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O sabor das margaridas (2018)
Not bad for a Galician series, but not bright-line in European terms
Well, considering the fact that Galicia is no big/known spot for crime dramas, it is more than average, but the plot has gaps, the thrill fades from time to time, plus it is hardly plausible to believe that all those events can happen in a small town where people tend to be nosy and observant. All the performers were unknown to me - no wonder - but I was unable to pick almost any of them whose "fate" to be followed later; perhaps Denis Gómez as Bernabé had a more versatile character to perform...
But still, for the sake of widening horizons and making comparisons, O sabor das margaridas was definitely no waste of time; 7/10 reveal just my rating after various Scandinavian, British or even French series when it is almost painful to long for the new episode.
Above average, but somewhat protracted and over-sophisticated
Well, the benchmark is interesting, there is some suspense, but the group of suspects is often difficult to follow, as there are flashbacks to the past, to their youth (for some reason, performed by young adults). As for "major" performers, no one really stood out, Friederike Becht as Nadja Simon distinct, but as the story progresses, her thoughts and deeds become more airy-fairy. The perfume stuff adds rather vagueness than clarity and - at least for me - becomes a disconcerting element in the crime story.
The ending is rather odd and it seems that a lot was left open for the viewers´ interpretation - apparently catchy, but really not my cup of tea as regards a crime series. On the other hand, I can see why Parfum has been generally well accepted.
4 Blocks (2017)
Berlin inside out - with Germans outnumbered
I have visited Berlin several times - not too long, but still, walking around, seeing non-German inhabitants and tourists, but never reached the districts depicted in this Series and having only vague information on segregation and related problems (incl. no-go zones) in a Western society.
Well, as an outsider, I am unable to realise the full depth and reality of those characters and events (often you tend to forget that the Hamadys live in Germany), but due to smooth script, witty twists and good performances (all leading cast, I should stay) I followed the episodes with wide interest, both 2 seasons in a row, as a crime/gangster drama with immigrant main characters. Many chasing/fighting scenes are really catchy and distinct, but the mood is not totally depressive, there are several bright moments, attempts to move on from current situation, etc.
Can be juxtaposed with Dogs of Berlin - another meaty series on related topics.
Not so good as it may seem from e.g. Critics' year-end lists
/Refers to Season 1/
Being a middled-aged man, without a Facebook account and with a very few social network memberships, the issues/stuff depicted in You have gone around me, but, at the same time, providing rather realistic overview of Generation X, of their views, way of living and things important to them. Well, people still are longing for feelings and recognition, where technology can be both of assistance and hindrance, but at times - as we see in this Series - even fatal. And contrary to what many people believe, smartphones are not for "vanity fair" only - even people who read books (so "old-fashioned" in the 21th century?) need them from time to time, to live a "fancier" life, not being stuck in inner space or in some imaginary world.
The characters seem realistic, the performances more than average (some male ones even good, e.g. Penn Badgley as Joe Goldberg, Luca Padovan as Paco), but as for the script, the drawing power began to fade for me, with some eyebrows-raising scenes when I really started to question the US police´s acting and failure to acting; come on, the events take place in a big city, not in a distant sparsely-populated area! A certain private detective did not add convincingness too much either.
Well, I realize that I am not a member of the target group, so "only" 7 points from me. But you never know, I might even watch Season 2 when ready - as there is enough material for seguel.
More than okay political thriller, but not among Scandinavian´s best
As Norway is considered as one of the least corrupted countries in the world, crime rate is also low, so you see many scenes depicted in series like Mammon with certain limitations, they do not seem realistic in full... So some mystery is in place, but you have to concentrate on other elements still. The story goes with ups and downs, there are some catchy twists and turns, but when rounded up, you realise some loopholes or start to think: how come?
The performances are okay, with several famous Norwegian actors included, but, compared to other series, the main character performed by Jon Øigarden tended to be a bit arid... All in all, my apparent "mistake" was that I wachted it recently, not when it was first screened, as Norway has created several more interesting/versatile series after that.
Lady Bird (2017)
Distinct performances, but undistinguished story
In spite of the fact that a lot of important issues-motives-expressions are approached, the narration in total was not a wow! thing to me, particularly the events leading to the ending and the ending itself. The things those late teens thought and did are not contrasting to many others in other countries (when living in a small place and/or with religious background) and the mood of the depiction varied a lot, sometimes too much.
Yes, the performances are catchy, with several famous performers from different generations (e.g. Metcalf/Letts, Hedges/Chalamet), but apparently I expected more - based on some reviews, and accolades. Thus, "only" 7 points from me, and a recommendation - If interested in coming-of-age stories, you better watch Scandinavian works.
