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: A Spy Among Friends
(UK: ITVX, britbox. Britbox in Aus, not available in US)
Big favourite of mine Damian Lewis produced and stars as government agent Nicholas Elliott, alongside Guy Pearce as Kim Philby. This 6 part series is proper good telly, made the way TV dramas used to be, with no sensational Hollywood-esque stuff and only a few fictional additions, all of which were quite inoffensive. It dips back and forth in time between Elliott being debriefed after his visit to see his old friend Philby before he defected, and snapshots of the two men's lives since they met in the 1930s.
The sense of the era was perfectly captured, even down to little turns of phrase that have faded out of common use; Lewis as Elliott said a few things that made me think, oh, I remember my mother saying that when I was a child.
Something that made me feel very old - an elderly Adrian Edmondson as Sir Roger Hollis, a world away from Vivian in The Young Ones!
Loved it. Excellent.
Limited Series: George and Tammy
(UK: Paramount + US: fubo, Showtime, Directv)
I have no interest in Tammy Wynette generally, and had never heard of George Jones, the country singer who became her third husband, but I saw that he was played by the ever-fabulous Michael Shannon and I love biopics, so I was champing at the bit to see this. Shannon is marvellous, as is Jessica Chastain as Wynette - the attraction when they met was instant, the sort of grand passion that has to be acted upon whatever the consequences; all those feelings just burst off the screen. I think I was in love with Michael Shannon's George all the time I was watching it, too!
The way in which his alcoholism destroyed their marriage was heartbreaking, as was her growing dependence on her next husband: her manager George Richey (excellently and horribly played by Steve Zahn, though they could have found him wigs that didn't look like joke ones from a fancy dress shop), a grade A asshole who kept her dependent on prescription pain killers to increase her dependency on him.
Also stars another favourite of mine, Walton Goggins as Earl 'Peanutt' Montgomery.
This was based on a book written by Georgette Jones, their one child, which I now want to read, of course!
....and here is the real life version
Series: All Of Us Are Dead - Season 1
Korean, dubbed into English. Having seen Train to Busan a short while ago, I reckon the Koreans have this fast-zombie thing totally nailed. This was riveting, just like TOB. A science teacher makes a testosterone-heavy serum that will, he thinks, make his craven son fight back when horribly bullied at school. Yes, it goes wrong and gets out. The show centres round a high school as the virus quickly spirals out of control, and leaks out into the rest of the city.
The zombies are like those in Black Summer rather than The Walking Dead - the victims turn as soon as they've been bitten, and the only escape is to run very fast, and hide. It's great. We watched in silence, totally gripped!
Limited Series: 1883
One of the spin-off prequels to Yellowstone; completely absorbing, and you don't have to have watched the main series to enjoy this one. It covers the period when the first John Dutton set off on a wagon train, one of the pioneers going west, with all the danger and adventure this entails. Ends with him settling in Montana, after much death, grief and disappointment along the way.
Film: Don't Look Up
An all star cast in this darkly comedic film about scientist Dr Mindy (Leonardo di Caprio) and his PHD student (Jennifer Lawrence) who discover a comet that will hit and destroy the earth in approximately six months. The two take their findings to the president (Meryl Streep) who does not appear too bothered apart from turning it into a campaign winner for the mid-terms. Mindy gets sucked into the whole media buzz about it when interviewed on a ghastly daytime chat show by predatory presenter Cate Blanchett. Enter Mark Rylance as a narcissistic tech genius psycho type (I'll let you make whichever comparisons work for you!) with frighteningly white teeth. He was excellent, but my favourite character was a young chap called Yule, a devoted Christian disillusioned with life who falls in love with Jennifer Lawrence, played by Timothée Chalamet.
It's a clever comment on the godawful state of the trash soundbite media/social media and the influence it has on all our lives, but it did also seem to be pushing other messages, too - the comet-sceptic resembled Trump supporters, with their red baseball caps!
The ending is great. Really funny. Good one!
Film: The Menu
(Uk: Disney+. US: HBO Max, Directv)
Crazy weird film in which a small group of cash rich but morally bankrupt, willing to pay ridiculous amounts of money to do the latest hip thing, congregate on the private island of the most esteemed chef in the world (Ralph Fiennes), to experience his culinary concept theatre. Except there isn't much food, and the themes of each course become more and more ... odd.
Anna Taylor-Joy (in every third film one watches, these days), Janet McAteer (Helen the scary lawyer in Ozark) and a fair few others who will make you think 'damn it, what was he in?' make for a fine cast of diners. Janet McAteer's character is particularly amusing - she's a ghastly pretentious food critic who has used her poisonous pen to bring down many a restaurant.
A good, extremely dark comedy horror romp!
Christian Bale, John David Washington and Margot Robbie star in this low key thriller with a whisper of the darkly comedic, set in New York in 1933, with flashbacks to an idyllic period the three of them spent in Amsterdam shortly after the First World War. Back in 1933, they unite to uncover the murder of a retired US General and his daughter. Also features Michael Shannon (who I think was born to play roles set in this period), Taylor Swift, Mike Myers, Anna Taylor-Joy (duh-uh), Rami Malek and Robert Di Niro. And others you'll recognise.
I loved the scenery; the backdrops to each scene in New York were particularly exquisite. The characters were all completely convincing, the plot interesting, but it slightly missed for me. Not as memorable as it should have been, but it's still a jolly good film.
Series: Alice in Borderland - Seasons 1 & 2
Japanese dubbed into English. Arisu, a young man obsessed with video games is fed up with his family pushing him to get a job. On a busy summer day, having fun and creating mischief, he and his friends hide in a public toilet from the police. Then all the lights go out. When they go outside again, everyone has disappeared.
In the vein of Squid Game, they and others who remain are forced into a series of games, in which to lose is to die......
Limited Series: Black Snow
(Aus Stan original)
Travis Fimmel stars as a detective from Brisbane who works on cold cases, and goes to Ashford in Northern Queensland to investigate the unsolved 1994 murder of 18-year-old Isabel Baker.
Rather than say more, I'll let Travis tell you about it (and yes, he's still alarmingly hot even when not being a Viking).
...and the trailer
Series: Shantaram - Season 1
Back in New Zealand, paramedic and former heroin addict Dale Conti (Charlie Hunnam) pleads guilty to a murder he didn't commit, and is sentenced to many years in jail. He escapes and makes his way to India, where he assumes the new identity of Lin Ford, and finds a new life as a medic in the slum. He is constantly battling against the feeling that he needs to atone for his sins. Also, certain developments make him realise how fragile his freedom is; all it takes is one photograph.
I'm in favour of Charlie Hunnam, generally (because which living, breathing, heterosexual woman isn't?), but he irritated me a bit in this, and his NZ accent is more or less non-existent. It's more like Northern Irish most of the time, with a few hints of Geordie thrown in (he's from Gateshead). But I still really enjoyed this, and loved the insight into Indian culture, the sense of community amongst those who have so little ...
Documentary: The Real Anthony Fauci
(watch via Robert Kennedy's site, Here)
We have Robert Kennedy Jnr to thank for this exposé. Shocking and somewhat depressing that we live in a world where these few self-serving sociopaths have control over the health and lives of everyone on the planet.
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