Wednesday, 23 December 2020

Lately I've Been Watching....

The latest in my series of mini TV reviews, with trailers and 'where to watch'.  If you have trouble finding where any show/film is available, try typing 'where can I watch *name of show*' into whatever search engine you use. 

If you would like to see more posts, please click here: Lately I've Been Watching.  If you get as far as the bottom, 'Older Posts' will take you to more.

Please note the subtle difference between half star ratings; a 4.5 might be rounded up or down, depending on what I thought of the programme.

 

Limited Series: The Queen's Gambit (Netflix)

5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

You've probably already watched and loved this - it seems to be universally liked. Girl in orphanage in the 1950s turns out to be a chess genius, but her emotional life is a mess. Seven episodes, great drama, totally engrossing.  Stars Anya Taylor-Joy as the not very likeable Beth Harmon, with whom you may sympathise nevertheless.  Though I did hate her for never getting back in touch with the janitor from the orphanage who taught her how to play.  And for not giving him back the money he lent her to get started.  But it's still terrific.



Series:  Deep State - Seasons 1 & 2 (Amazon Prime, Epix)

5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Mark Strong stars as former M16 agent Max Easton who is forced to go back into the field for one more job.  ClichΓ©, I know, but it does tend to work every time.  Also stars Joe Dempsie as his estranged son, Harry; theirs is not an easy relationship.

Season 2 features Max Easton only in reference, with the main character spot taken over by Walton Goggins, another favourite of mine, as a former CIA operative, and Joe Dempsie in a more prominent role. Thrills and spills, tension and murder.  Loved it.  Look forward to S3.  



Series: Temple - Season 1 (Sky One, Spectrum)

4.5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

More Mark Strong in this one - no complaints here!  This time he plays London surgeon Daniel Milton, who, with prepper Lee Simmons (Daniel Mays), runs an illegal clinic situated below the underground.  Also stars Carice Van Houten (Melisandre in Game of Thrones) as the scientist Milton was shagging behind his wife's back, and Catherine McCormack (Murron in Braveheart) as the 'dead' wife (you'll see!).  They have one daughter who, though the progeny of two sharp-featured, dark-haired parents, is that 'transparent eyelashes' sort of ginger-haired, and has a face that is as far removed from theirs as one could imagine. 

Very good, plenty edge-of-seat tension.  Looking forward to more.



  
Film: Mank (Netflix)

4.5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Fictional account about screenwriter Herbert Mankiewicz, played by Gary Oldman, who co-wrote Citizen Kane.  It's made in the style of the film itself, which is most effective, and covers the period of time when Citizen Kane was being written.  Orson Welles is played by Tom Burke.  I liked it very much, but might have done so even more if I had seen Citizen Kane, which I am ashamed to say that I had not, though this was soon rectified.


Film: Muscle (Amazon Prime)

4.5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Dark and grisly film set in Newcastle, though the characters are all roughy-toughy southerners - Essex and London.  Simon (Cavan Clerkin), bored and unsuccessful in his telemarketing job and with a stale marriage, starts going to a gym, where he meets Terry, an ex-army personal trainer played horribly well by Craig Fairbrass.  The changes this brings to Simon's life lead to the end of both his job and his marriage - which allows Terry to insinuate himself into every corner of his world.  Simon soon finds himself completely out of his depth, and his life spirals downwards in every way possible.  

It's sinister, tawdry and quite depressing, but very, very good. Made in black and white.  Violence and very graphic sexual scenes (erections and people having sex, though not throughout, only during one event).  Would have given it 5* apart from the fact that I was a little disappointed in the ending, and the sort of people in it make me shudder!  



Series: The Crown - Season 4 (Netflix)

4.5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This is one of those shows I know is a bit crappy, made for the American market and not historically accurate, but I find utterly engrossing (a bit like The Tudors!). Olivia Colwell is excellent as HRH. There have been many criticisms of Gillian Anderson's rather Spitting Image/pantomime-like portrayal of Margaret Thatcher, though she does get some aspects (such as her walk) absolutely spot on, and Thatch did used to seem like a parody of herself, half the time.  Denis Thatcher is particularly good.  

The farce that was Charles and Diana's marriage is quite brutally portrayed, and one can't help feeling sorry for Diana, who was dealt a marked card from the word 'go'.  

