What have you been watching? Including Ex Machina, 3 Days To Kill, Community and Game of Thrones

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 – they’ll even email you a weekly schedule.

Can you feel it? Can you? The summer season of TV is starting everyone! New things to watch! Hooray!

Okay, it’s starting slowly this week, but next week, we should have even more. Nevertheless, elsewhere, I’ve already reviewed the first episode of Netflix’s Between and previewed both Supergirl and Mr Robot. I’m also planning to review NBC’s new Charles Manson drama, Aquarius, and preview CBS’s new ‘comedy’ Crowded separately. But they’ll have to wait until next week now.

After the jump, the current TV regulars: Community, Game of Thrones and Silicon Valley. But first, a couple of film reviews!

Ex Machina (2015) (iTunes)
Domhnall Gleeson is a programmer working at a very Google-like company of the near future, who wins a employee lottery the prize of which is to spend a week with the company’s owner, Oscar Isaac. There he has the chance to try a new Turing Test variant on gynoid Alicia Vikander. The new question is – despite knowing she’s a robot, will he still decide she’s intelligent and care about her? And will she care about him? Except, of course, all is not what it seems…

Written and direct by Alex Garland, it’s very clever and very beautifully shot, if a little slow and, towards the end, exploitative, with great performances all round. However, it would probably have had a much bigger impact on me if I hadn’t seen the low budget but very similar and considerably more entertaining and action-packed Caity Lotz version The Machine just a few months ago. Watch that instead.

3 Days to Kill (2014) (Netflix)
Sometimes, knowing too much about a movie can either make it or kill it. Or sometimes both. Here, we have what is essentially Taken, with Kevin Costner as an ageing CIA agent in Paris who has to come to terms with the fact that he hasn’t been a great husband or father to his ex-wife (Connie Nielsen) and daughter (Hailee Steinfeld), all while killing lots of bad guys and occasionally homaging The Bodyguard.

This shouldn’t come as a huge surprise since the script is by Luc Besson. So on that level, there’s some information that might make you want to watch the movie and actually, if that’s all you had to go on, that would probably be a reasonably good summary of its strengths. If you know what a Luc Besson action movie is like, you’ll know more or less what to expect (comedy, comedy sidekick, French-speaking Africans, kids, insane Paris car chases, women with guns, etc).

So now I’ll add a little extra fact to the mix: Amber Heard is Costner’s boss. This may or may not make you want to watch it, although Heard actually does pretty well in the acting stakes here, and there are some funny scenes involving her and Costner determining exactly what ‘young’ means to both of them (“32? Middle-aged, grandpa!”).

So let’s drop the last factette on you: it’s directed by McG. This should send you running to the hills and certainly you can expect a few exploitative and crass McG tropes in here, too. But actually, it’s largely just McG emulating Besson, so forget I just told you this information – if you can do that, you might actually half enjoy it. It’s not brilliant, but it is a lot more Besson than McG.

The recommended list

Community (US: Yahoo; UK: Sony Entertainment Television)
6×12 – Wedding Videography
Another episode that’s a lot more meta than funny and that feels like the writers aren’t sure themselves if they’re being serious or taking the piss, sending up the genre (?) of the ‘candid’ wedding video. But a great twist towards at the end and as usual, an interesting tag scene that lifts the episode.
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First episode; third episode   

Game of Thrones (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic)
5×7 – The Gift
Bit dull apart from a couple of things involving, among others, Danny and Tyrrion. Ramsay and Sanza is as unpleasant as always. I just want something nice to happen!
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First episode; first season; second and third seasons

Silicon Valley (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic)
2×7 – Adult Content
Funnier than last week, with a mix of good taste and bad taste humour, as well as another accurate observation: on the Internet, it’s porn that drives new technologies. The new female characters are good, too.
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First episode; third episode


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.

    View all posts