More mini TV and film reviews, with trailers. If you would like to see more, please click here: Lately I've Been Watching
5* and a little bit more ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Much talked about and award-winning, and yes, I was engrossed throughout: two Lance Corporals sent on a dangerous mission through enemy territory, because phone lines are down. The whole pointlessness and brutality of war seen through one man's eyes, if you like. Many A list actors have 5 minute spots - Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch, Richard Madden - while the attention is held by the young Dean-Charles Chapman, of whom I had not heard before.
I expected it to be one of the best films I'd ever seen, after all the hype; I wouldn't go that far, but it's extremely good, and artistically a joy to behold.
Limited Series: Catch 22 (Hulu)
Dramatisation of Joseph Heller's famous book about a US Air squadron in WWII. Amusing, sad, entertaining, so well-acted, and highly entertaining. Christopher Abbot is brilliant as Yossarian. Also features Hugh Laurie and George Clooney. Loved it!
WWII extravaganza about the Battle of Midway and the events leading up to it. The cinematics are stunning, amazing, and brings home how super-humanly brave those fighter pilots were, more than anything I've ever seen before - whether or not they came home really was largely the luck of the draw.
The script seems to have been written with constant referral to The Complete Book of War Film Clichés, but the special effects make it great to watch, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Lots of well-knowns like Woody Harrelson, Dennis Quaid, Aaron Eckhart, and Alexander Ludwig (Bjorn in Vikings!).
Film (true story): Don't worry, he won't get far on foot (Amazon)
Stars the totally awesome Joaquin Phoenix as quadriplegic cartoonist John Callahan. Callahan was a drunken waster who lost use of his limbs in a car accident with his friend Dexter (Jack Black). Lots of funny stuff about Alcoholics Anonymous. It's funny, sad and fairly 'feel good'; at times I found it a bit corny, but Phoenix is so brilliant I could deal with that. It's great.
Series: Our Friends in the North
I saw this some years ago and have just watched it again - it's the award winning BBC series (made in 1996) about the fortunes of four young people growing up in 1960s Newcastle - Nicky (Christopher Eccleston), Tosker (Mark Strong), Mary (Gina McKee) and Geordie (Daniel Craig), and moves forward, each episode set in a different year, up to 1995. It deals with just about every social issue you want to name - poverty, bad housing, the miners' strike, alcoholism, the permissive society, marital infidelity, divorce. It's great and I loved it all over again, though this time round I felt it had dated more than I thought it would, and I found Gina McKee so wooden (only one facial expression throughout) that I couldn't see why both Nicky and Tosker didn't find someone a bit less po-faced.
Daniel Craig's Geordie has the saddest story; it's heartbreaking, and he plays it perfectly.
Film: Mrs Lowry & Son
Timothy Spall stars as L S Lowry, the 1930s Lancashire painter who captured the working class life around him, and Vanessa Redgrave as the manipulative mother around whom his life centred, albeit in a not uncomplicated fashion. Delightful, sad, touching and funny, often in the same few minutes.
Film: Ford vs Ferrari
Matt Damon and Christian Bale star in the early 1960s true story of Ken Miles and Carroll Shelby, who offer their services to Ford so that they might win the Le Mans 24 hour race against Ferrari, for the first time in history - but they must also battle against the huge might of the Ford corporation. Very good, exciting, touching in places, and Damon and Bale are as good as you would expect - yes, I liked it a lot, though Bale and his wife's English accents varied between middle-class educated, South Yorkshire, West Midlands and Liverpudlian, and the odd bit of Australian throughout.
For TWD addicts - Jon Bernthal co-stars as a Ford marketing guy!
Series: Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
I'm over a decade late to the party with this one - in a spin-off from the Terminator films, Lena Headey (Cersei in Game of Thrones) stars as the mother of the son who will lead the army against the machines that will take over the world. Recently watched this along with all the Terminator films, a couple of which I hadn't seen before. I love the premise: that warriors from not very far into the future have to come back to stop disaster happening, that one decision made can affect the future, but as events keep being altered, there are more than one or two realities.
Shame they stopped it after S2 - I hear it's on many lists of 'Shows that never should have been cancelled'.
Documentary film: Joy Division
About the band of the same name. Very well done, with members of the band interviewed. Made me understand more about the troubled soul of Ian Curtis.
The link below is actually the whole thing, on Youtube.
Series: Cobra (Season 1) Sky One and Now TV
A solar storm causes nationwide power outtages in the UK, and Prime Minister Robert Carlyle has to deal with the subsequent civil unrest in the North East and all sorts of troubles on the domestic front, too, mostly caused by his excruciatingly irritating daughter. I was excited about the concept, though the fall-out from the storm turned out to be not as disastrous as I'd hoped. It's good, I enjoyed it, and it looks like there might be another season.
Film: Terminator: Dark Fate
The latest Terminator film. If you like them, you'll like this. Arnie is back, and hilarious. This one is kick-ass heroine-orientated, it being of its time.
Film: The Good Liar
Betty (Helen Mirren) and Roy (Ian McKellen) meet on a dating website for those in their twilight years - but Roy has a hidden agenda. It's an interesting plot with twist after twist, and Mirren and McKellan (particularly the latter) are as highly watchable as one would expect; I found it a little too contrived/unlikely in places, though. I know this sounds a bit rich coming from someone who has just been watching all the Terminator films, but belief-suspension is entirely personal!
Film: Long Shot
Romantic comedy. Geeky journalist Seth Rogen reunites with his childhood sweetheart Charlize Theron, who is now the US Secretary of State. Escapist fun, worth watching, though not memorable.
Film: The Wave
Chap with tedious and demanding wife succumbs to a night out on the town with his party animal friend, and his life is never the same again after he takes a type of hallucinogenic drug previously unknown to man. Amusing, passes a fairly pleasant two hours, but nothing to write home about.
Series: We Are The Wave
Feisty German teens form a group to fight against social injustice, mostly in a rather cringe-inducing fashion. Fairly entertaining and well-dubbed into English, but the characters were a little too nauseating for me. I think YAs will love it, though. If that doesn't sound too patronising.