I've read that there will be a Season Five, though it may end in 2006 to avoid the tricky 'controversy' surrounding the death of Diana.  I felt the question of her being bumped off was hinted at in conversations between her and Princes Philip and Charles in later episodes during S4; we will see.  You can see a picture of Elizabeth Debicki, who will play the older Diana, below the S4 trailer.  I am sure you will agree that she looks more like her than younger version Emma Corrin, though I did find Corrin more convincing than I thought I would. Imelda Staunton is to play the older Queen, with Jonathon Pryce as Prince Philip.




Documentary: Rise of the Warrior Apes (Animal Planet, Amazon Prime)

4.5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Documentary made by a group of naturalists/anthropologists who spent 20 years studying a tribe of apes in Ngogo, Uganda. Over this time they got to know them so well, naming them and recognising their personalities, observing the societal changes and power struggles within the tribe as it grew and developed.  Definitely worth watching.



Dark Comedy Series: The Flight Attendant - Season 1 (HBO Max)

3.5* ⭐⭐⭐

Dark comedy/thriller about an alcoholic flight attendant, Cassie (Kaley Cuoco), who has a one night stand in Thailand with a bloke played by Michael Huisman (lucky her, I hear you say), and wakes up in the morning to find him lying in a pool of blood.  It's entertaining, but Cassie's constant 'zany' behviour and impulsive actions started to get on my nerves after a while, and the whole getting drunk thing became a tad depressing (btw, have you noticed how on TV, nobody ever drinks spirits with mixers?).  Also, there are frequent imaginary scenes in which Cassie talks to her dead lover, which get a bit tedious after a while.  But it's not bad.  Worth a look if you like this sort of thing.



Series: Departure - Season 1 (Universal TV, Global TV)

3* ⭐⭐⭐

A UK drama series with familiar faces from other UK drama series, I felt that this was trying to be 24-esque and failing.  It's a plane-mysteriously-gone-down thriller-mystery, one survivor who may hold the key if only she could remember, etc.  The plot itself is interesting, and it's fast-moving, etc, but even actors like Christopher Plummer and Dougray Scott couldn't take it above mediocre.  The dialogue is pretty dire - wooden, with every clichΓ© in the book; good actors can't make characters more than one-dimensional if they have little to work with.

To sum up - it was okay, quite good, and got better as it went on, but the fact that I didn't give a stuff what happened to any of the non-characters meant that it failed to be compelling.



Film: Tenet (Amazon Prime, iTunes, Google Play)

2.5* ⭐⭐

Super big action thriller starring John David Washington and the bloke who was in the vampire stuff (Robert Pattinson).  CIA agent Washington gets told his mission is to stop World War 3.  I thought it was going to be great, but when we were given the BIG REVEAL about what this worse-than-nuclear threat is, alas, my husband and I both laughed.  Spontaneous reaction from both of us. Yes, it was that daft. Too much information all the way through that was hard to take in, though some terrific action scenes.  I admit to falling asleep before the end.



Film: Run (Hulu)

2* ⭐⭐

Another one that I thought was going to be great, but was pretty dire.  Sarah Paulson stars as Creepy Mom with Munchausen's by Proxy; I can't imagine why an actor of her calibre would agree to the script in the first place. Both her and the girl who plays the daughter are good, but neither could do much with this badly-written piece of moderately entertaining trash TV.



Series: End Game (Amazon Prime)

1.5* ⭐

And so we come to the other end of the spectrum of series about people who play chess.  This is a sort of comedy-not-comedy crime thriller about a Russian chess coach with agoraphobia who can't pay his bill in the posh hotel he lives in, but gets lured into solving crime mysteries for a fee, using his chess students and knowledge of canny moves to help.  IMDb promises it gets better after the first couple of episodes, but it was such rubbish we couldn't even get through them.



Monday, 23 November 2020

Lately I've Been Watching...

The latest in my series of mini TV reviews, with trailers and 'where to watch'.  If you have trouble finding where any show/film is available, try typing 'where can I watch *name of show*' into Google.

If you would like to see more posts, please click here: Lately I've Been Watching.  If you get as far as the bottom, 'Older Posts' will take you to more.

Please note the subtle difference between half star ratings; a 4.5 might be rounded up or down, depending on what I thought of the programme.

 

Series: See - Season 1 (Apple TV only, it seems - you can always just get the free trial!)

