I Watched: 7500

In 7500, directed by Patrick Vollrath, written by Vollrath and Senad Halilbasic, and starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, a soft-spoken young American co-pilot aboard a Berlin-Paris flight struggles to save the lives of the passengers and crew when terrorists try to seize control of the plane.

Captain Michael Lutzmann (Carlo Kitzlinger) and First Officer Tobias Ellis (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) board an airplane and begin pre-flight checks before embarking on the flight from Berlin to Paris. Also on board is Tobias’ girlfriend, Nathalie (Aurélie Thépaut), who is one of the flight attendants and they have a brief conversation about which school their son should attend.

Once the plane takes off, a terrorist forces his way into the cockpit and although Tobias is able to shove the cockpit door closed before anyone else can enter, he suffers a bad wound to his arm by the terrorist inside the cockpit who stabs Lutzmann repeatedly before Tobias can knock out and tie up the hijacker.

Tobias signals Air Traffic Control and is ordered to divert to Hannover. Lutzman loses consciousness so Tobias attempts CPR but is unsuccessful. All the while, the remaining terrorists continuously attempt to break into the cockpit. Tobias informs ground control of the situation and is informed under no circumstance is he permitted to allow the terrorists inside. And the terrorists test his resolve by taking a hostage and threatening to kill the man unless they’re granted access to the cockpit. Tobias pleads with the terrorists in vain as they execute the hostage.

Tobias is visibly shaken. He attempts to render first aid to himself when the terrorists return with another hostage, this time a member of the flight crew. You guessed it, it’s Nathalie, Tobias’ girlfriend. Over the PA system, Tobias tells the passengers to fasten their seatbelts as he tries an aerial maneuver to make the terrorists release Nathalie. She manages to get free and struggles with the terrorists but they gains the upper hand and she is once again taken hostage. One of the terrorists holds a glass shard to Nathalie’s jugular and is going to kill her if Tobias doesn’t open the door. Tobias relents and agrees to open the cockpit door but Nathalie tells him not to, repeating, “It’s going to be all right! It’s going to be all right!”

What happens then? You’ll have to head over to Amazon Prime to find that out because I’ve reached the limit of my spoiler reveal for this film.

So, would I recommend it? Actually, I would. 7500 (which is airline code for a hijacking) is one of those fly-on-the-wall-almost-documentary-style films that takes place in a single location, in this case, the cockpit of a commercial airliner which is equipped with a monitor so we’re able to see the terrorists on the other side of the locked door. Joseph Gordon-Levitt gives an excellent performance as he cycles through a range of emotions in attempting to deal with a situation he is clearly not adequately trained to handle. There are a few logic issues I have with the plot but I can’t mention them without getting into spoiler territory, but I can say they weren’t so severe as to affect my enjoyment of the movie. So, if you’re the type of person who likes a thriller that slowly ratchets up the tension as events unfold in real time, progressing the situation from bad to worse, this film just might be worth your time.

Ciao til next now.

I Watched: Greyhound

In Greyhound, directed by Aaron Schneider, screenplay by and starring Tom Hanks, based on the 1955 novel The Good Shepherd by C. S. Forester, an inexperienced U.S. Navy captain must lead an Allied convoy being stalked by a Nazi U-boat wolfpack during World War II.

Only a few months after the United States officially entered World War II, US Navy Commander Ernest Krause (Tom Hanks) receives his first war-time assignment aboard the destroyer USS Keeling, codenamed GREYHOUND, to deal with the problem of German U-boats disrupting convoys of supplies in the Mid-Atlantic gap between North American and Britain where shore-based military air support is sorely lacking. Accompanying Greyhound in the assignment to get the 37 Allied ship convoy safely to Liverpool are two British destroyers codenamed HARRY and EAGLE, and a Canadian Flower Class corvette codenamed DICKIE.

When the convoy is three days away from Liverpool, Greyhound sonar identifies an incoming U-boat closing in on the convoy and the destroyer prepares to intercept. The U-Boat is able to launch a single torpedo before the Greyhound fires a full pattern of depth charges. Luckily, the U-boat torpedo misses, and the Greyhound depth charges effectively destroys the U-boat.

Before the Greyhound crew can celebrate their victory, their sonar picks up multiple targets slowly approaching in the distance. A Wolf Pack of six U-boats are stalking the convoy, staying just out of firing range. Krause suspects the Wolf Pack is waiting for nightfall in order attack under the cloak of darkness.

