Saturday, April 10, 2021

Behind Her Eyes: Netflix Series Review


Behind Her Eyes


Netflix Series Review

By

Carolynn Kingyens





Warning, some spoilers are mentioned.





Recently, my husband had asked me what I wanted for my birthday, and without hesitation, my reply was simply, “a mom’s weekend.” The pandemic, in addition to remote schooling, has been hard for children and parents alike, especially when you all live in a cozy New York City apartment, including a dog and a cat, with parents who work from home as well. In addition to remote schooling, I’m cooking breakfast, lunch, dinner, and preparing snacks and drinks throughout the day, on demand. Alone time, during the pandemic, has become the ultimate luxury. And watching a trending show on Netflix, a near impossibility.



So with my husband and two daughters away having fun at a water resort in Pennsylvania, I settled into the next 48 hours with a plethora of possibilities. First on my agenda was watching a Netflix show while giving myself an in-home facial, always multitasking. I’d narrowed my choices down to three, which included the new Biggie documentary, I Got a Story to Tell, the Cecil Hotel documentary, what really happened to Elisa Lam anyway? and the much talked about, Behind Her Eyes. It was a hard choice, but decided to binge-watch Behind Her Eyes, a series based on Sarah Pinborough’s psychological thriller of the same name. The series stars the beautiful British actress, Simona Brown, along with the equally beautiful, Eve Hewson, Bono’s daughter of U2 fame, and the handsome British actor, Tom Bateman.





Behind Her Eyes is a bizarre love triangle that begins when Louise (Simona Brown) has a serendipitous run-in with David Ferguson (Tom Bateman) at a busy bar one evening, after her date bails on her. Louise is a single mother to a sweet seven-year-old son named Adam, played by impressive child actor, Tyler Howitt, and rarely has alone time as well. So when Louise accidentally spills her drink on David, she orders him a drink at the bar to compensate. They begin to chat, and there seems to be an immediate spark between the two. When they leave the bar together, they end up sharing a passionate kiss right outside before stopping and then leaving in opposite directions. Harmless, right? That’s what I thought, too, until the next day when Louise sees a glimpse of David with his regal-looking wife, Adele (Eve Hewson) sitting inside one of the psychologist’s offices where she works as an assistant three days a week. She learns from fellow assistant, Sue, actress Georgie Glen, that Dr. David Ferguson is now her new hot boss, and is married. What are the odds?



What the series does so well is the clever way it implants Easter eggs inside each episode. One such Easter egg, in the first episode, hints at David and Adele’s strained ten-year marriage, when after they arrive home from a dinner party hosted by David’s new colleagues, fellow psychologists, they become intimate. I use the word “intimate” loosely here. In fact, when Adele grabs his hand to lead him upstairs to their bedroom, David says something to the effect of just this one time. They start out in the missionary position until Adele tells David she loves him, which makes David stomach turn in disgust, and they soon change sexual positions so David no longer has to look Adele in the face. Ouch!



David begins to have a steamy love affair with his beautiful and very likeable assistant, Louise. Their love-making, simply put, is WOW, off the charts, especially when juxtaposed with he and Adele in the first episode. David’s newfound happiness with Louise is palpable. He begins to sleep in the guest bedroom, and comes home late at night and leaves early in the morning to avoid having to interact with his sad, yet beautiful wife.



One day, Adele bumps into Louise, quite literally, on her way home from dropping Adam off at school, and the two decide to have coffee at a nearby café. Louise continues her affair with David while simultaneously developing an on-going friendship with David’s wife, Adele, unbeknownst to him, with the two of them often working out together, sharing a few laughs and even a few secrets. One such secret Louise shares is her terrifying night terrors, including some serious sleepwalking episodes. Adele opens up a little about her own bout with night terrors, and then gives Louise a blood red-colored journal that had once belonged to her good friend, Rob, who’d struggled with night terrors as well. Rob has cracked the code on how to beat night terrors and written his techniques down in the journal. Adele promises Louise that she, too, will finally have power over them. Intrigued, she takes Rob’s journal back home with her, and begins reading it.