5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Loved this!!!  And not just because the glorious Jason Momoa stars, honestly.  The basic story: a 21st century pandemic killed off most of the world's population.  Since then, all humans have been born blind.  500 years later, anyone who can see is thought to be a witch.  Then, in the mountain village where Jason Momoa is the boss man, his wife gives birth to twins with the power of sight.  Enter the witchfinder, who I thought was called Tomato John, but is actually Tamacti Jun (well, I wasn't far out...).

I started off by thinking, hang on a minute, if they're all blind, why would they bother about stuff like ornamental headgear, but I think that in order to enjoy this you have to suspend such disbelief, and just accept.  Must have been a nightmare to direct:  "Oi, Jason, you can't do that, you're supposed to be blind."  "Oh, yeah, shit; sorry, I forgot."  It's great, anyway - filled with suspense and drama, fabulous scenery, thrilling fight scenes, etc.  Pleased to see that filming has started for Season 2.


Series: Rubicon - one season (AMC Premiere, Amazon Prime)

5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Made in 2010, about an intelligence analyst working for the American Policy Institute (API) in New York City. He discovers that he may be working with members of a secret society that manipulates world events on a grand scale.  Absorbing, great acting, and I like that it wasn't gimmicky - it's just good drama.

TWD alert!  Co-stars Dallas Roberts, alias Milton Memet.



Documentary: The Public Image is Rotten (Youtube, Vimeo)

4.5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I love PiL, and think John Lydon is a top bloke.  Documentary charting the ever-changing band from its inception to the present day, with many interviews with Lydon and band members past and present. 


 

Documentary: Long Hot Summers: The Story of The Style Council (Sky)

4.5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I wasn't a particular fan of The Style Council, but I love music documentaries, and this gave great insight into Paul Weller's vision for the band.  I enjoyed the interviews with him and Mick Talbot, both of whom came across as down-to-earth, unpretentious, realistic about their failures and successes, and just nice guys. A lot of old film from the 80s and 90s.  Tick VG.


 

Series: Devils - Season 1 (Hulu, Amazon, The CW)

4.5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I wasn't too sure about this at first, as the dialogue seemed a bit stilted, and tired (so much so that you could guess what they were going to say next), but around episode three it picked up and got better and better until I was totally engrossed.  

It's set in the cut-throat London banking world, main character being an Italian whizz-kid, Massimo Ruggero, played by the rather gorgeous Alessandro Borghi, who begins to question how the way in which he makes money for the New York Investment Bank affects other people.  It starts off with his rival at work hurtling off a balcony to his death—and nobody is above suspicion.

Special mention for my cousin, actor Tim Daish, who plays a dodgy London copper in episode 6!



 

Documentary series: By Whatever Means Necessary: The Times of Godfather of Harlem.  (Amazon Prime, Epix)

4.5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I loved the TV series The Godfather of Harlem, starring Forrest Whittaker, and this documentary series brings to life the music and culture of Harlem in the 1960s. Lots of film showing the history of the area, and enchanting memories of a time gone by that shows the great community spirit and vibrancy of the period - and, later on, as Malcolm X and Martin Luther King aimed to change the fortunes of black people in America. 


 

Film: Beats (Netflix, Amazon, Hulu)

4.5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Set in Scotland in 1994, this film is about the tail end of the rave culture, and centres round two boys trying to escape their dreary lives and just have a blast.  Spanner (Lorn Macdonald) lives by his wits, sharing a house his psycho criminal brother, while Johnno (Cristian Ortega) lives with his mother and sister, and his mother's new boyfriend, who is determined to get them out of the shabby council estate towards a better life.

It's good - funny, touching, shocking (that was the police bludgeoning ravers whose only crime was wanting to party), but also a bit depressing.  Definitely worth watching, though.


 

Series: Ratched - Season 1 (Netflix) 

4.5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the character of Mildred Ratched from One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, perfectly played by Sarah Paulson, and the years before she became part of that story.  It's one of those almost fantasy-like portrayals of the 1950s, like The Marvelous Mrs Maisel; bright colours, amazing clothes, larger than life characters and scenes.  Recommended :)


 

Five Part Documentary Series: Ted Bundy: Falling For A Killer (Amazon Prime)

4.5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Most compelling, this - it's based on a book written by Elizabeth Kendall, Bundy's long-term girlfriend at the time of his killing spree, with much commentary from her and her daughter, Molly, who was about 8 when her mother got together with him. I found Molly charming and likeable, sensitive and honest, but couldn't warm to the mother - I got the feeling, as Molly said, that if she hadn't been around to stop her, Elizabeth might have allowed him to wrap her back around his little finger at any time, even in the face of all the evidence against him.  She seemed rather pathetic, and as if she never stopped being dazzled by him.