Really something in the modern "politically correct hush-hush world"
True, the events go back into the 1970ies, but the film is new, seems realistic, and both the characters and performances are really something. Apart from Villads Bøye as Martin, who is really wow!, the film features - even in tiny roles - many excellent Danish actors and actresses known internationally, e.g. Sidse Babett Knudsen, Pilou Asbæk, David Dencik... The main background of the events is sad, but the Danes living in a small town somehow cope with it in their own, sometimes crazy manner, with fresh sexual liberation whiff in and around their lives. In spite of cruel world and sometimes odd ideas, there is still warmness around, and life goes on with its different angles - all this giftedly directed and performed.
A good stuff, really. I can hardly imagine such a film made and screened e.g. in the USA...
Intense, but with trivial ending
Well, some (not me) might be suprised that even Sweden has class differences and people with very different wealth level... Anyway, the narration goes on and develops, but "the-rich-cry-too" attitude dominates too much, and I personally would like to guess wrongdoer(s) until very end; pondering "why" rather than "whether" can be intriguing, but no in the course of 6 episodes when you basically know the framework from the very beginning (good that I have not read the novel with the same name).
The characters are not too elaborate, there are a few distinct performances (David Dencik as Peder Sander and Reuben Sallmander as Claes Fagerman), but as regards Swedish crime series (which I have seen several dozens), I can´t say that Störst av allt made a big impression on me. I rate it with 7 points only for the reason that I do not belong to its common target group :)
Watchable - but not among BBC´s finest
Encompassing the elements of both the supernatural and thriller genres is a challenge not fully accomplished here. It is often "either-or" and their melting is not smooth, slowing down the pace and including unnecessary scenes and characters. The ending is also vague, leaving a certain emptiness and vacuity... The performances are just above average as well, nothing special, only Welsh landscape is a distinct "supporting actor" - at least for those been to and/or fond of the UK.
So, no flop by any means, but I know dozens of BBC series that are more dynamic and more interesting.
Moscow Noir (2018)
Another stylish thriller in the spirit of new Russia-West antagonism
In spite of hopes and wishes from the 1990ies, Russia has not "westernised", but has somewhat imported its approaches and modus operandi into relations and dealings with the West. In Moscow Noir, most events take place in Russia, with most performers of non-Russian origin, enabling to develop events and scenes with additional thrill and appropriate mood.
Adam Pålsson is good as usual (perhaps his character is somewhat less interesting than in Innan vi dör), and he has many pleasant co-actors to side with him, enabling to wend his way through cruelty, greed and betrayal. True, this Series includes again some talks in horrible Russian and I figured the main wrongdoer out a bit too early, but as for entirety, the 8 episodes were pleasant to follow and are recommended to those not against of political elements in a thriller.
Partly to be juxtaposed with the BBC´s McMafia.
Mostly catchy, but different storylines not smoothly integrated
/refers to Seasons 1-3/
IT has fully occupied everybody´s life, but most of us are not interested in their development and background mechanisms. So you have to find other ways and angles to make this stuff "digestible" for wide audience. Alas, as usual, the creators have found that inclusion of all races-backgrounds-genders-sexual orientations is a good way... It may be as for viewer statistics, but in real it enhances the number of questionable scenes and impairs the logic of events. So the focus becomes more vague, some elements obtain lesser meaning, and there are events made just for "thrill". And - bearing in mind the location of Miami and the US role in combatting terrorism - the role of law enforcement is oddly inivisible and weak.
The characters and performances are not on the same page as well. It was apparently meant to depict the different members of a team in an integrated manner, but some characters obtain far more screen-time, hence the related disharmony. Edi Gathegi as Ronald and Martin Freeman as Phil Rask are the ones excelling here, plus there is some other supporting cast excelling the main one. Ron Perlman´s character was evidently included because of his producer funds.
So, all in all, not a bad series, but not among the finest ones. As for somewhat related topic, Mr. Robot is more holistic and less airy-fairy.
A creation of mediocre script, odd characters, yet good performances
Particulary this decade has produced a number of distinct Estonian films, but almost all of them are based on some good book or compilation, not on a self-written stuff about "complex" human relations. Nevertheless, Portugal has followed the latter, resulting with a slow and sometimes baffling story full of what-if reasoning. All major performers are well-known in Estonia, fulfill their tasks well, but I am not sure it is noticed by foreign viewers. This film was shown on a local TV-channel and apparently was seen by tens of thousands, but I wonder why and who should go to the cinema to see this.
Yeah, the wealthier cry too, but everyones knows that; long silent scenes do not necessarily add profundity, but often blah! feelings, etc. I was hoping the era of such Estonian films is over.
