cordenw

IMDb member since September 2013
    Lifetime Total
    250+
    IMDb Member
    7 years

Reviews

Papillon
(2017)

another stinker on Netflix
Zero stars for this... couldn't start a fire if you poured gas on it. Let me tell you ... I wanted to escape from my own living room as much as Charriere wanted out of Devil's Island. The acting is so bad by just about every member of the cast that the local natives outshine them just by standing in the background. Not even an attempt to give us the French aspect.. just absolute garbage

How does stuff like this get past the guys putting up the money? How do guys like the Director, Michael Noer pull the wool over everybody's eyes so completely?

If I'd been the one in charge and seen the first rushes from the very first day, I would have cancelled all flights, even if they were non-refundable.

I would have stuffed what remained of the budget in my back pocket and disappeared into Rio, never to be seen again. People can't be that stupid that they'd give me money for another project ( although the record shows they would..... being useless is no impediment)

That's the problem with these streaming platforms, you know ... the ones who give out millions of dollars to the likes of Marry and Heghan.

They have no concept of quality , just get the title and post it on line. I don't think that they even look at the majority of the stuff they air. They don't care because the punters subscriptions keep rolling in by automatic debit and they don't have to lift a finger to collect them. don't waste your time!

The Crown
(2016)

Magic
I'm up-to-date now. I've been binge watching the entire series since last Monday and it's the best since Fargo and Breaking Bad. I used to detest the Monarchy and the aristocracy when I lived in the UK, but since I left many years ago I've come to appreciate that every country must have a "Head of State" system.

While I still get upset with the aristocracy, all of their inherited b.s. titles and vast land holdings etc., I have developed a grudging affection for the Monarchy. A grudging warmth and not a little sympathy for their roles in life.

For all the wealth and luxury that seems to surround them, they live life in a prison that not one of us could handle without the proper preparation. You can't say anything, you can't write anything, you can't go anywhere, unless it's been vetted and approved and heaven forbid if you should have a will of your own. Every second of your existence is scheduled, even if it's play time.

You certainly can't meet anyone who's not been vetted.

You can be either entranced or disgusted by the displays of excess, the cut glass decanters, the footmen , the state dinners, the Rolls Royces ... it just doesn't stop, but not many people could hack it for any length of time before they start to scream for freedom.

And so to the series; It's a very rare occurrence in the world of Netflix where they turn out a top quality production, most of them are so bad that you have a monthly wrestle with your conscience to justify the subscription fee.

But they've struck gold with this one!

The casting and the acting is just about as good as it gets, with the portrayals of both the young Elizabeth and Elizabeth in her later years almost uncanny. The macho Duke of Ed and the awkward Prince Charles are played brilliantly as are the roles of Margaret and Anne. I love the way Gillian Anderson takes on the part of Maggie Thatcher, she plays up the absolute phoniness of her entire public image and homes in on the real ruthless and stubborn nasty parts of her personality. The palace staff and the senior assistants could have been plucked right off the floors of Buckingham Palace and I don't know how they do it, but you'd swear that they were the actual staff, just helping out with the film. Every one of them discreet, posh and quick with the knife.

Having said all of that, the most compelling theme of the series is the difficulty of making decisions and keeping the peace both in the family and for the nation By telling half-truths to the public and stage managing every appearance, we, the great unwashed, have been taken in by the story of an idyllic life where King and Queen adore one another and Prince and Princess were straight out of Disneyland. With this series we still only see half of the truth, but I do have an increased respect for the job they have to do even though it might seem unnecessary.

Can't wait to see how they deal with train-wreck Harry and Meghan... enjoy.

Capone
(2020)

WTF?
How do you make a movie from a collection of stills? This has to be the worst piece of crap I've EVER seen. Here we have the motherlode for a great movie and it's like a documentary on building the continental railroad. Somebody has already commented on the molasses-like pace of the opening sequences but they didn't do it justice, it's only one step faster than freeze-frame. It takes all that you have in the way of patience to sit in front of the screen, waiting for something to happen... something which never does. If you've got a dental appointment or you're scheduled for an operation on your hemorrhoids, let me tell you that they will be preferable to watching this debacle unfold. I defy anybody to watch it through to the end and not be stunned by how awful it is.

The Plot Against the President
(2020)

First things first
It's a political documentary so there's not much in the way of facts that you can rely on. If the very same story was done by the other side, they would be equally convincing with their point of view.

These backroom operatives literally hate each other and will do anything , say anything, lie and cheat and spread bad publicity, to get the results they want.

Now, I look at the current story from the point of view of a lifelong socialist who grew up in poverty back in England. A person who had a justifiable chip on his shoulder because of the terrible inequity in English society.

Bear with me for a little background before I get to the review

Socialism was an honorable pursuit in those days because so many of the underclass were treated like beasts of burden. Feed them and water them and you don't have to do anything more.

So, I was led to believe that a vote for Socialists would even the playing field, would ease the chains of poverty and develop a more just society.

As it took a toehold we saw the introduction of HealthCare, Universal Education, Workplace Reform, Unemployment Insurance and Social Housing... all immeasurably good progressions.

Then socialism lost its way; in taking away some of the necessities that are the individual's responsibilities and assuming them for the State, incentive was nullified. This was compounded by the socialist's inability to manage its reforms properly, tax income just gushed down the drains.

They got so carried away with their anger at the monied classes that they expanded their programs to the point where it was more beneficial for some to stay at home and do nothing. Eventually you didn't even have to leave home to get your benefits.

The biggest weakness was that their anger blinded them to things they could have learned from the capitalists.

