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Elvis Presley: The Searcher

Stop Muzzling Him
If there is ever going to be a real documentary on Elvis they are going to have to leave the ex-wife out.

As others have said this is a sanitized Elvis doco and it didn't need to be.

What I enjoyed: Hearing songs by Elvis I have never heard before. I am not a rabid fan and only ever heard the million sellers that are played on the radio. He had great range and listening to blue grass and his take on blues and country was a marvel. He really did have a superb voice and I will start widening my listening of Elvis. There were also a few videos of him I haven't seen before showing in his adolescent years, acne, pimples and all. How refreshing to see him as a person with real skin problems.

What I didn't like: With the 1000+ concerts he did, where was all the footage. All we got were stills and short (very short) bits and pieces. And none where he was overweight, puffy, sweaty and gasping to get his songs out towards the end. But still a voice of an angel. No history on Gracelands at all and it has its own fascinating story. Like being named after Grace Toof (Daughter of Stephen C Toof, publisher of the Memphis Daily Appeal during the civil war). The doco gave the impression Elvis named it, he didn't. No mention of Elvis' grandmother (Vernon's mother) who also moved in to Gracelands. When Elvis went into the Army he had a girlfriend in the US and she remained his girlfriend during his time in Germany, and ended up being Vernon's secretary and living at Graceland. Could you imagine a grown man having his 14yo girlfriend living with him these days? (after all he was related to Jerry Lee Lewis and Jimmy Swaggart, also not mentioned) And no mention of Elvis' girlfriend at the time of his death to whom he was engaged or his violent temper.

The only commentators on this were really his 'crew' who were fiercely loyal and would never in a million years dis Elvis, even after death and his ex-wife. At one stage I thought they are going to beatify him the way this is going. Priscilla Presley seems to have a vested interest in how Elvis is portrayed, which is a shame and smacks of money grubbing. Not sure what Bruce Springsteen or Tom Petty had to do with it. As far as I know neither knew him or even met him but they knew how he thought? (now that's magic/s). Where were the actors he worked with (Ann Margret is still alive) and the musicians outside the crew he worked with? These are the people and stories I'd like to hear, not the ones that were sanitised and only showed Elvis in a particular light.

Showing Elvis, warts and all would have been a fantastic documentary and I doubt would have tarnished him at all, maybe made him accessible to the masses even! Hopefully someone will tell the real story one day before it's too late.

A 5, well because it's Elvis. Good God, that voice!

Things Heard & Seen

Too many stories, none complete
As the title says, there were too many stories and none of them were fleshed out to make it cohesive.

It's not a horror although could have been a reasonable one even if not original, it could have been a thriller but started out wrong and only came into it towards the end, it could have been a drama and probably a good one but not enough back story and it could have been a supernatural haunted type but they seemed to have discarded that about halfway through and then resurrected it to sew the story together.

And there lies the problem, too many genres and none done particularly well. I'm surprised the actors could keep it going as the direction was all over the place.

The ending was a shambles, it answered nothing and didn't tidy any of the story lines. A shame really and i certainly understand people feeling cheated.

A 4 because the acting was ok but the actors had too much to work with. It just didn't sell.


Yeah, nah
This has run it's course. I'm now watching Season 3 after binging on 1 & 2. And, to be honest season 2 was waning a little and went down hill.

The premise was good, a flight that lands 5 years after it takes off and no one ages. The world moved on and they had to try and figure out how to fit back in. Then they started to have visions and auditory messages which enabled them to help others (The Calling for want of a better term). Started out quite well and seemed true to form, so what went wrong?

Hundreds of passengers and as at Season 3 they've only had a few others involved. All were hopeless. Apparently anyone can come back, man in a cave, 3 bad guys under a river of ice. So the story isn't limited to passengers on 828, where there are a lot more they could and should use. This ruins the original premise.

The 'coincidences' that they had at first seemed clever now feel thin and contrived. Stories are unfulfilled such as the guy that started his own church, what happened to him? Dragging in shadowy Government figures to add mystery is such a cliche (I suspect they all use the same writers). And Ben's character is just weird. He has no personality and rolls from one situation to another with the same look on his face and his wife encourages it. When does he go to work? When do the kids go to school? Where does the money come from? What happened to the wife's boyfriend? How does a cop get so much time to do her/their stuff ? And the forced romance was just uncomfortable (the cop and cavemen). And season 3 finds a long lost brother (oh brother......said in a Wyle E Coyote voice)

A 4 and I'm begging you to stop this show, there's a shark coming and you are going to jump it, if you haven't already!

