Short Review Diary - Films, TV Shows and other Video
A timeline of what I watch (too much really) - mostly contributions to various forum threads
May 28 2020
Tatort is a long-running German crime solving TV show with a huge number of full-length (90min) episodes spanning 5 decades.
Just recently I noticed - again - how good most of them are.
Different "sub-series" with different teams of investigators, and a different local setting.
Most people can watch/download at least some of them here. I watched 3 off the top of that list - mostly re-runs I think - two were superb and the third was good (it had a sort of female Columbo).
I just read that they may also be found on Netflix.
I was trying to find English subtitles, but that seems to be more difficult.
This page lists only a few.
A simple web search suggests one or two other options.
Jan 12 2020
Recommended! Although the title is somewhat unimaginative.
A good mix of troubled teenager drama + crime procedural.
Good acting alround.
I particularly liked that America & Americans seem to be portrayed slightly more realistically than usually. Not everybody is under 30, bodybuilt and/or close to anorexic. Surroundings aren't either dirty slum or upper middle class suburb, just normal towns, shops etc.
Also: it has an ending. No cliffhangers for a possible season 2.
Oh, and it's based on a real story.
Dec 20 2019
Almost through the first season of We Are the Wave (Wir sind die
I was reluctant - supposedly something between The Wave and Mr Robot - does not sound so good to me - but the connection to the Third Wave Experiment is not what you might think it is.
The acting is good, the characters are interesting, the plot is captivating - and it makes me really nostalgic in its "germanness" - all down to the sort of brown-eyed girl I might have fallen in love with 25 years ago.
The need to show who the good guys are and who the bad guys are is a little strong, simplistic, but I can actually enjoy this.
There's the hero, the girl and the villain (a policeman :D)...
Dec 12 2019
Just finished the first episode of Sacha Baron Cohen's Who is
At first glance, another mockumentary in the style of Borat.
Then I thought: wait a minute, that actually is Bernie Sanders - how did they get him to take part in this silliness?
...pressed pause, started wikipeding - and then it hit me: they didn't know. They thought they were dealing with the characters Cohen played in earnest!
Of course there was a lot of gnashing of teeth (check out the linked articles on wikipedia) when they realised they got duped into revealing their ugliest traits. And yes, a lot of it can probably be explained away by shifting the blame on Cohen, but not all of it.
This show is pure genius, a very brave thing to do, and hits my weird black sense of humour perfectly.
Sep 5 2019
You know how Marvel sometimes take the p!ss out of their own superhero
cr*p? But somehow it always seems a little false?
Well this show is doing it properly.
Superheroes are nothing but totally corrupt media whores.
Not sure why it's called The Boys though. Despite the scene quoted, both sexes are present.
Oops, forgot to show you the actual supeheroes!
Aug 9 2019
Bad: The Magicians.
I was talking to some friends about how I liked Harry Potter and would like to see more in that vein.
Some person warmly recommended this show, saying it's like "Harry Potter for young adults".
Yes, I can see how that is true. Launched four years after the last Potter Movie, starring (and catering to) the exact age group of Deathly Hallows + 4 years, and taking all the structural elements of the Harry Potter story:
A school for magicians, now a university called Brakebills (the name "Hogwarts" is delightfully ambiguous, I don't see any of that in "Brakebills", do you?)[/*]
a main crew of 2 couples plus one or two more[/*]
some sort of mission against an evil magician[/*]
Etc. etc., there's many more parallels on the surface, but all this is wrapped around a very mediocre american action soap opera with a plot that is questionable from the very beginning and gets boring after a few episodes (constantly shifting conspiracies, the end goal grows distant with each step they take towards it etc.).
The characters seem like 2-dimensional copies of Harry Potter characters
- just one example: the meek yet sexy, large-breasted and bespectacled (nerdy) Alice. Yuck.
If you truly crave a follow-up not to the costumes but to the spirit of Harry Potter, "Fantastic Beasts and how to Find Them" (2 full length movies) is a much better fit.
Aug 4 2019
Jun 3 2019
I've been watching some German documentaries about Cyber Security
I always delete them after watching, which sucks when I later want to share something.
I should start keeping a journal I guess.
Here's one, with different links:
The supposed logic is: we can not find the needle in the haystack, so we need more hay.
If you think that out consistently, then the final solution is total monitoring. Everywhere, anytime, everyone. What has saved us so far was less the protection of human rights, but rather the sometimes horrendous costs.
but it doesn't work.
the film cites various exanmples where terror attacks could have been prevented because the information about the perpetrator was available, but nothing happened because nobody could actually find that information in time.
the film is about changing this approach (succesfully, with software).