This picture became clearer as I grew older and realized that I would get nowhere in this life if I just sat on my ass and complained, so I did something about it.

I got a good job with the Government with unionized protection, didn't like the way the Union was run, so ran for President and was voted in.

It was this seminal moment in my life that I realized that the Union Organization was more cruel to its members in many aspects, than the Employer itself was.

The executive were all driven by blind hate. The most radical of them were intractable nutters and after a couple of years of this I surfaced as an unapologetic right winger, they never forgave me for it.

This background is just to lead you up to the side I fall on when it comes to reviewing this Doc.

Even though I think President Trump and his backroom boys have played some dirty pool (and some of them are real scumbags), I am convinced that the Democrats (and the Press) have been unable to come to terms with his election and would do whatever it takes (legal or illegal) to discredit and unseat him.

They are driven by that same blind hate that has driven them from the start and biggest casualty is the country as a whole.

With this current sitting, the animosity overrides every decision and it comes through loud and clear in the movie.

I really don't know who to believe, there's nobody got up on the lectern and provided a vision for the country or a set of beliefs we can aspire to.

It's all "he said, she said" and a country without a compass.

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
(2020)

Cruel, nasty and crude..... and not funny
Sometimes you can get away with parodies of third world countries. Monty Python did it very well in a couple of their films and sketches but they were never cruel in making dupes out of their own leaders or members of their own society.

I've seen a few of Cohen's movies now, and apart from Talladega Nights they've been duds , to me he's just not funny.

By setting up honest but naïve patsies for his jokes he is more of a predator than a comedian and I'm sorry, but it's hard to laugh at someone being just plain cruel to someone else.

He knows what he's got to do to get shock value and doesn't have any restraint in using anything that comes into his head ..... it's not funny, its just cheap, kinda like Will Farrell uses severed arms and legs in his empty scenes.

It's the same old story... have a lucky hit with the first one and you must be a genius. So you're given the keys to the store and allowed to do what you like on the next project, which is based on the formula of the first one.

It doesn't really matter that the first one was only mildly funny scriptwise and depended upon those shock scenes, these geniuses that give the go ahead think that lightning can strike twice.

We all know how easily the shock factor wears off and to me , in this version, it didn't even reach the level of parody.

I really can't see anybody sitting through this piece of garbage for the full hour and a half or so. Negotiate a fifty percent reduction in price before you go in or ask for a discount on your prime membership.

The Gentlemen
(2019)

Now that's a movie!
Right from the getgo you know you're in for something good. It's a story about the drug business ( specifically MJ ) in posh old England, a story about how difficult it is to get out once you're in knee deep.

Of course when you're a top dog in a business like the drug trade, you can't give your boss two weeks notice. You have to carefully manage your exit so you get out alive, cos it's much cheaper to take it over if the boss is dead.

With Matthew David McConaughey wearing his rôle like an well tailored suit, Hugh Grant as a sleazy blackmailing cockney ( leaving his plummy accent behind) and the rest of the cast fitting together like a jigsaw puzzle, you have some great working material

The London crime scene is so much more intelligent than the North American shootfests we are used to, sort of like Downton Abbey against Dallas, and this movie cashes in on the intellectual nature of the criminals. They're all so smart!

It's Guy Ritchie at his best, he explains things as the plot unfolds without breaking the storyline.

He injects humour into nasty situations, pulls off plot twists that are perfectly believable and, something which is Ritchie's true talent, he makes the villains likeable.

No woke undercurrents in this project, that I can tell you.... and I'm still trying to get over hearing Michelle Dockery using the "f" word.. something Lady Mary Crawley would faint over if she heard it.

A few weak moments in the plot ( which is why I only rated it an 8 ) but you can expect that with the tangled stories that are the hallmarks of his films.

Sit back and enjoy this one

The Trial of the Chicago 7
(2020)

so why do I see it different from the other reviewers?
Was it right to protest against the involvement of America in the Vietnam war? Was it right to make life unbearable for the politicians who supported it ? Yes it was !

Undeniably so , absolutely go after those scumbags, run them out of office and put them in jail, even execute some of them if we had the power to do it.

But did we need the burning of the buildings and the destruction of bystander businesses? I don't think so!

There's got to be a better way to protest, a better way than we're seeing today with the same innocent businesses being destroyed by idiots.

And let's face it, a lot of the protesters involved in those protests were just dumb, out of control idiots. They were just the sort of material the likes of Hoffman, Rubin and Hayden like to cash in their beliefs on.

Sometimes though, that's the only thing that will get the powers that be to listen so fot the wuck do I know?

I just have to hang on to the thought that there's got to be a better way. I mean, even if they're on your side there still has to be some kind of punishment to stop them going lunatic on us. There has to be some sort of responsibility placed on the organizers to keep control of their followers... why should the general public have to pay for it?

As for the movie's portrayal of the main combatants, I have to say that I was disappointed in the majority of the performances... What's 'is face Cohen in particular was cringingly lousy as Abbie Hoffman, with the guy who played Rubin coming in a close second. After seeing Mark Rylance in Wolf Hall you have to say that he was hopelessly miscast for this one. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is like a flat tire.

No , this movie is typical Netflix fare, a swimming pool with no deep end, a project completed without any nuance or substructure.

And yet... Netflix continues to grow, so I'm very obviously out of synch with the world.

Fisherman's Friends
(2019)

I wasn't too impressed
The old story of a city boy being bewitched by a seaside fishing village with a wee lassie to fall in love with.

This theme has been well exploited over the years and usually the British Film industry does a good job with it.... but this was not one of those times.

