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 name 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.
However... I've found it to be not absolutely up to date at all times. Sometimes I've had better results simply putting 'where can I watch ***' into the search engine, or going to the programme's own site, if it has one.
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.
Limited Series: Black Bird
5* plus ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
(Apple + - worth subscribing just to see this!)
The last work of the lovely Ray Liotta before he died. Black Bird is based on a true story, about convicted narcotics dealer Jimmy Keene (Taron Egerton) who is offered freedom by the FBI if he will agree to be transferred to a maximum security prison for the criminally insane, his mission to obtain a confession (and locations of bodies) from serial killer Lawrence Hall, whose case is up for appeal.
Six episodes - we watched it all in one sitting, couldn't not have! Liotta plays Keene's father, an ex-cop whose health is deteriorating. Edge of your seat stuff all the way, brilliantly acted, written, directed, etc. Don't miss!
Series: For All Mankind - Season 3
If you're enjoying this show, you won't be disappointed by Season 3. Sad to see Ed Baldwin and Molly Cobb become the older generation, though. The only downside for me is the ridiculous character of Karen Baldwin who changes from a naïve stay-at-home wife and mother to a bar owner to an international entrepreneur and CEO of high-tech companies - it stretches feasibility (particularly her last promotion, if you've watched it).
If you haven't seen any of this, it's an alternative reality set at the end of the last century, in which Russians were the first to land on the moon, and the NASA space programme continued into the 90s - and, I assume, beyond. Season 4 is looking excellent, if the ending was anything to go by - one of the best season endings I've seen in ages.
Documentary: Girl 27
(Rent/buy Amazon, Apple and lots of others. Stream: Pluto, Vudu and others)
2007 Documentary by David Stenn, who became obsessed by the story of Patricia Douglas, a Hollywood starlet in the 1930s who was raped, and dared to report it. After losing the case and being belittled as a lush and a whore in the press, she disappeared. David Stenn tracked her down.
Fascinating, and very sad.
Reality TV: Alone - Season 9
(US: History Channel, Netflix. UK: Sky, Now, Virgin)
This year the group of 10 survival experts are dropped on the wilds of Labrador in Canada, to face the oncoming winter. Pleased about the winner - the last 3 were all great this year. As usual, those who showed off about all their achievements and general awesomeness couldn't hack it for more than a few weeks.
Limited Series: Under the Banner of Heaven
(UK: Disney +. US: Hulu)
Based on the book of the same name by Jon Krakauer - I read it a few years back, my review can be found HERE. True story of the Lafferty family living a wholesome Mormon life in Utah - until a few of the sons took on the extremist views of the fundamentalists, ending in tragedy. Andrew Garfield stars as the Mormon cop who starts investigating the case. Good stuff, though I preferred the book.
Limited Series: Boundless
The story of Ferdinand Magellan and his crew, the first adventurers to circumnavigate the world, in the 16th century. It's Spanish, dubbed into English, very well so that you scarcely even notice it. Stars Rodrigo Santoro, and also Alvaro Morte, the chap who played the Professor in Money Heist :) Six episodes.
I enjoyed this - 18th century Native American setting, part of the Predator series, in which a supernatural entity invades a community and starts killing people. Lots of kills, violence, gore, etc. As is customary these days, the day is saved by a feisty teenage girl who wants to do warrior things rather than traditional female pursuits. Fun escapism.
(HBO Max, Netflix, Amazon)
2017 disaster/apocalyptic romp starring Gerard Butler, and a timely reminder not to play God with the weather. After many earthquakes, fires, tsunamis, etc, Max Lawson (Butler) is commissioned to build a system of climate controlling satellites commonly known as 'Dutch Boy'. After a few years stuff starts to go wrong and Lawson is called back from outer space. Being the (predictably) outspoken maverick that he is, he doesn't like being told what to do by the suits at the United Nations, so is told he is no longer in control of the project. His brother Jake, a suit rather than a scientist, is put in charge.
Three years later everything's going to hell in a handcart, with Hong Kong bursting into flames, people on beaches suddenly turning into frozen statues as the weather plummets, etc. Jake is told to go seek out Maverick Max to solve the problem.
This film contains every genre cliché in existence. When Jake goes off to find Max, I said, 'I bet he's living off-grid, has a beard, is drinking too much and vows that he's done with it all and won't help them'. Suffice to say I could have written it! Once Mav Max has been through ten minutes of point blank refusal whilst swigging from a tinnie at elevenses time, he submits. Following his promise to his 13 year old daughter (gorgeous, big-eyed, articulate) that he will return, he sets off to save Dutch Boy, and thus the world.
The clichés keep on coming - there's even a little boy in a hail storm in India who loses his dog (gorgeous, big-eyed) but finds him at the end. It's got the lot, including Ed Harris as a baddie (he's always either a baddie or an FBI agent) and the discovery of a conspiracy that goes right to the top, though of course they suspect the wrong person at first.
Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed it! If you like lots of explosions, apocalyptic events and people dying by various inventive means, you'll like it too.
Film: The Gray Man
Ryan Gosling plays a man who's been incarcerated for a while, but is told by the CIA or the FBI or some other set of initials that he will be released if he acts as a hitman for them. He lives in the world anonymously, in the shadows (hence the title), and soon finds out that he's not as dispensible to the initials people as he thought.
This was just okay. Lots of action (possibly too much), and felt like it was made 'by numbers', as if the producers had asked a computer what aspects to include in an action film. Forgettable and without any spark to keep you giving a monkey's what happens to any of the characters, but watchable.
Jimmy Savile: A British Horror Story
This is a two part documentary - prepare to feel as though you've been in the presence of pure evil, after you've seen it.
The first part concentrates on Savile's rise to stardom, and how he became a national treasure, socialising with royalty and senior politicians. All through, though, it seemed like there was something weird about him. I never took much notice of him during the 70s and 80s because I had no interest in the sort of shows he was on, but watching him being interviewed one can see (with hindsight, I know) how odd he was. Cold, dead snake eyes.
The second part slowly unravels how he got found out, basically. Some of his victims are interviewed, but there is less graphic detail than I imagined there would be; it concentrates on just a few women who were young teenagers at the time of the abuse.
It's clear that his courting of the cream of society was a mission to ensure that he would be protected from rumour or accusation. If only people had listened to John Lydon.