It’s during the reading of Rob’s journal that the origin of Rob and Adele’s relationship is revealed. They’d met at a psychological boarding facility of sorts, a mental hospital more or less. Adele has just lost her parents to a fire and has sleep issues of her own while Rob has a heroin addiction combined with daily night terrors, a bad combination. Soon, Adele and Rob become best friends. And before they go their separate ways – Adele back to her partially burnt castle in the remote English countryside with her dashing Scottish prince, David, waiting for her and Rob back to his shitty life living with his sister and her boyfriend in a small public housing flat, shooting heroin everyday.



Rob’s night terrors always involve being chased by bloodthirsty zombies. Then one day he looks down at his hands, and realizes he is dreaming. He then visualizes an escape door, which he boldly walks right through and finds himself suddenly in his happy place –with pretty Adele in her castle-garden. Rob is finally in control, and he enjoys it very much.



The dream sequences in the series fascinates me since I’ve experienced sleep paralysis on several occasions, which is a whole other animal, but equally terrifying as night terrors. According to the Sleep Foundation’s website, “sleep paralysis is a condition identified by a brief loss of muscle control, known as atonia, that happens just after falling asleep or waking up. In addition to atonia, people often have hallucinations during episodes of sleep paralysis.” Many people, myself included, who have experienced sleep paralysis report feeling an ominous presence in the room with them.



Coincidentally, I’ve recently experienced my first lucid dream. Like Rob, I, too, looked down at my hands in my dream-state, and realized that I was, in fact, dreaming while still inside of an active dream. It’s beyond trippy. I remember walking down some suburban street in my dream when I noticed these dead, dry pointy leaves on the ground in front of me so I scooped them up with both hands and squeezed them, causing me pain. And when I stared down at my hands, after feeling the pain sensation from the dead, pointy leaves, I’d said to myself aloud, “This is a dream.” Then right ahead of me was a foggy mist so I decided to run as fast as I could, then I started to take flight just like Superman. It was amazing. I was flying, free and weightless. But I digress.



From reading Rob’s journal, Louise, too, learns how to control her dreams. She learns about a second door in her dreams, which allows her to astral project. The first time Louise astral projects she goes into her neighbor’s flat across the hall from her own. Her kind neighbor, and sometimes babysitter, is engrossed in an episode of Absolutely Fabulous on the telly, Brit slang for TV. The color of her astral state is a luminescent shade of green. When Adam can’t wake Louise because she’s on the Astral plane, he begins to cry out. Hearing her son’s cries prompts her to race back, in her astral state, to his bed, where she had fallen asleep next to him. She finally wakes up to her young son’s relief.



This is when some major plot twists begin to unfold, and we learn that it’s Adele, not Rob, who can astral project and control her dreams. She, in fact, taught Rob and not the other way around. Rob’s journal contains the secrets that Adele generously shares with him that not only helps him control his night terrors, but later helps him to astral project as well, allowing him to go essentially anywhere, temporarily escaping his shitty day-life. The only caveat to going anywhere is one must have visited the location beforehand in order to visualize it on the astral plane - cue to Adele’s visit to Louise’s flat early on in their friendship, and the odd way she walks from room to room while Louise’s back is turned as if she is scoping out her place.



Towards the end of the series, David wisely warns Louise to stay away from Adele, saying he doesn’t know how she knows everything she does. Unlike David, we’re, by now, clued in on Adele’s superpower, and how she’s able to become quasi-omnipresent. And the final few twists are nothing short of mind-blowing.



If you enjoy a good psychological thriller, and who doesn’t, then I recommend Netflix’s Behind Her Eyes. You will be mulling over this series for days to come, and may find yourself, too, browsing Reddit’s Behind Her Eyes sub-chats at 2 am, obsessively reading over viewer comments, who’d found even more hidden Easter eggs like that lone, sad-looking pigeon with a splash of bright green tint on its neck.

Wednesday, April 07, 2021

Singer dancer and teacher Allison Reyes finds a creative sanctuary in Somerville.


I was luck to connect with Somerville's Allison Reyes. This young woman is part of a musical group Testi5, where she sings and dances, she also teaches ballet, and has a strong bond with her church, and the Dominican community.


As an artist--how has it been for you living in Somerville?


