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American Utopia

Good for 20 minutes
The show starts with a fairly stark environment, as you might expect in secne one of many a play.

The songs are pleasant ditties to nod along to.

And then it just keeps going. And then more of the same.

And then there are old Talking Heads songs. And champagne socialism.

I started skipping forward after 20 minutes. That's how I saw the other bits.

And those bits were enough for me.


Everyone wants there interests to have priority
The US meddled in the affairs of yet another country. Political and commercial interests were put ahead of the people of Chile.

An American goes missing and his father flies down to join the search with the man's wife. Despite hundreds and thousands of Chilean deaths, they want the effort to be about their one.

This is counterpointed by the scenes where they walk through rooms of corpses which aren't their man, with barely a glance.

The acting is OK, but the film feels disjointed and never draws you in - you are like an outsider wondering - why?

Do they find their man? You can google.


Competent but familiar, but more Tenant than Nilsen
I watched the first episode. It felt like I was watching a repeat.

The acting is generally competent for a TV show. Tenant plays the bad guy in the manner you would expect. the other characters are given a bit of development and competently handled. The setting is produced in a believable manner.

Afterwards I watched the documentary which included video of Nilsen. From that you can see that Tennant has the Nilsen wig but his acting is more Tennant than Nilsen.

But at the end of the third episode it felt like it had all been done before, and left no lasting impression, no desire to ever watch again


RSC Live: Othello

Everyone should be entitled to have a go.

That doesn't mean things get better. In fact we are all used to seeing professionals do something well and then having others give-it-ago for the fun of it.

I didn't watch it all as it just seemed like amateur night.

How about performers be selected on talent for the next production.


I watched two thirds of the first episode.

It was a sequence of cliches from every generic drug series you have ever seen. No acting that made me relate to, or have interest in, any of the characters.

Maybe it's unique for those of its native language.


Maybe it was all made on a video conference.
Cheesy graphics - The on screen graphics and CGI have the feel of a PC game.

Basic sound track - as with the graphics, the loud repeating sounds are like a cheap PC game.

Poor acting by the support cast. No craft in the production to build tension. Just bang bang bang.

Hanks - out of place in a 'straight-to-DVD' cheapie.


Dull first episode
A few general cliche's such as video conferencing issues.

A couple of familiar faces chatting but never rising to either wit or outright laughter.

Not unpleasant. Just so so.

Defending Jacob

Glossy episodes then a strange final epsiode
Summary: Choose something else to watch

A bit more: The story feels like you've seen it before and the twists and turns are always the obvious ones.

Plodding acting, other than Jacob's lawyer who probably could get a series of her own with that character.

Lots of pretty, polished people do routine things in their pretty polished roles.

The last episode has as many scenes as an episode of Homeland, but sadly without the same quality of production or point.

The Hunt

Half a fun movie
It takes a light-hearted approach to violence and gore. The first half has some good humour with references to social media, lefty-angst and so on.

By the middle it runs out of steam and the final scene is rather dull.

No nudity.


Turkeys can fly
Cheap and bad movie.

You'll find yourself yelling at the screen from all of the stupid things Levitt does, then you'll skip forward to see if it was worth watching.

It wasn't.

Into the Night

Woke fizzler
Begins with promise to be a bit of B-grade action fun but the second half falls apart and just fizzles in to standard woke characterisation.

Skip it.

Beat the Chasers

Shouty, dumbed-down version for prime time
Compared to The Chase, there are far fewer questions asked and lot more shouting and flashing lights.

This is the dumbed-down version for prime time. There is even the forced 'comments' from a chaser or two as a contestant walks on.

The tension comes from the clock counting down as questions switch between the contestant and the chasers, of whom only one answer can be accepted.

Anything over 40 seconds seems to be the danger zone.

Do I like it enough to watch again? No.


Watch the actual epsiode on Youtube afterwards
A very misleading mini series.

It is well made as light entertainment goes and the acting is generally very good with the glaring exception of 'Ingram' who, when portrayed in the chair, is a noticeably different character than you can see on the real how.

The trial is also changed to make interesting television rather than a fair account of the evidence presented.

So - 8 for entertainment and 2 for accuracy.

Paint Your Wagon

A musical for men - and that's what many don't get
From the storyline, to the tunes, the lyrics and the performances - this is a movie for men.

It's fun. It looks good. It sounds good. The performances are a great balance between story and humour.

Enjoy the movie. Sing along. It is great.

The Gentlemen

A facsimile
It goes through all of the expected motions but it is just a facsimile, a pale copy, of the original it wants to be.

