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Collateral (2018)
9/10
Excellent series
12 March 2018
Warning: Spoilers
I've no idea what's causing the poor ratings here. The series had me from the first. A delight to see so many strong female characters and some excellent story lines all coming together in the end.

Carey Mulligan is a knockout.

Many topics were covered, some controversial and real, like sexual assault in the military, all too prevalent unfortunately, and emigration and profiteering from the plight of refugees. Rogue politicians add to the mix. And M15 shadowing all.

Fast spaced and realistic. Thoroughly enjoyable.

9/10
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1/10
Good lord!
11 February 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Rarely have I seen anything quite so awful with no tension or any kind of plot layout in the script. And no, I haven't seen the original but I would like to.

Add to this mess a frozen district attorney Nicole Kidman who provides no basis or foundation for the passionate obsession that the cop (Chiwetel Ejiofor) has for her that is a sidebar in the "story" and so many unbelievable scenes like the cop breaking the news of a murdered daughter to an FBI agent on the actual murder site so that she plunges at her deaddaughter and contaminates the entire murder scene.

There's mad chasing with no purpose, out of control cops and guns chasing down who cares? filling in for the lack of dialogue or any kind of deeper meaning and a working script.

Everybody phoned this in.

1/10
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Altered Carbon (2018– )
Not rating it yet, 2 episodes in
5 February 2018
Warning: Spoilers
A TV critic I respect recommended this. I haven't read the book it is based on.

The CGI is terrific, the concept I am enjoying.

Joel Kinnaman mumbles so I had to throw on the CC.

First observation is that there are so many fight scenes which means massive grunting and no dialogue. That always disengages me from the characters and leaves me thinking: too many big words, let's throw in red lasers and masks and big huge fights. Interesting that 250 years from now the hero can't be pulverized into dust in a nano-second and that what looks like duct tape is still used to bind another character to a chair.

I'm hoping it will improve and engage the intelligence a little more. I'm picking up on allusions to religions that don't allow sleeving which bothers me.
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Retribution (2016– )
4/10
Strange Scottish Overkill of a Series
3 February 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Here be the list:

Far too many characters Uneven Script Melodramatic in the extreme Ham-fisted John Lynch clawing the scenery and gulping it down. Totally unlikeable characters. All of them.

There were more plot twists and turns and sidebars to keep track of than was reasonable in a 4 parter.

Everyone in the cast, including the investigating police had a problem/secrets/lies

And I never bought into the angst ridden resolution, puh-leese.

Too bad. Most of the cast did their best with some dismal material.

But the whole thing needed more flesh on its bones.

It was really hard to care.

4/10 Brilliant Scottish scenery.
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The Journey (III) (2016)
6/10
Interesting Effort
26 January 2018
Wonderful cast in a film that could have used a better script. Timothy Spall's accent slippage irritated at times, though I realize how difficult the Northern Ireland accent is to imitate.

There were many contrivances, a walk in the forest, in a church, in a graveyard to force the final outcome of peace. And I was astonished that the retaliative murders by the RUC got short shrift versus the bombings and killings of the IRA. 6/10
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1/10
The Wig
25 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Seriously, Nicholas Cage's wig screams "look at me!" in every scene he's in. It has a life of it's own, moving about as if it were a live thing in some scenes, sleeping greasily in others. C'mon Nick, spring for a buzz cut, you are heading into the twilight years and Elvis is long dead.

There's no evident plot here. And the movie needs some serious editing, continuity is shabby (for example the child's age keeps roving around from 8 to 12 according to who's talking), the court scene is something out of Charlie Chaplin with accuseds hissing at the victim, and Nick keeps popping up in scenes like some weird wizard.

And who was the woman who phoned the last accused anyway? Plot holes all over the place.

Now Charlene Tilton as the raging momma was a treat.

And the poor fellah who was her husband was the only person, apart from Nick, who was employed.

No depth, but that child actor, Bateman, was brilliant in her scenes.

Did I mention the dollar store makeup? Seriously. Worst. Ever.

And who gets that close to the falls in a car with no barriers?

1/10 Avoid
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Carol (2015)
3/10
Oddly Lifeless
22 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
For a film about the "love that dare not speak its name" it has a deadened, passionless air to it.

I never bought the love/emotion/desperation between Therese and Carol, played by Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett. From the first scene in the department store where Therese worked, I viewed Carol's interest as repulsively predatory and it would have been if the part of Carol was played by a middle aged man.

Down to the "erotic" scene in the hotel, which again was lifeless and uninspiring and well, boring, the whole film had a coldness to it, down to the limp dry hair of the main characters: wigs, I would guess.