Living in Somerville has opened up amazing opportunities for me to grow, I've been able to sing in churches around the city, teach dance teams in those same churches, and met incredible people. I was part of the choir at school, the jazz band, and the dance team. It has been completely different than when I lived in Rhode Island. Somerville has such a tight knit community. It was really surprising when I experienced the opportunities that were presented to me, and to learn and put these things in practice.



I have interviewed a number of Brazilian artists. There is a large community around here. You are from the Dominican Republic. Tell us about the Dominican community, and the artists that work and play in our city?


Since we've only been living here for three years we haven't really had a chance to learn much about the Dominican community here in Somerville. I have met many Salvadorians and Brazilians, but I have only met a few Dominican. Because of this--every Dominican I meet becomes a friend and connection. We are so proud of being Dominicans and we would love to be part of events where people can meet people of different Latino descents-- once everything goes back to normal.


A video of you singing a song (titled "Lléname") takes place in a church. I get the impression that you have a strong sense of spirituality. Tell us about your relationship with the church.


I've been part of the church my whole life, I've dedicated years of my life serving at the church, I danced, sang and even used to work with kids at church. However being part of the church is not what defines me as a Christian, is my relationship with God that is most important to me.


Your Dad has been a big influence on you, and he is the founder of your band, Testi5. Can you talk a bit about this? You have a number of other musicians as well that you work with. How did you hook up?


Ever since I have been conscious my dad was either working or playing for the church. Whenever he was practicing at home, I would go and sing along to the music he was practicing to. It was a lot of fun, he never pressured me to be part of music. I always did it because I wanted to.
My dad met Eddy (the drummer of our band) at church. He was playing with a guest that came over for an event at our church in RI, and my dad went to greet him and exchanged numbers. After that Eddy introduced my dad to Johann and Joel (guitarist and drummer). and they became friends, and that's how it all started.


Describe your music in a few lines... and why should we experience it?


The goal of our music is to reach the hearts of everyone who listens to it. Nowadays we are living in times of uncertainty and fear. With our music we want to bring hope and perseverance. When people go through their toughest moments, we want our music to make them feel safe and reassured that God is with them through every step of the way.


You are a dancer as well--is there a lot of interplay between your dance and your singing, etc...


Before I was a singer I was a dancer, and it is a huge part of me. So when my dad proposed to me to be the main singer of Testi5, I made sure to let him know that dance was also going to be a part of it. A dancer and singer is not something commonly seen in the Christian community, so I really would love to be different , and show those Christians who would like to pursue both careers that it can be done.


You are a graduate of Somerville High. Did you have any mentors there that influenced you?


Going to Somerville high was tough for me for the first year. I had transferred as a junior to a completely new school and since I'm extremely shy so it was really hard for me to make friends. However I did have incredible teachers. My AP US History teacher Ms. Santos was always extremely helpful when it came to anything I needed. She actually came to the first concert Testi5 ever did, and in our first music video called "Dueño de mi Corazón" she was right there in the crowd cheering me on. Another teacher who was always super supportive and really impacted my life was Ms. Massillon, my World History teacher. I used to teach her daughter ballet, she would come to my dance recitals and she would always make sure I was doing well in every aspect of my life. She was truly an angel sent from heaven; I want to be like them when I grow up.

Tuesday, April 06, 2021

Appearance of the Sun, poems by Ron A. Kalman





Appearance of the Sun, poems by Ron A. Kalman

Main Street Rag, 2021 - $12.00, 37 pages

Review by Off the Shelf Correspondent Denise Provost



Ron Kalman’s chapbook Appearance of the Sun is a charming collection of poems, filled with the breath and pace of life as it is lived. The appearance of sun, rain-swept days, wind, in many of these poems links the external with the internal weather of mood and emotion.

In “Winter Day,” It is sunny, /not a good day for a revolution …., but by “Sunday Morning,” whose narrator feels like a crushed cigarette butt and wants to dream of the woman who danced in spike heels, the sun shines with harrowing brightness. In “Greece,” the natural elements seem to shape the trajectory of an unraveling love affair, as inevitably as the forms of the sea-battered rocks below.

