Category: Entertainment

Enola Holmes!

Finally, a reason to want to buy a subscription to Netflix … THIS!

I mean, come on! Sherlock Holmes’ younger sister, Enola (Millie Bobby Brown,) taking centre stage to solve the puzzle of what’s happened to her mother—who is, of course, played by the superb Helena Bonham Carter. Yes, I’m all in just to see this. The trailer looks like great fun.

Based on the books by Nancy Springer and set in Victorian London (1884), Enola Holmes puts a youthful, female spin of the endeavours of the detective family. With Henry Cavill switching from his Witcher uniform and white hair, to play Sherlock, and Sam Claflin taking on the role of Mycroft. Yet you just know Enola isn’t gong to play ball with her two older brothers and takes it upon herself to become a detective, and find her mother on her own.

Star Trek: Lower Decks

One of the TV channels up here, in the Frozen North, premiered the first episode, for free, of Star Trek: Lower Deck’s new animated series. Me and mine were beside ourselves to watch it, hoping for the best. But then, we learned that the production was by the same team that did the Rick and Morty show and, we nearly bailed right there and then.

However, we prevailed. We sat down to watch the first episode and … didn’t make it past the giant spider—that was it for me. I just couldn’t get into it. The pace was frenetic, weird, and the humour? Well, let’s say, for me at least, was humourless.

The show is supposed to provide us with a dose of geeky goodness, but ‘Oh My‘ this was really not my idea or, what I might have envisioned happening on any lower decks within the Star Trek universe. And the bat’leth accident? Was that really supposed to be funny?

Oh, I am sure this one is going to get high ratings for CBS’s All Access channel. But I won’t be counted in that number.

Which is a shame, because the show is voiced by some excellent voice talent, with Ensign Beckett Mariner (Tawny Newsome), Ensign Brad Boimler (Jack Quaid), Ensign Tendi (Noël Wells), the cyborg Ensign Rutherford (Eugene Cordero), Captain Carol Freeman (Dawnn Lewis), Commander Jack Ransom (Jerry O’Connell), Lieutenant Shaxs (Fred Tatasciore), and Dr. T’Ana (Gillian Vigman).

Ah, well, we sat, we watched, we rolled our eyes. And then went and read a book.

Thanks, but no thanks!

Film Review: Knives Out

Director: Rian Johnson
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, Daniel Craig, Toni Collete and Chris Evans
Genre: Mystery/Suspense

My House, My Rules, My Coffee

“The circumstances surrounding the death of crime novelist Harlan Thrombey are mysterious, but there’s one thing that renowned Detective Benoit Blanc knows for sure—everyone in the wildly dysfunctional Thrombey family is a suspect. Now, Blanc must sift through a web of lies and red herrings to uncover the truth.”

This was a super fun whodunnit filled with snark, wit, and confident over-the-top performances by all involved. From the maid, Marta (Ana de Armas) on through to the star names who, by the way, must have had an absolute blast letting loose on the premise—being wildly dysfunctional—where else do grown-ups get to play dress-up and getting paid for it.

I would loved to have been a fly on set with them during scene takes. But that aside, the casting was spot on for this disparate bunch of crazy characters who smugly lauded their superiority and prejudices over the hired help, while constantly sticking it to one another when they’re supposedly celebrating the birthday of Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer), the patriarch of the family.

Plummer’s performance was, as is to be expected, subtle and nuanced, leaving the dramatics to the rest of the cast. Jamie Lee Curtis plays the loving daughter, Linda, who seems to be the only one of Harlan’s children who seemed to have it together and, with her husband, Richard—played by Don Johnson—squarely under her thumb, at least had genuine affection for her game playing father.

With Toni Collete playing the widowed daughter-in-law, Michael Shannon as son Walt, caretaker of Harlan’s publishing company, and Chris Evans as the terrible youngest son, Ransom, the stage is set for a lot of shenanigans.

But the centrepiece of the story, and the glue that holds this movie together, is the excellent performance by Ana de Armes playing Marta, who absolutely shines. I especially loved the scenes between her and Daniel Craig’s outrageously over-the-top character, Benoit Blanc, a private detective helping out the police after Harlan is found dead. Was Craig secretly channelling Clarence Darrow? Quite possibly. But I digress.

