E Canuck

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De 12 van Schouwendam

Early episodes very interesting but series "jumped the shark",
I found the premise and the early episodes very interesting but the final episodes of the 10 are quite ridiculous. I have to say the story "jumped the shark". No high production values or gorgeous scenery can compensate for a deficient concept and writing that goes for the sensational and leaves believability behind.

The Personal History of David Copperfield

Went out of casting curiosity, stayed for the fun
This is a somewhat broad rendition of Dickens' novel which already has so many broad/arch characters and situations, but it's very enjoyable overall. Towards the end, I realized: hey, the skin colour/ethnicity of the actors really does NOT matter. If they are good actors, you can have a fairly wide array of people one doesn't traditionally think of as native "English" people playing these very English roles. It works.

I hope Hollywood is watching and this film has an impact on breaking casting stereotypes in America. After the film I was recommending to my companion, as one of the best cop TV series I ever watched, the series Homicide: Life on the Street. That had an African American actor, Yaphet Kotto, cast as a policeman named Giardello. It's 23 years later and yet it's hard to think of other films or TV I've seen with casting against physical or racial type.

I've already download the Dickens novel from Project Gutenberg and I expect to re-read the novel I last read when I was in grade school and look into it a little. I'm interested in the degree to which there were autobiographical features in the novel, as I believe Dickens himself worked in a factory with child labour similar to that in Copperfield. One of the most popular things about Dickens, that has made him continue to be read (and filmed versions of his be produced) is his recurring theme of empathy for the poor, for the disregarded and for those with less power, who are often being dominated and abused by those who have power over them.

It's perhaps, then, a particularly good place to start, casting visible minority actors in a filmed version of a Dickens novel. But no need to stop there. This art form is all pretence and making things up--let the art be more diverse and the treatments more creative.

The Comey Rule

Casting and writing only adequate for a nevertheless worthwhile watch
I found Jeff Daniels, especially, in the lead role of James Comey a distraction rather than an aid to immersion in this drama, which is nevertheless worth watching to give further detail on the Trump saga and especially the story of Russian meddling in the USA. At this moment Trump is in Walter Reed hospital and from there, still trying to spin America and himself--in much the same fashion as he spun Jim Comey right out of the FBI director job he was evidently devoted to and apparently good at. The world may have been slack-jawed at Comey's unwise pronouncements about Clinton emails during the 2016 Presidential election but this drama shows pretty clearly why he felt compelled to do that.

Trump is the master of confusion and throwing people under the bus and this dramatization of Comey's book details how that was done to the director of the FBI in office when Trump took power. In the closing frames it shows how all the key staff working with Comey on the Russia investigation at the FBI were either fired or resigned (except for one, who retired.)

I find some combination of acting and the writing for this 4 part series just didn't work for me. The little I ever saw of the really James Comey in the media, he came across as a warm and real person, even in the midst of tumultuous events. Daniels plays him as a somewhat self-conscious and in-his-head figure, and is hard to warm to in the role.

I don't know why IMDb is insisting on titling this series "A Higher Loyalty" (former title The Comey Rule.) On the TV platform we are watching, and in current TV and online ads it is still called The Comey Rule.

The Knick

A great series, somewhat weakened in an end of Season 2 wrap-up forced by its network who wanted to recommit to "high-octane action dramas."
My partner and I were gripped with this series and it felt like watching it during the COVID crisis was appropriate, especially when parts of the story touched on the spreading of disease in the port cities of the United States. The writing, directing and acting are all very strong.

Had it not been for some rather over-the-top, less credible events and character choices in the final few episodes, I'd have rated it higher than 8 stars. The social commentary on American racism, inequality of women and other social issues alongside the medical/human interest story lines made this series considerably more interesting to me than any medically based drama I've watched, of any era.

Motherless Brooklyn

Entertaining and Relevant
Motherless Brooklyn (opens Friday Nov 1) My friend won advance screening tickets tonight for Motherless Brooklyn, which turned out to be a rather deluxe affair with wine and food served beforehand in the "VIP" cinema area of a cinema in Vancouver, Canada.

We needn't have worried that all these emoluments were buttering us up for a bad movie-it's a really good one and likely to get Oscar nominations for Edward Norton, who not only stars as Lionel but also directs and co-wrote the screen adaptation from a novel. When I was grasping for the real world connection I thought I saw in this feature drama, my husband prompted me the sociopathic mogul, Moses Randolph, depicted by Alec Baldwin in the film is only a thinly papered over Robert Moses. That smasher of neighbourhoods in the name of grand schemes had a leading role in the 2016 documentary Citizen Jane: Battle for the City, about Jane Jacobs and her fight for the soul of New York City. (That soul, I'm hearing, has suffered some blows of late.)

