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The Midnight Sky

Appalling waste of time
I stuck it out, thought it might improve as to what kind of movie it was. As in some kind of plot, purpose and maybe intelligent dialogue. It seemed like a mishmash of so many far, far better ones with a soap opera feel to it all.

The little girl in the 1950s dress in the antarctic was a foreboding.of worse things to come. A bunch of total incompetents on a mission, fixing their radar floating about singing Sweet Caroline, at that point (2048?) a song 80 years old.

A guy dying of cancer swimming heartily through icy waters like a spry 16 year old.

I lost track of my eyerolls, it was like watching a trainwreck. What a waste of a good cast. Nothing happens. Because nothing does. No explanation for the radioactivity on earth. And birds dying everywhere but the healthy wolves keep looking for prey?



Your Honor

Did not make it past first episode.
First of all the accident scene?

I almost wept with laughter. Giving the victim mouth to mouth when he was spewing blood? Hello?

Idiot son, the most inept actor I've seen in a long time, leaves his identifying ventilator at the scene. Brilliant.

And then His Honor? Doing totally inappropriate things in court, like throwing protocols out the window? It seems like he visited the crime scene his very own self and throws out the evidence presented by the cop while defence attorney and accused are gobsmacked at his brilliance.

Bryan Cranston doesn't usually act in crud like this. How the mighty have fallen.

I assume it went downhill from there. There was no uphill in my sightlines.


The Undoing

I want the six hours back!
The first few episodes weren't bad apart from Kidman's immobilized face which really affects her emotions which are now all the same. Unfortunately, too many of her closeups are featured.

Grant, on the other hand is all the worst for wear, weary and ancient and downright sleazy. She playing a psychologist, and he an oncologist, really pushes the disbelief metre way too high.

But OK, some of the bit part actors are great, including the sons and the lover and her husband.

But all sorts of problems with reality. For one the kids being questioned without a social worker present. For two the kids in court seeing the murdered women, one her son? Please.

The last two episodes it truly falls apart and we are troped and cliched to death, with obligatory car chase, helicopters, bridge jumper. It was painful to watch, like they ran out of all idea and let Grant and Kidman loose on each other without intervention from the cops surrounding them. Puhleese.

No big reveal, just a pitiful whimper.

A complete waste of time.


Uncle Frank

Coming out in the seventies
This would be have been a higher rating only for two big faux pas.

The first was Frank Sr. mentioning the disease that was striking gays as punishment when he comes across Frank Jr having his first sexual experience at 16. This was the year 1944, AIDS wasn't identified until 40 years later.

The second was Frank's niece and partner walking away from the scene where Frank disappears into the lake. in a state of grief.

Surely they would have called police/search and rescue and not holed back up in the motel wringing their hands.

These flaws spoil a potentially good movie for me and I am surprised that Alan Ball, a director and writer I have long admired didn't pick up on them.

A great cast, lovely photography.


The Trouble with Maggie Cole

Plot? Script? Characters?
To start with the 3 stars are for the scenery - absolutely stunning.

But the premise of the plot is so weak as to be laughable. A doyen of the village bad mouthing all her friends and neighbours as she proceeds to get drunk on a radio programme. As if the libel suits weren't flying - no, no mention of that at all. Naturally the village turns on her. For she is cruel and mean and racist. The papers pick up the story, etc. etc. and it all explodes on media.

The side plots turn into a cops and robbers scenario which stretches the disbelief meter even further.

One of the many problems is the dislikeable self-centred character of Maggie who would be on everyone's avoid at all costs lists.

Dawn French and the rest of the fine cast do their best with limp, unfunny and cliche ridden material.

And it all fails quite wretchedly.

A mess. Avoid.


The Silence

Made for TV effort.
The premise was excellent but the script and photography left a lot to be desired.

The main character was completely dislikeable, The filming very murky at times. And the gradual unfolding of the core secret was clunky.

Excellent musical score with some Patsy Cline thrown in for good measure.


Flesh and Blood

Gripping Whodunnit
I would have given it more stars if I hadn't guessed the perp from Episode 1 but the cast is brilliant, all 3 of the leads, Annis, Staunton and Rea.

Rea is a little overblown and I found it odd that Annis fell so strongly for him as he looks so exhausted and well past his prime whereas she at 75 is incredibly vibrant and self-contained.

Very well done family of secrets and dishonesty affair, the odd clunky bit but on the whole, one of those series that keeps you engrossed till the end.

The South Westerlies

I wanted to like this.
I love West Cork and was looking forward to this, only to find that it was mainly filmed in Wicklow, which is fine, but I felt ripped off.

The script was a kind of 1950 thing, It didn't seem modern, the characters apart from the one who played Breege, full of angst and regret and secrets with no good reason for any of it. The Hollywood bad guys were a trope that didn't work.