While I don’t want to talk in depth about the plot and how it unfolds—it’s masterful—I do want to highlight the running gag that had me laughing. The Thrombey family are so insincere in their pledge to Marta about looking after her and her mother that not one of them can remember which South America country she comes from, and as each talks about her to Blanc, they cite a different country of origin: Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil … it’s too funny for words.

All in all Knives Out is a cleverly done whodunnit with great performances, snappy, snarky dialogue, and deliciously campy performances. A must see if ever there was one.

Binge-Worthy TV #4

Actually, calling the TV shows I’m about to discuss binge-worthy is a misnomer. Neither, as it turns out were of the calibre to be called binge-anything, let alone worthy.

First up is the Jez Butterworth written, Sky TV Amazon Prime coproduction, BRITANNIA. This supposed historical drama is only historical in that it’s set in AD 43, and that’s about it. Any resemblance to historical ‘fact’ is lost in translation, as they say. The show follows the Roman conquest of Britain, with some locations filmed in Wales, but mostly in the Czech Republic. Which accounts for some of the stunning scenery we get to see.

This is, in short, a campy fantasy straight out of the twisted imagination of the writer, Jez Butterworth. And while the scenery and settings are stark, forbidding, lush, and mysterious, the acting leaves a lot to be desired. Then there’s the  crazy-ass dialogue in which each and every ‘hip’ character talks as if they’re in a London Wine Bar discussing the weather. It’s absurd to the point of being hilarious. Several times my partner and I burst out laughing, and no, not because the excessive violence was funny, but because we just couldn’t believe our ears.

Then there’s the acting, which ranges from the down right camp—Zoë Wannamaker, I’m looking at you—to the melodramatic verging on farcical pantomime. The only redeeming character throughout the several episodes we struggled through so far has been the young lead, Eleanor Worthington Cox, who plays Cait.

This one might have scored higher had they thrown in a couple of dragons, but isn’t something I would recommend in less you’re looking for a farcical comedy of errors.

The second show we tried to watch is the BBC’s adaptation of Agatha Christie’s THE ABC MURDERS, starring the usually reliable John Malkovich. But after struggling through the first episode both my partner and I were of the same opinion, this one was a hit and miss affair. If you can get past the really, really strange accent Malkovich favours for his portrayal of Hercule Poirot, the gloomy atmospheric settings, and the glacial pacing where every last nuanced glance and look is filmed in minute detail, then you might actual make it through all three episodes and find out, who did it. But take it from me, you might die of boredom before you get there.

Binge-Worthy TV #3

Our binge-watching marathons continues apace.

After we gobbled up 2 seasons of the Euro-centric co-production, THE TUNNEL, and watched the mini series, TRIANGLE, starring Sam Neil—which, by the way, was a silly bit of fun where the American Navy are trying to close a breech in space time created by the Philadelphia Experiment (which may, or may not have taken place) and, in turn, spawned a movie or two.

We decided to watch something a little less cheesy and jumped into the BBC TV 6-part series, THE STATE WITHIN, a tight political thriller starring Jason Isaacs (he of Harry Potter and Star Trek: Discovery fame) and Sharon Gless from one of my all-time favourite TV shows ever, CAGNEY & LACEY.

What is interesting about this mini series, which aired back in the UK in 2006 and was nominated for 2 Golden Globe Awards, is how relevant the premise is in the here and now. Nothing appears to have changed in the ensuing 14 years and similar situations depicted may have, in fact, gotten worse. It’s certainly well worth finding on DVD and watching.

After cheesy SF and tense political intrigue, we took a short break before taking a TURN, and joined Jamie Bell and cast in Turn: Washington’s Spies, a 4-season period drama set during the American Revolutionary War in which we see the creation of America’s first ever spy ring.

We are a couple of episodes into season 1 and loving it so far, despite the fact historical accuracy has been sacrificed (and, isn’t it always) in the name of drama.