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.
Film: All Quiet on the Western Front
5* plus ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Marvellous film. It's German, dubbed into English. I haven't seen the original (made in 1930) for years, but the premise is the same - young men, still in their senior year at school, soaking up the propaganda that going to fight for their country in World War One is a fine, honourable pursuit for any young man, and how they will be lauded as heroes on their return. Only when they get to Northern France and the hell of the Front do they see the reality, and realise they exist as nothing more than dispensable pawns in a game played out by glory-hungry old generals.
Below the trailer is a 2 minute clip called Uniform of the Dead Soldier. Chilling.
Film: Train to Busan
5* plus ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
(Amazon, Apple, Studiocanal, AMC+, Roku and lots more)
South Korean film dubbed into English, made in 2016 - been meaning to watch it for ages. Mostly takes place on a high speed train, as a zombie apocalypse breaks out. It's not just blood and gore; like all good disaster films, it has human dramas running through it. Gripping, throughout, need to watch it again! So well made, every scene is a winner. For those who love zombie films/TV shows, this is one of the best. First rate.
Series: Gangs of London - Seasons 1 & 2
(US: Amazon, AMC+, Roku. UK: Sky, Now)
I watched Season 1 when it first came out and loved it, but realised I'd forgotten what it was about by the time #2 aired, so watched the whole thing again from the start.
This is an extremely violent drama about the Wallace and the Dumani families, criminal kingpins who 'own' London. S1 revolves around who killed the patriarch of the Wallace clan, and who ordered the kill. Newly recruited into the Wallace/Dumani crew is undercover cop Elliot Carter, who finds it hard to separate one life from the other.
S1 is by far the best, especially a brilliant episode set in the remote Welsh countryside, where the person who shot Wallace senior finds that you can run but you can't hide, especially not when SAS-style mercenaries have got you in their sights. In S2, the amount of different gangs and their members became confusing, and the whole thing is so fast paced, with various gang leaders changing their allegiances more often than I change my mind, that I wondered how it will be possible to keep the story fresh in Season 3. Maybe by thinking of yet more horrific ways to kill people.
S2 gave the impression that the London underworld is huge, far reaching, that the Capital itself is the fiefdom not of king, government and aristocracy, but wealthy Asian and Eastern European gangs, with a little bit of Somalian and Irish for occasional variation. Sean Wallace, Ed Dumani and Georgian psychopath Koba talk about London being 'theirs', as if the place is nothing to do with England, but merely a deep well of cash and power to be grabbed, and heads to be sliced off. Bet they've never even been to Madame Tussauds.
Although it's very good, I did find it somewhat depressing to watch 16+ episodes about these ridiculously wealthy, demonic people who murder, maim, steal and destroy to keep their power and riches, most of which are amassed by the trafficking of Class As and weapons. None of it seemed to make any of them very happy. The only character I liked was Elliot Carter's dad. The others were just fiends in human shape.
Limited Series: The Watcher
Based on a true story. Bobby Cannavale (love him!) and Naomi Watts play a couple who move out of New York into their dream home in the New Jersey suburbs. Nothing seems right from the start, and only gets worse once they start receiving sinister letters from an anonymous 'watcher', who appears to be obsessed with the house.
It's one of those stories that make you think, come on, you can see that there is some potentially deadly stuff going on here - get out, now!! Of course, they don't. The true story is quite a lot different; there's a bit about it HERE.
It's good, I enjoyed it, but the denouement was so frustrating that I took off the extra half star that I would otherwise have given it. Also stars Mia Farrow.
Film: The Black Phone
(Amazon, Apple, peacock premium)
Horror/thriller, set in the early 1970s, about children that go missing, and the person with the black balloons who abducts them (Ethan Hawke). The child actors are terrific. It's good - I wouldn't rave about it, but it's worth watching.
Series: The Devil's Hour
Irrelevantly titled, almost - it refers to the hours between 3 am and 4 am when main character Lucy Chambers (Jessica Raines) always wakes up. The story is nothing to do with the devil, as is implied by this title, by the trailers, the first few episodes, etc. It's actually about living your life over and over again so that you can stop bad stuff happening, but there is never any explanation about why the Peter Capaldi character (Gideon) who does this, manages to. So it's all a bit silly.
