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Refreshingly different
24 August 2019
This is well worth watching to see some very good actors playing against type and flexing acting muscles all too sadly wasted in many of their other films.
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The 60s in Hollywood as it probably was
17 August 2019
I enjoyed this film. It seems to me to show the seemier underbelly of Hollywood and the 60s. The glamour and counterculture emerge as fragile and coercive/opportunistic. The two parallel arcs of Dalton's career and Tate's are nicely contrasted. Di Caprio is the star of the show witha flawless acting performance. He is however almost upstaged by the young actress who plays the 8 year old Mirabelle! The star turns are also very good playing Sam Wannamker and Steve McQueen. My only problem with it is that I think it is way too long and needs tighter editing. Well worth seeing though.
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Doctor Who: Demons of the Punjab (2018)
Season 11, Episode 6
At last some depth
11 November 2018
This is the episode I've enojyed most so far. Perhaps it's no coincidence it wasn't written by Chris Chibnall who has been a sore disappointment. This had a story of relevance to one of the companions. It had interesting aliens. It also had good and affective acting, with a strong moral that didn't feel too forced. It showed the inhumanity of man and the humanity of aliens. This new version of the francise still has some way to go, and needs stronger stories - and stronger aliens. But I feel this episode is a step in the right direction.
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Sherlock: The Final Problem (2017)
Season 4, Episode 3
Wow! Intense, moving, amazing.
15 January 2017
What can I say? How do you review perfection? In some ways this is a tried and tested format, the group in a puzzle, being tested by a mad puppeteer. But this was so much deeper than anything in that genre. This was complex and dark, and took us to the soul of Holmes (both of them) and Watson. You can't look away from the screen for a second. You have to weigh every word. And in the end, what we have is a triumphant poem extolling the values of love and feeling over logic and reason. Gatiss and Moffat may well be the finest writing team in the history of the English language. They understand psychology and how to manipulate characters, while staying true to what makes each character tick. As a bonus we get a last appearance by Moriarty and by Mary. I thought the previous episode was good. This was even better. A good story is more than just a chain of causal events or puzzles to be solved. The best involve character and psychology. This isn't a "who did what" or a "how did he/she do that". This a "why did they do this". TV just does not get better than this.
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A Good Year (2006)
Romantic comedy delivers life lessons
2 June 2016
I never tire of watching this film. It always makes me smile. The chemistry between all the characters is great. The comedy is well handled, and does not get in the way of the romance. Crowe shows just what a good actor he is, with nuance and subtlety. He is possibly a better light comedian that he is a dramatic actor.

The film has a moral - an attack on selfishness and greed. Even a bad man can seduced back to the good side.

Cotillard shows how a woman can overcome hurt and suspicion, and learn to relax. Sometimes being loved is harder than loving.

My only gripe - we need more Albert Finney! In many ways he is the heart of the film and only appears in flashback.

Another gripe! I don't really like wine.
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Is this Finlay Currie's finest hour?
11 January 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Finlay Currie plays with great intensity and subtlety a old man reaching the end of is life as useful worker and family patriarch. His nervous breakdown is superb to behold. Modern actors could learn a lot about how to put feeling into lines by watching him. He can convey weariness with every bone in his body.

The rest of the film represents a vanished, old-fashioned and very sexist age. Yes, it does have a 1930s feel to it but the 1950s was still not yet the modern age we think. This film is probably truer to life in some ways than many other films of the period. The direction is good - lovely use of light and shadow, also understated but effective angles and movement of the camera.

The relationship with his grandson is deftly handled, the only thing can break through his exterior. Not saccharine but realistic.

The ending of course is a happy one, but not necessarily the expected one.

Seek this one out. It will surprise you!
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Doctor Who: Heaven Sent (2015)
Season 9, Episode 11
Capaldi at his very best
28 November 2015
That may well be one of the best Dr Who episodes I have ever seen. Just the Doctor trapped in one location, no other people, and taken to an extreme. We learn more about the Doctor. We learn about the lengths he will go to. The thinking behind this episode is breathtaking.Peter Capaldi dominates the screen. His intensity is frightening. I don't want to say more without giving the plot away. The design is also stunning. A medieval feel with endless corridors and floors on the tower that move. An impression of great height and also great claustrophobia. Not a lot happens and yet I could watch this episode again and again At last something written for Capaldi that gives him something to really sink his teeth into.
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Callan (1967–1972)
A great character led drama series
2 July 2015
I as addicted to this series when it was first shown. Seeing it again in recent years confirmed to me just how good it was. Far better than most modern fare.

Callan was a reluctant killer who somehow always ended up doing what he knew was right but also what was morally grubby. The other characters were all superb and strongly drawn in their own right. Hunter, the leader of the section, Lonely the criminal low life friend, Toby the upper class psychotic who ends up his friend. The only drawback is the lack of strong women characters, apart from a few occasional guests.

This was a spy drama that made you think, that made you question your own side.

Modern writers could well learn from this series.
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The Stallion (1972 TV Movie)
A masterpiece of storytelling
7 March 2015
I saw this on TV in 1972, the only time it was broadcast. If this is indeed lost in the archives then the BBC should hang its head in shame. The story is told mostly without dialogue and is an intense visual and emotional journey. The man hunts the stallion, succeeds in taming it and riding it - and realises he has quenched a free spirit and lost his soul in the process. He lets the stallion go free. A simple story but beautifully shot and played by Peter Arne. The film mesmerised me at the time and I have seen very little to match it since. The use of Sibelius's 3rd symphony as the background music is ideal and makes the latter part of the film a great example of what the British film director Michael Powell called a 'composed film'. This truly is a haunting masterpiece that lingers long in the mind after it has finished. Come on BBC! Find it and let us see it again.
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