This 1950s period film has an instant classic feel to it. It has enough Hollywood dynamics and star power in it to pull in a larger audience but there's some very nice cinematography and lots of social relevance, both in the good old USA and in satellite nations like good old Canada, where I live, with regard to present-day politics and power-wielding at various levels by wealthy people. This is particularly the case when it comes to who runs city hall and gets to force out large numbers of people from the communities where they belong.

The city where I live has an ongoing struggle for which Motherless Brooklyn has relevant things to say. Even as I travelled to the cinema in question, I was distracted by the ugliness of the rapid-transit corridor it sits on which has been heavily redeveloped since the line went in for the 2010 Winter Olympics. The construction cranes are still plentiful, the featureless higher density buildings lining the route have an oppressive, mountain-view blocking dominance. Robert Moses/Moses Randolph or whoever wears their snappy shoes would love it.

Almost the only thing I was indifferent to in the film was the "brain thing" affliction of Norton's character, which seemed like some kind of cross between Tourette Syndrome, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and a revisiting of Dustin Hoffman's Rainman character, at times. The syndrome had relevance to the story, though, and there were some nicer moments in how it was depicted.

In addition to Ed Norton's strong performance and Willem Defoe's decent contribution, I enjoyed seeing Michael Kenneth Williams as a mellow jazz musician (I always think of him as Omar in The Wire.) Alec Baldwin was convincingly evil, though I think some real life power mongers prettify their harsh decisions, to themselves and others.

Keeping Faith

A Steady Feed of Interesting Human Behaviour
I had some trepidation, heading into the second season of this show (on Acorn TV) that it was going to fall down, based on people's comments here. The story couldn't hold as many surprises, naturally, after those of the first season, but the solid writing, acting and direction held up from my perspective and kept me interested to the last scenes in the Howells' family crisis. I remained gripped with how everyone would weather it. I appreciate the calibre of the performances...even the children were exceptionally good and the Welsh coastal scenery, as a background character, charmed me as captured. I remember being uneasy with Eve Myles' role in the Broadchurch series (not as sympathetic a character as is Faith) but I now remember from that series, also, how arresting she is on screen when her gaze is intense. An actor with presence.

Because We Are Girls

A film to inspire gratitude
Now that I've seen the film, I can only say I feel proud and grateful. I'm proud of and grateful to the three Pooni sisters for sharing their story in this film, proud of the director, Baljit Sangra's work, and of Canada's National Film Board, for producing it. It's a beautiful, moving film. The three sisters are such a lovely example of women's caring for each other and for others. At the screening I attended in Vancouver hosted by Reel Causes they participated in a post-film Q&A with the director and a rep from the charitable beneficiary of the screening, Family Services of Greater Vancouver. I'm also grateful to my parents for never making me feel less important to them for being female. In so many families, not all of them from other places in the world, this isn't always the case. The particular screening I attended was a mostly female audience and all I can say is the men missed out tonight.

From the opening frames, I realized this wasn't the kind of film I was expecting it to be. In some aspects, it's a quintessentially Canadian or North American immigrant family story. The early narrative helps draw us into this Punjabi-Canadian family's situation when the sisters were young, including the prejudice and shaming they faced for being in a visible minority. Steeled for details of sexual abuse that were almost entirely absent from the film, I saw and heard instead a tale of three girls becoming women in a challenging set of circumstances. How they love each other and what they do with those circumstances is inspiring, not depressing, though you can expect to be moved to tears at times.

If Beale Street Could Talk

Ponderous in the extreme
Like others, I went wanting to really like this movie but it was ponderous in the extreme. Whatever atmosphere it hoped to create or culture it hoped to depict was so terribly laden, slow, lumbering and freighted with belaboured didactic meaning, the good acting and decent production values just couldn't stand up to the weight. Seems like a wasted opportunity.

