Sunday 23 April 2023

April Colours


One of those days when I thought I couldn't be bothered to go for my walk but was so glad I made the effort!

In the three years or so that I've been taking regular walks in this park, I have never seen anyone sitting on the 'Happy to Chat' bench.  Plenty of people chatting away on all the others, though.

Really must wash these trainers...

Wednesday 12 April 2023

Lately I've Been Watching

My latest 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.  

If you can't find what you're looking for, try putting 'where can I watch (name of show)' into your search engine

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: Living (2022)

5 stars plus ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

(UK & US Rent/Buy: Amazon, Google, Apple)  

A truly beautiful film - funny, touching, sad, though it never felt designed to tug at the heart strings; it just did.  Adapted from the 1954 Japanese film Ikiru, which was inspired by Tolstoy's novella The Death of Ivan Illiych, it's set in London in 1953 and tells the story of Rodney Williams (Bill Nighy), a senior official at London County Council, who discovers he only has six months to live.  It is at this point that he realises he has not been truly alive for many years, and sets about changing this.  In the wrong hands it could have been horribly schmaltzy, but this most definitely isn't. 

I adored the 1950s feel, the snapshot of an age gone by - and the opening titles sequence, in the style of a film produced in that era.

Watch it. Please!

(btw, my other favourite Bill Nighy performance was as ageing rocker Ray Simms in Still Crazy (1998) Must have seen it about ten times!)

Series: The Last Of Us - Season 1

5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

(US & UK: HBO max; buy Amazon, Apple)

I waited until this was over before watching it all over 2 nights.  If you're a 'perilous post-apocalyptic journey' addict, like me, you'll love it.  Actors all great, story convincing, etc.  I very much liked how much time was taken up with the side stories of how certain situations came to be - they were every bit as good as the main one, and it showed the post-apocalyptic world from different points of view, which is always welcome.  Bit of a weak ending, but I really, really liked it.  And was still sad about Joel's daughter, right up until the end; she was so lovely.

Documentary: Paula


(UK: All 4)

Two episode doc about dazzling super-flirt Paula Yates, who had huge charisma, was witty, sharp, amusing, entertaining, immensely likeable and always looked fab.  I liked how this documentary put paid to all the nasty stories about her during the time when she left Bob Geldof for Michael Hutchence, the love of her life - and afterwards, when he died.  RIP Paula.

Dark Comedy Series: Beef 

5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


Glenn is back!  Great to see Steven Yeun slaying it in these excellent ten episodes with Ali Wong, equally as first rate.  Starts off with a road rage incident between the two of them and escalates into all manner of domestic horror.  It's extremely funny in places, so well-written (by Lee Sung Jin), the acting is spot on and the send-up of privileged Californians is perfection.  Loved it, highly recommended.  

(Also, TWD lovers, Steven can sing up a storm, play the guitar as a pro, and his acting has matured so much!)

Series: Vikings: Valhalla - Seasons 1 and 2

4.5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐


Takes place a hundred years or so after the story of Ragnar Lothbrok, Rollo, Loki, Bjorn and Ivar the Boneless.  I love it, but my husband thinks it's a lukewarm follow-up to the original with rubbish characters; I think his words were 'Thank God that's over', when it was.  Guess I'll be watching S3 on my own, then.  I do actually know what he means, in a way (in that Travis Fimmel has nothing to worry about) but I still thoroughly enjoyed it.  So there.

Film: Sunshine (2007)

4* ⭐⭐⭐⭐

(UK: Disney+.  US & UK: Rent/Buy: Apple, Amazon) 

Dire warning about what happens when you try to play God with the weather.  Fun futuristic sci-fi, entertaining, definitely worth a watch.

Film: Sharper (2023)

4* ⭐⭐⭐⭐

(UK & US: stream Apple+)

Enjoyable film about conmen and women.  Kept one on one's toes, working out who was conning whom.  Very much enjoyed it, but a bit of a rubbish ending.  Stars Julianne Moore, John Lithgow, Sebastian Stan.

Film: Fall (2022)

3.5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐


Becky and Hunter are Extreme Climbing hobbyists.  Becky is traumatised by an event of a year ago, and has not left terra firma since it happened; she is a total wreck, drinking too much, etc.  Hunter, meanwhile, has monetised her sport by becoming 'Danger D' (or something) on You Tube, and doing her climbs in low cut tops.  Hunter persuades Becky to face her fears and do another climb with her - this time, up a disused TV signal tower.  3000 ft.  Of course, lots of terrifying stuff happens, none of which I will list here because spoilers.

This film is not for the faint of heart - sometimes I was actually forced to look away, and I love scary shit!  A definite 10/10 for suspense, special effects, etc.  So why only 3.5*?

