Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016) review: Warm and wise odd couple comedy

Film

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Director: Taika Waititi Writers: Taika Waititi (screenplay), Barry Crump (based on the book by)  Stars: Sam Neill, Julian Dennison, Rima Te Wiata

If you consider that Taika Waititi’s previous body of work includes the supremely quirky ‘Eagle Vs Shark’, and the pant-wettingly hilarious vampire mockumentary ‘What we do in the Shadows’, to go into a viewing of ‘Hunt for the Wilderpeople’ expecting anything other than offbeat and idiosyncratic would be foolish.

‘Hunt for the Wilderpeople’ takes on a familiar story as we follow the progress of orphaned Ricky (the very charming Julian Dennison), as he reluctantly starts out his new life with foster family Aunty Bella (played with unabashed joy by Rima Te Wiata) and Uncle Hec (a grumbly Sam Neill) on a small holding in the remote outback of New Zealand. Having been through a number of foster homes, with social workers writing him off as a wannabe gangster and rotten apple, Ricky tries his best to escape his new life, but soon finds himself drawn in by Bella’s unflinching warmth, good humour and ninja-like deployment of hot water bottles.

Tragedy soon strikes, although it is handled in a distinctly low-key and stiff-upper-lipped way, with the men going about their normal business to the best of their abilities. Then, through a series of unfortunate events, Ricky finds himself on the run with stoic Uncle Hec and dogs Zag and Tupac in tow, trekking through the thousands of hectares of dense forest surrounding the family’s farm, on the run from both the police and a very angry social worker.

As with Waititi’s previous directorial outings the real joy comes with the unpolished and off-kilter, from Hec’s quiet awe at the “majestical” landscape that lies before them, to Ricky’s ill-fated attempts at running away from home. There is the seemingly obligatory appearance by Rhys Darby as outback hermit Psycho Sam, along with a cameo by the director himself as an eccentric Vicar (who almost steals the show with his tale about Jesus hiding behind doors).

The New Zealand landscape looks both awesome and terrifying as the pair immerse themselves in wilderness living, becoming both an ally and an enemy in their battle to stay together.

Waititi is becoming masterful in his directorial style, and brings a wonderfully fresh slant to what could have been a hackneyed, odd-couple buddy movie, making it a joyous and heart-warming tale of strong characters overcoming adversity and finding comfort in new forms of family.

8 out of 10

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The Girl with all the Gifts (2016) review: Imaginative and emotional update on the zombie trope

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Director: Colm McCarthy Writers: Mike Carey (novel), Mike Carey (screenplay) Stars:Gemma Arterton, Dominique Tipper, Glenn Close

Based on a novel of the same name, ‘The Girl with All the Gifts’ is a horror/drama set in a dystopian Britain, where an aggressive fungal infection has turned most of the population into mindless, flesh-eating ‘hungries’ (zombies essentially). ‘The Girl with All the Gifts’ follows the fortunes of a young girl, Melanie (Sennia Nanua) on her journey of self-discovery. Starting in a bleak underground bunker on an army base, we see Melanie and her classmates being strapped into wheelchairs and transported from their tiny cells to an austere classroom by heavily armed soldiers. Leading the class is affable teacher Miss Justineau (Gemma Arterton), who treats the children with a warmth and respect the military personnel lack. As the story unfolds Melanie finds herself on the run with Miss Justineau, Dr Caldwell (Glenn Close), Sgt Parks (Paddy Considine) and Kieran Gallagher (Fisayo Akinade), fleeing to escape a horde of hungries, slowly learning more about who she is, where she came from and her part in the unfolding horror around her.

Created by a British team on a relatively tiny £4.4 million budget, ‘The Girl with All the Gifts’ is an ambitious genre piece with a surprisingly glossy production feel. Mike Carey has taken his own novel and penned the script, making some interesting choices with its adaptation from book to big screen. Taking out some of the more horrific elements of the novel, Carey instead brings us a more intimate tale, with some of the characters sharp edges filed away; which at times leads to their motivations feeling muddled and two-dimensional.

