US TV

What have you been watching? Including Clarice and Young Rock

It’s “What have you been watching?”, your chance to recommend to fellow TMINE readers anything you’ve been watching this week

And we’re picking up speed now! Not quite the pre-lockdown TMINE throughput I know, but I’m glad to say I am watching TV and movies again, albeit selectively now. And that there is TV to watch.

I just don’t have the time to write about it…

The regulars

In terms of the regulars list is, there’s WandaVision (Disney+). This was, of course, the big revelations episode, as we learn who or what has been responsible for everything so far. The big reveal itself was marvellously done – (spoiler alert) it was Agatha all along! – and shows the virtue of paying attention. But actually everything before it was lovely, too, with head nods to 2010s sitcoms including Happy Endings, The Office (US) and Modern Family. A lot of pathos, too, as more of Vision’s story is revealed to him.

The other ‘regular’ I watched was The Equalizer (US: CBS). That effectively formed the second part of a two-part pilot, with the show establishing its parameters, explaining why it’s called ‘The Equalizer’ and opening up the possibilities of plots that aren’t just crim of the week – although that was a nice change to the Big Bad of week one. All the same, I think I’ve seen enough of it to have my fill. If you like procedurals, it’s a pretty good one, but I don’t, so it’s not for me.

Talking of procedurals, we had the return of a previous regular, Harrow (Australia: ABC; UK: Alibi), for season three. I watched the first episode of that and we had the now-traditional “format revamp”, with another new generic character replacement. I enjoyed the addition to the Harrow backstory, but apart from the tortured ‘son’ revelation, I think the moment I decided to give up on it when Fern did yet another “Oh Dad! I hate you!” moment. Bored now. Sorry.

After the jump, the new shows I’ve watched: Clarice and Young Rock. But I’ll just briefly mention two movies that I’ve watched this week.

The Greatest Showman (2017) is a quasi-biographical musical of PT Barnum’s life and creation of the circus, with Hugh Jackman assembling a group of misfits rejected by society and giving them A Family – and a job being stared at for money. The songs aren’t bad, if not that memorable, and the cast (Zac Efron, Zendaya) is very good. It’s more memorable as an epic piece of ahistorical wokeness, but if that’s your bad, it’s fun enough.

Also gracing my retinas this week was The News of the World (2021), which you can currently see on Netflix. It’s best thought of as Tom Hanks doing John Wayne in The Searchers (1956), taking an orphaned German girl, who’s gone native with some native Americans, back to her supposed family. While also delivering the news to people, since he basically reads out newspapers for a living.

It’s very beautifully put together and bar a couple of slightly shakycam action scenes, you’d never know it was Paul Greengrass directing it, with so many big open vistas and drone shots. But is it engaging in the slightest? Not really.

Continue reading “What have you been watching? Including Clarice and Young Rock”
US TV

What have you been watching? Including The Equalizer and Birds (or How To Be One)

It’s “What have you been watching?”, your chance to recommend to fellow TMINE readers anything you’ve been watching this week

So I’ve been pushing through! Yay! I’ve actually made myself watch both a new TV show and a movie. For Lockdown 3.0, that’s impressive. At least I think so.

I never got round to starting the third season of Harrow, but I might do that tonight. And since both Young Rock (US: NBC) and Kenan (US: NBC) started last night, those two might join it. Starting to almost feel like old times…

The only show on the regulars list is, of course, WandaVision (Disney+). That didn’t quite live up to all the promises made at the end of the previous episode, but was suitably fascinating to more than make up for that – particularly the show’s take on both 2000s sitcoms and comic books. I’m also very much hoping that Kat Dennings gets to send up 2010s sitcoms next episode: 2 Broke Girls deserves it.

But onto the new stuff…

The Equalizer (US: CBS)

This is, of course, a remake of the 80s classic TV show that starred Edward Woodward and was remade as a couple of movies quite recently with Denzel Washington. This new version of the show takes many of the elements of the original show and gives them a bit of a twist, as well as a CBS procedural make-over.

