Archive | Film reviews

An archive of the blog's film reviews. There's also an archive and an A-Z index of all reviews.


March 21, 2014

What have you been watching? Including Remedy, Spun Out, W1A and Ender's Game

Posted on March 21, 2014 | comments | Bookmark and Share

It's "What have you been watching?", my chance to tell you what movies and TV I’ve been watching recently that I haven't already reviewed and your chance to recommend things to everyone else (and me) in case I've missed them.

The usual "TMINE recommends" page features links to reviews of all the shows I've ever recommended, and there's also the Reviews A-Z, for when you want to check more or less anything I've reviewed ever. And if you want to know when any of these shows are on in your area, there's Locate TV.

New shows I’ve already reviewed this week:

I'll be getting round to The CW's The 100 either today or early next week, but I did try a few other new shows, too: two Canadian, one British.

Remedy (Canada: Global)
Dillon Casey is a doctor who comes from a family of medics, all of whom work at the same hospital for some reason. After cocking up something chronic, he's forced to come back as a porter and we get to see hospital life from the viewpoint of everyone who works there who isn't a medic. Which might be interesting and different (at least, if you've never watched Casualty), except it's so self-consciously quirky and 'family', it's practically unwatchable, so I gave up. Only really notable for Enrico Colantoni (Flashpoint).

Spun Out (Canada: CTV)
For reasons best known only to Canada, they've decided to produce a totally unrequested response to CBS's The Crazy Ones that's even worse. Starring Dave Foley of Kids in the Hall fame, it's a multi-camera sitcom about a PR agency run by Foley, together with his daughter, and all the highjinks they get up to once newbie Billy from BSG turns up. All the same, it's possibly one of the least funny things TV has ever produced.

W1A (UK: BBC2)
A follow up to BBC4's cult comedy 2012, this reunites Hugh Bonneville and Jessica Hynes as the former Olympic organisers now recruited by the BBC to handle sensitive issues. I've not worked an awful lot for the BBC but it is recognisably accurate but exaggerated as a piece of satire. How funny it is for people who don't work in television, I'm not sure, although parallels with any large organisation no doubt abound. Most of the humour, though, comes from wordplay, mostly provided by narrator David Tennant, and in the cameos by famous people, such as one by Alan Yentob and Salman Rushdie that'll send your eyebrows through the roof. 

Bonneville is, of course, the hapless sensible everyman, dealing with a quagmire of neverending meetings with 'timewasting morons', trying to use common sense of all things to deal with problems. However, the show has a slightly dodgy edge, with Bonneville fighting against the excesses of liberal political correctness so the show also treads a slightly tricky path around things like the Countryfile age discrimination suit. Generally, a promising start, so I'll be tuning in next week.

I also watched a movie:

Ender's Game
Evil insect aliens attack the Earth and 50 years later, we're still preparing in case they come back by training kids in war planning, in the hope their brains will be flexible and fast enough that they'll make great generals. Essentially, Harry Potter in space school, right down to its own version of Quidditch, but with a pleasingly darker, smarter, nastier edge, our hero essentially someone who can outstrategise his bullies rather than who spends the whole time feeling put upon. The final battle is a big intense surprise; Ben Kingsley's awful New Zealand accent is not a surprise. 

After the jump, the regulars, with reviews of Believe, Enlisted, Resurrection, 19-2, The Americans, Arrow, Banshee, The Blacklist, Community, Continuum, The Doctor Blake Mysteries, Hannibal, Line of Duty and Suits

Continue reading "What have you been watching? Including Remedy, Spun Out, W1A and Ender's Game"

Read other posts about: , , , , , , , ,

February 20, 2014

What have you been watching? Including Doll and Em, Star-Crossed, House of Cards, and Moone Boy

Posted on February 20, 2014 | comments | Bookmark and Share

It's "What have you been watching?", my chance to tell you what movies and TV I’ve been watching recently that I haven't already reviewed and your chance to recommend things to everyone else (and me) in case I've missed them.

The usual "TMINE recommends" page features links to reviews of all the shows I've ever recommended, and there's also the Reviews A-Z, for when you want to check more or less anything I've reviewed ever. And if you want to know when any of these shows are on in your area, there's Locate TV.

I'm off on a secret mission for a few days (okay, holiday), which is why this is a day early, so I've still got a few things in my viewing queue: lots of season two of House of Cards as well as Sky's new firefighter drama Smoke which starts tonight but which has been on Sky Go for a while and last night's episodes of 19-2 and Fleming. But I have managed to sneek in some new shows as well as my regular viewing choices.