The Courier

So Glad Hollywood didn't ruin this.
The story has been well covered by others and I don't like repeating what's already been said.

The cinematography is nothing short of excellent. Moscow's overbearing and brooding atmosphere of the cold war is captured through the depiction of the brutalist architecture and ever present 'observers'. I loved the feeling of always being on guard whenever the Russian scenes were shown. England by contrast was grey and rainy and cold. Even though the last of summer is departing us I felt the wet chill when the characters ventured out in wet and cold streets of London.

I was happy that the movie was actually centered on the character of Greville Wynne and not the actual spying side of things. This indeed is where the real story is. He was the courier (the Title may give you a hint) and so the action and thrills other reviewers complain isn't there, didn't happen for this character. Unfortunately Hollywood all too often panders to these people who can't separate fact and fiction and have ruined so many 'based on true stories'. But this was an absolute gem to watch.

I always felt that Greville may have been somewhat naive in accepting this role and the end seems to bear that out. But as a courier, this was probably what saved him. Benedict Cumberbatch does his usual subtle brilliance and is well supported through out. I did feel that it could have been tighter and I am curious that the exchange and reasons behind it weren't included when the Government officials said he wasn't enough to swap for an important spy. Curious and it would have helped to round out the story. I also would have liked to know more about what business Greville Wynne actually did?

So a 7 from me, well acted, great scenery but a bit loose in some areas. More please!

Kong: Skull Island

Stupid Movie, Creatures were the best part
This really is nonsense, glad I didn't pay to see it.

It's true that it isn't supposed to be believable, but to sell it you need an element of reality decision making. The writers need to find other jobs, they sure can't sell an idea.

Some of the problems include a group of soldiers escorting a crew of geologists but bring enough arms for a small war including napalm. Where's the justification in that? A soldier who has lived on the island for 28 years but never asked or consulted about what to do. He even says Í've been here for 28 years but what do I know?' Launching helicopters in a lightening storm. Who thought that was a good idea? You don't know what you are going into but hey, let's play bad American music over loud speakers and announce ourselves. And the ever present American attitude of kill everything, even if it was their fault. The spider was way out of proportion to the rest of the animals. Really dumb stuff.

The cast weren't too bad although the Samual L Jackson persona is the same in every movie he makes and it wore thin years ago.

I did like the monsters though. Great creativity and that is what saves this abysmally told story. This is the first time I cheered everytime a creature killed someone stupid. :-) It's a 3 for the creatures.


What needed although a bit disjointed
This is a great must see for anyone who wants to understand what is really going on.

It highlights the corrupt businesses capitalising on the use of 'sustainability' (looking at you MSC and shame on the likes of John West) and above all else, it shows you need to do your own research. Don't trust what is blindly put in front of you. The trouble is we can't just jump on a plane and go see for ourselves and the internet is only as good as the search you do. So documentaries like this are necessary.

When I say disjointed, you barely grasp one concept and it jumps to another. From illegal fishing off the African coast to farm fishing in Scotland. This made it difficult to fully get what was going on and you hastily push one thing aside to take in another. This, I think detracts from the message it was trying for.

This would have been far better if the it had concentrated on one item and fully explored it, say MSC and other regulatory or not so regulatory bodies and broken it up into a short series of say 4-5 episodes. Each episode fully exploring a different sector of the fishing industry. I.e quotas weren't covered at all.

For that reason I give it a 7.

The Daughter

A Lot of Going Nowhere .....
An odd film this. Not sure if the original play doesn't translate well or the director got lost. There were too many subjects not explored that should have been left out. Now, in retrospect, they feel like padding as they weren't required to support the story. I didn't buy Christian being Henry's son or why he was there when he clearly didn't want to be. Christian and Oliver being such good mates looked awkward at best. Why call your daughter Hedwig? and she didn't even have the obvious nickname at school. All very odd. Great names like Geoffrey Rush and Sam Neil seemed to be the draw card and had little quality screen time. A pity, what time they had was great to watch. I ended up just not caring enough for the characters, they tried hard and that's how it came across. Trying too hard, instead of letting the story flow to its inevitable conclusion, omitting distracting threads that weren't necessary only to leave you with a 'what happened?' feeling. Too many questions at the end and well, its a 5/10 for not tripping over its own shoe laces but not giving me a satisfying conclusion.


