Media you may have missed in the first half of 2021

Parallel film, woman looks into mirror repeated into infinity

A few times a year I mention some films and shows you may have missed. The list came pretty useful during the Covid19 pandemic, when friends said there was little on. As usual I’m looking at the stuff which gets missed in the mass media.

Movies

Together

Together
I mentioned liking locked down a while ago, this is the BBC equivalent with less nonsense at the end. Its good and worth watching.

Wrath of man
This came out of nowhere but I found it a good watch. Not the best of Guy Richie but its a good heist and good to see Jason Statham in a serious role.

Horizon line

Horizon line

I shared this with a friend who flies light planes, I don’t think she was impressed but the drama is high and there is a feeling it can’t get any worst throughout. It does…

Cruella
Emma stone makes this so so Disney movie actually good. To be fair I am not a Disney fan but this and Soul were actually good.

Stowaway

Stowaway

Stowaway seemed to come with little press, even with a good cast. It could be seen as another gravity and it wouldn’t be far off but its got depth and humanity.

Plan B
Classic teenage hi-jinks but with 2 women in an American state where the morning after-pill isn’t easily available. Fun tale with unexpected conclusions.

 Long Weekend (2021)

Long weekend

This film is a romantic comedy/drama but with a level of depth which of course is revealed at the end. Its a surprise and impactful.

Parallel

A mirror, the multiverse, greed and betrayal. What more do you need to check it out? Surprising film out of nowhere.

Searching

Searching

This is a little older but I missed it first time around. Its a good film capitalising on modern technology as an advantage and disadvantage. Well crafted and nicely put together.

A storybook ending

I’m pretty sure most people have never come across this one but its 18mins of clever crafted storytelling layered nicely on top of its self. You want more but you don’t need more.

TV

Loki

Loki

Ok I know a lot of people are watching Loki but its worth mentioning if you missed it so far. Its really good, funny and clever. Likewise  The Falcon and the winter soldier I didn’t really pay attention to the Falcon and the winter soldier. I am so glad I did check it out as the last episode genuinely left me with a tear in my eye. Its worth watching seeing what happened on social media after Euro 2020.

Time

I heard people grumble that Time was too harsh? I think its not but I did think its got links to the grittiest prison drama I have ever seen, OZ. Prison is no walk in the park and its important to remember that.

Russian doll
Russian doll

Recommended to me from friends, after talking about time looping films and TV. This one is a good and smart one with a strange ending.

Love, death and robots

The little known Love, Death and Robots was great in season 1. Season 2 takes the same impact with some great storylines you would expect in Black Mirror.

Startup

Startup

I missed this first time round but its good and clever. I watched all 3 seasons over a period of time and enjoyed it a lot. Shame it ended too soon as it was going somewhere. But its worth viewing for the tech drama.

Calls

Based on the French original. Its hard to describe this show. Its like nothing else on TV, mainly visualisation and voice overs. If I say Einstein-Rosen bridge you might get the general drift.

The irregulars

The irregulars

This new take on Sherlock Holmes is actually seems a bit strange but the story is quite intriguing. The show didn’t make it to season 2 which is a shame as it had the right amount of mystery and drama.

Soulmates

This is very much like black mirror but instead of each episode being completely different concepts, this is the same concept throughout. What if an algorithm could tell your one soulmate? The rest is drama like you can’t imagine.

Sexy beasts, another fad dating show, yawn…

I heard Netflix had commissioned the dating show, Sexy beasts (Remember it was a BBC Three show in 2014)

Sexy Beasts is a new dating show where real-life singles sport elaborate makeup and prosthetics to put true blind-date chemistry to the test.

There seems to be a bit of stir about this one, although lets be honest its another fad dating show. Will it go beyond a couple of seasons? I very much doubt it. Its certainly not a first dates, which just keeps going and going.

People need to remember just like dating services/apps, everything is very fickle. Anything new gets attention and is seen as innovative. Well I guess they couldn’t strip any more clothes off people. Sex has been done, doing it in the dark had mixed success, trying to turn dating into a soap has had mixed sucess and attempted to go large has had zero success. Bring on the next fad, tons of make up and masks to hide their true looks.

Yawn!

Sams speech from the Falcon and the Winter Soldier

I just gotten around to watching the Falcon and the winter Soldier and I was pretty blown away by Sam’s speech near the end of the series (episode 6).

