BeneCumb

IMDb member since March 2012
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Reviews

Defending Jacob
(2020)

Intense, but somewhat predictable and over-sophisticated
The topic is not novel, similar productions have been before (usually pondering on and over the guilt of a spouse), but a mix of procedural and family drama as here is somewhat more interesting to follow. The performances are solid (all leading ones), but the clues and insinuations revealed step-by-step can be meaningful for viewers, but not from the point of view of active criminal investigation. So the plot got stuck for me in several places and I started involuntary comparisons with topical Danish series where distress and doubts are presented in a more thrilling manner.

PS I have not read the book, but as mothers tend to defend their sons to very end, the events in the last episode are not too realistic...

Numb3rs
(2005)

A thrilling ode to sciences and family ties
/referring to all seasons and all episodes in a sequence/

With Numb3ers, it was a long TV journey and not always smooth (some episodes more versatile than others, characters sometimes left the season abruptly, somewhat questionable partnership between close-lipped FBI and open scientists), but the general idea and accomplishment were distinct and apparently encouraging at least some viewers to deal more with math and physics... And the words/phrases used - not daily ones, I had to consult some dictionaries from time to time :)

As for the cast, Charlie Eppes (David Krumholtz) and Larry Fleinhardt (Peter MacNicol) were most to my liking, plus I enjoyed to see the presently known performers in recurring and/or minor roles (well, sometimes it was evident that the characters depicted by them should be guilty, but still). Due to intertwining moments and flashbacks, it is advisable to watch it as I did - successively.

Snöänglar
(2021)

Not bad, but definitely so sad...
This is one of the few Scandinavian series when viewers can see that so-called native local people can also live in poverty and misery (usually this is visible when depicting post-1990 immigrants). The situations are both tragic and somber, and intertwining 3 cases and multiple characters provides additional value to the series. True, the potential wrongdoer as to the baby is somewhat revealed too soon (in spite of somewhat artificial distractions), but the real circumstances remain mystery up to the end. All the scenes are accentuated by harsh weather conditions and gray winter sky = climate is a strong supporting cast here.

The performances are also okay, with many faces not visible in every Swedish-Danish series :) Well, Eva Melander is a kind of star in Scandinavia, but Maria Rossing was a pleasant surprise, previously unknown to me.

Thus, Snöanglar is a solid series, yet not Innan vi dör or Bron/Broen, and with certain triviality in depicting police officers, particularly headstrong ones...

Patrick Melrose
(2018)

Painful realism elevated by some several fine performances
Usually I try to avoid the-rich-cry-too stories depicting their attempts to deal with vanity in a self-destructive manner, but as B. Cumberbatch is one of my favourite actors + there are other talented names involved, I decided to give it a try. As for performances, I was not disappointed, Cumberbatch, JJ Leigh and S. Maltz in particular do a great job, but the quality of different episodes is disjunct and following flashbacks was difficult at times. And, as mentioned, I am not keen on watching addicts with money, their pretentiousness and internal hiding tend to annoy me.

Still a strong series: performances 9 points, script 7 points = 8.

Mrs Wilson
(2018)

Solid and apparently realistic, but a bit arid and over-sophisticated
Well, based-on-real-events provides some additional value, plus there are interesting performances, but questions remain open and use of same actors-actresses within the time gap of 20 years but limited make-up diminished their convincingness somehow. Besides, it astonished me, even in the pre-mobile and pre-Internet area, how a man could keep secret so many marriages and families within one country when a specific address was given by Mr. Wilson...

But still, as mentioned, Mrs. Wilson is a solid series with fine performances.

The Spy
(2019)

Intense and realistic, with a great leading performance
Usually I am not so interested in watching thrillers/dramas with the outcome known (usually if real and famous persons/events involved) - as I like to remain alert until the very end. Here, I did not google the real events before and as I was unaware of Eli Cohen, I just followed the run of the Series with excitement. Thus, I was unaware the final scenes and had more suspense while watching.