The documentary also features many interviews with police who worked on the case, and friends and family of the victims. Questions also arise about the way in which the case was handled at the time, and how certain law enforcers used it to enhance their own careers.  


 

Six Part Documentary Series: Slow Burn (Amazon Prime, Epix)

4* ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Originally a podcast, this is the full and very detailed story of the Watergate scandal, and all who were involved with it. No stone is left unturned; it would probably appeal most to those who already have some interest in the case, or know something about it.  The first episode is the most interesting, about Martha Mitchell, the southern belle and socialite wife of John Mitchell, a major figure in Nixon's administration.

I was struck by how long ago the seventies seem, now.  A bit like how I saw the 1940s when I was a kid.



Series: The Undoing (Sky Atlantic, HBO Max, Amazon)

4* ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Stars Hugh Grant as Hugh Grant, an oncology consultant, and Nicole Kidman as his therapist wife, an icy-cold princess with a face so lifted and filled that it doesn't move, and a wardrobe full of fabulous coats.  Actually Jonathan and Grace Fraser, who live a swanky Manhattan life, along with their son, Henry, who is rather sweet, and nothing like his ghastly parents.  Life seems fairly awesome until a young woman called Eleanor joins a committee at Henry's private school, which involves Grace and her swanky friends sitting around chatting about fund-raising.  Eleanor gets her tits (and more) out at every possible opportunity, then turns up dead.  But who killed her, and why?

I've watched five episodes and the killer has yet to be revealed, but I made a good guess during episode 2, and I'm sticking to it, even though it's a long shot. It's good.  Looking forward to the next ep.  Also stars Donald Sutherland as Nicole Kidman's all-seeing, philandering father.

NB: Dec 1.  Watched the last episode last night.  Most disappointed by the lack of twist, apart from The Woman With The Immovable Face doing her unreliable witness bit, and leaking all the stuff his mum said, to her mate.   I thought it was going to be the blonde mate wot dun it; I had the whole plot worked out.... πŸ˜”

A word about the plastic surgery.  Nicole Kidman is only 7 years younger than Hugh Grant.  She was an extremely pretty young woman.  Had she not been so desperate to still look like one, she would be an extremely attractive middle-aged woman, instead of a startled puppet.  I hate this Hollywood pressure on women to keep looking youthful, yes.... but it's more about learning to accept ourselves, and the passage of time.  Once you're past 50, you're not going to be attractive in the same way that you used to be.  End of story.




Series: Riviera (Sky Atlantic, NowTV)

3* ⭐⭐⭐

Currently watching.  Glitzy, totally unrealistic and not very well-written glam-soap-opera type series starring Julia Stiles as Grace Clios, an art curator married to a wealthy bloke called Constantin who gets blown up on a yacht in the first ten minutes.  Enter dysfunctional first family - Lena Olin as the bitchy first wife who looks fabulous in all her fabulous clothes (unlike Julia Stiles, whose stylist should have sorted out her bad hair dye, and at least 50% of her wardrobe), drama queen daughter and two sons with serious emotional problems.  Got a bit bored in the first season, though the second one ups its game a bit, and Stiles gets a better hairdo.  Great scenery, fab cars, and at least Juliet Stevenson is in S2. Murders and double dealing and affairs and stuff.

The longer it goes on, the more I notice that no devastating event is so traumatic that the character concerned cannot find the time to go upstairs for a quick wardrobe change, complete with matching shoes and hair accessories.  All the women sit around at home looking as if they're just off to a garden party with Jackie and Ari Onasis.

Now to Season 3.  4 eps in.  It's moved away from the Clios family, to the extent that when Grace and her new cohort Rupert Graves meet up with two people closely associated with them (Daphne and Nico - Nico was married to one of them and about to live happily ever after at the end of S2), they are never mentioned. Also, Daphne has had a complete personality change to fit the new plot, and poor old mum (Juliet Stevenson) is never mentioned again, either.  Julia Stiles has gone less blonde, which makes her look more pissed off than ever, and is still wearing the inevitable 4 inch heels and silky dress/trouser ensemble even when she has to climb over rocks or walk several miles.

Just taken a half star off my original assessment due to characters' curious personality changes.



