Reviews written by registered user

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15 reviews in total 
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17 out of 26 people found the following review useful:
Not bad, but Spain can do much better, 29 April 2017

I think it's fair to say Spain's cinema has been fairly consistently in the top four globally in terms of quality alongside the US, UK and France. It's pretty clear that the Spaniards have a wealth of filmmaking talent both behind and in front of the camera, and a propensity to come up with interesting stories, as well as interesting ways to tell them. So I was pretty excited for the first Spanish Netflix original series - are we finally going to get a high-quality sustained insight into Spanish culture? Could it be to TV what Almodovar or Amenabar are to film?

Sadly not in this case. Not that Las Chicas del Cable is a bad series by any measure. There are some good actors here, and *some* good writing, particularly where it explores feminist themes (a Spanish specialty) and female oppression and emancipation in the early 20th century; it's also well-shot, and the period set and costume design are commendable. Unfortunately the show suffers from being dialogue-obsessed, and leaves very little room and time for creating the atmosphere it and its story deserve. Instead it jumps from one fast-paced conversation to the next, through cheesy over-dramatic flashbacks and back to the present, rushing through a rather thick plot while doing little to make us care about its characters, most of which end up falling into fairly standard archetypes (the femme fatale, the nerdy country girl, the emancipated career woman, the chauvinistic executive and so on).

It's not hard to watch by any means, for the most parts it's even somewhat fun, but at no point do you feel you're watching a 'work of art' with any real depth or unique identity. Which is a shame because I'm sure that's what Netflix aspire to, and there's no shortage of talent in Spain that could deliver that. Hopefully they get another chance to try, as it's about time we start getting quality TV from as many countries as we get quality cinema, not just the US and UK.

Logan (2017)
0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Finally a decent comics book movie!, 8 March 2017

While not quite as incredible as it was hyped up to be (seriously, people in some corners were raving about it as if it's as good as The Dark Knight) it's definitely a *good* movie and these days, that's a big accomplishment. Since Nolan we haven't seen a single film based on comic books that could really be said to have any sort of serious substance and/or artistic endeavor and actually was well executed (amazingly, some TV shows like Preacher, Jessica Jones and recently Legion have gotten closer to that). Rather they've been almost entirely conforming to formulaic block-buster 'rules', which essentially stipulate you are to have X amount of battle scenes, Y special effects and CGI, Z amount of space dedicated to establishing a franchise, a PG rating, and maybe 5% room for originality if you really feel adventurous.

Logan is a breath of fresh air in that, even though there are still a fair amount of gratuitous fight scenes and visual effects, it still for the most part actually seems like a real, non-franchise movie that tries to be something unique and build characters and relationships and a visual identity and emotional depth. Is it great? Not quite, but given how movies get made these days and the financial risks involved for studios and their intellectual property, we have to applaud them even being brave enough to take such a big step in the right direction. James Mangold did a very solid (if not overly ambitious) job helming this movie and giving it a unique character, and hopefully this will mark the point at which major studios realized they may have even more success if they hand these franchises over to even more serious visionary directors and let them do their thing.

7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Super stylish espionage/con man thriller, 4 March 2017

Not sure why this film hasn't gotten much attention so far, it's extremely well made with a super interesting (true) story and good acting. Never aiming to go too deep on the emotional side, it's just a very good narrative told in a sleek, stylish and exciting way with some stunning European location shots and the odd sprinkle of some good, dry Spanish wit. Eduard Fernandez in particular gives a great understated performance as the lead, and the instrumental surf-rock score adds a very unique stylistic touch.

All in all a very pleasant watch and would even make a great entry point into Spanish cinema for those less keen on heavy dramas or art films.

"3%" (2016)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
The longer it went on the more ridiculous it became, 27 February 2017

It started reasonably well, the set design, cinematography and whole look of the show was fairly original. It had an interesting concept, and just being the first Brazilian TV show I've had the privilege of encountering made it interesting. It also came highly recommended from two people, one that I know and trust and the other being Sam Esmail who created and writes and directs Mr. Robot, and inexplicably had it in his top 10 TV shows of 2016.

So I carried on watching, even when the plot started coming apart around episode 3 or 4. And I carried on even as the long close-up shots of the actors over-acting became more frequent and agonizing. And I carried on when the deus ex machina started to reign supreme in the script, and by the end of it I honestly thought I was watching some low-budget B-movie, the behavior of the characters and how plot points got resolved made no sense and just seemed completely forced.