Moreover, the name Gideon Raff is a sign of certain quality, plus I was eager to see how Sascha Baron Cohen would manage with such a demanding role, and I was pleasantly surprised. He is really a versatile actor and could be used in non-comic films and series more often.

Unless you consider everything related to Israel some propaganda against Arabs, The Spy is a well-created series and enjoyable to watch.

The Serpent
(2021)

Certain cat-and-mouse play based on true events
Usually I am not so keen on watching crime and suspense with the outcome known (usually if real and famous persons/events involved) - as I like to remain alert until the very end. Here, I did not google the real events before and as I was unaware of Charles Sobhraj, I just followed the run of the Series with excitement. Even if I felt sometimes that some scenes had limited value to the overall narration, the build was logical and I really wanted to know how the things would development (well, one should carefully monitor the constant shifts between past and present in different countries and environments). It was also to my liking that local ambience of different places was captured well.

The cast is international and evenly strong, with a few actors only I remembered from other series (so no evident guess who would survive or who wins), with male performers somewhat excelling female ones... And when watching how easy it was in those days to counterfeit or conceal then you begin to realise that biometry and digital technology have more virtues than vices :)

Tunna blå linjen
(2021)

So realistic that almost a documentary
Malmö is one of the most problematic cities in Sweden, thus the police have to tackle with a bunch of various issues (often generated initially by leftist politicians). So the police has more obligations than rights, mocking policemen is not prohibited, etc - such is the environment where Sara, Magnus, Jesse, Leah, etc. Have to cope and develop both regarding employment and private life. Plus, of course, ridiculous habit by public of using social media for spreading lies and lopsided opinions of events occurred and actions taken by the police.

In spite of some predictable narration run and solutions, the Series is well created, with nice performances by actors not often starring in other series. The only one I recognised was Gizem Erdogan from Kalifat. Here, she has a controversial role of a Jew.

Pity when the police force become a captive of a certain vision of democracy. And when immigration is out of control, with very little integration. Should be seen as a warning for all leftist people fond of mixing religions and nations.

Zasada przyjemnosci
(2019)

Bearing in mind the wide cooperation - a good result
Well, so many different venues, vast areas, the cast representing Slavs mostly, but still with different attitudes (Ukraine vs. EU, above all). And it budget was not too generous, I suppose... The outcome is a rather suspense thriller series, with interesting main theme, plus some by-lines pleasantly confusing (well, sometimes too excessively, but this is not a big issue). The final outcome could have been more sophisticated, but then - realism is also a good quality vis-a-vis crime series.

The performers are all good and pleasant as well, knowing how to be in teamwork (although many of them are big stars in their countries and even internationally known, e.g. Karel Roden). The latter and Malgorzata Buczkowska were the ones excelling for me a bit, but as mentioned - it is a pleasant cooperation of 4 Central-European countries.

I have read that Season 2 might follow - please count me in as a part of audience then :)

Fred til lands
(2019)

The Danes are masters in depicting angst - but something fell short here
The benchmark is catchy and the reasons-why are well depicted from the beginning, but then the pace somewhat slackens and the number of by-lines and characters becomes to large, without providing any additional value to the course of events (e.g. As to Milad). But there are interesting twists and turns, the viewers can ponder on and over different ideas, and the very final scenes might hint that Season 2 will come as well.

But the performances are good (I like Lene Maria Christensen as Bibi and Morten Hee Andersen as Mike most) and unlike in most Danish series, it includes actors not constantly visible in thriller series.

Fred til lands is more than okay if you are familiar with Danish society and thinking, but I can hardly envisage any wider breakthrough here, even in e.g. Most parts of Europe.

And last but not least - the title. Both in Danish and English, it is confusing and uninviting.

Terriers
(2010)

In spite of uneven pace, catchy and fun
I had not much previous knowledge of this "rather old" series, but I started to like it quite soon. There is a mix of sad/tragic and funny events and moments, but the characters do not just formulate funny lines for the sake of amusing the audience. The cases and persons concerned are often intertwined (in that sense, Terries was ahead of most series where 1 case - 1 episode used to prevail, this approach is a much later phenomenon); the final result/solution is unexpected and a bit confusing, yet not undermining the whole course of previous events. Somewhat pity that only 1 season was produced.