Melanie however, played by shining star Sennia Nanua, feels fully formed, ferocious and frightening, veering from wide-eyed innocence to feral abandon with ease. Her idolisation of Miss Justineau is both claustrophobic and beautiful, with Arterton and Nanua managing to convey their peculiar bond with a single glance. Glenn Close was an apt choice for the role of the Cruella De Vil-esque Dr Caldwell, who is desperate to dissect our heroine. She seems to disappear into the background for most of the middle act, only to make an impactful return for the heart-crushing finale. Some light relief comes in the form of Paddy Considine as Sgt Parks, whose ‘call a spade a spade’ attitude and practicality reflects the fact that despite the horror it portrays the film does not take itself too seriously.

One of the most successful aspects of the film is the wonderful score, by Cristobal Tapia de Veer, which takes a repetitive refrain of looped voices to add a real sense of foreboding and dread to the bleak landscapes.

While some of the practical make-up and effects look a little clunky (understandable given the budgetary restraints), and not all of the hungries elicit the same level of fear (indeed one or two raised a quiet snigger), the sheer imagination and emotion of ‘The Girl with All the Gifts’ manages to steer it past B-movie territory and could well see it considered one of the best films in the zombie genre.

Now you all need to see it so we can talk about that ending…

7 out of 10

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (2016) review: Burton’s peculiar take on YA

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Director: Tim Burton Writers: Ransom Riggs (based upon the novel written by), Jane Goldman (screenplay) Stars: Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, Samuel L. Jackson

‘Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children’ is so Tim Burton, it feels like it could have been specifically written for him! Jake (Asa Butterfield) is an outsider, his parents tolerate him, everyone at school ignores him and he feels in some way different. The only person he is truly close to is his grandfather, Abe, (Terence Stamp), a man who believes in the magical and tall tales. Following Abe’s untimely demise, Jake finds himself taking a trip to Wales, accompanied by his wonderfully passively-neglectful father (Chris O’Dowd), trying to track down the children’s home where Abe grew up, to help him piece together the mystery of the man he misses so dearly. Upon arrival at the children’s home Jake is plunged into a world of peculiar children; one of whom is lighter than air, one stronger than 10 men and one who has a whole hive of bees living inside them, all overseen by Scary Poppins, Miss Peregrine (Eva Green). Oh, and they’re now in 1943, live the same day over and over again, ‘Groundhog Day’ style, and are being chased by monsters. Still with me? If anyone other than Tim Burton directed this, it would have been a nonsense.

The first act of the film sees Burton and cast on top form, with the pastel-coloured Hopper-esque Florida homes reminiscent of those in ‘Edward Scissorhands’, paving way to the dark dreary Welsh island where the children’s home stands. The characters seem profoundly real, and Jake’s need to connect with his grandfather proves to be a powerful drive, providing a good emotional scaffold to the tale. Indeed, during this first act it appeared this was a film that could rival Harry Potter in it’s imagination, scope and sense of whimsy.

However, the film seems to lose it’s way once it disconnects with reality entirely. The early scenes of Jake travelling through the ‘loop’ (the plot device explaining how the children remain shielded from the real world) from the dark and rain of Wales to the seemingly idyllic sunshine bathed children’s home in 1943 work well, as Burton explores the disconnect between fantasy and reality, unpicking Jake’s grieving process.

Rather than becoming the next Harry Potter, the narrative seems to drag the film down into becoming the next generic YA outing. You know, the one where Percy Jackson fights immortal trolls in a maze, and heals the rifts in a divided society, all the time finding out who he is as a person.