No Offence

Strong concept, writing and cast deliver a unique police drama with a funny streak
I dispute the IMDb tagline, "Follows a group of police officers on the front line wondering what they did to end up where they are now, on the ugly side of Manchester." This seems written offhand by someone not in the know who didn't actually watch the series. One of the most distinguishing features of this fictional police unit is its being led by an intelligent, funny, high-spirited woman who is confident, with reason, and doesn't conform to the image stereotype of women on TV. She doesn't care about her body type and doesn't care about anyone who does. The bonding among the female and the male members in the unit is more convincing and appealing than in other police dramas I've watched. The humour is just plain fun. I've been thoroughly entertained watching the first 3 series on Acorn TV here in Canada and I really hope there'll be a 4th series.

Mystery Road

Satisfying series with wonderful setting & top of the line music
There were a lot of things I strongly liked about this series, which compensated for a few actors who seemed uneasy or not as strong in their roles as the overall high level. The story is interesting, the scenery is just stunning and the songs that were chosen accentuated the drama and were so good I've bought 7 of them online. Makes me wish there was more Australian drama available to watch here in North America (Canada.) This show made reviving my lapsed Acorn TV streaming service earlier this month worthwhile.

A Simple Favor

A bit of broad comedy saves a story with too many twists
This film was enjoyable in parts, however, the best thing in it, for me, was the mostly period French pop music. The main character played by Anne Kendrick lost my sympathy when she did something friends don't do after losing her friend. I was actually a little relieved it devolved into broad, almost slapstick comedy toward the end, which excused the twistier than a corkscrew plot twists, in a way. "Okay, we didn't really mean it, and don't expect you to, either. ".

This page seems to have most of those songs, though a few of the Youtube videos don't play. The official soundtrack doesn't have these, only the music composed for the film. I apparently can't add a hyperlink here but the songs are on Soundtrack Mania under the film name.


Commencing season 4 via Crave TV, I've really been enjoying this series. I think the casting is superlative, acting excellent and most of the writing is very credible, I'm less inclined to nit-pick this series than many I've watched, especially Canadian ones. I've a Quebecois friend who tells me the French series on which this is based was much stronger. If true, the Francophone original must have been really special. I'm going to be watching for a change in tone in this final season with its switch to CTV from Bravo. Already, in the first episode I think I might be seeing a bit of a change in tone, perhaps less credible action on the part of at least one of the characters, and one improbable action event. That might reflect my prejudices about these networks, though. I miss Bravo network which we used to get before the cable service for our building was changed to a different provider. Another series that took a distinct nosedive switching to another network from its Bravo originator is Inspector Murdoch. Under CBC's watch the whole thing seemed to change emphasis to splashy production values and writing stereotypes. The main character Murdoch is awfully prettified.

Second Sight: Parasomnia

Sleep Walking, Sleep Demons, a theme well exploited
I've enjoyed this story in the Second Sight series the most among those watched so far. It's very cohesive, linking Tanner's own issues with the strange case he is working on, everything linked to sleep and matters of consciousness, in an engaging and dramatic story.

Inspector Morse: The Way Through the Woods
Episode 1, Season 8

Agree with one reviewer, possibly the best Morse ever
I like the fact Morse does in fact merit some of the resentment his much put-upon Sergeant Lewis finally lets fly at him...though he's right about Lewis' strengths and his own. Despite being a dour and at times self-centred boss, Morse is forced to get down to brass tacks in the case when his brains are not winning him any friends and are alienating his work horse junior, nearly causing Lewis to jump ship. The case is interesting and its untangling seems to evolve naturally, with the counterpoint of Morse and Lewis' relationship tensions adding to the drama. The confession of Morse to one character that he'll die in the saddle and doesn't have much else in life to look forward to is poignant given his character's and John Thaw's deaths that fell quite close together.

Lost in Space

Well produced, fun space drama whose quality surprised me
I only watched this because Netflix featured it and I was pleasantly surprised by the series quality. Whatever few minutes I saw of the original series from the '60s struck me as hokey, campy or both. Not being inclined to compare, and being a Molly Parker fan from her appearances on Deadwood and House of Cards, I tried the first episode and found myself both entertained and drawn in to the family-centered space story. Though things got typically Hollywood-incredible by the 10th and final episode, the story momentum and acting carried me through to the end (a typical one, teasing with the possibilities for Season 2.)

I haven't enjoyed a space drama as much since Star Trek, The Next Generation--though they are not the same kind of space opera.

I've been finding it hard to keep up, lately, with all the digital and other content available to watch online and elsewhere. Much of the quality drama, though, is very dark. Though Lost in Space has its Parental Guidance dark side, the closest this comes to the dystopias in the entertainment pipeline these days is the background scenario driving the space colonization. Though the Robinsons and their fellow travellers are faced with a lot of challenging situations the show is not depressing. With real events in the world today and with entertainments often serving up a lot of characters and behaviour that most of us would strive to avoid, that can be a pleasant change.