The cast is even, although many performers were unknown to me, and those I recalled tend to appear in the supporting cast. But Logue, Raymond-James, Allen are worth remembering, at least for future series.

At last but not least - I enjoyed the theme song/music.

The Sommerdahl Murders
(2020)

For them only who have some knowledge of Denmark
/about Season 1/

This locality-based Series (in and around Elsinore) is no flop, but not more than mediocre, no Scandi Noir, with several predictable cases (if I did not guess the wrongdoer, I could guess the run of scenes and problem-solving approaches) and unrealistic living atmosphere of the policemen in Denmark (mid-level officers all having private houses with a sea-view, really?). The cast is also just above average, no memorable performances (Babikian, Drasbæk, Mygind are not A-grade actors in Denmark).

As for level, it is more close to e.g. Anna Pihl or Morden i Sandhamn than to Bron/Broen or Innan vi dör, for instance. And last but not least - Danish weather is seldom so pleasant as in this Series :)

Hatufim
(2009)

Seems realistic - plus great performances
Due to its location, past and present, Israel has definitely some specific aspects and issues not common to Western" countries to deal with, being at war with far bigger countries. Hardly anybody in e.g. Europe can imagine to be decades in prison under such circumstances and conditions. But life goes on, things change, yet the country´s integrity has to be protected, thus no returner can expect an absolutely warm and unconditional welcome.

All the above is skilfully presented, but script-wise and performance-wise, with explaining flashbacks and unexpected twists and turns included. I used to enjoy Season 2 more as it was more crime drama and with faster pace, although I can not say that Season 1 was static or somewhat tedious - perhaps the contrast with the past pleasant life and present instable existing was too painfully visible. All the cast is strong, forming a versatile aggregated whole, without nobody excelling at the expense of others.

PS I have also partially seen the US series Homeland, but they are largely different.

DNA
(2019)

Not bad, but somewhat over-sophisticated and with several cliches
Denmark-Poland is like Sweden-Latvia or Finland-Estonia where, since 1990ies, contradiction between West and East, static and dynamic, wealth and poverty, etc. have been in contact and sometimes colliding... DNA tells us similar story where "smart criminals" from East using assistance from West have organised a network bringing misery and unknowing to hundreds of families.

The beginning of the Series is intense, but then some unnecessary scenes and characters appear, plus I began to suspect a certain person too soon as a wrongdoer. Anders W. Berthelsen, the main star, is good, but not among the finest Danish contemporary performers, and is often overshadowed by e.g. Nicolas Bro and Charlotte Rampling. On the other hand, international cast and events occurring in several countries is definitely a virtue preventing stagnation and adding diversity (sometimes with over-sophistication though).

The final solution of the issues began to reveal a bit too soon... "Only" 7 points from me as I am able to name more than dozen far more versatile series.

Ulven kommer
(2020)

Evidently strong, painfully disclosing "protective" bureaucracy
Well, the approach and events described are intrinsic to developed countries where long documents form the basis of child welfare and people are encouraged to "detect and identify any signs of possible abuse". I am sure that in most cases the intervention from outside is needed and due, but here, in Ulven kommer, the events spin and roll in sprite of slow pace at times. The final episode is realistic as well, but seemingly contradicting the total run of events.

This above-trivial narration is elevated by strong performances of all cast, starting with Bjarne Henriksen as Lars (he is a fine actor, just remember Forbrydelsen) and Flora Ofelia Hofmann Lindahl as Holly (a pleasant teen surprise). Their dialogues, yet not long, are very intense and heartrending, and although viewers obtain clarity what was really going on, it is still intriguing to follow how the things develop and what is the result. True, the final solution is not satisfactory to everyone.

Another fine Danish series!