The falcon and the winter soldier

After the Flag-Smashers are defeated, Sam meets with the members of the GRC and is thanked for his role in stopping Karli Morgenthau and her group of “terrorists,” the Flag Smashers.

“You have to stop calling them terrorists,” Cap responds. “Your peacekeeping troops carrying weapons are forcing millions of people into settlements around the world, right? What do you think those people are going to call you? These labels…terrorist, refugee, thug. They’re often used to get around the question, ‘Why?'”

When it’s pointed out that Sam has no idea how complicated the situation is, he responds: “You know what, you’re right. And that’s a good thing. We finally have a common struggle now. Think about that. For once, all the people who’ve been begging, and I mean literally begging for you to feel how hard any given day is, now you know. How did it feel to be helpless? If you can remember what it felt like to be helpless and face a force so powerful it could erase half the planet, you would know that you’re about to have the exact same impact. This isn’t about easy decisions, Senator.”

When the Senator reiterates that Sam doesn’t understand, it’s then the hero really strikes a chord.

“I’m a Black man carrying the stars and stripes. What don’t I understand? Every time I pick this thing up, I know there are millions of people out there who are going to hate me for it. Even now, here, I feel it. The stares, the judgement, and there’s nothing I can do to change it, yet I’m still here. No super serum, no blonde hair or blue eyes. The only power I have is that I believe we can do better. We can’t demand that people step up if we don’t meet them halfway. You control the banks. Shit, you can move borders. You can knock down a forest with an email; you can move a million people with a phonecall. The question is, who’s in the room with you when you’re making those decisions? Is it the people you’re going to impact? Or is it just more people like you?

“I mean, this girl died trying to stop you and no one has stopped for one second to ask, ‘Why?’ You’ve gotta do better, Senator. You’ve got to step up. Because if you don’t, the next Karli will and you don’t want to see 2.0. People believed in her cause so much that they helped her defy the strongest governments in the world. Why do you think that is? Look, you people have just as much power as an insane God or a misguided teenager. The question you have to ask yourself is, ‘How are you going to use it?'”

It was impressive and I won’t lie, it brought a tear to my eye. Of course its worth watching with the video.

Master of none series 3, its come alive

When I saw Master of none series 3, I was very surprised. Partly because of whats happened previously with Aziz Ansari. I thought that was it for the show full stop.

Interestingly Aziz isn’t in it much but he does direct it with Lena Waithe. The story is well told (no spoilers) as it centres around Lena and her partner’s relationship ups and downs. It does have those master of none funny and deeply tragic moments (especially s3ep4).

There is a lot to be said but I’m glad to see the series move forward in a new direction.

Understanding the effects of consumerism

Got to give it to George Monbiot, in 5mins he sums up so much which is wrong with the consumerism. I did wonder where he was going with the Salmon but in 5mins it was a take down of our capitalist society.

I never got the cult of celebrity, even the cult of sport really. Yes I thought Micheal Jordon was amazing but couldn’t give a rats what they put their name on.  Maybe that attitude also applied to the online world, where I’m not so bothered about popularity and therefore not interested in celebs or follower accounts.

Can’t quite put my finger on what happened in my younger age which drove this in me but glad it happened.

One of the most shocking Catfish episodes I seen…

Catfish Season 8 ep 32
Its all smiles now, but you just wait…

Its one of my guilty pleasure Catfish, I have seen it all over the 8 seasons but this one had me shouting no, no, NO!

Catfish Season 8 episode 32: Paul & Caitea

Paul met Caitea on Xbox and fell madly in love, but one day Caitea just disappeared! A decade later, Nev and Kamie help Paul find his first love. But what they find is one of the most shocking reveals in catfish history!

I seen a lot of them but there was something completely screwed up about this episode. Really screwed.

Kamie preys for some sainity
Kamie can’t believe what shes seeing and preys for sanity
Spoiler!

Between the fact Caitea’s mum was seducing someone 16 on the internet (although they say in that state its ok? Really?
The fact she was taking nude pictures off her own daughters phone and share it online with total strangers
The fact she did this for years!

I’m not the only one, its been talked about quite a bit including this youtuber who pretty much says it how I feel about it.

I understand the mum has gone through therapy but there is something which put a horrible taste in my mouth. More than the fights, devious trickery, ransoms, etc.

Although I know Catfish is somewhat setup for TV, this one is beyond the pale. What a season finale…

Films you may have missed during the later part of 2020

Matrix on the big screen
Watching the matrix on the big screen during lock down

Following on from my previous post about films to watch during covid19 and again during mid 2020. Some of us have been consuming a lot of media. Its never been a better time to own a full home cinema.

