Archive for the ‘Murder Mystery’ Category

Bloodline: Season 3

June 5, 2017

Saying goodbye to the Rayburns of Bloodline I felt sadness and relief. Sadness because I came to love several of the characters. Relief because I felt exhausted watching the siblings dig themselves deeper and deeper into their lies and deceit. So many unnecessary deaths. I still blame Danny who brought plague onto his family. This season in particular felt biblical. I was on the edge of my seat each episode wondering what might go wrong next and who might screw up the most. The final two episodes were a bit surreal, but I think it gave the fans what they needed – a final dose of Danny. Trying to side step any spoilers here. Sally drove me crazy, Kevin couldn’t get one thing right and Meg just fled. Poor John left to clean up everyone’s mess. All in all I loved Bloodline. It was a fun romp in the Florida Keys through the eyes of a very damaged family. 4 out of 5.

Twin Peaks: S1 & S2

May 25, 2017

Caught up with the original Twin Peaks in anticipation of the reboot which started on Showtime last weekend. Netflix has the complete series – both seasons streaming. I enjoyed the first season immensely. Felt like old times revisiting this quirky old Pacific NW logging town. With only eight episodes, the writing felt tight and attentive. Season 2 began dragging its heels weighed down by the promise of a 22-episode arc. The original ratings confirmed this as the show went from being the most watched show in the country during Season 1 to trailing in 85th place by Season 2. Still I love a good experiment and respect envelope pushing for the sake of art and especially fun. Twin Peaks did all that and more. It really changed how we view modern television, paving the way for quirkiness and niche. And the modern streaming world is one grateful off-spring. 3 out of 5 for this classic series.

Riverdale

May 25, 2017

Really enjoyed watching the first few episodes of Riverdale, The CW’s dark mystery based on the Archie comics. The print comics continue to be sweet and innocent, a blast of much-needed nostalgia in these troubled times. But the series decided to take a more serious and adult turn and it works. Loved all the secrets. Loved the inappropriate choices some of the characters made. Not sure I will continue to watch, not because it’s deficient. It definitely works on many levels and is worth checking out. 3 out of 5.

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

violence-on-tv

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?

 


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