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IMDb member since September 2014
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Reviews

GameFace
(2017)

Pleasent sitcom on millennial life issues
'Marcella' is a 30-/40-something millennial everywoman, struggling with the gig economy as an actress, trying to remain a respectful distance from her ex-boyfriend in spite of circumstances throwing them together and trying to navigate how she will ask her driving instructor out.

What's fresh about this comedy is despite the central characters travails she always manages to pick herself up and look forward optimistically to the next horizon. There are social faux-pas aplenty here and some cringe worthy. The central lesson (to take home) here is resilience in the face of inevitable adversity. Laughs along the way!

Blue Velvet
(1986)

Strong performances, oblique storytelling
David Lynch is a go-to director for surreal and weird. I recall seeing another of his films back in the late eighties / early nineties at the Cinema; that didn't make much sense either.

The story revolves around the central charter (Kyle MC) and his relationships with a night club singer (Isabella R) and high school age daughter (Laura D) of the detective tasked with finding the recipient of the ear. The nightclub singer is enslaved to a psycho (Dennis H) who holds her son. There is a section during the film where the character played by Laura D delivers a monologue about darkness and Robin's (the avian types). I interpret this as a metaphor where Kyle McC's character is moving from darkness to light. I'm probably wrong!

All in all, there are sterling performances from the actors, but the story has a level of incoherence to one (like me) not prepared to deconstruct each scene to interpret the film.

This Way Up
(2019)

Well written and acted drama
Grittier than a sitcom, but with a comedic bent. Great observation of human relationships their fragilities and strengths. Definitely worth watching!

Spider-Man: Far from Home
(2019)

Evolution of the Spiderman!
As others have pointed out an Interesting expansion of the Marvel universe. Spiderman takes on the mantle of 'Ironman' substitute, not least by dint of being given the keys to the Tony Stark toy chest.

Enjoyable, coherent (in the sense that you need to be keyed into the comic book genre of movies) and predictable.

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
(2016)

high action nonsense
Grrr! Lost my review yet again. In short: the sort of nonsense typical of an action thriller coupled with a semi-plausible plot.

The Girl on the Train
(2016)

'Based' on the book - not the book - Caveat emptor
Sorry this will be very short, I've just lost my review! (By dint of WiFi!)

Film: Suspensful, well acted. Too short to portray the nuances and relationships amongst the characters.

Book: Everything and more the film wasn't. The book is set on a commuter route between Buckinghamshire and London. Imagine tightly packed Victorian terraces and there you have the setting for well in excess of 60% of the story. This was the let down in the film for me.

Deadpool
(2016)

The superhero movie played for its comedy value
Poking fun at other superhero franchise's with fast paced and heavily ironic one liners delivered courtesy of Ryan Reynolds. However, there's still the action and plenty of tounge in cheek humour - some of an adult nature. Enjoyable, nothing too taxing, and still formulaic enough to obey (at least) some of the 'rules'.

Step Brothers
(2008)

Surreal, funny teen attitude displaced into forty year old bodies
The concept here is semi-novel (I'm sure it's been done before but I'm not sure where!). Child men, still living with their parents who by virtue of their parents marriage become stepbrothers. There are many and various scenes where we see a 14 year olds attitude displaced into the bodies of two, forty year olds. The jokes are what you might expect, nobody's coming to a movie like this for deep philosophical reflection. If you like surreal comedy, tinged with toilet humour this might be for you.

Peep Show
(2003)

Car crash TV at its finest: Art imitating life.
Having watched some of the episodes at time of broadcast on CH4, I felt a need to view the entire series from beginning to end, and yesterday I achieved that aim!

The 30-soon to be 40-something's Mark and Jeremy navigate their work and personal relationships in unsynchronized tandem across the entire run of episodes. However, their methods in managing the lows and highs are diametrically opposed. Within that lies the awful crass, stupid, ignorant and very funny responses they choose. The overall hilarity is aided by each characters thoughts being verbalised to the viewer. Car crash TV at its finest, difficult to not sometimes think 'oh but for the grace of God go I'....

Fleabag
(2016)

Brilliant multi-faceted tragi-comic drama
Is Phoebe Waller-Bridge a modern incarnation of the spirit of Marlon Brando in his hey day?

