Thursday, 15 April 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 in your country, this is a good site: Justwatch.  Just put the of the show into the search, and choose your country further down, from the drop-down menu.  It shows where you can stream, buy or rent.

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: Animal Kingdom Seasons 1-4 

(Amazon, Google Play, Sky Store)

5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

About a criminal family in California, headed by mother Janine 'Smurf' Cody (Ellen Barkin) and her sons Craig (Ben Robson), Deran (Jake Weary), 'Pope' (Shawn Hatosy) and Baz (Scott Speedman).  Smurf's grandson Joshua (Finn Cole) finds himself with no place to go, and becomes sucked into their world.

I got more and more into this as it went on; the heists are great to watch, the dysfunctional family politics grow more and more intriguing, I love how Joshua goes from nervous kid to quietly brilliant criminal mind, and Ben Robson as Craig is tongue-hanging-out gorgeous (see gif below trailer!).  Loved it - I missed them all when it was over.  Can't wait for Season 5 this summer; Season 6 will be the final season.

Film: Animal Kingdom 

(Apple, Google Play, Amazon, Microsoft, Sky Store, Youtube online)

4* ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Australian film on which the series above was based.  Far less glamorous but still good - and Ben Mendelsohn plays the 'Pope' character - he's become a favourite actor of mine since he was in Bloodline.

Series: Genius: Picasso 

(via the National Geographic app, Sky Store, Amazon, Chili, Microsoft)

5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Ten episodes, about the life, loves and art of Pablo Picasso, from his childhood in Spain in 1885 to his death in the South of France in 1973.  Alex Rich is fabulous as the young man, while Antonio Banderas plays the older version rather magnificently.

Throughout, it alternates between the later years and his earlier life, and these two thread move chronologically until the earlier life catches up - this works so well, and the years and places are always clearly indicated.

The scenery is just beautiful, particularly the Spanish and Parisian streets of the early part of the 20th Century.  I highly recommend this whether you have a particular interest in Picasso or not; I hadn't, but am now looking for the best biography of him!  This is part of the National Geographic's Emmy award winning series; I've started watching #3, about Aretha Franklin.

Series: Snowpiercer - Season 2 (Netflix)

4.5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐

For those who don't know, Snowpiercer is a train of over a thousand carriages long that runs around the globe, and is the home of the last survivors in a frozen world.  You need to see S1 first :)

I liked this season better than the first - Sean Bean has appeared as the infamous Mr Wilford, bringing with him Alex, chief engineer Melanie's daughter who she left behind in the freezing world beyond the train.  If you loved the first season, you'll love this too.  The stand-out episode for me was no 6, in which Melanie, sure that the temperature is warming up, leaves the train to do a load of technical stuff to find out if this is indeed the case.... and, it shows the beginning, how Snowpiercer's journey began.

One of those that make you look up to see when S3 is going to be on, as soon as it finishes.

Documentary: No Safe Spaces (Amazon Prime)

5* plus ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

US Comedian and podcast king Adam Corolla and radio host Dennis Prager expose the growing threat to free speech on university campuses and social media, and in your place of work - basically, anything outside that which is acceptable to those who subscribe to the far left woke culture.  Shows much footage of certain speakers being shouted down when invited to give talks at universities, even though open to reasonable, calm discussion.  

From Wikipedia: Some critics reviewed the movie positively. Alan Ng of Film Threat gave the film a 90 and wrote in his review, "When it’s all said and done, this film is offensive only to those who don't want to watch it." Variety's Owen Gleiberman praised the movie's defense of free speech, stating "the most head-turning point made by No Safe Spaces is that today's anti-free-speech radicals, who on many college campuses dominate the discourse, are going to be tomorrow's leaders."

Series: The Plot Against America (Sky Go, Now TV)

4* ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Six episodes, based on the book of the same name by Philip Roth. It is set in the US during World War II - but this is 'alternative history'.  Pilot, national hero and suspected Nazi sympathiser Charles Lindbergh challenges FDR for the presidency; FDR is pro-America joining the war, while Lindbergh is against it. Lindbergh is elected POTUS.  He says that it is England and the Jewish community that are trying to force American's entrance into the war.  Divisions in society culminate in the rise of fascism, particularly antisemitism.

