Netflix Mini-series Review #4965: The Defeated
If you’re looking for something to relieve the tedium of Lockdown IV, look no further than this Netflix original set in Berlin in the aftermath of WWII.
An American cop is inserted into a German police department to help restore law and order to a city dissected into American, Russian, British and French sectors, each with their own agendas and share of oligarchs jockeying for power and to benefit from get-rich-quick schemes.
Lotsa plots and subplots but the main target is a German doctor who recruits needy women to carry out his dirty work, and against whom our American friend teams up with a local German police chief to bring to justice.
Gritty and tense, the portrayal of a city not only defeated but broken to its last is overt, and the despair of its inhabitants brought to the fore. The finale has more than its share of twists and turns, and not all the bad guys get their comeuppance, leaving the door open for a second season, which in the eyes of this reviewer would be welcomed.
Well thought out and executed, I reckon this is a solid:
Movie Review #2085: THE HITMAN’S WIFE’S BODYGUARD
Messrs Reynolds & Jackson are back in the follow up to 2017’s outing of the same name, minus the wife.
The original was a light-hearted romp via gratuitous violence, body dispatches, exploding assets and a whole variety of laughs and this one is more of the same. Main difference is the presence Selma Hayek, Samuel L’s motor-mouth spouse who seems to try and rule the proceedings but only succeeds in being the primary irritant.
Starts off slow and tedious but does get better and some of the laughs prove to be quite funny, although I’m sure there’s only a finite number of collisions, prangs, shootings, bounces and general mayhem that Ryan Reynolds’ body can take before becoming one of the aforementioned dispatchees.
Morgan Freeman shows up in a cameo and Antonio Banderas make a suitably nasty bad guy even if every time he opens his mouth, I can’t help but think of Puss In Boots!
Overall mildly amusing and if you enjoyed the first one no doubt you’ll enjoy this too.
Neon Mini-series Review #946: MARE OF EASTTOWN
Neon mini-series of 7 episodes featuring Titanic sweet young thing Kate Winslet as a 40-something cop in small town America (no prizes for guessing the name), up against murders and disappearances, all the while navigating her dysfunctional family with its own share of grief and tragedy.
Gritty to the point of sandpapering, various interrelationships don’t seem to distract our girl from pursuing the baddies, and she is not averse to using some skulduggery of her own to get the desired outcome.
Neighbours original Guy Pearce shows up as Mare's love interest, and boy, does he need a haircut. But this is mere folly against the sizable crime-solving challenges Ms Kate is up against.
She eventually solves the puzzles as they always do, but not before a few twists, turns and red herrings trying to influence our choice for killer (I got it at the close of the penultimate episode), and leaning us towards the most obvious candidate.
Kate is superb as Mare of the title (short for Marianne in case you were wondering) and the supporting crew well up to task. I hope there is another series on the horizon as this is certainly one of the better binge watches:
Movie Review #397: POPPY
NZ movie built on the success of last year’s Peanut Butter Falcon, Down’s Syndrome teen, Poppy, is living with and working for older brother Dave on the Kapiti Coast while they both deal with a tragic loss.
Poppy is car mad, especially the Burn Out types, and can’t wait to get her licence. In the mean time she gets behind a wheel in any way she can, even clandestinely hijacking customers' cars from Dave’s garage.
Things get complicated when Poppy falls for a local lad, and despite his protectionism, Dave’s addictions start to drive him and Poppy apart. Yet she sees his issues and actively tries to help.
It’s a charming movie, yet moves into uncomfortable territory when breaking the bounds of what might challenge us to stretch a little beyond our sensibilities.
Dave is finally forced to face up to reality as Poppy longs for greater independence, which she helps herself to via a number of sneaky, cunning little plans especially the grand finale.
Libby Hunsdale does famously as Poppy and the rest of the cast support well. Overall:
Movie Review #56: A QUIET PLACE PART II
Sequel to 2018's A Quiet Place (surprised?) and picks up where the first one left off, but not before a flashback on how our lovely planet became infested with these vicious and lightening-fast killing machines with no eyes.
Again, lotsa silence sequences to heighten the intensity, and the family Abbott, now reduced to four, have found refuge with one Cillian Murphy, whom I almost didn’t recognise. Eldest daughter has come up with a cunning plan to defeat the nasties, but can she deploy it? Mr Murphy helps and all the while momma, son and bub hold down the fort with a few battles of their own.
The original movie was an adequate sci-fi affair combining many elements of previous monsters from outer-space outings, and if remember right, I gave it a 7/10. This one fares marginally better but only for the Cillian factor, with a standard storyline, great CGI, OK script (when words are permitted), and adequate performances from the rest of the crew. Overall:
Movie Review #2975: POMPEII
Doco movie based not so much based on the AD79 eruption of Vesuvius which wiped the city off the face of the planet, but on the myths and legends depicted in the artworks excavated from the ruins. Particular emphasis is placed on reenacting some of these scenes with quite creative abandon, all while narrated by Italy’s favourite thespian-ess, Isabella Rossellini. It also raises visibility of and focuses on the pagan and associated hedonistic lifestyles of the inhabitants, and as per most Roman cities of the time, demonstrates just how deep such beliefs and practices were entrenched.