It probably deserves a 4 out of 10 but I gave it an extra couple of points as I really want to encourage people making original and ambitious TV shows like that outside of the US and UK, especially in Latin America. But they can and should be better than this one.

29 out of 37 people found the following review useful:
Breaking good, 15 January 2017

Somehow in the end Sneaky Pete achieves pretty much everything it says on the box, and everything it hints at in the pilot. It's a con movie, and a brilliant one at that, while being a dysfunctional family drama at the same time, and also being brilliant at that. It's simply an extremely well written and acted show that somehow manages to spin about five B-plots, three C-plots and a main arc into a riveting story that never seems forced one bit, and always feels as if the writers let the characters be true to themselves rather than deus-ex-machina them into a better story. And yet the story is pretty much perfect in the end.

It also manages to take itself lightly almost the whole time and rarely going into cliché even though it gets into some dark situations, and doesn't make a joke out of those situations. Giovanni Ribisi especially impresses in the title role, essentially a bad guy looking to "break good" (shout out to Brian Cranston/Walter White who produced it and also steals all his scenes as the big villain), but the cast is superb pretty much across the board. The only thing I was missing to make it a true masterpiece was some pizazz in the directing department as it's mostly unspectacular visually, but that's a small price to pay when you get the writing and performance departments so right.

10 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
A realistic slow-burn of international power games which took its time but really came through in the end, 30 December 2016

I was doubtful at first, it seemed like a B-level series with B-level actors, a B-level concept on a WTF-level channel. The first couple of episodes did little to change my mind either, Berlin was just as weirdly misrepresented as in Homeland (seriously guys, Potsdamer Platz might be a nice shooting location but it's not where you'd hold confidential meetings or drop-offs). Moreover, many of the characters seemed to conform to silly stereotypes for the sake of giving the show a bit more of a flashy Hollywood feel at the expense of authenticity, with seemingly very obvious good guys and bad guys, the devious mole and the self-serving back-stabbing vice chief, and so on.

Well it certainly took its time, but as the show kept spinning its complex plot like an intricate spider's web its depth (along with that of its characters) was very slowly revealed, until towards the end I found myself really starting to sympathize with almost all of the main players -- none of whom ended up being as one-dimensional or gimmicky as they seemed at first. Even more impressive was that the complicated and multi-layered plot, with so many characters and B-plots and C-plots, really seemed to coalesce in the end into one meaningful story without any major loose ends or plot holes, every character's actions seeming completely in line with their personalities and motives. And suddenly it seemed more and authentic than both the shamelessly ridiculous Hollywood-style espionage thrillers like Bond and MI (of course) but also the opposite-end 'ultra-realistic' style of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and other John Le Carre adaptations, where the lack of human emotion can often give the movie a surreal edge.

Could it have had a tad more energy at times? Sure. A slightly better cast? Less broadly generic direction and score? You bet. Did it upset me when the Mossad agents sounded every bit as German as the BfV agents? Yes, it did. I would've really liked to see a more brilliantly executed version of this show, but very few shows are perfect and this one still proved pretty rich and enjoyable even with its slight imperfections.

123 out of 141 people found the following review useful:
Light, funny, strange, beautiful and utterly original, 30 October 2016

I guess I should start with what I don't like about this show - the dialogue is somewhat unnatural. There's no umming or erring at all, conversations are as rapid and resolute as in an American crime procedural, which is slightly weird most of the time but especially disturbing when coming from actors who aren't speaking in their first language, who happen to make up the vast majority of actors on this show.

That's it as far as flaws though, and I won't even deduct any points for this one flaw because there's a positive aspect to it, to the point that I can't even be 100% sure it wasn't intended - it adds to the feeling of surrealism that permeates every scene in this unique and wonderful creation. And when I say wonderful I mean it literally - this show is full of wonders at every corner. It keeps you constantly surprised, on edge, unsure of what on earth could possibly come next. The plot, the writing, the cinematography, the acting, the music, oh the music! The choice of music, the placement of it. Every single one of these things is done with so much balls, finesse and confidence and to the highest degree of quality. And most importantly it's a fuckload of fun, never for a second taking itself seriously, the aforementioned surrealism constantly popping up where you least expect it. It's as much a colourful satire of TV shows, film and life itself as it is one of the Church.