First of all there was no authenticity in the Cornish cast and although the scenery is gorgeous and the backdrop was very real I just couldn't connect the actors to it.

I did connect with the hotshots from the big smoke and their parts were well played but Purefoy, I thought was a dud, as was Maggie Steed.

If you want to understand what I'm getting at you should watch Doc Martin and see how convincing each and every character is in every episode. You'll see when comparing the two that there's really NO comparison.

I don't know where they went wrong, but there were quite a few left turns that got them lost. I wasn't impressed with the sound track because they broke away from the sea shanty theme when they could have mined a motherlode of material from traditional English seafaring music. The fill music had no relation to the storyline.

Another failing was the use of trite facial expressions by the actors, and cheap tricks to develop the plot ( like a baby crying in the background or a final demand letter from the bank... give me a break will ya ).

In some scenes they could have just used outtakes from Airplane but I guess the modern directors don't have the skills to build the tensions that are required or the smarts to see what isn't working.

The end ?

Well you can predict it before the opening credits and while it is a journey that will make you smile, it is not something that you turn away from, saying "That was a great movie!"

It's a nice story but it's like a piece of IKEA furniture... good to look at but nothing solid except legs and the frame.

Des
(2020)

Something missing
I was expecting to be hooked, given the bait that's been loaded in the media the past couple of weeks.

As it turned out it was all surface tension, with nothing but bad acting all 'round (with the exception of Tennant himself who just about saved the project)

Stories about serial killers aren't supposed to leave you feeling better once they're over, but they are supposed to take you into the evil mind and get you thinking.

This one just didn't cut the mustard.

The director relied on hokey facial expressions and shallow portrayals of the story, so much so that I thought I was watching one of those one hour made- for- TV pieces of dross. Even though it was made by ITV , it had Netflix written all over it.

I also take issue with the semiotics of the title itself. Making use of his nickname to headline the series indicates a frivolous minimizing of the atrocities.

But then again, with this current crop of producers and directors, subtlety and sensitivity is so far away from their abilities that they have no clue.

They'd probably call the holocaust "The Adventures of Uncle Adolph"

It is really difficult to convey the horror of the makeup of individuals like Nilson because their face to the public is of a normal person. Tennant was OK but there was that missing menace and he failed the authenticity test.

Still, you can't help but watch when gruesome tales like this arise in society, where maniacs hatch their diabolical plans while displaying quite friendly traits.

The theme of trying to establish sanity or insanity shows how ludicrous the legal system is.

To do what Nilson did is, by any measure, the act of an insane person and yet clever lawyers and cunning psychopaths can exploit the small print of the law and get even more pleasure after the act than they got from committing it.

You're probably be better off watching "The Muswell Hill Murder" than you are watching this series, at least it gets into the grit.

This series really did nothing for me.

The Sound of Music Live
(2015)

entertainment at its very best
Here's me, a hardened 73 year old, I've lost loved ones, lost good friends, seen unbelievable tragedy on my journey and yet I have managed to handle most of these events quite stoically.

Put me in front of a TV or in a theater though, with a Rodgers and Hammerstein production on display, and I become a blubbering mess almost before it starts.

I have seen "South Pacific" live at the Lincoln Center and on PBS with Reba McEntire and Alec Baldwin, the entire audience was crying along with me

I watched "The King and I" on PBS with Kelli O'Hara and Ken Watanabe and was weeping and red-eyed as they had you walking alongside them through the story.

Whatever one you choose has the magic ability to grab a hold of you, no matter if you stumble in half way through.

The emotional energy that this incredibly talented duo put into their songs by way of lyrics and melody shines a light that will never dim.

Songs are interwoven into storylines that remain forever topical, so that any revival fits seamlessly into the culture of the day... they were just a phenomenal pair.

And so last night, by accident, I tuned into the PBS broadcast of BBC's live version of "The Sound of Music", which was originally aired in 2018.

In my memories of the original movie back in the 60's, I never realized that there was a very meaningful plotline underneath the songs, so I was immediately hooked by the playlike quality

The show was well underway but, as I said earlier, Rodgers and Hammerstein have the ability to capture you at any moment in their musicals.

There was Kara Tointon, such a beautiful presence, singing like a nightingale in a duet with Julian Ovenden, with such marvellous harmonies that you are immediately transfixed. Tears were streaming down my face from that moment on until the finale.

And even after the finale , where they showed a short film of the making of the project, your emotions are stretched to the limit.

How they get such a talented group of people together; the set designers, the orchestra, the cinematographers, the directors...... how they all come together and get the best out of a flawless cast is nothing short of genius to me and I just fall back into my chair in awe of the experience.

Focussing on that cast, it's hard to measure the breadth of talent on display.

I had this picture of Julian Ovenden from his rôle in Downton Abbey and had no idea that he would be able to take on the part of Captain Von Trapp with such ease and that he could display such a wonderful singing voice.

Kara as Maria is just stunning (and this from a girl who lets us know afterwards, that she has no real singing experience). You can't believe it's the same girl when she talks in the aftershow.

There is one scene in which Von Trapp and Maria dance together, a scene where they realize they have fallen in love, that is so elegant and inspired that I don't think I've EVER seen anything so well done.

I could spend hours highlighting each individual performance but I might lose the audience, suffice to say that the performance by Maria Friedman was what goose bumps are made of.

Rodgers and Hammerstein knew how to use kids in their musicals and the kids in this one are so innocent and beautiful that you could adopt them en bloc.

