House Logo
Explore categories +

Stephen Dillane (#110 of 15)

Toronto Film Review Haifaa Al-Mansour’s Mary Shelley

Comments Comments (...)

Toronto Film Review: Haifaa Al-Mansour’s Mary Shelley

TIFF

Toronto Film Review: Haifaa Al-Mansour’s Mary Shelley

Casting attractive young stars Elle Fanning and Douglas Booth, respectively, as Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley and Percy Bysshe Shelley makes Mary Shelley, director Haifaa al-Mansour’s biopic of the mother of Gothic fiction, a kind of grandfather’s paradox of the modern wave of eroticized young-adult romantic fantasy, reconfiguring the ancestor to match its descendant. The film’s cleverest trick, foregrounded from the moment that a teenaged Mary meets Percy as a radical with scandalous notions of free love, is to suggest that, in YA terms, Percy himself is the monster with whom the bright, ambitious woman falls hopelessly in love. As such, Mary is only able to see his most intoxicating properties and none of his numerous dangers.

Game of Thrones Recap Season 5, Episode 10, "Mother’s Mercy"

Comments Comments (...)

Game of Thrones Recap: Season 5, Episode 10, “Mother’s Mercy”

HBO

Game of Thrones Recap: Season 5, Episode 10, “Mother’s Mercy”

It’s long been a given on Game of Thrones that “All men must die.” The question, then, is less a matter of whether they will, but how they will. Those who accept death, like those in the service of the Many-Faced God, are ironically those who manage to find agency in the time they have left. On the other hand, those who break the rules and customs of the land are those most likely to suffer most before their last breath.

To begin with, there’s the fall of Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane). As foreshadowed a few episodes back in the advice given by Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) to Daenerys (Emilia Clarke), those who kill the people most devoted to them rarely inspire future devotion. Stannis has broken several natural laws in his determined, mindless quest to recapture the Iron Throne, most recently when he commanded his beloved daughter be set ablaze as a sacrifice to the Lord of Light. Though his actions may have broken the bitter winter that threatened to destroy his army before he could even besiege Winterfell, they’ve also divided his army, with half of his forces committing mutiny and running off in the night. (His wife also chooses to flee, albeit at the end of a noose.) But it’s not Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon) who gets him in the end. Instead, Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) tracks him and lands the killing blow—not because he dared to challenge the Boltons, but because he murdered his own brother, Renly, with blood magic. Perhaps realizing the depths of his own horrible actions, Stannis confesses, accepting the consequences of his actions: “Go on and do your duty.”

Game of Thrones Recap Season 5, Episode 9, "The Dance of Dragons"

Comments Comments (...)

Game of Thrones Recap: Season 5, Episode 9, “The Dance of Dragons”

HBO

Game of Thrones Recap: Season 5, Episode 9, “The Dance of Dragons”

The title of tonight’s episode of Game of Thrones comes from a book of Westerosian history, the so-called Dance of Dragons, which, as Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) points out to his daughter, Shireen (Kerry Ingram), is an awfully poetic way of putting things. From a safe distance, these moments in history might look quite beautiful, filled with ominous foreshadowing and eerie parallels, but on the ground level, things can be quite horrific.

So it is, for instance, with Stannis’s own situation. The episode begins with a fire breaking out across his camp—an act of sabotage from the Boltons in Winterfell—which in turn leads to Stannis caving into the black-magic demands of Melisandre (Carice van Houten), as he allows the witch to burn Shireen alive in a blood sacrifice to the Lord of Light. And while it’s easy to allow such necessities in the abstract, as Selyse Baratheon (Tara Fitzgerald) is at first able to do, when a mother hears her daughter screaming for help within the billowing flames, the cost seems too high. This may explain why Stannis chooses to share a fatalistic philosophy with Shireen in his last conversation with her. If it’s true that his history has already been written, then he has no choice and can absolve himself of this murder: “He must become who he is meant to be, no matter how much he may hate it.”

Game of Thrones Recap Season 5, Episode 7, "The Gift"

Comments Comments (...)

Game of Thrones Recap: Season 5, Episode 7, “The Gift”

HBO

Game of Thrones Recap: Season 5, Episode 7, “The Gift”

A great many gifts are at the heart of tonight’s episode of Game of Thrones. As Jon (Kit Harington) heads north to liberate the Wildlings with Tormund (Kristofer Hivju), Sam (John Bradley-West) hands him the dragonglass dagger with which he slew a White Walker. Ramsay (Iwan Rheon) presents Sansa (Sophie Turner) with the flayed corpse of the elderly woman who swore to protect her, Reek (Alfie Allen) having betrayed her and the Starks once again. Melisandre (Carice van Houten) promises Stannis (Stephen Dillane) certain victory in Winterfell, but only if she’s given royal blood—specifically that of his daughter, Shireen (Kerry Ingram). Bronn (Jerome Flynn) gets exactly the sort of crazed flirtation from a Dornish woman when Tyene (Rosabell Laurenti Sellers) withholds the antidote to her dagger’s “Long Farewell” until he admits that she’s the prettiest woman he’s ever seen. After success in the fighting pits, Jorah (Iain Glen) is able to present Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) to Daenerys (Emilia Clarke). And finally, Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) presents Lady Olenna (Diana Rigg) with the same sort of gift that he provided Cersei (Lena Headey): the poisonous confession of a young man, in this case, that of the incestuous Lancel (Eugene Simon).

