The Girl in the Spider’s Web has no bite

In Uncategorized on November 16, 2018 at 23:04



The Girl in the Spider Web is a mess. The plot is cockamamie. There are few logical connections between the scenes. How Lisbeth Salander gets from one discovery to another makes little sense. Actress Claire Foy has no chance with this script to shine. Fewer plot elements and more insight into her process of detection could have saved this film. What we are left with is a series well constructed set pieces with some decent action and no reason to care. 

It looked good. And that’s the best thing about it. This is another case where a limited series would have been better. And let me emphasize limited. One problem with the trend of TV series is creators don’t know when enough it enough. We don’t need another season of Narcos, though it might be good. We don’t have to watch more Alienist with the next book being adapted from the lessor work, Angel of Darkness. Sometimes, one season is enough. It worked to perfection with The Terror and could have worked with The Girl in the Spider Web.  

Worse, they violated Tex Shelters’ character rule number #1: Don’t have supposedly smart characters do stupid things, especially if the action is against their character. In one scene, Salander disables a car to rescue a genius child. She takes her gun and grabs the boy from the back of the criminals’ car. Take a second to try to figure out what the ruthless Salander does wrong…

She leaves the killers alive! At that point, I called bullshit and started hating the film. Double-tap the killers right away, or give an actual reason she doesn’t kill them. She has no moral code against killing (at this point in the film or books), especially not other killers. Perhaps the assassins wake up and shoot at her, or a helicopter comes over the bridge after her. But don’t leave the killers alive. If she had killed them, it wouldn’t have altered main plot at all. Why the writer and director left in such an obvious mistake is beyond me. 

The criminals aren’t that clever either, but at least Salander tricks them and gets away, and it’s not just their sheer stupidity that keeps her alive. 

One of the worst choices the writer and director make is turning Lisbeth from a local avenger to an international spy. I guess everyone is out to rescue the world: Avengers, James Bond, Agents of SHEILD, Guardians of the Galaxy, but it doesn’t work for this character who is much better on a small scale doling out personal justice. 

If you’re not worried about a cogent plot, elements that don’t add up, confusing action, then The Girl in the Spider Web is for you. 

Rating: Rent/Stream it. It’s cool enough to see what they did with a Hollywood version of the book. But instead, see the much better Girl with the Dragon Tattoo or the Swedish versions of the same films. 

Tex Shelters


Bohemian Rhapsody: Mercury Rising

In Uncategorized on November 9, 2018 at 17:26


From: https://themoviemylife.files.wordpress.com

Bohemian Rhapsody (BR) starts with Freddy Mercury leaving his family home as a young man to go to see a favorite band, Smile. He meets the members of the band, including guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor. They just happen to have lost their singer and Mercury convinces May and Taylor to take him on. 

The film jumps to Queen as recording artists. Suddenly, they are on Top of the Pops singing ‘Killer Queen’. A lot of their early career is left out, and that mainly works.  And while there are some unnecessary fabrications of Queen’s history in the film, most of the changes are innocuous and don’t damage the plot. See the set list for the film here

The biopic mainly focuses on Freddy Mercury, but there is enough of the band to satisfy most Queen fans. The film did well  picking out the essential moments of their career, though, I would have liked to see more about the development of their most complicated and adventurous song, Bohemian Rhapsody. 

Before I get too far along, I want to say that Rami Malik was amazing as Mercury. He was able to not only demonstrate the overwhelming charisma of Mercury on stage, but also the sad, melancholy moments and his identity confusion. And Malik did all this without even being British. Score one for Americans playing British icons for a change! Seriously, he’s good. 

Equally good, if not better, is Gwilym Lee as Brian May. I have seen old and new interviews with May and Gwilym has him down from his voice to the slight tilt of the head May makes when he’s arguing a point. Lucy Boynton as Mercury’s friend and one time wife, Mary Austin, was also excellent. And she was also born the U.S.A.! Ha! Okay, she grew up in London. She’s good, is the point, and she can do more. I hope we get to see her and Gwilym in more films.  

Bohemian Rhapsody is a song that stands in stark contrast to many of Queens simplistic hits like ‘We Will Rock You’ and ‘Another One Bites the Dust.’ Moreover, the dark complexity of their hit song is quite different from their more upbeat tunes like ‘Radio Gaga.’ 

You don’t have to be a big Queen fan to enjoy this film. In fact, I frankly don’t think some of their hits are that great. The film does, however, help me appreciate them more. The biggest hit and title track to the film is by far their best. Two songs I would have liked to experienced in the film are ‘Sheer Heart Attack’ and ‘Death on Two Legs.’ However, there is plenty of music from the band throughout the well-paced film. 

Rollingstone Magazine fact check of the film. 