Series 1 was fantastic, yet Series 2 appears to have topped it. Andrew Scott's Priest is the brilliantly constructed foil to Phoebe Waller-Bridge's Fleabag. The backdrop of S2 being Fleabag and Clare's father's wedding to Olivia Coleman's character; who is a little needy of attention. Without giving anything away, episode 6 gracefully (rather than explosively) draws this series to a close with some great cinematography and poinant pauses in the scenes. It feels a little constricting to define this as a sitcom, it has more drama, depth and twists, lifting the occasional wry smile from the viewer. Bring on S3!

Arthur
(2011)

A little predictable, but a comedic, light-heated, love story that didn't disappoint. Don't listen to the nay-sayers ;-)
I'm old enough to remember the Moore-Gielgud double act and the original rendering of this movie. I enjoyed it immensely and it was aided by the crooning of Christopher Cross with the catchy 'If you get caught between the moon and New York city..'. (One of the first singles I ever bought!). I think it's likely unfair to make the comparison between that and this film.

The premise of the movie is that Arthur should marry a society Deb for the sake of both families to increase their cumulative wealth. The Mirren-Brand duo really work's, her maternal feelings for Arthur are hidden beneath layers of matronaly dictatorship. However, these feelings become apparent in attempting to steer Arthur's amorous ambitions in the right direction against the wishes of his mother. The backdrop of Hobson's illness elicits a confession from her, illuminating their 'mother-son' relationship. This move's Arthur to do the right thing! A little predictable, but a comedic, light-heated, love story that didn't disappoint. Don't listen to the nay-sayers ;-)

Baptiste
(2019)

Powerful, edge of seat thriller that is worthy of your time!
I was brought to this under duress (a little), not wanting to invest time in watching a six part thriller. After the first episode no duress was required, far from it!

The acting (particularly Karyo and Hollander who bring a great deal of gravity and believeability to their roles), writing, direction and pace all make for an 'edge of seat' experience that lasted across all episodes. I find it strange that in the advertising blab for the show, they describe Baptiste as 'mercurial', quite the opposite in my opinion and the better for it.

This was the first time I had watched the 'Baptiste' character and I hope we will see many more outings for him and others. Quality.

The Job Lot
(2013)

light hearted comedy illustrating the drab and dull 9 - 5!
As a sitcom addict, I had to try out 'the Job Lot'. The 'action' takes place somewhere in the West Midlands (I believe Birmingham is hinted at..?). There is the nervous and eager to please manager: Trish and her arch-nemesis, 'working to rule' Angela. Russell Tovey is the mis-employed arts graduate who is the object of Trish's latent affection. The concoction of characters make for a strangely dysfunctional, but familiar (;-) ) workplace environment.

The writing is decent and the script is well executed by the entire cast. For anyone reading this whose never done a 9-5 job, I believe it transmits some of the dismal nature of said (although by no means all - some you may enjoy!?) occupations. The humour is in the horror of spending your dwindling 'three score and ten' doing something you don't like a great deal, but needing to for the money! Still enjoyable series whilst it lasted!

Jimmy Carr: The Best of Ultimate Gold Greatest Hits
(2019)

funny, but in an uncomfortable truth sort of way
I remember watching a documentary about the Smiths featuring a suitably chain smoking and etiolated rock journalist explaining how the band had sidestepped any censorship of the single 'Handsome Devil'. His theory was that owing to their apparent appearance of being bookish nerds, no one in the media (or otherwise) thought to check the lyrical content of said single. Had this track been written by any other band, this would have undoubtedly landed them in hot water! This is precisely the analogy I wish to draw in Jimmy Carr's set and that of other comedians.

Jimmy looks, sounds and undoubtedly is a very middle class, well dressed and educated man. However, his comedy is driven by ignoring social convention and political correctness in favour of jokes that shock you and make you laugh (in equal measure), but also have you questioning whether you are a 'good person' I can think of other comedians that have been hauled over the coals for lesser misdemeanours...

That said and having seen Jimmy live (c.2007), I can say this set is as good as you can get watching him from home. To truly experience the raw, uncensored eloquence of the lead lined velvet packaged glove that is Jimmy's comedy you have to go to see a show. Laughs abound however, just be prepared for the self-recrimination!

