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“Cut the crap” reviews - page 4

Film and TV show reviews done short. Here you can expect short-length film/TV show reviews. You're going to have our review in the least painful way possible - the end. Essentially, we cut the crap. We invented our own rating system because stars and numbers just don't work for us. It is called "DiCaps Rating System" and we're going to rate eveeeerything with little Leonardo DiCaprio heads; the DiCaps. You're welcome :)

Cut The Crap TV Show Review: Bates Motel + Interview with Cast

in "Cut the crap" reviews

Bates Motel was always good. That was never a matter of question. Season 4 however, truly shows the creators’ (Kerry Ehrin and Carlton Cuse) ability of indulging the viewers further into the Bates universe and slowly paving the way to Norman Bates’ inevitable fate in Psycho.

Bates Motel

What mainly differentiates this season from the earlier ones, is the increasing gap in the Norman/Norma dysfunctional relationship. So far, we are used to seeing them quite interconnected in an unhealthy way. In this season though, with Norman swimming deeper into his own darkness, the mother and son seem more disconnected than ever.

The now very frequent blackouts from Norman’s (Freddie Highmore) part aren’t helping either. Norma (Vera Farmiga), in what seems like a last attempt to save her son from his own self, admits him in Pineview, a mental health facility. In any other TV show, we could all argue that this development could possibly aid Norman in healing his fragile state of mind. However, as the 1960’s iconic film suggests, Norman is well on his way of acquiring a one-way ticket to murdering his mother.

Freddie Highmore as Norman Bates is terrifyingly great in this season of Bates Motel. We have seen him as a creepy teen before but this time around, Norman is fully equipped with the eagerness to wear his “mother suit” on a regular basis. Stepping into Norma’s shoes is a challenging task but Highmore manages to reinvent his character most eventfully by finding Vera Farmiga’s rhythm and banter.

I always believed Norma Bates is one of the most well-written characters on television right now and season 4 further solidifies this belief. Vera Farmiga, as always, delivers a multi-dimensional Norma. There are times you will not like her, specially for her inability to properly take care of her sons. However, she’s had a very troubled past, thus making her a perpetually relatable character.

For example, in episode 5 of season 4, Chick (Ryan Hurst) comes back to take revenge from Caleb (Kenny Johnson), Norma’s brother. In a successive series of events, Norma is being brought in this mess with Chick threatening to expose her incestious relationship in exhange of Caleb’s whereabouts.
Then in the following episode which aired this week, there is a shocking flashback from Norma’s years with Norman’s father. We are exposed to a rape scene which is not for the faint-hearted. Farmiga’s performance throughout the entire episode was heartwrenching while her nervous breakdown in the final scene will be long remembered as one of the most profoundly emotional moments of the show.

Personally, I would love to hate Norma because her actions are partly to blame for Norman’s rapid demise but her sharp-witted one-liners are my favorite thing about Bates Motel. “I need insurance, you have insurance, so I thought maybe you could marry me. It’s not like you’re doing anything else.” is how Norma proposed to Alex Romero (Nestor Carbonell) in order to claim insurance for the Pineview’s medical costs. It’s not like you can’t not love her after that.

Which brings me to this season’s long-anticipated love relationship of Norma and Sheriff Romero. Crediting the creators of the show once again, I thought using the insurance claim as the device to sort of push the pair fall in love was brilliant. Sure, Alex has been smitten with Norma for quite a while so this has been a very efficient way to move things forward in the most unconventional way possible. And it works. Nestor Carbonell as Sheriff Romero brings an extra layer to his character by embracing Romero’s feelings towards Norma while facing the aftermath of killing Bob Paris (Kevin Rahm), the Arcanum Club leader. The chemistry between Carbonell and Farmiga is impeccable with their on-screen moments being the highlight of every episode.

With only 3 episodes left in this season of Bates Motel, things are only going to get worse – especially for Norma and Alex, when Norman finds out about their rushed wedding. If there are two people who have a chance in having a brighter future, it’s Dylan (Max Thieriot) and Emma (Olivia Cooke) and I’m sincerely rooting for them to get the hell out of White Pine Bay.

In light of my favorite Bates Motel season, I spoke with Freddie Highmore who has writing credits for episode 8 and Nestor Carbonell who directed episode 7.


Image via A&E

Bates Motel Interview with Freddie Highmore & Nestor Carbonell

What I especially loved about your performance this season was that this time you are called to imitate Norma’s aesthetic and movement. In terms of approaching that performance, what challenges did you face?