Soft actors playing hard parts.

A good movie to watch if you gave something more interesting to be doing at the same time.


It must have been cheap to make ...
... because anyone associated with it must have seen what a pile of dung this mess is whilst it was still being made and would have stopped it in its tracks.

I skipped forward to hear that someone was massacring "Memories" and skipped a bit further to see that others were also delivering rubbish.

It would have been better as Cat-nado.


The Godfather meets The Amazing Race
And succeeds in neither genre.

A grand scale and intent there are many problems. There are two strong characters, the Grandfather and the Mexican commando leader, and a number of less convincing 'support' actors.

Once the story gets to Africa it just gets, well, stupid.

A suitable binge-watch if you don't want to have to think too much or maybe want to check some web sites at the same time.

The Whisperer in Darkness

Cheaply made, like a student effort
For me this was just seen as a movie, and not as part of a fan following or culture.

The movie is cheaply made with actors performing like those from a small town theatre troupe.

I could only imagine what a Spielberg or Cameron could have done with the same story.

Doctor Sleep

Bland in so many ways.
The Shining was made with character actors. Look at their faces and you see experience, you see lives that have been lived.

In this movie the faces are as bland as the production. Smoothed over 'Photoshop' people like generic images from online advertising. The actors who do the reproductions are the worst.

The direction is also bland. Kubrick would be a hard, if not impossible, act to follow - but a better job could have been done.

It was the direction and the quality of acting that made The Shining so memorable. This movie is just something to forget. If you haven't watched it yet, don't bother.

Endeavour: Zenana
Episode 3, Season 7

Just plain dumb
Oh how the mighty have fallen.

A slip from Morse to Endeavour with concerted effort to make it on its own feet.

And then season 7.

Written like a comic book caper. Supposedly set in 1970 but with actions from fast-food delivery to regular folk racing across Europe (with guns no less) probably by people who whom the 80's is distant history.

One implausible turn gets rushed on to another.

Next season's stories will see Captain Oxford swinging from house to church on silver threads, while using his mobile phone to listen to punk music - in 1972.

Star Trek: Picard

What a let down
Star Trek: The Next Generation was successful in being true to T.O.S. both in format (weekly stories with some continuing threads) a decisive and charismatic captain and plenty of baddies to blast.

In episode 1 of this we have grandad and some woke players and what looks to be a dragged our story without any conclusion week after week.

Not your dad's Star Trek. Not really Star Trek at all.


Pretty pointless with a rushed silly ending
It started poorly, got a little better toward the middle, went a bit strange and had a frankly pointless ending.

Various things happen that seem neither to matter nor get wrapped up.

The acting is generally poor, or the people do a good job of making no one likeable.

Given what happened they could have wrapped it up in four episodes.

Can't recommend it.

Knives Out

Like one of those bad Poirot movies
The whodunnit was once a popular staple of TV and TV Movies. Peter Ustinov appeared in a number of adaptations and some of those were very mediocre.

This movie is like one of those.

As is usual there is a line up of familiar faces (none of whom act well) , some crimes happen and then there is a reveal.

The reveal here seems to take up a tediously long time.

It may be one of the better movies of the year, which is a reflection on the quality of current output.

Set your expectations low, and maybe watch it on 'DVD' with a coffee break.

Jojo Rabbit

A Jewish directors obligatory WWII movie?
Waititi/Cohen isn't known for making high-brow films or masterpieces. He is more of an Adam Sandler than a Hitchcock.

This movie is much on the level we could expect from him.

The subject matter does give the feeling that there is a certain requirement for some directors to pay their dues by making a WWII movie of a certain type, and I don't mean saving Private Ryan.

The quality of the movie is - average.

It is meant to be a comedy but it is really only very low-brow in its delivery.

Stephen Merchant delivers the standout performance as Gestapo officer. If all of the movie was like this it might have made it. Unfortunately the worst seems are those with Waititi who is unconvincing in his mock-Hitler.

Wait until you can see it for free and can skip through.

The Lighthouse

Two men do improv while orchestra warms up
When you find you are 15 minutes in and wanting to check your phone you realise that this hasn't grabbed you - and it will continue like that for a long time.

The two actors go through a range of emotions with little credibility but it all feels false and the storyline is a pretentious take on a familiar scenario.

Nothing grabs. Nothing really interesting happens. And it is all made annoying by a soundtrack of cacophony which prevents any real tension building up in what should feel like a claustrophobic environment.

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