Game of Thrones Recap Season 5, Episode 4, "Sons of the Harpy"

Comments Comments (...)

Game of Thrones Recap: Season 5, Episode 4, “Sons of the Harpy”

HBO

Game of Thrones Recap: Season 5, Episode 4, “Sons of the Harpy”

Niccolo Machiavelli once wrote that “It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both.” A corollary to this, as taught by Game of Thrones, is that it’s better to be respected than powerful, because power is nothing but a currency used by the especially clever. Considering how many people are neither feared nor loved in “Sons of the Harpy,” respect is all that matters—that, and the dangerous Dangerfield-ian consequences of not getting any respect.

Game of Thrones Recap Season 5, Episode 1, "The Wars to Come"

Comments Comments (...)

Game of Thrones Recap: Season 5, Episode 1, “The Wars to Come”

HBO

Game of Thrones Recap: Season 5, Episode 1, “The Wars to Come”

The fifth season of Game of Thrones begins like a fairy tale: Once upon a time, two girls walk through a forest, muddying up their fancy clothes in search of a fortune-telling witch. One of the two is terrified, and halting, but the other is confident and brave, leading her friend by the hand, and facing down the hag. However, the interesting thing about fairy tales, like history, is that so much weight hangs on the perspective of those hearing the tale, and so as we realize that this bold little girl will one day grow up to be Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey), we notice that she didn’t lead her friend through the woods so much as pull and coerce her. She’s not Snow White in this story, but rather the Wicked Witch, the one who’s told “You’ll be queen, for a time. Then comes another. Younger, more beautiful.”

Game of Thrones Recap Season 4, Episode 10, "The Children"

Comments Comments (...)

Game of Thrones Recap: Season 4, Episode 10, “The Children”

HBO

Game of Thrones Recap: Season 4, Episode 10, “The Children”

Contrary to the structure of most serial television, Game of Thrones tends to peak with its penultimate episode, leaving finales open to operate as a form of self-summary. They take stock of the dead, consider the implications of arc climaxes, and anticipate how characters will move forward in the subsequent season. This structure fits with the mission statement of George R. R. Martin’s books: to dispel the orthodox narratives and tone of fantasy to consider how magic and dragons might impact something closer to medieval history and anthropology.

Game of Thrones Recap Season 4, Episode 6, "The Laws of God and Men"

Comments Comments (...)

Game of Thrones Recap: Season 4, Episode 6, “The Laws of God and Men”

HBO

Game of Thrones Recap: Season 4, Episode 6, “The Laws of God and Men”

If every episode of this season of Game of Thrones so far has revolved around a focusing idea, the unifying element of “The Laws of God and Men” may be the profound silence of the show’s architecture. It begins with Stannis (Stephen Dillane) and Davos (Liam Cunningham) visiting the Iron Bank in Braavos, meeting a collection of bankers in a vast hall that adds a degree of severity to the talk before anyone speaks. A shot of the wannabe king’s ship sailing into Braavos establishes the city as a temperate lagoon, but the bank’s room feels as cold as the dilapidated chambers of Castle Black, too large to retain its warmth.

Game of Thrones Recap Season 4, Episode 2, "The Lion and the Rose"

Comments Comments (...)

Game of Thrones Recap: Season 4, Episode 2, “The Lion and the Rose”

HBO

Game of Thrones Recap: Season 4, Episode 2, “The Lion and the Rose”

Game of Thrones eased into its fourth season with an episode that traded the unending forward motion of the show’s previous season for a moment of ragged calm, but “The Lion and the Rose” reveals that respite as nothing more than the eye of a storm. Not only that, George R. R. Martin’s writing credit makes it clear from the start that not only does something happen in this episode, but that the cataclysmic event typically placed in a given season’s penultimate installment will likely occur almost immediately, dramatically shaking up the show’s usual structure and setting up the fourth season as its most distinctive yet.

Game of Thrones Recap Season 4, Episode 1, "Two Swords"

Comments Comments (...)

Game of Thrones Recap: Season 4, Episode 1, “Two Swords”

HBO

Game of Thrones Recap: Season 4, Episode 1, “Two Swords”

Game of Thrones has always had a fractured structure, be it the result of having to jump great geographical distances to follow all of its characters, or of cataclysmic, splintering events like the execution of Ned Stark just as he emerged as the show’s seeming focus. Judging from the torpor of “Two Swords,” the fourth-season premiere, the residents of Westeros still haven’t put themselves back together in the wake of the Red Wedding. In a series that regularly undermines the tenets of fantasy, replacing a world of chivalry and duty with one of ceaseless rape and murder, the concept of guest rights may be the last shred of honor to which anyone held, and even those who benefit from Robb Stark’s demise seem to worry over its implications.