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A fathers love, or a fathers downfall?
A cop and a father hides his daughters crime, the murder of her lover, but slowly realizes she's not a me too victim but a dark personality disorder. What makes this Czech movie so good is the depth of the story as it reveals many layers. The parolee seeking to regain fatherhood. The cops partner who is not only being jilted by his wife ( with guess who) but is providing inside dope to a scummy reporter. The dead lovers corrupt relationship with dark state operatives. It's tight and very edgy and smart.

Crímenes de familia

Love is blind, or is it?
A well written, acted, directed, movie about a mother's unquestioning love for a son that leads her to corruption and then to redemption. We are left to wonder about her sons guilt or innocence and it's only revealed when the mother finds out. Is she simply blinded by a mothers Urge to protect or is she aiding and abetting? One final untaken phone call tells all.

The Sounds

started well then jumped the shark.
I was enjoying it up to episode 6. Man goes missing, but is hiding out ( We never get an intelligent explanation for this), and I waited patiently to get the explanation. Then comes episode 6. Down the rabbit hole. Tom, the missing husband, turns out to be in cahoots with his wife, who wasn't really on board for it. Tom morphs into a whiny sociopath, and wife finally sees the light. In the end it looks like they are setting us up for season 2. RUN!

Van der Valk

Warmed over British Noir
There is nothing new here. The cookie cutter demands that either 1 of the top 2 cops be either: a): Asocial, or b): weird. In this case we get asocial. The cookie cutter also demands that there be a newbie, and lo and behold we get a... nerd, a person of color nerd, but a nerd nevertheless. The case usually gets solved by either a last minute Aha moment, or "et voila: new evidence. We get the latter. Moving it out of Brexit U.K. helps, but it's still Brits running around Amsterdam. Of course diversity is rife throughout. We've covered man of color, here we get more than a few Indians, and of course a gay couple, although they don't get much to do, a female boss, no that's De Rigueur. Now for my spoiler, and that is the ludicrous ending. Are we really to believe that the mastermind is a seductive barmaid? How does she get 3 men to kill for her on a barmaids salary?

Filha da Lei

Adamantine cop with a prop in hand
A solid Portuguese cop show, with a female lead. It has cookie cutter tv noir elements, and does drag at times, but the shift to othercharacters: a bratty teen daughter, a novice partner, a macho a hole, and a serial killer. The constant sucking on a vape cig loses its appeal early on, but the taut mother daughter relationship will be familiar to many of us.

Den inre cirkeln

Entertaining if shallow
Nordic Gris. Unfortunately this show tries to appeal to those who like edginess and those who like soaps, and as a result it's a jumble. It's biggest fault is it's simplistic, immature view of hard core politics and media. The main characters have several secrets that any investigative reporter could ferret out by just paying attention. For example the P.M. is Gay and has a lover, the woman she wants to place in power, and the media has no clue! They sleep together in the same Hotel suite??? The characters are never deeply explored, and behavior is explained in Soapy terms. Most irritating of all is the presence of not 1 oddball character but 3 or 4. Enjoy it but just don't take it seriously. The final take hints strongly at a second season.


Solid Welsh Noir.
Season 1 was great, this may be better. The character development is what makes this show. The viewer has to be patient because the series will not tell you much, they prefer to let it unravel, and isn't that the way it is in real life? It's not a whodunnit, or a why dunnit but a they dunnit now watch and make up your own mind. A rarity is the character of a killer who elicits empathy and sympathy. Also a sociopath who, for once, isn't a leering mad caricature. Just scary as hell. My only criticism is over some weak police work. You don't interview a "suspect" whose given you DNA before you check out the DNA.


Another by the book serial killer
If I was a serial killer I'd be getting pretty tired of the stereotyping of my ilk. Look it's simple people. We are psychopaths. O.K? We have no redeeming factors. Who cares if we keep trophies. Who cares if we have some deeper motive. We're killers. Nuff said.


