Broadchurch | Netflix | Yet another reason why British shows are leaps and bounds above the rest.

Broadchurch , is a British crime-drama thriller based on a small coastal town by the same name. I just got done with the first season and it has been nothing short of outstanding till now. The story begins when a young boy is found dead at the beach and investigation begins on what transpired on the night of the death. A new DI, Alec Hardy (David Tennant) heads the investigation along with DS Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) as the story unfolds on the lives and lies of the closely knit Broadchurch community. It’s not often you get a crime-drama which shows in proper depth how a family and community deals with the death of a close one.

 Olivia Colman does a wonderful job in the role of DS Ellie Miller, the detective in charge of the murder investigation of Danny Latimer, the kid who gets murdered. She, with her family, were close to the Latimer family as well as all the suspects involved and the makers did a wonderful job of exposing the frailties and apprehensions that an event like this can cause on a community as close as Broadchurch. The Latimer family (played by Jodie Whittaker ,  Andrew Buchan & Charlotte Beaumont) had their own share of secrets before disaster struck them. All three of them played their roles to perfection. DI Alec Hardy’s character was the now clichéd grumpy, middle-aged cop with a shady past and is all about the job on hand. 

There are quite a few subplots which make for some compelling suspects in the form of suspicious close friend Nige, the reckless boyfriend of the daughter, the best-friend of the dead kid who seemed to have not liked him as much as people made it to be, a pastor who seemed to invoke curiosity, a tempestuous old lady who is new to the town and an old man who had a secret past and had employed the deceased kid. Then there is this trio of journalists who always seemed to thread the thin line between responsible and irresponsible journalism.

Yes, the story is not just about a murder, its about a town which finds itself in a conundrum where its impossible to move on or stay still. Broadchurch is just one of the many shows where British Crime shows are the real winners when it comes to binge-worthy quality TV. Its like carrying the baton forward from where shows like Luther , River , The Five , Sherlock & Shetland left off.

****/5

~j

 

Wheelman | Netflix | The Ultra Low budget Fast and Furious.

Wheelman  is a one time watch with a sizable share of pretty decent car chases. If the Fast and Furious franchise had a baby with The Transporter series, that mini movie would have been this Frank Grillo, who is the Wheelman. The movie revolves around a bank robbery job gone wrong when the getaway driver (Frank) ends up double crossing his partners as somebody who had inside knowledge of the job double crosses him.

As is always the case, the hero has a family and a teenage kid whom he needs to protect and super fast car to get him around in his fight to earn is freedom and get back at the people who put him in a bind in the first place. The movie is not about the story but about the situations the hero finds himself in and even though it spans close to 1.5 hours there are very few dull moments in between all the melee that ensues.

The various chases throughout the movie, strung together in a shoestring budget, were all top quality, edge of the seat stuff and that is pretty much all that the movie is about. Wheelman turned out to be one of those rare movies where you really didn’t have to watch out for bloopers as they were sprinkled throughout the movie and would have been too hard to miss. On the whole I would say its one movie that would not make you regret the time spent and at the same time one that you wouldn’t remember much of in a couple of weeks time. ***/5.

~j

A Hairy Tale Indeed

I am not a vain woman but I do have some weird tendencies that might make me seem like one. I would never share this story were it not for a friend who said that the trait is not unique to me and his wife possesses a similar tendency. With just a few discrete inquiries, I found out that several of my friends (or their wives) share this trait. So here goes nothing…

Whenever I get my eyebrows shaped, I expect my husband to notice and compliment me (however undeserving the situation be).  Almost every time, he doesn’t notice. So, I get offended that the love of my life does not take an interest in my appearance. He says it is trivial enough not to matter on the grand scheme of things. Things usually go downhill from there.

I would never in a million years have expected this to backfire as I enjoy these debates that we have so much that I look forward to them. One day, I think It might have been post the ‘No Shave November’ month or so, I was out in the living room watching Netflix and my husband comes out of the shower and we discuss our Lunch Plans.

Five minutes later, in an angry tone

He: Don’t you ever … ever talk to me about the 1-2 hair that you get removed along your eyebrows again.

Me: Huh? (*Confused now)

He: (waits a minute for it to sink in. Starts Laughing)

Me: What are we talking about again?

He: I had a full beard a while ago and you did not notice that I now have a clean shave.

Me: But J, I don’t think that counts. I love you however you groom yourself. You know I find you very good-looking….

He: (*Interrupts my explanation laughing uncontrollably now) Nice try Sam. It is not going to work. I think we can end this topic for good. Never ever ask me about eyebrows again.

Since then, as tempted as I have been, I dare not speak of the topic again. But in my defense, I am in love with the person and not his appearance…

Mindhunter | Netflix | One of the best takes on the mind of a Serial Killer.

Netflix, has taken it upon itself to be the undisputed pioneers when it comes to certain genres and they continue the good work in churning out interesting stuff . Mindhunter is definitely not everybody’s cup of tea and is of the slow burner type which grows into you as the season progresses. It’s intelligent, well scripted, engaging and probably as close to the truth as there ever would be, without resorting to mind-numbing gory images that we usually associate with this genre. Mindhunter follows the journey of two FBI agents Ford & Tench in the 1970’s as they delve into psychology behind ‘Series killers’ and how they ended up being who they are and in effect shed light into how their minds work.

