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Élite: Bienvenidos
Episode 1, Season 1

Recently rewatched
It's almost as confusing the 2nd time around. The intro episode is a bit confusing but it gets better as I recall. This episode was very poorly subtitled in English even though it had been dubbed into English as well.


Slow and a bit unclear in spots
11 minutes of flirtation between two swimmers inter-cut with their backstory. There's no dialogue to speak of and for the most part none is really needed. Which is good because most of the flaws of this film can be eliminated when watched at 150% of the intended speed.

I'm not sure why so many short film makers tend toward intentional obfuscation of their stories when a clearer, more flashback-free presentation of their story would make the whole thing so much more watchable. I was entirely ready to switch to watching something else when I realized that this film with no dialogue would be perfect for acceleration. That pretty much saved this short for me. There were still some plot details that could have been made clearer but I'm convinced allowing the plot to unfold at 1x speed would have exponentially increased my viewer frustration level while providing no additional clarity.

There IS a sweet ending but without the advantages of time acceleration it probably wouldn't have been worth it.

Dash & Lily

A love story and a love letter to NYC
I read the book that this was based on back in 2013 and loved the book. The way that New York City was almost an additional main character in the book has been carried over into the TV series. How can you not love a series that features the Strand Book Store, McSoreley's Ale House, Two-Boots Pizza and so many other New York City landmarks. And that's not even mentioning punk rock Klezmer players, beared drag queens and Challah Back Boys! I absolutely loved the scenes in the Morgan Library.

Hand Off

A scrummy coming out story
Tale of a South African rugby player who comes out to his best friend and suffers the ensuing rejection. While there's not much new in the main story the film spends a lot of screen time in some alternate sanctuary reality that seems to have been designed by an over zealous window dresser.

The basic story is OK and the main actors are pretty enough and yet butch enough to pull off their roles as rugby players. That said, it's an evergreen issue and there are few wince-inducing moments.

Given that it's viewable free on you-tube, it's worth the price of admission. Check it out for yourself.

Love, Victor: Welcome to Creekwood
Episode 1, Season 1

Great intro episode but...
I loved the intro to the characters and it looks like there may be some good story-lines here.

One clinker though... a $500 fee to play basketball seems ridiculous.

Still it's not as over the top as the Vice Principal was in Love Simon.

Mørke rum

Some things never change
While this was released in 2015 this Dutch kid's longing reminded me strongly of a time when I had those feelings and fears though for me it was the pre-aids 1970s. Looking for love and finding sex is still all too common an experience even in these days of Prep and Covid. I was a bit surprised that sex club in this was so seedy but then, as I recall the Club Baths Tampa were no great shakes either. It's poignant in a way that not all viewers will appreciate but then any loss of innocence is.

Greatest Events of WWII in Colour: Battle of Midway
Episode 4, Season 1

A retooled version this is playin on CBS
At 51 minutes I'm guessing that the version airing on CBS all-Access is just a re-tooled version of this (sans Derek Jacobi) This doc presents a different version of events than most of the documentaries I've seen on this battle. . In one graphic it shows they show a single US fleet with three carriers while in fact the US side was split into two fleets with one having two carriers while the other had one. Much of the footage leading up to the battle is different than that usually shown and does a pretty good job of explaining why combined air ops were important.

Greatest Events of WWII in Colour

There's also a US version of this airing on CBS
At 51 minutes I'm guessing that the version airing on CBS all-Access is just a re-tooled version of this (sans Derek Jacobi) This doc presents a different version of events than most of the documentaries I've seen on this battle. . In one graphic it shows they show a single US fleet with three carriers while in fact the US side was split into two fleets with one having two carriers while the other had one. Much of the footage leading up to the battle is different than that usually shown and does a pretty good job of explaining why combined air ops were important.

13 Reasons Why: Thursday
Episode 6, Season 4

As a parable perhaps...
This episode made an effort to up an already ridiculous level of tension. It not only portrayed an over the top drill, it was an over the top story line. It's just a pity that the creators couldn't trust the underlying characters that they've created over a number of seasons and focused on the good dramatic bits. Instead they went for spectacle and failed to create something that might have been worthwhile viewing.

13 Reasons Why: Valentine's Day
Episode 3, Season 4

The interesting stuff got buried
This episode was insufferable the first time through. After watching it the first time I decided that watching season 4 wasn't worth the annoyance of seeing characters that I liked in a story that was so poorly told.

I'm did go back and watch the rest after about a week's respite since I really like the characters and wanted to see how the stories I'd heard hinted about played out.

I'm now re-watching after several months and while the first few episodes are much improved now that I know the story this one still angers me. It's way too poorly presented.