I've been eating up this series on Netflix, a little put off by one plot point
This series has been great watching, I enjoy all the different aspects of Wyoming life/the West the writing touches on in the course of the drama.

Having just watched the Season 3 closer, I'm a little miffed with the choice of having Barlow Connally apparently kill his own son at the drop of a hat. I haven't watched further tonight to see if this is so, but this strains belief. Even a sociopath, as Barlow is perhaps meant to be (typical evil rich guy, a TV and film standard type) would surely hesitate before blowing away his own son so lightly. The line he throws out before the shotgun blast is pat, to say the least.

On the whole, though, the writing, character development and acting have all been well above par. I enjoy the female characters, particularly, there's a nice believability to them, especially for a modern day western.

BTW I think Graham Greene is an especially effective villain as Malachi, and since both Lou Diamond Phillips and A Martinez in major First Nations roles are not Native Americans, it's nice that one major Native American role in the series is acted by an Aboriginal actor (though he's from Canada.) I don't know what Native Americans think of the show but it appears to be trying to present a complex and positive image of Aboriginal people and culture.

The Post

A right on time film
I found the film quite inspiring and could tell most of the audience were similarly gripped with this story of the Pentagon Papers and Washington Post's involvement with them when the Nixon White House was trying to quash any publication about them. I just finished telling my husband several days ago it's time for Meryl Streep to give lesser known actors a break but I have to acknowledge she's terrific in this, a different kind of character as Washington Post publisher Kay Graham. The film feels very timely in today's environment of women's issues and also with respect to the current President's relationship with the media. Streep's character embodies a woman who has taken a back seat in life and who is tested to do more. This is perhaps my second favourite Stephen Spielberg movie to date, after Schindler's List. This train is coming into the station right on time (if I may use an old analogy for the political and social scene of today.)


Ireland, looking Irish and acting conflicted as everywhere
I watched most of Series One and Two before a self-driving week in Ireland with my husband which included two nights in Galway and a day on the Connemara Loop. That was 2 months back and I've just concluded a second viewing, including the final episode I'd not seen fully the first time round. I have to admit my primary motive was to revisit the landscape and do some place-spotting but the quality of the drama kept distracting me from my touristic infatuation with the Republic of Ireland generally and Connemara, specifically. At times villains of the stories can be a bit over the top, but for the most part I thoroughly enjoy the writing, the acting and of course, the setting. If this series wasn't so hard to get hold of here in Canada I'd be recommending it to people I know.

I enjoyed seeing Charlie Murphy, again, who did a fine job in the mini series Rebellion about the Easter Rising that laid the groundwork for the foundation of the Irish Republic. She's a good actress who adds substance and credibility to the final story, A Cold Heaven, in her mixed-up adolescent role. One of the most interesting parts of the series overall is the father-son struggle that lingers even once Jack Driscoll's father is out of the picture, literally. His ghost is a brooding presence over all of Connemara, in this drama, and sparks lots of tension between Jack's second-generation policeman character and his mother. Police corruption or wrongdoing is an issue that makes this ten-year-old series seem fresh and topical.


A life affirming film about a feisty woman
Chavela is probably someone I would have shied away from had I met her in real life...from the portrait painted of her in the film. Lucky me, I got to experience her from the safe distance of the screen at this Vancouver Film Festival viewing today, and I'm so glad I had that chance. This woman wasn't easy but she was strong, provocative and unique, and her complex character and passions challenge me to relax a little certain notions I have about people. That's a profound effect for a film, encouraging a more open mind. The audience was obviously with me in enjoying her emotional intensity, her contradictions and her commitment to expressive singing...leaving it all on the floor. It was a surprising to find my common-law husband not on the same page with me, at all. He says Chavela just didn't engage him.

The Sense of an Ending

Squaring the circle
If you've ever said (or done) something to a friend and regretted it later, if you thought you knew the way things were (and found they were not that way), if you've found, as you get older, that things you thought far in your past have resurfaced, you might be as impressed with "The Sense of An Ending" as I was, watching it in an advance screening tonight.

Then, even if those things are not true for you, you might enjoy the cast and their acting, the writing, the London settings and many other things about this film. A good one.


