Saturday 27 February 2021

Lately I've Been Watching

The latest in my series of mini TV and film 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 (I haven't looked on Netflix for any of these).

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 3.5 or 4.5 might be rounded up or down, depending on what I thought of the programme.

Series: Your Honor - Season 1 (Amazon, Showtime)

5* plus ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Anything with Bryan Cranston and Michael Stuhlbarg (Arnold Rothstein in Boardwalk Empire) is a 'must see' for me, and this was terrific, all the way through. Cranston stars as New Orleans judge Michael Desiato, whose son commits a serious crime... by accident.  Stulbarg is marvellous as the local mob boss.  As Desiato tries to protect his son, he becomes further and further drawn into a web of deception and danger from which there is no escape.  The 10th and final episode ended with great drama, and if there is not another season, I'm protesting!

Film: Body Brokers (iTunes, Amazon)

5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Love love love Michael Kenneth Williams, and he was as awesome as usual in this film based the true story of rackets associated with the drug rehabilitation industry in California.  Gripping all the way through.

He's not mentioned on the official trailer, which is curious as he is one of the three co-stars, but Jack Kilmer (son of Val Kilmer and Joanne Whalley) is terrific as Utah, an addict sucked into the sleazy world of Wood (Williams) and his colleagues.  Maybe Melissa Leo has a more demanding agent....  

Frank Grillo, as the sort of sleazeball he was born to play, is great, too - but again, it seems odd that he's the main picture on the posters, when the main characters were clearly those played by Kilmer and Williams.

Film: Silk Road (Amazon, iTunes, Fandango, Google Play, Microsoft)

5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the now incarcerated for life Ross Ulbricht (played by Nick Robinson), who created the famous dark website on which you could buy narcotics.  I'd never realised it was so short-lived; it only existed for 2 years.  Jason Clarke plays Rick Bowden, the 'Jurassic narc', a troubled older cop demoted to cyber crime, who begins to piece the story together ahead of the FBI; I am not sure how much of this was fabricated for dramatic effect.  Anyway, I was absorbed all the way through, and can't help thinking how sad it is - Ulbricht clearly has a great mind, all gone to waste.

The Walking Dead, Season 10 x 17 (AMC+)

5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Full review HERE

Series: Emergence - Season 1 (Amazon)

4.5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Most compelling, kept me interested all the way through.  Police Chief Jo Evans (Alison Tolman) discovers a child alone on a beach; she has lost her memory.  Jo and her family take her in, only to discover that she is no ordinary child, and their association with her will put them all in danger. AI-based scifi thriller - also stars Clancy Brown and Terry O'Quinn.

Series: Brave New World - Season 1 (Peacock)

3.5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I haven't read Aldous Huxley's book (I am ashamed to say) but am told this is a pretty good representation of it.  A future world, a 'New London' above the ruins of the old world, in which everyone looks youthful and beautiful, family and committed relationships are prohibited, as is privacy, sex is the most popular recreational activity and the new age, golden zombies are kept happy by constantly taking 'Soma', the drug that dulls uncomfortable emotions.

Citizens are graded from Alpha+ to Epsilon (grunt, servant), and your grade is immovable.

Outside this world is the land of the Savages ... one of whom is more connected to the people of New London than he realises.  

I wasn't too sure at first, but it got better and better.  Except for the final episode of the season, which was a disappointment.  Harry Lloyd (Viserys in Game of Thrones and a ton of other things since) was excellent as Bernard Marx, who pushes all that is New London, but whose head is a mass of confusion.  Definitely worth watching if you like this sort of thing, though I've just read that there won't be a Season 2, unless it is picked up elsewhere.

Documentary series: The Lady and The Dale (HBO Max, Amazon)

4.5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐

True story - four episodes about Liz Carmichael, who, in her original incarnation as the male Jerry Dean Michael, led an incredible life on the run, escaping criminal justice.  That is, 'on the run' with his wife and five children.  When Jerry became Liz, fame was achieved in the shape of The Dale, a three-wheel car that seemed all set to revolutionise the industry.  Then there was the flower-selling business...

A fascinating story, so well put together with clever, unusual graphics; these alone make it a 'must watch' (and gave it an extra half star from me!).  There are lots interviews with those who knew Jerry/Liz, including the sons and daughters, who appear to have had a happy, loving childhood.  And I found myself really liking Liz.  One of those stories that you would think too far-fetched, if it were presented as fiction!

