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Old January 16th, 2012 (12:19 PM).
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'What's that?' I hear you say? 'We want another Culture & Media Review Contest!' you cry out? Well, worry no more: your thirst will be quenched; your hunger, satisfied; and your fingers will bleed with joy after typing to their heart's content about the best that entertainment has to offer. That's right: it's time for another Review Contest, and just in time for Valentine's Day!

For those unfamiliar with how these have worked in the past, please check out the old threads here and here. As with the previous contests, the winner will receive a special emblem and a Supporter Tier; the participants will receive a participatory emblem, but no Supporter Tier.

The theme for this contest is that of love. To enter, simply write a review about a piece of entertainment (whether it be book, film, TV show, piece of music, theatre or poetry) that has something to do with love and/or romance. Certain people didn't seem to like the more stringent rules for the last contest, so I'm going in the opposite direction and opening it up a lot. Below are the rules, so read them carefully before entering.
  1. Anyone can enter. Yay!
  2. All reviews should be written in English.
  3. Please spell-check your work and make sure your grammar is good.
  4. The theme of this contest is love. Please make sure your review mentions this theme in some way. (You don't have to review a traditional 'romantic' piece of entertainment, but as long as your review is connected to love, it'll be accepted for judging. Essentially, it's up to you how to construe 'love', so long as you do construe it in some way.)
  5. Post your entries in THIS THREAD. If you want to change it before the deadline, then just edit your post rather than making a new one.
  6. Reviews should be more than 500 words, but less than 1,500 words. (Good reviews aren’t short, but they’re often concise.) THIS WILL BE ENFORCED!
  7. This is a REVIEW contest, not a RECAP contest: a little bit of plot summary is nice and often necessary for bits of culture that involve narrative, but good reviews are analytical and yours should be too.
  8. Use paragraphs and avoid using extraneous formatting like underlining/bolding unless you think it is really justified.
  9. Extraneous information (pictures, a final rating, credits etc.) are not necessary but, if used well, can enhance your review. Think before using them, though… in particular, think about how your formatting will look on different PC styles.
  10. Proofread your work before submitting it, and don’t be afraid to sleep on it before finally clicking ‘Reply’.
  11. The contest will end at midnight UTC-0 on Tuesday 14th February, 2012! Winners will hopefully be announced a few days later.
  12. I will be the only judge this time, so no bribing me!
So, without further ado, review away! :D
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Old February 2nd, 2012 (6:27 AM). Edited February 3rd, 2012 by Rest.
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Blue Valentine
by Rest

Blue Valentine is the story of Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams), two people who promised happily-ever-after during their years of courtship, only to have their marriage torn down by inevitable differences.

Blue Valentine is well-paced. Beginning with the losing of the family dog, the film sets the story by exhibiting the two different personalities of Dean and Cindy in an ordinary kitchen, Dean a man who's childish manner is not yet dead as shown when he plays with his cereals with his daughter, and Cindy a cold woman and a "full-fledged" adult who criticises her husband's silly doings. Dean's immaturity and frolic wins their daughter's love, but both share their love towards her unconditionally and vice versa. The film solidifies the characters' persona quite early, with every scene opening layer after layer of the characters' skin, none meaningless in the least.

Only very soon do you see the crack in the fortress; Cindy is blamed and under fire by her disappointed husband after Cindy discovers their dog's corpse at the roadside. Cindy cries in the process. Dean would later break into tears after burying their beloved dog. Fights after fights occur, varying in magnitude, sometimes non-verbal, but never settling. This showed the emotional instability that exists among them, and the inability that any of them can truly comfort one other.

Interweaving with the latter-day events are flashbacks of their days of courtship. Beginning with Dean's total infatuation with Cindy, flourishing during their joyful night-out in the dark, vacant streets of New York, exploding with Cindy's sudden pregnancy and the confusion caused by events unraveled, and ending with their hopeful marriage.