Rounding out the stars are Katherine Kelly and Alexander Armstrong and with those completing the picture, you have one of the best ensembles you will ever see.

This show is one of those "once in a lifetime" experiences and you should set your PVRs to catch it when it comes on repeat.

Just an unforgettable treat

Great Performances: The Sound of Music
(2018)

Entertainment at its very best
Here's me, a hardened 73 year old, I've lost loved ones, lost good friends, seen unbelievable tragedy on my journey and yet I have managed to handle most of these events quite stoically.

Put me in front of a TV or in a theater though, with a Rodgers and Hammerstein production on display, and I become a blubbering mess almost before it starts.

I have seen "South Pacific" live at the Lincoln Center and on PBS with Reba McEntire and Alec Baldwin, the entire audience was crying along with me

I watched "The King and I" on PBS with Kelli O'Hara and Ken Watanabe and was weeping and red-eyed as they had you walking alongside them through the story.

Whatever one you choose has the magic ability to grab a hold of you, no matter if you stumble in half way through.

The emotional energy that this incredibly talented duo put into their songs by way of lyrics and melody shines a light that will never dim.

Songs are interwoven into storylines that remain forever topical, so that any revival fits seamlessly into the culture of the day... they were just a phenomenal pair.

And so last night, by accident, I tuned into the PBS broadcast of BBC's live version of "The Sound of Music", which was originally aired in 2018.

In my memories of the original movie back in the 60's, I never realized that there was a very meaningful plotline underneath the songs, so I was immediately hooked by the playlike quality

The show was well underway but, as I said earlier, Rodgers and Hammerstein have the ability to capture you at any moment in their musicals.

There was Kara Tointon, such a beautiful presence, singing like a nightingale in a duet with Julian Ovenden, with such marvellous harmonies that you are immediately transfixed. Tears were streaming down my face from that moment on until the finale.

And even after the finale , where they showed a short film of the making of the project, your emotions are stretched to the limit.

How they get such a talented group of people together; the set designers, the orchestra, the cinematographers, the directors...... how they all come together and get the best out of a flawless cast is nothing short of genius to me and I just fall back into my chair in awe of the experience.

Focussing on that cast, it's hard to measure the breadth of talent on display.

I had this picture of Julian Ovenden from his rôle in Downton Abbey and had no idea that he would be able to take on the part of Captain Von Trapp with such ease and that he could display such a wonderful singing voice.

Kara as Maria is just stunning (and this from a girl who lets us know afterwards, that she has no real singing experience). You can't believe it's the same girl when she talks in the aftershow.

There is one scene in which Von Trapp and Maria dance together, a scene where they realize they have fallen in love, that is so elegant and inspired that I don't think I've EVER seen anything so well done.

I could spend hours highlighting each individual performance but I might lose the audience, suffice to say that the performance by Maria Friedman was what goose bumps are made of.

Rodgers and Hammerstein knew how to use kids in their musicals and the kids in this one are so innocent and beautiful that you could adopt them en bloc.

Rounding out the stars are Katherine Kelly and Alexander Armstrong and with those completing the picture, you have one of the best ensembles you will ever see.

This show is one of those "once in a lifetime" experiences and you should set your PVRs to catch it when it comes on repeat.

Just an unforgettable treat

Jim Jefferies: Freedumb
(2016)

He ain't no Jim Davidson
When humour is about anger it's hard to be funny and Jim Jefferies fails more than he succeeds in this dragging special.

Look Jim, if you want to do something funny about a politician like Donald Trump, don't turn off half your audience by telling them they are dumb for voting for him. They have just as much right and just as many reasons to vote for him as you do for someone else.

There's a motherlode of material you can use to parody his personal idiosyncrasies so you don't have to insult anybody but him to get your laughs.

For example , I think he's a badly educated buffoon but a crafty and cunning businessman. I like some of the decisions he has made and I happen to think that he's infinitely smarter than Biden (although that's not a difficult level to achieve)....... but does that make me an idiot?

No it just makes me a person with a different opinion!

Jefferies can have some funny moments and he's got a lot of balls to get up and do what he does but he wears off very quickly and I wouldn't ever bother to go and see him in a show or search the streaming channels for another of his specials.

You could learn a lot from Jim Davidson, he knows how to work a touchy issue into something funny .. maybe watch some of his stuff to improve your act.

Bodyguard
(2018)

pretty guid jimmie
Nothing like a good scottish accent to give the character some street cred, and it is well carried by Richard Madden who plays the rôle of a seriously messed up war veteran turned cop.

Like 'Line of Duty" it centres on corruption, leaks, political ambition and terrorism within London, where any day someone can blow themselves and the surrounding crowds ........ blow them up without a second thought.

Great acting again with a lot of the principals in 'Line of Duty" showing off their chops in completely different parts.... yet being just as convincing. Keeley Hawes and Gina McKee are just flawless.

This is a plot that demands your complete attention and if you miss a little clue then you'll be lost for a while until they cleverly give you a recap without ruining the storyline.( or on Netflix you can just rewind!)

I love the way they portray the public schoolboy characters with their glib and educated responses, I love the way they show the pols as scheming and amoral vipers and I love the way they show the inside of the homes as they are in day to day life.

If I had one complaint it was that some of the escape hatches they contrived for the plot were a bit hokey and some of the telecoms were too far fetched to believe.

I mean, there's no police force in the world that can be as efficient as that.

Even George W Bush couldn't get through on his phone from Air Force One when the 9/11 attack was unfolding and these guys are getting instantaneous contact with every cop in town and immediate response from databases.

