank in this scene: Horrified and helpless.

The ending to this “Starting Now”, in particular, surprised me because now I have absolutley no idea where Season Four is going to go, making me even more excited for it.
Barry is an absolute masterpiece of a show and, if its series finale lands correctly, whenever we do get the final season, it could very well stand alongside the likes of Breaking Bad as one of the greatest TV series of all time. 
      

 

It Chapter 2 Review: Highly Flawed but a lot of Fun.

3 and a half stars
When I started my blog two years ago, the first review I ever did was Andy Muschietti’s 2017 adaption of Stephen King’s It.
With Stephen King being one of my favourite authors, and It being one of my favourite novels, I was highly anticipating that first film.
I ended up loving It, giving the film a four and half star rating out of five.

It first movie.jpg
I loved the first It film as a fan of Stephen King’s novel.

So, I was naturally, highly anticipating the sequel, It: Chapter 2, which I just saw this morning.
And what did I think of it?
Well, my feelings are mixed.
I would say that I enjoyed the film, with it being a lot of fun at times, however, it is highly flawed.
I will start with the positives fist and the biggest praise I can give this move is that the acting is phenomenal, with all of the Losers club being perfectly cast.
It: Chapter 2 picks up 27 years after the first film with Mike Hanlon (Isaiah Mustafa) calling the other members of the Losers’ Club, including Bill Denbrough (James McAvoy), Beverly Marsh (Jessica Chastain), Richie Tozier (Bill Hader), Eddie Kaspbrak (James Ransone), and Ben Hanscom (Jay Ryan), back to the town of Derry, Maine after the monstrous entity known as It resurfaces.
Bill Skarsgård does an amazing job playing the monstrous clown Pennywise, It’s favourite form, and this is most apparent in a scene where he lures a little girl in, showing how deviously manipulative It can be.
But it is with the Losers’ Club that the acting department really shines, with Bill Hader turning in the best performance as Richie.

Bill Hader.jpg
Bill Hader is by far the best actor in It: Chapter 2.

As well as being greatly performed, Richie also has a fantastic arc and provides a lot of the film’s laughs alongside Eddie.
There is even a cameo from Stephen King in the film, which is very well done.
Then there are the scares, a few of which got me but many did not.
This is okay, though, because, even though I was not as scared as when watching the first film, a lot of these scenes were very exciting.
It: Chapter 2 even managed to surprise me at times with one small storyline surrounding Bill trying to save one of It’s victims going in a direction I did not expect at all.
Sadly, this is where my praise for the film ends because it does have a lot of flaws that hold it back.
The biggest of these is easily the film’s runtime.
Coming in at 169 minutes, It: Chapter 2 is just too long.
The second act, especially, drags on for what feels like forever with so many formulaic scenes.
What is worse, it felt like these scenes should have been condensed in favor of other ones.
For example, Henry Bowers’ role is lessened to the point that I wondered why he was even in this movie.

Henry Bowers.jpg
I feel like more time should have been devoted to Henry Bowers instead of other scenes in the film’s repetitive middle act.

Then there is the humor.
I know I praised the comedy earlier but there is just too much of it.
It is incredibly jarring to see the characters experience a horrific moment in one scene and then be making “your mum” jokes in the next.
This culminates in an especially bizarre moment when “Angel of the Morning” plays in what is supposed to be a scary scene.
Plus, there is a pretty problematic idea that is brought up about Stanley Uris (Andy Bean) at the end of the film that I feel should have been left on the cutting room floor.
I get what they were going for with that scene but it definitely can be read in a way that sends a very bad message.
Not that anything will come of that message, but it is problematic nonetheless.
Overall, though, these issues did not ruin the film for me.
I still enjoyed It: Chapter 2 quite a bit.
The acting is fantastic, especially from Bill Hader, a lot of the jokes are hilarious, and many of the scenes are exciting and take unexpected turns.
There are just quite a few issues you need to prepare yourself for going in, the biggest being the runtime.
Still, I would recommend the film, especially to fans of King’s original novel.