A whole raft of faux-mythic words are unleashed upon the audience as ‘ymbrines’ (Miss Peregrine herself is one, capable of creating a time-loop, turning into a bird, and entrusted with the care of the titular peculiar children), and ‘hollowgasts’ (‘peculiars’ who were transformed into terrifying eyeball eating, invisible creatures) take centre-stage, over-shadowing the very charming tale of Jake and his grandfather.

Then Samuel L. Jackson’s Barron (head hollowgast) bursts into the plot, in full comic-book bad guy mode, (providing the Johnny Depp element, perhaps?) and drags the film even further into the realms of the silly.

Those criticisms aside, ‘Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children’ still feels like a return to form for Burton, as he captures both the gothic and magical elements of the story and the dreary mundane heartbreak of reality with some style. The connect between the Hollowgasts and the horrors Abe’s grandfather endured during his time in Poland during WWII is made subtly, and with care. Visually it is pure Burton, playing with colour-palettes and surreal and uncanny imagery. He even indulges in paying homage to other films, with nods to Ray Harryhausen and Stanley Kubrick (“Heeeerrrre’s Samuel!”) peppered throughout.

The fact the original novel was written around some intriguing photographs speaks volumes. The images here are clear and precise, but the narrative feels somewhat secondary.

Largely enjoyable, if overly long and peppered with over-cooked YA tropes (when an intriguing story about family bonds lay underneath it all), ‘Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children’ will probably prove to be a popular addition to future Christmas TV schedules, but is ultimately quite forgettable.

6 out of 10

The Girl on the Train (2016) review: Location, location, location

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Director: Tate Taylor Writers: Erin Cressida Wilson (screenplay), Paula Hawkins (novel) Stars: Emily Blunt, Haley Bennett, Rebecca Ferguson

Paula Hawkin’s 2015 novel topped bestseller lists all over the world, and was highly visible on sun loungers and train carriages over that summer. Everyone was lapping up the complex, dark thriller, that interweaves the tales of 3 different women, as murderous events unfold in the houses alongside a London train track. It has us all asking the question, “who really killed Megan Hipwell, and what did the various narrators have to do with it?”

Tate Taylor’s film adaptation (with screenplay by ‘Secretary’ writer Erin Cressida Wilson) relocates the thriller from the compact grey back gardens of London, to the large, sprawling yards of outer New York. Straightaway this leads to questions about why some of these people are parading around in their underwear outdoors! The London setting makes sense of this, as we’re all so on top of each other we do tend to see everything, in New York however the only answer seems to be plain old exhibitionism.

Dowdy alcoholic divorcee Rachel, the first of our unreliable narrators, remains English and is played beautifully by Emily Blunt, while all the other characters become New Yorkers. Unfortunately even with a red nose and slightly ruffled hair, Emily Blunt’s version of dowdy alcoholism is most people’s stunningly gorgeous, so some belief has to be suspended here. Despite the fact we have to believe that Luke Evans would be repulsed at the thought of sleeping with her, Blunt’s mounting anger, confusion and desperation is convincing, and we do begin to wonder what happened on the night Megan Hipwell disappeared.

The final product was engaging for the most part, but felt more like a daytime soap opera than a big budget thriller, and the final act proved to be confusing. The plot is changed from a tightly woven “whodunnit” to a somewhat straggly why-did-these-people-marry-each-other story. The characters’ motivations somehow get completely lost in translation from the source material, with an ending which seemingly comes out of nowhere as a result of this. The dialogue seems to be an endless series of clumsy expositions, which feel stilted and unnatural. What should have been a taut thriller feels oddly exploitative instead, with none of the male characters coming out of the narrative well. The sex scenes, both real and of Rachel’s imagination, are both glossy and grubby, seeming to pander to the post-50 Shades audience.

Even the cinematography falls into the realms of the “blah”, with the muted greys of autumnal New York feeling like someone has put on a permanent Instagram filter, rather than a statement of artistic intent. The scenes which do work well are again linked to Emily Blunt, with woozy camera focus and tight framing adding to the sense that this is a woman who is out of control and has no interest in recovering that control.