Case Histories
(2011)

Pleasant and versatile locality-based crime drama
Most of events take place in beautiful Edinburgh, with few trips outside, where Private Eye Jackson Brodie (pleasantly performed by Jason Isaacs) tries to deal with different type of cases, personal demons from the past and relations with different women at the same time. Sometimes succeeding, often failing, with several accidents and felonies on his way...

Although the cases are not equally interesting and some overlaps are "too much", the course of episodes is pleasant to follow (one should see them successively). Alas, the inclusion of some rather famous British actors as supporting cast would indicate that they would remain visible throughout the episode, thus diminishing the thrill would they get killed or not (usually an issue in smaller countries).

"Only" 8 points from as e.g. Cormoran Strike is more interesting character in a similar environment.

Élite
(2018)

Far better than expected - bearing in mind that I am outside its target group
/Refers to Seasons 1-3/ I tend to prefer Scandinavian and UK drama/thriller series, but from time to time I like to widen my horizons as for countries, languages and topics. So I somehow landed at Elite and... stayed watching it, all series available so far. With mainly new approaches, new faces (well, some were familiar from Casa de Papel which I liked a lot), new environment, etc... Élite is fresh in many ways and it carries you along somehow... Even with flashbacks, recurring events and other elements used before, but still... Teen drama is everywhere (still, is attitudes towards sex, drugs and booze so broad-minded in Spain for 16-17 year olds?!) The rich cry too, money is not everything - although many poorer would prefer to try it anyway... This Series gives food for thought, particularly if our societies will be governed by people who have so many skeletons in the closets and "spoilt" by unhealthy youth? Vis-a-vis nations and with themselves. Anyway, looking forward to following seasons.

Scott & Bailey
(2011)

Pleasantly feminine - without being feministic
/refers to all seasons and episodes/

As a man, I was not sure if I am "up to" this Series, but, on the other hand, I tend to like British crime series... So I decided to try... Even the Series has female touch almost fully (created by, mostly written by and produced by, all main cast), it became to my liking rather soon and watched all seasons/episodes in sequence (btw, recommendable to do so). True, not all cases are equally catchy and the course of events not always smooth, but strong women in the police world dominated by males and their own often weak coping with personal issues - this non-balance paved the way for versatile events in a small unit.

As to the cast, I liked Lesley Sharp as Janet Scott and Amelia Bullmore as Gill Murray most, plus some supporting cast provided memorable performances (Nicola Walker as Helen Bartlett, above all), seeming often catchier in 1+1 with the main cast. If you have seen dozens of British crime series, so you have apparently noticed most of performers in several other series as well...

All in all, 8 strong points from me. Yet Season 5 was evidently closed in a hurry - pity, 5 more episodes could have been created for a nice round-up as in previous seasons.

Fallet
(2017)

Neither profound nor smooth - but with multiple giggling moments
With not too many exaggerations (well...:)) But the criminal case is real, I did not figure out the wrongdoer and the motives behind, and the cast includes many gems not seen/noticed by me before (well, from the Swedish side, Adam Godley is well-known).

The episodes are short (less than 30 minutes), you just watch and let yourself carried away into the world of human weaknesses, small-place peculiarities, shadows from the past, etc. where odd personas with personal issues try to find solutions and make themselves visible in their own and often clumsy way. Sometimes the chemistry is pleasurable, and then some remark or appearance makes you shake your head - wtf! was this that I just saw?!

Recommended - unless you think that crime should be depicted in real dramas only.

The Undoing
(2020)

Not-so-logical story elevated by several great performances
Although the plot is intense and includes several twists and turns, the "post-crime" activities of the wrongdoer are rather odd - bearing in mind the person´s background, knowledge and an opportunity presented. Being so sloppy after such a crime with subsequent mood change? Not too realistic... I wonder if the novel behind (You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz) is a total fiction?

Still, due to the direction (highly valued Susanne Bier from Denmark) and magnificent performances of Nicole Kidman, Hugh Grant, Noah Jupe, Donald Sutherland, and Noma Dumezweni, above all, all the episodes were still pleasant to follow, plus the final scenes were different from a regular US series. Kidman should be praised somehow for being Grace Fraser - although she is always a splendid actress.