Blue Valentine is a love story that is realistic, and it works despite its non-formulaic style. The film is beautifully shot and pieced, sometimes set in an urban, dark and free environment or otherwise in a narrow and cramped light-filled room. Colour plays a big part in putting in effort of realising the movie, sometimes using neon blue to intensify tense scenes, sometimes using dim and earthy tones for the gentler moments. Nonetheless, the film captures every scene magnificently and appropriately.

Michelle Williams portrays Cindy both in the past and present, with aplomb. She is able to play a vulnerable character who has a lot of love to give but none given to her. Ryan Gosling plays an average blue-collar man of New York who is shot at the heart when she eyes his lover-to-be from across the hall, in the most unexpected time and place. Both the lead characters are equal in strength and depth, and they progress into the story together. I've loved, hated and emphatised for both characters into the story. Both actors definitely have done their homework in attempting to portray this set of polar opposites, especially Williams, who is able to exude her character with a ferocity and coldness that is rarely seen, despite her wispy appearance.

Blue Valentine, which is essentially a film that tells two intersecting chapters of a story, is like a bitter betrayal to the audience, a candy turning from sweet to medicinal. At one point, Cindy proclaims to her beloved grandmother that she would never end up like her parents, who fight each other constantly. Dean and Cindy's glaring romance during that one night promises a bright, blissful future together. On the other hand, the present shows a scorning husband and wife who's foundations were promising, but in the end becoming each other's venom. We are thrown from a calm breeze to a raging current, back and forth, intensifying into a great love hand-in-hand with a great hatred as the film progresses. In the end, both a happy and tragic ending manifest.

Empathy is an often overlooked component that sets a good film from a great film, and there is much that you can empathize for these characters. For example, after being involved in a bloody fight with the doctor at Cindy's workplace over his jealousy, Dean throws his wedding ring into some bushes, only to hesitate and then attempting to recover his thrown ring. Dean's marriage is poisonous to him, but his love for his wife is undying. Such scenes are needed to truly evoke the meaning of the film at hand.

This is a love story, albeit a tragic one. It is not like other romantic movies that present pleasant closure for the audience, but Blue Valentine promises a real-life scenario and a realistic portrait of a family built upon clouds but later burns and falls, as well as remarkable acting and beautiful filming. This piece of work is truly a tours de force in the romance genre that comes once in a blue moon.

Rating - 5 / 5

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Old February 3rd, 2012 (1:49 AM).
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Notting Hill (1999)

by Shining Raichu

“The fame thing isn’t really real, you know. Don’t forget, I’m also just a girl… standing in front of a boy… asking him to love her.”
- Anna Scott

Romantic comedies are a plagued genre. They are often gimmicky and ridiculous and have received a terrible reputation for being formulaic rubbish. This is something I don’t mind, because it means that when a good one does come along, watching it is a far more rewarding experience for the effort of the hunt. Not to be racist, but decent romantic comedies are not something that America tends to do well, so it stands to reason that the job would fall to Britain.

Notting Hill (1999) is that rare example of a rom-com which is both smartly conceived and executed, and holds true with the utmost competence to both aspects of the genre. It is the story of William Thacker (Hugh Grant), the owner of a travel-book shop in London’s Notting Hill, whose life is changed forever when Anna Scott (Julia Roberts), the most famous actress on Earth, wanders into his store to buy a book.

From the moment she enters the store, it is clear that she knows how to handle herself. At the time of filming, this movie would have held a parallel to Julia Roberts’ real life, as she was then the most famous woman in our world. As such, it was apparent that the role was a familiar one for her to play, which had the potential to make her performance less impressive by comparison. Instead, it managed to make it all the more realistic. The way her character is written and performed – beginning with unimpressed detachment and evolving into something more fun and radiant as the film progresses – ensures that we the audience fall in love with her just as quickly and easily as Mr. Thacker.

Also astoundingly evident from the moment two meet is the chemistry between the two actors – and correspondingly, the characters. I find that it is difficult to quantify such intangible qualities as ‘chemistry’, but it was infectiously clear right from the beginning that the two were comfortable with each other, and that made it all the more fun to watch their love story unfold.