But , if you suspend your logic and tell yourself that this isn't real, then they have licence to play with the truth.

Thoroughly enjoyable, with the writer trying to trick you at every turn.

Watch and see if you fall for those tricks.

Line of Duty
(2012)

Woke free environment
See? It can be done! A series with no LGBTQ 2 sided axes to grind.

It's miraculous that we're able to get though so many episodes with diversity in full flower and yet no mention of it as a sub-plot. This is right up there with Happy Valley as one of the top quality police dramas.

The acting is tour-de-force the storylines are just so well done that you have no idea who's honest and who's bent. Even when the bad guys are exposed you're still not sure.

Keeley Hawes plays an incredible part as an inscrutably evil detective and you'll be hard pressed to decide whether you're for or against her as the series unfolds.

The cast is just about as real as you can get, with every part acted to perfection, even the walk on parts are superb, especially the prison guards.

The series also gives us a background picture of life under the rules and regulations of the Police Force and the fiefdoms that develop because of egos, ambition and corruption. It's enough to frighten anyone away from a career in Law Enforcement, as the paperwork for a single case is like a PhD thesis.

The backdrop is real London, its industrial areas , pubs and residential settings.

Nothing is overdone , no whining about racial inequality or same sex couples wanting a baby, just a tightly written drama about human failings and frailties in a complicated world.

As I said at the outset, good drama can be done without flogging us to death with minority issues.

Somehow you managed to lock the wokes out on this one... spread your secret for God's sake.

Enjoy.. it's worth a binge watch.

Stateless
(2020)

It's a struggle
I'll carry on watching even though it's not a stellar show.

So many of these refugee movies / series have me angry at a world where murderous leaders and their willing followers just use the cruellest methods to get rid of their opposition. To get rid of people with a different faith or to get rid of people who are a different color . They shoot them in the head, they decapitate them, mow them down with machine guns ... men women and children ... and then go smoke their pipes of peace as if they'd just washed their car.

I also get angry because the burden is, without exception, placed on the Western world (and this includes Australia) to take the refugees in and take on the responsibility for feeding , clothing and housing them.

You never hear of them fleeing to Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan or Kazakhstan, ..... majority Muslim countries. You never hear of them lining up to get into Indonesia or China or Japan and especially not Russia.......... and these are very wealthy countries!

Strangely they all want to get to countries that have a generous welfare system and even more strangely they want the accommodating countries to change their laws to favour their old belief systems. Tell me what's wrong with this picture?

In a world where we have an organisation known as "The United Nations", where do we see any effective plan or lobbying to create a safe place for these dislocated individuals and families?

Truth is that the United Nations was born dead by design and is absolutely useless.

There's vast, virtually unoccupied islands and lands where new countries could be created but no... they have to be plugged into the Western social security system.

If they took the money they spend on all of this integration, border patrols, ESL, cultural awareness, weaponry and war and set it aside for the formation of a new Eden, there'd be more than enough to create a self sufficient society. But ... that ain't gonna happen and we just have to accept that state murder is a condition of mankind.

And so we turn to the series.

You have to feel sorry for the recipient countries because they have to show compassion. They don't know from one day to the next what sort of refugee they are dealing with and the entire world is waiting for them to do something that infuriates the wokes of this world (as an aside, maybe we can recruit the wokes to set up the new country and see how long their principles hold up)

The acting is very much OZ , real, blunt and uncompromising.... but the series itself does show that their legal systems are pretty good and that their commitment to their international obligations is pretty strong, despite the onerous costs of dealing with floods of people from any trouble spot.

Not really sure whether the Sophie ( Yvonne Strahovski) sub-plot does anything for the story, but as I said, I'll keep watching it just to see what develops. She sure hasn't done anything but mess it up so far and is an annoying character.

As with most of these political type dramas, there is always subtle messaging; the dominant female bosses, the inadequate male underlings and the stereotypical refugees. How come most of the ones who have made it to Vancouver are rich and plonk down cash for million dollar homes? Beats me

After mulling it over I've increased the rating from a 5 to a 6 because of its Ozziness.

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
(2017)

Stilted deliveries
Your typical Jewish family story where they're all full of angst and guilt with a truckload of baggage in everyone's life. Reminds me of the old Milton Berle joke; Why aren't there many Jewish alcoholics? Ans. It kills the pain too much!

Hoffman is really starting to look like a real life hasidic rabbi these days and I wasn't really impressed with his emotional range. Seems to me that he's become very much a ham actor in his dotage and in a lot of the scenes he looks like he's reading from a teleprompter.

Sandler's OK but not anywhere near as good as he was in Uncut Gems, and whatsisface Stiller just about stays afloat....... but the rest don't even project off the screen.

I'll give 'em all a bit of a break in that it's a readable story but what I would like to find more than anything is the people who ponied up the money for this project.

If they'll finance trash like this then they'll have no problem in giving me money for my hirise cattle farm in downtown L.A. It'll be easy to convert the elevators into steer movers, rip up a few roads around the city center and give the cows some space to roam. Then slaughter them in the hirise and sell the meat to the restaurants next door. It's gold Jerry, it's gold.

Icarus
(2017)

And the American System is fairer ?
Substitute University Coaches for the Russian Government substitute American lawyers for the Russian press and you have two parallel systems. I've never once seen drugs at the amateur level of sport that I have been in all my life but once you get to the money stage then all bets are off.

Cycling, Track and Field, Baseball, Football, Tennis.. you name it and drugs are rampant at the pro level. Use is either condoned or promoted by coaches and there is a conspiracy by the Media and Governments (no matter what country) to ignore obvious effects.

