Tag Archives: Review

Recap – Suits S7E5: “Brooklyn Housing” 

What the hell is happening?

I made a valid statement in the recap for “Divide and Conquer” that the shackles are off. I am not entirely sure what for. Rachel made a resounding point to put curtains on this episode; is it really worth Mike going behind Harvey’s back to help the clinic? I mean, let’s face it, Oliver is only clinging on to Mike because he cannot strongly represent anyone to make a good lawyer. Oliver has thrown the book at Mike since the start of the season, but he appears unphased by the illegal conflict of interest. What an insufferable hypocritical character the writers have thrown in.

Sorry. I am a little grumpy. I guess after seeing Harvey illegally hire Mike, defend him ruthlessly against all odds and smartly construct a legal scenario to release him from prison, I am flagrantly fed up. If anyone has risked their career for Mike it is Harvey. The storyline does not fit well with me. It appears they allow Mike’s personality to go off on tangents. Look, I get he has some moral high ground more than the other lawyers, but he was a fraud. Surely a principle he should hold onto is staying loyal to family. Returning to deal with prisoners against his old foe represents the abnormality of this character. Maybe he is destined to always be on the wrong side of the law.

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Review – Message From The King

What’s this?

Message from the King is a neo-noir action thriller. A Netflix Original. Wait, what? Yes, you read correctly. It appears the media giant is trying to distribute through every genre possible. It also stars Chadwick Boseman. Before he completely disappears into the Marvel Universe, we get to see him showcase his talents in this dark narrative. Intrigued? So was I.

What’s it about?

I am not going to lie. When I hovered over the thumbnail and read the description I rolled my eyes. I deliberated whether to press play. The Xbox Netflix app has this persistent feature where it either plays a snippet from the movie or starts the episode and, to my annoyance, it meant I had to press back a few times. Here is the basic premise: a South African man named Jacob King lands in Los Angeles to avenge his young sister’s death. It sounds like a typical action narrative that is good for the tired brain that cannot be bothered to concentrate. Here is how the premise really sets itself up: Jacob lands in LA, investigates the daily life of his sister in order to find her, ends up at a morgue as per advice from a local, identifies his bloodied and mutilated sister and gets extremely angry. Jacob is quite clearly a character that has more to him, yet reveals only grains of his personality. Who killed his sister is not clear, and who is important remains to be solved. The first twenty minutes of Message from the King gives you a convincing impression that we may have an absorbing thriller on our hands. I was surprised.

Did it deliver?

Yes, though with a few gripes which I will discuss later. The opening of the movie is immediate and straightforward. It does not begin showing his life in South Africa. It rolls from an L.A. airport where two unknowing border control men ask the suspicious questions and consider the shady answers. From there, it moves to Jacob investigating the whereabouts of his sister. Less is more because of the setting, the atmosphere between characters, and the slow revelations. It keeps you engaged. There is a moment in particular where Jacob passes his motel neighbour and she throws him the enquiring glance. He returns the favour so you know that she will be important at some point. By the time he finds his murdered sister you are ready. His pain and anger can be felt. Whether or not the slow build-up to the key moment was intentional, it works because when he first participates in an action scene you are exhilarated by his violent side. Message from the King wants you to know that this is not action reliant. There is a real character on display.

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Review – Girls Trip

What’s this?

About a year ago, a friend of mine pointed me towards a YouTube video in which a woman who calls herself Angel demonstrated how to use a grapefruit to enhance a blowjob. Angel’s technique – which my girlfriend wholeheartedly believed was a prank I’d somehow engineered for my own benefit – is perhaps the most terrifying thing I’ve ever witnessed, and I am a man who has seen a video of a hostage being beheaded by a terrorist, and a woman in Ibiza fire a rugby ball from her vagina with such velocity that it hit a patron twenty feet away.

Girls Trip is essentially a feature-length version of Angel’s grapefruit video. It even includes a scene which specifically imitates it, and I think it’s telling that this is somehow less ridiculous than the original footage.

I should clarify that none of this is a criticism.

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Recap – Game of Thrones S7E4: “The Spoils of War”

More like “The Spoiled of War”, am I right? Eh?

Oh, god. I’m so sorry.

Putting aside the fact that HBO’s international distribution partners are leakier than the Titanic, the title does seem fitting; this fourth episode of Game of Thrones’ seventh season opens up with Jamie Lannister handing Bronn – sorry, Ser Bronn – a bag full of gold. The Lannisters always pay their debts, of course, which is why the Kingslayer is hiking across the continent with all the pilfered spoils of Highgarden. If the Iron Bank is going to fund Cersei’s world-conquering revenge campaign, they need to be placated. That was the plan all along, it seems, although I guess Jamie didn’t quite anticipate Lady Olenna dropping that bombshell about Jeffrey’s welcome demise. Bronn put it better than I could: “Did the Queen of Thorns give you one last prick in the balls before saying goodbye?”

