Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Dennis Waterman is a reluctant agent
I received four of these on two discs. I'm not sure but I think it was a series of four TV movies rather than a series.
Dennis Waterman stars as John Neil, a troubled American operative who lost his wife and boy in an IRA-set fire, has been encouraged again to help with the case of an ex-KGB officer, Petrov (Leo McCreary) who wants to sell secrets to the U.S.
When asked for an idea of what his info is, Petrov gives John two names, both of whom seem to be members of a cell. John finds himself attracted to the woman, Annie Shepherd (Francis Barber) as he attempts to learn information from her. Meanwhile, it seems like someone doesn't want anyone talking.
Decent show with a good cast that includes actress Susan Jameson, who would be Waterman's New Tricks costar 20 years later. I admit I like Waterman better when he's playing a more relaxed, jaunty character. In the role he plays here, for me he has a put-on intensity and uses one expression, an angry one. It just doesn't come off as being organic.
Dennis Waterman is so prolific -- if you like him, you will probably like this as well.
The Crown (2016)
Great, opulent, fascinating family drama about the Royals
The most expensive series in the history of Netflix, The Crown is a 10- part series about the early years of Elizabeth as Queen, and the effect that her rule had on her husband and sister.
As the niece of the King, Elizabeth and her sister Margaret enjoyed all the perks of royalty without being in line for the throne. This ended when King Edward (Alex Jennings) abdicated. Having no issue, his brother Bertie (Jared Harris) became George VI. While Elizabeth (Claire Foy) and her husband, Prince Philip (Matt Smith) were in Africa, King George died. And greatness was thrust upon the shoulders of Elizabeth.
The series shows Elizabeth's adjustment, her dealings with people like Winston Churchill, Anthony Eden, her Uncle David, the ex-King and now Duke of Windsor, and learning ultimately that there was a procedure, and while she ruled, she needed to follow the decisions of others.
One of her biggest family problems concerned her sister Margaret (Vanessa Kirby) and her affair with a divorced man, Peter Townsend (Ben Miles). It's hard to imagine nowadays how scandalous divorce was, and in this case, worse because it looked like Townsend had left his wife for Margaret.
This caused many problems for the Crown and between the sisters. Sadder yet, though the relationship was broken up, Margaret ended up divorced herself. There were also issues with Philip piloting - it seemed as if many family matters had to be approved of at a higher level. It must have been very frustrating.
(Divorce was still an issue when Jacqueline Kennedy was invited to the Palace, and the Palace refused to let her bring her divorced sister Lee. "But she's my host," Jacqueline objected, "and my sister!" Couldn't bring her.)
The series spares nothing in terms of opulence, the copying of actual gowns worn and other fashion looks of the era, and manages to work in actual footage of the coronation as people watched it on black and white television. The actors do a magnificent job, particularly Claire Foy who somehow IS the young Elizabeth; John Lithgow as Winston Churchill, Matt Smith as Philip, Alex Jennings as the Duke of Windsor. Though Vanessa Kirby is a wonderful Margaret, the real Margaret was actually more beautiful, though Kirby shows her flirtatious personality and charisma. Foy and Kirby also demonstrate beautifully the subtle and not-so-subtle moments of rivalry between the two women.
In terms of historical accuracy, from what I know, the series is accurate with a few caveats. One isn't really the fault of the production. It's said that Churchill's wife had the portrait that Sutherland did of her husband destroyed and supervised the destruction; in truth, the servants took it upon themselves to burn it as it was just somewhere taking up space. Clementine is reported to have said, "That's what I would have done."
Also, the Duchess of Windsor was not present during King George's abdication speech. I believe the story of Churchill and his secretary was fictionalized to bring in his awareness of the hospital problems.
The producers worked very hard to make The Crown as accurate as possible, working with historians, biographers, someone who actually worked in the Palace, newsreels, and newspapers. As with all non- fiction dramas, however, there were some liberties with the timing of events.
Truly excellent - can't wait for season 2.
I, Anna (2012)
Never quite comes together
Charlotte Rampling stars in I, Anna from 2012, directed by her son Barnaby Southcombe, who also wrote the screenplay.
It's the rather disjointed, noir-ish story of a woman, Anna (Rampling) and her relationship with a police detective Bernie Reid (Gabriel Byrne) who is searching for a killer. He becomes obsessed with Anna, who is attractive, sexy, divorced, with a daughter and granddaughter.
Charlotte Rampling has always been a unique actress. She's kind of a modern-day Lauren Bacall, androgynous, a wonderful actress who has allowed herself to age like a normal human being. Here she shows her sexuality and her beauty as the audience learns more and more about her.