And here is Julia Stiles' fab drunk table dance in 10 Things I Hate about You, with the late, great Heath Ledger (loved that film!).



Four-part miniseries: The Sister (ITV Hub)

2* ⭐⭐

Basically a good story, but the dialogue was cringe-makingly bad, and the acting not much better.  Russell Tovey stars as a guy who thinks he's killed the sister of a girl he ends up marrying, though quite frankly I'm surprised anyone could stand being in the same room as his character for more than ten minutes.  Watched until the end because I was interested enough to want to know what happened, but I'd recommend giving this a hasty swerve.  The comments on the Youtube trailer reflect this.




Wednesday, 28 October 2020

Lately I've Been Watching

 

The latest in my series of mini TV reviews, with trailers and 'where to watch'.  If you have trouble finding where any show/film is available, try typing 'where can I watch *name of show*' into Google.

If you would like to see more posts, please click here: Lately I've Been Watching.  If you get as far as the bottom, 'Older Posts' will take you to more.


Series: War of the Worlds - Season 1 (Amazon Prime)

5 stars plus ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Gabriel Byrne, Lea Drucker and Elizabeth McGovern star in this terrific updated version - love love and loved it, stayed up until 2.15 a.m. watching the first 4 episodes because I couldn't stop!  Highly, highly recommended.  The robot dogs are not quite as terrifying as those in Black Mirror's Metalhead, but they come close.  Something about that noise they make...

There's a good mix of characters, some likeable (Helen, Bill, Ash, Sophia, Kariem, Colonel Mustafa), some irritating (Sarah, Sacha and Chloe).  Two of the characters have a link to the aliens who have invaded, but we are yet to discover why or what ... and why are they stealing the babies?  Season 2 can't come soon enough. :)

 

Series: Raised by Wolves - Season 1 (Amazon Prime, HBO Max)

5 stars plus ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Directed by Ridley Scott.  A long time in the future, the world has come to an end as the theists are at war with the atheists.  Some of the latter send two androids to another planet with 12 incubating foetuses, to restart the human race.  When all but one die, the 'mother' (a special type of ΓΌber-dangerous android called a necromancer) kills the occupants of the crashed 'ark' - a spaceship filled with believers - except for the children, who she takes to fill her dead children's place.   Enter Ragnar Lothbrok Travis Fimmel, an atheist pretending to be a believer, to get back the son who isn't really his.  Honestly, it's not as confusing as I made that sound.  Just remember that Marcus, the character played by Ragnar Lothbrok (sorry, Travis Fimmel; the character is exactly the same as the one in Vikings, increasingly so as it goes on) is not really him but a man called Caleb who has had plastic surgery to assume Marcus's face.

Ah—I may have failed to express how much I loved this.  It's terrific, it really is, Fimmel is great, as are the mother and father androids.  Am totally rooting for the androids, btw. πŸ˜‰


 

Series: The Capture - Season 1 (BBC)

5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Excellent and gripping story about a former solider who was cleared of a war crime, then set up as guilty of murder, and the detective who works out what is really going on, and how dangerous the conspiracy is.  Highly recommended.


Documentary: What Killed Michael Brown? (Amazon)

4.5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

A documentary by Shelby Steele, which examines the shooting by a police officer of Black teenager Michael Brown, and goes on to look at the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, compared with BLM, and discusses why racial divide in America is as much a problem as ever.

Here is a lengthy review on Film Threat


Documentary: The Plot Against The President (Amazon)

4.5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Whatever your political leanings, you should watch this—but be warned.  You will never believe anything you hear on the news or read in the press, ever again.  Not for anyone of a nervous disposition; it saddened me greatly, that we live in the sort of world where this sort of thing is allowed to happen.  Please note, this is not a documentary solely for the pro-Trump; it's an eye-opener, generally, and will make every fictional government conspiracy thriller you've ever watched or read seem like child's play.


Series: Fear The Walking Dead - Season 6, episodes 1 & 2 (AMC Premiere, Amazon)

5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Three episodes in, and I think that, so far, this is the best season yet.  So good to see Morgan sort himself out, and Dwight get back to the guy Daryl first met in Always Accountable, but the highlight so far has to be Dwight and Sherry's reunion - worth the wait, and will go down as one of the great TWD reunions!

