Friday, October 31, 2014

Best of September/October 2014

I really ought to choose A Room with a View, but I loved Midnight Run. I have no good excuses for that. Am I living in denial? Maybe. My review.

I've heard about The Godfather my whole life. And yes, it's as good as they say. A tragedy cum mafia thriller, it can be shockingly dark at times, but it's shot with extraordinary beauty, and acted with amazing finesse. My livetweet review.

Inspector George Gently is one of the grittier British crime shows that form a staple of our detective diet, but for the most part, it earns its drama. Martin Shaw brings the perfect mix of street smarts and baritone gravitas to the lead part. This isn't his first foray into investigation, but it has proved the most enduring, beginning in 2007 and filming a new season now. Lee Ingleby is his sidekick, the irrepressible John Bacchus, and while he can prove tedious at times, he adds a welcome dash of uncertainty to the plodding companion role.

Inspector Lewis is one of the old reliables, cranking out three more episodes every year or two. Still, this scarcity ensures fairly constant quality. This season was no different, and it's always a pleasure to return to the dreaming spires and bloody libraries of Oxford.

My reviews: Entry Wounds, The Lions of Nemea, Beyond Good and Evil.

Hannah Long

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Gracepoint - Episode 4 - Review

My review of episode 3

Last week, I was about to abandon ship. Happily, episode 4 is beginning to renew my interest. Part of the attraction is a small shift in Anna Gunn's character. The writer's attempt to give her clever dialogue has so far come off as cheesy and forced, but somehow, the bad puns in this episode lent her some awkward charm (and dove-tailed nicely when she hilariously tried to invite Carver for dinner). I don't think this was intended, and it doesn't entirely work, but the suggestion that her stupid attempts at comebacks stem from awkwardness rather than acerbity makes her more likable. Also - less whining is good.

The other thing is, this is the first time Gracepoint has dramatically stepped out of Broadchurch's shadow. In this installment, Carver and Ellie spend most of their time simultaneously investigating the suspicious backpacker (a new character) and following up on Chloe's cocaine source (this subplot meandered off in the original show).  In other suspicious news, the Creepy Woman With Dog has taken up killing chickens and staring at empty chairs. She also has some sort of connection to Vince.

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Godfather - Livetweet Review

So...I did this the other day.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Inspector Lewis - Beyond Good and Evil - Episode Review

My review of last week's episode: The Lions of Nemea

Need a MacGuffin to inject drama into your season finale? Add a serial killer with a grudge against your hero!

Let's face it, the story is pretty clichéd, but psychopaths have a way of upping the tension in any story, and it's no different in Beyond Good and Evil.

Graham Lawrie, a Scotsman with a rictus of a face, has been in prison for thirteen years. A newly minted Inspector Robbie Lewis put him away in 2001 for allegedly murdering three policeman with a hammer. Now, fresh evidence has cast the verdict into question, and another murder with an identical method adds further force to Lawrie's appeal.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Gracepoint - Episode 3 - Review

My review of last week's episode

Why are the British so much better at TV than us? Why didn't this show cast Olivia Colman? Why is this priest so creepy? Why are we supposed to hate Emmett Carver even though he's right? Why am I even doing this to myself anymore?

There are many unanswered questions in this episode.

It turns out that Mark Solano was not, in fact, with his plumber friend Vince, but having an affair with Gemma Fisher. And now Beth knows, which predicts further turmoil.

Anna Gunn hates Carver. Emmett Carver hates everybody, especially people who smile and shave and have good manners, but we also know now that his mysterious ailment is very serious - which excuses his rudeness just a bit.

But he can't give up work because he's a man on a mission, and he's given his word, and this is all penance. 'Tis but a flesh wound!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Inspector Lewis - Lions of Nemea - Episode Review

Murder in Oxford! Panic in the streets!

Well, British panic—which means we’re suitably upset about the whole thing but couldn’t we hush it up quietly?

This Lewis episode brings us back to the heart of England’s deadliest city when Rose Anderson, a graduate in classics, is found stabbed to death alongside a canal.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Inspector Lewis - Entry Wounds - Episode Review

Sidekick promotion has always proved somewhat of a stickler for long-running detective shows. There’s some reshuffling of authority, which can often produce manufactured drama. In Morse the transition was rocky, as an ailing Morse had so little confidence in his sergeant’s abilities that he shadowed him incognito, much to Lewis’s dismay.

This time around, Superintendent Innocent has recruited a retired Robbie Lewis as back-up for newly promoted D.I. Hathaway. Hathaway is not too hip on this idea, and does his usual Brooding number. Unsurprisingly, we only get half a glimpse of his motivations, something involving doubts and faith and insecurity, probably, and also some trip to a church in Spain, and now he’s in a bad mood and nobody knows why, even him. Is this just me? It’s what makes the character interesting, but also frustrating—he is just sort of a vague intelligence without reality. Morse, on the other hand, was constantly displaying tangible flaws, and his existential ponderings had real weight because of it.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Gracepoint - Episode 2 - Review

My review of last week's episode.

Okay, the priest did it. My dad fingered the killer in the first episode of Broadchurch, and he has already cast judgment on Gracepoint.

If this is true, I will be very, very unable to express my feelings politely on this family blog.

It’s not really a spoiler to say that the priest was not the killer in Broadchurch. Instead, he provided the “moral compass” when everyone else’s had broken. Yes, he had a token motive, but just as an excuse to, in a key scene, bring him into conflict with the cynical, disillusioned Alec Hardy—now Emmett Carver. He was central to the hope that stood against the fragmentation of distrust and suspicion that threatened to destroy his community.

In this story, I predict that Reverend Paul Coates at least has a history with Beth Solano, which means his kindness to her has an ulterior motive. This annoys me to no end. I can’t complain too much about flawed priests (after all, I just finished The Power and the Glory), but this shift in dynamic could fatally undermine any efforts to refresh the foundational themes of Broadchurch. And that’s an issue.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Gracepoint - Episode 1 - Review

I just had to get this off my chest.

Gracepoint would have been a much, much better show if it was set in Appalachia.

David Tennant, an uppity Yankee, arrives in small-town Gracepoint just in time to investigate the murder of Opie Taylor. Assisted by a shocked local sheriff, he must investigate all the inhabitants of this seemingly idyllic town.

I kid. But only a little.

In remaking the amazing British show Broadchurch, it's inevitable that some themes would cross over. The idea of a small town turning on itself. The theme of Christianity and community. There would be no better place to transport this conflict than a small Appalachian town - that symbol of American rural life - complete with a heavy dose of Flannery O'Connor.