There ARE a few worthwhile moments but the creators conceit of making this a mystery never worked for me in this season even after learning how it all turned out. This episode is just too filled with the poor stuff to ever be enjoyable.

13 Reasons Why: College Tour
Episode 2, Season 4

ANother interesting episode ruined by poor story-telling
I watched the 4th season some six months ago and seeing the episodes for the first time was actually a painful experience. I persevered and made it to the end of the season and actually started enjoying them a bit more after episode 4.

Now I'm rewatching them with a clear mind and knowing how the story ends the episodes actually include some incredibly nice moments that are totally lost on first time viewers because of the creator's poorly conceived notion that this story should be told as a mystery.

This time through I'm actually enjoying some of the great material that was so poorly presented that I completely missed the nuances the first time around.

13 Reasons Why: Winter Break
Episode 1, Season 4

Not as bad after you've seen the entire 4th season
Can't help but notice the number of negative reviews that the 4th season got. The story-line is still amazing and the characters are still as interesting as ever (if not more so) however the writers jumped the shark back at the outset of season three. The first two seasons were about the death of Hannah Baker. We knew she'd killed herself and peeling back the layers of the story left us with some great characters (and villains) The second season improved on that formula if that was even possible. However the third season they decided to try and present new story developments and to present it as more of a mystery. Problem is, the same story telling style doesn't work with those story elements and I had to rewatch the entire third season in order to appreciate what it was showing.

The 4th season they've strayed even further. Having heard what I'd heard about some of the season 4 character developments I decided to stick with it and I suffered through the first four episodes before it even BEGAN to make sense as to what I was seeing. Now after several months I'm re-watching season 4 and there are good story elements and it can be enjoyable this time around but I wish these people would have just stuck with a story telling style that worked.

If you really loved seasons 1 and 2 and you're invested in the characters this is definitely worth the work but if you're just looking for an entertaining story well-told, this may not be your cuppa tea.

13 Reasons Why: There Are a Number of Problems with Clay Jensen
Episode 7, Season 3

Another annoying episode due to botched storytelling
I do like this show. I love the characters and the story-line for season 1 was amazing. Season two even managed to top it a bit in that it added details and dimensions that weren't in season1.

That said the creators/writers somewhat fumbled the ball with season 3. The audience knew the basic story for seasons 1 & 2 so some of the flashier story-telling techniques like flashbacks, fantasy sequences, and unreliable narrators just added depth to an already great tale. However with season 3 they've decided to adopt a mystery format and keep the outcome from us until the end. That's fine, but unreliable narrators, fantasy sequences, et.al. don't work as well in that style of storytelling. It just confuses the underlying story and someone who really likes the show ends up having to watch it two or three times to determine what's really part of the story-line and what is just an attempt at flashier story-telling. It's just annoying to those of us that really want to like the show but can't completely overlook the ineptitude with which the narrative is shared.

A Race of Giants: Our Forbidden History

Not a full review - couldn't stand to watch more at the 7 minute mark
There were no real facts in this documentary. It was almost entirely partial highlights of 2nd and third hand accounts. Even those weren't presented in any complete form.

This documentary made me long for the days of Leonard Nimoy's narration of "In Search of" it had all of that level of authenticity without any of the warnings that generally preceded the "ISO" episodes.

Available free without ads on You-tube. No wonder, even at zero cost you're the loser if you waste your time with this.

13 Reasons Why: Yeah. I'm the New Girl
Episode 1, Season 3

The addition of Ani was jarring but I can understand it from the creator's POV
This show has a stellar ensemble cast and I was amazed that there was a second season after the entire contents of the book was covered in the first season. Yet they managed to find other aspects of the story that added to the overall experience in season2 and the final episode of season 2 was one of the best TV episodes I've ever seen. Yet it clearly left us wanting a season three.

Now we have that and it's a bit disappointing that they concentrate so much effort into creating a new character and switching to a mystery style format.

One of the joys of season1 was that we knew what happened. One of the major characters had killed herself and we delved into the underlying reasons. Season two did that again. However Season three, in attempting to be a mystery, ruins that successful formula. We don't know what happened so the story-telling requirements are different. The writers are still great storytellers but they lost some of their appeal. Artistic transition cuts where past characters and future characters walk through the same scene work great in a retrospective story where it's clear what's happening. No so much in a mystery that's being told in past tense from episode 1. . Its often unclear what is real and what is fantasy. Plus all the characters are lying to some extent. If we can't believe what we hear OR what we see, how are we to really follow the story? Creative ambiguity worked for the creators in seasons 1 & 2 because the audience KNEW what happened. In season 3 it felt exploitative and manipulative... and it left more than a few viewers uncertain to just what DID happen. I LOVE the show and am now on my third viewing of this season. I can see that they wanted a fresh look at Bryce, the villain of the first two seasons, and none of the regular ensemble would be able to give us that. In that regard I understand the addition of Ani. But she plays way too significant a role and what REALLY happened is as muddled at the end of the season as it is earlier on. In my book that's a story-telling FAIL.

