Archive for October, 2018|Monthly archive page

A Series of mini-TV Series Reviews

In Uncategorized on October 30, 2018 at 01:21
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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

Black 47: the Good, the Tragic, and the Horrifying

In Uncategorized on October 23, 2018 at 22:45


Black 47 is a compelling Irish Western and revenge drama set in Ireland in 1847 during the potato famine. Irish soldiers are returning after serving the British crown in war, one of the only opportunities for impoverished Irishmen during in the 1840s. Soldiers who don’t die in Afghanistan come back to the horrors of famine and the occupation of their nation by the British who did nothing to help the starving and sick masses.  

When Feeney, skillfully and somberly portrayed by James Frecheville, returns from the current English war, he has lost everything: his family and land. What’s an Irishman to do? The first and last choice is to kill some Englishmen who “aren’t welcome here”, in Ireland. He takes the skills he learned in the British army and turns them on the occupiers. 

Frecheville out-Clints Eastwood in this drama. Equally entertaining is the great Hugo Weaving as Hannah, Frechville’s former British commander. Then there is the Freddie Fox as Captain Pope, a British career man hunting Frecheville. I haven’t seen such deliciously seething contempt in the British since Tim Roth in Rob Roy. Stephen Rea is also his down-on-his-luck best in this feature as a man doing what he can to survive. Throw in Jim Broadbent as a racist English landlord and you have a recipe for a great film-going experience. 

The scenery is so beautifully filmed that I didn’t mind long pans of the scrubs and shots of men riding on horseback in the rocky landscape. The edits are tight and crisp, with few ill-timed cuts. The costumes were spot on and the history seems accurate to this non-historian. The one major flaw was the music. Brian Byrne goes over the top with the sentimentality and cloying tunes and it interferes with the rest of the great production. I put that on the director and producer who should have trusted that their story was gripping enough without an overwrought film score. 

Rating: Pay Full Price. For those in the U.S., it’s probably too late to see this in the theaters. You will miss some the impact of great landscapes. However, the story will work on a smaller screen.  

Tex Shelters

Hardy Can’t Save Venom

In Uncategorized on October 6, 2018 at 16:10


Venom is a bad movie. The dialogue and script are terrible. The music is undistinguished filler and the Venom theme song is annoying. The acting is horrible. Even Hardy was off the mark, and that wasn’t just the fault of terrible script. He tried to be scary and charming, as Venom can be, but the script held him back most of the time. The special effects and CGI are bad. Even the Stan Lee cameo was wasted and only a nod to a sequel. This life form isn’t going to a another Venom movie soon. 

The film has too many coincidences and plot points that are poorly drawn. The origin story is insipid and Eddy Brock’s (the human host played by Hardy) character is irredeemable. There is nothing to like about this stupid asshole. The fight between the two main symbiont/hosts was terrible. You could not tell who was whom, who was Venom and who was Riot (the “bad” symbiont). In fact, all the action scenes are sloppy and cheap looking. 

The motivations for some of the actions were confusing or nonexistent. Also confusing is the character arcs. Were we suppose to empathize with Brock, a man not clever enough to hide his disdain long enough to get a good story. That’s not noble; that’s stupid. And to think they needed three writers to create this dreck they call a script. Did they check each others’ work? 

Again, we have another evil rich genius, an Elon Musk type named Carlton Drake, trying to bring down humanity. And this time he does it by importing space beings. He experiments with these being, ignores the scientific method, endangers humanity, and we don’t understand why. Some genius. Was he an abused, bullied child as a kid? Who is he trying to get revenge on? It makes no sense. In the end, it’s just stupid. 

Ultimately, the story from the comic book doesn’t translate to the big screen. They should have rewritten it, taken out many of the elements and added more genuine emotion. A cardboard cutout could have added real feelings to some of those scenes. The point is, the emotion is fake and they expect the audience to add it for them by putting in the elements of emotion but not the substance. That’s lazy filmmaking. 

Brock’s relationship with Mary Jane, er, I mean Anne, is pathetic. We need a vengeful Venom and more conflict with the human host, not a trite unexplained love of humanity that Venom purports at the end of the film. 

Rating: Rent it. If you are trapped on a plane or at a friend’s house, give it a go. Otherwise, just say no.

Tex Shelters

Michael Moore is Angry, and that’s Good

In Uncategorized on October 4, 2018 at 16:42


Fahrenheit 11/9 is Michael Moore’s new film and it’s an equal opportunity attack on the major parties’ candidates and Presidents. The person who comes off looking the worst is President Obama. In fact, the whole Democratic establishment is excoriated by Moore and his sardonic wit again and again. The film plays too long and holds on to points well after the audience gets it, but over all, it’s a major cinematic comeback from the tepid, Where to Invade Next.

The film starts with a series of triumphant media talking heads on the impossibility of the Trump victory, first in the Republican primaries and then in the general election. However, Keith Ellison tells a panel on MSNBC to get ready for Trump, for he might “just win the Republican primary.” The whole panel, led by George Stephanopoulos, former advisor to Bill Clinton, had a hardy laugh at Ellison’s expense. After giving Trump hundreds of millions in free media coverage, they aren’t laughing now. 

At the time, the ‘liberal’ media loved that idea of a Trump candidacy, so much so that they gave him millions in free air time to help him represent the Republicans and lose to their chosen champion, Hillary Clinton. Trump received 23 times more free air time than Sanders. He outpaced the whole Republican field in free air time with nearly 1.9 billion during the primaries. And during the general election, he got 50% more free airtime than Clinton. Who needs money when you get free air time, as much as $5 billion? As Moore put it in his film, the media wanted Clinton to win, so they helped Trump, the weakest candidate in their eyes, represent the Republicans. Oops. 

And Michael Moore, for his part, predicted Trump would win. 

Trump won, and Moore was sadly vindicated. 

The best part of the film is that is highlighted the widespread dissatisfaction with the political system in this nation. From the water crisis in Flint to the teachers strikes all over this nation (starting in West Virginia), people have learned the truth about politics in this nation: the rich don’t care about you and they currently run things. As George Carlin put it, “They don’t care about you.”

Moore doesn’t quite go that far, but it’s as close to a reality check as you’ll get on the big screen these days. There are some amazing scenes of rebellion and actual resistance in the film. And there are some amazing montages of the American tragedy we live in. We know this is happening, and Moore encapsulates much of it in one film for us. You too will cry and laugh at the tragedy that is American politics.

Rating: Pay Full Price

Tex Shelters