The genius of the movie is that it follows the core romantic comedy plot convention down to the letter; from the meet-cute to the end chase, but this is only apparent upon close inspection of the movie. While watching, it’s very difficult to sense this conformity because the strange dynamic brought about by Anna’s fame alters the way each convention must be achieved just enough to make it invisible and seamless among the hilariously clever dialogue and sensible (one might say ‘British’) tone.

The film is very self-assured, which works infinitely to its advantage. It doesn’t feel the need to explain itself or justify itself to you with needless commentary on the motivations of its characters – a trap into which so many romantic comedies fall. It is this matter-of-fact style of story-telling that empowers the film to convince its audience that the surreal events taking place could in fact be a real-world truth. It allows us to believe without question that a famous movie star could indeed fall in love with a travel-book salesman. Then in turn, with our disbelief suspended, it frees us to enjoy the rest of what the movie has to offer.

Finally, one of the most noteworthy aspects of the film was the music. The music is so well selected and utilized and it complements every moment perfectly, enhancing the romantic and emotional pay-off of the film both in watching and in retrospect. The two stand-out choices (and possibly the most famous) were Ronan Keating’s “When You Say Nothing At All” and “She”, which summed up the whole tone of the film magnificently.

If you want to watch a story about love, it is important to shop around. I would go so far as to say that 80% of the romantic comedy genre is sub-par. But when you find a good one, it is totally worth the hunt. Notting Hill is the reason I continue to watch the genre at all; it is a search in the vain hope that I might find another movie of similar quality. The fact that this has only happened four times in the thirteen years since it was released says a lot about love in film. It is a far more difficult topic to tackle than for which any of us give it credit, and it takes a far more precise formula than meet-cutes and ending chases to get it right. It is very easy to make a movie realistic and honest – a route which many of the most recent ventures have endeavoured to take – but in my opinion, it is a far greater gift to take a story so idealistic and improbable and make the audience believe it anyway. Notting Hill hits every note perfectly, and I would recommend it to anybody.

Rating – 5/5

"So this is why God bombed us."

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Old February 5th, 2012 (8:14 AM). Edited February 6th, 2012 by Barrels.
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Young Dracula: Season 3 (2011)
by Barrels

What’s Young Dracula?

Probably the funniest British TV series you’ve never heard of. Cancelled in 2008 but revived three years later, it started off as a gothic kids’ comedy about the decidedly unvampiric son of Count Dracula, Vlad, whose misadventures trying to avoid his bloodsucking destiny formed the basis of the first season. A mildly interesting concept for the younger siblings of the Twilight generation, you might think, and for that first year you’d have been bang on the money.

See, Dracula was evil, but he never actually bit anyone; the resident Slayers were similarly incompetent, never managing to stake more than a rubber bat; and most episodes revolved around MacGuffins that Vlad thought might possibly end the curse of vampirism, except that they never did because then there’d be no more series. Half an hour of blood gags, running down castle corridors and the occasional decent special effect; nothing more, nothing less. Harmless fun… at first.

But the show was an unexpected success, developing a following outside its target audience (due largely to Keith-Lee Castle’s ridiculously hammy, totally clichéd, utterly hilarious portrayal of Count Dracula, it has to be said). And so someone high up decided to give Young Dracula a bigger budget, along with the promise of a third season.

And the writers went wild. Comparing the first and second seasons of YD is like standing a horse next to a hovercar; one’s so much slicker, better-looking, more ambitious and faster-paced than the other. Out went the tired old fart gags and castle corridors; in came drama, story arcs, characters with more than one dimension and a bunch of dizzying plot twists. And in came death, too, sneaking in silently with his Scythe of Stealth by the back door; Vlad’s neglected, bitter, perennially forgotten sister Ingrid (Clare Thomas) loses her first and only boyfriend through a shocking act of violence in the season finale, throwing her headfirst into a spiral of depression that twists painfully throughout the third season. (Almost unbelievably, things got worse.) As CBBC shows went, it was pushing the line. YD was a kids’ show no longer.

‘We really need new curtains.’