Roadkill
(2020)

Apparently realistic, but not among the BBC´s finest
Ordinarily, political series tend to suffer from lingering and unnecessary events for the sake of "filling", but Roadkill seems to be too intensive for 4 episodes. I liked the versatility of characters and no good vs. bad distinction, taking sides, but many motives were "closed" too soon and too easily, with Peter Laurence hovering and adrift personally and politically... This Series is definitely around him and Hugh Laurie stars as best he can (he is a wonderful actor, I have always liked him, but I find his character in e.g. The Night Manager more appealing). All the others, even rather known performers, have really supporting roles, and all in all it is not at the level of e.g. Borgen from Denmark (its star Sidse Babett Knudsen had only the role of mistress here). And if you believe in somewhat honesty in politics and justice always served - you better skip it.

The ending scenes could envisage the appearance of Season 2; let´s see - I will probably watch it as well.

Deutschland 89
(2020)

More interesting than ´86, almost as good as ´83
Due to the dynamism of the era and rapidly changing events (often chaotic) this Series may seem more hectic / less profound, but both BRD and DDR had such times in 1989... Decisions had to be taken rapidly, background information was limited, nobody knew how the USSR and West would react... I am sure there are no exaggerations in the script. Families, friends, relatives became involved in different opinions and activities plus the shadow of Stasi was around anyone - in spite of his or her former or current views.

The cast is strong here again, mostly familiar faces, with new angles and approaches. Again the mail characters and performers are more versatile here (as DDR was in fact a "male" society as all socialist countries - in spite of slogans), with Jonas Nay and Sylvester Groth most to my liking.

The ending scenes are somewhat peculiar, and it seems that Deutschland ´92 is not envisaged... Although I would not mind to see what happened to all these surviving personas in the unified Germany.

Strike
(2017)

Another solid British TV series
/Refers to Seasons 1-4/

I got to watch this Series via a recommendation and I was unaware of the background forces here - starting with J. K. Rowling aka Robert Galbraith - wow... As I remember Tom Burke from some previous films, Strike captivated me from the start, and Holliday Grainger as Robin Ellacott was also a pleasant finding to me.

Although the different cases are not equally seamless and catchy, it is the narration, background and the relationships being the strengths here - as in most of series by BBC. You just follow the case, the chemistry between the characters and ponder on and over whether the outcome would be as usual or somewhat different... And you are happy when you are not right :) Plus realistic approach, no "funny" lines or policing using expensive cars and outfits - as often visible in the US series.

Strike is definitely for you if you are fond of "old-fashioned" crime series, with modern technology in the assisting, not dominating role. Further episodes-seasons welcome!

Johannes Pääsukese tõeline elu
(2019)

A kind of ethnographic half-documentary - and not too catchy
The benchmark is more than okay, all major persons involved in making this film are known in Estonia and obtained certain fame abroad as well. The milieu is pleasantly nostalgic and beautiful good-old scenery provides additional value... But the story is somewhat vague, with some predictable solutions, and some motives why certain characters behaved in the way as depicted makes you scratch your head... Anyway, the viewers obtain additional information about the history and traditions of the Setos, and the performance of the stars (particularly Tõnu Kark as Sergo) is really entertaining.

This film could be partially attract interest among max Latvians and Finns, max. The era and story are too distant to those far away (I am unable to watch and enjoy similar things happening in 19th century Greece or Slovakia, for example).

Characters, background, performances - 8, narration, smoothness - 6 points.

Little Boy Blue
(2017)

A heartrending realism
Sad stories with kids involved are always very oppressive and usually avoided in artistic scripts where kids/youngsters may occur in awful situations but they tend to be rescued at the last moment... Here, in Little Boy Blue, we all know how it goes, and the focus is shifted to other aspects. The mood is well captured and the performances are realistic, but, for me, there is some "boost" missing, enabling more diverse and smoother approach, moving beyond documentary style. Perhaps by more distinct characters?

PS Such things should not happen - alas they do... And they will if gangs are not dismantled and no-go zones abolished.

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