The film skips around a lot and can be confusing at times. There is also a character, a young guy, who has no reason to be in the movie at all. Not only is his subplot not developed, we never find out how it ends.
Actually we don't find out how anything ends in this film. We think that someone is going to explain everything that went on but they don't.
If the photography is strange, it's also beautifully done. There's no question that Barnaby Southcombe has talent; it just needs to be developed a little more. With a better script and with all the fine actors in the film, this could have been a knockout.
not sure why everybody hated it so much
I watched 7 seasons of the Gilmore Girls like a lot of people did, and I can't say I was disappointed in this "A Year in the Life." I will, however, be disappointed if there is not another season.
First of all, I think it was fantastic that the show managed to get all of the regulars from the original show back together, including Melissa McCarthy, now a big movie star.
The story picks up something like 9 years later. Rory is living a vagabond life, co-writing the autobiography of a raving lunatic (Alex Kingston) in London, visiting her mother in Stars Hollow in between trips, after leaving her Brooklyn apartment and dumping boxes everywhere she went. She had a good piece in the New Yorker, but although a website is begging her to work for them, the offers aren't pouring in.
Love-wise, she's a mess. She has a boyfriend named Paul who is a nonentity, and she's seeing the engaged Logan (Matt Czuchry) when she's in London. She finally moves back to Stars Hollow - temporarily, she insists, and takes over the local paper. She also starts writing a book.
Lorelai is living with Luke (Scott Patterson) and running her inn, which needs expansion; and her mother (Kelly Bishop) is dealing with the loss of her husband (Edward Herrmann).
The handling of Herrmann's death was wonderful and also sad; Lorelai has a heart-rending monologue on the phone to her mother toward the end of the miniseries.
One thing people didn't like was the musical that was thrown in. Despite the beautiful singing of Sutton Foster, I agree, it was too much and too silly. We could have done without it.
There were funny scenes: Lorelai tricked into going into therapy with her mother, a funny scene with Paris (Lisa Weil), who now runs a surrogacy matching service, a crazy town meeting with a loud air conditioner, movie night, Kirk and his OOOber cab company, along with the fast dialogue associated with the show. And it was great to see Melissa McCarthy as Sookie again.
The best moments were between Rory and her mother - what a great dynamic those two have, and the scenes were realistic.
Okay, people objected to Rory - her behavior regarding Logan, her non- sticktuitive-ness, and taking the easy way out by staying in Stars Hollow. First of all, she's 32. Thirty-two is nothing today. When I was thirty-two, it was a big deal. Rory is a product of her generation - an only child, things came easily for her, she found out she had to work harder than she has been, and she panicked. She's jumping from one city to another, one job to another - a ghost writer, a web site, a magazine -- and one bed to another -- a one- night stand, her boyfriend, and Logan. A right of passage. Believe it, don't believe it.
Rory is still finding her way. Everyone is very clear at 22. By the time they're 32, they've seen reality.
She's writing a book, and people on various boards consider this a major cop-out. Why? If she can get it published, it will open a lot of doors for her. Authors write articles for big magazines, op ed pieces, and do all sorts of things besides writing books.
At the end of the show, there's a twist. What will it mean? We don't know, and why speculate? Let's see first if there's another season. If not, we can speculate then.
I enjoyed it, what can I say.
Strange and wonderful documentary
I've seen another documentary on Marlene Dietrich and also read her daughter's book. I was interested in this one for a bizarre reason- I once sat on the New York subway next to someone who had the script of this documentary with him. Being a big fan of Maximilian Schell's, I wanted to see it.
Schell, who appeared with Dietrich in "Judgment at Nuremberg," was able to convince the actress to do this documentary, but she would not permit herself to be shown on camera.
She was last seen in the 1978 film Just a Gigolo, heavily made up and behind a veil, but still looking mighty good to me. But if one reads her daughter's book, it's easy to see that as she aged, she became a little eccentric. She spent the last 11 years of her life bedridden and allowed very few people to see her.
So the famous Dietrich voice supplies a narration of sorts to the glorious film clips, clips of her in newsreels, and film of her doing her one-woman show. It is all glorious, showing how she evolved over the years, her excellent acting in films like "Judgment at Nuremberg," "Witness for the Prosecution," and "Touch of Evil," and the incredible charisma and beauty she shared with the audience in her show.
At one point, Schell offends her and she lays into him. making a remark about him being a "Swiss", and telling him she'd sat at tables with politicians and dignitaries and no one had ever spoken to her like that. She went on for a while. Schell punctuates her words with images of flying film strips and a whizzing, distorted background.
