TV Review Round Up – March & April 2022

Life has gotten in the way of blogging recently, so I’m a little behind. Luckily, I’ve still been able to get some films and series watched and will do my best to summarise the latter here. Check out my Letterboxd for a few recent film reviews.

Hawkeye (2021)

The MCU’s fifth television series is certainly not their worst, and is for the most part a pretty fun ride. A lot of the murmurs prior to the show’s release were surrounding their apathy for Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) himself. Luckily for those people, Barton takes a backseat here with Hailee Steinfeld’s Kate Bishop very much front and center. So much so, that if you don’t like the actress or her perky performance here, you’re not going to like the show.

The chemistry between the two main characters is strong, Barton’s weariness at first clashing with Kate’s youthful confidence and energy but eventually forming a believable master-protégée bond. The series is a little too glossy for it’s subject matter and the use of known characters in cameos or supporting roles (not sure it’s been long enough to use spoilers?) is unnecessary and inconsequential to the story. As little more than an excuse to bring a new character into the MCU, Hawkeye’s consistency and clear ideas leads to it being one of the overall better superhero TV series.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Anatomy of a Scandal (2022)

A fictional tale of British MP James Whitehouse (Rupert Friend) who is first exposed as having an affair then accused of rape. Courtesy of David E. Kelley, the six part series starts off a little rocky, with some forced drama and plot conveniences, and throwing in creative flair when it really isn’t needed. The spine of the series is Sienna Miller as James’ wife Sophie. An underappreciated actress who tends to get pigeonholed into suffering wife roles, Miller has a habit of elevating the material. Here it’s a little stronger, her character guiding the audience through some moral predicaments. The last two episodes close out the story quite well, and overall I thought it was an entertaining story told fairly well.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Inventing Anna (2022)

The latest from Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes, Inventing Anna is a fascinating true story that is unfortunately milked to complete dehydration over an unnecessary ten episodes. Starting quite strong, with intrigue throughout and some of the more interesting plot points emerging later on, there’s simply too much excess in between. Julie Garner’s Russian/German heiress/fraudster Anna Sorokin/Delvey is the focal point and it’s a fascinating performance of a fascinating character. Anna Chlumsky is the journalist trying to fill in the gaps in Anna’s story, and enough of her life is told naturally over the course of the series without having to add in extra bits about her pregnancy and home life. Nor is it necessary to see the sex life of one of the men Anna swindles.

I didn’t intend to watch this but was caught up when my wife put it on. So it obviously has the ability to grab the attention but with ten episodes all at least an hour long, it’s quite an investment for the return.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Collateral (2018)

A police thriller where unusually, almost none of the drama comes from the police or their investigation themselves. After a delivery driver is shot, Detective Inspector Kip Glaspie (Carey Mulligan) quickly realises there’s a lot more to the murder than it appears. What creator/writer David Hare (The Hours, The Reader) has done is to grab quite peripheral parts of this story and try to weave them in as crucial elements. It never quite works and you’re left wondering why we’ve spent four episodes on certain plot threads when they’re almost inconsequential to the murder investigation we’re directed to believe the series focuses on. Still, it’s only four hours worth of viewing and worth a watch if you like the British style of crime drama.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Doom Patrol – Season 1 (2019)

Superhero series and films are popping up constantly these days, and many of them run with taglines to the effect of “you’ve never seen superheroes like this before!”. In the case of Doom Patrol, you really haven’t. Following a core group of five hugely flawed and deeply tragic characters, brought together by Timothy Dalton’s Niles “The Chief” Caulder; the series covers some really serious material but is steeped in complete absurdity. The result is not jarring – just the opposite – one of the more fascinating, complex superhero shows I’ve seen. The main five – Dianne Guerrero, April Bowlby, Brendan Fraser, Matt Bomer, and Joivan Wade – are all excellent, forming the oddest “superhero” “team” I’ve seen. A success that has been renewed for a fourth season, I’m looking forward to plenty more of this one.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Last Kingdom – Season 5 (2022)

Nearly two years in the making, the fifth and final season of the cult historical drama The Last Kingdom has been both much anticipated and dreaded by its devoted fan base. While a chance to dive back into the constantly eventful world of 9th Century Britain after a relatively disappointing fourth season is more than welcome, having to say goodbye to Bernard Cornwell’s cast of characters, brought to life by one of TV’s best ensembles, is the definition of bittersweet.

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Director Series – Paul Thomas Anderson

His latest release, Licorice Pizza, has received typically strong reviews and as is the case every time he releases a film, reminded everyone that we are in the midst of a truly great director’s career. The son of a radio performer who grew up in the San Fernando Valley in the 70’s, Paul Thomas Anderson (PTA) was already making films at 12 years old with his Betamax camera. A half-hour mockumentary filmed in high-school, The Dirk Diggler Story, would eventually evolve into his sophomore feature, Boogie Nights. Clearly ready to go at a young age, PTA made short film Coffee & Cigarettes at 23, which he would again expand on two years later into his feature film debut, Hard Eight.

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*EDITED to include Succession* TV Review Round Up – December 2021

It was mostly movies this month, as well as binge-watching Hot Ones, so a quicker one here. January promises to be TV heavy though, so brace for that…

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Review Round Up – December 2021

As always, the year finished with a bang as a combination of time off work, film availability and trying to reach yearly targets led to constant movie watching. Plenty of 2021 films ticked off this month, as well as some of the past greats.

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