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...


  1. I watched the Bee Gees documentary recently. For years it's struck me as so sad that Barry had 3 younger brothers, and he's been the only one left for a long time. Andy looked so like him. I was in love with Barry when I was 11! And yes, I noticed the fact of their and our mum's names!

    1. I know... alone before they were born, alone again now. Barry is GLORIOUS in that Staying Alive vid - I just watched it again!

    2. ps, Barry is Virgo, Robin and Maurice Sag/Cap cusp (Maurice Sag, Robin Cap, I think???), Andy Pisces.

  2. What a great selection, Terry! Riz Ahmed is a fabulous actor - I must check it out! I keep hearing how fabulous The Serpent is, so I really need to track this down now.

    We finished the Pembrokeshire Murders at the weekend - totally agree! I thought Lily's dad, Keith, was abhorrently brilliant in his role, too. And Bullseye!!! Well, you could not make that up...

    1. Yes, KA was v good. It was one of those dramas that was very good, but I won't remember, unlike The Serpent, which you must get to!

  3. I've been watching The Serpent live on TV so the last episode is in 2 days. I have found it gripping although the back to the past , forward to another date, back to a different time was confusing (at least for my OH!). I couldn't resist reading up the real story so I know what happened to them all already. I especially like the old film of Thailand etc.

    1. I love the 70s-ness about it, Liz - and yes, that old film!! I, too, looked up the real story - first thing I did the next day was DuckDuckGo him - is that a verb yet?!

      I actually liked the back and forth between times, bu you had to keep your wits about you, and yes, I had to sometimes translate for husband!

  4. Loved the documentary: How Deep is Your Love: The Bee Gees. Always a great fan of the Bee gees, and learned more about them from this than anything else I've watched on them. We streamed The Serpent and binge-watched over two nights - the acting was fantastic and the story all then more shocking because it was true.Highly recommended. As for The Pembrokeshire Murders - very disappointing. We live in Pembrokeshire and were here when all these awful were happening. I think it would have been better if the drama had concentrated on the actual crimes and detection. Totally unnecessary to bring in the "detective, divorced, stroppy son - who then predictably admires dad for solving the case and then wanting to be a policeman, using daughter, who brought washing to be done at dad's and then disappear3ed never to return." These scenes so badly acted as well. Good accent in the rest of the scenes though the Welsh accent didn't ring true because none of the real people in true life, except the perpetrator, had that accent - the true Pembrokeshire accent is nothing like the Valleys accent. Irritating!! Sorry. @

    1. Why sorry?

      That's most interesting - for me, I enjoyed it while I was watching it (so 4* 'like'), but I've already forgotten about the sub-plots. How frustrating it must be, to see actual events that occurred where you live portrayed so badly - grrrrr! My husband is the same about TV shows featuring 'Geordies' that actually have Sunderland or Middlesborough accents, which are considered to be vastly inferior!!!!!

    2. Sorry - probably because it has been salivated over in mid Wales (I suspect because they dubbed the accent in instead of keeping it true to the Pembs accent- still irritated!! lol) And the domestic scenes were - as my mother would say - were 'tripe'. Much better to have stuck to the facts - dramatized. A 3* for the detective scenes. And I understand your husband's view - but this is usually when an actor tries for a Yorkshire accents and sounds Chinese.

  5. We loved watching The Affair though we've only seen the first three series so far. Alison is my favourite character, and I love Helen too although I don't always like her.

    1. Yes, I love Alison - and Cole, and the Lockhart life in Montauk! You MUST watch the rest!

  6. I have to admit, I only got part way through The Serpent before I gave up on it. I may go back and try again. It just didn't hold my attention.

    The Affair, however, I loved but wanted to kick the living shit out of Whitney. It's funny how everyone forgot that Noah went to prison for Helen and I do think she should have told Whitney what he did when she was being such a shit to him (yes, even though he did leave her, he did nothing but try to make amends). Noah even took Helen's dad under his wing...I know he was the 'baddie' throughout but talk about atonement!

    The ending was brilliant I thought and even melted my cold black heart for a moment

    1. Ah - The Serpent didn't hold my attention at first, either - I'd heard it was so brilliant and wondered what the fuss was about. But then it got better and better.

      YES! Noah wasn't all bad at all - that seemed to be glossed over, and HORRIBLE, AWFUL Whitney should certainly have been told! I never saw Noah as a baddie, really - I suppose because I could see why he felt the need to break out of his marriage to smug, privileged Helen, and why he fell in love with Alison, who I thought was lovely. I hated Luisa, too. Not her fault, I just didn't want Cole to waste his life with her when he really loved Alison!

    2. Noah, he wasn't...everything he did was ultimately to keep other people happy because he knew that what he had done was wrong.

      SPOILER ALERT for anyone who hasn't watched it all yet

      I wanted to shake people when they were being horrid to him and when he was in prison it was awful.

      Helen came across as very entitled much of the way through and should have just given in to the fact that she still loved Noah.

      Luisa, I felt, was just taking advantage of Cole to get her green card. I don't think she really cared for Joanie, just saw her as a means of getting one over on Alison. Me...cynical?

    3. Luisa - I thought she wanted to take Joanie from Alison to replace the child she couldn't have, but all of this was only a way of trying to bind Cole to her, because she knew he really loved Alison. I thought it was all just to keep the man she loved/the house and lifestyle.

      Oh, Helen was a right little princess!!! I hated her first time round, didn't mind her quite so much the second time, but her face really annoyed me. Also, she was so selfish towards Vik when he was DYING - it was all about what she felt about it. And she had no respect for his parents.

      Yes, Noah was one big mess of guilt!!!!! But that was what he was all about, though, wasn't it? His guilt, because he killed his mother. But I think he was too fucked in the head for Alison - she needed someone calm and more self-aware, to help her through.