Series: Soulmates (AMC, AMC premiere, Philo, Amazon)

4* ⭐⭐⭐⭐

From Wikipedia: set approximately 15 years in the future, when a company called Soul Connex has developed a test that can determine the person you were most meant to love with 100 percent accuracy. People who take the test either learn of their soulmate and have the choice to pursue that person, or they get a 'your soulmate hasn't tested yet', until they do...

Some of the stories were great, some less so.  Varied and well thought-out.  I liked 1, 2 and 5 best.  Loved Sarah Snook (Succession) in #1, as a wife who doesn't realise what she's got until it's gone, and Charlie Heaton in #5, as a shy young man working on a farm who can't move on from the fact that his soulmate has died.

(Is the testing reliable or is it just a con, though?  Will people tend to jettison their perfectly happy lives, just because a computer has told them that this other person is their 'soul mate'?)

Film: Lapsis (Amazon)

4* ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Very strange and clever, subtle satire of the 'gig economy' - about an alternative future, quantum computers, and the practice of 'cabling', in which the hard-up can earn money by laying cables around the country, by hand.  One review says: 'Somewhere beyond our current dystopia and the future imperfect lies the wily, charming Lapsis.'  Yeah, that'll do for me.  Definitely worth a watch.

Documentary series: Heaven's Gate: The Cult of Cults (HBO Max, Amazon)

3.5* ⭐⭐⭐

Four episodes about the weirdest cult ever, that started in the mid-seventies.  The leaders are 'Do' and 'Ti', named after the Sound of Music song, and they encourage believers to wait for the space ship that is going to arrive and transport them to Heaven's Gate, or the 'next level'.  Of course, the followers are all mighty strange and looking for meaning to their lives, and of course the space ship never arrived.  Twenty years on, a hard core do the suicide pact thing, believing that they will reach a blissful other world.  

The documentary features interviews with the family members who lost people to the cult, and some former followers, one of whom is still a believer, but left because he couldn't live without jerking off ๐Ÿ˜…, which was forbidden.  Much of the film is very blurry, as it's taken from the Heaven's Gate home movies, and I would have liked to see more background about the people. Interesting, though.

Mini Series: The Company (Amazon)

4* ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Three one and a half hour long episodes about the Cold War and the CIA.  Good, but I didn't love it as much as I hoped to.  The second one, about the troubles in Hungary in 1956, and the Bay of Pigs fiasco, was by far the best.

Film: Boss Level (Hulu)

3.5* ⭐⭐⭐

Fun time-travel/action romp, starring Frank Grillo, Mel Gibson and Naomi Watts.  Worth watching, if you expect nothing more than a fun time travel/action romp, rather than a serious film! 

Series: Blood - Seasons 1 & 2 (Amazon)

4* ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Dark family drama starring Adrian Dunbar, set near Dublin, in which a daughter suspects foul play following the death of her mother.  The first season was okay, the second one better, as the family become involved in some dodgy goings on.  It's good, and I shall definitely watch another season if there is one, but it lacked that 'oomph' that makes a series really memorable.

Monday 22 February 2021

Review: #TheWalkingDead S10x17 HOME SWEET HOME #TWD

 Previously:  Review 10x16 A CERTAIN DOOM

- S10 x 17  HOME SWEET HOME -

Directed by David Boyd

Written by Kevin Deiboldt and Corey Reed

Riveting, right?!  Thanks to all concerned for this great start to the bonus 6 ๐Ÿ˜. 

Lydia was such a good choice for the 'where we're at now' summary at the start, and it's promising that Michonne was included in the recap, which I hope means that we will get to see her again, wherever she is ('under the same sky, looking at the same stars'), not to mention her reunion with Rick.  Also, great to see 'Lauren Cohan' back in the titles!

The scene we've all been waiting for, when Maggie came face to face with Negan - I thought it was perfect.  Afterwards, Angela Kang said that dialogue was originally present, but they quickly saw that it made more impact without.  She's so right.  I don't know if it would have been possible to convey the enormity of what Maggie felt in mere words, but her face spoke volumes.  That's some acting - saying so much by saying nothing at all.  As for Negan, he just looked tired, and almost regretful.

I can't begin to imagine how this is going to play out; maybe at first, she will just avoid him, but now Hershel junior knows about how his dad was killed, and is old enough to understand who this guy is...  

...and isn't Hershel just perfect?  He's the image of Glenn (genius to put him in a baseball cap!), and I loved how, afterwards, Angela showed those two couple of scenes from S1.  I know we've all seen them so many times, but it's never not a good time for a Glenn scene! 

