Peaky Blinders

Peaky Blinders…series 3 excellent as ever

peakyblindersseries3I just can’t get over how brilliant this series is. From the very first episode in series 1 right to this last episode of series 3…all I can say (and do say to everyone who’s looking for something great to watch) is…”watch it”.

Ok…so I’m way behind with watching (I’ve had the Series 3 DVDs waiting since their release, series 4 too) but I just haven’t had time. I guess that is rubbish because the moment I had a chance to watch the first episode of this series I was hooked (as per series 1 and 2) and finished all episodes in two days. I guess time can be made.

In this installment of the BBC crime drama, a wedding serves as a kickoff for business (what else would you expect?) and so the Shelbys get involved with the Russians, their jewels and weapons. A dodgy Father John Hughes has his share in a whole lot of dirty negotiations and Alfie Solomons is brought back into the wheeling and dealings. If you know the series so far, then you know that you’re in for lots of backstabbing, corruption, family disagreements (and agreements) and the works. Even the women surprise you in this one.

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The story is always intriguing and you never see the twists and turns coming. Accompanied by an excellent soundtrack and stunning cinematography, this is one of the only series that I’ve ever watched and not given up on (the other being Rome).

Just be warned…you will sit there in disbelief as the last scene plays out…

…and now I just have to start series 4. Tommy Shelby…what a bastard you are.

Here are some thoughts after Series 1: Peaky Blinders – a work of art and how Tommy Shelby is totally crush material: Sexy Crush…Peaky Blinders’ Tommy Shelby

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Sexy crush…Peaky Blinders’ Tommy Shelby

I’d pretty much written this post (albeit unconvincingly)…then I went to Switzerland…

PeakyBlinders5My sexy crush was obvious from the very start – Tommy Shelby from Peaky Blinders. Yet somehow, I just didn’t know why. Last year’s choice for this Blogathon (here) was easy – a look back on a straightforward teenage crush. But now, 20 or so years later, what’s the appeal in a bad boy? I should be more mature than that. Actually, maybe that’s exactly it…as a teenager, the crush is probably more superficial, more about looks and visual appeal. Now, sexy (which goes hand-in-hand with a crush for me) is much, much more than that. It took me a week of time-out from the everyday with some awesome people* together with great conversation to realise this (I probably knew it anyway – I just hadn’t formalised it in my mind). In fact, one of the topics (co-incidentally) we contemplated one night was exactly that – what makes a person sexy and appealing? We’d agreed (I think) that it was more than just looks. While we didn’t chat about it long, it did get me thinking…

So…I consider myself a good girl who doesn’t really fall for bad boys but ooh, oooh, oooooh, I just couldn’t help falling head over heels with Tommy Shelby. From the opening scene of Peaky Blinders I was totally smitten. Whwwwwew…it isn’t easy trying to write up a post while totally swooning over the character in question. Moving along swiftly…but hey…he’s just sooooo sexy…

Yes…sexy. What is it that makes a man sexy in the first place? Why do you fall for him? Why do we have that crush? One that almost wrenches your heart out? Because crushes are infatuations we have with the unattainable.

What draws me to Mr Shelby (and yes, that’s “Mr” to you or anyone else he encounters who isn’t family or exempt from formalities)? I don’t know. I really don’t. Maybe it’s that he’s always well dressed. Maybe it’s that se… that was pre-mini-break…
Now, I think I know. It has something to do with his presence…definitely. He’s the first person I notice in the room on the screen. The only one who draws me in. Inexplicably. Immediately. Some sort of combination of charisma, outward confidence and yes, naturally (because I’m human), looks. Not the society-conditioned-hot-hunky look but a mature, sophisticated, yet very attractive look. And outwardly, he acts and dresses that way too:

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I’d never consciously noticed eyes on men before, but strangely enough, the eyes seem to be a striking trait found in the men I’ve found sexy. Don’t take me wrong….I don’t often have crushes, but those few I’ve had, now thinking about it, have something about their eyes. Just look at these:

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And the crush in question has some “rough” edges…he’s definitely not a boyish man…no, he’s a manly man but never old man. Oh just look at him:

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There’s some ruggedness about him yet at the same time he has a softer way with women. What makes Tommy Shelby attractive is that Grace never needs to go out her way to attract his attention. He goes about doing his job and whatever else he deems important and the relationship just happens – a natural “gel”.  He’s also able to hold a good conversation.

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And…it is not about the “deed”, the “s” word…not at all. Tommy Shelby has all the appeal without that. The ultimate for me, the defining moment, is where he (spoiler alert) “rescues” Grace from the men who want their own way with her (even though the “off-putting, totally un-crushable” part should be that he led her to them but I’ll just file that away for now).