I could not engage with Kate, the main character, played by Orla Brady. I found her unbelievable even though I recognise her part was difficult, how to convey constant deception and still have the viewer empathise. Just didn't work.

Sorcha Cusack was embarrassing and the poor English chap who played Conor, the son, looked about 30 and acted like the most mature of them all.

I hate these films of small villages where everyone is two bricks short of a load. Stereotyping and paddywhackery and silly revolts in what could have been a good thing for the town.

Unfortunate. Some nice location shots of Barleycove and a fine performance from Eileen Ryan.

But 5/5.


How Dare They?
What a travesty of a film. The era of the thirties/forties, isn't captured at all. The timidity of the narrator is missed completely. And the moodiness of Mr. DeWinter with his great burden of guilt is absent. Oddly wooden performances drag the whole mess downwards.

The 1940 Hitchcockian/Du Maurier masterpiece should have been left alone.. Laurence Olivier as Maxim, Joan Fontaine as Mrs. De Winter and Judith Anderson as Mrs. Danvers we perfect casting and had multiple award and nominations.

This cast don't even come close but trudge through the leaden dialogue. And the script is wincingly awful. Dreams/nightmares in any script to me are like unimaginative filler.

All points are for the great old house and the staff and the furnishings. And the cars.

And oh yeah, they murdered the ending. And not in a good way. Daphne and Alfred, so sorry.

The Queen's Gambit

Can't praise it enough!
One of the best I've seen for many a year.

Everything about it is topnotch. The audience is treated as intelligent enough to work out the finer points for themselves.

The script, direction, cinematography and production are gobsmackingly brilliant.

And the cast? Not a false note. Utterly believable. I was riveted. and the ending? Perfection!

Kudos to all.


Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

Anachronisms and lack of continuity abound.
So much so that it distracts from the follow up on the huge hit, Mama Mia.

Plus lack of plot.

One standout was the number "Waterloo" incredible dancing and one of the Abba team on piano in a tiny cameo.

It was jarring to see the disconnect from the first film, so many levels of continuity dismissed and cordless mikes and smartphones on display added to the time confusion and the supposed ages of all concerned.

A shame. it really took away the joy of the first and make it all rather dismal.


The Affair

Could not engage
I gave it 4 episodes. Far more than was needed to confirm that it just spiralled downwards from Episode 1.

What awful sleazy characters. Completely dislikable. Dominic West's face and demeanour says "Run from me . Quickly!" every time he appears on screen. I wouldn't let kids go near him.

And the sex scenes are gratuities at best. Downright prurient at worst. Screen lovemaking at a new low and women watchers couldn't possibly enjoy this constant speedy lust and thrust action.

I couldn't care loss what happens to these cardboard cutouts. I hope they killed each other.


The Postcard Killings

Awful dreck
It started out find tho, not great, just fine.

Then it moved around to different countries at a gallop, a disconnected gallop. No time for character development but lots of trains and busy police everywhere with no real context..

Then the absurd: This NY detective tries to show these dumb interpols and European cops how to run a murder investigation?

Eye rolling time as he sorts it all out for them with his big map and stickers on his hotel room wall.

And he's allowed, ungloved and unmasked on crime scenes willy-nilly.

And oh yes, a total Hollywood ending where he saves the fair maiden and leaves the killers free to roll off into the blizzard as they "won't survive". Well, guess what.

How do these things get made?

Avoid 2/10

The Outsider

What happened
The first two episodes of this show gripped me. - the premise was unusual based on how can two people be in two different places at the same time? With a serious crime (a brutal murder of a child) involved.

The acting was superb, the script well written. A new series that seemed credible and worth my time. I checked. 10 episodes.

Little did I know I had seen the very best. Episode 3 had me nodding off.

I kept waiting for it to reflect the promise of the first two episodes.

I was SOL. The thing rolled off the rails into hubris, poor dim annoying lighting, far too many characters and head shaking plot twists.

But I waited, sure it couldn't get worse. It would pick up.

No it didn't.

The last two episodes descended into complete woo territory and one plot line shot entirely off the needles leaving me wondering WTH.

I lost track of the ungrieved dead bodies at the end. And the one who refused to die a final cliche in this pathetic waste of time enterprise.

4 out of 10 for the cast who really, really tried with a terrible muddle of a script and massive plot holes.

Bomb Girls

It started out brilliantly......
But the last few episodes fell apart, the sass and distinction of the characters fell into mushy Hollywood feel good endings.

The acting was great and the atmosphere of WW2 in Canada in this bomb-making factory was phenomenal.

It's like they didn't know how to end it. Disappointing.


