The Queen’s Gambit, starring Anya Taylor Joy, arrived on 23 October this year on Netflix, here’s our review of Season One.
It’s based on the 1983 novel by Walter Tevis. The author comments that he was not inspired by any specific player to create the main character. He was inspired by his experiences as a chess player and in his tournaments.
He also took inspiration in his daughter and his aunt since they had powerful character. Both served to be the model of Beth’s personality and attitude.
How did this series originate?
At an early age, Beth is an orphan girl who discovers her true passion and vocation: chess. The story transports us to the United States in the 50s. She will live and experience a wave of emotions and learning with it, on the way to trying to become a chess champion.
The Queen’s Gambit shows that a series can be exciting, adorable, and show a great visual style. Unlike other series released in recent months on Netflix, it has a content of value that goes beyond a beautiful dress.
Scott Frank and Allan Scott are the people in charge and the masterminds behind this project. They make chess one of the most exciting activities thanks to a dynamic montage that takes away the tedium from most of the games.
They also have an incredible setting. Although the camera loves chess and its pieces, also loves the people behind them.
How does Beth move on the board of her life?
Anya Taylor Joy is in charge of giving life to Beth. In this role, it is verified that she is, currently, one of the most talented actresses of her generation.
Like the game, the character does not ask for permission to make the next move. She acts on her instincts and looking out for her best interests at the moment. Although sometimes her decisions do not always end up being favourable.
During these games, the camera focuses on Beth’s face, eyes, and hands. This makes the viewer understand that the intention is not to teach the plays. The most important thing is the weight that each action on the board has within the protagonist.
It can be said that Anya Taylor Joy has managed to channel those emotions without problems. The spectators, even if they do not know chess and do not understand anything of what happens in the games, can feel anxious and excited. Everyone wishes that Beth wins again.
The white and black pieces of history
Now, both the loss and the search for purpose are two key elements in the story. Not only for the protagonist but also for all the characters that go with her, such as her mother. It is quite interesting and striking how Alma’s character, played by the wonderful Marielle Heller, was developed.
It is memorable the exquisite way they explored the adolescence of Beth, as she only wants to experience life. Her methods were drinking, using pills, and dating strangers.
Also, it is completely fascinating how they pose the relationship between mother and daughter. There is a kind of agreement or empathy not expressed verbally.
In fact, the mother often acts childishly; she leaves her daughter in the background as she is searching for her own place in life. Yet, this is not something that creates conflict, as Beth’s character understands her. And it is not natural that she can have this way of understanding. Beth also asks herself every day: where is my life going? Who am I without chess?
In fact, there are chapters where the mother’s behaviour works as a trigger for Beth to ask these questions and keep them in her head forever. At this moment, it becomes more evident how each of the games serves her as a catharsis. With these games, Beth can unload all her fears and insecurities.
Something peculiar is how the series touches on delicate topics, such as addictions, abandonment, and death. In reality, the series never pretends to be a tragedy. Thus, it is not that this is being taken superficially, but that they do not take it to its last consequences to maintain an optimistic arc. This is the general tone of the series: one that excites you and not one that depresses you.
From children’s games to adult games
Now, it is important to highlight how wonderful the subject of sexuality was treated, especially in the scenes of Beth’s childhood. We often forget that curiosity about sex begins to exist from a very young age. Our review finds that the way it is treated in The Queen’s Gambit, through a girl of only nine years old, is very well achieved.
Besides the fact that this topic evolves as Beth grows, it also addresses issues of sexuality, desire, and love. It is very important to note that the actress who played Beth in her child version, Johnston Island, did it fantastically.
The creators had a monumental task by showing different games in each episode without losing the rhythm and strength. In particular, it seems to me that they managed to solve it elegantly. Although sometimes it can get boring to watch so many chess games in one episode, the truth is that they do manage to keep the attention in most of them.
Something stunning was the use and treatment of ellipsis and time jumps, not only between years but also between days. This shows that they knew well what must be shown to avoid plot holes; In this way, the story managed to flow gracefully and naturally.
The most powerful piece on the board
Another important point to highlight is that the series is addressing the issue of a girl in the middle of a manly activity. The way they treat feminism in this miniseries is perfect. In fact, the character does not like that articles written about her always highlights the fact that she is the only woman. She considers that this is not her most relevant attribute or merit.
She doesn’t want labels, she wants to be the best at what she does, and that is exactly where we should aim. Stop thinking only as a woman in a sea of men, because it is not only about a woman standing out, but a human being.
Emotions in every movement
Finally, in our review, The Queen’s Gambit is a charming and exciting series, with a very tasteful production. The production reflects the Cold War era, both in spaces and in the clothing that elegantly evolves into Beth.