Carol never comes across as a concerned mother, yes she grabs and hugs her kid a lot but does not engage in any meaningful way with her.

The cinematography was well done, the 50s scenes for the most part believable.

But for a film about passion and undying love, no, this didn't work for me.

3 out of 10.
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Please Like Me (2013–2016)
10/10
Quirky, funny and utterly sympathetic.
21 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
I would never have found this show only that my granddaughter recommended it, knowing I'd love it.

I can't say enough about it. It takes a while to get to know the main character, Josh, and to make sense of the title. And then about 3 episodes in, it all clicks into place and the emotional investment takes over along with the laughs. And there are many.

It's quite graphic at times, particularly when talking about sex but it all rings true. And grown-up compared with so much that comes out of the American and Canadian studios.

I loved all the characters, flawed and all and so many of the scenes are still resonating, Josh off on a wilderness tour with his mum, fireworks on the beach, John the dog, etc.

Wonderful, I binged. Of course. Highly recommend.
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Wakefield (2016)
5/10
A shame
16 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
A movie that drew me in, great internal dialogue, brilliant performance by Bryan Cranston, a believable plot - a guy cracks up and makes the ludicrous decision to live in his own garage's attic and spy on his family.

Wakefield is a devious character and not very likable but Cranston's riveting performance engages the viewer from the beginning until about 10 minutes from the end when the plot falls apart.

An impossible ending, contempt for the viewer writ large.

I give it a 5/10 for Cranston's stellar performance but what on earth were the writers thinking?
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1/10
Old professor and hot young student younger than his daughter
15 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
How many times have I seen this done before. Every old man's fantasy. Except this time he dies. And then tries to control her from beyond the grave.

The guy (played by Jeremy Irons dishabille, worn, ancient and boring) has been cheating on his wife for 6 years. He also manages to escape to his villa in Italy every year to spend acres of time with his young paramour.

The stock characters of boatman and Italian charlady are right out of central casting. Every secondary character in this movie works to keep his letters, emails, gifts and texts coming after he's dead.

That's basically the whole thrust of the film.

Also main character played by Olga Kurylenko is a complete narcissist. She abandons her mother, has her cellphone ringing in the theatre, at lectures, in solemn libraries, everywhere. She stalks his family who all come around to her way of looking at things (where's the betrayed wife?) i.e love of his life, even his youngest gets introduced to her.

Seriously, skip this, suspending disbelief gets exhausting after a while.
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Mr. Holmes (2015)
4/10
A dark sunset for Mr. Holmes
10 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
And oddly depressive film featuring the great Ian MacLennan and Laura Linney. Not forgetting the child actor, Milo. All doing their very best with a plot that is tedious with the added bonus of making old age, even for the brilliant Sherlock, a hideous business indeed.

Add to that two uninteresting and meandering flashbacks, the hook of Holmes's faltering memory not capturing the resolution to a case that haunts him (a glove, a letter) and it all adds up to quite a yawn.

The pointless emotional maneuvering of the 3rd act, really destroyed the whole film for me and then Sherlock on his knees in the meadow with stones for this dead ones, no this was not the Sherlock I adored all through those books and films.

4 out of 10, quite disappointing but the cinematography and sets were lovely.
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State of Play (2009)
3/10
Betraying the original BBC thriller.
2 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Why does Hollywood hire the best cast, crew and direction, use a perfectly good political plot borrowed from the UK and then proceed to pander it to unsuspecting viewers by dumbing it down completely.

The "script" in the US version is full of plot-holes that frustrated this viewer: once you know who the assassin is connected to (red herrings abound) it makes even less sense. The contrived affair between Afflecks' wife, played by Robin Wright, rang completely false. The original series had her as a scheming and vengeful spurned wife.

And the crusty disheveled old reporter buying the hot cub reporter a necklace of pens? Oh please. Helen Mirren walked on and off screaming Britishly as demanded.

No tensions whatsover, Justin Bateman as a sleazy PR guy shone.

Disappointing. But interesting to see the Washington Post inner workings.

3/10
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Inconceivable (2017)
1/10
I tried.....
1 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
But you couldn't pay me enough to watch this film to the bitter end. And yeah, bitter is the word I would use as a descriptor. Everything, sets, cast, script has an edge of bitterness as in look at us so swanky rich, or look at us pretend we're enjoying these rug rats or look at straight out of central casting snarky mother in law .

Basically the plot you've seen done better in other films of this ilk of evil woman killer and nice unsuspecting eventually gobsmacked family who survive, at an immediate gallop, knife wounds and messy caesarians.

This one is dressed up in an unbelievable multipel million dollars mansion, pool, all funded by one working doctor and the other one a nervous wreck with a plastic immobile face.

