IR TV Review: HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER – EPISODE 15 (“Stay”) [ABC-S6]

The trajectory of a series finale has to bring the idea of redemption, sacrifice and simple comeuppance into the idea of what ultimately a series is trying to say. This is of course predicated not just on the cast but the woman who is leading the charge does, which in this case is Viola Davis as Annalise. Last time this reviewer watched the show, she was laid bare almost in bordello below the border trying to run away before she is captured. Stripping a character and actor down to that basis is key for the trajectory of this episode. While most of the series finale leads towards why people are motivated to do certain things whether it be in their best interests or their ability to protect others, the simple moral line of which they are traversing is really the pendulum of drama.

At two points in this episode which directly correlate to each other, it is Viola Davis’ character coming to terms with both the hurt she caused but also the selflessness or perhaps mistakes of others that causes her to act the way she does. Granted humanity is always going to act a certain way as a result of its actions and giving away any point here which might interrelate to the conclusion in many different aspects would take away from the impact of those scenes. This series at the end is about identity and responsibility despite the path they might take. Time is the true healer of certain impact situations but the pain has a way of giving perspective. “How To Get Away With Murder” understood that and even with the title of its final episode “Stay”, the irony and perception is in full view with a degree of both humility but acceptance in a way.

A-

By Tim Wassberg

IR TV Review: HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER – EPISODE 10 (“We’re Not Getting Away With It”) [ABC-S6]

The paranoia of mystery depends how bathed the characters are in guilt versus survival. With the episode “We’re Not Getting Away With It”, “How To Get Away With Murder” uses the aspect of who is smarter. Granted the aspect of people working behind the scenes has always been a part of the game that is being played. The interesting purveyor here is letting the doubt sow while very smartly highlighting Viola Davis as Annalise only briefly. The aspect of her physical change is undeniably (perhaps she was starring in a movie at the same time) but that idealism shift is supposed to reflect the turning of the screw. Everyone in this series has their intentions but most seem on the level save for someone who skirted the edge of hard core ethics and a student that doesn’t seem in his right mind. The best aspects within the redemption inherent in a series is the notion of sacrifice. However that progression needs to mean something. Everyone, as the dominoes fall and people start to try to see sides, comes down to the element of selfishness with glimmers of both hope and betrayal. The important detail in this episode is how many lines in key moments are not answers, not denials but not admittance either. In the course of rebuilding a crime that they are at the center of, the team interestingly enough is disjointed which is the whole point. It is just a matter of what Annalise ultimately actually wants to do.

B

By Tim Wassberg

The Help – Film Review

The inner perspective of “The Help” relies on the passage of time to help understand a level of societal impulse unthinkable by today’s standards, both in modern thinking and in the ways of life and how we deal with issues of race. Perceiving its way in both education and entertainment, much like “Far From Heaven” did but with more mainstream appeal, “The Help” recognizes that from tragedy comes some interesting humor that balances the equation, both in the weirdness of customs but also in the general cruelty of human beings.

The catalyst in the story is Eugenia (played by Emma Stone) who takes on an egregious task of manipulating against everything in the Deep South in terms of the societal norms of the 1950s. Using her as the more, perhaps enlightened modern precedence, she seeks to get the story of how the black maids/nannies raise the white children forming an undeniable paradox between how these people see the world as children but do little to change it for the better as adults.

Viola Davis plays Adeline with a quiet conviction that anchors the movie with undeniable poise. Her interaction with her “lady of the house” whom she calls “a baby having babies” reflects in the fact that the little girl there sees her more of a mother than her actual mother. This motif repeats in different ways with different personalities.

The most affecting aspect comes with the interrelation of Eugenia in her own life with the black woman who raised her: Constantine who was sent away by prejudice and saving of face and died. When the dialogue progresses with the idea of a broken heart, its power is striking, signifying an exceptional scene between Stone and the always multi-layered Alison Janney as her cancer stricken mother who still has the ability to redeem herself.

Every character, big and small, provides perspective in a specific way. Octavia Spencer as Milly is the most bombastic of all the characters and has to modulate her sense of duty, sickness for the system and her own life to differing degrees. In interacting with multiple households, her journey provides the most contrast.

The first involves her with a household run by a vicious daughter Hilly (Bryce Dallas Howard) and her loopy but still visceral mother (played with superb visual effect by Sissy Spacek). The contrast of the two with the venom spewing back and forth at times is exceptional. Howard has never disappeared into a role this much to the point that this reviewer didn’t recognize her. That is the innate strength of the picture in that it places you within the world allowing you to project onto these people with distinction for their plight.

Jessica Chastain, another example, plays a blonde outsider that bonds with Milly when no one else will talk to her (since they believe she is a husband stealer). Chastain, again recently met for “Tree Of Life”, is unrecognizable which makes her performance all the more exceptional. What is interesting also is that this is not normal Disney fare. As interacted with the story diversity of Dreamworks and the Mouse’s marketing power, this film shows the power of what is possible with this partnership with “War Horse” also on the way.

Many moments persist, one of the most powerful showing the disconnect expanding from the expulsion of Constantine. That same moment when Eugenia’s mother recollects throwing out her nanny/maid of 30 years to save face, you can see the hurt in the old woman’s eyes. Despite all the disdain and racial elements, there was still a connection there. Cicely Tyson, even in her older age, plays it with such conviction as not to be believed.

As an unknown director for most, Tate Taylor shows undeniable poise and understanding of the material, making it again, educational and entertaining, which considering the subject matter, is no small task. Like “The Color Purple” which in many ways this will be compared to (in no small way because of the lush but not overwhelming visuals, sparse but tightly controlled production design and costumes, music featuring period music as well as American Beauty’s Thomas Newman handling the score), “The Help” provides just the right balance to make everything work without scarsely a hitch but conveying an exceptional amount.

B