I remember when in Pompeii in 2011 being very aware of the sexual symbolism all around and finding it particularly disturbing, especially the way women were depicted. Which brings me how to review this movie: the cinematography is beautiful and commentary exquisite. The dramatics are also quite extraordinary, yet it wasn’t the movie I was expecting to see. Unfortunately or otherwise, I have little interest in Roman mythology and while it was somewhat interesting, I was hoping to see a greater emphasis on both the geological and the human aspects of the event.
Given that the production was so vastly superior to any another doco I’ve seen on Pompeii, I found it overall quite disappointing. However, if I rated according to my expectations not being reasonably met, I think I would be doing the makers a gross disservice as it is superbly made. So, for this reason I won’t put a number on it and merely suggest that if you go to see it, make sure you understand first what it’s all about.
Set fifteen years after WWII, Noomi Rapace is a Romani immigrant married to an American doctor in US suburbia, when she spots a fellow whom she recognises as a Nazi SS Officer, guilty of war crimes - including the murder of her sister.
Plotting to gain a confession, things turn bad when she kidnaps him and brings him home to her unwitting husband who finds himself buying in to the games of 'is he or isn’t he', which then pretty much consume the rest of the movie.
A few dramatic unexpected twists and turns make it all reasonably convincing, and without these things it might not have been quite as grabbing.
Noomi Rapace is great in the lead role and pulls off the flawed and wounded victim well. The other performances are adequate if not dazzling and the climax brings the last unexpected turn which closes the tale.
Nice sets and cinematography depicting small town America that has just about gotten over the war but in this, has it resurrected just for Rapace’s character Maja and it seems a bit like ‘oh no not that again’. Worth a look if you like the genre.
If I go to a movie it’s to be entertained rather than informed, so I tend avoid doco type pieces, but this one grabbed my attention so thought I’d give it a whirl.
Think eclectic older English couple, Rupert and Jan Grey, deciding to drive across India in their 1936 Roller and you’d think you’d have a recipe for something intriguing. And guess what, you do!
It’s an amusing and interesting journey in a vehicle that perhaps should have been put out to pasture decades ago, however, but for a few minor mishaps and billowing black smoke, seems to just keep chugging along.
India is portrayed as a land of mystery to us insulated kiwis and our intrepid explorers face their fair share of red tape, crazy traffic, bomb-cratered roads and other impedances, however they’re handled in such positive light that they’re hardly a blip on the radar. Throughout Rupert & Jan maintain their stoicism and they pretty much get to everywhere they set out to.
Did bring back memories of my own short-by-comparison excursion through North East India and had to laugh to myself a few times as R & J encountered many of the same gems as I did.
Engaging, entertaining as well as informing, and well worth a look.
Yet another actor-based spinner designed to work off the appeal of the leading man, in this case old Irish eyes himself Liam Neeson.
This time he’s a highly elusive bank robber who meets the love of his life and decides to go straight. First act of virtue is to turn himself in and cut a deal by returning all the money he nicked, but it all goes awry when a couple of nefarious FBI agents enter the fray.
From there things go from bad to worse for our boy and pretty soon we have all the customary shoot-outs, blow-ups, car chases and naughty cops that we have come to expect of the genre. Yet notwithstanding, it’s an amusing and entertaining romp through the proceedings which are predictably predictable, and Neeson’s gruff grunt features nicely throughout.
No real surprises, although a cameo from Robert Patrick (that really, really, bad melty guy from Terminator 2) does light up the early part of the tale.
Irish production with an ex-boxer working for a local drug family, who falls afoul of them when he fails to carry out a hit.
Torn by his loyalty to the family against that to his autistic son, our man, possessing no more than your average intellectual oomph, makes some decisions that upset all and sundry and he finds himself on the receiving end of everyone’s disdain and running from just about everyone and everything.
Gritty drama with good performances all round, and the dreariness of the environs add to the allure and sense of hopelessness of the central character’s plight. There is some violence depicted, and while in keeping with tone of the story, we still wince at some of the blows as rough justice is meted out on a bloke who screws up badly.
Overall, a little depressing and we’re left with a sense of wondering really what it’s all for, yet not a bad movie by any means.
I'm a movie nut from way back with my first ever being The Hallelujah Trail from 1964. Ever since, I've been mesmerized by the giant screen, and the darkness that went on forever. Despite the infernally uncomfortable seats, (plus having to stand for God Save the Queen), I've been enticed ever since to duck into a theatre whenever I can for a few hours of escapism.