Scientific American Frontiers: Science Italian Style
Episode 3, Season 5

All the Science has leaked out!
This episode is VERY light on actual science, and very disappointing. Though the topics are great, they all could have had MUCH more detail. Why was there no voice over narration? And WHY was what Italian narration there was, NOT translated?

The Tower of Pisa segment could have used a voice over of what was being shown. They showed video of several possible methods of fighting the lean from underneath but with no narration this was more frustrating than informative.

The species conservation segment could have used a LOT more detail and it was troubling to see the one subject that apparently died as a result of the move.

Now in 2020 remote surgery has greatly advanced. watching this segment was actually painful.

I know a bit about octopus and I recognized some of the experiments being shown in the video but I'm willing to bet that folks who've not seen this elsewhere had no idea what the experiments were about. It was particularly frustrating to watch the video segment centered on the squid attempting to "solve" the jar problem where we see the Italian scientist explaining the experiment (We hear music but nothing else but we see the guy's hand is moving) This was video making on the cheap and it was disappointing.

I've seen third rate documentaries about Pompeii and Vesuvius that had more detail than this episode. WHY were they dumping trash in the volcano? When was the lava flow they were showing? Unnarated graphics? The 10 minutes devoted to watching this segment would have been much more productive if I'd used it to read the wiki page and maybe make a sandwich.

They mention a magnetic monopole but don't define it or explain in any way what they're talking about. Though they go to this lab inside a mountain they NEVER mention neutrinos by name though we do hear a conversation where they are are clearly being discussed. (The speakers just call them "they")

This episode makes me question whether it's worthwhile watching any more of these.


An exercise in weirdness? Tapas meets Topless? Gossip Girl for Telenovela Teens?
This came highly recommended by some friends who loved the American Netflix show 13 Reasons.

I'm a bit of a completist so I tend to watch things with the closed captions on. Seeing a Spanish program dubbed into English with subtitles telling me that they're speaking French is making it hard for me to concentrate on the narrative. It's even more disruptive in that the dubbed dialogue doesn't really match the captions. Less than 10 minutes in I had to forgo the captions on this one.

Being an American by birth (and despite the post 9/11 rhetoric) it was odd to see teachers telling a student that she couldn't wear her hijab or she'd be expelled. Knowing about Spain's Muslim period made me wonder just how things are there today.

Equally odd is how Americanized the characters are. I've seen scores of European films over the last few decades (mostly subtitled though I do speak some rudimentary Spanish) and I've never seen a film where the characters had been this similar to people in the U.S. Not long ago I watched "The Fosters" a series in which a girl of Hispanic descent celebrated her quinceañera. Here it's referred to as a "coming out" or simply a party. Why that aspect of Spanish culture needed to be expunged was momentarily more interesting than the dialogue. Even the episode titles have been Anglicized... Bienvenidos has become Welcome.

On top of that, the premise of the series... that construction company would attempt to address their public relations issues after a school collapse by giving a few students scholarships to a prestigious private school seems just so far fetched I'm not sure I'll ever be able to maintain my willing suspension of disbelief.

Yet, I will try to plug on for a few more episodes - Since posting this I've watched 3 more episode. Without the distraction of the poorly done closed captioning, this is actually not as bad as I initially thought.

Egypt: The Pharaoh and the Showman
Episode 3, Season 1

One of the best mixes of re-enactment and documentary I've ever seen.
The "Head of Memnon" the colossal statue around which this episode is based still dominates the gallery in The British Museum where it sits. It is said to have been the inspiration behind Shelley's great poem Ozymandias.

Just the feat of moving this half of the statue, getting it to the Nile river and thence back to England was considered an amazing feat of engineering in the early 1800s when Giovanni Belzoni managed it. Imagine how much more impressive it must have been 1000 years before the birth of Christ when the entire statue was created and moved to its initial position.

In addition to filling us in on the life and works of Ramses II (aka Ramses the Great) this docu-drama shows us the man primarily responsible for this mammoth statue getting to London. While it doesn't mention how Napoleon tried (and failed) to get it back to France we see the corrupt local officials, the conniving French fortune hunters who were busy stripping the country of its art

Yes, one may lament that these treasures were not able to stay in the country that created them but at least in Britain this work has been seen and appreciated by thousands that otherwise would have missed out.