FH: Thank you. It’s been fascinating getting to chronicle Norman’s dissociative identity this season, and see him slip into his “mother” guise more regularly than before. Perhaps the greatest challenge was in finding truthful solutions to portraying the transitional moments, where we see Norman lose awareness of who he actually is, and then become his mother. We never wanted to rush those moments.
In terms of assuming Norma’s identity, Vera was wonderfully helpful and supportive of my attempts to replicate certain things that she has so brilliantly imbued Norma with. At the same time, it was interesting to play with the idea that Norman isn’t behaving exactly how Norma would in these situations. It’s his version of her as she appears to him.

In this season, we see Norman being taken over by his dark side on a more frequent and intense basis compared to the first three seasons. After an entire season of playing Norman Bates, how long does it take you to come down?

FH: Surprisingly quickly, perhaps. I don’t really carry too much of it off set at the end of the day; I hope I don’t! I am sure seeing acting as a form of therapy isn’t healthy, especially in the case of Norman, but there is something cathartic in having a good cry or a good shout.

Freddie, it must be a challenge for you as an actor to keep your audience’s sympathy. After this sympathy for Norman starts to run out, why do you think the audience will keep watching?

FH: Certainly that’s something we all discuss: keeping the audience on Norman’s side, remaining sympathetic towards him. I think that Kerry [Ehrin] and Carlton [Cuse] have maintained that up until now by having Norman genuinely doing what he feels is good and right, and so – as his moral compass starts going astray – we feel for him, and simply wish we could help him, as opposed to attack him for it. At the same time, while there is a more manipulative side to Norman that starts to come out this season, it’s not like Norman Bates being a serial killer is a long-held secret that has been sprung upon people. We’ve known the end from the beginning, and there’s nothing wrong with a good tragedy!


Image via A&E

Lots of Bates Motel fans have been waiting for Norma and Alex to get together. I find it refreshing how the show has treated this relationship with such wit and spark, particularly in scenes like the ballroom dancing. Do you find it easier to explore this soft side of Alex or his colder side that we were introduced to in the beginning?

NC: Before we shot the pilot, creators Kerry Ehrin and Carlton Cuse, told me Alex and Norma would get together at some point. Getting to play an unapologetic bulldog of a sheriff for three seasons who didn’t suffer fools, had a fluid moral compass and guarded his emotions like a poker hand, became that much more meaningful knowing Norma would eventually be the one to soften him. Still, it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be to completely let the character’s guard down. I’d grown so accustomed to enjoying the character’s darker side. And we’d only seen cracks in Alex’s armor here and there, especially after he’d been drinking. So the writers cleverly had Alex and Norma drink a fair bit together at the beginning of this season to facilitate his softening up.

Are there moments where you felt like something Sheriff Romero was doing was beyond what your conception of the character was? Where he surprised you?

NC: In episode six of season three (after being threatened by Marcus Young in the hospital), Sheriff Romero gets out of his hospital bed, heads down to the underground parking, smashes Marcus’ car window with his IV stand, disarms him, shoots him with his own gun, wipes Marcus’ blood off the windshield with some old rags, and speeds off in Marcus’ car. While Romero’s violent actions were very much in character, I was surprised (in the best way possible) by the timing of that particular scene and how brazen Alex was in killing Marcus out in the open like that.

Do you ever worry about the viewer losing his or her connection to the character?

NC: The writing on Bates Motel is so strong because it’s character driven, and the characters are all rich in flaw and great misbehavior. My guess is what makes viewers connect with the central characters, is that despite how flawed they all are, each one of them is continually trying to fight the darker side within them. That they are engaged in that internal moral struggle almost gives each one of them license to trip up as much as they do.
As an actor, I can only try to live truthfully as the character under imaginary circumstances. I can’t really control the viewer’s connection to the character. If anything, I do my best to forget the cameras and crew (and the viewers) and, in that moment, commit myself to the character’s immediate need.


Originally appeared on Sophie’s Huffington Post blog entry.

Propcake’s Bates Motel Season 4 DiCaps Rating: 4.5/5


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How are you enjoying the creepy season of Bates Motel so far?

Who is Norman going to axe next?

Cut The Crap TV Show Review: Vikings + Interview with Cast

in "Cut the crap" reviews

April 21st marked History’s mid-season finale of Vikings season 4 – the show that managed to break the mold for TV storytelling combined with breathtaking visuals and stellar performances. Created by Michael Hirst, this season of Vikings might be its trippiest yet. With Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) falling into a Chinese hallucinogenic’s arms, Floki (Gustaf Skarsgård) experiencing out-of-body visions, Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) developing as a ferocious shieldmaiden, Bjorn (Alexander Ludwig) going full Revenant with a bear and Rollo (Clive Standen) learning Frankish, there’s no doubt we were in for a treat at the mid-season finale (That time jump though!).


