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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.

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

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What have you been watching? Including John Wick, Vikings, The Americans, Arrow and The Blacklist

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.

Well, despite all that planning, I kind of forgot I was going out pretty much every night this week, so I haven’t managed to watch everything I planned to. That means I’ll do a full, three-episode verdict of The Comedians on Monday, once I’ve binge-watched it this weekend. Maybe I’ll do that Daredevil season review at the same time…

The fact I didn’t look hard enough at the Australian TV schedules for this week didn’t help, either, otherwise I’d have realised that Deadline Gallipoli was a two-parter that was going to air over consecutive nights, rather than weekly – fingers crossed, I’ll be posting a review of that later tonight, after I’ve gone to see Avengers: Age of Ultron.

After the jump, tele: American Crime, American Odyssey, Arrow, The Blacklist, Community, The Flash, Forever, and Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD. I’ll also be looking at the season finales of The American and Vikings.

But first, just in case you think I don’t listen to your recommendations, a movie review!

John Wick (2014)
Keanu is a recently widowed former hitman for the Russian Mob who turns his almost supernaturally violent talents to revenge, after Alfie Allen (Game of Thrones) kills his… dog. No, really. His dog. If that sounds a bit silly, that’s because it is, and even the film acknowledges it. But it sits in a knowing intersection between Banshee and Wanted, with considerable visual and tonal nods to the nihilistic yet surreal Point Blank, with Keanu’s mission explicitly arbitrary and meaningless.

Once you’ve got over that tonal decision, there’s a lot to like about the movie. It has a surprisingly slow, thoughtful and emotional beginning; it’s packed full of great character actors you’ll recognise from The Wire, Daredevil and other shows and movies, including Ian McShane, Adrianne Palicki, Willem Dafoe, Dean Winters, Michael Nyqvist, Bridget Moynahan, John Leguizamo, Bridget Regan, Lane Reddick and Clarke Peters; there are some interesting fights, including some semi-decent jiu jitsu; it can be pretty funny at times; and there are some decently smart villains for a change.

Some bits are a little too silly for their own words, including a neutral ground hotel for hitmen and women, and Lance Reddick’s accent. But a decently enjoyable action thriller that sets things up well for a sequel that could be potentially different. However, I’m not sure I needed to see it in IMAX – Empire Leicester Square setting me back an eye-watering £18 a seat.

Continue reading “What have you been watching? Including John Wick, Vikings, The Americans, Arrow and The Blacklist”