But perhaps this shouldn’t have been so much of a surprise. Even in its first season, the show made a point of dealing with issues that affected its audience; the Draculas’ flight from Transylvania to Wales and Vlad’s subsequent difficulty fitting in was a thinly-veiled metaphor for moving house, along with all the problems that entailed. Season Two stepped it up a notch. One episode introduced the Count’s brother, a reformed vampire who’d been ‘blood-free since ‘93’; tongue wedged firmly in cheek, the show envisaged blood-drinking as an addiction kind of exactly like smoking, with blood patches and homeotherapy available for vampires wishing to ‘control their vices’. Other issues given a vampiric spin included van Helsing’s ex-wife – who’d divorced him because of
his ‘vampire fantasies’ – and kids’ relationships with their parents’ new spouses (Vlad’s estranged mother memorably returns to give birth to a baby werewolf). It was a testament to the ingenuity of the show’s writers that they (quite literally, sometimes) got away with murder on a channel more used to cartoons, by twisting real life to suit their escapist situation.

But the metaphors never got in the way of the story;
YD’s eclectic cast of misfits, featuring among them a Welsh Goth with a vampire fetish, two hapless van Helsings, a deluded family slave who believed the Count would one day change him and a stuffed Russian wolf that fired oneliners whenever it was bored, all shifted up a gear in character development, marking a change from the first season’s focus on Vlad. You watched as events built on one another to a conclusion, all the signs clearly pointing to a multi-season epic, with subtle hints placed for future stories. It was all turning out so well.

And then… everything went wrong. Season Two’s triumphant cliffhanger baited audiences with the promise of a conclusive third iteration. Ingrid, mad with grief, had usurped her father’s title and vowed to turn the town’s streets red with blood. The Count, imprisoned in a UV cage, was powerless to stop her. And Vlad lay, seemingly dead, on the floor, after a climatic battle with the Slayers.

Then news filtered down from above that the BBC were making cutbacks, and
YD wouldn’t be returning for a third season. Excitement suddenly dropped. People started talking about other things. The fans complained bitterly, but the show was to stay buried for three years, long past the time they could reasonably have hoped for a revival.

Fast-forward to 2011 – and suddenly
YD was back on the agenda. Appropriately, the first episode was scheduled for broadcast on Hallowe’en; and, amazingly, it was better than ever.

Wisely, no one wasted any time pretending that less than four years had elapsed since the last go-around. Vlad – who was a scared, timid twelve-year-old when we were first introduced – is now a seventeen-year-old vampire with full powers and then some. Gerran Howell, returning, benefits hugely from a maturing character and snappier writing in which he gets many of the best lines. As the stereotypical kid-who-just-wants-to-be-normal, he always suffered unfairly from comparison to the rest of the bonkers cast; now, Vlad’s accepted his fate to an extent, and no longer spends episodes whining about how there must be some way, surely, to stop him becoming a vampire.

In fairness, this was never Howell’s fault, and so it’s gratifying to see his character undergo not one but two beneficial transformations (yes, two. Spoilers). Season Three marked the first time Howell truly owned an episode: the chilling Bad Vlad, in which Vlad’s vampiric alter-ego attempted – and nearly succeeded in – burning his father and sister alive, in addition to callously throwing his girlfriend aside for her best friend, who was only saved from drainage by garlic toothpaste. (It’s just the way YD works – unsettling macabre mixed with utter irreverence. You’ll learn to love it.) Oh, and there’s a genius moment with Year 8, the ceiling and an eerie rendition of Ten Green Bottles. You’ll never listen to it in the same way again.

‘Now you’re just showing off.’

