TV – Line of Duty Review (or ‘The Best TV Show You’ve Never Seen’)

April 29, 2016

For the last few weeks, I’ve been bugging anyone who’ll listen at work with one simple question…

“Do you watch Line of Duty?”

Tucked away on BBC2 on a Thursday night, I’d never heard of this drama about corruption in the police force until I began to notice sites like Digital Spy proclaim it the best thing currently on TV.Line-of-Duty

With the first two seasons on NetFlix and the current one just finished last night, I decided to give it a go.

It was a great decision, because Line of Duty is the best thing currently on TV.

It’s gritty, dramatic, shocking and utterly engrossing. What’s more, it’s both written and acted tremendously.

Though each season focuses on one specific corrupt member of the force – played by well-known British actors in the same way as Columbo would cast US Stars to play the bad guys – there’s a linking theme that carries on throughout all three seasons and will no doubt continue into the ones that will follow. And what a theme it is. I won’t spoil it for you, but needless to say, by the time last night’s finale aired emotions were running high and I was genuinely nervous/excited to see how things would pan out.

That’s how good Line of Duty is.

Like I say above, the acting in this is tremendous, and in particular I love the scenes where the bad guys are brought in for questioning by our heroes at AC-12 played by Adrian Dunbar, Martin Compston and Vicky McClure. In no way light, these are intense scenes that sometimes run up to almost 25 minutes long and must be difficult to act, both in terms of remembering lines and maintaining the right emotional notes. But everyone involved manage it with aplomb. In particular, I think Dunbar’s character – Superintendent Ted Hastings – with his Northern Irish accent and fire and brimstone mentality is just fantastic here. He’s like the moral guardian we all wish was running the police force in reality.

The one thing I don’t want to do in this review is to give away any spoilers whatsoever – to do so would be a disservice to what is one of the finest examples of drama I think I’ve ever seen – so I’ll simply finish this review by saying that if you’ve heard people at your work raving about this show, there’s a good reason for it. It is as good as they are making out and you will love it.

So close down this page, go onto NetFlix now and start watching.

You won’t regret it.

 


Movies: Green Room Review (or ‘Starring Patrick Stewart, The Neo Nazi Dressed As A Perthshire Farmer’)

April 28, 2016

Green Room is undoubtedly the product of a disturbed mind.

Why anyone would suddenly be inspired to write a movie about a punk rock band getting caught up in a murder cover-up at a concert at a Neo-Nazi rally is beyond me.green room

Similarly beyond me is how they came up with the idea that the leader of the Neo-Nazis would be Patrick Stewart dressed up like a Perthshire farmer.

It’s just bizarre.

And it’s also gruesome; very gruesome.

With scenes involving the likes of Staffordshire Terriers ripping people’s’ throats out, fat blokes being cut open from the stomach with box cutters and a young guy getting his arm sliced to pieces, this is not for the faint hearted.

But is it a good film?

Well it’s ok. The characters are all believably cast and there’s a definite tension in the actors’ performances, but it also felt a bit light to me. Not light-hearted of course, but rather light on substance.

I think perhaps that once they decided upon the major set-piece of the movie – that the band would be trapped inside the Green Room at the gig while the Nazis plot to kill them and blame them for the murder they stumbled upon – they didn’t bother to do enough to make it interesting.

What I would give it credit for though is the element of unpredictability regarding who gets killed off and when.

But my overriding annoyance from it all was the way they treated the dogs. Now I do not like dogs, and find it absolutely baffling that people are allowed to own and train ones that can so easily kill a human. The dog in this film killed more than once, but its final appearance was lying down alongside its dead master, as if we were supposed to say ‘Awww, the poor wee dog’ rather than hope it got its comeuppance.

Unbelievable.

Anyway, this won’t be out for a full cinematic release for another couple of weeks, but when it does, I reckon fans of gore will love it, while anyone wanting to see a good story might be best served saving their money.


Movies – Bastille Day Review (or ‘Just Wait To Watch It On TV’)

April 23, 2016

The advantage of having an Unlimited Card for the cinema means that I can go to movies that I might not otherwise have bothered with, and because they’ve already been paid for, it’s no skin off my nose whether it’s a hit or a miss.

It gives me the freedom to review a movie on its own merits, rather than if it offered me value for money.

Bastille Day_Quad_quotes1.indd

Bastille Day_Quad_quotes1.indd

But movies aren’t cheap on a pay as you go basis; a standard 2D film at the Dundee branch of Cineworld will cost £7.10, which is pretty much half the cost of NetFlix for a month. When you’re paying that, you really do want bang for your buck.