Film Gris
A B grade thriller from Norway. The writing is quite poor, the acting pretty awful. Had the story line been presented in a more adult fashion it might have worked, but the characters are not sympathetic, and quite gormless. There is no depth here. Throw a scene at the screen and see what sticks. A cop who is caught using Heroin, and is merely suspended? A female cop who can thrash a muscled hit man into submission twice? A lawyer who looks befuddled at the best of times? Season 2 is coming. Be still my beating heart.


First season geat, season 2 not so good.
A daughter returns for her mothers funeral and suspects her father is a killer. There is plenty of mounting evidence, and her father's behavior, thanks to a great performance by Dunbar, doesn't deter her. The time line switching is a little annoying, but not confusing The first season was well written. While the first season kept one on tenterhooks about who did what, and built the drama the second season is much weaker and at time comically trite in it's simplicity. Dunbar's character seems to have lost some IQ points, and his son in law, who was mostly absent in season, 1 is now Mr. Wimp. When Cat, the angry daughter from season 1, appears mid season, she reprises her role in spades. The show went from strong drama to weak soap.

Babylon Berlin

Mesmerizing, and that's an inside joke
I'm reviewing all 3 seasons. Season 1: Fabulous. If the cabaret scene doesn't hook you then you are dead! Incredible cinematography, and Berlin pre-Adolf comes alive. Several plots are all going at the same time, and concentration is key. It also helps to know some history of that era. The main characters ( and they are many) are deeply developed, and interesting. Season 2: Continues the story but adds a twist that is confusing. Is he or isn't he? Is he being conned by drugs and hypnosis, or are we? Season 3: New plot, and the jump into fantasia doesn't work well. I love the woman who plays Fraulein Ritter! Such energy and panache.

The Return

Much too manipulative script
Julie Walters gets out of jail for killing her husband and immediately moves back to where it all happened. What could go wrong.The script has a choice to explore the deeper issues of parole, guilt, community reaction, and family repercussions. Instead it devolves quickly into a series of "revelations" that shunt it into Whodunnit land. It's not helped by an alcoholic remission that is thrown in to ramp up the drama, and then just as quickly shut down. Her character is never likeable, and when we find out what she was like pre prison we wonder what the point of the drama is? Whether she did or didn't do it fades away as a relevant issue. Even the best actors cant escape a bad script. It would have fared much better as a series with issues revealed slowly so the interest could build.

Pájaros de verano

Our tribe is better than your tribe
An overly long and mostly slow "Shakespeare in the desierto" fable. Basically it comes down to 2 sociopaths, mine and yours, who screw up a good business deal. Since it's tribal law there is a lot of bickering over the rules, but since there is big money at stake in the drug business the rules get broken ending in war. Family should never get in between business.


Noirish to the hilt.
Yes it's slow, and not for the impatient and young, but it's one of the better Noir series in recent years. There are the inevitable plot holes to maneuver around but they don't irritate because the story is deep and complex and multi layered. It borrows from "The Godfather" and "Shakespeare," "Narcos" and many Noirs, but it does so lovingly. The tough, asocial, main female lead is now de rigueur, time to soften the breed, as is the calm, never rattled sociopath, whatever happened to Bat Poop crazy? I see a second season coming.

Die Diplomatin

The German version of Madame Secretary
This is a series that needs better writing. Realistic it ain't, and the main character gets way too much screen time. Why is this a problem? Because she's supposed to be an Ambassador or a high ranking diplomat, and they have her acting as an agent, not a diplomat, who single handedly solves issues the CIA and special Ops folks would do if they had weeks of planning. The best episode is the one where our intrepid heroine doesn't take front stage. It's way more solid.

Despite the Falling Snow

A spy story as if written by a romance novelist.
Slow and tedious with little action the director/writer (always a big mistake) drags us through an uninteresting story about Russians (speaking in upper class English accents) who don't act like Russians, spying for no apparent high minded reason, and eventually being betrayed, except for one grand sacrifice.