‘The Girl on the Train’ is mildly entertaining, but too long, and ultimately as confused about its own motivations as the characters seem to be. Emily Blunt becomes the film’s saving grace, but leaves you struggling to remember if there were in fact any other actors on screen, or if there was much else to enjoy about this film.

5 out of 10

 

Nocturnal Animals (2016) review: Stylish modern noir

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Director:Tom Ford Writers: Tom Ford (screenplay), Austin Wright (novel) Stars: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon

It’s hard to believe that ‘Nocturnal Animals’ is only the second directorial outing for fashion designer Tom Ford, seemingly already establishing himself as somewhat of an auteur. Producing, directing and writing the screenplay, Ford’s ‘Nocturnal Animals’ is a dark, hallucinatory noir thriller which has already had a successful festival run, picking up the Grand Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival earlier this year.

Amy Adams is Susan, a rich LA art gallery owner with a magnificent house overlooking the glittering city, with an army of attentive staff and a handsome, successful husband, Walter (Armie Hammer). All is not well in Susan’s life however as she is finding herself increasingly dissatisfied with her life of material excess, and the absence of her travelling husband plays on her mind. As she wrestles with her own feelings of being trapped in a gilded cage, and battling with constant insomnia, a manuscript arrives at her door, from her ex-husband, Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal). The book is entitled ‘Nocturnal Animals’ and has a letter accompanying it explaining that Edward would like Susan to be the first to read it, and has dedicated it to her. What follows is a masterful intertwining of Susan’s own struggles with her dissatisfaction, and insights into the book itself, interpreted through Susan’s own sleep-starved brain. The story that Edward presents to Susan is both violent and clearly a deeply personal tale of one night which changes a man’s life forever.

Falling somewhere between the nightmare worlds of David Lynch and the tangled thrillers of Alfred Hitchcock, ‘Nocturnal Animals’ manages to feel both timelessly classic and ultra modern all at once. The cinematography is beautiful, the production design is breath-taking and it just looks stunning, and boy, am I a sucker for a good-looking film!

The people  in Susan’s world are all beautiful too, all high-gloss, ultra-coiffed and in clothes that probably cost more than most of us make in a year. You can imagine everyone smells like lilies and cedarwood, as they waft through the glass corridors of their lives. Indeed marble and glass abound, with not one mote of dust present anywhere.

Meanwhile in the fictional world, which I’ll call Edward’s world, life is much harder. Set largely in the desert, Edward’s world is dry and dusty, filled with blood, sweat and tragedy. Cars are battered, people are fallible and life is cruel. From the opening sequence Ford makes a clear statement about the real value of art and materialism, with naked overweight women dancing with joyous gusto in front of a glittery backdrop (which we later discover is part of Susan’s latest exhibition) and this theme is followed up throughout the film with the two contrasting worlds.

The cast are all fantastic. Amy Adams is perfect in the role of the seemingly fragile Susan, Jake Gyllenhaal shows incredible range in his dual role, but for me the star turn was from Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Ray. Playing a suitably cartoonish fictional villain, as filtered through Susan’s fatigued mind, Taylor-Johnson’s Ray provides an insight into Edward and Susan’s perceptions of the world, and is both oddly charming and terrifying. Isla Fisher too is terrific in her short screen time in the story within the story.

The soundtrack too deserves a mention as Abel Korzeniowski’s (who also provided the soundtrack for Ford’s first film ‘A Single Man’) score echoes the sense of both classic film making and the ultra-modern, with swathes of orchestral melodrama reminiscent of Bernard Hermann’s scores for Alfred Hitchcock.

While I was mesmerised by the psychological tension, beautiful visuals and grandious score it seems that ‘Nocturnal Animals’ won’t be for everyone, with two people walking out of the Friday night screening I attended, and another couple commenting as the credits rolled that they’d rather watch ‘Sausage Party’ again.

