Tuesday 15 October 2019

New on Netflix: A grittier teenage witch is magic


Miranda Otto, Richard Coyle, Lucy Davis, Kiernan Shipka, Tati Gabrielle, Abigail F Cowen, and Adeline Rudolph in ‘Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’
Miranda Otto, Richard Coyle, Lucy Davis, Kiernan Shipka, Tati Gabrielle, Abigail F Cowen, and Adeline Rudolph in ‘Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’
Donal Lynch

Donal Lynch

Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina 2 seasons Available Friday

Dark and gritty remakes are the MO of TV's golden age, especially when drawing from comic books. However, Sabrina Spellman's story earns the imposing shadows and bloodcurdling screams for this, another spin-off from the Archie comics (Riverdale being Netflix's other one of those). Ditching the bright and cheery tone established in the 1950s-era original incantation and continued in the 1996 sitcom, it leans hard into the "witch" associations, even without the word in its title. While still a teen story at heart, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa's take is laden with demons, trolls, warlocks, and more, all of which emit enough menace to evoke a steady stream of shrieks. The series follows Sabrina Spellman (Shipka), a half-witch, half-mortal teen in the 1960s who must reconcile her dual nature while keeping at bay the dark forces' attempt to manipulate her, her family and the humans of the mortal world. It's one of the best supernatural-themed series out there at the moment, and, when all is said and done, it may even eclipse Riverdale itself in terms of popularity.

Dynasty, 1 Season, 22 episodes Available now

Yes, another sodding reboot, but this one has shoulder pads, sweeping theme music, big hair and melodramatic bitch fights. Sign us up. The 1980s soap opera that made hay out of family squabbles, and a bona fide star out of Joan Collins, is back for another round. Sure, no one asked for it, but there'll be plenty who are going to love every delicious and malicious moment. If someone absolutely had to rejig it, you probably want it to be Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, the team behind the defining glossy soaps of the current generation, The OC and Gossip Girl. With impossibly beautiful people wearing impossibly beautiful clothes, the new Dynasty has the same over-the-top and outlandish spirit of the original 1981 Aaron Spelling series coursing through its blue-blooded veins. Updating the location from Texas to Atlanta, the 2017 Dynasty again concerns itself with the exploits of the Carringtons, a family headed by patriarch Blake (Grant Show).

Blake, a titan of industry, has just become engaged to Cristal Flores (Nathalie Kelley), an executive at his planet-polluting empire. Alas there's no Alexis this time around and her absence is sorely felt. But she didn't appear in the original, until season two, so we live in hope.

Thelma & Louise (1991) Available now

It's hard to believe now just how groundbreaking this was at the time. In creating the two titular characters for this hugely entertaining and controversial road movie, Oscar-winning script writer Callie Khouri put women in the driving seat for the first time. Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon star as the two friends whose weekend spree to escape the boredom of their small-town routines is curtailed when Louise (Sarandon) kills a man who's trying to rape Thelma (Davis).

They flee, and thus begins their voyage of self-discovery. Ridley Scott's film sparked a row at the time. Whatever your viewpoint, films have a duty to provoke, as well as entertain, and it's impossible to watch the plight of Thelma and Louise without feeling modern indignation at what women of that era went through.

Under The Shadow (2016) Available now

For most of the film, Babak Anvari is crafting a stifling period drama, a horror movie of a different sort that really conveys the claustrophobia of Iran during its tumultuous post-revolution period. Anvari, himself of a family that eventually fled the Ayatollah's rule, has made Under the Shadow as a statement of rebellion and tribute to his own mother. It's a distinctly feminist film: Shideh (Narges Rashidi) is cast as the tough heroine fighting back against greater hostile forces - a horror movie archetype that takes on even more potency in this setting.

Seeing Shideh defy the Khomeini regime by watching a Jane Fonda workout video, banned by the State, is almost as stirring as seeing her overcome her personal demons by protecting her child from a more literal one.


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