Terrible Nonsense
And I do mean nonsense in the true sense of the word.

Makes no sense, characters are badly thought out and I just didn't care for them. It looks like they tried to make a movie from The Matrix, The Champions (original series) and every other mind travel movie ou can think of. None of it worked primarily because the acting was so bad it wasn't funny, there was nothing original and the story didn't flow. After over an hour still little story line and no answers to the questions they kept asking. The 'training' wasn't even shown and everyone was fighting the 'trainers' so what was the point?

Avoid and if you invested your money in this crap, ask for it back A 1/10 because I actually reviewed it.

New Amsterdam

Not What I was Expecting - unfortunately
I am a huge fan of Code Black, it lured me in and held my attention. It developed characters over time and there were heart breaking losses and euphoric wins.

This show threw me in at the deep end and held me under water. Sometimes this works sometimes it doesn't. This one didn't. After three episodes I really don't care about the characters. The story lines are saccharin sweet and too tidy. Happily ever after is arrived at too quickly and far too easily. Odd decisions with absolutely no oversight like removing chairs from emergency? How are people supposed to wait? They even showed an African boy waiting because there weren't enough doctors, so that story line shot itself in the foot. Sack all the cardiac surgeons on the spot, too bad for those patients scheduled for surgery that day. And why not give the the new Medical Director cancer while his wife has a difficult pregnancy. Would have been nice to get to know him first. Hmmm what else, oh, I know we need racial disharmony so an affair between a black doctor and white doctor, can't wait for the gay trans and non-binary people to show up. Unbelievable story lines that just feel more of the same as every other medical series.

Its a 5 for reasonable acting and some may like it. Just not for me.

Jurassic Park

Top Film from One of The Greatest
I am reviewing this in 2021 so it's a bit difficult with the advancements of technology in the 28 years since it's release to be objective. With few good movies being released because of lock downs I thought I would re-watch some of the movies that made me sit up and take notice when I was a bit younger. This is one of them. It still has the wow experience and the adrenaline rush during the kitchen scene is still there. I'm amazed a film made so long ago is still this good. There were a few movies in the late 80s early 90s that did this including Raiders of The Lost Ark and The Matrix. Those movies that took you on a journey and made you feel as if you had just run a marathon, in a good way. Heart racing fear and subtle humour (still laugh at 'object in mirror are closer than it appears' perfect timing). It would be easy to pull certain things apart but it's a ride worth taking if you want to relive the original thrill. Why don't we get movies like this anymore? So tired of the marvel Comics pumped up action heroes that are beyond reason and not relevant. Where are the action adventures? The movies that made us reach for the popcorn and settle in for a thrill ride? Humour seemed to be self deprecating then, not so in your face and at the expense of someone else as it is now.

Anyway, it's 9 from me for the memories and to see what quality action movies used to be.

Four Brothers

Unconvincing and doesn't gel
This just didn't flow. It certainly didn't age well but I remember watching it when it first came out and I still feel the same. Not sure how the younger brother fit in, he wouldn't have been old enough to live with the others. They obviously haven't seen each other for years but acted like a tight knit family. And they tried too hard. Some of the scenes were awkward (the bathroom scene was particularly uncomfortable and overdone), the play fighting looked contrived. References to their rough life were never proven and Mark Wahlberg did his usual tough guy and came off looking painful. A lot of holes and dumb gangsters and dumber cops made it look stupid. Not funny enough to be a comedy or clever enough to stretch the imagination. It just didn't gel. A lot of fan boys posting 10/10 I assume for a particular rapper. I wish IMDB would clamp down on that crap, it spoils the review process. A 3 from me for managing to get through it.

The Equalizer 2

What Happened?
I watched the first Equalizer and it did a great nod to the Edward Woodward 1985 series which I loved at the time. Although, going back to look at it now it didn't age that well but it was the uniqueness of fighting for justice and the victim, putting things right that stood it apart from other shows at the time.

In the first Equalizer that DW starred in he was portrayed as a learned man with an obscure reading list spending his time humbly in privacy and peace reading at a late night diner. This made DW own the character as, although it was a significant departure from the original 1985 series (EW lived a higher more extravagant life style) it stayed true to form and drew you into his private world. The plot in the first one was about protecting a young woman and his co-workers in the hardware supply store. So generally along the same lines as the Edward Woodward model. In fact I preferred this McCall over the original.

