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 😅, 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.


  1. Thanks for these great great reviews, Terry. I was not aware of Bryan Cranston's new show - sounds like the must-watch of the month. You have been, as always, finding some gems for me to add to the watchlist :)

    1. Oh, you'll love Your Honor!!!! Thanks for taking a look x

  2. I read Brave New World when I was 14 and loved it. I'd like to see this series.

  3. I am 3/4 of the way through Your Honor, and there's a lot I like about it, but the plot holes! Even after the first one, I'm saying, 'but what about X, what about Y, surely the investigators would have done Z'. Still loving it though!