If we see it well, the white and black board is only the space for our protagonist to display her most intimate fears and emotions. Then we, as spectators, have the joy of witnessing her plays in the front row.
CULTURE CROSSING SCORE 10/10
Thank you for reading our review of The Queen’s Gambit. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.
Read more of our Netflix reviews HERE.
Read IMDB information about The Queen’s Gambit HERE.
The Queen’s Gambit is streaming now on Netflix.
Cobra Kai Season 4 – Review
Cobra Kai season four is out now on Netflix and the All Valley is back and better than ever. Here’s our review.
SPOILERS: If you’re reading this then you’ve probably seen the show, but if not there are spoilers ahead.
It’s January, and new shows are popping up everywhere. This brings us to the show that I and my friends have been holding our breaths for: the fourth season of the hit Netflix series Cobra Kai! After three seasons, I wondered if there was anything left to mine from the Karate Kid lore or the Johnny/Daniel dynamic. I am happy to report that this might be my favourite season yet! It manages to not only expand upon the universe it has created, but to bring in a new villain, who is so bad that he threatens to outdo even John Kreese!
Season four sets us off where the third left off, with Johnny and Daniel having joined forces to fight Cobra Kai. Their friendship arc is the glue that holds this season together. The story focuses largely on whether they will be able to pull it together and make their partnership work. As in previous seasons, their relationship has its ups and downs. The stakes are heightened, however, as the season leads up to the All-Valley Tournament. A bet between the three senseis – Kreese, Daniel, and Johnny – means that losing the All Valley is losing the title of sensei.
This season explores the ways that both Johnny and Daniel work with the kids. It also examines the kids’ struggles as they prepare for the All Valley while dealing with conflict within the ever-changing network of friends and enemies in the dojos. Robbie has left juvenile hall and decided to join up with Cobra Kai as a means of inflicting revenge on both his dad and Daniel. Tori and Sam continue their rivalry. And John Reese’s old friend Terry Silver (of Karate Kid 3 fame) shows up to kick Cobra Kai into high gear.
Daniel’s son, Anthony, who has largely been absent until now, faces his own dilemma when his friends begin bullying Kenny, the new kid in town. This soft-spoken middle school character brings us into the world of the younger kids, setting up yet another storyline. Kenny becomes the victim of a gang of kids (including Anthony), enduring round after round of bullying before Robbie takes him under his wing. After his induction into Cobra Kai, the formerly shy middle-schooler becomes a bully himself.
Shades of grey
This brings me to one of my favourite things about the show. The constant back and forth dynamic between characters makes us feel that anything is possible. There is no black and white in the world of Cobra Kai. Where the Karate Kid told us that Daniel was good, and Johnny was bad, this show gives us a very different point of view. It’s a world where we’re never sure who to root for. In this season, we even see Hawk make a return to the “good guys” side after giving up his spot at Cobra Kai.
With Eagle Fang (Johnny’s new dojo) and Miyagi-Do teaming up, the kids – and the adults – have to learn to work together. Of course, complications ensue. Johnny becomes jealous of what he perceives as Miguel’s preference for Daniel over him. Sam wants to learn both her dad’s karate style and Johnny’s, despite her father’s discouragement. Meanwhile, at Cobra Kai, Kreese is losing his grip on the dojo. His former war buddy, Terry Silver, puts off a rather benign appearance in episode one, growing more and more evil with each episode.
This season is lacking in many of the big fight scenes of the previous seasons, instead choosing to focus their energy on the characters. The All Valley Tournament features several great karate matches and offers a satisfying conclusion to Johnny and Daniel’s arc. In the end, Cobra Kai takes the tournament win, but Johnny and Daniel have reached an understanding.
Tori defeats Sam to take the women’s All Valley trophy but later overhears her sensei paying off one of the referees. It’s clear that Cobra Kai has pulled yet another fast one. But the season ends on an even more ominous – and unexpected – note. Terry Silver assaults the over-aged former Cobra Kai member, Stingray, sending him to the hospital. He then makes a deal with Stingray to blame the crime on Kreese. We end the season with Kreese in handcuffs, Terry Silver set to take over Cobra Kai, and the future of Eagle Fang and Miyagi-Do uncertain. In a last shocking twist, Miguel leaves town in search of his biological father.
Although some may miss the school hallway throw downs, I found this one satisfying in a different way. It just goes to show that the ever-expanding Cobra Kai universe can keep bringing surprises season after season.
CULTURE CROSSING SCORE 9/10
Thank you for reading our review of Cobra Kai season four. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.
Check out our Hawkeye episode one and two review HERE.
Read IMDB information about Spider-Man: No Way Home HERE.
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