Star-Crossed (The CW)
A Romeo and Juliet tale in which aliens crashland on Earth and try to integrate into the local small town US population, where they face prejudice, as well as possible potential romance with humans. Not even a tenth as interesting or as deep as Roswell, which is saying something, and absolutely every choice made has been the most generic. Incredibly dull, too, and the leads so far exceed their characters' supposed ages, they actually have wrinkles in some cases. 

Doll and Em (Sky Living)
Real-life best friends Emily Mortimer and Dolly Wells pen a tale about best friends Em and Doll, with Doll joining actress Em in LA to work for her when her relationship falls apart. It's all very naturalistic and obviously feels like a real friendship. Funny? Not in the slightest and there's nothing you can glean from it that you won't have from a dozen other shows like it (eg Entourage, Episodes, Curb Your Enthusiasm). YMMV.

Shows that I've been watching but not really recommending:

Almost Human (Fox)
A slight drop-off as we have some hacked home security systems killing their owners. There's also an ill advised new subplot about Dorian having someone else's memories embedded in him. A Matrix tribute of about three lines of dialogue really wasn't worth the effort either, and as usual, attempts to depict hackers on-screen have the authenticity of Californian champagne.

Helix (SyFy/Channel 5)
Jeri Ryan's here and having fun, but still just a low budget TV Resident Evil with more secrets than necessary and too few answers too make it interesting. But I'm still watching, so what do I know?

Salamander (BBC4)
Gave up on this in episode three when the top-secret conspirators started telling each other about their top-secret conspiracy and Aquaman's dad took refuge in a monastery. There's silly and then there's Belgian silly, apparently.

And in the recommended list:

Banshee (Cinemax)
A bit more of a traditional Banshee episode, with plenty of fights and a British bruiser in town called Quentin to deal with. Not quite the way I expected the Hood Jr storyline to end. Enjoyable, but nothing special.

The Doctor Blake Mysteries (ABC1/BBC1)
A superior effort to the first episde, with much needed characterisation for the new cop in town, and some lovely moments for the original characters as they learn all about this new fangled rock and roll thing. A little bit worried about the message at the end (don't believe girls).

The Life of Rock with Brian Pern (BBC4)
Promoted to recommended after this week's episode, this mock documentary about the Peter Gabriel-like Pern (the star of some 2009/10 video blogs) has decided it's no longer content satirising merely the prog rock groups of the 70s, it's now working it's way through the TV and films of the 70s and 80s, too. With piss-takes of everything from Swap Shop and Triangle through Doctor Who and Labyrinth, it also features a cast worth dying for, as well as comedy characters from other shows (Mike Smash from The Fast Show and Mulligan and O'Hare from The Smell of Reeves and Mortimer). If you know the period, you'll love it.

House of Cards (Netflix)
No, don't spoil me. I'm only three eps in. If you've seen the original, then you'll already know of one Big Thing that happens in season two, but largely it's plotting its own path at the moment, with Frank conspiring to get the right man (actually a woman, but he doesn't want anyone to know that yet) to replace him as chief whip. Seems to have had a healthy dose of feminism added to it between seasons, and it's as engrossing as always, if perhaps a little less tightly plotted. The hacking details are very accurate, too, I'm pleased to say.

Line of Duty (BBC2)
Superbly tense, with a wonderful couple of reversals towards the end. Much recommended.

Moone Boy (Sky1)
The return of Chris O'Dowd's delightful, semi-autobiographical sitcom about growing up as a young boy (with an imaginary friend) in Ireland in the late 80s and early 90s. We started with a trip to the countryside to visit some Gaelic speakers, which was both funny and educational, thanks in part to a cameo by Jonny Vegas as another imaginary friend.

True Detective (HBO/Sky Atlantic)
Best episode so far. Extremely clever and we finally get to see where it's all headed. A bit worried that it's about to head into fantasyland though and jump the shark. Fingers crossed.

And in movies

Her
In a slightly futuristic LA, lonely Joaquim Phoenix falls in love with his new operating system (the voice of Scarlett Johansson). As a movie it's full of ideas about loneliness, the nature of human connection, whether virtual connections are as good as in-person connections, the nature of artificial intelligence, what we expect from relationships, how the expectations of others change our relationships and so on. But it's a movie free of messages or conclusions, that merely likes to flirt rather with the ideas rather than explore them in any depth. Sad, funny, beautifully performed, it's ultimately as empty as some of its characters' lives.