For my money though ‘Nocturnal Animals’ is a beautifully made, deeply affecting and tense exploration of the breakdown of a relationship, and is worth going to see in the cinema to enjoy those visuals and that soundtrack to best effect.

8 out of 10

Logan (2017) review: X-Men Endings

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Director: James Mangold Writers: James Mangold (story by), Scott Frank (screenplay)    Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen

Synopsis: “It’s 2029. Mutants are gone-or very nearly so. An isolated, despondent Logan is drinking his days away in a hideout on a remote stretch of the Mexican border, picking up petty cash as a driver for hire. His companions in exile are the outcast Caliban and an ailing Professor X, whose singular mind is plagued by worsening seizures. But Logan’s attempts to hide from the world and his legacy abruptly end when a mysterious woman appears with an urgent request–that Logan shepherd an extraordinary young girl to safety. Soon, the claws come out as Logan must face off against dark forces and a villain from his own past on a live-or-die mission, one that will set the time-worn warrior on a path toward fulfilling his destiny.” Rotten Tomatoes
James Mangold was not fucking around when he soundtracked the early trailer for Logan with Johnny Cash’s cover of ‘Hurt’. This film is is about pain, suffering, grit and guilt. A brilliantly drawn modern western; a road movie; a film about ageing, family and man vs myth… None of which I was expecting when I went in to see the latest in the X-Men movie franchise behemoth.
Mangold’s previous work on Cash biopic ‘Walk the Line’ and western ‘3.10 to Yuma’ are a better reference point to anyone wondering where Logan sits in terms of tone than any of the other X-Men films.
Setting out his stall early on, Mangold shows us  Logan, passed out  on the back seat of his car from drinking, having his rims stolen by a young gang of ‘chollos’ near the Mexican border. A reluctant Logan ends up mutilating and killing the young men after they shoot him, despite trying to de-escalate the situation. It’s a brutal opening sequence that sees a very different Wolverine to that of other X-Men outings. This Wolverine is plagued by arthritis, poor vision and above all, world-weariness. If this were a different type of movie he’d be uttering the staple line “I’m getting too old for this shit”.
However, Logan the film is far from obvious, with some beautifully drawn characters and elegant dialogue that allow actors to be able to portray some complex emotions with just a glance. This sees both Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart’s best performances in any of the X-Men films, and perhaps even some of their best performances full stop as they are given some meaty material to work with.
Dafne Keen, as Laura, is a revelation. Her performance as the young mutant whose presence forces Logan’s dysfunctional family out of hiding is stunning. One minute she is feral and terrifying, but then with a glance she reminds you she is just a little girl, one who has been abused and damaged and is trying to make sense of the world.
A scene in which Professor X and Laura sit in a hotel room watching 1953 western Shane gives the audience an insight into Mangold’s intention for Logan the film. This is 100% western or road movie, stripping away the usual bluster and complexity of comic book films to concentrate on character and emotional development. On the TV screen a character says ” Joey, there’s no living with… with a killing. There’s no going back from one. Right or wrong, it’s a brand. A brand sticks. There’s no going back.” Every death in Logan matters. It is brutal, painful and has repercussions for all involved. Indeed it’s almost Hobbesian in it’s portrayal of life being ‘solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short’.
Logan is the graphic novel to the previous X-Men films’ comic books. A brutal and brilliant grown-up look at ageing, dementia, death and decay which happens to feature some characters from comic books, which unexpectedly left me an emotional wreck.
9 out of 10

 

Five Netflix gems- October 2016 edition

Film

Can’t decide what to watch on Netflix? Maybe one of these gems might be for you?

1. Faults (2014)

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Director: Riley Stearns Writer: Riley Stearns Starring: Leland Orser, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Chris Ellis

Off-kilter ultra-black comedy starring the always terrific Mary Elizabeth Winstead as a member of a cult who finds herself at the centre of an intervention to de-program her. Has a great twist at the end.

