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October 31, 2016

What have you been watching? Including Doctor Strange, Central Intelligence and X-Men: Apocalypse

Posted on October 31, 2016 | Post a comment | 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. 

"We're now nearing mid-Fall season/mid-Spring season (delete according to the hemisphere of your choice), which means there's few new shows heading our way"

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! What fool said that?

It's never going to stop. We're at peak TV so it's never going to stop. Help.

In the past week, I've reviewed the first few episodes of Chance (US: Hulu), Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency (US: BBC America; UK: Netflix), Man With A Plan (US: CBS) and Graves (US: Epix). But that's not really scratching the surface, since although I'll be tackling Pure Genius (US: CBS; UK: Universal) and The Great Indoors (US: CBS; UK: ITV2) tomorrow and/or Wednesday, I'm not going to have time this week to make a dent in Amazon's Good Girls Revolt. I've also had no time to watch Channel Zero (US: Syfy; UK: 5*), but since that's an anthology horror show, I have no qualms in deciding I'm not going to watch it. I've also noticed that Young Pope (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic) has started in the US, but since it's already started in the UK, too, you can probably work out for yourselves whether you like it. 

However, good news! I'm away for a couple of days at the end of the week, which means I can start a mid-season cull through the usual simple mechanism of asking myself "Can I be arsed to play catch up with this show when I get back?"

Accordingly, I'm waving goodbye to Kim's Convenience, No Tomorrow, The Secret Daughter and Speechless, as well as - shock, horror! -  two long-standing regulars! Find out which ones after the jump. Frequency, Lucifer, Timeless and Designated Survivor are also on the endangered list and it'll just be case of finding out when I get back whether I can be arsed to play catch up with them.

Elsewhere, I've passed third episode verdicts on Insecure (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic) and Falling Water (US: USA), with Insecure failing to stay on the viewing pile. We'll see if I can be arsed with Falling Water when I get back.

That means that after the jump, I'll be looking at the latest episodes (that I've seen) of Ash vs Evil Dead, DC's Legends of Tomorrow, Designated Survivor, Doctor Doctor, Eyewitness, The Flash, Frequency, Hyde and Seek, Impastor, Lucifer, Son of Zorn, Supergirl, Timeless, Travelers and You're The Worst. I've not yet had time to watch the latest Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, Eyewitness and Westworld, and since Y Gwyll (Hinterland) and Humans both chose to make a reappearance last night, don't be too surprised I haven't manage to watch them, either.

But somehow, I did manage to find time to watch a few movies…

Central Intelligence (2016)
Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson both went to High School together, Hart being the golden boy voted most likely to succeed, Johnson the fat kid everyone picks on. Twenty years later, Hart is an accountant while Johnson is a top CIA agent who needs Hart's accounting skills to find out who killed his partner (Aaron Paul) and is selling top secret satellite codes. Or is he? Could it be that Johnson is really a traitor, which is why the CIA is out to get him?

Kevin Hart is normally a cast iron guarantee that a bad movie is coming your way and this has all the hallmarks of being Kevin Hart in the kind of movie Adam Sandler rejects as being too low brow. But actually, it's reasonably funny and smarter than you expect it to be, right down to a crucial Rashomon-esque lift scene. Hart is surprisingly unirritating, too, there's a jaunty 90s soundtrack, and Johnson manages to do both action and comedy pretty well.

Doctor Strange (2016)
The latest Marvel movie sees arrogant surgeon Benedict Cumberbatch injured in a car accident and unable to operate any more. He heads East and before he knows it, as well as learning how to heal himself, he's learning magic from The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) and her helpers (Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong), so that he can fight her former helper Mads Mikkelsen who wants to make everyone immortal… but in a really bad, murderous way.

On the one hand, it's oftentimes a really visually impressive movie, with echoes of everything from Inception through 2001: A Space Odyssey, as reality warps and the action jumps between universes and dimensions. It's got a top cast and the script, while treading often cliched ground at times, also channels Eastern philosophies to give us a slightly different take on the usual 'great evil that must be defeated through brute force', which is what Marvel normally gives us - squint, in fact, and you can spot a bit of Daoism, a bit of Buddhism and a bit of Kung Fu. Indeed, Mikkelsen is at times almost irrelevant to the larger personal journey that Cumberbatch is undergoing, such is the change in focus.

However, there are various production choices that undermine it all tad. Cumberbatch is saddled with an American accent he really doesn't need and which affects his performance, fight scenes are endless shakycam and Michael Giacchino's score is the usual strings-dominant orchestral pieces that rob the movie of the true weirdness it deserves. It's also not as funny as it thinks it is.

On the whole, pretty good, but could have been better.