Disko ja tuumasõda (2009)
An inside-out, yet realistic recognition of Soviet absurdity
I am sure that for many Westerners the events depicted may seem exaggerated and/or gloomy, but, in fact, so it was. I was young then, but I do still remember, all these broadcasts, transcripts and fuzz around Finnish TV... Due to the latter, escaping "Socialism" was faster and less painful for Estonians, and Finland has been a kind of example or pattern (before WWII, economic levels of Estonia and Finland were comparable).
The presentation is witty, with several interviews and old clips that are not too long and profound. So, the ones fond of delving into would probably find it superficial, but it is a kind of compilation of an era, and otherwise those not familiar with these events would have blah! and wtf! feelings too soon.
Well captured environment due to authentic filming places and non-British performers
As British crime drama television series are to my liking, I tend to keep track of all new creations and watch them, if applicable. But as for ties with Russia, I am usually faltering, as Western understanding of people and circumstances tend to end with the 1990ies, when moving from pseudosocialism to raw capitalism was really "wild". In McMafia, we see all this a bit as well, but not in a tedious manner, and the inclusion of (Soviet) Russian actors irons out the deficiencies of the generally meaty script.
As for performances, male ones are stronger, particularly foreigners and those less appearing on screen: David Dencik as Boris Godman, Aleksey Serebryakov as Dimitri Godman, Karel Roden as Karel Benes, for example, whose dialogues with e.g. Alex Norton outshine the latter (James Norton). As for Norton, I have ambiguent opinions here: I liked in Happy Valley, but not too much in Grantchester. In this Series, his character is evidently less interesting and dynamic, so some of his transformations may seem questionable.
PS The title is a bit confusing as one might incline to think that at least someone-something is related to Scotland.
Deutschland 86 (2018)
Somewhat less interesting than 83, but still good
Apparently the script is still realistic and versatile (I have seen a documentary depicting GDR´s suspicious affairs in the theatre of global politics), but as all this is commonly less known and places of action are so far from one another, all this seems more arid and not so smooth.
The performances are still strong, with some additional cast excelling (e.g. Lavinia Wilson), and the hypocricy and absurdity of this society are yet clearly visible. Plus the staging work, background (incl. opening theme) -- all this stylish again.
PS I have read that Deutschland 89 is under way - looking forward to it.
Conspiracy of Silence (2018)
Good, but not among the finest Swedish crime series
Sweden has always been a big producer and exporter of weapons, and with modern times and approaches, it is natural that there are many people opposing it or at leasy trying to find attenuating circumstances. All this is the leitmotif in Ingen utan skuld - sometime "outworked", but at times just preachy.
In spite of pleasant actors present, the characters are often arid (except one - see below) and try to develop a story with distant/cruel past and "painful" present; so the events are not always smooth and there are some excessive scenes and characters. The role of the police is oddly limited, enabling to depict the events hardly plausible in a modern and transparent society Sweden is. So, bearing in mind many other Swedish series (e.g. Innan vi dör, Springfloden), I can consider the series in question above average, but not too catchy.
PS At least one grade from me due to Krister Henriksson as Martin "Marianne" Lindhe; his character and performance is so different I used to know. Definitely the greatest actor in this series.
More than good "what-if" series
For me, it is the first series to watch dealing with events springing from the preservation of the Soviet bloc - I know some series-films dealing with the fictional results of WWII... And as a contemporary and still remembering how-what was it living under a so-called socialism, I could follow the events in "1983" with seemingly bigger understanding and those always living in a democratic country.
Yet, it is intriguing to combine oppression and spying with smartphones widespread among the population, and some other things related to technology, that is why the script includes some odd shifts and solutions. But as the performances are good (particularly the main male ones), the general story adds up, the mood is well captured and the country of origin is Poland (not some wealthy and known film-industy country), I can easily rate it with 8 points and recommend to all them fond of related topic.
Dogs of Berlin (2018)
Berlin inside out - beyond the spectre of tourists and "decent" inhabitants
I have visited Berlin several times, have read about its history and present day, including Muslim immigrants, but still - this series depicts a parallel realm, issues often directly associated with erroneous decisions in the past. Lots of segregation, exercise of power, wrong understanding of sense of community - and you find yourself in the middle of problems as shown in Dogs of Berlin.
For an outsider like me, everything seems realistic, including the characters, performances, environment, and the overall uneasiness is dominant throughout the season. The script included some nice twists, mainly related to the cop Grimmer; as for the cast, Fahri Yardim and Katrin Sass were more memorable, but, as mentioned above, they all did their good, yet difficult job.
Thus, another good German series, recommended to all them willing to know all faces of Berlin - one can easily do it via TV, visiting those places by yourself is often not a good idea...
Surprisingly meaty and catchy series with comic elements
I have never visited Romania, have no acquaintances there, probably have seen a couple of Romanian films, but definitely no Romanian TV-series... And now this - wow! Umbre did not captivate me from the very first minutes, but then it started working on me: its characters, performances, scenes, intertwining of people and events...