Here's why:
  1. Neither actress looked as if they spent their time doing anything more physical than clubbing, and certainly didn't have the sort of muscle that would have built up if constantly doing this sort of thing.
  2. If Becky had been out of practice and on the piss for a year, why would she or Hunter think it might be a good idea for her to 'conquer her fears' with a dangerous, unresearched climb?  Especially as she clearly wasn't emotionally ready for such a feat.  Which leads me to... 
  3. Surely the people who do this sport do a risk assessment first?  Yeah, I know that doesn't make for an edge-of-your-seat film, but .... something?
  4. The consumption of something I won't name (spoilers) by one of the girls near the end apparently turned her into Superwoman.  I think it would have been more likely to make her severely ill.
  5. The end was really, really weak.  Worthy only of a 1980s B movie.  No twist, no surprises (though there was an excellent twist in the last quarter of the film - totally unexpected!), felt like scenes were cut.
ON THE OTHER HAND!!!  Becky's lovely lovely father is played by lovely lovely Jeffrey Dean Morgan, so what else can I say but 'go watch it now'??!!

Cartoon Series: South Park - Season 26 eps 1 - 6 

4* ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 

(Paramount +)

I thought the first episode was weak, but the second one was the enjoyable piss-take about the Markles; since then, Season 26 has continued to be good.  Not brilliant like some other seasons, but good.  With a show that's gone on as long as this one, there are bound to be highs and lows.  

Documentary: Jared from Subway: Catching a Monster

4* ⭐⭐⭐⭐

(Discovery+, YouTube)

Living in England as I do, I had never heard of Jared from Subway (an obese, reclusive young man who lost stones on his Subway sandwiches diet, and became a national hero) until I saw the South Park episode about him, made before his paedophilia was exposed.  This 4 part documentary features the woman who first discovered the truth about him, and also the two girls who suffered as a result of their mother meeting Russell Taylor, Jared Fogle's great friend and the director of the 'Jared Foundation'.  

It was intricate in its detail, but I felt it was spun out for too long; could have easily told the story in 3 or even 2 episodes.  There was a bit too much foreshadowing that gave the wrong impression of what was to come.  Prepare to be grossed out.

Film: Boston Strangler (2023)


(US: Hulu.  UK: Disney+)

Story of the (clue's in the name) in the late 1950s.  Stars Keira Knightley and Carrie Coon.  Good, I'd recommend, though not particularly memorable.  Interesting seeing, at the end, what happened to the real life journalists played by Knightley and Coon.

Series: Mayor of Kingstown - Seasons 1 and 2

4.5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

(US & UK: Paramount +.  Buy Apple, Amazon)

"Mayor of Kingstown follows the powerful McLusky family, power brokers in Kingstown, Michigan, where the business of incarceration is the only thriving industry. Tackling themes of systemic racism, corruption, and inequality, the series provides a stark look at their attempt to bring order and justice to a town that has neither."

Liked this a LOT.  Co-created by Taylor Sheridan, who does lots of other good stuff like Yellowstone and Tulsa King.  

Series: Your Honor - Seasons 1 and 2


(Amazon, Showtime, Paramount+, Now)

Judge Michael Desiato (Bryan Cranston, hurrah!) has his life crumble in an instant when son Adam kills the son of local gangster Jimmy Baxter (Michael Stuhlbarg, hurrah!) in a road accident, and flees the scene.  This leads to all manner of disaster, ruining the lives of so many.  

I watched the first season when it came out and thought it was excellent; watched it again before seeing S2, and felt that in the second series the story was a little dragged out, and the impact lost.  However, it's still jolly good.  Definitely recommend

Film: Most Dangerous Game (2020)

4.5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


This was thrilling, edge of your seat stuff, all the way through.  Chap with terminal health and money problems (Liam Hemsworth) is offered the chance to be the prey in a human hunt.  The hunts are arranged by a shadowy group, as recreation for jaded billionaire psychopaths.

The financial pay-off for Hemsworth's character is great.  Even if he gets killed, his pregnant wife will still earn handsomely.  If he survives 24 hours of being pursued throughout Detroit, he gets to enjoy his winnings, too.

Also watched the 2023 series of the same name, same principle, same smooth Miles (excellently played by Christopher Waltz) offering another young man with severe money problems the chance to make them all go away.  Boxer Victor's game is set in New York.  Each episode is short, often less than 10 minutes.  Works just as well as the film, hope there will be more!

Series: Da Vinci's Demons - Season 1

4 * ⭐⭐⭐⭐
(US: Amazon, Starz.  UK: Disney+)

Ridiculous fiction loosely based (and I mean loosely) on the life of Leonardo da Vinci.  Lots of action, much about the political state of Italy at the time, lots of really good-looking people performing amazing feats.  Works best if you see it for what it is - not so much a historical drama as a Renaissance Romp.  Most entertaining.