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After Life (2019– )
A beautiful, lovely show
14 March 2019
Ricky Gervais manages somehow to blend the humor of a British Curb Your Enthusiasm with the humanity of a modern version of Dickens' Christmas Carol.

If you don't believe me, check it out... it's truly brilliant.
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Paddleton (2019)
Good, but should have been better
3 March 2019
I'd like to preface my review by saying that I love this type of movie. Low key human drama that reminds me of the independent films of the nineties as well as being somewhat of a road trip film which I also enjoy. I also thought Ray Romano and Mark Duplass performed their roles very well. However, I thought the quirky tropes were nothing that I hadn't seen before and although I suppose it did a nice job of portraying a friendship, in the awkward Big Lebowski bowling night like routine way they'd bond over watching the same movie, eating pizza, and playing Paddleton... they always felt more like Donnie rather than the Dude or Walter for me. Which works for the comic moments but maybe less so for the tragic ones. They just needed to flesh these two out a little more. Still a good movie that was well acted though.
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PEN15 (2019– )
Brilliantly funny
2 March 2019
The way I keep giving out 10 ratings, anyone who read my history would think I don't have very high standards, but Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle have come up with something both hilarious and touching. Maya reminds me of a younger, hapa version of Kristen Wiig and Anna is such a lovable goof. Absolutely fearless cringe comedy at its finest!

Couldn't believe they were thirty year olds playing pretty convincing seventh graders, although for the next season they might want to fast forward to the high school years so they don't have to do so much creative editing to avoid the awkwardness of thirty year old women kissing children.

Excellent find, Hulu... hope you renew this one.
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Wayne (2019– )
Worth a ten for the main characters.
17 February 2019
As a fifty year old who grew up watching John Hughes films... I'm a sucker for teen movies... though as the years go by, it feels more embarrassing to watch them. But since I also watch shows like the Kominsky Method, I figure that it all evens out in the end. A good show is a good show, no matter what the age.

Wayne is more in the vein of an early Tarantino script like Natural Born Killers or True Romance... two misfit losers who find themselves in spite of a world that seems to conspire against them. The nice thing about Wayne though is that both he and Del are good hearted kids at the core. Wayne is an unlikely vigilante, small in stature but who makes up for it in bravery and has a superhero's impervious pain threshold. And Del(iliah) is every bit his equal.

The side characters are mostly annoying and a waste of time... Originally, I was going to dock it a few points for spending too much time with their stories, but the central relationship was so well done that I gave it a ten anyway.

Maybe if it gets a second season, they will fix the supporting cast... the actors were good but other than the lesbian couple and one other person who I won't mention because of spoilers, I felt Del's family, the principal, and the police weren't written as well as the main couple and they spent way too much time doing the same annoying crap.

Still... all in all... terrific show. Can't wait for season 2
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Like Warhol blended with Claude Chabrol
14 February 2019
If you don't get the reference then this film is not for you. It reminded me of La ceremonie combined with films like Warhol's Bad, a comic horror film about bougie, pretentious art dealers who have completely lost the plot.
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Russian Doll (2019– )
Brilliant, must see television
4 February 2019
I'm counting on Russian Doll and The Good Place to unravel the meaning of life before either the environment or nuclear holocaust send us into oblivion or some thoughtless studio executive replaces either with Albania's Got Talent: The Runners Ups.

Truly mind blowing and thoughtful script writing with some really nice emotional moments thrown into its Christmas Carol/It's a Wonderful Life blended with Groundhog Day and Memento like story structure.
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Polar (2019)
Vanessa Hudgens is the weak link
31 January 2019
As someone who grew up watching the great nineties action films by Tarantino, Besson, Natural Born Killers by Stone, this felt like an updated throwback with perhaps some influence from the Crank films.

No this isn't great art, but it was very entertaining and I'm amazed at how terrible the metacritic score because it deserves much better than that.

Mads Mikkelsen was terrific as always and I couldn't help but think of how much better this film might be if Natalie Portman was playing Vanessa Hudgens' role. Hudgens wasn't bad, she seems to slowly be growing as an actress but she just didn't have the requisite charisma to match Mikkelsen's assassin who was reminiscent of Jean Reno in The Professional. Part of this was the fault of the script, but I wish her role lived up to his.

At any rate, ignore the critical reviews if you like that era and genre. If you are offended by comic book violence or any of the films I mentioned, then I'd steer clear of this one.

Make a sequel Netflix!
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Roswell, New Mexico (2019– )
Doesn't deserve a ten... but I wanted to balance some who are voting with an agenda
27 January 2019
I watched this show because I have been a fan of Jeanine Mason since she won SYTYCD several years ago. It's not the greatest show, but I think she does a good job carrying her first lead role and they do a decent job pulling off the fantasy romance genre.

I'm a liberal and I agree that the politics are a little bit too in your face (think they would have been better off with a more subtle, nuanced approach) However, if you take away that aspect, I'm glad at least they are trying to address some important issues rather than having a show completely divorced from current events.

