The Power of the Dog (2021)★★★★☆
A classic Western from the first scenes. Benedict Cumberbatch is amazing, as is the entire cast. The colours of the landscape and emotions Jane Campion captures are beautiful.
Don't Look Up (2021)★★★★☆
Terrific satire, equally depressing and amusing as all satire should be. The Bezos-Cook-Musk caricature is perfect, exposing the inanity of the tech-titans faith in their own cleverness.
Incredibly this easily lived up to the anticipation and hype. I loved every minute of it, sitting open-jawed and thrilled in the cinema. The cast and cinematography are perfect, as is just about every interpretation of the book, and the soundscape was overwhelmingly great. Love love love.
Reservation Dogs (2021)★★★★★
Brilliant. One of the best TV shows in years, with perfect touch and a wonderful no-name cast. This is true Covid escape, scoring goals Ted Lasso couldn't dream of.
Ted Lasso (2020)★★★☆
Light and entertaining. Understandably popular escapism given the grim Covid times, but otherwise just fairly standard feel-good fare.
Morning Wars (2020)★★★★
Despite the glamour of the cast, Morning Wars manages to drive home a very powerful story about '#MeToo' and the devestating consequences of the reprehensible behaviour that was (and is) tacitly accepted for so long. Best when it is portraying the suffering of the victims, particularly having to survive in public after the event, which goes well beyond a simple mea-culpa from the perpetrator.
Mare of Easttown (2020)★★★★
Kate Winslett. Almost all that needs to be said - she is staggeringly good in this. As are most of the cast, capturing the miriad depressions of hard living in down at luck families. The characters are more important than the story, which does slip into silliness for at least one episode, but overall a very powerful drama.
The Great (2020)★★★★
What starts as a madcap tale of the debauched Russian court of the 18th century finishes as a surprisingly poignant story of power, politics, and people. The rise of Catherine the Great through a cruel and insane ruling elite is compelling to watch, and constantly resets expectations, making even Peter, the casually cruel man-child Emperor, sympathetic, which is quite an achievement. Many memorable characters and scenes, all lavishly filmed with beautiful costumes and sumptuous sets, capturing the stomach-churning violence, rampant sex, and razor-sharp dialogue with a very modern sensibility.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (1974)★★★★★
Wonderfully timeless television, helped by a classic story and the screenplay being written by John le Carré himself. Like the books, you spend at least half the show utterly perplexed, but its secrets slowly unravel, and hammer home the banal futility of the spying game and the slow decline of the British Empire. It's hard to imagine being able to follow the plot watching via broadcast TV, but also thrilling, leaving the viewer filling in blanks based on merest hints. Alex Guinness is brilliant as George Smiley, his sheen of pure British manners leaving everyone terrified in its wake.
Not a great film, but a good one, and a great if devastating story. Distressing to be reminded how such abusive behaviour was, and is still, tolerated and tacitly condoned by the powers-that-be, and how rarely it is punished.
Another entertaining period piece - more beautiful houses, landscapes, and fashion. The colour schemes inside the mansions are stunning, and all the casting is on point - though, strangely, maybe not Anya Taylor-Joy who is a little too socialite modern (for my head canon version of Emma anyway). The folk music soundtrack is a treat and a refreshing change from the chamber-music standard, with co-star Johnny Flynn writing and performing the beautiful closer, Queen Bee.
The Dig (2021)★★★★☆
Gorgeously shot, the landscapes and sky are stunning. Has a lovely slow pace, and Corey Mulligan and Ralph Fiennes are terrific. Unearthing such history must have been incredible, and the film does a nice job namechecking the Tutankhamun discovery to highlight the parallels to Sutton Hoo. Even the dirt is beautiful.
Knives Out (2019)★★★
Cluedo featuring a murderously dislikable family. Very lightweight, but quite fun trying to unravel the mystery before Daniel Craig's (appallingly accented) PI can.
The Vast of Night (2020)★★★★
Low budget and gorgeous. Sierra McCormick and Jake Horowitz are two great leads unfolding a slow tale of bodysnatchers in 1950s Texas. The radio and phone switchboard hardware is beautiful.
Uncut Gems (2019)★★★★
Chaotic high-tension ride following an unravelling jewel hustler. Adam Sandler is brilliant, and the low-level stress is maintained throughout as it ratchets to the climax.
The Boys (S1 - 2019)★★★☆
Very self-aware, post-post-modern-superhero satire. Worth it for Antony Starr's Homelander (aka selfish Superman) alone, assuming you can survive Karl Urban's shockingly-bad cockney accent.
Very silly but very entertaining romantic comedy. Everyone and everything is beautiful, and the ballroom scenes are up there with the best of BBC Pride & Predjudice. Not sure I'd bother with a second series however - once is (probably) enough.