Archive for the ‘Murder Mystery’ Category

Deep Water

May 23, 2017

Australia’s 4-part mini series Deep Water based on the “real life hate murders of… up to 80 gay men in Sydney’s eastern suburbs (Bondi) beaches in the 1970s and ’80s” (Wikipedia)  might be a hard sell if the quality of production wasn’t so thoughtful. There was a documentary produced in addition to the mini-series. Starring Yael Stone (Orange is the New Black) and Noah Taylor as the detectives who link a gruesome reality of homophobic hate crimes and murders that continued through the present. The current killings are linked to the past as Stone’s Tori Lustigman uncovers a vast ritual of gay bashings dating back 30-40 years ago. Tori’s interest in the case goes from professional to personal jeopardizing the investigation at several key points. Deep Water creates a quiet, steady police procedural eschewing theatrics for methodical detective work which pays off in the end and makes the series easy to watch. Actor Jeremy Lindsay Taylor gives good eye candy as Tori’s friend Oscar who we find deeply connected to the past and puts himself into jeopardy to find answers. No denying the subject matter is difficult. The production respectfully honors the story with a steady, kind heart. 4 out of 5.

I watched Deep Water on DVD from the library. Netflix has it on DVD as well and it’s available streaming through Acorn TV.

Third Man Out

May 13, 2017

Sometimes it can be painful writing reviews. There are certain films I simply don’t want to bash or dismiss. Third Man Out is one of them. In the mid-2000’s, HereTV produced four indie films based on the Donald Strachey Mysteries written by Richard Stevenson. Stevenson’s written 15 Strachey novels. They are fun, easy-to-read mystery novels based in Albany, NY featuring an out gay male private eye. Third Man Out was the first of four novels HereTV produced directed by Ron Oliver and starring Chad Allen and Sebastian Spence as Donald and his life partner Timmy. Watching the film a dozen years later, I found myself cringing in places and definitely wanting more. I love Chad Allen. Although he’s left acting, his thirty-year career highlights include Reel Charlie indie favorites, Save Me and Hollywood, je t’aime. I wish Third Man Out had felt as good as those two gems. But in truth it fell flat. Perhaps the series got better as time went on. Not sure I will investigate further, but lovers of murder mysteries and gay male indie film might want to give them a try. 2 out of 5. Next.

Fortitude: Season 1 Episode 1

May 7, 2017

Sat down this week and watched the first episode of Fortitude, a murder mystery set in the Arctic. No doubt the exterior shots in this series are off the charts amazing. Fortitude also boasts an impressive cast including Michael Gambon, Christopher Eccleston, Stanley Tucci, Dennis Quaid (in Season 2) and a bevy of talented Icelandic, Danish, and Norwegian actors. There are a lot of stories brewing in the first episode. Unfortunately I found the overall tone of the show to be more melodrama than serious drama. I will pass on the rest. 2 out of 5 for Fortitude. Next.

Bosch: Should I Watch It?

May 5, 2017

I noticed Season 3 of Amazon’s Bosch just dropped. I know nothing about this series and haven’t heard about it from anyone. It has high review scores on all the major aggregators. Should I give it a shot? What do you think? Opinionated readers, please respond!


Shetland: Seasons 1-3

April 17, 2017

Blew through the first three seasons of Shetland on Netflix. If you love police procedurals, murder mysteries, and U.K television add Shetland to your must watch list. The writing, acting and directing are solid. The Scottish scenery is gorgeous. I grew to love each of the main characters due to wonderful performances from Douglas Henshall, Alison O’Donnell, and Steven Robertson. Guest stars in season three included a number of my favorite character actors Ciarán Hinds, Anna Chancellor, and Archie Panjabi (yes, Kalinda!). Adapted from books by Ann Cleeves, Shetland provides comfort food for those of us who need our murder mysteries spiced with some sexy accents. FYI, these are small town Scottish accents so best to keep the wee sub-titles on, aye? The wrap-up on Season 3 felt a bit awkward to me. But not enough to tarnish the series. I’m going with a 4 out of 5.