Bad Vlad also brings to a head Vlad’s rocky relationship with his girlfriend - and if there was one thing earlier seasons were lacking, it was any kind of romantic subplot for the younger cast. Forgivable, perhaps, since the actors were playing fourteen-year-olds; but love and its pitfalls are rightly a cornerstone of Season Three. Sydney Rae White, as newcomer Erin, is convincingly both the perfect love interest for Vlad and a complex character in her own right; a trained Slayer, she comes to the Draculas with the intention of staking Ingrid but finds herself falling for Vlad’s grand ambition and morality. Crucially, though, she never loses her self-respect or sees Vlad as superior; even after he saves her from being burned alive (there’s a lot of that in this season), promising to ‘always protect her’, she considers him ‘the sweetest vampire in the world’. It doesn’t really help their relationship that everyone else in Vlad’s family considers her an abominable insult and fantasises out loud about destroying her, but that’s Romeo and Juliet for you. Why mess with a classic?

In closing… it’s worth taking a chance on
YD just for the gags. But if you watch carefully, if you strip away the vampiric element but preserve the characters, what you get is a painstakingly constructed, wincingly accurate parallel of modern life. You get something that’d never normally be seen on a kids’ channel. You get –

In short, you get
Young Dracula. It’s bonkers. It’s a milestone in pre-watershed broadcasting. It’s a laugh-out-loud romantic comedy, a thrilling and chilling adolescent drama, an idea that not only grew wings but horns and fangs and a mouth with which to shriek, ‘YOU AIN’T SEEN NOTHIN’ YET, PAL!’

Ramona Flowers
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Old February 5th, 2012 (2:06 PM). Edited February 8th, 2012 by SelenaStar.
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Cannonball - Damien Rice

To (partially) quote one of my favourite movies of all time: Cannonball is not a love song, it is a song about love. Stylistically, Lyrically, Poetically, Thematically – all these aspects of a true contemporary masterpiece come together in a heady, emotional train wreck of a song that, when truly listened to, could have even the most disillusioned anti-romantic reaching for the man-size Kleenex.

In a climate of over-produced, straight to iTunes tracks churned out by soulless hit factories, a stripped-bare song featuring only a man and his guitar is a rarity. Fingers jabbed in the directions of James Morrison, Jack Johnson, John Mayer and artists from that school of music have a valid contradiction to the above statement, but I believe that Cannonball shows a depth of emotional maturity and depth typical of and unique to Rice. One need only turn to other understated numbers as The Blowers' Daughter (from the movie Closer) and 9 Crimes to find this is a common undertone to the musical stories weft by Rice. This is sadly a rarity in the modern music industry generally, and in the genre of love songs (although, as already established, Cannonball is in actual fact a song about love and not a love song) more specifically, with very shallow, sellable products being made from songs that discuss love – packaged, marketed and shipped off to whomsoever has the Benjamins to pay for them.

As with most music, the stories are there to be inferred and are not explicit, each is interpreted differently by each individual. To me, Cannonball tells the story of a man, caught between the need to move on from a broken relationship and his inability to remove himself from the everyday discourse that governs life as part of a couple. His capacity to see past the end of the relationship is impeded by the love that stands in his way, blocking his vision as he tries to see his life past the end of a major chapter of his life.

This is a story that we can all empathise with – some of us have been through it ourselves, some of us have put others through it, some of us have seen loved ones struggle with it, or we may have just seen it portrayed powerfully through another medium. This universality is one of the most important aspects of the song and how it portrays love – save for a few lexical changes, the narrator could be most anyone – not defined by gender, race, sexuality, social class, religion, defined only by their experience at the hands of love. It is incredibly easy, when listening to the lyrics of the song as crooned so powerfully through Rices' husky, at times desperate vocals, to put yourself in the narrator's position. I personally found myself revisiting numerous occasions when it felt as though Rice was speaking what was in my heart straight from source. This is also, I believe, the justification for my saying that this is not a love song – this is a song about love. For those of us who take love to be an objective truth, one of the few experiences that bind humanity together in shared universality, Cannonball seems to express the same ideal.

To say that love is an objective, however, is not to say that it is simple. Love is potentially the most complex and confusing emotional state that can be experienced, consistent through the whole of mankind. Love is messy, it makes us do things we wouldn't normally do, it inspires a whole array of secondary emotions and states of mind that can conflict with each other, sometimes with themselves and with our very beings, our very identities. Never has this been portrayed to me so clearly through a song as though Cannonball – 'stones taught me to fly, love taught me to lie, life taught me to die, so it's not hard to fall when you float like a cannonball.' - the binary oppositions presented illustrate with painful clarity the sheer mess that love can create, and it is this mess that maintains the narrative of the broken heart trying desperately to move past a corrosive situation.