When night falls, the U-boat attack commences and a number of passenger and freight ships are destroyed by torpedoes. Krause has sonar on a few of the U-Boats but chooses to rescue the survivors of the downed ships rather than engage the enemy. And after their successful attack, the U-boats pull back to a safe distance once again.

The following day, the U-boats mount another coordinated attack and the Greyhound crew are now being taunted by broadcasts from the lead captain of the Wolf Pack in an attempt to affect ship morale. During the Wolf Pack attack, the Greyhound is barely able to evade the torpedoes deployed against her but the Dickie and the Eagle, are less fortunate. The Dickie takes some damage but still seaworthy, the Eagle, however, eventually sinks. Through the combined efforts of the Greyhound and Dickie, another U-boat is destroyed but Krause’s destroyer is now down to only six depth charges and their ammunition is running low and the convoy is still two days away from Liverpool and not yet in range of air support.

What happens next? They would be telling, and you know I hate dealing out spoilers (somewhat) but you’re free to head over to AppleTV+ and find out all on your lonesome.

So, would I recommend Greyhound? I have to admit that based on the trailer, I probably wouldn’t have gone to the theater to see this, COVID-19 notwithstanding, but, surprisingly enough, yes, this gets a recommendation. In fact, of all the films I’ve watched over the past week, I enjoyed this one the most, which is saying a lot because I’m typically not a war film kind of guy. I think it’s because this film takes a different approach by placing us inside the Greyhound along with the crew through the entire skirmish. The adversaries remain faceless voices issuing taunts over the airwaves, and when convoy ships are destroyed it all happens at a distance. There are a few explosions, U-boat destruction is typically marked by oil slicks on the ocean’s surface and I believe there are only three scenes containing blood and they’re minimal at best. Unfortunately, also minimal is character development, though subtle Tom Hanks plays to his strengths in portraying an ordinary man facing extraordinary circumstances, and I’m a fan of Stephen Graham and Elisabeth Shue, even though they aren’t given much to do here.

Another thing Greyhound is lacking (and this time it’s a good thing) is that mid-movie slump. You know exactly what I’m talking about, when a film comes out the gate strong, then sags in the middle and has to ratchet up the action in the third act to get you interested again. I can safely say, once you’re aboard the Greyhound, your investment in the story and the outcome remains consistent throughout. Despite its shortcomings, it’s a very well-paced film and I’m impressed by Hank’s handling of the screenplay.

In closing, if you’re looking for the intense, high octane tension of a 1917 or Dunkirk, you should probably go watch 1917 or Dunkirk. Greyhound isn’t that sort of war film and it doesn’t have to be. But it most certainly is ninety minutes of streamlined sea battle that’s worthy of your viewing time.

Ciao til next now.

I Watched: The Old Guard

In The Old Guard, written by Greg Rucka, directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood and starring Charlize Theron, KiKi Layne, Matthias Schoenaerts, Marwan Kenzari, Luca Marinelli, and Chiwetel Ejiofor, a covert team of immortal mercenaries are suddenly exposed and must now fight to keep their identity a secret just as an unexpected new member is discovered.

Former CIA operative Copley (Chiwetel Ejiofor) hires a mercenary team to rescue a group of kidnapped children in South Sudan. During the mission, however, the team find no children, and are ambushed by a squad of soldiers and are killed with extreme prejudice. The problem is, the mercenaries don’t stay dead. Their bodies spit out bullets, wounds heal rapidly and they slay their attackers, all of which has been recorded by Copley to expose their gift of immortality.

The mercenary team consists of Andromache of Scythia, but you can call her “Andy” (Charlize Theron), Booker (Matthias Schoenaerts), Joe (Marwan Kenzari), and Nicky (Luca Marinelli) all of whom are centuries-old warriors with regenerative abilities who use their vast experience to help those in need.

While the team is hunting down Copely, the scene shifts to Afghanistan where U.S. Marine Nile Freeman (KiKi Layne) gets her throat slit in the line of duty, dies and recovers without a scratch. She is plagued by a disturbing dream that is somehow shared with the other immortals, who are now alerted to her existence, which forces Andy to track the Marine down and rescue her before the military brass can subject her to testing.