Now we have Robin McCall (Queen Latifah) retiring from the CIA after a mission goes wrong – although without having much of an idea as to what to do next. But soon she’s rescuing a teenage girl who’s been framed for a murder, and drawing on her old skills and former work colleagues to do it. Meanwhile, former mentor Chris Noth – the ‘Control’ of the piece – is trying to lure her into private security, and she’s also having to deal with her own teenage daughter’s issues.

So I actually really enjoyed this. Queen Latifah is actually very good and very plausible as an ex-CIA agent with mad skills, with most of the action scenes and computer hacking handled by younger cast members, while Latifah goes out and puts on various disguises and does general tradecraft. In fact, I believed in her prowess more than I ever did in Edward Woodward’s (Callan had been a fair few years earlier…). Apart from the running scenes and the bits where she’s on a motorbike. Oof.

The plotting was actually pretty good and full of surprises, too, with plot twists I didn’t see coming. It’s also quite a nicely diverse cast, and the show doesn’t overstate that, largely ignoring the fact but touching on it at the end, which is about the right balance.

But… this is clearly a CBS procedural, with a carefully assembled team of banter hounds (including Adam Goldberg). And it’s also one step removed from the general social relevance of the original, with its rage against the everyday lawlessness of the not-long-bankrupt New York, drug dealers and gangs veering towards outright misanthropy at times; here we have Latifah dealing with billionaires and special forces. It’s more exciting and ‘bigger’ maybe, but it’s not going to offend anyone or saying anything.

I had enough fun watching it to try episode two at least, which in Lockdown 3.0 makes it a break-out hit for me. YMMV.

TMINE rating

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Birds (or How To Be One) (2020)

Available on MUBI

Inspired by Aristophanes’ The Birds, Birds (or How To Be One) is writer/director Babis Makridis’ mix of documentary, Giorgos Lanthimos-style surrealism, a filmed fringe theatre production and just outright flights of fancy – as well as the occasional bit of self-criticism about its own highbrow inaccessibility. It sees various people explaining why they want to become birds as the movie takes us through the various supposed steps necessary for a human to become a bird.

What’s it all mean? Supposedly, a musing on the nature of people’s quest for freedom, it takes in escape from society as well as escape from oneself and one’s own life, including by analogy trans rights.

However, it’s not really something that you could say is equipped with much of a plot or even logic or a message, more a tone and a series of statements, all bottled up in a slightly disconcerting discontent with existence and a series of impressively striking images.

It’s very memorable and will keep you thinking afterwards for a long time. But the question of whether it’s any good is one you’ll be thinking about for just as long.

TMINE rating

Rating: 3 out of 5.
US TV

What have you been watching? Including WandaVision

It’s “What have you been watching?”, your chance to recommend to fellow TMINE readers anything you’ve been watching this week

This week, I’ve been watching almost nothing. No new films, no new TV, just lots of stuff I’ve watched many times before and written about many times before, so there’s really no point talking about again. Sigh. Lockdown. Grrr.

Naturally, the highlight of the week was the only thing I watched: the latest episode of WandaVision. That really started pushing the show in some very interesting directions, both emotionally and in terms of character development, as well as the metaness of it all.

But the main thing about this pretty mindblowing double-length episode was its final scene. It’s a bit hard to describe just how genuinely mindblowing that was at many, many levels without spoilers so… (spoiler alert) they ‘recast’ Wanda’s brother who is dead in the MCU with the actor who played the same character in the X-Men universe, probably indicating that there is a multiverse and that characters from other non-MCU movies may soon be appearing in the MCU. And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, here it is on YouTube.

Now, if you’ve seen Spider-Man: Far From Home, you may have guessed something like this was coming. But to finally see it after all this time is just amazing because it speaks as much about international movie business politics as it does about the MCU. Or should that be MCM?

New out this week is the US remake of Edward Woodward 80s classic The Equalizer, as well as the return of Harrow (Australia: ABC; UK: Alibi), although the latter is a bit coloured by certain real-life issues. How much of those I’ll watch, I have no idea. Thanks, Lockdown.