The film is good looking and well edited. One reviewer I read said BR didn’t show enough of the dark-side of Mercury’s life. Clearly, they wanted another film. More darkness was not required to see how Mercury struggled and at times, was quite an arrogant prick. It’s all in there, BR just doesn’t dwell on the negative and ends on a high note. 

Rating: Pay full price.

Tex Shelters

A Series of mini-TV Series Reviews

In Uncategorized on October 30, 2018 at 01:21
The wire banner

From: dvdbash.files.wordpress.com

Featured here are reviews of series I have watch a few episodes of and can comment on. I have not watched much of Game of Thrones and may watch it once the series ends. Several shows were to slow and not interesting enough for me to invest time in such as Orange is the New Black and Better Call Saul. The return on investment wasn’t there. I enjoyed the first two series of Fargo but series three was a joke and I stopped watching. Grace and Frankie while entertaining, was just another light-weight sitcom in a different dressing and I got tired of it. 

These shows are not in any particular order in terms of ranking. I just type them out as I remembered them. 

***Marcella-I just finished series one. Some of the plot is unrealistic, but Anna Friel is great as Marcella and the conflicts, the motives, the scenes, kept me watching. At times the show is unnecessarily complicated, but usually, it makes sense at the end of each episode. 

***Counterpart-Okay, JK Simmons really is a good actor; his role in Whiplash wasn’t an anomaly. I am not sure how to discuss the plot without spoilers. It’s good and dramatic and every actor is beyond reproach. It successfully sets up cliff hangers so you can’t wait for more. It takes a strange plot device and makes it work. See it. 

The show also features Stephen Rea, the astonishing Olivia Williams with Nicolas Pinnock and Harry Lloyd, both from from Marcella. 

James Cromwell in season 2! Oh my!

*Barry-Barry was funny at the start, then became predictable. I stopped watching, though I am sure many love it. After episode three, I could have written the rest myself. And frankly, I don’t care if Barry makes it as an actor or goes back to killing. In a rare turn, this is one show that might have been better as a two-hour movie. The premise doesn’t deserve a series. 

*Marvelous Mrs. Maisel-If Dakota Fanning brought down The Alienist, it wasn’t because of the writing. It was the actress herself. In The Fabulous Mrs. Maisel, the actor, Michael Zegen, and the role, Joel Maisel (Miriam Maisel’s husband) makes the show unwatchable. And his role is written using all the husband clichés ever employed. That character is terrible and so out of balance with the quality of the rest of the show. 

Rachel Brosnahan is charming as Miriam Maisel, the house wife turned comedian, and Alex Borstein as her agent, Susie Myerson, is hilarious. Still, every time I see Miriam’s husband, I have to turn the show off. If only they had killed him off in the beginning of the show. I hate the character and the actor so much that I forget how good Tony Shalhoub and Marin Hinkle are as Miriam’s parents, Rose and Abe Weissman. Kill off the husband, and I’ll start watching again. If you don’t mind annoying, cliché, stupid husbands in the mold of Ricky Ricardo, watch it. I’m out. 

**Narcos-Narcos is not for the squeamish. If you like crime dramas, gangster flicks, criticism of US drug policy hidden in a drug war drama, watch it. You will not be disappointed. This is one case where each series was better than the previous, mainly because of Pedro Pascal playing agent Javier Peña. 

Pascal makes it work, and his supporting cast doesn’t fail him. Now Pascal is out. I am happy with how it ended and might not return, but Michael Peña plays an undercover DEA agent in series 4, so I might give it a shot. 


***Mindhunter-Few directors and writers could take this compelling book about the beginnings of FBI profiling and make it work. David Fincher was one of them. The best part of the show is how Agent Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) changes over the series, appearing as a boy scout on page one and at the end of series one, a troubled sociopath. The show is about discovering the criminal mind as much as it is solving crime, and it is fascinating. 

**Killing Eve- It’s an interesting spy thriller, but I have seen these elements before. And since I am not a fan of character who do stupid things for no reason, especially agents, killers, and spies, I grew tired of it. Many people aren’t bothered by that, so watch it. It’s not bad. It’s just overrated. 

*Babylon Berlin-The show looks great and the setting is compelling. The plot is too convoluted to have impact and the characters are not compelling. While I understand that the the times were strange in Germany in 1929, the connection between the plot elements are lacking. It’s not the complexity that bothers me, it’s that the plot elements are disjointed unlike a show like The Wire where the elements come together well.

Moreover, I don’t care about the two main characters and their lives. We are kept at the distance from them. Perhaps it is the deer-in-the-headlights look both main actors employ and call that emotion. 

I couldn’t find a trailer with English subtitles, just the terrible English dubbing. So here you go.

Thank you for reading. 

Tex Shelters