Now, number 2 comes along and it feels like the original character is only given a passing nod. Starts with rescuing a young girl and anonymously visiting the parents bookshop to buy a book on his list. That took all of 5 minutes and after that it was just about McCall. His ex-secret service (what service is not revealed) is killed and he is the next target. The story is wafer thin, the plot is thrown out the window after 10 minutes and it descends into a violent free for all interspersed with boring nothingness. The cringiest scene was when he turns up at another ex-secret service old bro's house and the wife and kids treat him like an old family friend. It's revealed that this old friend is trying to kill him (nothing personal apparently. With friends like this?) and he uses the new found love of the wife and kids to leave. that had to be the worst get away I've seen. And the conversation with the young guy after they get off the elevator after threatening the gang (who respectfully don't chase him after he beat a couple up) was ridiculous. Shoving a gun in someones face to convince them to stay away from violent crims? Yep, can see how that would work...laughable crap.

The one I saw also had some unnecessarily gory scenes that really weren't needed and didn't add to the story. The guy in the bakery with half his stomach missing. I guess this is just a vehicle for DW to do the super human thing like Bruce Willis had Die Hard, Liam Neeson had Taken, Tom Cruise with Mission Impossible and Denzel Washington has this. What a shame they couldn't continue with the characterisation from the first Equalizer. It would have made a better story and made me root for the good guys. I found I just didn't care about Denzel's Character because it had lost the original meaning. It just felt disrespectful. A shame, I do like DW's earlier work but lately it just seems to have gone to putting bum on seats without a great story.

It's a 5 in the hope they don't make a Equalizer 3 - McCall takes on the Russian army, single handedly!

The Little Things

Inconsistent and Messy
By all means watch the film if you are are fan of Jared Leto, Denzel Washington or Rami Malek. You will probably enjoy it regardless of what I or anyone says. I like to review a film as it's presented, not just throw a 10 at it because a certain actor/actress was in it.

The story appeared to be a bit Film Noir and a bit True Detective but ended up being neither. (would love a well written True Detective with Washington and Malek). Film Noir needs a solid story line and actors who are expressive and smoldering in whatever role they play. Rami's over use of the 'stare' was off putting and in most cases totally unnecessary, a shame as it had potential to drive a plot point. It became just annoying after a while and I wondered if this was a one trick pony. He started off arrogant and self assured and ended up suddenly frail and broken. I wasn't convinced. An opportunity for the Denzel and Rami characters to play off each other was lost with Jim (Rami) just giving in to Deke (Denzel) without so much as whimper. Denzel Washington's character was supposed to be a broken ex-Detective who burned out and ended up losing his wife and family and having a heart attack. He was portrayed as an over-weight, unfit slob. Glad they told me because I would never have known. And he did pretty well getting his bulk up over a house, down the other side and running to the car without so much as breaking into a sweat. Add that to running down the street and taking steps lightly two at a time and the Denzel Washington long legged cat stride and it just didn't work with an over weight burn out. DW is not a method actor, DW plays DW and is best left to doing just. that. So the padding and back story was wasted. Jared Leto played Jared Leto just as he should have although made questionable decisions at the end of the movie. Always great to see him do the crazy.

I don't mind stories that basically don't give you a neat end with everything tied up. This one didn't but what I don't like is the amount of red herrings that were just dismissed. The Stan character who kills himself and when asked if he might have been the serial killer Deke responds 'I hope not'. Really? after hounding him in a previous life for old murders, taunting him with a dead woman's name to see his reaction (and he gave a reaction) that's the response. A bit lame. There was little connecting the title to the movie. They looked at lots of 'Little Things' and they added up to nothing. I kept wondering when the big reveal would be to convince me that Zeke was as good as we were told all the way through the movie, it never happened. the reveal could have been anything, not the murderer but a major point that we all missed. Nothing. the best writing seemed to be for Sparma, loved the car swap on the highway, the call for a cop down and he just watched the action. Certainly livened up an otherwise dull story that went no where for 2 hours.

I gave it a 5 for Sparma and the almost a good movie vibe. But really, maybe they should have used cell phones. The era seemed to suggest they would have been there.

The Burnt Orange Heresy

A film for the viewers
This was an intelligent little number that challenged the viewer to decipher it's intricacies and work out the relationship of the characters.