Copley shows video of the ambush to pharmaceutical executive Steven Merrick (Harry Melling), who naturally wants to capture the mercenaries and turn them into lab rats in order to uncover the secret of their abilities for fame and profit. Andy take Nile to France where she’s introduced to the rest of their team and she hears the story of Quynh (Veronica Ngo), Andy’s first comrade, who was captured by priests during the witch trials and cast into the sea in an iron maiden and has been continually drowning ever since, as the mercenaries have not been able to pinpoint the location of the iron maiden. Nile learns that neither she or the rest of the team is truly immortal and one day their ability to heal will stop without warning.

Merrick’s forces are able to track the mercenaries down and in the melee Joe and Nicky are captured and a heavily wounded Booker is left behind as bait for Andy, who has taken damage during the assault and discovers her body is no longer healing in the process. After a bit of computer hacking, Booker locates Copley, and he, Andy and Nile mount a rescue attempt.

And because I don’t like spoiling films (not much, anyway) that’s all I’m telling you. You wanna know how it ends? You know what to do. It’s available on Netflix for you to stream to your heart’s content.

So, would I recommend The Old Guard? Sure. Just go in knowing that this is based on a comic book series written by Greg Rucka and the plot feels comic booky in nature, which is a weird thing for me to say because this film is in my wheelhouse and I should like it better than I do. I suppose my biggest problem is that I have no connection to any of the characters. Oh, I’m told how wonderful the characters are but I’m not shown anything beneath that expositional surface. The story is laid out so matter of factly, interested in hitting story beats rather than providing texture, that it feels more like the pilot of a tv series than a fleshed-out movie. Items are introduced to set up a sequel or possibly a franchise and I know that’s a thing now, with everyone jumping on the How-To-Franchise-Like-Marvel bandwagon, but it shouldn’t be overtly shoved into a film in place of proper character and story development.

If I had my druthers, I would have liked to see Nile, our every-person, resist a little more. Resist coming to terms with what she’s become, resist the mercenaries and their cause, and resist the wholesale slaughter that comes part and parcel with joining the old guard (which she does a little but it’s not enough in my opinion). Having said all that, it ain’t a terrible movie (don’t go by me and my tastes, what the hell do I know?) and if you’re already subscribed to Netflix, you’re not going to be out of any extra money, and Charlize Theron knows how to throw down in a fight and there’s enough action to satisfy your deep-seated need to see bad guys catch a bullet.

Ciao til next now.

I Watched: Relic

In Relic, directed by Natalie Erika James and written by James and Christian White, Kay (Emily Mortimer) receives a call from the police that her mother Edna (Robyn Nevin) has gone missing which prompts Kay and her grown daughter Sam (Bella Heathcote) to travel to their remote family home to investigate.

When they arrive, they find the house is full of clutter and mold and certain sections appear to be deteriorating and Post-It Notes are tacked up in every room with reminders like “set the alarm” and others with warnings like “do not follow it.” Kay remarks that Edna is sometimes forgetful but it’s clear the elderly woman is suffering from dementia.

As is the norm with horror films, there are creepy, unexplainable noises everywhere inside the house, a room (in this case, a walk-in closet) with a lock that spells trouble for anyone who enters inside, and one of the characters, Kay, is plagued by spooky dreams. I don’t mean to diminish this film by any means but some of the tropes simply weren’t handled very well, such as, Kay and Sam hear a noise coming from inside a wall in the living room, a loud thud in response to Kay’s knock and something massive is moving up inside the wall seemingly following a large path of mold. So, what do they do? Why they ignore it, of course. Move along, audience, nothing to see here. Now, let’s inspect Kay’s dream:

Kay is following a shadowy figure through the foggy woods and is led to a rundown cabin (wouldn’t be a respectable horror film without a cabin in the woods) and the interior is covered head to toe in mold. A naked, old, decrepit man is sitting on a bed and there are a series of jump cuts of decaying animals with the sound of buzzing flies and falls off the bed and there’s a jump cut to a decayed corpse who opens his pitch-black eyes just as Kay wakes up.

In the morning, Kay is drawn to the kitchen by the whistle of a tea kettle and finds Edna making a cuppa. The family doctor makes a house visit and despite the large black and purple bruise on Edna’s chest, that she can’t explain, the old woman seems to be in good physical health and has her mental faculties about, though she won’t say where she’s been. The doctor recommends that Kay and Sam stay with Edna to monitor her condition. Kay sensibly decides to look for a nursing home for her mother despite Sam’s protestations.