PeakyBlinders6He has a history that has shaped him. Hidden daemons. Depth. Dimensions. But he’s not scared to admit it. Through this, he makes me feel alive. There’s a sense of living dangerously (of course, glamourised, it being a series). And that gives even more flutters. Re-ignites something that the day-to-day life doesn’t have. In fact, one of the people I spoke to overseas said something along the lines of falling not for the person but for the euphoric, electric feeling one experiences from the person in question. A high.

Realistically, I know I shouldn’t like him. I mean, who likes a guy who’s every move, every action has an underlying motive? Tommy Shelby never, ever does anything “just so”. Absolutely everything is calculated and for the good of him (and his family – which is totally sexy in the right context) or his business ventures. And he’s mean, cold and pure work, no fun. He’s a gangster.

While crushes and sexiness are far more than just this, I’ll ponder those thoughts some more. In the meantime, my tummy flutters. I’m totally aloof, struggling to think straight. There’s been some profound effect on me.

PeakyBlinders7.jpgOk, ok, fine…I’ll admit it, I’m shallow – he just looks so damn good. There. Happy?

On a less shallow and infatuated note…if you haven’t seen BBC’s Peaky Blinders, I highly recommend you give it a go. Yes, it is gritty, dark and violent but it is really excellent with superb performances from all involved. They include Cillian Murphy, Sam Neill, Paul Anderson, Joe Cole, Helen McCrory, Sophie Rundle, Ned Dennehy, Ian Peck, Annabelle Wallis, Tom Hardy, Iddo Goldberg, Noah Taylor and many more.

Gosh, I could go watch Peaky Blinders right now…I think I will.

*To L and S (Ihr wisst wer ihr seid), thank you for putting my post into perspective and for some good conversation last week.

Thanks to Silver Screenings and Font and Frock for hosting this hot, hot Blogathon. Head on over to Reel Infatuation to read more…and…for my teenage infatuation with Lucky Luciano and Will Scarlett have a look at my entry from last year’s Reel Infatuation Blogathon: Crushing on Will Scarlett and Lucky Luciano.

Peaky Blinders – a work of art

Peaky Blinders is not a series, it is a work of art. An exceptional work of art. It is going to be years before something matches up to the caliber of this show. In fact, I’m not sure anything ever will. The intricate detail that has gone into every scene of this BBC production is just amazing. I take my hat off to the cinematography team. In fact, to the entire team, as this show would most definitely not have been possible without the input of all involved – each and everyone brings the excellence of what they do to this series – be it acting, directing, cinematography, wardrobe…and the list goes on.

peakyblindersbannerThe acting is top notch. In my opinion, the British are so good at casting characters and not “beautiful people” in order to draw viewers. Not that I’m saying the actors are ugly. Not at all, but that they are chosen with their role in mind. The cast work so well together. So much so, that the Shelby family really comes across as just that to the viewers – a family, with their problems and their successes. The actors are also supported by the wonderful cinematography. The opening scene in the very first episode where the Chinese girl is summoned as a fortune teller is brilliant and sets the tone perfectly. The other scene that stands out is Ada in her wedding dress contrasting with the dreary grey surroundings. But everything really – the smokey bars, dark rainy streets, sparking factories, shadows and on it goes. Throughout the series there are moments when I can’t help but notice some small detail that really makes all the difference.

peaky-blinders-staffel-1-szene-1-frontpageThe music is woven in so well and adds to the atmosphere while keeping it modern. And then there’s the wonderful Red Right Hand theme song by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds which opens each episode with a creepy, yet suspenseful sort of mood that only gets cranked up as the minutes unfold. That’s the other thing – these minutes go past waaaaaaaay too quickly and before you know it, another episode is complete. In fact, in the first series, which is only 6 episodes long (or should I say, short), I was wondering how I would be able to avoid the end in an attempt to prolong the experience and savor every moment, yet, still get to the end because I just needed to know the outcome. Thank goodness series 2 came out and I’ve watched the first episode. They’ve really started us off with a bang on this one – seems like things have gotten a whole lot more intense (hence the age restriction gone up from 15 to 18) but boy is it brilliant so far! Going to be an interesting 5 more episodes which will be over before I know it. I just hope I feel the same at the end as I did at the end of series 1 – totally besotted!