I mean, just look at "The Oregon Project" with Salazar, just look at the "Emu oil" promoted by a certain runner. Nobody asked a question 'til they were caught and by then they've usually retired.

For all the evangelism about Wada it is as ineffective as a personality test.

The athletes and coaches are always one step ahead and it's only when they make a timing mistake that anyone tests positive

Fogel gives the impression of an angst ridden,myopic man on a mission. Even though the cause is noble he comes across as a nervous breakdown waiting to happen, making the entire doc feel like an accidental journey.

I don't know why, but the exposé comes across as an attack on Russia only and leaves the rest of the fetid swamp untouched. Even today, the media is scared to out somebody, because of the potentials for law suits and the difficulty of proving abuse.Everybody lies as a matter of principle.

This doc just wasn't my cup of "fortified" tea

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga
(2020)

It's official, Will Ferrell ain't funny any more
This movie is a spoof about a band from Iceland trying to win the Eurovision Song Contest. It's a kitschy and camp annual event that is roundly ridiculed by just about everyone in Europe and is never even heard of by the great unwashed in America

It's such a fine line between a funny movie and a dud. "Blades of Glory" had me rolling in the aisles but this one had me hitting the fast forward button every couple of minutes , trying in vain to get a chuckle. None!

Almost as bad as "The House" but really nothing could get as bad as that one, and the problem lands squarely in the lap of Ferrell.

He co-wrote the script (with another ex SNL alumni) and it's heavily borrowed from The House.

A very similar plot to "Blades of Glory" but it missed the mark by a wide margin.

Ferrell's penchant for showing us severed limbs and hacked up faces just doesn't come across as funny any more and he seems to want to use these tricks when the plot dips into a deep valley.

It's a pretty good premise to spoof the Eurovision Song contest but you've got to have some good satire and parody to pull it off and this just don't cut the mustard. The scriptwriters just ain't talented enough to draw the humour out.

I've said it before about other movies and I'll say it again about this one.

It's like watching a horse plowing a potato field, you know there's something happening but you're not interested enough to see what's going on.

Some of the scenes are so embarrassingly "unfunny" that they must have given the colorists extra pay to take out the red faces... just cringingly bad.

Netflix never listens to me ( or at least they haven't so far) but let me give the executive some advice. Have someone check on the project during the process, someone to look at the rushes .. because it's obvious that nobody did . If they had a quality control system then the plug would have been pulled on this bathtub of cold water, or somebody, somewhere would have said "hit the reset button"

I know comedy films are very very hard to get right , it involves a lot of luck , a funny cast and a spoofable subject. This one only has one out of the three and you can guess which one it is.

Dan Stevens is pretty good , showing that he can shuffle off the typecasting from Downton Abbey, Rachel Mcadams is sometimes very difficult to look at. As for Will Ferrell, well his SNL type humour is a thing of the past.

This movie comes across as one of those lame sketches on SNL , sketches that have you wondering how they made it on the screen.(and there's lots of 'em)

I just can't watch that show any more and I wouldn't be the first in line to re-watch this movie, that's for sure.

Trump: An American Dream
(2017)

you can't say you didn't get what you voted for
Anyone who's followed him over the years will know that he's always been the same. He figured out the way the world of finance worked and was given a toehold in the construction industry by his Dad. He learned how to be ruthless and learned how to deal with the sharks in the world of property development, finding out very quickly that a promise in that business is as reliable as a frayed rope.

You have to cut him some slack in his early days for the way he chased the chicks and played the tycoon, most of the guys I knew when I was that age would have been even worse because they were all piss tanks... the Donald didn't and doesn't drink.

And so this doc follows him through his flights and his crashes.

What the majority of people don't seem to realize is that these experiences made him more qualified than any lawyer or academic to run the country because he knows that you have to back up threats with consequences. He's been screwed over by the best of them in both the development and the entertainment business and has been flayed alive by the press...

Yet, he's survived it all and risen to The President's job. That's some kind of achievement, whether you like it or not and whether you like HIM or not.

Most people too,, don't realize that you can't be nice as a politician and be successful.

You have to be decisive, and sometimes ruthless, because there's always someone on the opposite side of the issue who wants it done their way and thinks their way is better. If you show any sort of indecision you'll get trampled by the herd

He has to hide these qualities and make sure he doesn't come across as an ill-tempered individual. You have to work on a reputation as a battler who likes to get things done and let them know there'll be trouble if you piss him off.

He's mostly driven by a winners and losers mentality and I don't think there's much room in his mind for things like Social Conscience.

I think it's fair to say that he can't stand idiots..... and politics is ground zero for them.

My take on him is that if you are a hardworking and responsible citizen then you'll be able to benefit from his policies.

As for his morals and his women chasing, well there's been many worse than him in public life and let he who is without sin from the great unwashed ... cast the first stone.

Quite a good series, if a little shallow but it's worth a watch if you want to understand the man's motivations a bit more.

Greed
(2019)

Not very good at all
I like some of the stuff that Steve Coogan has been in , I usually like his "take the piss" form of humour but in this film there was only a zephyr of it in the sails of the story.

To tell the truth it was like watching " The Last Dance" with its choppiness and lack of depth.The plot line centres around preparations for McCreadie's 60th birthday and of course it's a disgusting display of excess.

The lifestyle of scumbags like this provides a bottomless pit of satirical themes, they usually leave hurricane-like damage behind them wherever they go, with unpaid bills that beggar belief... but this film only did open pit mining on the subject.

Coogan himself played a good part but the rest of the cast looked like they should be working on Coronation Street.