It's better than Twilight so far... and has potential to improve so what I would do is I'd ignore the 10 ratings and the 1 ratings... and look at the scores in between to get a better idea of what the score should really be.
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Won't rate it because I'm not the target audience
19 January 2019
Made a resolution to watch the new shows with high ratings, so I caught up with this on Netflix. I've heard her music off and on over the years, nothing special imo, some nice songs but I wanted to witness the cultural phenomenon that is Taylor Swift. Impressions? Very beautiful face, nice normal figure that's healthy not stick thin, gorgeous sets, average music. She has the personality of a very charming politician. It's not like she's disingenuous, it's just very polished and likeable and she always says the right thing. Probably a fascinating study on how to raise one's Q rating with the general public.

As a 50 year old, I wondered whether I was being biased because I grew up in a different era so do I think the songs in the sixties, seventies, eighties were more profound because I grew up with them? Or are they actually better?

Until she comes out with her version of the White album, I'm going to have to go with the older stuff is better. But she seems like a sweet woman, and she makes people happy, so that's probably the most important thing in the grand scheme of things.
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The Last Laugh (I) (2019)
Disappointing with some nice moments
18 January 2019
I thought it started out okay, nothing special but a typical Going in Style, Sunshine Boys, Grumpy Old Men type story about old people coping with the adjustment to their retirement years. And it worked fairly well as a buddy picture, road trip movie about keeping dreams and hope alive no matter what one's age was. However then it decided to try to shoehorn in a love story, a few musical numbers, as well as predictable dramatic plot line and ended up a muddled mess.

Richard Dreyfuss as others have mentioned, did very well as the comedian who gave up his career for his family... I thought the roles might be reversed as Chevy had more experience doing live comedy but instead he tried to rehash a version of his uptight Clark Griswold persona playing his agent and Andie McDowell was wasted as the love interest.

So bottom line, if you're looking for the next Kominsky Method or Grace and Frankie... you are probably better off moving on to the next on your queue.
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Watership Down (2018– )
Decent animation series, though nothing outstanding
17 January 2019
I haven't read the book, so I'm not sure if they got it right, but as someone watching the mini-series without any previous background, I thought it was well done. I'd recommend watching with subtitles because as others have said, the rabbits look similar and if you see the names written with the dialogue, the story and characters are easier to follow. The animation is pretty and it creates a nice world with its production design.

It's dark and probably heavy for young children, but I think the message is important so it's worth watching for that.
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Sex Education (2019– )
An updated version of a John Hughes film done as a British TV series
17 January 2019
At first I was thinking, okay this is pretty good... reminds me of all the teen comedies I grew up watching in the eighties, but as it went on they fleshed out some of the characters who began as basic tropes and caricatures and I ended up really liking it by the end.

It's the equivalent of watching four solid John Hughes movies with a little Judd Apatow Freaks and Geeks feel as well. Much more enlightened than a Hughes script yet still irreverent and fun.

Can't wait for season 2... well done everyone!
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Good insight into the psyche of an English football fan
7 January 2019
As an American who has watched the premiership faithfully since NBC bought the rights 5 or 6 years ago, I probably know more than my average countryman about English football, but I've never noticed Sunderland beyond an automatic win for the Top 6 teams... the virtual equivalent of the Washington Generals playing against the Harlem Globetrotters (other than these games are on the level, not for entertainment only)

What this series does well, is to show the struggle of a relegation level team, the difficulties of competing against teams with the resources of oil barons, and the cultural importance that the football teams have for smaller communities, one man compares it to a church for everyone in the city. The passion of the fans is unsurpassed, and the only thing one might compare it to in America is the dedication of Cubs and Red Sox fans before they finally won their first series.

My main complaint is that the games were really poorly presented. You wonder if they could have got a Match of the Day producer to help edit them in a more coherent way. I get that time must have been a concern but still the action was well shot, but almost impossible to follow other than the goals.

Also, it felt like it was missing key interviews from some of the players... although it could be that many chose not to participate.

All in all, well worth watching and it might make want to watch some of those NBC games when they come on.
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Tidelands (2018– )
I'm being generous giving this a 5
4 January 2019
Beautiful Australian land and seascapes, gorgeous women, handsome men... an interesting premise. The show really shines in the beginning when it plays more like an Animal Kingdom type of crime drama. However, when it shifts to focus on the fantasy elements, the story and some of the acting becomes cringeworthy at times. The better actors tend to be the supporting characters. The lead is okay, but when forced to play against the weaker actors, her own limitations are more exposed.

I might watch next season to see what happens... but it's a bad sign when I'm struggling to finish rather than staying up all night trying to see what happens.
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The Final Table (2018– )
The contestants make the show
30 December 2018
The food photography is beautiful, the chefs they bring to judge the finals all come from diverse and interesting backgrounds, but I'm not sure bringing celebrity critics was necessary even though some were quite articulate.