Some stuff may seem bizarre, but bearing in mind their standard of living, corruption index and problems with the EU, I am sure most things are not exaggerated. There are lots of lines, glimpses, sights, occasions, etc. that are essentially tragic, but you find yourself giggling, and all the cast is just something... bold and assiduous, even minors, and the reactions of the characters to surprising outcomes are worth recording.
So, if you like something original and different, including raw scenes, then Umbre is definitely for you!
A catchy and versatile U.S series - recently not too widespread
Me being a fan of crime dramas, tend to prefer British and Scandinavian ones - the U.S. ones are often airy-fairy, with moral lecturing / political correctness / country´s hegemony poorly hidden. Absentia is a pleasant exception, the thrill is there until the end, even if the benchmark (someone with memory loss) is not too novel. True, some scenes are perhaps not so plausible due to modern technology and the main cast was rather unknown to me, but several twists and turns plus that I did not figure out the wrongdoer let me easily rate this series with 8 points.
La forêt (2017)
Another meaty creation in the line of one-word series
This decade has brought along dozens of catchy crime drama series in French, often with short title, e.g. Les Temoins, Le Chalet, La Mante, La trêve, etc., and often resembling Scandinavian thrillers in their own, pleasant French manner. There is no fancy Paris or big city life, but mostly nature, small villages or townships, "small" people with "big" issues...
La forêt is another fine example, with realistic events, thrill, interesting characters, good performances; perhaps some scenes were excessive and/or over-mystified, but as I did not figure out the wrongdoer and all things were explained daintily, it is definitely a 8/10 series at least, excelling most of related U.S. series. Vis-à-vis many reviewers here, I had nothing against the final episode´s structure, not following the usual path of solutions around the wrongdoer´s capture.
Entertaining, but with some wishful thinking and plot holes
Global terrorism and mass killings in bigger Western cities have alas become annual reality, so topical films and series may excite additional interest, they are less "sci-fi" than decades ago. On the other hand, technology and surveillance skills have developed, so it is harder to create additional thrill or twists by using wow!-findings or ideas later - they seem fictitious, airy-fairy...
The latter is at times present in Greyzone as well, particularly for them who are eager viewers of (Scandinavian) crime dramas - like me. I am neither agent nor policeman, but methods used / using a scientist in such operations seem rather questionable. True, when setting this aside, the script goes on smoothly, the characters/performances (particularly Birgitte Hjort Sørensen and Tova Magnusson) are pleasant, and the inclusion of different nations/languages provides additional value. But still, having seen dozens of similar series, I find Gråzon far above average, but not conceptual, and viewers outside Northern Europe may find it even less valuable.
Jack Ryan (2018)
Catchy and dynamic, but still identifiably U.S. series with its strengths and weaknesses
/refers to Season 1/
I am not a continuous follower of Tom Clancy´s works, but I have come across them occasionally (both books and movies) and found them okay at least - if not more. Clancy is undoubtedly a good writer, but as there are many other works by other authors on related topics (terrorism, intelligence, radicalization, etc.), there is less and less time to pick and see what´s worth.
But this 1st TV series caught my attention and I must say I am content. John Krasinski as Jack Ryan is pleasant and convincing (perhaps less "rude" than his predecessors), Ali Suliman portrays Mousa Bin Suleiman in a versatile manner... Females tend to be sketchy, but, well - in this field and era it is apparently natural. There are some cliches, anticipated scenes and solutions, political correctness, etc., but good cast and smooth script have let me watch it without blah! feelings. Some nice twists are included and the ending paved the way for Season 2 which I intend to watch as well.
Thus, 8 points from me and recommendation to see - if you like those topics.
Not bad, but a bit over-sophisticated script
Well, prison dramas are not novel, but they tend to focus on all "leading" prisoners in a rather equal manner, but here - it should be Linda´s story, but then other prisoner become involved more and more, at times overshadowing Linda and her issues. The origin of Linda´s deed can be alas guessed too soon as well.
The cast is strong and versatile though, with performers often seen in other Icelandic series, and the ending is catchy, but I have to say I liked e.g. Ófærð and Réttur more.
Rig 45 (2018)
Some dubious elements, with thrill well maintained
Bad things happening in closed community/surroundings are always catchy to follow, but it is more and more difficult in 21st century to create a plausible excuse for total reclusion and long delay of help - due to modern technology. Still, if the script and performances are well planned and accomplished - if you do not guess the wrongdoer and so-called good characters and more famous actors "disappear" long before the ending - I can value it already...
True, with the "vanishing" of characters, some scenes became too long and the pace declined together with thrill and uneasiness, but the British-style ending, rather unexpected (yet probably unrealistic) let me easily rate this Series with 8 points.