While cleaning the house, Sam finds a sketchbook from her granddad, and in it is a picture of the cabin from Kay’s dream. It turns out the cabin was the first house on the property, occupied by Kay’s great grandfather who died abandoned by his family. The cabin was torn down but the windows were rescued and reused for the house they’re currently staying in.

Edna’s dementia is getting worse. She’s talking to people who aren’t there, remarking about how unfamiliar the house seems, cutting her hand with a knife, throwing violent tantrums, eating photographs, and burying photo albums in the woods to keep those memories safe.

Sam, in the meanwhile, returns to that creepy walk-in closet and discovers it’s deeper than it appears. Past a pile of items in the back is an entire labyrinth of crawl spaces within but when she tries to turn back, she finds herself lost.

And that’s when things really get crazy. And nope, I’m not gonna tell ya what happens next. I’ve said too much already. If you really want to know, go watch the film for yourself.

So, would I recommend Relic? I suppose I would, though, fair warning, if you’re looking for jump-out-of-your-seat scares or cover-your-eyes-and-peek-through-your-fingers gore, you’re barking up the wrong film. Natalie Erika James’ directorial debut is a well-paced slow burn that successfully creates a unsettling atmosphere with superb acting, but if I had my druthers, I would have liked to see the story played straight without the gimmicky tropes that served no actual purpose other than to make it feel like a “horror” film and having Kay and Sam react to the bizarre and unexplainable occurrences happening before their eyes in a more honest and realistic fashion would have sold me even further. Cutting away from terrifying moments without the characters doing a proper investigation just to move the plot along (it happens twice) took me out of the film. Having said that, you could do a lot worse with 90 minutes of your life.

Ciao til next now.

I Watched: The Vast of Night

The Vast of Night, written by Andrew Patterson (under the pseudonym of James Montague) and Craig W. Sanger, directed by Andrew Patterson and starring Sierra McCormick and Jake Horowitz, isn’t a movie, not exactly. It’s a tv show inside a movie that runs parallel to real-life events starring the local townsfolk as actors playing themselves, though I doubt they realize it. Got it? Good. Moving on.

The television show being broadcast is Paradox Theater (an homage to The Twilight Zone with a dead-on vocal impression of Rod Serling) and the episode airing is titled, you guessed it, The Vast of Night which takes place in the small town of Cayuga, New Mexico sometime during the 1950s on the night of a high school basketball game. It’s a big event with nearly the whole town in attendance except for those who have to work and among these unlucky few are two teenagers, disc jockey Everett, the Mr. Fixit cock of the walk in his high school circle who carries himself with just enough swagger to be a likeable jerk; and his switchboard operator friend, Fay, a curious science nerd with a deep interest in technology who also wants to become a radio broadcaster.

At work, Fay listens to Everett’s radio show, which gets interrupted by a strange audio signal which is also coming through over the phone lines as she begins fielding calls from the town locals about something strange happening in the sky. Fay calls Everett at the station, lets him listen to the mysterious noise which he, in turn, broadcasts on the air and asks his listeners for information about the signal.

You’re going to hate me for this but I’m not interested in dishing out spoilers so that’s all I’m going to tell you about this film (you can basically get what I’ve mentioned from the trailer). I will say that if you’re looking for some CGI effects-laden alien invasion action extravaganza, this ain’t the film for you. The story is laid out like a breadcrumb trail that leads you to one answer after another in order to solve the big mystery of what’s going down in Cayuga and it’s in no rush to deliver those answers to you.

And before you wave this off to go and rewatch Independence Day for the thousandth time, let me assure you that if you’re a science fiction cinephile, this film is worth your time. The small town feels like a genuine small town, the townies come across as authentic, the atmosphere makes you feel like you’ve slipped on a patch of time and landed back in the 50s, and the acting is top-notch all around. Plus, there’s an innocence present that’s sadly missing from the movies released in the past few years, which is kind of refreshing, actually.

So, would I recommend The Vast of Night? You betcha! And, if the producers got it in their minds to do an X-Files-style tv series featuring Everett and Fay exploring all the mysterious, extraterrestrial and supernatural goings-on that occur in Cayuga during the 50s, I’d be first in line to watch it!