It's really rather hard to believe that Sky and HBO financed this gigantic odd piece of brilliantly experimental filmmaking. I'd never quite accepted what a few critics have begun to say recently, but with this show I think the penny's finally dropped for me on the notion that TV and streaming services are taking over the mantle of art in filmmaking. Which is really fortunate, since true artists like Sorrentino are finding it harder and harder these days to get movies made, and not only are many of them being given big budgets and free reign these days on TV (see also: Mr. Robot, The Knick) but this medium lets them tell much longer stories, and without being afraid that the audience will fall asleep or run off to the toilet with their bladders bursting. Praise our most holy father.

"Goliath" (2016)
77 out of 89 people found the following review useful:
One of the best dramas I've seen this year, 15 October 2016

Binged-watched this one in 3 days and it was an absolute pleasure. It's not that the story itself is so thrillingly addictive, but mainly that almost all of the main characters are so fascinating, well crafted and brilliantly performed that you just keep wanting to go back and discover more about them. All of them deeply flawed, and yet vividly human and (for the most part) to at least some extent likable. Furthermore, the sheer amount of fully fleshed out, round and interesting characters that the show manages to create and build in just one 8-episode season is seriously impressive - there must be around 10 main supporting characters and by the end none of them feel under- served.

It helps of course that the cast is one of the most talented and charismatic ones put together for any show this year, with special mentions going to Thornton, Maria Bello and Nina Arianda, though literally everyone (down to even minor characters like the judge) is at the very least very good, if not excellent. It also helps that the show is masterfully written and beautifully shot, has a very strong visual identity and takes great advantage of LA as its location, particularly with the driving scenes and time- lapse shots.

Don't be fooled by people calling it a legal drama, it might have a lot of lawyers and a few courtroom scenes but the way it's shot and paced, the amount of detective work involved, the score and the atmosphere the show maintains make it feel much more like classy film noir than any legal drama I've ever watched.

2 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Would you want to be friends with anyone on this show?, 18 September 2016

Bosworth aside, this is a show about a mostly really annoying bunch of people. It's well shot and directed, occasionally very well, and for the most part well acted (Lee Pace you are as handsome as you are a walking cliché and a caricature of Don Draper) but sadly, apart from the parts that actually somewhat deal with tech, entrepreneurship and the history of computing, it's pretty badly written.

I gave it a "chance", that chance being two whole seasons. I really wanted to quit half way through the first but TV reviewer Andy Greenwald, whose opinion I hold in very high value, kept going on about how the second season is so much better. Well having just finished it, this is one of the few occasions where I disagree with him, and strongly - the second season is even worse than the first. And what's even worse is that I've been with these characters for two whole seasons and I don't care even the slightest bit about any of them. They're all capricious, dishonest and mostly (apart from Donna to some extent) extremely egocentric. None of them ever seem to do anything good for anyone else, or be nice, or have any fun since somewhere back at the beginning of season one, instead they just lie to and hide stuff from each other and then constantly get surprised when it blows up in their face. I spent every episode wanting to slap each of them in the face half a dozen times. Thank god for Bosworth! He doesn't appear nearly enough, but when he does he's the only thing on screen I don't wish I could impale with a voodoo pin.

Again this is nothing against any of the actors (again apart from Lee Pace, it's definitely against him). They're all (Lee Pace aside) doing fine jobs with what they're been given, but unfortunately for them what they're given is mostly soap opera-level silliness with a bit of insightful tech talk to fill in the gaps. Which is a shame, because this could've been a really fascinating show about the history of digital technology and how it shaped our world, and instead that's a side-note in a story about a bunch of unlikable people constantly annoying each other, themselves and everyone else.

4 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Worth seeing if only for the incredible score and visual extravaganza, 24 August 2016

There have been others here who have done great full reviews of the film so I'll avoid that and just try to add my own two cents.

This certainly isn't Refn's best film (for me that honour still belongs to Drive) nor his second or third best. It seems like with this one he fell in love with himself, and with his persona as a director, a bit too much and started overemphasising the audiovisual aspect at the expense of story, emotional depth and character development. As good a job as some of the actors did, I simply didn't feel anything for any of the characters, not even the poor naive boyfriend, and didn't at all care what happened to them.

That said the audiovisual aspect is phenomenal, even more awe-inspiring than any of Refn's other works, and it's worth seeing this film just for that. Cliff Hernandez's score particularly is just another level of analogue synthesiser heaven and by far his best work to date. It gives the film almost every bit of emotional depth it has and lifts it from an "interesting but ultimately superficial" to "exceptional and utterly unique" piece of work -- and this from someone who still bears begrudges Refn for dismissing the Johnny Jewel soundtrack for Drive in favour of Hernandez.

In summary, go see it and enjoy it for what it has to offer, even if it's noticeably flawed in other ways.

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