In itself very scary for our online privacy, but this is a very interesting docu nevertheless.
Apr 13 2019
Franklyn, which was really very different than i imagined. recommended. kindofa serious marvel parody.
Feb 8 2019
I thought this would be a story about social media, mostly
facebook, vaguely leaning on reality, but fully dramatised.
But it's much more real, almost a full documentary. They use real names, real occurences.
I constantly checked back with the wikipedia article for the first 30min or so, and it all checked out.
Zuckerberg is portrayed as an absolute a*hole right from the start, and
so I loved the film right from the start, until the end.
But that really isn't its only appeal; it's a well dramatised documentary that does not only show how things really went down, but also critically examines the whole idea of social media itself (and making money off it).
It begins with a girl (Erica Albright; she seems to be fictional) splitting up with him after an insane conversation:
You are probably going to be a very successful computer person. But you're going to go through life thinking that girls don't like you because you're a nerd. And I want you to know, from the bottom of my heart, that that won't be true. It'll be because you're an a*hole.
And it ends with another woman telling him:
You're not an a*hole, Mark. You're just trying so hard to be.
- The wikipedia article cites [some
- also about [historical
- but interestingly it all seems to boil down to "things weren't that
- dramatic, we were mostly just coding and eating pizza" - nobody seems to
- dispute Mr Z's character as such.
Jan 20 2019
Yesterday, we watched Serenity (2005).
Also, it's just a hunch, but I found the Expanse sci-fi novel series' Cptn. Holden and his gang to be eerily similar to the gang of Serenity, so I wouldn't rule out the former was inspired by the latter (at least to some degree).
I think the Expanse makers have been borrowing heavily from everywhere;
I'm currently reading a
book that has elements
in it that remind me heavily of The Expanse. Come to think of it, it's
well possible that Rajaniemi got inspiration from elsewhere... so maybe
the Expanse makers stole it from Rajaniemi, who in turn stole it from
some previous sci-fi writer... it's all good though.
Anyhow, the type of Serenity / Expanse series, I want more of!
Dec 11 2018
Stranger than fiction:
Exit Through the Gift Shop
This is not a film about Banksy, it's a film about Thierry Guetta, a.k.a. Mr Brainwash.
The story is so abstruse that it has been suspected to be Banksy's creation and a hoax, but according to various sources, this guy really exists and everything went down pretty much as portrayed in the film. So it is a real documentary. How very, very weird.
Sep 13 2018
- [The Wire, 1st season - Solving a
- case](https://www.hooktube.com/watch?v=LN5eYFH8HZ8) - epic dialogue!
seriously, this show has a tense plot & hits the right balance between
hard-boiled and entertaining for me.
The above scene is an outlier but still characteristic.
Jul 6 2018
Reminds me a little of another film i saw earlier this spring: The Florida Project - and not only because it features a little girl.
I've been watching some more Adam Curtis documentaries. Crazy choices of imagery and soundtrack (and good music for the most part!), and the constant struggle to find some golden thread that explains what is happening in the world today. the themes of the documentaries intertwine & build on each other, i guess they should be watched in chronological order (which i didn't) - Hypernormalisation feels like a culmination.
Jun 23 2018
Hypernormalisation must be
hands down the best documentary I ever saw. Two hours long, I watched it
all in one go, I was so mesmerised.
This is in fact part of what the author criticises: news and politics as entertainment, and it isn't even expected to have any connection to reality - that's hypernormalisation.
Made just before Trump became president (2016), it now seems a little prophetic even.
There are quite a few very broad statements that would require proof, but because of the very complexity of the whole topic, and the length of the film, and its visual qualities (those carefully chosen clips of high quality BBC material from four decades speak volumes), I forgive the author - and hope that his broad statements are well-researched and have merit. I looked up one or two of these, and so far they were correct (e.g. here).
Critics of Curtis’s films say that his jump-cut techniques and abrupt mood changes in some ways cheat on the dogged legwork of documentary journalism. As ever here, shifts in geopolitics are routinely represented by a couple of seconds of arresting footage – the banality of puppet dictators is illustrated by Colonel Gaddafi checking his hair off camera; the emergence of me-culture becomes Jane Fonda giving up on activism and donning a leotard; to explain the collapse of communism there is a punch-up in a Soviet breadline. Arguments become impressionistic, the criticism goes, an atmosphere of conspiracy is not the same as the exposure of truth.