Current season over the top, too action oriented
Enjoyed the previous seasons a lot but this 2017 4th season has strained trying to outdo itself and has reached a point of ridiculousness that has left me impatient and constantly punctures the suspension of disbelief it takes for the audience to go with the story. There's little consistency shown in the surprise character of the season who shows up at the end of The Lying Detective and takes over in The Final Problem like a computer hacker taking control of the characters and the dynamics between them to which we have become attached and enjoyed so much. I think it was a mistake trying to be edgier, bombastic and to rely so much on action, effects and novelty.

Character in this series and in the Conan Doyle originals was always the keystone. Explosions and special effects are a dilution and a distraction from the heart of the thing.

A disappointing wrap up to an enjoyable concept generally well conceived and effectively realized in the first three series.


Not so much a film as a painterly poem
Saw Paterson at the Vancouver Film Festival today and enjoyed to a certain point, while becoming a bit tired of some of its cuter elements (such as the bus driver poet's decorating girlfriend) and the modernist or minimalist pace, which grows contrived in the repetition of both routine days and quirky features. The film is a tribute to Paterson, NJ's famous poet, William Carlos Williams and to the notion of celebrating reality by recording it in a faithful, painterly fashion without embellishment or sermonizing.

If you don't demand a lot of action or forward motion you are more likely to enjoy this film as a kind of modernist poem in itself. You have a cute grumpy dog to entertain you, an idealized love relationship to wonder about, and some complete red herrings such as omnipresent twins to distract you from the static still-life character of the film.

Everybody Wants Some!!

Not everybody wants some of this
This was put together in an entertaining fashion. Trouble for me is that I'd walk a mile to avoid the kind of people the film is about. Always did, when I was younger, avoid the bullying sexist jock and unless you are enamoured, you may not want some of a film that celebrates them off the Richter scale.

There is also the fact that in this Mudville there are only shiny happy people out of Hollywood wardrobe department and there's little resemblance to reality.

That shouldn't stop those who want college and youth myths big on All American ball-whacking, drinking, weed-smoking, look-how-crazy-we-all-are high spirits. There will be lots of people who want some of that.

12 Years a Slave

A tough watch that's worth watching
Just returned home from seeing 12 Years a Slave with a friend, and this is one of those powerful movies that has me thinking about the film, the real story on which it was based, as though it were an event in my own life. If Steve McQueen directed no other film but this one his reputation as a director would be notable (I'm not familiar with his other films.)

The hook of the story is that Solomon is not just "another" slave—he's a kidnapped free man from the North, shipped to southern plantation life to line someone's pocket. By the time the film is over, you realize, it's a horror for human society that it takes a special case to draw us to this story and to witnessing the wretched immorality of slavery, when every case is equally wretched and hellacious—regardless of the birth or status of those made slaves. The moral wasting of those who enslave them is a full element of the piece.

12 Years has the effect of making the audience feel as though we have been made captive along with Solomon. It's never prettified or softened and the ugly self-serving rationalizing of slave economies, slave masters and mistresses is omnipresent in the film. The horrors are bearable because we know Solomon must survive or his book of the same title as the film wouldn't have been written and his story told.

Brad Pitt as producer cast himself in an unglamourous but positive role in the film—one of the few white characters to act honourably.

See it with company, not alone. Just as with Solomon, we want a little less solitude to go through this.

Liv & Ingmar

Taking moonbeams home
Loved this film this evening at Vancouver International Film Festival, while my partner says it's okay, he wouldn't mind if he hadn't seen it. What planet are (emotionally repressed) men from? Please don't say Mars— Martians would be more moved than he was by this gem of a documentary.

A different film than I was expecting: I didn't know anything about Ullman and Bergman's personal past, and was expecting something more focused on their long (almost 50 years) of collaboration in making extraordinary films. This was only partly about their shared film history together and dwelt more on their relationship, the account rendered extraordinary by Ullman's candour and towering spirit. I would look for more films from this director, though, without another such woman of character, as comfortable before the camera as Ullman, could such touching and real stuff be served up? But the film's capture has warmth and sparkle, like that old song that asks if we want to carry moonbeams home in a jar—an apt metaphor, I think, for the trick which the most artful films pull off.

Just as Bergman has bewitched and bedevilled us with his films, one's jaw drops hearing what he was like as a lover and husband in her words—both dreadful and also Ullman's gloriously prized treasure of a human connection, delivered to us in lovely to watch and listen to footage. Bravo.

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