The truth has many faces
A fascinating documentary about a soldier pardoned by Trump a few days ago. It let's you hear from many sides of the case, but the most compelling are those who matter most. The convicted lieutenant and those in his platoon who would speak out and who turned him in to the Army. It's not a black and white story, until Fox media gets hold of it and jingos it up into a "travesty of justice." I ended up making up my own mind ( he should not have been pardoned, but clemency was appropriate) and that's what I like about this movie. It's a Rorschach projection test on how we will judge the issues.

Jack Ryan: Persona Non Grata
Episode 6, Season 2

Entertaining but shallow
As usual in these shows one has to suspend disbelief, but the RUFKM moments pile too high too quick for me to relax and enjoy. No character is complex or explored in any depth. Rapaci is wasted...again. She is an actor in search of a good script. Jingoism rules. We good, they bad! They miss the opportunity to inform the public of Venezuela's struggle, and they end up dumbing it down. The idea of a free election is absurd, Maduro would and has fixed it. No Senator is so powerful that he needs to be assassinated; why bother with rare minerals when the government can't make do with vast oil and Gold reserves? Geez Wendell get a new heart valve. I did.:)


Last season went off the rails.
It's certainly not an edgy series and the Cornish characters seem (ARH,ARH,ARH) writ for TV, but it's quite entertaining. Being old I preferred the older series, and perhaps due to my age this one seemed less sophisticated. The last season was quite a let down. What with Warleggan's bouts of lunacy, Ned's bouts of senselessness, and Ross's bouts of concreteness, it became obvious that the writers decided to go for high ( on cocaine) drama instead of a reasonable tying up of loose ends.

This Promised Life

What is Italian for Sturm und drang?
An overwrought soap opera which muddles it's morality so much that it's hard to know who to root for. Certainly not for the main character Carmela who always seems to realize the error of her emotional behavior way after most decent people would. If this is meant to be an example of the average Italian immigrant family then we can see why the Italians were met with such disdain. But it's fiction and we can only hope that the writers were trying to put story ahead of moral.

Ad Astra

In space no one can see you yawn.
A slow plod of a movie with nice but predictable CGI images. It's an Apocalypse now in space movie. A trek to take out a bad guy. This time it's a family affair. Pitt and Jones, with the latter looking like a million light years of bad road. We never see Pitt's charm, and though he may be looking for Oscar, he ain't going to get it. Not much to do about nothing.

Downton Abbey

Entertaining and frivolous
It's a nice ending to an endearing series, even the resort to French farce in mid movie couldn't ruin it, but let's face it it's as sophisticated as a helium balloon. The divide between the upper and lower strata was never this convivial. It will do boffo at the box office, older people will clap, and Queen Mary's penchant for shaming people out of their jewels and doodads will be now historically be blamed on her dresser. Ah well: Noblesse oblige...not!

Criminal: UK

More Mouse than Cat
It's an engrossing series, if only for the chance to see some great acting by the "Suspect Du Jour." In each episode, so far, the suspects give themselves away, not due to the skill of the investigators, but due to the urge to babble. Then the tongue gets ahead of the brain. I was hoping to see intelligence versus intelligence, but what I see, so far, is poor plot writing.


B Grade pulp
Oh Noomi get another agent! Whenever I see a director writing their own screenplay I know we're in trouble. The script in this is so lousy and comes off as simplistic clunky mush. Noomi is great with what she gets but she's caught up in a B grade vehicle with no support from her fellow thespians. The Director obviously is trying to show how women can beat up any bad guy. Rapace gets 6 or 7 lives in this one, and even gets help from her hapless heiress in the end. Puleeez!


Well written, well acted, smart and engrossing
Binge worthy series that is a must see. Taken from an article about the story (that stretched a few years) from Pro Publica it is a wonderfully crafted work in many ways. It is, initially, a cautionary tale about male detectives and female rape victims, but widens it's view to look at great by the book police investigating leading to justice. It also sheds light on how poorly even professionals understand the mentally fragile by re victimizing them. The acting ensemble are magnificent from Wever to Dever and the incomparable Collette. See you at the Emmy's.

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