I'm assuming that Al is going to turn out to be the sister of either Aaron or Eric - that vehicle plate thing.  I'm going for Aaron :)


 

Documentary: The Seven Five (Amazon)

4 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

About Michael Dowd, known as the most corrupt New York cop ever.  Fascinating and well put-together, with much footage from the 1980s and early 1990s, interviews with Dowd himself, and the people who worked with him.  And I'm not just talking the other cops.


 

Series: The Boys - Seasons 1 & 2 (Amazon)

4.5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Watched all of S1 again before S2, as I couldn't remember what happened.  Liked it just as much as the first time round!  Great comic-inspired show about an America in which the public's icons are the superheroes that keep them safe - but were they given their superpowers by God, or did they derive from something more down to earth?  And are they really as godlike and good as their public image represents?

The Boys of the title refers to a group of vigilantes who each have their own individual beefs with various members of 'The Seven' - these are chosen ones, the group to which superheroes all over the country aspire to belong.  Main character Hughie is played by Dennis Quaid's son, who falls in love with one of The Seven - Starlight.

It's great fun, and Anthony Starr (Banshee) is brilliant as Homelander, the king of The Seven.  Also stars Giancarlo Esposito, playing Gus Fring from Breaking Bad. πŸ˜‰  TWD lovers will spot Colby Minifie (Virginia in FearTWD) as the ghastly assistant to the superheroes.

 
 

Series: Keeping Faith - Seasons 1 & 2 (Amazon)

4.5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Faith Howells is a lawyer living in a small town in south Wales, with her three children and husband Evan, with whom she has a legal practice.  At the start, she is on maternity leave with her baby son, when she gets a call from the office to say that Evan has not turned up for work.  Faith can't get hold of him, all day, and neither does he return home that evening.  He has disappeared off the face of the earth. 

As Faith uncovers some shady stuff in which Evan was mixed up, her whole life is turned upside town.  Features a disapproving mother-in-law, the customary kooky divorced friend who goes on endless dates, lots of nasty gangster-type baddies, murders, and a possible new love interest.

It's jolly good, and my interest was held all the way through both seasons.  Eve Myles is great as Faith; you'll like her.  My only complaint was that the last episode seemed a bit rushed, with all ends tied up a bit too neatly and quickly, and a lack of drama that the ending needed; a great ending with another twist in the tale would have made all the difference.  It was a bit lacklustre, and I was slightly disappointed by the outcome for Faith herself, too.  Definitely worth watching, though!


Series: Sanctuary - Season 1 (Amazon)

4 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Set in the Dolomites, Helena visits her estranged sister in a sanitorium, and is almost immediately immersed in a terrifying case of mistaken identity.  Most entertaining, though I did find that it stretched feasibility a bit too much.  Good plot, though, and left on a rather compelling cliff-hanger, so I look forward to S2.

A special mention for my cousin, actor Tim Daish, who could be spotted in the cast list as 'Landrover driver'!


Miniseries: The Third Day.  (Amazon, Sky Atlantic, HBO)

4 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Jude Law stars as Sam, whose yearly pilgrimage to the place where the body of his murdered son was found leads him to the tidal island of Osea, from which he at first seems to be prevented from leaving.  Then, he chooses not to.

That's the first three episodes.  The second three tell the story of a woman and her two daughters, who arrive at Osea thinking, mistakenly, that they have booked an Air BnB cottage for a couple of days.  They, too, are to find leaving the island difficult, and the eldest daughter, Ellie, begins to expect that her mother has another reason for bringing them there.

The visitors might be forgiven for thinking they had walked onto the set of Straw Dogs, such is the animosity towards them from most of the residents.  

It's good, and I enjoyed it all, but certain plot threads were left dangling, almost as if the writers weren't quite sure what to do with them, and I found the end disappointing and inconclusive.  It's definitely worth watching, though.  Also stars Paddy Considine, Emily Watson, Peter Kay and Naomie Harris. 


 

Film: Unhinged (Google Play, Amazon, Apple TV)

3.5* ⭐⭐⭐

Russell Crowe is revoltingly sinister as a man whose life was destroyed when he got divorced, and stalks a woman with whom he becomes involved in a minor incident of road rage.  Arson, murder, setting people alight, running them over, stabbing them in the neck with forks, you name it.  It's an entertaining one and a half hours for the not-too-discerning viewer; starts off great but gets more and more unfeasible, not least of all the little quip made at the end which I predicted just before the woman (Caren Pistorius) made it.  A few less ridiculous moments, and it could have been a hell of a lot better.