Jun 8 2018
Not sure if I should post this under "what are you reading" or "what are
anyhow, I'm reading [The Passage](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Passage_(Cronin_novel), which is a really nice book (wrote about it).
I was watching Wayward Pines, but i gave up now. it's not very good, and so much is stolen from [The Passage](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Passage_(Cronin_novel)!
So I had a look, and the first wayward pines novel is written 2 years after [The Passage](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Passage_(Cronin_novel). i can only assume it's the author of the novels who did the stealing, and not the producer of the series, but whoever did it: it's very, very obvious, and it's much worse than the original book, and shame on you!
also the series isn't very good.
it startes interesting enough, but by the beginning of season 2 we're in teenage third reich. wtf. and of course the plot is built in a way that they can draw it out indefinitely.
a gigantic vault of frozen actors, the perfect parable of what the tv/film/movie industry really is.
you killed a hero accidentally? no problem, thaw the next one.
Jun 2 2018
the heroine actress also wrote the script.
just watch it, what more can i say?
i was a bit lazy when i wrote this.
meanwhile i finished season 1 (and it doesn't look like another season is coming, however look out for collaborations of Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij).
this is a beautiful story, very delicate - you never know if the heroine is just delusional, or telling a true story, but in the end it doesn't seem to matter, the crucial point is somewhere above and beyond.
it reminds me of a novel about jesus i once read. like he was a hippie
and all that, helped everyone but constantly argued with his parents.
so what if it was a mentally unstable 20-something woman this time, and her disciples attendants of the local highschool?
Apr 22 2018
Something I've written before:
Many TV shows have a promising start, the first season is really good, then it starts going downhill, everything seems watered down, more and more generic "must be included in a standard US american (family/all-audiences) TV show" stuff etc.
Never was this effect more pronounced and more extreme than with Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency.
The second season is just a generic US american rehash with the same
actors. The drop in quality is almost 100%, and remains consistent all
the way to the last episode.
Incredibly, the "creator" is still the same guy.
Thankfully, that seems to have been it, I read somewhere there will not be more.
Feb 1 2018
i recently watched two fairly good films of the "investigative
State of Play
i tend to agree with the sentiment that people have a right to the truth, unregulated by those in power.
Dec 6 2017
The Orville S01E07 - Majority
It's a new SciFi series. They say it's Comedy, but IMHO the storyline is more important than the gags (which are few and not exactly zingers, but they do add colour to a genre that maybe is taking itself a little too seriously).
A respectful continuation of the whole Star Trek Theme. Not exactly mindblowing and new, but nice to watch. Good stories (did I say that already).
This one's the best so far.
Dec 5 2017
don't expect any sort of morale or consistency, but it's fun and good music.
and look at the cast! alice cooper, iggy pop, moby, henry rollins... all in minor roles.
Nov 11 2017
a recent visit to the library:
I don't usually like a) Sci-Fi parodies and b) Nazi anything - so despite having seen the title a lot, I never bothered with it.
But now I did. A few times I was about to switch it off, but only because of slight boredom in the beginning.
never was my suspension of disbelief over-stretched.
i was pleasantly surprised that the Nazis speak proper German, and not some horrible Kauderwelsch with an american accent.
There was many nice jokes in it that made me chuckle, chuckle some more, laugh, and finally LOL and ROFL.
it does not disappoint. it seems refreshingly relevant even 5 years later. we get to laugh at americans, north-koreans, finns, but surprisingly not at present-time germans. except those on the dark side of the moon. Heil Kortzfleisch!
Remember Amélie? Same director. It's quite similar actually. Maybe funnier. I wish i knew some french, i think more than half of the jokes get lost in translation. but even so, i giggled a lot. And of course I like the idea of taking revenge on 2 arms dealers with recycled materials!
Surprise! A blueprint for all Marvel movies. But it's from 1990 and based on a short story written by the director.
really, it has all the elements of recent marvel lone superhero movies. I enjoyed it even more.
Sep 21 2017
i watched jurassic world.
nothing to report, it was what was to be expected. action, a not-too predictable plot, nice dinosaurs... i was mildly entertained.
so, i thought, i might try the first one, too.
what a mistake that was - i haven't managed to watch even halfway through it. utterly boring, too much cliché (philosopher/philanderer scientist flirting with soft feminist scientist... i puked, figuratively
- or those "clever" kids) - and i already wasted too many characters on writing this.