Til next now, “Bacon, bacon, nine-forty.” Watch the film, you’ll understand.

I Watched: Isolation Stories

As we continue to wade through conflicting reports of plans to reopen or reopenings gone horribly wrong thus forcing an immediate shutdown, production studios have been finding ways to provide programming for our viewing pleasure. One such attempt is Isolation Stories, four 15-minute dramas created under lockdown that reflect the trials and tribulations families are going through after weeks of isolation brought on by the coronavirus pandemic crisis. The series is the brainchild of Jeff Pope (writer of Stan & Ollie), whose entire family contracted the coronavirus and luckily were able to come out on the other side in good health without the need for hospitalization.

First up, we have “Mel” written by Gaby Chiappe, directed by Paul Whittington and starring Sheridan Smith in which we find the titular Mel heavily pregnant and absolutely alone in her apartment. To say she’s fed up with life would be an understatement. The father of the baby is a married man who decided to stay with his wife and family, leaving her having to go through the birth of her first child without any support. She even feels estranged from her own family who are all holed up at her Mum and Dad’s house.

Boredom, fear and maybe even a touch of cabin fever causes her to go down the list of people on her phone, desperate to make a connection, even reaching out to a person she hasn’t spoken to in years. Later that evening, Mel is awakened by a call from a stranger. It turns one of the old numbers she dialed belongs to someone new. The female voice on the other end of the line is kind and soothing as Mel gives voice to all her fears and woes. The voice reassures Mel that she’ll be a great Mum but the call is interrupted when a male voice begins shouting and the call is abruptly cut off.

I have a problem with this. Obviously, the woman on the other end of the phone is in an abusive relationship and Mel does attempt to call back but the phone number has been withheld. The story simply moves on from there with Mel having a new appreciation for her situation. What happened to the selfless woman who, despite her own situation, reached out to offer comfort to someone in need? Yes, her number was withheld, but Mel still had the number of the old friend on her phone and could have, should have, called to check on her.

In “Ron & Russell” written by Jeff Pope, directed by Louise Hooper and starring Tom Glenister and Robert Glenister, we find ex-convict Russell who is none too pleased to be isolated with his father, Ron, who believes his son has brought shame on the family. Ron is ill but it’s too early to tell if it’s related to Covid-19 and added to that is the fact that he might have a touch of dementia as he’s convinced he’s not in his own home. Russell doesn’t carry that care-giver gene but as the only healthy person in the house, he’s forced to become his father’s keeper. Things do not go smoothly, especially one time during a feeding when Ron mistakes Russell for his older brother and confesses what a disappoint his son is and calling him a compulsive liar. Russell decides to use his proclivity for lying to do some good for once in order to keep his father’s spirits up. The outcome is heartwarming.

In “Mike & Rochelle” written by William Ivory, directed by Paul Andrew Williams and starring Angela Griffin and Darren Boyd, we meet Mike, an utterly self-absorbed, paranoid hypochondriac who’s living his worst fear of being surrounded by an undetectable, untreatable, silent killer virus. Rochelle gives in to his insistence of an emergency online session, prepared to try and talk him down from the precipice, despite the day being the anniversary of a personal day of hardship for her. Of all the stories, this is the most character driven and a perfect example of role reversal done properly. My personal favorite of the lot.

In “Karen” written by Neil McKay, directed by David Blair and starring Eddie Marsan and David Threlfall, Stephen is isolated in the house with his two sons but his father-in-law, Brian, stops by outside the sliding glass doors leading to the back garden every day to mess about and make boy smile. But Stephen is still bitter and hurting after being left by his wife, the titular Karen, and is annoyed by the daily visits. He’s also ignoring Karen’s request to come see the boys, that is, until he and Brian have a private heart to heart about infidelity and forgiveness.

There’s also a fifth instalment, Isolation Stories: Behind the Scenes, that shows the process of the actors and their family members setting up equipment and shots to film themselves with the directors viewing the footage via smartphones in order to ensure the best takes possible.

So, would I recommend Isolation Stories? Most assuredly. And I wouldn’t mind seeing an additional, expanded series showcasing the various experiences that families and individuals are going through during these difficult times. I’m sure there are hundreds of unique stories just waiting to be told.