Why am I bringing this up?

Because I just went to see Bastille Day and my first thought upon leaving the cinema was that I was glad I hadn’t paid for it.

Was it bad? No, it was simply ok. It’s the sort of movie that you’d watch on a plane or if there was nothing else on TV and think was fine.

Starring Idris Elba as Luther with an American accent and a bit less swearing, this movie about a potential terrorist attack in Paris on – you’ve guessed it – Bastille Day just came across as unimaginative and like something you’ve seen dozens of times before.

Elba was good, as was his co-star Richard Madden, and there were some occasional moments of mirth, but there was absolutely nothing special about it.

And that really is all there is to say.

So if you’ve got an Unlimited Card, there are worse ways to spend an evening, but if you don’t, just wait to watch it on TV.


Movies – Eye in the Sky Review (or ‘A Top Movie That Makes You Think’)

April 19, 2016

 

I’ve got writer’s block.

That’s a bit of a bummer, but hey-ho.

Anyway, I’m sitting here trying to think of a way in to review Eye in the Sky but nothing seemed particularly fluid, so d’you know what? I’m just going to write whatever comes into my head and structure be damned.

Eye in the Sky is excellent; it’s easily the best film I’ve seen all year – which is a huge relief after recently wasting over two hours of my life on that big pile of wank, Midnight Special – and one I would heartily eyeintheskyrecommend.

So what’s good about it?

Well there are a number of things.

For one it’s well acted, with the likes of Helen Mirren and the late Alan Rickman playing their roles with style.

For another the format – done in real-time over 100 or so minutes as the British & Americans plan a drone strike on a house filled with hostile targets in the friendly city of Nairobi – means that tension remains constant throughout and it moves at a surprisingly fast pace.

And perhaps most of all, it asks the viewer some moral questions. Is it alright to bomb a house in a friendly city? Does the elimination of high-profile terrorists who might be responsible for the deaths of scores of innocent people if they go free justify the potential collateral damage (cleverly represented as a cute little girl sitting near the house selling bread)? Is the detached nature of drone warfare a good thing? And should military decisions be left in the hands of self-serving politicians and lawyers more interested in winning the PR battle rather than getting things done?

It doesn’t give you the answers to these questions; you’re left to decide that for yourself. And I thought that was great.

So yes, I’d heartily recommend going to see Eye in the Sky, and if future movies I see in 2016 are as good as this, I’ll be more than happy.

And hey, it turns out I didn’t have writer’s block after all.

Result.


Movies: Midnight Special Review (or ‘A Big Pile of Wank’)

April 13, 2016

It’s unusual for me to let a day go by after watching a movie before I review it.

And yet it’s been four days since I went to Midnight Special and only now am I sitting down to express my opinion on it.midnight special

Why?

If it was really good or spectacularly bad I’d want to say my piece as soon as possible.

But Midnight Special is neither. It’s just incredibly drab.

Set in a dreary part of the United States, it’s an unoriginal and unexciting story played out by bored looking actors, such as an alarmingly old-looking Kirsten Dunst and the guy from Star Wars who looks like a cat.

There are no heroes or villains to speak of and very little seems to happen.

In a nutshell, a little boy who wears a pair of swimming goggles, has the face of a man in his 50s and possesses the power to intercept and understand classified government information is reported missing by a cult. As it turns out he’s on the run from them with his own father. Then for some reason the boy decides that he’s a super-being from a higher ethereal plane of existence and announces he must travel to a certain place to transfer over to it before the cult or the government catch him.

And he does.

And everybody goes home.

Wow…riveting stuff.

A reviewer looking to put the best case forward for Midnight Special would tell you that it’s unusual and understated; the sort of film that sophisticated people enjoy, because sophisticated people enjoy films that make you feel melancholy.

I have no vested interest in putting across a case like that.

For me, it’s a big pile of wank. It’s not so bad that I was moved to write about it immediately, but so boring that I just couldn’t be arsed.

And maybe that’s even more damning.

Avoid.


Movies – Eddie The Eagle Review (or ‘It’s Basically Cool Runnings And Everyone Loved That’)

April 1, 2016

If you’re thinking of going to see Eddie the Eagle then ask yourself one simple question…

Do you like Cool Runnings?

Obviously the answer to that question is yes; everybody likes Cool Runnings. And if you like that then you’ll like this, because it’s effectively the same movie.Eddie-the-Eagle-Movie-Poster-2

Indeed, the only difference is that instead of focussing on the Jamaican Bobsleigh Team and their quest to get to the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics, this is about Britain’s Eddie Edwards at the same event.