The Romantic in me…

For starters, don’t read this if you don’t want me spoiling things for you. So:

I’m a romantic. Let me rephrase. I’m a hopeless romantic. The one who thrives on that tumbling, twisting feeling in my stomach when two characters finally fall in love. But not just any two characters. No, they have to be strong and independent with lots and lots of oomph! Their journey to each other mustn’t be obvious and definitely not soppy but also not the overused “we hate each other but actually love each other” type. In fact, the romantic kick I need is the kind that is not typically “romantic drama” or “romantic comedy” formula driven material. Don’t get me wrong, in order for my escapism to be satisfactory, I do want a happy ending (otherwise, what’s the point?) but, not the cheesy guy-and-girl-get-together-as-you-predicted-from-the-first-few-minutes-and-live-happily-ever-after, but a rich, rewarding, more realistic ending where there is genuine hope that they will stay together. Here are the ones that are my absolute best:

One of the most romantic movie moments for me is in Centurion, where Quintus Dias (Michael Fassbender) and his two roman colleagues come across the dwelling of Arianne (Imogen Poots). Quintus Dias has been a tough, yet intelligent, ruthless Roman until this point. She has been living on her own (I admire her), using the guise of being a witch to keep men from the nearby garrison away. Without a moment of doubt, she holds her own but for some reason (fate?) she lets Dias and his men into her home, risking her life. These two form such a natural bond that Dias sees her home as the place he ultimately belongs. He doesn’t give up his quest for her, she doesn’t beg him to stay, yet, their actions are so much more romantic, more real because of this. Nothing like a good cat-and-mouse action movie with such tenderness thrown in to give a bit of a pace reduction for just a few minutes yet having such an impact.

Then, moving on to one of my favourite films in general, but, also one of the most romantic. The Last of the Mohicans. Wow, now there is romance. In the wild frontier of America, you get this absolute heart-wrenching love.  What is more romantic that Hawkeye (Daniel Day-Lewis) and Uncas (Eric Schweig) running through the carnage of an attack to save the women they have come to love. Or the waterfall scene where Hawkeye says to Cora (Madeleine Stowe) “No matter how long it takes, no matter how far, I will find you” and Uncas just holding Alice (Jodhi May) not requiring any words. In fact, the Uncas/Alice love story is so understated that it leaves me wishing it had been more prominent. But then, had that been the case, I doubt it would have been as heart-felt, as real, and as rewarding, even though, she does get a bit needy and helpless at times. But, thinking about it, how much more could have been said about their love than Alice throwing herself off the cliff to be with Uncas?

Yellow Sky, now that’s an amazing film. This 1948 black and white film is absolutely fantastic with James ‘Stretch’ Dawson (Gregory Peck) taking his bank robbing gang across the desert to hide out in a ghost town. Here he comes across Constance Mae (Anne Baxter), disguised as Mike, and her grandfather. As the story unfolds, Stretch discovers that Mike is Mae but, we also see the contradiction of Mike/Mae where she is tough and holds her own, yet, at other times wants to be a lady. This is so much more rewarding that the usual man saves damsel in distress scenario. He simply lets her be who she really is and vice versa.

Ah – Robin Hood, the Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett version. I just love the amazing love story that develops between Robin Longstride and Marion Loxley. There is utmost respect for each other from the moment they meet. Both are strong and independent without ever changing who they are for each other. The most romantic part is, not when they finally dance together or when they bid each other farewell stating their love, but, when Marion arrives on the beach of the Cliffs of Dover to help fight. They stand by each other, working together yet always staying true to themselves.

And man, oh, man. I spent the entire first season of the brilliant Peaky Blinders wanting, needing, silently begging Thomas (Cillian Murphy) and Grace (Annabelle Wallis) to get together. I was tortured to the last episode for that to finally happen and therefore it had so much more impact. Grace makes all the right (or wrong, depending on your stance) decisions fully knowing the potential consequences yet staying true to herself while rationally knowing she shouldn’t be falling in love with a tough, uncompromising gangster.

Then, the Swiss Family Robinson (1960) deserves a mention. Yes, Roberta (Janet Munro) comes across as the stereotype helpless damsel to be rescued, but, cut me some slack here – watching Fritz (James MacArthur) and her fall in love is just beautiful. She may not be the strong independent woman at first, but, she rises to the challenge and puts her whole heart into the situation that has come her way. This story leaves me wanting more but, realistically, all that needs saying is said and anything more or less would not have worked. I guess what it comes down to is that by leaving the viewer craving that feel-good effect, the goal has been achieved.

Then there are those films that leave you wishing, wanting the hinted or implied romance being developed more. The likes of The Quick and the Dead (Sharon Stone’s Ellen and Russell Crowe’s Cort), Broken Arrow (Christian Slater’s Hale and Samantha Mathis’ Terry), and oh my gosh…Ironclad where the brilliant James Purefoy’s Thomas Marshal and Kate Mara’s Lady Isabel develop an understated relationship. Ultimately, for me, the romance is in the strong women and the men who love them. Or, maybe, it’s the fact that these films have romances second to the main story and therefore have so much more impact. But, that “addictively” strange lurching feeling, that’s when I know a scene has worked with me, regardless of the actors (being good or bad) but the fact that they have successfully portrayed an emotion that has reached the audience.