 

Documentary series: Britain's Bloodiest Dynasty (Amazon)

3.5 stars ⭐⭐⭐

About the Plantagenets - examines the reigns of Henry II, Edward II and a couple of others.  Presented by Dan Jones, who does so as if the average age of his viewers is 10 years old.  It's good, and I liked the re-enactments, but it's a general overview for people who don't know anything about the period.  Would have been great if presented by someone like Simon Schama or Neil Oliver, instead.  I did quite like it, though.




Sunday, 25 October 2020

October 25th ~ Autumn Colours #SilentSunday

 

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Rosie's Review-A-Book Challenge #RRABC

Introducing Rosie's Review-A-Book Challenge #RRABC
 


 
Did you know that 99% of the reading public never post a review for a book?

At Rosie Amber's Book Review Team (six years and going strong!), we often look at ways to encourage more people to review.  This autumn, Rosie has planned a Review-A-Book Challenge, with a great list of books to choose from, all free of charge to anyone serious about writing a review for her blog - and possibly joining the review team, if you enjoy the process.
 
(In June this year, I wrote about why I love being a member of the team - it's HERE if you would like to take a look)

Each day for a week or so, she will feature articles on how to write simple reviews, on choosing a star rating, and many more.  The challenge is open to all, from experienced reviewers and book bloggers, to those who have never written a review.  If this has piqued your interest and you would like to take a look at the books on offer, please click here to read the full post and view the book list.

 



 


 

Sunday, 4 October 2020

Review: #TWD S10 ep 16 A CERTAIN DOOM #TheWalkingDead #TWDSeasonFinale


Previously: Review:  S10x15 The Tower

 


- S10 x 16   A Certain Doom -

Directed by Greg Nicotero

Written by Jim BarnesEli JornΓ© and Corey Reed

 A huge thank you to Greg Nicotero, the writers and all concerned - absolutely gripping, lots of those TWD twists and surprises that no amount of 'spoilers' and predictions ever get right (thank goodness!), and not just one but two moments when I cried real tears - namely when Maggie appeared to save Gabriel, and when she reunited with Judith, the child she delivered on the floor of the prison, all those years ago.  Welcome back, Maggie— so good to see her looking like the happy woman Glenn loved, once more.


I imagine Mystery Mask Person will be a new character—we now know it's not Connie, anyway.  That was a jaw-drop surprise, wasn't it? 😲  An interesting development; at least Virgil seemed to have recovered some of his sanity before Michonne left him—and he was carrying the trusty orange back pack.

 

Back to Gabriel and co in the tower—who'd have thought the cowering craven of Season 5 would become an authoritative, brave leader?  So, so glad he didn't cop it, as many (including me) thought he might, especially after he stayed back, willing to sacrifice himself to save the others. It's okay, Gabe, no need to do any more penance.  Rick would have been proud of how he has progressed, and we couldn't have Rosita losing any more of her men!


The death walk through the grounds of Grady Memorial (πŸ˜‰) made those similar forays in 102 Guts and 609 No Way Out seem like a pleasant walk down a country lane, and the danger of not knowing which ones were original recipe Walker and which might have a knife at the ready was so real.  Kelly's almost silent eye view was terrifying enough, but the part that really brought it home to me was Magna's face when she was surrounded by them—you could feel her fear, she was frozen with it, until Jerry put his hand on her shoulder.

 

If not doom in the end, there was a certain redemption going on in this fabulous finale, where Carol, Lydia and Negan were concerned.  I felt so sorry for Carol when she got a dirty look from Bertie and a scathing remark from Diane—oh, and her face when she knew she couldn't save poor Beatrice, whose last, brave words implored Carol to take her pack.  You can understand why, but I suspect Hilltop might have burned anyway, whether Negan was freed or not.

 

Was she really going to jump, after she guided the Walkers to the cliff's edge and Lydia pulled her back?  I don't think so; I thought she was just contemplating it for a moment.  I wondered if, more than that, she was looking down and thinking of all she had lost, all the tragedies over the years.  When I saw them falling off the cliff, though, I felt sad too, for them; they were people, once.  

 

Lydia was the main hero of the hour, starting with her pointing out to Diane which Walkers needed an arrow in the chest, and of course she could walk amongst the dead with less fear than anyone else, in order to retrieve the backpack.  Ironic that it was the wearing of Alpha's mask that saved everyone, ultimately; there was something so poignant about Lydia assuming the stance of her mother as she led the Guardians towards the cliff.