Dinita Gohil is absolutely gorgeous but the scenes where she was supposed to show empathy for her lost Mother ( or sister .. it doesn't really matter) are cringingly bad, as is the acting by David Mitchell. It says on his bio that he's a comedian.

Well David, this part has put paid to truth in advertising on that very same bio.

As for politically correct messaging, somebody standing in the shadows decided to get in some sympathy for refugee kids stealing from the villain but give me a break will ya? Stealing is still stealing

When the ending does come ( and not a moment too soon I might add) it's like somebody said " Quick , we've got to leave because our work permits are expiring tomorrow"

Two more reasons might be 1. Let's wrap it up 'cos we've run out of money or 2. There's no saving this cripple, let's go home.

I'm bitterly disappointed because my expectations were so high. It's watchable but it's forgettable.

Influence
(2020)

Stop the world I want to get off
For all of the innocents of the world, the innocents who feel that democracy is the only way, I have some advice.... Watch this documentary!

I know from my pretty extensive reading of political histories and personalities that there is no limit to what people will do in the pursuit of power, but this project gets inside the highest levels and actually lets us see a bit of the truth for once. We all know that truth in politics is like a unicorn, you can draw one, you can make a model of one... but you'll never see a real one

With all of the fuss about Russiagate in the States and the sleazeball Oligarchs from the Ukraine you'd be forgiven for thinking that this stuff only goes on in those nasty communist countries and their satellites.

However, the Western World sees places like The Middle East , Africa, South America and some of those refugee oligarchs, as the motherlode for selling their psychological science and expertise and Bell Pottinger was in like a dirty shirt..

There's so much money there that you don't have to bother with the rest of the landscape. Jobs for the boys abound, money laundering schemes can be read from a menu ............. you name it and they'll do it for you.

And so we have the story of that same Bell Pottinger, an amoral advertising turned PR firm, that offered its services first at the national level by successfully shaping Maggie Thatcher's image and getting her elected

They then piggy-backed on that to gain access to the bigger movers and shakers in the worlds of business and nation building, charging fantastic sums for their dubious advice.

No matter that it's dubious , if it's successful for the players then nobody asks any questions and you can up your fees to astronomical levels... which Bell Pottinger did with alacrity. Once you get a name for yourself as an impressive fixer then all of the worms come out of the woodwork to hire you for their own propaganda ends.

Enter the Pentagon, who gave them a contract for $540 million ( yes that's million) to dupe the Iraqis into thinking that democracy was the best course for them and kept on paying them even when they knew it wasn't working. I have to ask... who authorises this madness?

And then who should show up but that international basket case "South Africa".

South Africa went from wealth to chaos in the blink of an eye, with the new government stealing money faster than it came in .

That same international basket case, despite all of the looting by its ministers, still has enough money to hire the most expensive PR firm in the world to find a way to solidify their crooked reign. Who else but Bell Pottinger?

Like all greedy and amoral enterprises, Bell Pottinger bit off more than it could chew with this one and they choked on their own arrogance.

They bit the dust, but you can guarantee with a mortgage on your own home that these sleazebags are still operating, just in a different form.

As I said, there is no limit to what people will do to attain power and there is no limit to the number of opportunists who will abandon moral principles to help them get there.

For once , a good CBC documentary.

The Last Dance
(2020)

As Sports Documentaries go
This is not bad stuff. It's still heavily edited and there's not a snowball's chance in hell that the real truth will ever come out....... but what we get is OK. Pro Sports is the sleaziest of businesses in any of its branches , from cheating to drugs, to the maniacs in advertising who have access to truckloads of cash for the idol of the moment. Then we have the owners, who are invariably sociopaths whose personalities only know winning or losing and acquisition of talent so that someone else can't have it.

With that backdrop it's fairly easy to see where the athletes themselves fit in .... they are just commodities, albeit talented commodities, who can be disposed of as soon as they are past their "best by" dates or whenever they piss the boss off.

And so their agents drive for the hardest bargains 'cos they know how ephemeral those talents are and how thin skinned the owners and the public can be.

Who can blame them?

There's more washed up and broke pro athletes than there are successful ones but they don't become the focus of a series like this one, no one's interested in an ex basketball player who's a greeter at WalMart.

So we have all of the glittering stars from the Bull's dynasty years, some angry, some bitter and not very many who come across as being fond of management, or of the overall experience.

In fact I don't think there were ANY of them who looked back fondly despite all of the adoration they received .The fans definitely enjoy it more than the players do.

After the initial glamour wears off they all get tired of being under the unforgiving glare of fame.

In reality it's no fun at all, you never meet anyone normal, you never get a moment's privacy and you have to watch every single word that you say , even to those you think are your close friends. This frustration shines through in the series, more than the joy of winning the championships , because sooner or later everyone gets screwed, fired or cheated out of money.

That's just the way the sleazy business is... get over it

MJ comes across as you would expect him to, a driven individual whose path through life could have turned him into a very nasty person. But he's turned into a philosopher with a "water under the bridge" approach. To me he seems like a personable guy with a friendly disposition. Scottie Pippen seems a little more jaded but I think he's happy that he can sit back in the lap of luxury and be appreciated for the incredible athlete he was as MJ's partner, there's nothing he can do to fix past injustices.

As for the rest of them well you could probably go to any Pro Sports team and find the same ruthless personalities to substitute for the backroom boys in this story. As I said, it's a sleazy, lying and cheating business and there's an unlimited casting supply for any of the rôles.