I thought it did a good job of revealing the characters slowly over the first half and slowly their cracks started to show. Greed, perception and the lengths one will go to achieve his desire and the other will go to provide it.

As someone commented it won't suit all viewers because there is no spoon feeding or a tidy ending. The viewer must determine the motivation of each character. The addition of Mick Jagger (or should I say Sir Michael) was an interesting choice. At first I thought his lines were delivered in stilted uneven manner. But the way he fit his character like a well worn high street suit I thought this is his world. The world of high end art, servants and connections we can only dream of is where he is most comfortable. And it showed. His larger than life facial features and consistent delivery was disarming at times. I wish he'd made more movies. The main characters were a joy to watch and Donald Sutherland is a most underrated actor. What a terrific ensemble.

The ending felt a bit rushed and wasn't revealed as artfully as the start of the movie but enjoyable none the less. A second watch is guaranteed.

A 7 because it's a wonderful movie to trip over in a sea of banality that is coming out of Hollywood at the moment. More please.

Run Hide Fight

Die Hard in a School
That's about the only similarity to real school shootings, it's set in a school.

I have no idea what all these 10 & 9 scores are about but most of the ones I checked had no other reviews. It's an ok movie, certainly nothing close to real life as others would tell you. Inept SWAT and cops, they didn't even try to get into the building even though they knew where all the gang members were. The teachers let a 17yo run around and control the show. Apparently you can get shot and still run around.

If you don't take it too seriously which many seemed to, it's an ok ride. Nothing to write home about though.

5 because it reminds me of the Die Hard movies when they were just good fun.

Outside the Wire

Senseless Rubbish
This movie made no sense and had so many plot holes and stupid moments.

Where to begin? A 19 yr old Lieutenant who claims he has 56,000 hours flight experience (work it out), disobeys a direct order so gets sent on a secret mission retaining his rank. A robot in the form of a man who can withstand direct shots to the chest with armour piercing rounds no problem but complains it hurts when a tracker is cut out of his back. Can reason, make cynical jokes and make decisions (really need to think how that isn't a good thing). When you run out of ammo, throw away your very expensive US military issue auto gun despite standing next to the jeep you arrived in. Apparently auto makers lost the ability to further designs after 2020. There are plenty more questionable things about this movie like why did I watch it 3 because it's a sunny day


A nice Littel Hidden Gem
Not perfect but a good premise. A good idea and although not fresh, more structured than other movies of the same theme. The first part felt a bit muddled. I know they were building the characters but they took too long to do it. And some of the dystopian feel was wasted in the second half. I really enjoy time travel or time altering movies, especially when it's supported by a good story line, This just missed the mark. But a good attempt. Good acting and well worth the price of admission. Just relax and go with it, there are a few plot holes but it's ok. 6 for attempting a difficult theme and almost getting there.

Open 24 Hours

I Liked It
I'm hard to please but this took me exactly where I wanted to go and didn't muck around getting there. The setting (24 Hour Gas Station) was great and almost believable. At least it was a change from a cabin in the middle of nowhere or a break down in the middle of a desert.

Not much of a back story but I enjoyed the difference of the main victim being the unwilling side kick of a serial killer and getting let out and this was the only job she could get. A 10pm to 6am sole gas station attendant. Usually it's friends who secretly hate each other (I know What You did Last summer and Scream....all of them). It was a nice throwback to the 90s slasher movies of old. I miss them but every thing moves on and not much has taken up the mantle.

Acting was a bit sloppy, Being in a gas station I thought they could have had some inventive ways of killing people, unfortunately this was where the writers let it down, and I can't see a sequel being made for obvious reasons. Still, it tickled mu slasher bone and I hung up all reasoning at the door and poured a cold one and enjoyed the ride.

6 because it almost hit the spot.

On Becoming a God in Central Florida

How to ruin the best story line I've seen in a while
Started well, the first couple of episodes really had me thinking I was on to a great series. Kirsten Dunst was fabulous as a down trodden housewife with a kid and braces trying to hold the family together while her dizzy husband was striving for the American dream. The story was unique about a multi-level marketing system that we all know and hate. I really thought this was going to go somewhere. Ep3 proved it didn't. The story went south with the acting, characters turned stupid and vapid. Plot devices didn't work. What was the point of the alligator part? I stopped believing in the characters as they weren't likable anymore. All the work put in to making me, the viewer, like Ernie and Krystal was wasted. They just went to mush. The barefoot character and Obie were just ridiculous. Going by the rave reviews, this was aimed at the right people. I selected no to the question 'does this review contain spoilers?' It doesn't go anywhere to have spoilers. Just a mess. And no, this most definitely isn't a black comedy. There's nothing funny. Just dumb. It's a 4 for the first 2 episodes only


America save the world, once again from.................America?
Yes, it is utter crap. Once again America saves the world because, umm well they're America! It's what they do. And everyone should be grateful, regardless of it being their fault in the first place. I have nothing against Americans, just these types of films. Tone deaf in this day and age.