 

2. Turbokid (2015)

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Directors: François Simard, Anouk Whissell  Writers: François Simard, Anouk Whissell  Stars: Munro Chambers, Laurence Leboeuf, Michael Ironside

A kitschy post-apocalyptic tale, that might well have been written by a Nintendo obsessed teenager in the 1990s with insane levels of practical effects gore. That’s all a compliment.

 

3. Hush (2016)

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Director: Mike Flanagan Writers: Mike Flanagan, Kate Siegel Stars: John Gallagher Jr., Kate Siegel, Michael Trucco

A clever take on the home invasion film, which genuinely had me yelling at the television.

4 The Invitation (2015)

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Director: Karyn Kusama Writers: Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi Starring: Logan Marshall-Green, Emayatzy Corinealdi, Michiel Huisman

Tense thriller starring Logan “Not Tom Hardy” Marshall-Green as a man who goes to dinner at his ex-wife’s house, but begins to suspect her intentions are more malign than it first appeared.

5. Z for Zachariah (2015)

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Director: Craig Zobel Writers: Nissar Modi (screenplay), Robert C. O’Brien (novel) Stars: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Chris Pine, Margot Robbie

Clever post-apocalyptic thriller/romance with 3 excellent leads. Despite the simplicity of the premise the quality performances and excellent direction make this an intriguing watch.

 

I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House (2016): review

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Director: Oz Perkins Writer: Oz Perkins Stars: Ruth Wilson, Paula Prentiss, Lucy Boynton

Netflix Originals film output is almost as strong as it’s excellent TV output these days. From the award-winning Idris Elba helmer Beasts of No Nation to the funny and touching The Fundamentals of Caring, Netflix films are becoming a force to be reckoned with (if only they would drop their obsession with Adam Sandler).

Their Halloween offering to their viewers, I am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House, thankfully keeps up this trend of high-quality entertainment. Written and directed by Osgood Perkins (son of actor Anthony, who gets a sly nod during the film), IATPTTLITH (as no-one will call it) tells the tale of a young nurse, Lily (Ruth Wilson), who finds herself caring for an elderly horror writer, Iris Blum (Paula Prentiss). The two women remain largely alone in Blum’s isolated New England home, with no television and just the one telephone connecting them to the outside world. So far, so Stephen King. However within the opening monologue Lily reveals  that the house has seen previous deaths and that she won’t live to see her next birthday, which leaves us in a constant state of tension as we wonder what is going to happen to Lily over the next 90 minutes.

The film itself is one giant, elegant exercise in building tension. The narrative itself could be condensed to 2 sides of A4, and very little happens. There is only one jump-scare, no gore and no terrifying demons. The end result however is a masterful and poetic exercise in making your skin crawl. Lingering shots of dark doorways become way more frightening than any CGI monster, and I found myself going to check my doors were all locked. This is not a horror film for fans of the standard horror tropes, as it is much more measured in it’s scares.

It is hard to pin down when the film is set, although the lack of mobile phones and the nods to The Grateful Dead, mentions of Blum’s books being a hit in the 60’s, all hint that this is possibly early 80’s. This sense of timelessness seems perfect, as the film  itself could be either an Edgar Allan Poe poem, John Carpenter film or the more avant-garde scares of Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin. Osgood Perkins clearly knows horror inside out.

The success or failure of the film hinges entirely on the quality of the performance of our protagonist, who occupies about 90% of the screen time. Ruth Wilson puts in an amazing performance as scaredy-cat Lily, managing to balance being shy and naive while giving some seriously creepy vibes in her voice-over. Paula Prentiss too is great in the few scenes she has, veering from being illness-induced absence to absolute and terrifying lucidity.

The soundtrack, or lack thereof, adds to the insidious scares, with the creaks and bangs of the old house adding to the sense that there is a malign presence within.

The ending was a little lacking, and seemed to be a bit of compromise after such an audacious exercise in stringing out tension, but overall IATPTTLITH left me feeling unsettled and hiding under my bedcovers, which surely is what good horror should do.