She could be abrupt, but also emotional as she recites a favorite poem of her mother's.
Dietrich talks like she hated making movies, didn't do much to get into a role, her private life was private. It's hard to say now. One thing that wasn't gone into was her passion for Jean Gabin, nor was much of the documentary focused on her war work.
Marlene Dietrich was a magical personality, an exotic beauty, a wonderful actress, and a magnificent performer. This documentary gives us plenty of examples of her magic and, if you don't appreciate her now, you will after seeing this.
She was the kind of star we won't see again - androgynous, earthy, and very much of her time. In her eighties when this was made, her attitude is very much like her final words in Touch of Evil: "What does it matter what you say about people?"
The Finest Hours (2016)
Exciting and suspenseful
"The Finest Hours" from 2016 is a true story of an incident in 1952.
In February of 1952, an intense, powerful storm hit New England. On that day, an oil tankers splits in half. Hearing the distress signal, the commander, Daniel Cluff (Eric Bana) sends Bernie Webber (Chris Pine) and his handpicked crew on a rescue mission, which almost certainly means death. Bernie is not popular - he was unable to rescue men at another time, though his friends assure him there was nothing he could have done.
The engineer, Sybert (Casey AFfleck) takes over, determined to run the stern to ground so that it will not sink. He has to convince the men not to try to leave in the lifeboats, which will not hold up in the storm. He holds fast and fights them.
As the storm rages, Bernie and his men forge ahead to find survivors.
Very exciting movie with stupendous effects and excellent performances by Chris Pine and Casey Affleck. But what was the stupid love story doing in there? Holliday Grainger is Miriam Webber, whom Bernie meets on a blind date. After several months, she pushes him to marry her, and they decide on an April wedding. Well, she does.
When Bernie is out on his rescue mission, Miriam shows up at headquarters demanding he be ordered back immediately. Not only does she act inappropriately but she is as annoying as hell. She comes through in the end, but this entire story did not belong in the movie. Their love story was not built up enough to see anything between them except her iron will. She makes Bernie look like a wuss.
The '50s were meticulously presented with the historical references correct. I always watch out for that - references and songs etc. were right on.
"The Finest Hours" is a Disney film, and at the end of the film, it catches the viewer up with the real people. Very interesting. Well worth watching, and well directed by Craig Gillespie except for the way the love story was handled.
St. Vincent (2014)
Funny and touching
Bill Murray hands in a bravura performance as "St. Vincent" in this 2014 drama also starring Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts, Chris O'Dowd, and Jaeden Lieberher, all of whom are dynamite.
Murray is curmudgeon who drinks, smokes, hangs out at bars and the race track, and owes money to thugs. He's so drunk one night that he backs his car into his fence, which he blames on his new neighbor Maggie's (McCarthy) movers.
Maggie is divorced with a young son, Oliver, and one night when she is late coming home from her job, Oliver winds up at Vincent's when he asks to use the phone. Vincent charges her for babysitting, and then agrees to watch the kid after school for a certain amount per hour.
Vincent and Oliver don't realize it yet, but they're crazy about each other. Vincent takes Oliver to the track, and Oliver's picks win big. He takes him to his neighborhood bar, and he introduces him to a pregnant Russian prostitute, Daka (Watts), who continues to have sex with him. He teaches the boy, who is on the small side, to fight the bullies.
Vincent also visits a beautiful woman in a nursing home and pretends he's her doctor.
Maggie, meanwhile, has to fight her ex-husband for full custody.
This is such a wonderful story, with laugh out loud moments and tears. Bill Murray is fantastic and should have been nominated for an Oscar. He plays drunk, sick, nice, mean and everything in between. Children in films can be annoying, but Lieberher is wonderful. Naomi Watts does an excellent Russian accent and is quite funny. This was more of a dramatic role for Melissa McCarthy and she handled it beautifully.
Director Theodore Melfi's direction is solid and keeps the film going.
A heartwarming film, perfect for the holidays and after all the chaos of the election. Lots of fun, and a film about the power of love.
My Christmas Dream (2016)
Sweet, if Hallmark is a little behind the times
Hello, Hallmark, it's the 21st Century. And guess what? Copying films of the '40s and '50s is a little passe.
My Christmas Dream stars Danica McKellar who, at age 40, is still playing ingenues. And as far as I'm concerned, she's getting away with it.
It also stars handsome David Haydn-Jones and Diedre Hall who must have a hideous portrait in her closet.