 

Also, during the horse-drawn disco version of what Daryl, Sasha and Abraham did in 601 First Time Again, she was able to detect that the Whisperers had mingled in with the herd, before the others saw them; if she had stayed behind, as Daryl instructed, there may have been many more deaths.  If anyone had any doubts about Lydia earning her place, surely they must be dispelled now.

Nice little bit of Talking Heads there—I admit to chair dancing!


Lydia's scenes with Carol were so emotive; she said she wasn't looking for another mother, but I think she might be the person to help Carol break out of her endless quest to fill the void left by Sophia's death, that can never be filled.  With friendship, this time, though—because they have so much loss in common.  Maybe she will help Carol accept what happened, rather than going round and round in ever-intensifying circles of pain, with the loss of another child coming back to devastate her more acutely each time, and, of course, Henry was more than just a Sophia replacement.  Her life with him, Ezekiel and the Kingdom gave her what she had always wanted, but it all revolved around Henry.


And so to Negan, who Daryl thought was too chicken, or whatever, to go out and face the 'Fee-Fi-Fo asshole'.

'You wanna be a part of this?  You gotta put your ass on the line, just like everybody else.' 


But putting his ass on the line was indeed his plan, as he disappeared down the lift shaft, finally providing the answer to the question we've all been asking: who would kill Beta?  Negan to start it, Daryl to strike the final blow; it had to be.  And what a kill.  The demented Jolly Green Giant's final moments, when he saw his own death as glorious, with the sepia flashbacks not of his old life but of the one he shared with Alpha, were masterfully put together.  

One gets the impression that Negan owned a few Half Moon records in his time... 'You know who that asshole was?'



I noticed Daryl gave Negan an almost friendly punch/slap in the gut, just before they moved off, as if to say, 'Well done, come on'.  We will see where we go from here...


...as we will with what happens after the moment so many were waiting for: Daryl and Carol making up.  The way she said 'You good?' told us everything she struggled with, inside; the wall she has built up to stop herself crumbling, the fear she had that she had lost him.  Then, when he looked at her, you could see so much emotion in his eyes—years and years of love, pain, loss, all they have shared and endured together since the very start, when he gave her the axe to cave Ed's head in, in that camp in Atlanta.



'You still got me'.  That's a lot, coming from Daryl.  Who thinks spin-off may be set in New Mexico?! 😁  Looks like it's on the cards, or Daryl wouldn't have mentioned it.  Once Judith and RJ are safely settled with Aunt Maggie, in the Commonwealth, perhaps!


Meanwhile, back with our intrepid cyclists—the meeting with Stephanie was never going to go that smoothly, but at least the more humble but still lion-hearted and theatrical Ezekiel has retained his ability to give rousing speeches.  'This journey, your journey, must be completed'.  His acceptance of his illness is so touching, and it's also good to see how the apocalypse has made Eugene into someone he never knew he could be.

 

Enter the strange people in white armour.... well, we couldn't have a totally happy ending, could we?!  I am sure that all our friends have a long way to go and many dangers to traverse before they find safety and a place that will be to them what the Hilltop, Alexandria and the Kingdom were; I assume that Hilltop is gone, now, and can't see how everyone will fit into Alexandria, if there is even much of it left after Beta took the herd through.

 

What do you think might happen next?  A few thoughts/ideas:

  • The next episode will be a direct continuation of 10x16, because Maggie and Negan are both in that clearing in the woods, and we have yet to see what will happen when they come face to face!
  • Maggie will tell them about the Commonwealth, and the 16 episodes of Season 11 will be cover the journey there and all dangers on the way, maybe?
  • Luke will be treated for an eating disorder (or at least be told by someone that he shouldn't lose any more weight).
  • Lots of weird and bad stuff will happen to Connie before she finds her way back to the others.
  • Gradually, gradually, Negan will be accepted. But having seen the summaries of the 6 bonus S10 episodes, I think he will die in #22.  Maybe he'll get bitten; this late in the game, there seems to be such a sad irony about someone actually dying from a Walker bite, like when Carl died, but....
  • Lydia will be totally accepted by everyone.  Except Oceanside, maybe, because of Beatrice.
  • Carol and Daryl will carry on dancing around each other until New Mexico.
  • The white armour people may not be another enemy, but just cautious; maybe something to do with Stephanie, after all? 


 Until 2021, then....


~ RIP Beatrice ~