Ciao til next now.

I Watched: The Iron Mask

In this sequel to the 2014 Russian dark fantasy film, Forbidden Empire, Jason Flemyng reprises his role as Jonathan Green, an English traveler and cartographer who receives orders from Peter the Great to map the Russian Far east, which sets him on a long, long, long (seriously, it feels like forever) journey full of lukewarm misadventures including badly choreographed fight scenes, distractingly terrible CGI, and a potpourri of mismatched, head-scratching subplots that eventually lead him to China. Oh, and there’s a dragon near the end but don’t get excited, it’s not worth the wait.

The story, boiled down to its essence, is during the cartographer’s travels, he comes across a boy being flogged and negotiates his release in the guise of needing an assistant. Meanwhile, Arnold Schwarzenegger as Captain James Hook has Jackie Chan and the Man in the Iron Mask (and no, I have not memorized any of the character’s names nor will I waste any more of my time going to look them up, so you’ll just have to deal with it) prisoner in the Tower of London. Iron Mask inadvertently interrupts a homing pigeon’s flight path by luring it to the cell window with breadcrumbs left over from their measly rations and begins a secret message communication between the cartographer and his love interest where the prisoners discover the the boy travelling with the cartographer is actually Chan’s daughter in disguise. Chan and Iron Mask attempt to escape the tower but Chan must do battle with Arnold to buy Iron Mask time to get away. Before they part company, Chan gives Iron Mask a “dragon seal” that must reach his daughter’s hands. Chan and Arnie have a bit of a punch up and Chan lands back in chains again. As it turns out, Chan’s daughter is actually a princess living in exile who is the rightful heir to the throne that has been usurped by some black magic woman with the ability to slip on a Mission Impossible mask to impersonate the princess. Chan’s daughter eventually gives the cartographer the slip, meets up with a handful of loyal subjects, runs into Iron Mask, gets the dragon seal that allows her to communicate with the Dragon King (an actual dragon) and she fights to get her throne back. Yes, other things happen but we’re talking essentials here.

I can’t really get too angry at this film because I knew going in it was going to be rough viewing. The biggest draw for me was getting to see two action legends go toe-to-toe, Jackie versus Arnie which turned out to be so disappointing and such a wasted opportunity. That, and I thought the film’s 2014 predecessor was visually impressive, even if the plot was a bit wonky. So, I entered this with low expectations and the film immediately let me know I set the bar waaaaay too high. It’s a complete and utter mess and not even in an it’s-so-bad-it’s-good sort of way.

So, would I recommend the 2019 Russo-Chinese fantasy adventure film, directed by Oleg Stepchenko and written by Stepchenko, Dmitry Paltsev, and Alexey A. Petrukhin, and featuring guest appearances by Charles Dance and Rutger Hauer? What do you think? I think I’ve done my civic duty for the day, so, you’re welcome. No applause, please, just throw money.

Ciao til next now.

I Watched: We Hunt Together

It’s the first day of DI Jackson Mendy’s (Babou Ceesay) new assignment in the Homicide Division when he meets his new partner DS Lola Franks (Eve Myles) at a murder scene. From the onset, it’s apparent the pair will get on like chalk and cheese. Mendy’s an affable fellow with an almost zen-like nature to remain cool under pressure and Franks, well let’s just say she’s the complete opposite. Their relationship isn’t helped by the fact that Mendy transferred from Anti-Corruption (the British version of Internal Affairs) and just like it is stateside, coppers aren’t exactly fond of working with anyone associated with the rat squad.

The murder itself appears sexual in nature when they discover the body of a naked man strapped to the bed face down in his apartment with a butcher’s knife buried deep in the base of his skull and the wall safe open and empty. Don’t be so quick to put on your Sherlock Holmes deerstalker cap because this show isn’t interested in being a simple whodunit, it’s a game of cat and mouse and we’re introduced to our killers straightaway in a flashback leading up to the murder.

Baba Lenga (Dipo Ola) is a former child soldier and refugee who works as a restroom attendant at a nightclub. In the club’s alley, Baba saves Freddy Lane (Hermione Corfield) from a sexual assault, which forges a bond between the pair. Freddy works as a telephone sex operator by day with the occasional dalliance in escorting by night. Here again we have a mismatched pair, Baba is compassionate, vulnerable and haunted by his past, while Freddy, also haunted by her past, is a charming, conniving psychopath.