When Daryl looked up at him, sitting in that tree, he had a kind of wonder on his face, like he was seeing his old friend again. ๐Ÿ˜


That was a tense moment between Carol and Maggie, when Carol revealed, in words of one syllable, the truth about how Negan got out and why, and what happened the night Hilltop burned.  It was absolutely the right thing to do - to tell it to her, straight, so that Maggie would know the score from the off; it showed respect for Maggie's feelings, not to bullshit her.  I wondered if Carol has had so much grief from everyone about the things she's done that she thought, what the hell, I'll just say it.  And who could blame her?  It was brave—and totally Carol.  ('Did you kill Karen and David?  'Yes.' *walks away*)

In every conversation between Daryl, Maggie and Carol, you could feel all the years and memories between them, all that they have endured together.  During that enormously touching scene when Maggie talked to Daryl in the shelter—in which Daryl, as always, said so much by saying so little—she felt safe enough to show her vulnerability. She trusts him, because they go back to the beginning, when she was the farmer's daughter and he was the rebel with the crossbow...

Bit of a reminisce here...when, with Cole, Elijah and Kelly, they went in to clear out the walkers so they could sleep there, I was immediately taken back to when Daryl and Maggie were part of another group of five, clearing out the walkers before they could shelter at the prison, in 3x01 Seed.

RIP T-Dog and Glenn.  Miss you, Rick

(one more!) ... and when Maggie and Daryl were leaning up against the door, desperately trying to hold the Walkers in, it made me think of 5x10 Them when everyone else was asleep in the barn, and Daryl saw that Walkers were trying to get in; Maggie was the first to jump up and help him.

Back to the present, and this Cole guy put my back up straight away - when he started being critical about the prospect of living in Alexandria, I thought Daryl was going to say, you don't have to come... I can see there being some friction between the two of them, especially as it looks like Cole is Maggie's right-hand man.  I look forward to seeing him put him in his place (go on, Carol!) (Or Negan? Or Gabriel?).

Interesing to hear how Maggie has spent the last few years, and hear her talk about Beth, Glenn and Hershel—and that Georgie has gone to some town out west—will this be the Commonwealth?  

Once Home Sweet Home......


Kelly was an inspired addition to the crew in this episode, just the right person to go along with Daryl, especially with the missing sister situation, to which Maggie can so relate... I think we're going to love Elijah, and he seems like a handy person to have around.  The scenes through the woods were proper TWD scary—and even the name 'The Reapers' is enough to send a shiver down the spine!  And what did Suicide Man mean by 'Pope marked you'?  It was almost brushed off at the time, but one of the things I've always loved about TWD is how things are said or seen and you don't realise their significance until later (like when Michonne walked past the 'Wolves Not Far' graffiti in 509 What Happened and What's Going On),

When the group reached what Beta and the Whisperers had left of Alexandria, Cole said 'Home Sweet Home' in a derisive, sarcastic fashion, but he didn't know that to Maggie, it is.  It's the place where she lived with Glenn ... and Abraham, Sasha, Enid, Deanna, Carl, Tara, Noah, Rick and Michonne.  Though now there's a cuckoo in the nest...

Stuff I'm hoping for:

  • Maggie talking to Judith about the day she delivered her, and more about Lori.
  • Negan not doing anything to backslide the progress he's made...
  • Everyone appreciating Carol and all she does for everyone, again!
  • More Rosita, and Rosita and Gabriel as the power couple :)
  • Daryl and Carol getting closer... please, can we have a little bit of that before the season ends (and I don't want to think about this Leah woman until I've seen the next episode!)???
  • Eugene meeting Stephanie....soooon!
  • Cole getting put in his place.
  • More Aaron, more Alden, Kelly and Luke - and more from the background characters still there from S5 - Scott and Barbara!
  • Just a bit of happiness for Ezekiel?
  • Daryl and Carol talking to Hershel about the Glenn they knew even before Maggie did.

Until next time....

Sunday 14 February 2021

When you're at home all the time (and have been since March 2020...)


  • Develop satisfying projects, like re-writing your 200-book-long TBR list in order of preference, or training your eyebrows into a different shape with artful plucking.
  • ...or, you notice the forest where your eyebrows used to be, and decide to stop looking in the mirror/not cut your fringe after all.  

