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.... 😔

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.