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
(2005)

Truly original cringe worthy, gross out and surreal comedy!
I've been watching this on and off since ~ 2011. Smart TV's have come and gone (Thanks Ed!) as have subscriptions to Netflix. The attraction for me is this is a truly unique and original comedy series and one that reflects it's US roots.

The laughter veres between madcap, slapstick, surreal, sarcastic and dark (and light) comedy. Moreover, it's charm and longevity (13 series and counting) owes much to great writing and acting. The familiarity of the dysfunctional group of friends and their relationships (OK not that familiar!) and conversely the unfamiliar environs of a bar in Philadelphia make this attractive to me. I've always been intrigued by the US, it's people and our commonalities and differences (I'm UK based). I love this series for that - it often provides an (albeit exaggerated) bird's eye view (via the comedy) of what is acceptable / unacceptable to a US audience and then plums the depths further by pushing the boundaries so that no member of the human race could fail to be revolted / disgusted / saddened (delete as applicable) by the gangs antics! The closest I can get to this in respect of a UK sitcom would be 'Bottom' for the crudity, 'Peep Show' for the cringiness and sometimes the 'League of gentleman' for the characterisation. However, none of those UK based shows do this justice, it just is a must -watch!

After Life
(2019)

perfectly judged study of loss - must watch of 2019!
The tenor of the acting, writing and directing of this series is perfectly judged without stepping over into over-sentimentality.

The premise of the story centres around Ricky Gervais character who is emotionally blunted and caught in a 'pre-mourning' state of being unable to come to terms with his wife's death. This is illustrated by his profound apathy, disinterest in life without her and sarcastic wit (which is used to great comedic effect).

My viewing is compulsive. There is a great supporting cast with sitcom royalty present (think Penelope Wilton, Tracey Ann-Libermann of Toast of London and Friday Night Dinner fame inter alia) and the cinematography is great too! The story has a great relevance to us all. None of us (or very few) will escape the tradegy of losing someone we love. A must watch.

Sex Education
(2019)

A wry and entertaining look at sixth form college through the lens of therapy
A very picturesque corner of Monmouthshire is the setting for this time shifted window (80's fashion, 21st century mobile phones) on a quasi Anglo-American sixth form college.

Gillian Anderson plays sex therapist mum to Asa Butterfield's quiet, studious and sightly confused 16 y old 'Otis'. However, Emma Mackey's 'Mauve' sees an opportunity to capitalise on Otis's skill in talking therapies for other students sexual problems. Slightly implausible, but the premise does make for entertaining TV!

Although far from the slapstick comedic moments of the 'inbetweeners' this follows a similar 'rites of passage' trajectory with wry humour and dynamic and full characters. To be recommended - commission season 2!

White Gold
(2017)

The 'T. O. P. M. A. N.' in full effect
The title here alludes to one of the tracks off Blur's album the 'Great Escape'. I couldn't help when watching this to have the lyrics to that particular track waltz around my brain.

Essex, the early eighties complete with XR3i's, perms and stilettos (white) for the ladies, Sony Walkmans and (improbably) UPVC windows that the title of said sitcom alludes to.

The central character is a suave, roguish (caddish?) chancer who upon being relieved of his employment sees an opportunity to 'make it big' selling Windows. It's difficult not to be charmed by the actors portrayal, plus the excellent supporting cast (in-betweeners anyone) make their ensuing escapades both hilarious and occasionally tragic.

I'm hoping the BBC will look to make a Series 2, as a license fee payer I endorse!

Campus
(2009)

Surreal comedy - hit and miss
Although I think I get where the writers were coming from when they put 'Campus' together. I'm not altogether sure it translated as well to screen from script. This is a shame, as 'Green Wing' had an impeccable pedigree and worked.

A surreal set of characters inhabit the 'other-worldly' premises of a University campus. The Chancellor is a raving lunatic, the English Professor a womaniser and the Maths and Engineering Professors introverted and likely psychotic respectively. The plot lines weave across these characters with their varying involvement

I liked the exaggerated characterisations, and there are laughs, but these were a little inconsistent. Has taken me a while to circle the square of the one and only season.

Uncle Buck
(1989)

Another great film from the John Hughes stable
OK, so I admit I'm biased. A child who spent his teen years in the eighties, I saw 'The Breakfast club' and 'Ferris Bueller's day off' during that era. However, Uncle Buck had passed me by. No more.