But what have you been watching?

International TV

What have you been watching this week? Including The Dig and Walker

It’s “What have you been watching?”, your chance to recommend to fellow TMINE readers anything you’ve been watching this week

It’s been another slightly underpacked viewing schedule for TMINE this week. WandaVision (Disney+) has thankfully decided to explain a little about what’s been going on in the outside world, and if you’re an MCU fan it’s been majestic, with characters from Thor, Ant-Man, and even Captain Marvel, all showing up.

I’ve now finished the first five episodes of Lupin (Netflix). The final two fleshed out the characters and gave us some actual thrills and spills, rather than simply Now You See Me in France. I’ll definitely be tuning in for the next set of episodes, which are set to arrive on our screens in summer.

Walker — “Pilot” — Image Number: WLK101d_0125r — Pictured (L-R): Lindsey Morgan as Micki Ramirez, Coby Bell as Captain Larry James and Jared Padalecki as Cordell Walker — Photo: Rebecca Brenneman/The CW — © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Now on TMINE

I’ve also seen some new stuff, though. As threatened, I tuned in for Walker (US: The CW), which is a reboot of Chuck Norris’ finest – and cheesiest – hour.

I have to say it’s weird. They’ve got the guy from Supernatural playing an ex-marine turned Texas Ranger who’s also turned to alcohol since the death of his wife (played by the guy from Supernatural‘s real-life wife, usual as a ghost/in flashback). Most of the first episode is about him coming back to his normal life and job after ten months away and then having to deal with his mardie teenage daughter and the rest of his cliched family.

He does investigate crimes, with the help of his new Mexican-American partner. But does he kick arse? No! She does, a bit, but that’s about it. Who remakes Walker Texas Ranger without so much as a roundhouse kick? The mad fools.

I also watched The Dig (2021), which is a semi-fictional account of the unearthing of Sutton Hoo that sees Ralph Fiennes playing self-taught excavator Basil Brown, Carey Mulligan playing landowner Edith Pretty, who invites Brown to excavate two big earth mounds in her fields that she suspects could be historically highly significant, just as World War 2 is about to break out.

So it’s got a lovely cast, and Fiennes is clearly loving sporting a Suffolk accent and playing the working class boy being underestimated by the establishment. The shooting of the scenery is lovely and the recreation of a time that feels more like 200 years ago at points, with an actual ferryman having to row Fiennes over to meet Mulligan like a segment of Lord of the Rings.

But it’s actually a little short of archaeological detail and the second half of the movie starts to sag a bit from the addition of a fictional sub-plot that features Lily James as Peggy Piggott having to deal with her gay husband (Ben Chaplin) and her own desire for Johnny Flynn. I’m pretty sure it’s also a bit unfair to most of the British Museum archaeologists, particularly Piggott.

I don’t even remember them showing off the famous iconic helmet, but maybe I’d got a bit distracted by that point. All the same, a decent enough way to spend two hours and Mulligan’s relationship with her son as well as Fiennes are joys to behold.

But how about you? What have you been watching?

Film

What have you been watching?

It’s “What have you been watching?”, your chance to recommend to fellow TMINE readers anything you’ve been watching this week

This week, I’ve not been watching much. WandaVision (Disney+) has moved on to the 70s and The Brady Bunch, amongst other sitcoms, and the story is slowly opening up. I’ve got as far as episode three of Lupin (Netflix), which proved to be a bit darker than the preceding episodes, but still quite fun.

In films, I tried to give One Night in Miami (2021) (Amazon Prime), based on the play of the same name, a go. But despite some great performances, I found it a bit dull (possibly because it works better as a play), so gave up after about 45 minutes.

But that’s about it. I’m going to try to give The CW (US)’s Walker a whirl some time this week – it’s a reboot of Walker Texas Ranger (US: CBS). But it’s Lockdown 3.0, so who knows?

How about you, though? What have you been watching?