Frenzy (The Masterpiece Collection)

March 18, 2017

There’s something fascinating watching one of Hitchcock’s final films from the 1970’s. Each contains a real reach on his part to embrace the influence of the graphic nature of violence in our culture. Looking back, it’s a shame because Hitchcock’s films masterfully told a violent story without showing every detail. Implied rather than in your face. Suspense vs. gore. Frenzy in 1972 turned out to be Hitchcock’s penultimate film. Family Plot released in 1976 and Hitch died in 1980 at the age of 81 years old. Filmed in London, Frenzy follows the “Neck Tie Serial Killer” who we think might be one person, but then perhaps someone else. The only name actor I recognized was Billie Whitelaw (Maurice). The rest of the cast did a good job keeping the plot moving. I will say there was some awful misogynistic dialogue that shocked me. I assume it was used to show the cavalier nature some men in power felt about rape. It was certainly rough to witness even historically. I enjoyed the final third of Frenzy much more than the beginning and middle. I wasn’t really sure where it was going for a long time and then it crystallized on to a “wronged man” plot device, working its way into a satisfying ending. This is definitely second tier Hitchcock, but even second tier is worth investigating, especially on a quiet Saturday night. 3 out of 5 for Frenzy.

For a more detailed view of the Frenzy misogyny and even how it relates to Trump, check out Frenzy’s review on Hitchcock 52, a great film project where each week in 2016 Matt Buchholz chronicles his viewing of a Hitchcock film.

Violence on Television

February 1, 2017


I’ve been thinking a lot lately about violence on television. Does it affect us? Does it numb us in our daily lives? Does it normalize violence in real-time? I feel I’m still pretty sensitive to it. But I’ve loved The Walking Dead, Fargo, Broadchurch, Happy Valley, and many other shows with violence. When does violence crossover from necessary to gratuitous? I’m sure there are mountains of research out in the world. But I’m more interested in my personal exposure and feelings. Has it changed the way I view our world?

What about you? Can you answer any of these questions? Do you think it’s just fiction and doesn’t matter? Do you worry about where our society is heading?


Sherlock: Season 4 Episode 1

January 5, 2017

sherlock-s4After giving Season One and Season Two perfect scores, I gave up on Sherlock during Season 3. Following the Lazarus display in the first episode, the story faltered with too much time given to John’s wedding. Sherlock seemed to have lost its way. I tried once again to watch Season 4 hoping it might be back on track. I did make it through the entire first episode. Now I feel like it knows what it is and therefore isn’t that funny any longer. What a shame. Great talent wasted. 2 out of 5 for this once great series. Next.

Kiss Me, Kill Me

December 27, 2016

kiss-me-kill-meI’ve been following Caspar Andeas’ film career for some time now. I’ve given his films anywhere between a 3-4 including his last effort, Going Down in La-La Land (not to be confused with the new Hollywood musical in theaters, La La Land) a 4. I wish I could be as excited about Andreas’ newest release, Kiss Me, Kill Me. The film gathered all the right ingredients – decent actors, good cameos, great premise. But in the end, the script tanked weighing the film down with stereotypes. I watched a good hour of Kiss Me, Kill Me before I said goodbye. Even Gale Harold’s short role looked as if he was phoning it in. Too bad. Next.

Many thanks to OutFilmCT for their give-away of the newly released gay male indie, Kiss Me, Kill Me. And a special thanks to my dear friend Barbara who awarded me her winnings!

The Fall: Season 3

November 4, 2016

fall-s3I gave Season 1 and Season 2 of the Belfast police procedural, The Fall a 4 out of 5. I have to say they saved the best for last. Season 3 grew starker, darker, with a deliberately glacial pacing which made me sit up and take notice. Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan inhabited perfect foes orchestrating their twisted dance of justice. Loved the somber, intelligent way The Fall unveiled its ending. The final episode stuck two shocking blows making me love it all the more. I’m giving Season 3 a strong 4 out of 5, giving the overall series a 4+. Going to miss Gillian Anderson’s breathy Stella Gibson and Jamie Dornan’s sexy, sadistic, serial killer Paul Spector.

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