Having just gone through my trakt year in review and its almost 2021, it might be worth another blog post for the locked in. Believe it or not there has been some good stuff to watch on the small screens in our living rooms.

Films

Just mercy

Just Mercy

This is a genre which always gets me, court room dramas. I didn’t think that much about the trial of the chicago 7 especially after watching Small Axe’s Mangrove and this film. Its powerful and emotional, it deserves a lot of respect and perfect timing with the on going anti-racism protests. Don’t miss this film!

Parallel

As the name suggests its a film about parallel universes. This film comes across off as a lower budget movie but the concept is neat and it has legs. It surprises in different ways and within the serious plot points still has elements of comedy. It reminds me very much of the film Time lapse.

Run

This took me by surprise. Not usually into horror but this is clearly more on the thriller side. I can’t even start to explain how messed up this film is on so many levels. As the film develops you get a real sense of the subtitle, you can’t escape a mothers love!

The honest thief

Nice easy going action film which isn’t too stressful but has its moments of action too. Liam Neeson is wooden than his usual roles in Taken, but still has edge. Nice plot and the actors do carry the film well. Good quality hollywood action.

12 Hour Shift

This film is a bit of dark humour and comes across as serious. Its a simple film about staff in a hospital but the things which happen are, lets say intriguing and there reactions are hilariously dark. Been a while since I seen a dark comedy like it

The Secrets We Keep

I wasn’t quite sure where this one was going but its a thriller which strikes where it hurts. Partly revenge film but its not for the faith hearted. Not an amazing film but strong and worth watching.

Love and Monsters

Another fun hollywood film which I would say is similar in notion to Zombieland but less adult. Its a fun teen flick with some enjoyable moments. Light relief from the pandemic.

Follow Me

I’m a bit of a sucker for these escape room type films and this one has all the right ingredients to keep you guessing. Part of you wants bad things to happen as this youtuber is just the wrong side of arrogant. If you don’t like follow me, try escape room.

Opening Act

A film about stand up comedy with stand up comedians. Light entertainment again but with the strength of everyday life as a comedian. Heckling, trying out jokes, fighting for spots, its all there in the film.

Black Box

Psychological thrillers, some hate them and sometimes they are awful. This one is good, not great but challenging. Its great to see Mamoudou moving into the prime time. Its a good film but be prepared for a small mind screw.

Boss level

A fun film which reminds me of a three way between Shoot’em up, Groundhog day and Scott Pilgrim vs the world. Light entertainment but good entertainment on these dark nights.

TV

A Teacher

A interesting story about a student and a teacher. The emotional side is treated well and respectful over the episodes. Usually these type of things are rushed and A teacher doesn’t do that. The topics are adult and dealt with in that way.

Small Axe

There is so much to say abut Small Axe, the director worked on these 5 almost feature length episodes showcasing different aspects of Black British culture in London. Each episode is unique with for example episode 2 having a completely different tempo and feel from episode 1. Each one is worth while watching alone, together they marked a excellent series.

The Queens Gambit

The Queens Gambit

Such a beautiful and short TV show. Most people have seen or heard of it but honestly watch it on a big screen at the highest resolution you can. You will notice every short is just beautiful. The story is great too.

Industry

This was recommended to me and its quite a interesting series, looking at new graduates aiming to permanently join a investment bank. What I like is its not too stereotypical. Yes theres drugs in the bathrooms, yes the women get a much rougher experience than the men. But each character has more depth than you first imagine.

The Flight Attendant

A fun comedy drama with Kaley (known for the big bang theory) with a bit of a edge. The story unfolds slowly but the comedy elements keeps the flow. There is a message about alcoholism there but its not clear cut and well produced. Worth watching but don’t expect something deep and meaningful or even light entertainment. Look forward to second series?

Sneakerheads

Following the flight attendant, something actually light and fun comedy. If you are a sneakerhead or take your trainers a little more serious than most people… this short series is for you. Funny and entertaining, some light relief.

Ted Lasso

Another fun TV series but with a heart. I’m really not a football fan, so I was expecting this to be a bore. When I first came across it, I thought this is going to be a joke which will get old. But it surprised me as the characters backstory holds up well and keeps you interested. Like the flight attendant sure there will be a second series.