Lucy is irritating on just about every level, but especially when she's talking to her disturbed son as if he's a 3-year-old simpleton, and singing in the car (could hardly watch that, it was so cringe-making). Like Gideon, she gets flashes of possible future events; these involve blood, rain, bodies in body bags, etc, get married to someone other than her 14 year old husband (he seems about 14, anyway). Why these visions take place is never explained, which makes it kind of a non-story, like it hasn't been properly thought through. Like the writers started with a concept, but couldn't be bothered with all the detail.
It's okay in parts, and held promise of interesting stuff at the start. I liked the Indian detective. That's about it, really.
Mini Series: The Patient
Steve Carell and Domhnall Gleeson star in this story told in 10 x 20 minute episodes. Carell plays Alan Strauss, a psychiatrist, and Gleeson one of his patients. Other than that that I can't say any more because it would give away the plot. Suffice to say that it's a thriller, and it involves murder.
I loved that it's kept concise, sharp and punchy, perfect for the episode length. Although we're dying to know more about every character's background, it's kind of okay that we don't, as it's implied, and information does come out in dribs and drabs. Anyway, watch it, it's a good 'un!
Series: War of the Worlds - Season 3
(UK: Disney+. US: Epix, Amazon, Directv)
Appears to be the final season, in which Catherine and Bill zip in and out of dimensions in order to close the black hole, which involves choices being made about which dimension they want to be in when all avenues are closed. It's good - I liked it a lot more than the second season.
Documentary: The Greatest Lie Ever Sold
(The Daily Wire and I think it might be on Youtube)
Candace Owens' documentary about what happened to the 80 million dollars raised for the BLM movement, its affiliations and the corruption throughout. A real eye-opener - and how George Floyd's death was used to manipulate public opinion.
Worth watching, for sure.
Film: Jobs (2013)
Biopic about Steve Jobs, starring Ashton Kutcher as the man himself. This version starts when he was 18 (in 1974) and takes you up to 2001. I thought it much more interesting than the 2015 version, starring Michael Fassbender and Kate Winslet, which covers the years 1984-1998. Fassbender and Kutcher both did a great job, but the 2013 is more of a whole story - what I find interesting about the lives of successful people is how they began, how they got off the ground.
In both films one is given the impression that he was not a very nice man, who cared only for himself and would sell anyone down the river to get what he wanted. But perhaps you have to be like that to be that successful.
Film: Don't Worry Darling
(HBO Max, Apple, Sky)
Florence Pugh and Harry Styles star in this sinister story about what appears to be a Stepford Wives type community, in the 1950s - the marriages are glowingly happy, the men go out to work in their flashy cars while the women stay home and play house, or meet by the pool for drinks, etc. Eventually, though, Alice Chambers (Pugh) begins to think that all is not as it seems - and she soon finds that forces are at work to stop anyone from looking deeper into what's going on behind the scenes. Directed by Olivia Wilde, who also stars. Jolly good, not what what you expect!
South Park 25th Anniversary Concert
Trey, Matt and all their gang, performing (live) many of the songs we've loved over the past 25 years, such as 'Blame Canada', 'Kyle's Mom', 'Let's Fighting Love', 'Gay Fish' and the highlight, in my opinion, 'The Ballad of Lemmiwinks', which they played as medieval minstrels, in full gear.
Unmissable, for any South Park fan. Also features special appearance of Rush.
Series: Better Call Saul - Final Season (6)
Still great. The final season takes us up to Saul Goodman's heyday, making $$$, and then goes into black and white as it jumps forward to the post-Fring/Mike/Walter White era, when life is not so good.
So well done, all of it. Vince Gilligan and Michael Slovis are geniuses. Also, appearances by Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul !!
Half a star off because I was disappointed by the end, but apart from that, totally sound.
(HBO Max, Apple)
Girl turns up at AirBnB only to find that there's someone there already. Agrees to share. Then hears scary noises down scary secret underground tunnels leading from cellar, and decides to go and investigate instead of getting the hell out of there. You know, like they do.
Guy who owns house does similar, though more convincingly as at least he seems curious rather than scared. But it's got a few twists on the worn out tropes, which made it slightly more unpredictable. Not bad.