I was a bit slow to latch on to the Mindhunter mania ( a friend suggested that i should), as I had just finished binge watching a couple of series which I assumed to be similar (The Investigator: A British Crime Story & Manhunt: Unabomber) but boy I was wrong. Jonathan Groff as Holden Ford is the backbone of the series and rightly so ! His performance does put into shade some other really convincing performances from Holt McCallanyHannah Gross and Anna Torv.  Cameron Britton as Edmund Kemper does get under your skin as one of the several ‘Series Killers’ (yeah this was the time before it was known as Serial Killing) interviewed by Ford and Tench. 

There was a time during the series when I could not really judge whether Ford had indeed crossed that thin line which makes him closer to the people he was interviewing than the people whom he worked with. There was an subtle subplot involving an ADT serviceman which sets the canvas ready for painting for Season 2.

In short, I would recommend this if you are into psychological thrillers of the slow variety and if you are willing to let your mind tampered with. It’s not something you might enjoy in short spurts of viewing over time and would be best watched over a couple of days. I would rate it a 8/10 overall.

~j

The Mist | Netflix | One of the better Stephen King Adaptations for Mini Screen

The Mist turned out to be one of the better Stephen King Adaptations from the numerous torturous ones out there, that is only if you can survive the really boring couple of episodes in between and the obnoxious ending. The series revolves around a small town which gets engulfed in a mist that results in strange and mysterious things which often end up with people getting killed.

As always is the case in such series there is a central family comprising of the parents and a kid where the father defies all odds to protect his family. Then there are set of people who start the season as ‘good people’ and remain so till the adverse conditions bring out the darker shades in them. The way the season ended left many open ends and pretty much shouted out that ‘Season 2 is definitely on the way’. I wouldn’t hold my breath though and would most probably skip Season 2 (Update: No season 2 as the makers too had enough).

The performances by the cast was pretty average to be honest and the central theme which had so much of potential sort of fizzed out to nothing in the end because of the makers insisting on stretching it out for a few extra episodes and keeping it open for the next season. 1922 , Gerald’s Game & The Dark Tower being the most recent Stephen King adaptations, this did not disappoint much as the expectation was rock bottom and the train rides are too boring otherwise. 2/5 from my side for the premise and build up and the rest all went up in mist 😉

~j

Stranger Things 2 : Stranger, Slower, Binge-worthy, Halloween Special and Netflix still nails it despite it being the same of the old stuff.

The much awaited Season 2, started pretty slowly and did not pick up pace till the Chapter 3. Then on it was business as usual from the hit-churning Netflix Originals conveyer belt. They did manage to put in quite a boring Chapter 7 in between all the drama as well. The Duffer brothers (Matt Duffer, &  Ross Duffer) managed to bring back same 80’s style that made the first season so very interesting. The introduction of three new main characters (Max , Billy & Bob –Sean Astin) did give the story the much needed umph.

As was expected the original five friends, Eleven , the two elder siblings, the boyfriend, the Mom (Winona Ryder ) & the Cop (Jim Hopper) were all heavily involved and formed the crux of the story which now moved in a direction focussing the ‘Upside-down’ world. The producers of the show did stick on to the formula that clicked in the first season by providing occasional comic relief through Mike, Lucas and Steve. There were a few deviations in the plot that could have been avoided to keep the story nice and tight but I am guessing it was done intentionally to keep things open for a Season 3. I was waiting for the MJ’s Thriller to pop-in during one of the episodes as well, since the makers spent a fortune in getting the right for it. 

In short, I was sort of expecting a murkier part two with a lot more of the  Demogorgan (don’t even know whether I am spelling it right 😀 ) which it didn’t turn out to be. However, I did manage to binge watch the whole Season without having to take a break in between which meant it was not a let-down either. 

Next up in the binge-watch list is the Season 2 of Glitch which comes out Mid-November in Netflix.

~j

Requirements Gone Wrong!

As an IT Consultant, getting and giving the right requirements mean the difference between success and failure. This is one example where my requirements weren’t as specific as I had hoped it would be.

Growing up in India with my big family, cricket was a religion. It was sacred. When Team India played, everything else took a back bench. Everyone would gather around the television and the entire day was spent watching the match (sometimes 5 days in a row) and then the next few days will be spent dissecting the match. Though, at one point in time, I did enjoy the game – this utter dedication drove me to the brink of craziness.

As I grew up and the thoughts of an ideal husband started evolving in my mind, 1 thing kept coming to me recurrently. I will under no circumstances marry someone who was so crazy about cricket that he won’t notice if the world around him just ceased to exist. This was one constant throughout that I held on to tight.

A few years, I have a friend on whom I have an insane crush. He has every single quality that I want in my life partner. To this day, I can picture the conversation we had quite clearly. It was a group of us having coffee and the topic was cricket. I asked him ‘What about you? India is playing today. Aren’t you curious about the outcome of the match?’ He shrugged his shoulder and said ‘Not really. I do love cricket and Sachin, but I don’t follow it crazily’.