To be honest, I’ve had my fill of police procedurals and I would have given this series a miss if not for Eve Myles (I’ve got a thing for potty-mouthed Welsh women, what can I say?). Created and written by Gaby Hull and directed by Jon Jones and Carl Tibbetts, We Hunt Together has some interesting elements like the chemistry between Myles and Ceesay which is fantastic, and the reasons for why they are the way they are makes for good character development. I also find Ola’s performance compelling. My problem is with Freddy.

This show has been compared to Killing Eve and Freddy to Villanelle but take my word for it, they ain’t close by a country mile. I know it’s not fair to compare shows and We Hunt Together should be judged on its own merits but I lack the ability to describe just how weak and uninteresting Freddy is as the show’s main antagonist without giving a slight comparison. Villanelle is remorseless and guilt-free in the killing of her victims, which is when she’s at her happiest. She has an eccentric, infantile sense of humor and the emotional maturity of a petulant child which makes her a delightful psychopath. Freddy, on the other hand, is a one-trick pony who uses seduction to manipulate men in the most unconvincing manner possible. I’m not sure if it’s the way the character was written or a testament to Corfield’s acting ability but Freddy comes across as a child playing at adult things. It might be amusing for some, but it’s just not my cup of tea.

So, would I recommend We Hunt Together? Honestly, I’m not sure. My best suggestion is to sample the pilot and see if it’s to your taste. Will I be back for series 2? I guess that would depend on whether there were more interesting things to watch. This is a show that I can easily see getting lost in the sauce of more interesting video content. And before you complain about the lack of story breakdowns and spoilers, realize that I’m doing you a favor and I’ve probably said too much already. Go watch it for yourself.

Ciao til next now.

I Watched: Trigonometry

Meet Gemma (Thalissa Teixeira), a bisexual independent café owner and Kieran (Gary Carr), her risk-taking paramedic boyfriend who’s constantly getting injured on the job. They work opposite shifts and the only time they have for intimacy is the tiny window between when one comes home exhausted from work and the other has to get ready to go to their job. Not the best recipe for a successful relationship. Added to their woes is the fact that they live in the small, overpriced London flat above Gemma’s struggling café and are forced to take on a renter.

Enter Ray (Ariane Labed), a French Olympic swimmer who retires after sustaining an injury during a performance. Her entire 30-year existence has been training and practicing for Olympic competitions and with that gone, she’s looking to move out from under the protective wing of her parents and experience the world.

When Ray arrives at the address, she sees Kieran rushing to get inside (he and Gemma are trying to sneak in a quickie before interviewing their prospective tenant). Unaware that their interviewee is early for their appointment, Gemma hops out naked from the waist down to surprise Kieran and is instantly mortified upon seeing Ray.

Arguably my favorite line in the series is delivered by Kieran when he tries to defuse the situation by saying, “Probably a good icebreaker, seeing your prospective landlord’s vagina.”

Gemma and Kieran like Ray, offer her the room and after she moves in, Ray likes Gemma and Kieran, so what could be the problem? The fact that both Gemma and Kieran like-like Ray and she like-likes them back. Our thruple then begins walking the path of jealousy, acknowledgement and acceptance, which is fine in the microcosm they create but not-so-fine when they introduce their unique relationship to friends and family.

Similar to my last review, I should point out that I’m not the target demographic for Trigonometry and the show is definitely not in my wheelhouse. So, why am I talking about it? Simple. I like it. Despite the fact that it is absolutely not what I look for in a television show, I actual enjoy this drama/comedy series is written by Duncan Macmillan and Effie Woods and directed by Athina Rachel Tsangari and Stella Corradi. It’s been described as “warm, funny and emotionally truthful” to which I wholeheartedly agree and the undeniable chemistry between the three main characters is a joy to behold. More than just sex, this show explores the emotional complications that arise between three people in a committed relationship.

So, would I recommend Trigonometry? Definitely (as if that comes as a surprise). And before you complain about the lack of story breakdowns and spoilers, realize that I’m doing you a favor and I’ve probably said too much already. Go watch it for yourself.

Ciao til next now.

