Hello from me, a freelancer, looking completely glamorous and not at all anxious as I work from home.

I’ve been anxious about the coronavirus crisis. Not because I’m worried I’ll get it (I accept that’s likely), or that I might endanger my community (I’m doing my best to take precautions against that). No, what worries me is that I might run out of money and be unable to pay my rent if I’m unable to work due to self-isolation or mandated quarantine.

I’ve had nightmares about getting evicted, from which I’ve awoken covered in sweat. I’ve struggled to concentrate on my work, ironically enough. Last night, as many of my peers in the arts and culture industries were…


The series finale was remarkable for its weary, pragmatic tone, as fiery passion fled Westeros on dragon’s wings.

“No-one is very happy, which means it’s a good compromise, I suppose,” Tyrion said wearily. Welcome to the new Westeros, in which few people got what they wanted — including the audience. But then Bran did offer Tyrion — and us — a clue when he said, “I don’t really ‘want’ any more.”

We shouldn’t mistake Bran’s readiness to rule the Six Kingdoms for a hypocritical desire to do so. His disconnection from the world of warm humanity has made him seem…


This episode challenged its characters to break the chain of vengeance, to decide that different things mattered. Some did. Some couldn’t.

Four hundred years before the events of this episode, the Valyrian Freehold was utterly destroyed, its mastery of dragons, sorcery and steelsmithing reduced to fable when the peninsula’s volcanos, the Fourteen Flames, erupted simultaneously. The fiery cataclysm is known today as the Doom of Valyria.

The sole survivors were House Targaryen, a minor noble family who’d travelled west to the island of Dragonstone 12 years earlier, after Daenys Targaryen had foreseen the Doom in a dream. …


An episode devoted to terrible decision-making reveals a pivot from shocking twists and moments of badass spectacle to quiet, tragic ironies.

Back in season one, Ned Stark laid out a future for his small daughter Arya: “You will marry a high lord and rule his castle, and your sons shall be knights, or princes and lords.”

“No,” she replied immediately. “That’s not me.”

Years later, heading north to rejoin her family, Arya encounters Nymeria, her former direwolf, who now heads a legendary pack in the Riverlands. …


Grim fatalism coexists uneasily with fantasy heroism in the emotionally satisfying but weirdly anticlimactic Battle of Winterfell.

Deep in the crypts of the kings who are gone, Sansa danced with her ghosts. Seeing her edging through crowds of huddled women and children reminded me — as it would have reminded Sansa — of the anxious atmosphere she experienced inside Maegor’s Holdfast during the Battle of the Blackwater in season two.

(Yeah, people were shitscared tonight, but back then Cersei was literally about to murder Tommen to save her son from the same grim fate her family’s forces had meted out…


As the Night King’s army draws close to Winterfell, our heroes snatch some quality time with old friends, seeking love and cherishing memories. Spoilers follow, of course.

Podrick Payne may be the legendary cocksmith of King’s Landing, but this week we discovered he’s got a lovely singing voice, too. (Maybe that’s his secret with the ladies.) As everyone at Winterfell awaits the imminent army of the dead, Tyrion calls for a song, and Podrick obliges with ‘Jenny of Oldstones’:

“High in the halls of the kings who are gone

Jenny danced with her ghosts

The ones she had lost and…


As the culture-defining fantasy series returns for its final season (winter), I’ll be recapping each episode. Obviously, spoilers will follow.

Time makes fools of us all — especially the Game of Thrones characters whose foolhardy past actions are now staring them in the face. In many ways this season premiere re-stages King Robert Baratheon’s arrival at Winterfell in the show’s very first episode. Now, Queen Daenerys Targaryen arrives with her vassal — and lover — Jon Snow and their armies, reuniting many fan-favourite characters and inviting a reckoning with the past.

But they’ll have to do it quick smart. As…


Martin Scorsese’s 1993 high-society period drama may seem an outlier within its director’s oeuvre, but its subtlety and vivid use of symbolism make it one of his greatest films. This short reflection was my contribution to the Scorsese-themed episode of film podcast Hell Is for Hyphenates.

Martin Scorsese’s 1993 film The Age of Innocence begins with a montage of flowers unfurling in stop-motion to a lush orchestral theme, superimposed on textures of lace and roundhand calligraphy. The sequence, designed by film-title legends Elaine and Saul Bass, introduces the film’s themes of layering and symbolism.

As Joanne Woodward’s wry narration explains…


Every day, women are robbed of respect, independence and opportunity… but Steve McQueen’s thriller satisfyingly shows them taking it back.

It annoys me to see Widows described as a ‘heist film’, and even as an ‘all-female heist film’. It annoys me to read reviews that chide director Steve McQueen for shoehorning social commentary into an action thriller, or to hear that Widows is too earnest and self-serious, too diffuse and not focused enough on its central heist.

For me, the strength of this film is its refusal to depict that robbery as an isolated event. Heist films frequently take place…


Entropy has crept into JK Rowling’s wizarding world… but perhaps it was never meant to sustain grown-up stories.

What if Harry Potter, but too much? The answer is Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, a film that exposes the limitations of JK Rowling’s wizarding world.

What was, in 1997, a fun fantasy pastiche of old-fashioned British school stories is now itself a fantastic beast — a lumbering franchise that must be fed with new films, expensive stage plays and cash-in published scripts. …

Mel Campbell

Critic, journalist. Novels w @morrbeat: ‘Nailed It!’ (July 2019) & ‘The Hot Guy’. Nonfic: ‘Out of Shape’. Film/TV reviews & essays: https://medium.com/the-look

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