Lexically, the simplicity of the poetry acts as an interesting paradox to the confused and unclear imagery painted within the song. Each word used seems and feels as though it had been selected by Rice especially for this purpose, put together in a delicate order to portray such deep meaning resonant of Jeff Buckley's Hallelujah. The first person diction, directed towards a very specific yet unnamed second person, provides the intimate context of a relationship, as though through the song we the audience are listening in on a private conversation between the broken heart and the one he/she is trying to get past. Perpetuated by the presentation of binary oppositions as paradoxical within the simple phrasing, cannonball's lyrics beautifully tie together the illustrations of love as discussed above.

This review does not do the song justice. Not even close. The cacophony of emotions and thoughts that this song provokes are too monumental, too varied and vast to be able to sort them into any kind of logical ordered process to write into a review. Ultimately, as stated before, this is not a love song, it is a song about love. As such, the very themes present are the opposite of tangible, and this review only represents my best attempt at catching these themes, straightening them into some sort of readable fashion and putting them together through my own words to try and explain the importance of this song as part of the genre but also to me personally. If you haven't heard Cannonball, all that I can really say is that you need to. Preferably now. Then see if you agree or not.

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Old February 13th, 2012 (7:15 AM). Edited February 13th, 2012 by Forever.
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Glee - New York (2011)

Season Two was a year of ups and downs for Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan's Glee, with new characters, departures and new experiences for the New Directions. However, the season finale, New York did not disappoint (which took over $6 million to produce), managing to tie up any questions about the romance between Rachel Berry (Lea Michele) and Finn Hudson (Cory Monteith), as well as show original songs performed by the characters.

In the usual Glee-spirit, the New Directions prepared for their upcoming performance by motivating themselves, starting the song line-up with a mashup between "I Love New York" and "New York, New York". Not really a bad choice, when you consider how in the first episode of this season when New Directions performed "Empire State of Mind", the characters were determined to reach New York, so what's better than singing a song all about it? While that's good and all, the characters seemed too enthusiastic about New York, leaving viewers to assume that they have never left their suburb let alone their city, considering how they acted like none of them had ever seen tall buildings before. What's worse is that it carried on. For the entire episode. Wow breakfast at Tiffany's, wow Patti LuPone, yeah Rachel guess what, Finn wants you ask you out and you care more about someone famous than him. Oh well!

In an interesting foreshadowing, Rachel said early on in the episode, "No boys, no distractions, not until we win that trophy," which left the viewers only to assume that the entire episode would be centralised around Rachel – what a surprise!

I found it interesting how it was mentioned that the song choices were early on. "My Cup" was a hilarious reminder of Rachel's previous attempts at song writing where she wrote about a hair clip earlier on in the season. I find the way that they did decide to explore New York as if it was some magical city in order to get inspiration for their songs was somewhat how to put it in sophisticated words.... dumb. Sure that makes sense for Paris or somewhere like that, but come on, you're still in the same country! I know I certainly wouldn't get that excited if I visited other cities in Australia and assume that they would suddenly be inspirational.

The solo which Will Shuester (Matthew Morrison) performed early on, "Still Got Tonight" was really a long time coming. He barely gets any solos throughout the normal season so it makes sense that he at least gets one solo (being an original song, which is somewhat relevant to the theme of the episode) within the season finale.

About mid-way through when Finn invited Rachel to a date, covered up as a “work date”, you could really see by that point the episode was going to take the stereotypical movie approach, aka boy asks girl out, girl falls for him, they end up in love. Well no, leave it up to Rachel to make everything more complicated, who said she couldn't take a chance on Finn. The stereotypical movie approach reminded me of Lady and the Tramp when Artie (Kevin McHale), Puck (Mark Salling) and Sam (Chord Overstreet) started to sing Bella Notte behind Rachel and Finn which is when I began to wonder where the spaghetti and candles were.