John Candy was the perfect choice for the buffon uncle who is brought in at a moment's notice to care for his nephew and niece's. Slapstick humour and laughs abound. Inevitably, the fractious relationship he has with his teenage neice forms the back story for the movie and is suitably resolved by the coda.

All in all, a great movie especially if you are (or have an interest in) of an 80's vintage.

Kung Fu Panda
(2008)

Enjoyable, entertaining film for all ages
Kung Fu Panda is an enjoyable and entertaining movie and not overly long at an hour and 30 minutes.

Not surprisingly for a film targeted towards children, there is a fair amount of moralising in the form of the triumph of good over bad and persistence in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. That said, those are lessons applicable for any of us!

The pace of the story is good and character development more than adequate to carry the story convincingly. Definitely a film for all ages. Looking forward to watching later films in the series.

The Spider's Web: Britain's Second Empire
(2017)

Caught this from my You Tube 'recommended' feed - well worth a watch
I'm rating this a 10/10 for it's importance to UK and very probably citizen's of all countries.

The film starts by illustrating how with many of Britian's colonies declaring independence in the post-WWII era, GB managed to retain it's control of these 'ex-colonies' by ensuring they retained sterling as their currencies. What I also learnt was the 'City of London' not to be confused with 'London' has an independent representative in the house of commons - the 'Remeberancer'

The documentary then shows how large banks and presumably other corporations were (are) able to store their assets in offshore trusts (which I understood have no legal oversight and a great degree of anonymity for the user). This relieves them of their obligation to pay tax. Even more suprising was that the head of HMRC was an ex-tax accountant recruited from the private sector to support the banks continued 'hiding' of their income from the tax payer!

As other reviewers have alluded to here - these structures are almost certainly much of the reason for this countries (i.e. UK) problems. Unfortunately, I'm not sure I see an immediate solution whilst the balance of power is so unfavourably skewed in respect of those controlling this enormous wealth.

Must watch!

About a Boy
(2002)

The one that didn't get away - great movie
I had been meaning to watch this film from start to finish for sometime now and finally this evening an opportunity presented itself.

Having caught snippets of 'about a boy' over the last decade or so, the snippets were enough to bring me back for a full showing.

I can't disagree with the bulk of reviews here. The storyline is brutally honest, believable and at times quirky. That coupled with superb performances from Hugh Grant and Nicholas Hoult some great 'Londoncentric' cinematography make for a terrific film.

The Big Bang Theory
(2007)

An insight into 'geekdom'
Some former colleagues of mine used to rave about this when I was at grad school (c.2007 - 2011). Full disclosure - they are (and I am) a scientist - not that rariified species 'a physicist', but close enough to get the v.occasionally oblique references to publications, grants, etc.

So, here I am on another Netflix binge, in an attempt to catch up on the last decade (at Series 5, Ep 12 at the time of writing). I can imagine this was a difficult series to write - how do you make the geeky, scientific world view of a group of nerds who don't get out (too) much funny.? Well, as others have alluded to here, you ramp up their geekyness (e.g. role-playing games, exhibits of their general knowledge prowess and forary's into their work), hone in on their insecurities and weirdness (e.g. Raj's inability to speak to women and Sheldon's room mate agreement) and then add in the love interests to highlight the disparity between their and others 'normal'.

I enjoy this for all the reasons above and the window it provides on the occasional pre-occupations of some scientists. Definitely worth watching!

Friday Night Dinner
(2011)

A friday night treat (review of Series 1 - Series 5)
There's the bankable Simon Bird and 'Mum' (whose name escapes me!), however, that in no way diminishes the excellent ensemble performance of the entire cast. I'm a big SitCom fan and this delivers - belly laughs maybe not, but smirks, chuckles and gfwarrs abound.

The perenially mistimed entry of the Jim and Wilson characters into each episode notches up the esoteric and bizzare element of the comedy - also furnished by Dad. A slapstick element is provided by the brothers and their constant one up-manship of each other. The appeal of the SitCom has always (I believe) been to reflect the quirkiness of our own familial situations and 'Friday Night Dinner' does this in abundance. A great watch!

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