Coin Operated

So many potential disasters
A young space obsessed kid spots a rocket-ship ride outside the grocery and can't wait until he tries. Disappointed with the initial outcome, he hatches a plan.

I loved this film but the sentimental me was just waiting for the kid to learn the lesson that life disappoints us all. Thank goodness I was wrong.

This 5 minute animated short is available on you-tube and is well worth the viewing time. By all means check it out.

Holiday High School Reunion

Christmas movies are supposed to be dumb but...
This movie is probably the WORST Christmas movie I've ever seen and I've seen Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. The basic story-line combines a Christmas theme with a 10 year high school reunion. Rachel Boston as Georgia Hunt, our heroine is an assistant at a fashion house rather than the designer she's told her old class-mates. In high school she was voted most likely to succeed, was head cheerleader and an award winning soloist in the Glee Club. She broke up with her football player boyfriend at the prom because she though he was cheating on her. All through high school her best buddy was an arty guy who clearly had a crush on her that she was too oblivious to realize.

The nerdy high school guy still has his crush and she's still just as oblivious. The writing of this drek was so bad that I was continually cringing in embarrassment for the actors. Particularly poor Harry Hamlin. There are four musical numbers that are so painful to watch that I wasn't able to make it through any of them without fast forwarding. Jonathan Bennett plays Ben Oliver, and he made his scenes watchable but if it weren't for him I'd have given up on the film 30 minutes in.

To add insult to injury, the NetFlix version of this movie appears to have had some song substitutions, Most likely as an economy measure. It was kinda weird in the final scene where smitten guy is dancing with popular girl, to be hearing Auld Lang Syne while seeing the lyrics of Israel "Iz" Ka'ano'i Kamakawiwo'Ole's medley of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and "What a Wonderful World" on screen.

The Stanford Prison Experiment

Be sure that your appetite for schadenfreude is high before you start this one.
I knew what this was about before starting to view it but it was so intense that I needed to watch it in bits.

I was already convinced about man's capacity to treat his fellow men inhumanely but half way into this I felt that the researcher should have been brought up on criminal charges. I'm still not convinced that this didn't do lasting damage to those involved.

I watched this knowing that I'd probably not like it because of the positive reviews of friends regarding certain actors. Personally I think the film failed on that level as well because the actors are not identified in the beginning and the guards remain unnamed and the prisoners are given numbers I wasn't entirely sure even as to who was whom.

That said. Man's inhumanity to man has been well documented on film already and this felt to me to just be more of the same.

Life and Death on the A-List

Better with the perspective of time
I first saw this film in the late 90s but rated it pretty low as it was not an enjoyable film to watch.

This guy had been one of my early crushes (I'll never forget that laundry commercial with him in the elevator) and I knew of his print work for Marlboro.

The film was a well-made documentary for its time and it serves as a valuable time-capsule of that era. There is another review of this (by a family member) lamenting the mother's ignorance at the time. But, back then we didn't know and everyone went through a period of paranoia along similar lines though most gay men had passed through that phase by the time this was made.

I lost a number of friends to AIDS and though this brings back some painful memories, I'm glad I watched it again. Seen through the filter of time, it was a better documentary than I gave it credit for being.


"Sweetest" Short ever
Bookish Santiago is none too pleased to be playing host to his sportive schoolmate Jared for the afternoon, but when Jared teaches a Santi a thing or two with the use of a purloined jar of honey, Santi finds himself looking forward to learning more.

Well made and while the English subtitles are nice, they aren't really necessary to the plot. Both young actors are charming and I look forward to seeing more of them.

Something New

It COULD happen
After breaking up with a cheating ex-boyfriend Jonah has been satisfying his sexual needs with a hot man he met on Grindr. But Jonah is thrown when the man asks him on a "real date." Is Jonah really ready for something new? Something real?

This short is played for laughs and most of he characters are as much caricatures as characters but the point is made and the short is enjoyable, if not overly deep. It's also nice to see a M/M story with a hopeful ending.


It gets better, even in Spain
Two best buddies, Jota and Santi, are baking in the summer heat of a Madrid day when Jota discloses that he's broken up with his girlfriend. Santi, who's built Jota's lady-killing ways into a legend in his own mind, won't be satisfied until Jota discloses who his new love interest is.

When a Scientology Personality test discloses a bit too much about Jota Santi is initially shocked but...

I loved this little short though I had to be a speed reader to get all the subtitles. Santi is like one of those irrepressible yappy dogs that never shuts up but the way he adjusts to Jpota's disclosure makes for a happy ending for this cute short.

The situation is played for comedy throughout but it's so much more hopeful than those Eloy de Iglesia films of the 70s Maybe it does get better even in macho countries like Spain.

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