The Nest

Brilliant series
A complex issue of surrogacy and infertility explored in great depth. The script, actors and scenery had me gripped from the very beginning. Faultless production values. Had me on the edge of my seat along with the well done subplots.



Hugely disappointing
I'll never understand this massive dumbing down of Broadchurch for the US market. Broadhchurch was gripping in its complexity, script and acting. Why remake it unless there was a tide of profit to be made? The script was lame, the dark and broody interiors were irritating and lacked the contrast of light and dark in BV.

The GP exteriors were excellent, BC standing in for some US seafront. Tennant and Coleman in BV bounced off each other, you never doubted their intelligence for a minute. But Tennant and Gunn are just irritating. She comes across as quite dumb and her lines are appallingly trite. Tennant's accent grates and I kept waiting for a switch to Scottish. .

The USian script is simplistic in the extreme with lots of reaction shots, and the whole denouement extraordinarily unconvincing.

And that unprofessional launching of Gunn on the perp at the end? Why was she left alone with him even for one second? Puhleese.

A mess in other words.

The Poison Tree

What a rip off
This was so cliche ridden it should have had warning stickers. An awful lot of time wasted for such a contrived ending. And she got away with all the terrible lies. Do writers never realize how absolutely false the denouement scenes are?

As in mysterious phone calls/meetings/house visits etc are secretly arranged when the evil doer could barge right in and reveal all in five minutes? But no they have to threaten to announce their dirty deeds way ahead of time.


The Lilac Bus

I enjoyed reading the novella on which this was based but what a banjax of a job on the movie. All of the actors seemed to belong to the "look, ma I'm acting school" of drama.

And there was no script or story, just reaction, film quality was also terrible and it was a total waste of time.

I'm still baffled that it made it to screen.

Completely unbelievable. 1/10


Could hardly make it through the 1st episode.
Seriously thinking of cancelling Netflix subscription if they keep churning out cheese like this. Terrible unbelievable script. Renee chewing the scenery with her new face. Every scene falls flat as a pancake. A terrible stretched remake of Indecent Proposal. Avoid 1/10


Serious simplification of a big theme
Yes, Lara was a seriously troubled 15yo. And there was no serious psychiatric counselling offered? No exploration of her deeper issues? She displayed gender dysphoria at every turn, I wondered if it had something to do with the missing mother who's never mentioned (dead? abandoned? mentally ill?) Lara's obviously physically a young man, performing oddly in his corps de ballet training. Broad of shoulder, large feet and hands and flat chested An oddly disjointed effort, too much awful ballet and enormous bleeding feet and Lara's face. But no denouement apart from the rushed ending which feels tacked on. And well, are we supposed to applaud the mutilation? And she marches off to where, exactly? 3/10

After Life

Brilliant portrayal of devastating grief.
I'm a fan of Ricky Gervais. I've seen all his work from The Office to Derek and Extras and he is insightful, painfully so, into the human condition.

In After Life he sets the bar pretty high. A portrayal of grief that is angry, raw and abusive. And so very real.

I will watch it again.

Not to be missed. 9/10

Bird Box

A Huge Disappointment
Note to self: Don't pay too much attention to hype. The hype is written by Netflix employees.

The Plot:

If you look up at the sky you will kill yourself. That's it. That's all.

Sandra Bullock manages to have a baby simultaneously in a shelter with another pregnant woman (that always happens, right?) and then heads off up a river to a "safe" place she hears about with 2 nameless five year olds . All blindfolded and facing rapids and the birds in a shoebox. Sandra wears full make up and screams an awful lot. Everyone around her dies along the way.

Blindfolds? To protect from monsters? Seriously?

I hate moves that leave me with a WTH feeling at the end.

It truly was awful 0/10

A Kid Like Jake

Character Development?
This film was done much better in a little French gem released many years ago called Ma Vie en Rose.

Alex (Claire Danes) and Greg Wheeler (Jim Parsons) play the parents of a son Jake who likes to wear dresses. He's a psychiatrist (ha!) she's a part time lawyer. They send Jake to a kindergarten run by Judy (Octavia Spencer) who appears to be BFF with Alex but this isn't clearly established.

All of this results in eternal conflict everywhere. No foundations are established for any of the relationships and they all seem hostile.

Jake is rarely seen or heard from apart from the swishing of his tulle skirts and reports only of his bad behaviour.

It's a popular topic at the moment and this film is obviously cashing in on this and failing on every level.

And the ending.

Please. But of course.

Derry Girls

Painful rubbish
The acting is atrocious, the script pitiful and the directing on the edge of melodramatic slapstick without the humour. If you're a fan of that dreadful Mrs. Brown go for it.

The facial contortions of the actor who plays Erin is particularly painful to watch and the accents slip and slide all over the place. Mind numbing. Embarrassing.


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