Nicolas Cage has moved far beyond his sell by date, he sleepwalks his way through this with a mouth full of marbled dialogue of some kind never sounding like any kind of doctor I've ever encountered. Anywhere.

I frankl didn't care what happened to the whole sodden bitter mess.

1 out of 10.
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La Mante (2017)
9/10
Gripping series, very well done.
31 December 2017
Warning: Spoilers
This series took me on a ride of plot twists and unexpected reveals. The acting, particularly by the amazing lead, Carole Bouquet along with Fred Testot, who plays her son, is riveting.

The only poor note was Pascal Demolon who played the police chief and who constantly looked both baffled and just off the streets needing a fix of some kind.

It's a shame also Netflix didn't see the need to supply an English sound track. The subtitles jumped around from the top to the bottom of the screen and some swathes of dialogue were missing from the subtitles.

The story was believable - a woman becoming a revenging angel from her own history of abuse and those of others she encounters along the way.

It is slow moving and many scenes were too graphic for this viewer. But the French and the British are top of the game when it comes to edge of yer seat crime thrillers.

Satisfying ending. I gave it a 9 out of 10.
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Wilson (I) (2017)
4/10
Unquirky and Unlovable
28 December 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Woody Harrelson as Wilson manages to make himself extraordinarily unlikable in this film. And since he's on screen 95% of the time, an essential component would be to engage the viewer with him emotionally. That didn't happen for me. There was no backstory apart from a father who might have been abusive. Wilson had unexplained funds at his disposal and a demeanor of obnoxiousness which was off putting, i.e. when engaging in a conversation with a helpful prostitute asks in an aside for a blowjob and then announces he has no wallet. Yes, I gather he was on the autism spectrum but he had no trouble picking up women and the scenes with his daughter did not ring true. 4 out of ten.
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7/10
Intriguing and realistic.
13 November 2017
I know a man exactly like the father, played by Dustin Hoffman. Completely narcissistic. Never have I seen narcissism captured so well on film.

The effects on his three adult children, played by a serious Adam Sandler (whom I normally find like chalk on a blackboard irritating), a tightly reined in Ben Stiller and a totally repressed brilliant performance by the forgotten sister, are riveting.

The only flawed performance was that of Emma Thompson who was uneven and jittery and even though classified as an alcoholic displayed none of the attributes.

Thoroughly enjoyable. And believable.

7/10
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The Dinner (I) (2017)
1/10
Ghastly
13 November 2017
I stuck it through to the end, mainly because the cast are so great. Normally. But nothing could save this film. The script and over-talking and intercutting made it all a jumbled mess.

There was no one to root for. And the ending? It's like it ran out of steam and subdural ideas and appalling dialogue.

A killing at the end might have saved it. But I was beyond caring.

Fisticuffs among bros, I've seen too much of that lately in more films and series than I can count.

Spare me.

1/10
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5/10
Most of the stars are for Season 1.
24 April 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I'm always sad when a promising series with intricate story lines and character development descend into farce/soap opera/pitiful scripts.

This series with a quite brilliant cast (with the exception of one) manages all three.

By Season 3 I thought I was watching a soap opera, a very bad one. Plot twists and turns had me suspending my disbelief button and I found I could not get engaged with any of this dreck. What the hell happened? Nicole Walker playing Gillian, Alan's daughter, started out being unlikeable and remained that way for this viewer. Her tics and eye-rolls, lip biting and overall dourness and lack of even basic humanity (Yeah, I get it might have been written that way) put this viewer off completely. Too dark with no light. She has been typecast badly as I've seen much of this same type of performance in other series she's been in.

Series 1, an 8/10, Series 2 was a 5/10, Series 3 1/10.
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The Blacklist (2013– )
1/10
It started out really well...
31 March 2017
Warning: Spoilers
And had me hooked on James Spader's performance. The only performance worth noting as the rest, including co-star Megan Boone, are wooden. Granted, the quality of the script leaves a huge amount to be desired. A lot of gunfight at the OK corral shoot-em-ups, and plot holes to sink a battleship.

You know it's awful when you realize that the main characters dodging all the bullets episode after episode leaves you pleading for them, once, to die already.

And the FBI director? He gives wooden an entirely new definition. He seems to report to the newbie, Elizabeth Keen, who keeps the name of the man who tried to kill her. And she's a profiler always out of the office without a bullet proof vest in the middle of blow 'em to kingdom come battle scenes. Because sexy.

I hate to see James wasted in such drivel. His performance is riveting. It would be downright amazing with a good script and less the endless shooting everywhere, all the time, forever and ever.
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1/10
Appalling dreck
22 February 2017
Warning: Spoilers
This was resurrected by Netflix and seriously, they should have left it undisturbed in its grave.