In both movies there’s a hefty dose of creative license used to make the story more heartwarming – perhaps more so in Eddie The Eagle where they essentially invent a coach for him played by Hugh Jackman who is only there to play John Candy’s character from the 1993 flick – but both are just great watches.

I really enjoyed Eddie the Eagle and had a smile on my face the whole time. The cast is strong, the incidental music captures the essence of the time it was set and the story just works. It’s ‘Punchtheairtastic’.

Go to see it as soon as possible.


Movies – The Boy Review (or ‘At Least I Get To Use My Krusty The Clown Meme Again’)

March 23, 2016

I don’t really ‘get’ horror movies.

Most of the time they are pretty poorly written, rely heavily on sudden sharp stings of incidental music to make people in the audience jump and just aren’t scary.

I remember going to see The Descent – which in fairness is a pretty good film because of its plot rather than its genre – with a group of friends and was stunned by some of the reactions. For one thing, one of my theboyfriends – and I know he’ll read this and will inevitably comment on it on Facebook – actually let out a loud scream. Incredible. Meanwhile, another one turned to my brother and said “Aww man, this is the scariest film I’ve ever seen”.

I don’t get it. What you’re seeing on-screen cannot hurt you, so why do people get scared?

There’s only ever been one example of a movie making me jump and raising my heart rate and that was Rear Window. The direction in that film is so good that it makes you feel like you are the one watching Raymond Burr from across the street, and when he finally realises he’s being watched, it’s like he’s looking directly at you. That’s class.

But yeah, generally horror movies don’t achieve what they set out to as far as I’m concerned.

Still though, I’m always up for a well written movie and for giving things a chance, so I went along to see The Boy last night.

Alas, the one thing this wasn’t was well written.

What’s It About?

The synopsis for The Boy reads like this…

“A young American named Greta (Lauren Cohan) takes a job as a nanny for an 8-year-old boy in a remote English village. To her surprise, Greta learns that the child of her new employers is a life-size doll. They care for the doll as if it was human, which helps the couple to cope with the death of their own son 20 years earlier. When Greta violates a list of strict rules, a series of disturbing and inexplicable events bring her worst fears to life, leading her to believe that the doll is alive.”

What’s It Really About?

If I was writing an honest synopsis I would say…

“A mentally unstable American woman takes a job nannying for a ceramic puppet in England. Despite obvious alarm bells – such as how the aged, weary ‘parents’ of the ceramic boy are obviously insane and on edge and how it’s…you know…a highly complicated and suspiciously well paid nannying job for a fucking puppet in a house cut off from society in a foreign country – she doesn’t cut her losses and leave. Indeed, even as the mother of the puppet whispers to her “I’m so sorry” as they leave the house forever, she still has no issues with sticking around.

While she initially ignores the long list of daily chores based on keeping the puppet happy, she becomes slightly disturbed by the way it seems to have changed positions and slightly moved while she’s out of the room. Then something appears to move her dress and lock her in the attic. At this point, rather than locking the puppet in a cupboard, destroying the puppet or just leaving, she decides to stick around while petrified. That makes no sense.

Then when faced with conclusive proof that the puppet does seem to be moving, instead of once again destroying the puppet or just leaving (after all, how much harm can a puppet do even if it is

What the hell was that?!

My reaction to watching The Boy (It’s always good to be able to use this image)

sentient?) she sees that as a sign to stick around and parent it. O…..kay then.

After all of that, the last 15 minutes are the result of the writer seemingly lacking a proper ending and thinking “Fuck it, this’ll do” . I won’t spoil it, but it’s just ridiculous.

So I’d have phrased that synopsis slightly differently.

Really, this is just a stupid film that doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. There are so many times when common sense decision-making would have seen the film end in a rational and sensible manner after 10, 20, 30, 40 or 50 minutes, but alas, there was no common sense on display from Greta.

And therefore it couldn’t be taken seriously. Even if we allow for the suspension of disbelief to make the concept work, there are limits. I ended up laughing at rather than with it, which wasn’t the intention I’m sure.

So yeah, I’d say it was crap.

Not crap in a ‘This was excruciating to watch‘ type way, because it moved along at a reasonable enough pace to never be boring and was actually acted quite well, but crap in a ‘This is ludicrous’ way.

Still, one or two people were suckered in to yelping in fear when there were the obvious sharp stings of music.

And if that floats their boat then good for them.

But I expect better when I go to the cinema, and so should you.


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