the handmaid's tale the word review

(We’re going to kickstart our weekly The Handmaid’s Tale review by answering one simple question: Who suffered the most?)

In the spirit of The Handmaid’s Tale’s spectacularly on-the-nose needledrops, I would like to compare the season 2 finale of the Hulu series, “The Word,” to John Mayer’s hit song “Daughters.” “Fathers be good to your daughters / daughters will love like you do / Girls become lovers who turn into mothers / so mothers be good to your daughters too,” Mayer croons in the sentimental pop song that tries so hard to relate to women through their standing as mothers, daughters, sisters.

The Handmaid’s Tale has had a complex relationship with motherhood. Its premise is centered around women who have had their identity and agency stripped from them — reduced to merely child-bearing vessels. Neither mother, nor daughter, nor sister. And yet, like Mayer’s simplistic understanding of gender norms, The Handmaid’s Tale has had trouble expanding its characterization of women beyond mother.

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the handmaid's tale postpartum review

(We’re going to kickstart our weekly The Handmaid’s Tale review by answering one simple question: Who suffered the most?)

The Handmaid’s Tale’s latest episode, “Postpartum,” just had me feeling depressed. Not because it was an almost-immediate return to the bleak status quo that this show is so fond of, but because it was another tonal and quality dip for the series after the breathtaking highs of last week’s “Holly.”

That’s not to say that this episode was entirely abysmal in tone. In fact, there were even some bursts of camp with the introduction of a guest actor whose appearance is always a pleasant surprise — and perhaps the fresh, invigorating addition that this show needs.

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the handmaid's tale holly review

(We’re going to kickstart our weekly The Handmaid’s Tale review by answering one simple question: Who suffered the most?)

As bleak as this show has gotten, The Handmaid’s Tale will always remind us how impeccably filmed it is, and how stupendously acted. And “Holly” really is the epitome of that. “Holly” is an incredible showcase for Elisabeth Moss (who will definitely submit this one for Emmy consideration) and a realization of what The Handmaid’s Tale can be when it’s not aggressively throwing dreary imagery at us every few minutes.

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the handmaid's tale the last ceremony review

(We’re going to kickstart our weekly The Handmaid’s Tale review by answering one simple question: Who suffered the most?)

The screener for this week’s episode of The Handmaid’s Tale came with a curious bolded warning: “This episode has content that may be extra sensitive for some viewers.” It’s an alarming piece of cautionary text for a show that has regularly trafficked in misery.

This season of The Handmaid’s Tale has upped the suffering to ludicrous levels, so much so that at times the acclaimed show has felt no better than misery porn. At what point does watching The Handmaid’s Tale just become a sadistic chore for us every week? While early episodes showed promise of an expanded world and affecting character arcs outside of June’s POV, The Handmaid’s Tale was all too eager to snap back to the status quo and to the abject misery that it was so known for in the first Emmy-winning season. But I will say that at least “The Last Ceremony” makes an effort to give us an emotional anchor that makes the episode more impactful than earlier episodes’ barrage of bleak imagery. But is it enough to offset one of the show’s most violently distressing scenes?

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the handmaid's tale smart power review

(We’re going to kickstart our weekly The Handmaid’s Tale review by answering one simple question: Who suffered the most?)

A grenade went off in Gilead, and we waited for something to change. And waited. But The Handmaid’s Tale loves the status quo too much, and everything sprung back into place — except in the smaller, quieter moments of rebellion among the women in crisis. But this week in “Smart Power,” a new grenade was launched, in the form of anonymous letters that first appeared all the way back in Season 1. And this time, something may explode.

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Hereditary Ending

Ari Aster‘s indie horror film Hereditary is being hailed as one of the scariest movies in recent memory. Aster blends family drama with crushing dread, creating a memorable, horrifying journey. Now that the film is out and most people have had a chance to see it, let’s talk about the terrifying Hereditary ending.

Major spoilers follow.

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the handmaid's tale women's work

(We’re going to kickstart our weekly The Handmaid’s Tale review by answering one simple question: Who suffered the most?)

Remarkably for a show that is so deeply committed to disturbing its audiences, The Handmaid’s Tale continues its upswing from last week in perhaps the first episode that manages to find the delicate balance between unsettling and uplifting.

“Women’s Work” takes that tenuous alliance that was formed at the end of “After” and shows us progressively emboldened June (yay!) and an increasingly sympathetic Serena Joy (hrmph). But “Women’s Work” gives us fascinating insight into an uncertain unity that can be formed between women in the face of a huge crisis.

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David, Jeff, Kristy and Alan Scherstuhl discuss writer-director Bart Layton’s latest film American Animals starring Evan Peters, Blake Jenner, Ann Dowd and Barry Keoghan. Make sure to check out Alan’s review of American Animals at Village Voice as well as Kristy’s review at Riot Material. Lastly, David and Jeff conclude this episode with an ‘After Dark’ segment discussing the fallout of Solo: A Star Wars Story.

You can always e-mail us at slashfilmcast(AT)gmail(DOT)com, or call and leave a voicemail at 781-583-1993. Also, follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.

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american animals featurette

American Animals tells the true story of one of the most audacious art heists in U.S. history. When it came time to make the film, director Bart Layton decided to tackle the real story head-on by involving the actual people involved. A new American Animals featurette examines the real individuals and the true story behind the movie.

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the handmaid's tale seeds review

(We’re going to kickstart our weekly The Handmaid’s Tale review by answering one simple question: Who suffered the most?)

Misery porn isn’t a term that I like to throw around lightly, but man, does The Handmaid’s Tale make me want to. I’m running out of synonyms for “bleak” at this point. It’s no surprise that the show’s sophomore season doubled down on the Emmy-nominated first season’s brilliantly bleak reflection of society, but there comes a tipping point when the despair starts to feel hollow. “Seeds” is that tipping point.

The episode is an emotionally taxing jaunt into a world where all the women we’re rooting for are utterly broken and find that there is something lower than rock bottom.

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