The series follows the fate of one Jewish family, the Levins.  Schemes are begun to remove Jews to the rural heartland of America.  I imagined that we would see this taking place, with the new locations more bleak than had been promised, but it was only talked about.  Generally, the whole series was a little on the tame side.  There were reports of riots and violent incidents, protests, arson attacks, but we saw very little of this. The threat of danger was ever-present, but not a great deal happened - for instance, the main male character and his sons stop at a rural shop where they run into a Klu Klux Klan member, but he leaves them alone.

Then Lindbergh's plane crashed, they got a new president, and everything was all right again.  It was good, I enjoyed it and the idea was great, but it lacked impact.

Series: The Young Pope 

(Sky Go, Now TV, or buy as download on Amazon, Rakuten, Google Play)

4.5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Jude Law has been chosen as Pope by Cardinals who think that, because he is relatively young and inexperienced, he will be easy to manipulate.  They're so wrong.  He declares that he wants to crack down on corruption, and the opening up of the Vatican to the public; the Cardinals are shocked to realise that he wishes them to live a life of modest and quiet worship.  Unusual and very, very good.

Series: The New Pope 
(Sky Go, or buy to download on Amazon)

5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Actually Season 2 of The Young Pope, but it's got a different name.  Also stars John Malkovitch as the Pope John-Paul III while Pius XIII (Law) is unable to fulfil his duties (no spoilers!).  Both seasons deal with the subjects of corruption and the complicated one of faith, but it's all lighthearted... sort of.  The settings are stunning, and it's beautifully made.  Highly recommend both seasons.  Silvio Orlando as the Secretary of the Vatican State, Cardinal Angleo Voiello, was one of my favourite characters.  When I could stop ogling Jude Law, that is.

Film: Zack's Snyder's Justice League 

(Sky Go, HBO Max, Now TV)

4.5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Four hours long!  Batman (Ben Affleck) is determined to prove that Superman (Henry Cavill)'s last sacrifice was not in vain, so recruits other superheroes to fight against an approaching threat.  Jason Momoa as Aquaman was enough to make me give it a go ...  I thought four hours might be a bit much, but I enjoyed it all the way through.  Great escapism!


Film: Godzilla Vs Kong 

(Amazon, Apple - not free yet)

4.5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I was a bit dubious about this film as I am not a monsters person (I haven't seen Jurassic Park or anything like that), but it was jolly good.  If you DO like this sort of thing, you'll probably love it.  

Series: Damien 

(Sky Go, Now TV, or buy on Amazon, Google Play, Chili, Microsoft)

4* ⭐⭐⭐⭐

One season only, sadly, from 2016.  Based on the film The Omen.  Ends just as it starts to get really interesting, ie, when Damien accepts what is happening to him.  Still worth watching, though.  Can't imagine why it was cancelled, it's much better than a lot of other rubbish that goes on and on, but there you go!

Trigger warning for Walking Dead fans:  Scott Wilson gets mauled to death by a group of satanic dogs. 😱😱😱

Series: The Walking Dead (AMC+, Amazon, Sky Go, Now TV)

Season 10x20 SPLINTER

4* ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Full Review HERE

Season 10x21 DIVERGED

4.5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Full Review HERE

Season 10x22 HERE'S NEGAN

5* plus ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Full Review HERE

Documentary:White Riot (Amazon Prime)

4.5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the Rock Against Racism movement of the late 1970s - this was how such things were done then, with no social media or mobile phones!  Lots of archive footage and interviews with those involved, then and now.  Fascinating, and a great trip back in time for us oldies.

Film: The Toll (Amazon, iTunes, Vudu)

3* ⭐⭐⭐

Horror film about a woman who gets picked up in an Uber by a driver who seems a bit weird at first - until they break down on a lonely road and a lot of much more weird stuff starts happening.  Of its type, I thought at first that it was going to be good, but it got sillier and sillier.  It was okay.  If you like daft scary supernatural stuff, you may love it.


  1. More great shows, more to my watch list, Terry :) I've only seen Snowpiercer and totally agree. It has set up S3 wonderfully and Sean Bean was a revelation, he devoured the screen each time he was on. Jennifer Connelly was, again, the stand-out star of the show for me.

    1. I hope we get to see more of the 'before' - and that in S3 the temperature continues to increase!!