8 out of 10

Bojack Horseman Season 3 (2016): In praise of the bravest and most original satire on TV (SPOILERS)

TV

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Netflix’ original output has just been getting better and better of late.

The internet has been obsessed with the John Carpenter-and-Stephen-King-esque homage to all things 80’s Stranger Things since it’s release two weeks ago, and yes, it’s fantastic, but I wanted to talk about something which has a deeper meaning and is a truly important cultural text: a show about a talking horse.

Bojack Horseman may seem like an unlikely political hero, but season 3 of the show has upped the ante in terms of originality and social commentary, while still maintaining it’s hefty emotional clout.

Bojack remains a horse haunted by his demons, tackling his own mental illness and childhood trauma while struggling to maintain fully functioning adult relationships. His character is so well-drawn it is sometimes easy to forget you’re watching an animated equine, as he gets drawn into darker territory and more self-destructive behaviour as he tries to avoid intimacy and, in turn, rejection.

The whole cast of characters are beautifully drawn, from Alison Brie’s depressed activist and social media  manager Diane, to Aaron Paul’s potentially asexual slacker Todd, the Hollywoo universe is full of a rich vein of drama to mine.

It is often said that you can get away with far more in animation than you can with live action, and season 3 of Bojack Horseman pushes this to the limit. Covering topics from murder, drug and alcohol addiction, mental illness, feminism and abortion, Bob Waksberg and team are unflinchingly reflecting modern society in a technicolour world.

Resolutely story-driven, the comedy is almost an after-thought, but it is also supremely dark in it’s humour. In possibly the most controversy-baiting episode, ‘Brrap Brrap Pew Pew’, we follow Diane and her husband, loveable canine Mr Peanut Butter, as they decide to have an abortion. After accidentally tweeting out from one of her social media clients accounts that she’s having an abortion, said star Sextina Aquafina decides to embrace her new-found status as an empowered pro-life icon and releases a hugely ill-advised music video about murdering embryos with guns.

“Is Twitter an appropriate forum to be discussing a sensitive issue like abortion? Wouldn’t a better forum be…nowhere?” TV News-whale Tom

Setting aside any concept of political correctness, the episode encourages open, honest discussion in a time when some topics are seen as off the table, even for hard-hitting drama.

“Has the concept of women having choices gone too far? We’ve assembled this diverse panel of white men in bow ties to discuss the issue”- TV news-whale Tom, hitting the nail on the head.

The rest of the episode packs in ideas about celebrity culture, a woman’s right to choose, freedom of speech and some fairly emotionally devastating moments into 25 minutes of beautifully written and acted TV (and also shoe horns in some digs at Jurj Clooners).

Episode 4, ‘Fish out of water’ is almost entirely silent, following Bojack as he visits the Pacific Ocean. In the finest tradition of silent acting, the episode is by turns slapstick and heart-breaking, as Bojack finds himself responsible for the welfare of an orphaned seahorse. You wouldn’t get that on The Big Bang Theory.

Overall the season is hugely melancholy, as we watch Bojack spiral downwards into depression and self-destructive behaviour, with the kind of story arc that Breaking Bad would have been proud of. Even when one of Bojack’s oldest friends dies from a drug overdose the show manages to find the humour in the darkness.

Will Arnett is incredible as Bojack, bringing the warmth and charisma needed to balance out a character who could have been inherently unlikeable. Instead we find ourselves rooting for Bojack and hoping he can let his guard down enough to stop his pattern of self-destruction.

The joy of streaming services producing comedy is that they don’t have to cater to the mainstream, and they can make genuinely daring and ground-breaking shows, unfettered by worries of alienating advertisers. Bojack Horseman continues to be a shining example of this, a show that is daring, brave, funny and leaves you wondering why more of what we see on screens large and small isn’t as honest as this.