Hirst, who also serves as the sole writer of Vikings, has gone in great lengths in terms of adding strong subplots in the general show storyline. Vikings is not just about Ragnar anymore. Travis Fimmel might have served us with one of his best Ragnar performances this season (The “When everyone wanted you dead! I kept you alive! You hurt me, brother. And this is how you repay my love?” Ragnar quote to Rollo is still playing on my mind) but it’s Katheryn Winnick, Clive Standen and Alexander Ludwig who really brought their A game in the show.

I had the chance to speak with Katheryn Winnick and Clive Standen about their characters’ rapid development and the channel’s decision to order 20 episodes for season 4.


Vikings Interview With Katheryn Winnick & Clive Standen

I am a great admirer of the way Michael Hirst has handled female characters such as Lagertha and it’s becoming evident to me that the show has an increasing female audience now. Are there any inspiring messages you have received from your character’s fans that have stuck with you?

KW: I’m still amazed and humbled how Lagertha has touched so many women from so many unique backgrounds in different countries across the globe. I still get social media messages daily from mothers and daughters who look up to Lagertha and are inspired by her. One of the most memorable was a young girl who was fighting cancer. Her father created a Lagertha shield that she kept by her hospital bed to give her the strength to get through her treatment. It’s also so fascinating for me to see how many people have tattooed Lagertha on their bodies! They’re stuck with me for life now.

I also feel that the script keeps taking Lagertha and subsequently, you, in places that are quite demanding. For example, Lagertha left Ragnar because he didn’t do right by her and that solidifies her as a strong character. But then she ends up with an abusive Earl. What was it like for you at the wedding scene where she finally takes her revenge?

KW: Michael Hirst (writer and creator of Vikings) always challenges me as an actor and puts Lagertha in situations that test her strong will. As far as the wedding scene, Lagertha made a promise to herself and she is one to stick to her word.

What are you most proud of, looking back at the first half of season 4?

KW: I’m honored to be a part of a television show that has touched so many people all around the world. We have come very far since day 1 and grown immensely over the course of 4 seasons. We started off in one studio with one boat and a handful of key actors; now we have created an entire Viking world, and there’s still a rich story to continue to explore.


It’s official that this season has been ordered for 20 episodes which must be thrilling for you and the fans of course. I know I am thrilled. Has this decision affected the filming process and the story development in general?

CS: Yes it absolutely has because usually you only think about a character arc over the course of 10 episodes. Now we have 20 episodes and it’s quite freeing for me as an actor and definitely freeing for Michael [Hirst] as he doesn’t have to rush. Now he can indulge a little bit more, really get in the thick of it with storylines. He’s now got time to develop and write. So many great scenes he writes might not make it in the final cut because it has to be shortened into 46 minutes. It’s enabled to tell Ragnar Lothbrok’s story in far more detail (and what Travis [Fimmel] has done is fantastic). On the downside, double the season means double the action and by the end of 20 episodes my body needed a long soak in the bath!

It’s not the first time we see Rollo and Ragnar confront each other. What do you think is different this time from your character’s perspective?

CS: The first time around (in season 2) he thought he had the confidence to exact revenge with Jarl Borg, and to finally be equal with his brother. But he couldn’t go through with it because of his love for his brother. This time around, he still loves his brother, but it’s not about Ragnar at all – it’s about following his destiny. This has to happen and Rollo understands that he may even have to kill Ragnar in order to secure his legacy in Paris. This definitely does not come easy for Rollo and it is very difficult for him to grapple with this betrayal but it is something he knows he has to do. From Rollo’s point of view, this is about him coming into his own, conquering his demons and following his own destiny.

Rollo’s character development has been quite dramatic in season 4. Is it easier for you as an actor to play the ruthless Viking or the Frankish noble version of Rollo?

CS: It’s been JUST as hard. I always concentrate on getting under the skin of the page. Learning the etiquette of the Frankish Court has been a massive challenge. Becoming more cerebral/contained in court and of course learning Frankish has been quite difficult. We all know the story of “prince to pauper” (or even Neanderthal to Duke) but for Rollo he went from pauper to prince, or more appropriately put Northman Berserker to Duke of Normandy.



Originally appeared on Sophie’s Huffington Post blog entry

Propcake’s Batman V Superman DiCaps Rating: 4/5


Now over to you.diddly-sharing

Did you catch the mid season finale of Vikings? What are your thoughts on that time jump? Will Ragnar meet his final fate by the hands of his sons?


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