I Watched: “Beastars”

Beastars is an anime series (available on Netflix) based on the manga by Paru Itagaki which is set against the backdrop of a high school where anthropomorphic carnivore and herbivore students coexist in harmony and mainly focuses on a drama club where members compete to attain the rank of Beastar, an individual of great talent, service, and notoriety.

The series opens with a bloody alpaca, Tem, fleeing for his life from a classmate whose identity is hidden from us by shadows yet is known to Tem. The alpaca tries to reason with his assailant to no avail, and his murder causes a cultural divide between the carnivores and herbivores, as it becomes clear that the campus is no longer a safe place for any creature considered prey who is foolish enough to be traveling outside alone once the sun sets.

We follow the struggles of three main characters whose lives intersect and form an unusual love triangle:

  • Legoshi, an introverted large gray wolf with the gentle, contemplative heart of a monk, struggling to suppress not only his carnivore nature but his sexual desire for someone who by all rights should be prey.
  • Haru, an isolated, cheerful, adventurous, and sexually promiscuous dwarf white rabbit who is never afraid to stand up for herself amidst constant shaming and bullying from her classmates.
  • Louis, an intimidating red deer lead actor who lords himself over the drama club, who I absolutely hate, though I respect his plight. He has the heart and soul of a predator, trapped in the body of prey. Though his will is strong enough to dominate all who step into his sphere of influence, his herbivore body can’t go toe to toe with a carnivore. But like I said, I can’t stand him. He has that type of anime face just begging to be punched.

Since there is currently more content available than any sane person can keep track of, this means a lot of movies, tv and anime fly completely under my radar and Beastars would have been one of those shows if a good friend of mine hadn’t recommended it. She knows my taste in anime so I trust her judgment and I went into this series blind, no trailer, no synopsis, no reviews, no nothing. And as soon as I streamed the first episode, I thought Chance the Rapper was going to jump out screaming “You’ve been Punk’d!” because my friend knows there are two things I’m not a fan of in my anime:

  • The first is anthropomorphism. Furries and animals acting like humans no longer holds any interest for me. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, it’s just not in my current entertainment wheelhouse.
  • The second is slice of life school kids romance. If that’s your thing, good on you, I’m simply not the target demographic for that sort of thing.

And as I am no spring chicken, the thought of investing my limited time on this planet suffering through a number of episodes of a boy too shy to tell a cute girl he has feelings for her despite the numerous occasions fate forces the pair together…well, ain’t nobody got time for that.

And I was ready to punch out of the series, when this happened:

What the holy hell was I watching?

Don’t get me wrong, I may be old, but I’m not a prude. I have no problem with women taking charge and owning their sexuality and sexual experiences. There’s no slut-shaming here. In fact, take your clothes off, tiny bunny (sung to the tune of “Tiny Dancer”). It’s all good. You do you. (Do the kids still say that?). The scene simply caught me off guard and it was enough to make me curious about the direction the show was heading in.

I know it’s popular these days to recap events episode by episode, provide thoughts and theories and even pose questions to elicit reader response but that’s a bit too spoilery for me so I won’t be doing any of that. I will, however, point out the moment that made up my mind about this series. It’s the scene where after navigating through a string of hardships, Legoshi and Haru are finally about to connect romantically when this happens:

The bits of text you may not be able to read are:

“A rebuke from my rabbit instincts: loving each other is a terrible mistake. A predator has its own instincts, so does a prey.”

And the line that cinched it all for me:

“Their bodies know what their relationship should be.”

It’s a damned heady line that made me ponder not only their relationship but the biological roles we’re meant to play during the mating process, long after the episode ended. And if a show can make my rusty brainbox think and not simply sit idly and absorb content, well then, it’s got a viewer for life.

Looking at this, I realize that I’ve only showcased intimate scenes but Beastars is far more than a randy animal school romance. Characters struggle with the confines of societal roles, fight to rein in their desires, try to outwit the destinies written on their foreheads, and so much more.

I quite liked the character designs and the animation remained smooth and consistent from episode to episode with no dip in quality. The series juggles several storylines effortlessly and I didn’t experience that midpoint slump which often occurs when binging a show whose plot has been stretched thin in order to fill a preset number of episodes.

So, would I recommend Beastars? Definitely. Will I come back for the second season? Most assuredly. And before you complain about the lack of story breakdowns and spoilers, realize that I’m doing you a favor and I’ve probably said too much already. Go watch it for yourself.

Ciao til next now.