“Living with the Famous,” a sestina, delivers cold as an artful end-word in each stanza, served up differently each time: I was your Trotsky, and you were my Sally Bowles/and there was no future, no cockroaches, no cold. Irresolute amorous relationships appear as reliably as weather, as in “Metro-Blue,” and “The Last of Annie,” which leaves its narrator looking out onto a night-lit park/where a guitarist/sat strumming.

Another theme in this collection of quirky, mordant, often funny poems is fame, and the famous. “Poem” presents a rivalrous tension between Frank O’Hara and Robert Lowell at a public reading. Charles Bukowski, William Carlos Williams, and Allen Ginsberg are evoked; Stalin and Sun Yat-sen appear, in statuary form. Among a trio of interesting and charismatic actresses, several of whom appear in multiple poems, only /Charlotte was chosen/to act with Winona Ryder/and Daniel Day-Lewis, achieving an aura as ephemeral as the mist rising from the pool.

The pleasure which can obtained from these poems need not be ephemeral. Buy yourself a copy and reread them; read them to your friends. While not the same experience as eating a freshly baked potato with butter dripping, these morsels will also delight.



Sunday, April 04, 2021

Boston National Poetry Month Festival, 2021: Virtual, virtuoso poets & musicians April 15-17.

 

Somervillian, singer, saxophonist, flutist, actor, Stan Strickland has performed with or opened for everyone from Miles Davis and Aretha Franklin, to three-time U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky.


Boston National Poetry Month Festival, 2021:

Virtual, virtuoso poets & musicians April 15-17.



By Kirk Etherton, co-producer of the Boston National Poetry Month Festival.

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The 20th annual B.N.P.M.F. almost happened in 2020. Instead, the 20th Festival is taking place this year, on Zoom.



Certain things change—like everyone saying “Zoom.” One constant is Somervillians being a notable part of this event. I could easily fill the entire page by mentioning everything that Doug Holder (professor, publisher, interviewer, etc.) does for poetry, and the arts in general. But I’ll just say he’s a Festival board member, and one of this year’s featured poets.




2021 is the first year that musician-plus Stan Strickland will be performing. I don’t know exactly what he’ll be doing, but it could be almost anything: besides his collaborative, multi-instrumental work with all kinds of famous folks, his one-man show Coming Up For Air won the Eliot Norton Award.




(NOTE: When I ran into Stan a few months ago in Union Square, he may have said that he was going to be moving. But it’s easy to misunderstand someone when you’re both wearing masks. Plus, I really, really don’t like the thought of our fine city losing someone of Stan’s amazing talent and generosity to some other city. So enough about that.)




OK! Let’s talk about Lucy Holstedt, who has lived in Somerville for about 20 years. Like Stan, she’s a professor at Berklee College of Music. Lucy is a Festival board member and co-producer. She also created the website, which includes bios of all the poets and musicians. Check out bostonnationalpoetry.org




You’ll find singer-songwriter Thea Hopkins’ bio under the “Saturday” tab. Yet another Somerville resident, her work has been recorded by Peter, Paul & Mary, and the Prague Symphony Orchestra. Thea’s voice is perhaps one of the most beautiful things in the world.




I, too live in this unique city. Among other things, I’m one-third of a bi-coastal group, Cedar Gate Writers (Lucy Holstedt is another third). We’re also performing on Saturday.




Here are just five of the exceptionally fine, “outside Somerville” poets: Richard Hoffman, Rhina P. Espaillat, Fred Marchant, Charles Coe, and Martha Collins. (If you don’t know them, go take a look on our website.)




The Festival is proud to be partnering with our new ally and fiscal agent, Writers Without Margins--a tremendous organization that takes literature beyond traditional spaces. They’re led by writer / attorney / film producer Cheryl Buchanan. Learn more by clicking the site’s “Thursday” tab.

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We are incredibly fortunate to have Martín Espada as our special guest. As a poet, translator, editor, and essayist, Espada has published more than 20 books and won many major awards. He has been compared to Walt Whitman for his ability to make readers feel “an undeniable social consciousness and connectedness.” For me, Martín’s timely, timeless work has a uniquely potent blend of power, passion, and precision. His readings take it to another level. You can experience this for yourself on April 17th.