  • Experience extreme irritation if the shower gel has been put back in the wrong place (and have arguments with other household members about who committed this crime).
  • Consider taking the two-minute walk up to local shop... if you can be bothered to go.  Because it means putting on boots, and a coat, and finding that damn mask, and... on the other hand, it is an outing.
  • Consider putting on make-up for the occasion then realise that there is no point because the mask will cover most of it and the eyebrow-hiding fringe will cover the rest.
  • Dance to the music the washing machine plays at the end of its cycle.
  • Start revving up in anticipation of a new picture on the calendar, from about the 26th of each month.
  • Have still not read all those books you thought you would have time for.

Are super-chatty to the Asda delivery man, 

to the extent that he has to say, 'Well, I'd better let you get on."

  • Have a purse full of notes that have been there for at least six months.  Sometimes you look inside, see coins, and say, "Well, darn it, I wonder what those little bitty things are for?"
  • Consider rearranging your bookshelves in colours of the rainbow.
  • Get excited about your new tea towels arriving from M&S.
  • Order more things you don't really need because it's so lovely to get packages.
  • Discover what your real hair colour is.
  • Looks at your lipsticks with a tearful nostalgia.  That's the trouble with those damn masks... oh, Mac Ripened and Kinda Sexy, how I miss you!
  • Develop peculiar preferences for domestic objects; for instance, a favourite butter knife.  I have a favourite spoon for transferring the coffee from cannister to cup, and am pleased when I find it in the drawer, rather than still unwashed from the last cup.  On the other hand, I do have a back-up second best.  Now, let me tell you about my favourite spoon for transferring small amount of Flora Plant Butter from butter dish to vegetables in colander.  Only when it's spring greens, carrots and asparagus, mind... 

  • Are convinced it's Sunday, even though the calendar tells you it's Thursday.  What if you've been forgetting to tear the pages off, though?  How would you know?
  • Have long ago stopped listening to the current lockdown rules, and just assume you can't go anywhere or do anything.

  • Get excited about a trip to Waitrose, and try on different scarf/jacket/earring combinations.
  • Look at your high heels and wonder how you ever wore them.  More to the point, why.
  • Feel like the characters on The Walking Dead or whichever series you are currently watching are actually your friends.
  • ... and PayPal has become an online friend.
  • Develop little routines that must be adhered to.  I am only one step away from having a checklist of things that must be done before bed, order of business for the morning before I start writing, etc.

  • Have already bought all suitable items from the 'loungewear' section of M&S Online, and eagerly await the spring collection
  • Notice that the week-per-view diary, which used to include lunches with girlfriends/reminders to book trains/hotels/all manner of appointments, etc., now reflects how Alexei Sayle described a leaflet that came through his door entitled 'What's On In Stoke Newington': 'A big sheet of paper with 'fuck all' written on it.'
  • (, scrap that, I just saw a diary entry for Thursday! says 'wash towels'.)

Thank you to my sister, Julia, for her contributions!

(Please note: I realise that there are far more serious issues connected with the prolonged lockdown.  This is just a bit of fun, to lighten up a dull Monday morning... or is it Wednesday?)  

Wednesday 3 February 2021

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.

Film: Sound of Metal (Amazon Prime)

5* plus ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Riz Ahmed stars as Ruben, a thrash/hardcore punk metal drummer who loses his hearing.  Also stars Olivia Cooke, as his girlfriend.  It's about his path to acceptance of his new silent world, which sounds worthy but not that thrilling, but it's fabulous.  Heartbreaking in parts, but never ever schmaltzy.  Ahmed is terrific.  Awesome film.

For TWD addicts - features Lauren Ridloff, playing a deaf teacher!

Series: The Affair - Seasons 1-5 (Now TV, Amazon Prime)

5* plus ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Noah Solloway (Dominic West), Brooklyn teacher and novelist, spends the summer in Montauk where his rich in-laws live; his wife is Helen (Maura Tierney), and they have four children.  At a diner, he first lays eyes on Alison Lockhart (Ruth Wilson), who is married to Cole (Joshua Jackson).  Noah and Alison fall in love, which sets off several chains of events that will affect both families for many, many years to come.  Bit of background: Alison and Cole's four-year-old son, Gabriel, drowned two years before she meets Noah, and Noah has felt emasculated by Helen and her parents throughout their married life.

I watched the first 3 seasons when they came out, but decided to watch them again, before I watched #4 and #5.  Each episode is seen from the points of view of two or more of the main characters; often, the same period of time is played over twice, but it doesn't become tedious, because it's so well done.  I was thoroughly gripped by this all the way through all five seasons - the unexpected happens all the time, and just when I was wondering if #5 would become drawn out, over-egging the pudding, it was given a fabulous twist by taking us into the future, to 2053, seen from the point of view of one of the children, now an adult.