X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)
Last of the three prequel movies featuring the younger X-Men cast (at least, for now…), with the action shifting to the 80s as an Ancient Egyptian mutant/god comes back to life and decides to wipe the Earth clean of weaker specimens who won't obey him. He assembles his own team to go and fight the good mutants, which now include young versions of Night Crawler, Jean Grey and Cyclops, as well as the usual usual and some of the characters from X-Men: First Class who didn't get much/any screentime in X-Men: Days of Future Past. And guess who also shows up…

There's nothing that new and remarkable about X-Men: Apocalypse, with very little you won't have seen in either the first three movies or the prequels. But if you haven't watched those movies, you'll be wondering about a whole bunch of things the film assumes you already know, so it's a bit lose-lose. However, the film is good when it's focused on the more human side of things, whether it's Jean's and Cyclops' romance, Magneto's family, James McAvoy and Rose Byrne's 20-year-long romance, and so on, making it a surprisingly decent third act. 

A bit meh, but Bryan Singer's talents mean it's not X-Men: Last Stand, for sure.

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October 24, 2016

What have you been watching? Including Falling Water, Hyde and Seek and Westworld

Posted on October 24, 2016 | Post a comment | 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. 

Nearly there. Not quite, but nearly. Elsewhere this week, I've reviewed Travelers (Canada: Showcase; UK: Netflix), Shoot The Messenger (Canada: CBC) and Eyewitness (US: USA) and passed third-episode verdicts on Frequency (US: The CW; UK: Netflix), No Tomorrow (US: The CW), Westworld (US: HBO; Sky Atlantic) and Timeless (US: NBC; UK: E4).

I've started watching Graves (US: Epix), so I'll be putting a review together of the first couple of episodes of that tomorrow and Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency (US: BBC; UK: Netflix), Chance (US: Hulu) and Channel Zero (US: Syfy; UK: 5*) won't be far behind it. A third-episode verdict on Insecure (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic) will be in among the mix, too.

Regulars readers will realise that I still haven't watched Deep Water (Australia: SBS; UK: BBC Four), StartUp (US: Crackle) or Divorce (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic). I really will watch Deep Water one day and I might still give StartUp a go, but I think I'll have to leave Divorce to you guys to discover for yourselves, since TBH, I don't like the sound of it. Just the title. No.

Crisis in Six Scenes (Amazon), Haters Back Off (Netflix) and Easy (Netflix)? Never heard of them. Don't know what you're talking about.

I've had no time to watch last night's Son of Zorn or Eyewitness, but after the jump, the regulars: Ash vs Evil Dead, DC's Legends of Tomorrow, Doctor Doctor, The Exorcist, Falling Water, The Flash, High Maintenance, Hyde and Seek, Impastor, Kim's Convenience, Lethal Weapon, Lucifer, The Secret Daughter, Supergirl, Westworld and You're The Worst. I'm pretty sure I'm not going to be able to continue watching all of those, though, so this might be the last week for some of them and it'll definitely be the last week for at least one. You'll find out which after the jump.

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October 3, 2016

What have you been watching? Including Ash vs Evil Dead, Impastor and The Fall

Posted on October 3, 2016 | Post a comment | 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. 

It's possible that Peak TV peaked last week, given how many more new shows launched, and there's a few more coming our way this week, too. Last week, I (p)reviewed:

I also passed a third-episode verdict on Quarry (US: Cinemax; UK: Sky Atlantic).

On top of that, later this week, I'll pretty definitely (well, you know me…) be reviewing:

  • Westworld (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic)
  • Graves (US: Epix)
  • Aftermath (US: Syfy; UK: 5*)
  • Falling Water (US: USA)
  • Deep Water (Australia: SBS; UK: BBC Four)
  • Hyde & Seek (Australia: Nine)
  • Luke Cage (Netflix).

I'll also definitely be passing third- and fourth-episode verdicts on:

…probably on:

…maybe on:

…and quite improbably on:

Internet streaming services being a little elusive at times in terms of telling you what they're showing, if I've the time (!), I might try to play catch up with Easy (Netflix) and Start Up (Crackle), too, but I suspect they'll get pushed to next week again. For starters, there's bound to be other new shows this week that I've missed, too - I'm pretty sure Hayley Atwell's new ABC show Conviction is on the way, but I'm too lazy to check the schedule.

Before all that, though, after the jump, reviews of the latest episodes of Designated Survivor, The Exorcist, Halt and Catch Fire, Lethal Weapon, Notorious, Pitch, Speechless, This is Us and You're The Worst - if you do a quick bit of correlation with the list of shows above, you'll probably be able to guess which ones I'm dropping. We also have the return of Ash vs Evil Dead, Impastor and The Fall to entertain us. 

Did I mention I watched a lot of tele this week? Because I did.

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