McKellar is Christina, the manager of a department star, McDougal's, owned by Victoria (Hall). Christina is doing a terrific job and loves what she does.
Victoria arrives at the store and makes an announcement: The store is growing internationally, and they are opening a new store in Paris. They need someone to run it. Christina is perfect for it, having studied in Paris for a year and always feeling as if it was home.
However, in order to get the job, she is going to have to dazzle Victoria with the annual Christmas display, a part of the window always kept hidden until December 23.
In the meantime, she has met Kurt (Haydn-Jones) and his son Cooper. It's obvious that Kurt wants a commitment from her, but Christina shies away from it. Meanwhile she's having him help with the display and hoping it impresses Victoria.
We all know what's going to happen. It is possible to have a wonderful career and be fulfilled. It isn't one or the other nowadays. The previous film with Candace Cameron had the same theme. We see these women giving up these fabulous jobs (although Christina's is a good compromise) to stay with a man. Of course, he's going nowhere, why should he.
These Hallmark films can be boring or lovely, depending on your mood. My mood is particularly in need of mind-numbing since the election, so I would up watching this one and part of another. I understand showing romance. But this is the kind of movie my mother would have written because her generation was interested in one thing and one thing only: marriage and a family. And if you didn't have that, as far as she was concerned, you didn't have much of a life.
It's not a good fantasy for young women, whom I assume watch these things.
Otherwise, it's pleasant and Christmasy.
Paul Blart: Mall Cop (2009)
You know what you're to get with that title
"Paul Blart: Mall Cop" from 2009 stars Kevin James, Jayma Mays, Shirley Knight, Bobby Cannavale, and Keir O'Donnell.
Paul Blart works for mall security after not making it to the police academy. He acts as if he's guarding the White House, stopping people in motorized carts for infractions, reporting in even though his boss asks who it is, and going a little overboard in his handling of a new trainee.
He hasn't dated since his green card marriage blew up, but he sees a young woman at one of the kiosks, Amy (Jayma Mays) and falls head over heels. After he makes a complete fool of himself at a bar, she seems less friendly.
When a gang announces the mall is closing early and starts an organized takeover and captures hostages, including Amy, Paul is fooling around with a guitar and singing in one of the stores. Therefore when the mall is locked, he's stuck in the mall. And it falls to him to do something about the robbery and the danger to the hostages.
Normally the last thing I watch is films like this. These past two weeks I've seen two. It's since the election. I have needed films to numb my mind. Kevin James makes me laugh with his slapstick and cluelessness, so it was fine.
It's predictable, it's funny in spots, it seems to go on longer than necessary, but by far it is not the worst thing I've ever seen. And for a change with today's comedy, it didn't have vulgar jokes.
This last week I watched Netflix's True Memoirs of an International Assassin, also with Kevin James, to give you an idea of what all the divisiveness and hate of this election has done to me.
Doctor Strange (2016)
I was so lucky to have seen Benedict Cumberbatch twice in one week, once as Hamlet (which I also saw in London) and then yesterday as Dr. Strange. One word for the man: Magnificent.
This time he's Dr. Stephen Strange, a brilliant neurosurgeon (with an excellent American accent) who loses the use of his hands in a dreadful car accident. He is advised to go to a place in India to be healed, since modern medicine can do nothing. There he meets the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) who introduces him to the magical arts and tells him that he can heal himself.
Strange learns that the temple is a secret group out to save the world from the dark forces, led by Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen). He has stolen a page from an ancient, secret book and taken off with three zealots. There is fear he will take over the world with the help of Dormammu.
The highlight of this film, besides Cumberbatch, is the incredible special effects that are eye-popping. The film goes by very quickly. The cast is top notch, with Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong, and Rachel Adams along with those mentioned above.
One word of caution - in order to see the whole film, you need to stay through the entire credits at the end, as there is a scene during the credits, and then at the end of the credits, there is another scene. This one is critical and sets up the next installment.
British actors come over here to make money, and I can't criticize Cumberbatch for taking on this franchise. Is it the way I would have gone with his career? No. I would have preferred him to go the Eddie Redmayne or Sir Anthony Hopkins route, and I frankly don't understand some of his film choices. I suppose they were all part of a build-up, but why appear in Black Mass in a supporting role and Zoolander 2?
His television work has been exemplary and more along classical lines; he has formed a production company, so let's hope the material matches the abilities of this man's talent.
Anyway, see Dr. Strange. It's fun, amazing to look at, and has excellent acting. It's more than I can say about the endless previews we sat through.