Films you may have missed during the Covid19 lockdown

Host (2020)

Following on from my previous post about films to watch during the Covid19 lockdown. Now the cinemas are starting to open, I thought I’d write another set of films and TV I have watched between June – August.

The list of films I usually post are ones you may not have seen or skipped over.

Films

Archive

Target Number One (2020)

Based around a true story, its a slow but insane story of drug addict Daniel Leger. Being built up as a major international drugs smuggler. Its well worth a watch

Irresistible (2020)

Quite funny film written by Jon Stewart of the Daily Show fame. Really points the finger at the system of money which drives the elections and politics in America. No one gets away clean in this one

Swallow (2020)

There are a short list of films I will only watch once a year as they are just uncomfortable. I’m going to add Swallow to this list. Its a difficult subject reasonably told but a bit slow in parts.

Archive (2020)

Intriguing AI type film, its no Ex-Machina but it will surprise you in the end. Solid Sci-fi which slowly builds and hits you out of nowhere. I don’t want to say anything more.

The Rental (2020)

Every Airbnb nightmare ripped large with hidden cameras and a over bearing host. Nice little twists and the tension is about right for this thriller rather than horror.

One Night in Bangkok (2020)

This reminds me very much of Hummingbird and Vengeance. Its a bit slow in places but there are some soft twists and the character development does help you feel for them.

Host (2020)

Not a fan of horror, only because I find the jump silly and the gross parts just stupid. Host surprises as its of a moment, while we are in the pandemic using zoom. Host comes along and leans right into it. Well worth watching even if your not into horror.

Ava (2020)

I mentioned in the last review a film called The Rhythm Section and its similarity to films like Anna, La Femme Nikita, etc. Its a good film and likely better than the Rhythm Section thanks to Jessica Chastain’s performance.

TV

Tell me who I am

Tell Me Who I Am (2019)

Yeah I know it was available in 2019 but I hasn’t come across it till someone mentioned it to me recently. What a story and then it gets very dark very quickly. It reminds me of the film called Rewind which I recommended a little while ago. Both are worth your time and patience around this incredibly difficult subject

On the Record (2020)

I heard bit of the story during the peak of the movement but it got drowned out by other women’s experiences. Its clear it didn’t get the absolute attention it deserved and for f-sake, Russell Simmons and others are pretty untouched. For the record, Russell has stepped down from his positions in Def Jam Recordings and other companies as a result of these allegations. He moved to Bali where there is no extradition treaty to the U.S.

Alex Rider (2020)

I wasn’t sure about this one. It kinda fell under the radar for what ever reason, but it surprised me. Its well thought-out and well told. Its a got a lot of production behind it and it really shows. Expect a series 2 maybe?

Upload (2020)

I wrote about Upload early in the pandemic, comparing it to the now ended Good Place. There’s a lot of comparisons but its going to take a season or two to get up that level. Get the first season and enjoy potentially the start of something special?

Manctopia: Manchester’s housing boom

Manctopia

When I first heard there was going to be a TV documentary about Manchester’s building boom, I was very sceptical it was going to do the justice to the sheer amount of building going on in Manchester and its effect on the people.

Manctopia: Meet the people living and working in the eye of Manchester’s remarkable housing boom.

After watching the first episode I thought it did do a good job. Theres reasonable number of view points from some people living on the streets to a person looking for a multi-million pound 3 bedroom penthouse with great views of the city.

Its of course strange to see where I live in the shots and seeing the backstory of the buildings opposite me in Piccadilly East. Wondering if Ancoats, Angel fields, Ponoma and Salford Quays will make it into future episodes.

Its available on BBC iplayer and BBC two every Tuesday at 9pm

Finally watched When they finally see us….

I first watched the first episode of When they finally see us and couldn’t watch further episodes. It was a difficult watch and didn’t get around to finishing the show. Part of the reason is I remember the case as I grew up, it was just before the murder of Stephen Lawrence from memory.

When they finally see us

If you have not seen the series, go watch it and look out for the Opera interview with the 5. You will be in tears…

Re-watching the Watchmen TV series

Spoiler alert!!!

If you have not seen the Watchmen the TV series, Do not watch the explainer above. Instead watch this one,

I can’t tell you how amazing the TV series is and its excellent follow up to the excellent film.

I’m watching it again because although its amazing, and I needed to watch it all again to understand it all. However I also wanted to watch it during the black lives matter protests for its extremely strong race in America storyline and references. This is how I found out about Tulsa in 1921.