"What have you been watching?" is your chance to recommend to friends and fellow blog readers the TV and films that they might be missing or should avoid - and for me to do mini-reviews of everything I've watched. Since we live in the fabulous world of Internet catch-up services like the iPlayer and Hulu, why not tell your fellow readers what you've seen so they can see the good stuff they might have missed?

Read other posts about: , , ,

February 3, 2014

What have you been watching? Including Helix, Rake, The Bridge, Olympus Has Fallen and Enlisted

Posted on February 3, 2014 | comments | Bookmark and Share

It's "What have you been watching?", my chance to tell you what movies and TV I’ve been watching recently that I haven't already reviewed and your chance to recommend things to everyone else (and me) in case I've missed them.

The usual "TMINE recommends" page features links to reviews of all the shows I've ever recommended, and there's also the Reviews A-Z, for when you want to check more or less anything I've reviewed ever. And if you want to know when any of these shows are on in your area, there's Locate TV.

I’m only slightly behind on shows now, having not found the energy to endure last night’s Three Musketeers. Apart from that, though, I’m back up to speed, which is nice.

Shows that I've been watching but not really recommending:

Enlisted (Fox)
Brandon Routhe arrived, which was good; the lack of true “losers triumph” ending was welcome after the pilot’s initial venture into that unwelcome terrain; a slight drop off in dialogue and laughs, though. Generally good, though.

Helix (SyFy/Channel 5)
Swiftly becoming less of a sci-fi show with horror aspects, than a horror show with sci-fi aspects, the last two episodes haven’t had the smarts of the first three episodes, but it does feel like the show is righting itself. We still largely don’t have a dicky bird as to what’s going on, but with a death rate among the regulars that’s going to leave us with a cast of zero by episode 10, I imagine secrets will have to emerge soon.

Rake (Fox/Universal Channel)
Not even the presence of Alex Breckenridge could elevate this to anything more than mildly diverting. Greg Kinnear is just so wrong for this show.

The Tomorrow People (The CW/E4)
Oh gods, another breakout. Just don’t care any more, so even though it’s got the girl from Spy Kids in it now (Alexa Vega, and I don’t want you to feel old or anything, but she’s 25 now), I’m giving up. Oddly, I’ve only just noticed that with Stephen’s dad being called Roger, and Jedekiah being called Price, that’s an obvious reference to Roger Price, the creator of the 1970s TV show.

And in the recommended list:

Arrow (The CW/Sky 1)
Generally, some excellent moments, interspersed with some very stupid moments. The fights are back, too. Yay!

Banshee (Cinemax)
As with the previous week’s episode, a good look at both Amish and Native American cultures, this time giving Sheriff Hood a chance to do some proper kicking. Still a bit silly, but definitely dialling back on the more blatant and silliest bits.

The Bridge (BBC4)
Overall, a definite improvement on the second season, with some excellent character moments for the two leads, particularly Saga. The last episode did veer the show into more ridiculous, Bond villain territory, some of which made no sense at all, though, but otherwise excellent work all round. Intriguingly, Martin’s storyline has edged close to that of The Bridge (US)’s equivalent character. Looking forward to season three.

Community (NBC/some random UK channel)
Nathan Fillion turned up, to not much effect, but a funny episode with many clever moments.

Cougar Town (TBS)
Not a laugh in the entire episode. Potentially on the death list now.

Elementary (CBS/Sky Living)
A largely generic story. Is it just me or is Watson now more like the Sherlock Holmes of the books than Holmes is?

And in movies:

Olympus Has Fallen
Well, we watched White House Down last week and since this was on Netflix for free, we figured why not watch this, too, since it’s basically the same movie: secret service agent has to do Under Siege in the White House and save the President from a bunch of baddies. Here, we have Gerard Butler as the agent, Aaron Eckhart as the President, Morgan Freeman as the speaker of the house, having to deal with some Korean terrorists. And surprisingly, it’s a much better movie for the first three-quarters of its run, giving us better action, more excitement and more plausibility, all played straight. Unfortunately, it’s the final quarter that lets the movie down, as the action shifts from merely saving the White House to saving the entire world. A few Greek myth references (Olympus, Cerberus, Hydra) fail to help, too, and the excellent Ashley Judd gets discarded in the first 10 minutes.

"What have you been watching?" is your chance to recommend to friends and fellow blog readers the TV and films that they might be missing or should avoid - and for me to do mini-reviews of everything I've watched. Since we live in the fabulous world of Internet catch-up services like the iPlayer and Hulu, why not tell your fellow readers what you've seen so they can see the good stuff they might have missed?

Read other posts about: , , , , ,

Featured Articles

Silicon Valley

Be nice to nerds