However, the biggest problem for me is the host, who seems like a nice enough, affable guy, but would fit better hosting in a Ryan Seacrest/Carson Daly type show.

Also I don't get saddling chefs with sometimes almost random pairings. It's like the Amazing Race but I think who did well often depended on the pre existing relationship. Some were close, some were less so...but they should either have chefs bring their sous chefs or cook by themselves.

The strong point however, were the contestants themselves. Such a likeable group, it made see past the sometimes cheesy set that was better suited for a singing competition than a cooking one.

Their passion for food was infectious and for that reason I give it a fairly good rating.
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The Innocent Man (2018– )
Content is a 10, but the execution is more like a 6 or 7
27 December 2018
I enjoy True Crime stories, probably more than I should and I also like tales about overcoming injustice.

So this show based on John Grisham's only non fiction work, was right in my wheel house.

The problem with the series is there is a lot of filler and even repeating some of the same points, so although I found it a fascinating subject, I also felt like they could have told this in about three episodes.

Therefore, overall, I'd give this show 8 stars because it presents many important points that we should understand about our justice system, it took a little too long to get to the point.

A lot of interesting characters though, and definitely worth the watch.
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1983 (2018– )
If you stick with it, it will be worth it
25 December 2018
I haven't seen much Polish cinema... I've watched Polanski's American films and then some he made as an expatriate in France. And I admired Kieslowski's films though again I saw mostly his French films and parts of the Decalogue.

So, it was a treat to watch this mini journey through Warsaw and a little of the Polish countryside reimagined as a parallel universe.

The shots of the architecture, landscapes, and cityscapes are beautiful. I agree that if you watch it on a low resolution tablet or laptop that it might look too dark, but if you watch it on a big screen you will find the cinematography to be stunning. It reminded me a little of Kieslowski, the way the dp would make even driving through a tunnel or walking through a train station an aesthetically pleasing experience.

This isn't an easy series to watch, and I would mostly recommend it to art house fans more than mainstream tv watchers who just want to relax and enjoy a 24 style thriller. It flashes back and forth through time... none of the actors are known to an American audience so it's very difficult to keep track.

However, if you stick with the show, I think it pays off for the most part and has some interesting thoughts on bleak, brutal, and subjective nature of history. In a way, it reminded me of Memento... if you consider the protagonist a country rather than a person.
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Nightflyers (2018)
Starts out promising...
23 December 2018
I haven't read George RR Martin's novella, but I'm guessing on paper this was a much better project. The ideas were intriguing, the idea of making first contact with a being with potentially superior technology, using characters who had either evolved superior capabilities or had them artificially enhanced with technology.

The problem is that they didn't bother to make any of these characters particularly relatable or likeable. The lead scientist, Karl is obsessed with achieving his mission directive... Agatha played by Gretchen Mol is concerned with the welfare of her charge... Rowan the xenobiologist also cares about his own needs beyond anything else.

Perhaps this is fitting considering how technology has isolated us as a society, but utterly depressing to watch.
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Dumplin' (2018)
Well meaning but poorly done
20 December 2018
I like Dolly Parton music, I liked Muriel's Wedding (Ugly Duckling story) I liked Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (Drag Queen story) I like Jennifer Aniston. I don't like this film. I don't think they made the main character likeable enough, her chubby friend Millicent was way more charismatic. It's one thing if you make the lead big, but then you need to write her in a more charming, sympathetic way if you have a young handsome guy throwing himself at her. She was just boring and depressing, and it made little sense why Bo at the diner would go out of his way to pursue her. Jennifer Aniston was more likeable and she was the villain. The actors were fine, but the script just wasn't good enough. It contained all of the above listed elements, but they weren't brought together in a believable, coherent manner.
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Baby (2018– )
Superficial trash
19 December 2018
The two leads were attractive and the acting wasn't bad, but the characters written in such a shallow way, that I couldn't stand them by the end.

I could at least relate to Camilla or Fabio, but the stories of Chiara and Ludovica and their love interests were less interesting than most adult film plotlines.

And Niccolo? what kind of random, half baked plotline was that?

I honestly don't get the appeal of this show.

I've loved Italian cinema for the most part... but this was very disappointing
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Dogs of Berlin (2018– )
Deserves better than a 6.9
19 December 2018
I gave it 9 stars, although it probably deserves more like 8, but I felt that I had to do my part to upgrade the rating a little.

Some parts of the story are absolutely ridiculous and farfetched, the computer generated scenes of the football matches were some of the worst I've seen in recent memory, however I was entertained the entire series and I definitely want to see the second season.

The two leads were both terrific and elevated the show beyond trashy camp. It feels a little bit like watching the over the top and absurd Boondock Saints at times crossed with a really good English serial... however the portrayal of the central characters somehow lend credibility to the proceedings even when the plot veers way off the rails.

As an American it's hard to tell where this series stands in comparison to other German television shows, and it's difficult to judge what aspects of Berlin life and culture even remotely resembled reality. I did find it fascinating, however and it made me want to try other German series.
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