Where I watched the end of Lost 10 years ago?

Today I reminded that its 10 years since the end of Lost.

I was a fan and watched every single episode trying to work out the theory 0f what was gong on. But I don’t know if I ever shared how I watched the last 2 episodes of Lost.

Having been in hospital 10 years ago during #mybrushwithdeath, I had moved from Salford hope ICU to a standard stroke ward. In the standard stroke ward I could use my laptop again and my ex brought in my laptop with the last 2 or maybe 3 episodes on it.

My memory of Lost was lying in bed trying to get comfortable watching Lost from 11pm – 2am with headphones. I was blown away by what I was seeing and hearing. It was unreal and to be fair I never could watch it again as I would ruin what I experienced the first time around. I loved it and seeing it a few weeks after experiencing a life and death situation of my own was just too much for me. I did finish it but the emotion hit me hard.

For me the end of lost was a momentous moment which I won’t forget. (Well thats a lie, 10 years later I forgot…).

Don’t worry in July I watched Inception for the first time and lost was pretty much forgotten by then.

Films and TV for the lockdown or films you may have missed in late 2019/early 2020

Uncorked

Someone recently said to me, there can’t be that much films since all the film studios are shut due to Covid19? There will be a delay but people forget how much media is made everyday (no idea where the hours of youtube videos per hour is now).

Anyhow there’s a lot of media to watch and here’s a few noteworthy ones

Films

The assistant

Empathy, Inc

Quite indie sci-fi shot in black and white, its a interesting  pretense which plays out to a surprising  ending. Well worth seeking out.

Vanilla

Romantic comedy as such but with a edge, quite fun and charming.

The half of it

Another romantic drama/comedy which although not as edgy as Vanilla, still has something different to bring to your mind. The end church scene is some divine intervention.

The Rhythm Section

I quite like these films like Anna, La Femme Nikita, etc and this one is well told and executed well.

She never died

Never really a horror fan but I like this indie horror/thriller which has a great feel to it. The film feels like Black Mirror’s Metalhead crossed with Jessica Jones.

Official secrets

My friend recommended this one to me and its quite something. Always love these court room battles but know this is very true is just insane. No wonder there was such a worry about the UK – American relation.

Just mercy

Like official secrets, court room battles around real cases is always compelling. Just mercy touches so many emotional levels and does it without actually tugging on them.

The assistant

Slow and calculated film timed perfectly around the movement. What I find interesting is to see the everyday attempts by women to stop harassment knocked back in subtitle ways.  This won’t be a surprise for most women and any minority of course.

The platform

Most people have heard of this one and its actually quite a interesting take on the nature of human and kindness. Well worth watching a couple of times once you get over the shock value it provides.

Uncorked

I liked this one because of the relationship with the father. It could have easily been a whole film about prejudice but its so much more.

Dark waters

This one dropped under the radar but it very apt as we all discuss the importance of human values in our capitalist society. Is the money worth peoples lives?

The good liar

Such a smart and compelling story. I can’t say anything more about it than just find it and watch it. You won’t be disappointed if you like thriller dramas.

The coldest game

Good fun drama around around a chess game during the cold war. The tension and cinematography are great  and well worth your attention.

TV series

Gangs of London

Devs

I mentioned here already. Fantastic TV series by Alex Garland (the creator of Annihilation, Ex Machina and other great films. Stunning to watch and lots of deep routed theories.

Gangs of London

I was tipped off to this currently running TV series by a friend. I usually find some of the UK production lack the levels of realistic violence (sounds weird saying that) but I’m impressed with this TV series as it has the right balance of standout moments, character development and narrative.

The last dance

A documentary about Air Jordon? You got me! Annoying ESPN have spun it out over 10 episodes.

Watchmen

If you haven’t seen the Watchmen TV series, I highly recommend this to all, especially those who are fans of the original comic and film. I won’t spoil this TV series but its as deep and meaningful as the film and comic book.

The Quantum theory of Devs

Devs

I won’t lie, Devs is pretty epic. Its created by Alex Garland who’s track record is excellent.Its smart, not too up its own backside and strangely calming in lockdown I have found. The quantum theory isn’t too complex to follow and is nicely explained throughout with prompts of mystery to keep the mind going. 

Its something I imagined Jonathan Nolan would have directed looking back at Person of Interest. But I kinda of dropped out of westworld in season 2, and can’t bring myself to carry it forward to season 3.