I found the mini-arc within the episode where Kurt (Chris Colfer) helped Rachel choose between love or her career also as yet again, something you would find in a movie. Really, the entire episode was pretty much a movie condensed into an hour, because it had pretty much every element of a movie. The incorporation of Wicked was a positive though, since it gave some light to their obsession with New York (and ultimately Rachel's decision to move to New York after graduation) due to the cultural aspect.

Quinn (Dianna Agron) was up to her usual tricks, threatening to ruin New Directions' chances of winning Nationals. Interestingly, her plans were stopped by Santana (Naya Rivera) and Brittany (Heather Morris), who didn't care that much for New Directions 23 episodes ago. The way they changed their tune is a good thing though – because if not them, it would have been Rachel, and Lea Michele already had enough screen time as it was by then.

I really enjoyed Lea Michele's scene with Charice Pempengco, who played Sunshine. I felt that showing Rachel as a good character at that point really made up for how she acted earlier in the season, to put it in her words, when she sent Sunshine to “the crack house”. Charice's performance of "As Long As You're There" was really good though – and if not for "Pretending", could have easily been the best performance of the entire episode, simply from how well she performed the song.

The highlight of the whole episode for me (and in fact, the entire series), however, was when.... you guessed it! When Rachel and Finn performed "Pretending". It was the perfect song for their relationship, considering throughout the entire Glee series, you keep wondering whether they're holding in their feelings, whether they're pretending and finally you know that they're really not pretending at the end of the scene when Rachel and Finn kiss. Personally I feel that New Directions should have won, even though they kissed which apparently they weren't meant to do and were judged harshly for it, with them placing 12th, only just missing out on top 10. In fact, I felt that was pretty necessary, because just ending the song and waiting to kiss afterwards would've just lost all meaning, for it to happen immediately after performance, then you know the feelings really are there in that moment.

I felt the next song, "Light Up the World" wasn't really necessary. I think if it ended on the kiss, and the direct aftermath of that with Jesse (Jonathan Groff) would have been a much more exciting conclusion to the episode.

Despite being disappointed that New Directions ultimately didn't place in the top 10, it was something that could have been expected, considering that they still had a whole year left and Glee certainly doesn't like letting New Directions win, because no, instead they must perform at Sectionals, Regionals and Nationals at least once before until they finally win.

The scenes back at McKinley High were what really summed up the season, where it was said that it wasn't about winning, rather than accepting each other and realising that New Directions is more than a club - it's a family.

The conclusion of the episode, with Rachel and Finn talking about the kiss was the perfect end, where they agreed that it was worth giving it all up for one kiss.

Overall I felt this episode was pretty good, despite the emphasis on New York being the greatest thing ever for New Directions, but Pretending definitely was the selling point of the episode. Otherwise other than that, it was really just another cliche finale episode from Glee. Despite that, I think that the episode could have been a lot worse, had the writers written it differently (and the obsession with New York was really minor even though it was annoying), so I rate it...

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Old February 14th, 2012 (5:19 PM).
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Thanks everyone for entering. I'll be having a look at all of these tomorrow, and hopefully will have determined the winner by then. Hope all of your Valentine's Days went swimmingly! <3
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Old February 16th, 2012 (8:13 AM).
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Mr Cat Dog Mr Cat Dog is offline
<insert witty eloquence here>
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: London, UK
Gender: Male
Nature: Relaxed
Posts: 10,913
Wow, this was actually really hard to judge: everyone was so good! In all seriousness, this contest has probably had the highest average quality of reviews out of all the ones I've held so far. None of them wanted me to tear my hear out; all of them were good; most of them were even, dare I say it?, great!

Unfortunately, there can only be one winner and though it was a close race between two exemplary reviews, the winner of the C&M Valentine's Day Review Contest is...


Yay! Emblems will be distributed shortly, and I'll be getting in touch with Barrels as to what he wants doing with his new-fangled Supporter Tier.

Thanks for entering, everyone! :D
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