The junk science is junk and the special effects aren't that special. At times I thought I was watching a cross between 2012 and every disaster movie that involves huge tidal waves. Nothing new, no wow moment. Despite all the screaming and running people no one seemed scared. Couldn't fathom why anyone was at the beach in such numbers and abnormal weather conditions.

The over the top reaction when the two main characters survived was another dumb moment. The movie just showed 1000s of people being killed by wayward weather and no one cared. I know it's a movie but......hmmm The thinly disguised politics was a little too thin.

This movie treats people as stupid and I hate being treated as stupid. Apparently the President's retina scan and finger prints were all that could be used to shut down all satellites. Really? Why? what a ridiculous suggestion. When the Gerard Butler character said 'I'll reboot the system, that should flush the virus' I just about spat my coffee out. Surely they could have come up with something a little more original? I honestly felt cheated.

So, it's a one because thank God there was a Mexican on board...!!

The Undoing

Obvious misdirection endng in the obvious
I just about gave up on this after the first two episodes. I'm pleased I didn't as I would have missed a powerful understated performance.

So, the bad. Yep, Nicole Kidman. Or lumpy face as I got to call her throughout the six episodes. And the lumps changed from episode to episode. At one stage I thought she had cotton wool under her top lip. And what's with her mouth? As someone pointed out, you had to listen to what she said because you couldn't go by her expressions for mood. There were none, the same bland and blank look only a botoxed plastic face could do. There was one scene near the end where she hugs her father (Donald Sutherland) and I honestly wondered who he was hugging. as for her acting, subpar and the worst of all the cast. Why Hollywood women get these things done instead of aging gracefully is beyond me. The other 'bad' was the misdirection that was so far out that the only logical conclusion was the person who eventually 'done it'. The red herrings were too obvious, everyone was a suspect and then the writers went out of their way to prove it. This didn't add to the story and after it finished I realised some of the misdirections were pointless and stupid. For example, Mum (Nicole Kidman) happened to be walking within a block at the time of the murder. Why? Just a coincidence? The boy found the hammer, washed it in the dishwasher twice and took it home to protect Dad. How does that protect Dad? Up until then we didn't even know the son suspected Dad. Just dumb. There's more, but that's enough to annoy me. I don't like being treated as stupid. Now the Good. Hugh Grant once again proves he has some serious acting chops. Great to see him do serious acting and show his range from anger to lust and carry it well. More please Mr Grant. Donald Sutherland does the entitled rich old man who uses his money as a weapon very well. Loved his dialogue and interraction with his grand son's Principle was priceless. The reason I said I was pleased I continued despite the dismal performance by the lead was Noma Dumezweni. She did a fantastic turn as the defense lawyer. Strong, powerful and her rage at the end was something to watch. I will be hunting more of her films.

For Hugh, Donald and Noma's performance alone I gave it a 5 otherwise I'd also be down in the 2 or 3, probably because I wouldn't have watched it to the end.

The Queen's Gambit

From a sea of mediocrity comes this.
For sheer entertainment value this scores highly. I binge watched this up until the last episode and then watched that two days later. Something I frequently do with a captivating series to let it settle before letting it unveil itself.

I enjoyed Anya Taylor-Joy's character Beth and her unusual looks carried me even further into her world. Her subtle almost expressionless face and the way she reacted to situations was mesmerising and almost autistic even if there was a misstep between child and adult. ATJ carried the series with confidence and ability beyond her years. I wonder if anyone else noticed the clumpy stiff backed model walk to emphasise her confidence.

You were left in no doubt as to the era from the rose tinted glass American 1960s to the cold western version of the Russian 1960s and this did at times feel distracting. Along with styling AJT after Audrey Hepburn. Stunning to look at but a little mismatched with the Beth character who showed no interest in fashion at the beginning and suddenly bloomed. Picky really but it did feel a little Mad Men.