Heck! even I could drop in quite seamlessly

After Life
(2019)

Season 2 is a disappointment
If you read my review of season 1 below you'll see that I was very impressed with the acting and the scriptwriting, but season 2 is living proof that you can only wring so much out of a story before it becomes trite and worn.

Whereas the flashback scenes to the happy times with his wife were well done in the opening series, they become a bit tiresome in the latest saga and you find yourself asking when he's gonna put things behind him ( which I thought he had at the end of season 1)

Just when you think he's there, he draws it out for unnecessary emotional value and it flops like a pancake.

To add to the general downward spiral of the idea , the characters trotted out are just not funny, and any humour that there is, is pushed to the edge of cringe. Usually Ricky Gervais has a good idea where that line is but , sorry to say, even HE can't repair this broken rail line.

I found myself fast forwarding through quite a lot of filler material and to tell the truth, the scene from the Amateur Dramatics show was just awful.

The psychologist's part was pretty damn good but even that was taken over the edge by a ridiculous script.

All in all a good attempt at flogging a dead horse but It shows that you have to let go of an idea when it's had its day in the sun! It's not trash but it's not brilliant.

Here's my review of the first season

FOR A WHILE YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT IT'S ALL ABOUT

But after a few minutes, I was in the living room with him . When that happens you know you're in for a treat. I'd sort of gone off Ricky when he went a bit Hollywood, but I've since seen his stand up show, and now realize that it's Hollywood that's wrong not Ricky. There's no one like him in his singularly British ability to take apart the ridiculous politically correct world we now live in.

I like that his humour is aimed not at the people but at the barricades that have been built around them.

By them, I mean the special interest groups , the gays, the lesbians, the coloured people, the feminazis etc. who insist on being treated homogeneously and yet refuse to allow jokes about themselves, which the majority do.

Remember too , that if the minority person didn't get the job, then more than a few of the majority didn't get the job either!

Sadly, I think his material is too intellectual for the majority of Americans.

In this series he skewers just about everyone and everything and he makes me laugh at stuff I used to laugh at without looking over my shoulder. If only everybody was as insightful as Ricky is, it would be normal to make jokes about everything again... and his jokes and jibes aren't hurtful, they're just "taking the piss" as we used to say. Or to put it another way, they're just observations on the thin-skinned nature of minority groups

Just because you joke about something or someone doesn't make you "phobic" .......it is usually that you are a humorous commentator.

This series is really good and shows another aspect of Mr G's talent , the ability to show empathy on the screen and to mean it. As they say , "once you've got sincerity faked, then you're on your way."

He's a great actor , a great scriptwriter ( and I don't think you can teach those talents on the Council Estate.. it's just born in you) and he's the best "piss taker" in the business. I don't know what he'll do in season 2 but I know he's not the kind of guy who turns out trash. a really enjoyable series!

Unorthodox
(2020)

I spent a month in Williamsburg and it felt like a lifetime
This is a very well made movie, breaking through the fiberglass batting insulation of the Hasidic community in Brooklyn, to help us understand the feeling we get when we walk through .

For the month I was there , not one single person of that particular costumed community said as much as a "good day" to me or even made eye contact. I felt like I was in (and in FACT I was in ) a foreign country.

I walked for miles and miles almost every day trying to understand what was giving me this feeling of being a complete alien... I've never been in a community like it in my life before.

It slowly dawned on me that this was the way the culture operates, outsiders are outsiders and there's no way they'll be allowed in.

As I got to the peripheries , close to Prospect Park, the oppressive weight started to lift as the Latino and Italian neighbourhoods smiled back at me and straightened me up.

How can two cultures be so different when they are so close together?

The story told in this series, about a young girl trying to escape the strictures of an arranged marriage, sounds as though it could apply to any of the young Jewish girls I saw pushing strollers with two or three kids hanging on to their apron strings.

It's hard not to be taken aback at the depth of control and the level of obedience imposed on both the men and the women of this sect but it obviously works for most of them, as the community seems to thrive.(Just look at the Amish Community if you want a reference point)

The acting is just superb and the director manages to evoke sympathy for the naive husband who, in a way, is trapped in the same unhappiness. The girl who plays the lead (Esty) is a wonderful actress who is able to go from beautiful young bride to-be, to a dowdy potential baby factory and back to a free young woman again and she does it convincingly.

The rest of the cast draws us in to the culture in a way that could never happen in real life but in the end you're no closer to understanding why it continues to be so different.

I really enjoyed the story and the portrayals, it has a bittersweet ending and I felt better for having watched it.

Hotel Mumbai
(2018)

How fragile is a carefree life
There you are, enjoying the success of your pathway through life and suddenly it turns into the horror of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

This is just a brutal picture portraying the absolute mercilessness of fanaticism.

Let's face it, you can't plead for your life or argue your case for being allowed to live when you're dealing with maniacs like this, only luck and a little bit of self preservation instinct will get you out alive.

The acting is just about as good as it can get for this sort of bloodbath movie, you're actually locked in a room with them and it's a very harrowing experience.

I don't know how true it is to the actual events but if it's anywhere close then I don't want to travel anywhere near these countries where a terrorist attack could happen at any time. I guess that rules out just about everywhere in the world these days.

It's a movie that had to be made and one that should be watched if only to get a glimmer of understanding as to what terrorists are capable of.

You can't really blame anyone but the terrorists themselves and there's no doubt in my mind that they should be summarily executed if taken alive, just like you would a mad dog.

Very well put together with high tension from the getgo. Worth watching for trying to get insight as to what all of this butchery is about...... which is usually nothing more than the pursuit of power.

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