All performances were uneven and cringe-worthy. And how the stellar cast were talked into making this drivel should have been filmed as a documentary.

The script was abysmal and unrelentingly unbelievable.

And I haven't mentioned the "sex" scenes.

1/10
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Hitchcock (2012)
1/10
Sad
29 March 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Truly sad, this dreck of a movie with its all star cast of note just begging for a decent script and lacking, sadly, the real lowdown on the making of that marvellous movie, "Psycho".

Instead we get the puffery of an inflated soap opera with Alfred and Alma at odds with each other in their "love story" of his and hers jealousies.

No mention at all of the child they had together. And Alma's role is a complete distortion of the reality of her superb editing and script approval and his directorial genius. Instead we see her investing her time, chastely, with a losing hack writer. While Hitch impotently googley-eyes his leading ladies.

A bonus: an unbelievably cloying finale to this feast of clichés hammers the "whatever" point home. Dishonouring each of them equally.

A brilliant cast wasted, clumping wetly through this simplistic treatment of one of cinema's greats.

1/10. Avoid.
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Modern Family (2009– )
5/10
Great concept but jumping well over the shark by Series 4
31 December 2015
Warning: Spoilers
The first 3 series were well written, even witty, in spite of the awful shrieking performance of Sofia Vergara, an appalling stereotype of a Latina if ever there was one.

By series 5 it has hit the shark tank and crashed. The young boys (12, 13?) sexualized and misogynistic, rating girls by appearance only aided and abetted by all the adults around them and the young daughter (6?) evaluating young boys in her class through the same lens encouraged by every adult in her circle.

The awards astonish me. I can understand the first few but not the later ones.

I rated it 5 because of my enjoyment of a fresh new series at the beginning but it's well past its sell by date now and calcification has set in, it has lost any originality and wit and veers so far into slapstick and unreality that it can't even engender a tired smile. Offensive to just about everyone.

5/10
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Making a Murderer (2015– )
10/10
One of the best documentaries
29 December 2015
Warning: Spoilers
All of the components of excellent documentary film making come into play. The real life characters, the lawyers, the victims, the police, the investigators take the screen and the viewer by the throat and it is compulsive watching. The directors and producers never intrude, their voices are never heard.

The Avery family compound with its mobile homes, garages and acres of cars, vans and trucks in various stages of disrepair and disintegration is a character in itself. And surprisingly towards the end, the viewer is taken on a ride on a utility vehicle and shown an absolutely beautiful vegetable garden by a stream, all part of a hitherto unseen section of the property.

The conviction, subsequent release and fresh conviction of Steven Avery and his young nephew Brendan Dassey is a fiasco and travesty from beginning to end. Even when the prosecutor, several years later is charged with multiple sexual offences, there is barely an outcry. The incompetence and shoddiness and sloppiness of what passes for justice in Wisconsin is astounding. And disheartening. Everyone in it seems to be covering up for everyone else in the system.

I was incredibly moved by the story. It is addictively presented, filmed and told by its main characters. I was pulled in emotionally to what more could befall these unfortunates. And there is much more.

I am haunted by it. And despairing too.

A rare 10 out of 10 from me. And the Binge Watching Factor? 10/10
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River (2015)
8/10
Mixed Feelings on This One.
12 December 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Rave reviews from those I respect and I was prepared to love this and for the most part I did.

I had a few reservations. One being the totally inappropriate relationship between River and Rosa his shrink. He stalks her and she doesn't report him? He behaves violently in group therapy and ditto she doesn't report him? And they share an intimate, flirtations dinner at his apartment? She is a police psychiatrist and he is under orders to attend multiple sessions with her. She is a complete incompetent not to set boundaries with him and should lose her licence in the real world.

I enjoyed Stolan's performance, really believable and also Lesley Manville's as Chrissy, his boss.

The plot had quite a few holes and Episode 6 had me very frustrated at the big "Tell" which didn't seem to hold together at all. A shame.

I gave it an 8 out of 10 for daring to be different. But IRL this detective would and should be locked up.
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Prime Suspect (1991)
10/10
Worth Rewatching
21 November 2015
I let about 4-5 years go by before another session with Prime Suspect 1. And every single time it holds up for its plot, its originality, its underlying domestic upheavals and its politics.

Helen Mirren is brilliant. Frazzled. Stressed. And with genius lurking in those eyes. Dogged in her pursuit. Making it, way back then, in a completely male universe.

I've watched it 4 times now. And it engages me from beginning to end.

The supporting cast are outstanding. Watch for very young Ralph Fiennes cutting his acting teeth on a bit part.

Always a 10/10 from me.

Groundbreaking.
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