Fast forward a few more months where we announce to our friends that we are in love. Our cupid (That is what I call the person who introduced the two of us), comes to me, congratulates me and says, ‘You better start learning about Football’. I was stunned, I had no idea what he was talking about. He looked at my blank face and started laughing. He walked away saying ‘You will know soon enough’.

And yes, I did know soon enough. My then Boyfriend and now husband is crazy about football (soccer if you are in the Americas). So crazy in fact that I now have a healthy respect for all my brothers and uncles back home who watch cricket. His obsession with football is unlike anything I have ever seen. Luckily for him and me, I am way too head over heels in love with him to kick up any fuss now(not that it would lead me anywhere).

Moral of my Story: Make sure your requirements are clear, crystal clear!!!

Slow, boring and not worth the time spend : 1922 – Stephen King Novel Adaptation (A Netflix Original)

Another weekend and another one of those Netflix originals. The second Stephen King adaptation from the Netflix stable did not live up to the ‘above-average’ show by its predecessor Gerald’s Game. Although a big fan of Stephen King, this is one book/short story that I had not read and should have ideally kept me intrigued throughout as I didn’t know the story.

However, this crime/drama/horror movie ended up just being a below average crime/horror flick with an average drama quotient. The storyline surrounds “A simple yet proud rancher in the year 1922 conspires to murder his wife for financial gain, convincing his teenage son to participate. (imdb)”. This is all I can tell about the movie without revealing the very little the movie has to offer. From the word go, the movie was slow, boring and pertaining to a lifestyle I probably cannot fathom 🙂 . The lead actor Thomas Jane was very good in his role, ably supported by  Dylan Schmid & Molly Parker. – Nothing really wrong there. However, the script, CGI, direction and story were loose and unappealing. 

Let me keep things short by saying I have seen a lot better movies in all three genres and I would have skipped this one had I read a review before ! 2/5

~j

A brilliant ComDra and yet, not Everyone’s Cup of Tea : The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) – Netflix Original

My Take: Netflix strikes gold in a non-thriller genre, after a long time !

Adam Sandler used to be an actor that I liked long ago (okay, don’t shoot me 🙂 ) and yet, his presence in this Netflix original made me skeptical about spending valuable time on it. My curiosity on what the Meyerowitz family had to offer got the better of me largely due to the presence of  Dustin Hoffman (Harold) & Ben Stiller.(Mathew) in the cast and yet, it was Adam Sandler (Danny) who stole the show in the end. 

It’s not often that an ordinary, every day comedy/drama would hold your interest every frame of the movie and director Noah Baumbach did just that. The story is all about the fragile dynamics of a dis-joint family where a self-obsessed/needy father, played by Hoffman, reunites with his three kids (played by Elizabeth Marvel (Jean), Sandler and Stiller) due to a series of events. From the word go, the family strikes a chord bordering tension and unresolved issues.

The story begins with Danny, a house-husband, in his 50’s is left in disarray after his adult daughter (Eliza) leaves for college and he separates from his wife as there is no longer anything that binds them together. He meets up with his father Harold, who was a once famous and now washed up contemporary artist, who still has not forgiven Danny for letting slip his passion for music slip. As the story unfolds we are introduced to the second troubled sibling, Jean, who was always there for the father and brothers when they needed her but sadly it was never reciprocated. Mathew the youngest of the siblings was the only person in the family who ‘knew how to make money’ and was doing good in life and happened to be the father’s favorite kid by far, despite not taking up the father’s passion for art. As the story unfolds, we get to see the Harold’s stubbornness, favoritism towards Matt, Danny’s bouts with anger caused by inferiority complex and the unconditional love from Eliza and Danny towards their family.

The movie is a slow paced drama with subtle dark humor intertwined at regular intervals.  Adam Sandler is the standout performer in his best performance since the turn of the century. Dustin Hoffman did what Dustin Hoffman does. Elizebeth Marvel and Grace Van Patten were very good in their roles as well. Ben Stiller did not have too much to do in the movie and was okay in parts. The script was darn good and direction was decent. 

In short, I would recommend this for people with a taste for slow paced, drama/comedy. Would not blow your mind and yet would not disappoint you either.

3.5/5

~j

Slow, pedestrian and lacking ideas.

Oct 21, United at Huddersfield Town FC.

  • Injuries are part and parcel of the game and we have seen teams manage it better than how United is handling it right now. There is a terrible lack of ideas when a player who is supposed to be an integral part of the team goes off. Today, the Jones injury was the turning point.
  • Although the injury did play a vital part, United were still not in the game prior to that. There was not anything meaningful till the last 15 minutes of the game.
  • Martial and Mata were out of sorts from the word go and up front there was never anything to suggest that United were threatening. I cannot even say that Huddersfield played out their hearts as they didn’t have to !
  • The last second block off Smalling (of all the people) summed up the day for United.
  • If todays match proved anything, it was the importance of Pogba, Fellaini and the defensive duo of Jones/Bailly in the team. Today should have been the day Martial announced his credentials ahead of Rashford but honestly he didn’t even show the desire to have a go at it !

~j