More mini TV and film recommendations, with trailers to help you make up your mind! I've made a note of which site I saw them (mostly Amazon Prime and Netflix).
If you would like to see more, please click here: Lately I've Been Watching. There are many of these posts; if you want to see them all, click on 'older posts' when you get to the bottom.
Film: Greed (Amazon)
5 stars plus ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Stars Steve Coogan as Richard McCreadie, who is based on Phillip Green, the ruthless billionaire business man who owns Topshop, Evans, Burtons, Miss Selfridge and others. Also starts David Mitchell as his autobiographer, and Isla Sinclair as his ex-wife. Although it does not mirror Green's life exactly, there are many aspects of it that I am sure do. It's excellent. Don't miss it.
Series: Cardinal (Amazon Prime, Hulu, BBC4)
5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Standard sort of cop/murder/personal dilemmas series, set mostly in the town of Algonquin Bay in Quebec, but it's particularly good. Scenery is fabulous; there are four seasons, each one a gripping story told in six episodes. The first and fourth take place in a snow-covered winter, and have a Scandi-noir feel to them. Highly recommended if you like these type of things; by far the best I've seen for a long time. A real shame that S4 is the final one, though some parts of it did come to a natural end.
Series: Onisciente (Omniscient): Season 1 (Netflix)
5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Brazilian, dubbed into English (well done). In a future time, the people live in the cities, where they are monitored 24/7 by drones the sizes of flies, Carla must go outside the city walls to find out who murdered her father, and why. It's clever, gripping, and terrifying, because this sort of surveillance appears to be what we are heading towards. Loved it - watch it!
Film: The Quarry (Amazon on Demand)
4.5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Slow-moving film starring Michael Shannon as a cop in a rundown small town. Along comes the new preacher, played by Shea Whigham - except he isn't really a preacher at all. It's dark and atmospheric, though not particularly memorable, but I'll watch Michael Shannon in anything, and Shea Whigham is fairly fab, too. I think the actors and the atmosphere made it, as the plot isn't that stunning. I'd give it a definite tick and a thumbs up, though.
Series: Dollhouse (Amazon)
4.5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐
This was made in 2009, and cancelled after 2 seasons. It's scifi, about a company that kidnaps young men and women and re-programmes their brains to make them function as 'actives' or 'dolls', who will perform whatever activity the paying customer wants them to. The star of the show is a 'doll' called Echo, whose 'real' mind begins to fuse with her re-programmed one, as she discovers what is happening. I love stuff like this; it's a bit daft in places but highly enjoyable. Sorry about the quality of the trailer, but it was the only one I could find.
TWD addicts will spot Enver Gjokaj as one of the main dolls - he played Pete Dolgen in Season 4.
Series: After Life: Season 2 (Netflix)
4 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐
I know most people think this is brilliant, and Ricky Gervais plays the grieving widower who can't get on with his life so well, but I only like it, I don't love it. I find it a little too depressing, because of the narrow lives the characters lead; it's a bit too 'real' for me. Good, but I don't like it quite as much as the first season. I think I'm waiting for more to actually happen. Also, I winced at his use of the word 'cunt' - not because I mind hearing it, but because I felt as though it was intended to shock.
Series: Westworld: Seasons 1, 2 & 3 (Amazon)
4 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐
I tried this once and wasn't that keen, then watched it all when Season 3 came out. If you haven't seen it, it's set in the future, in a vast theme park where rich people can immerse themselves in a real life virtual reality (if that makes sense) with cyborgs who believe themselves to be real people. Gradually, though, some of them begin to find out the truth, and rise up against the humans. I liked the first season, especially the gradual unfolding of the life of William, played in his younger years by Jimmy Simpson, who I love, and later by Ed Harris. The second season I found a little too drawn out and was pleased when it was over.
I thought Season 3 was possibly the best of all, certainly as good as the beginning, though I know that it hasn't been received so well by the show's biggest fans. Time has moved on, Westworld is finished, and some of the cyborgs are ready for a fight. This season stars Aaron Paul, a favourite of mine, as a human who becomes involved with the main cyborg, Dolores, played by Evan Rachel Wood. Also stars Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright, Anthony Hopkins and Luke Hemsworth (the not so good looking one!).
Dark Comedy Series: Dead To Me: Seasons 1 & 2 (Netflix)
4 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Christina Applegate (Married With Children) stars as Jen, a woman whose husband has been killed in a hit and run. She bonds with Judy (Linda Cardellini) at a grief therapy group - but Judy is not who she claims to be. Lots of near misses with the police and people getting themselves killed.
I liked Jen all the way through this, and it's fast-moving, amusing, entertaining, etc, but my enjoyment was marred by the character of Judy, who is possibly the most irritating character I've ever seen on television. Cringe-making, soppy, unreliable, a bit of a 'madcap'; I think she is meant to be endearingly kooky but I had an allergic reaction to her. I'd still recommend, though - it's a nice 'easy watch'.
Film: Capone (VOD)
4 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Tom Hardy stars as the infamous gangster in this drama about his final year, at his mansion in Florida, when his dementia is making life pretty damn awful for everyone around him. Linda Cardellini plays his wife (and is not irritating at all - see above!). It's quite gruesome and depressing; Hardy is excellent and it's good, but I would have liked it more if there had been flashbacks of his glory days rather than his hallucinations... I didn't like it as much as I'd hoped.
Series: Run (HBO)
4 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐
College sweethearts Ruby and Billy make a pact that, in the future, however their lives pan out, if one of them texts 'Run' to the other, and the other replies with the same word, they will drop everything and meet up in Grand Central Terminal to travel across American together. On the morning when Ruby receives the text from Billy, she is in a supermarket car park. Her marriage is not particularly happy; Billy is a motivational speaker whose career has just taken a disastrous nosedive.
No, all does not go smoothly, especially when Billy's super-possessive agent tracks him down. It's amusing and I liked it. Merrit Weaver (Denise in The Walking Dead) is great as Ruby, though Domhnall Gleeson is fairly irritating as Billy; a clichéd feckless Irishman who I think the viewer is meant to find quirkily charming.
Film: Inheritance (Amazon)
3.5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Thriller - Lily Collins plays a successful barrister who receives a strange legacy from her father. I can't say much more than that as it would give the plot away. Simon Pegg, who I usually can't stand, is excellent as the ... person I can't describe because that would give the plot away, too. It's worth watching, for sure, but I took a half star off for the weak ending. Would have been okay 20 years ago, but plots are much more intricate these days, and I was waiting for the final twist or two that never came.
Series: Sequestered (Crackle)
3.5 stars ⭐⭐⭐
About a jury staying in a hotel while they try to reach a unanimous verdict on a man accused of murder. Much corruption occurs, as the members sway this and that. 12 episodes, each half an hour. It's good, not memorable. Stars Jesse Bradford and Summer Glau.
Series: Liar: Season 2 (ITV)
3 stars ⭐⭐⭐
Set in an idyllic south of England (as are so many of these series) in a coastal area, starring Ioan Gruffudd as a murderous doctor, and Joanne Froggatt as one of his intended victims. I liked the first season well enough, but I felt it should have stopped there; the second is after Gruffudd has been killed, with the police trying to solve the murder. It's okay, but some of the plot felt a bit contrived. I find that too many of these ITV and BBC series feel a little pale after watching the much more sophisticated US ones. However, the whole series has had most positive reviews, so it's probably just me.