Yes, quite.

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Review – Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox

What’s this?

As I’ve noted before in this very series, the idea of alternate timelines and universes and all their attendant paradoxes is largely what has prohibited me from becoming what one might describe as a “fan” of comic books, which some would consider a rather egregious oversight given my line of work. When I reviewed Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, another direct-to-DVD feature courtesy of Warner Bros. and DC, which also concerned a superhero team who ventured into a mirrored dimension to battle their doppelgangers, I expressed concerns about the futility of the endeavour, which I still hold. That movie surprised me, though, and it must be said that this one, which is based on the 2011 comic book crossover event “Flashpoint”, by Geoff Johns and Andy Kubert, surprised me just as much, if not more so.

Why’s that?

A couple of reasons. The first, rather obvious one is that a standalone feature-film is a very different proposition from a concerted effort to mangle and merge a dozen characters’ established continuities. In comic books, these events are permanent – until, that is, the next one happens, or the whole line is arbitrarily rebooted, though even then the ostensibly clean slate still contains the sticky residue of versions past. It’s a nightmare. Something like Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox has the distinct advantage of having no obligation to a broader continuity. You can enjoy its hypothetical rearranging of DC’s stalwarts secure in the knowledge that by the time the credits roll, none of it will have mattered.

The second reason is that, unwieldy title notwithstanding, it isn’t a movie about the Justice League.

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Review – Icarus 

What’s this?

This is a Netflix Original documentary created by filmmaker Bryan Fogel. He is trying to uncover doping in sports. What it turns into is something else entirely. Usually, when I write reviews of documentaries, I warn that there will be spoilers because it is based on actual facts. However, for Icarus, it is an exception. It needs to be watched for the surprise turns and revelations. There will be no spoilers in this review.

What’s it about?

Icarus is not your usual documentary. How it starts and what it becomes are two separate subjects. It starts off with Bryan wanting to understand doping, how the system works and how it can improve performances in cycling. We all know cycling is one of the biggest sporting travesties in history. It is baffling how anyone would want to genuinely support this sport after a number of systematic doping programs it has become submerged in. Bryan wants to replicate what many of the cyclists did and, in order to do that, he needs to subject himself to a doping cycle. The challenge for Bryan is that he needs to find an expert that is willing to liaise with him to achieve this. Initially, he finds one. Unfortunately, the expert could not continue to help due to his leading role with anti-doping, so it was an obvious conflict of interest. Fortunately, this expert connects Bryan with a scientist who specializes in the subject. That scientist being Grigory Mikhailovich Rodchenkov, the director of a Moscow laboratory, the anti-doping center of Russia.

This is where the documentary morphs into something else.

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Review – Kidnap

What’s this?

A perplexingly bad new thriller that follows Academy Award winner Halle Berry as she pursues her kidnapped son through Louisiana while talking, crying, screaming, whining and praying to herself in medium close-up for 90 agonising minutes. It is asinine, unabashed garbage, and made with such an absence of skill or dramatic consideration that the reliable incompetence of its writing, direction, editing and acting make for one of the most unintentionally hilarious puddles of genre slop I’ve seen all year.

Well, it is August. What’s it about?

Berry plays Karla Dyson, a single mother making ends meet by working a thankless job as a diner waitress. The diner, needless to say, feeds only rude and difficult clientele, and her son, Frankie (Sage Correa), frequently sits inside while he waits for her shift to end. This is, as far as I can tell, tantamount to child abuse. It’s no surprise then that Karla’s off-screen husband is divorcing her in favour of an upscale new squeeze, and while he’s at it he’d like Frankie full-time, thanks very much. While negotiating the terms of this arrangement in a local park, Frankie is snatched by a couple of scruffy, fat hicks, and bundled into the back of a teal Ford Mustang; Karla gives chase. This pursuit takes up most of the movie and is wonderful, laugh-a-minute stuff. Most of it is filmed an inch or two from Berry’s nose, which is far enough away to take in her bug-eyed, teeth-gnashing overreactions, but too close for the audience to see all the automotive mayhem that’s apparently happening outside the car. At one point Karla leaves the Chrysler to pursue the Mustang on foot, and this strikes me as perhaps the funniest movie moment of the year.

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