I wish they had explored the financial side of it a little more. Beth paid the mortgage and then bought the house for $7000. She proceeded to lock herself away and glamorise drinking to excess without explaining where the money to live and pay the mortgage came from. So some thought on what the prize money for playing chess would have been might have helped sell it a little better. The living standards between Beth and the Benny character, who beat her and should have had more winnings seemed at odds.

Finally, the downs weren't low enough or convincing enough to raise the highs where they were needed. It seemed too predictable at times and the ending was a forgone conclusion and played out that way. She didn't struggle with much and her addictions were cast aside as easily - drinking and tranquilisers were a major addiction and presented in a positive way mostly which may have been a little tone deaf today, but then this is entertainment.

Room for improvement and this is offered as critique not criticism. As my title suggests this is head and shoulders above much of the drivel available right now and should stand the test of time. I hope there is no second series, that would dilute the first season and be an obvious money grabbing decision.

8 - I thoroughly enjoyed it.


Hit and Miss
I had low expectations going in and that's pretty much what I got.

These types of films are hard to make believable and you will always find holes. Why didn't she just go to the police? or at least phone them. When did RCs character have time to plant a mobile phone, tape a ipad under the seat etc. Also, his character didn't make smart choices but acted on pure rage which makes the planting of phones highly improbable. Not sure how he got so much information from a mobile phone (conversation with lawyer was odd). Just silly stuff.

So, suspend your belief and it's a bit of an old fashioned ride similar movies in the early 2000s like Joy Ride and Blacktop. Not a mind twister just entertainment and I'll probably forget it after this. There was a mismatch between Russel Crowe and Caren Pistorias. She seemed too light weight to take this role on and RC was way over the top. At times you could hear him wheezing carrying all that extra weight. Not a huge fan of RC but he did well and his commanding voice is instantly recognisable. The story was let down by the script and direction could have been tighter. I just didn't care about the characters enough.

For mindless entertainment without thinking too hard it's a 4 from me.


Worth the price of admission, well almost there
I enjoyed this movie until about 15 minutes from the end.

The science astrology stuff was good and convincing. I checked a couple of things and they were bang on. I was sucked into the story nicely.

I enjoyed the relationship of the guys to one another and you really have to watch it to the end to fully understand the dynamics. This was really a movie about friendships and I wish that had been the real motivation for the movie. I think this may have been unintentional and that could have been the strength of the movie. The actors were mostly novices but carried it well and at times it almost slipped into the land of farce (think of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost movies), fortunately they pulled back but the taste lingered a little.

Now the álmost' bit. The last 10 minutes where they had to get to the observatory to download the data before losing power felt contrived. There were some big holes that were hard to ignore and possibly ruined it for me. When time was of the essence they spent more time arguing and doing silly things instead of hurrying. Why load the car up and then leave behind the most expensive piece of equipment instead of tossing out the cheap stuff and taking it with them. The constant barriers they put in their on way, arguing that they had to hurry, stopping in the car park to run to get the charger instead of driving all the way, struggling to plug it in which was really more annoying than tense. Just stupid stuff.

Finally, the ending was all wrong. I would have preferred that they lost the data (in a more convincing way), no one else made contact and they walked into the sunrise as better friends talking about what could have been. That would have been more satisfying as a viewer.

I gave it a 6 because it was a good watch, convinced me with the science and friendship and after reading how hard and long it took to make it was a good little indie movie.

The American Barbecue Showdown

Hyuk, Goshee Doodle, Lord Have mercy....
Think the title says it all, hokey hillbillie garbage. Thank God for subtitles. Why are there two judges and two presenters? Overkill and one presenter does nothing. The female judge totally overrides everyone's opinion and the male judge just feels like he's there to support her opinion. Totally went off this when she imposed her own taste on the competition, ' better not bring me no cold cheese, can't bring me no uncooked pickled onions and that beef is under cooked' what? Every statement ridiculously stupid. Basically load it with grease, over cook and over smoke everything and put a slather of good old strawberry jam on that pork. One contestant tried to serve something reasonably healthy and was roundly shot down for not making it for the judges taste which I assume should be a heart attack on a stick. You only have to look at the obese contestants to understand what they are looking for. Not one dish had a side as a relief from the grease...yuk At least there's no drama like most cooking shows seem to obsess over which is the only reason it didn't get 1 star. Avoid if you want to live past 50.

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