There's a bit too much graphic shagging in it (I said to my husband, 'I'm getting fed up with seeing Dominic West's arse going up and down'), but it's about love and passion, after all, and I think the fact that I watched all five seasons one after the other, several episodes a night, made it seem more excessive than it might have otherwise.

Some characters I loved, some I didn't like, and some I changed my mind about a lot.  If you've seen it, I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!  

Characters I loved: Alison, Cole, Vik, Nina (Noah's sister).

Characters I liked: Anton, Martin, Juliette, Eddie, Cherry (Cole's mum).

Characters I was up and down about: Noah, Helen, Joanie, Sierra, Colin, Janelle, Bruce and Margaret, Robert.

Characters I didn't like: Luisa, Athena, Adeline (Sierra's mother), Scott, Yvonne.

Characters I detested: Ben, Whitney, Furkat, Sacha Mann, Audrey, Eden.

What I wanted most was for Alison to end up with Cole, run the Lobster Roll together, and carry on living in their lovely house by the beach.... 

Limited Series: The Serpent (BBC)

5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Eight episodes: drama about the true story of Charles Sobhraj, a gem trader and violent killer who preyed on travellers in the early 1970s.  Posing as the sociable, helpful and friendly Alain, he and his sidekick Ajay and girlfriend Monique (Marie-Andrรฉe) would poison their guests, then offer them 'medicine', which was more of the same.  They would then steal their belongings and passports, and murder them.  Tahar Rahim and Jenna Coleman star.  Fascinating, shocking and gripping, highly recommend.

Documentary: How Deep is Your Love: The Bee Gees (HBO Max)

4.5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Documentary about the career and personal lives of the Bee Gees from childhood to now.  I'm not a particular fan, but I loved this.  Many interviews with all three of them; I liked Maurice the most.  I found the insight into their relationship most interesting, how Robin was secretive and difficult, how he and Barry had many battles of will about who would sing which song, while Maurice was the mediator.  I wondered if it was anything to do with Robin not being blessed with the film star good looks of Barry.  After Maurice died, Robin and Barry saw very little of each other.

Most sad of all was Barry Gibb at the end, saying that he would give up all the hits to have his three brothers back (Andy died in 1989, Maurice in 2003 and Robin in 2012).  

Something I didn't know: their mother was called Barbara Gibb.  Mine was Barbara Gibbs. ๐Ÿ˜

(Below, for the ladies, Barry Gibb in the Staying Alive video.  Phwoooooarrr...)

Mini Series: The Pembrokeshire Murders (ITV Hub)

4* ⭐⭐⭐⭐

True crime drama, in which, in 2006, detectives solve murders from the 1980s when they link an artist's impression of a suspect to a contestant on Bullseye.  The murderer is particularly abhorrent.  Good.  Three episodes. 

Film: The Song of Names (Amazon, Fandango, Vudu)

4* ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Tim Roth and Clive Owen star in this slow-paced drama about a chap searching for a Polish boy taken in by his family just before the start of World War II.  The boy in question was a genius-level violinist, who disappeared just before a concert; he was also a Jew.  

The boy's story is linked to the search for his parents, who he suspects were killed in the concentration camps.  It's good, and most emotive near the end, but there was less drama and tension than I had thought there might be.  It's more of a human drama/mild tearjerker.

Film: The Little Things (Amazon, HBO Max)

3* ⭐⭐⭐

Fairly standard serial killer plot starring Rami Malek as a young, ambitious cop, Denzel Washington as the standard jaded-older-cop-with-baggage-and-secrets-who-can't-let-an-old-case-go, and Jared Leto as the psycho.  With those actors it should have been great, but it was just okay.  Certainly watchable, but it lacked that ingredient X that makes a film memorable.

Film: Narrowsburg (Amazon, iTunes, Vudu)

3* ⭐⭐⭐

Documentary about a small town in New York state, when a moderately well-known actor and his wife move there to start an independent film festival, and to make a film, promising that many of the townspeople will act in it.  Alas, it's all a scam, and the people of Narrowsburg fall for it.

It's billed as being 'stranger than fiction', and I actually thought it was a 'mockumentary' at first, except it wasn't funny.  Just weird.  The interviews with the actor and his wife when they're older show them as being complete fantasists, narcissist and sociopaths.  I'm still not sure it's real...