Aug 29 2017
at first i thought it was a little too simplistic, a crime/mob story with a sci-fi twist, but after about 30min things started getting really mindblowing.
Aug 11 2017
At first I thought it's just another glorified morally justified redneck violence revenge thang, but boy was I wrong!
Immediately sucked up all 4 seasons of it. Never seen anything like it.
Aug 2 2017
Have been watching The Bridge -
first season a while ago, second season just now.
Crime series with an international twist.
Saga Norén is weird.
Central to the series is the bridge between Denmark and Sweden (Copenhagen - Malmö), and the Police working together on international cases.
And the fact that the Danish and Swedish language are so similar that communication is possible.
If you can bear watching sth. non-english with subtitles, watch this.
Jul 30 2017
Instead of downloading movies from the wild web, I went to the library and borrowed some DVDs... devious! :cool:
So I re-watched Being John
Malkovich - almighty, i forgot
how weird that movie was!
forget about plausibility, morale, good guys, bad guys... and just enjoy the fun of watching something highly intelligent & completely whacko!
May 9 2017
The Honourable Woman - imo it's a bit slow to get going, but after a few episodes you're hooked and just have to see the story through to the end...
don't let the title mislead you, this is full on political thriller.
Apr 29 2017
a police procedural, combined with a small town social & psychological analysis spanning a whole season (8 episodes) - i'm sure it's been done before, but this is just outstanding! i love the british southern shore, i love the less-than-perfect main characters (olivia colman as ellie miller is a brave choice), but what i love most:
the first season is dedicated to solving the crime.
the second season is dedicated to the trial.
and both seasons just rock.
Mar 11 2017
this one's by the same makers as district 9 and if you haven't seen district 9 yet, you have to see it.
but just now i watched Chappie and i haven't been disappointed.
neither movie is perfect, but they're clever and different and very entertaining.
It's just a neural helmet, mommy!
Mar 5 2017
ending season 2. great fun, love the sarcasm and detail. not to be taken
probably also pretty unrealistic.
Feb 19 2017
just saw the latest disney creation, Moana.
variations on the same plot for 70 years, it's getting reeeeeally boring... no amount of hyper-sophisticated 3d rendering can remedy that.
Dec 22 2016
I am more than halfway through
Something about the title is very cheesy, for some reason i had to think of keanu reeves and the matrix... :8
But, how I love it!
Reminds me a lot of Cloud Atlas - same directors mostly, and clearly similar ideas - but not just re-hashed, this is a brilliant story in its own right, like cloud atlas.
they left markers for season 2 in the plot, but i can see they are
telling a story, and they are telling it til the end. the way i like
btw, according to imdb there's supposed to be a christmas special soon!
Dec 13 2016
Right now I am watching Black Mirror 3 season tv show
OMG, what an epic series!
concept: the episodes are independent stories, and very different each time (UK politics, SciFi, ...). the common denominator is what communication technology is or willbe capable of doing to us.
it's extremely bleak. yet strangely fascinating & entertaining.
series 1: 5stars
series 2: 4stars
series 3: ???
Dec 9 2016
The Expanse was good.
Right now into season 2 of Killjoys and still digging it.
Sep 26 2016
i mostly get my inspiration for choice of films from threads like these, so not much point in recommending them again.
this one though i found by reading about the "nigerian scam" and its
accordingly, it is called the spanish prisoner.
it's a quiet sort of thriller/mystery/whodunnit.
i liked the subtle, yet intense sense of disorientation during the first half of the film. simply everybody seems to be wearing a mask, having some sort of secret agenda - to the point where i thought: hmm, is this part of the acting, or are they just extremely bad actors?
turns out they're pretty good actors.
also the title of the film isn't explained at all, until well into the second half. interesting choice, naming it like that in the first place (there is no spanish prisoner in the movie, it's just the name of this particular scam).
it's well worth watching although i have a feeling that the end was a little abrupt (during production: "shit, we overdid it, have to get to an ending before the budget runs out!"). but who knows, maybe there's a directors cut somewhere.
Sep 20 2016
star trek tng, s05e02.
best epsidoe so far, i think (starting from 101).
the difficulties of communication, even when the babelfish works.
Aug 20 2016
I find it unfathomable how this was panned as one of the worst films of 1996. I know strippers, politicians, and people in general, and there is nothing in this film that even comes close to straining credulity. If anything, my only criticism of the film is that it is so rooted in reality that it doesn't call for a willing suspension of disbelief.
based on a book by Carl
guaranteed entertainment, the bad guys get a good beating, but always with that sort of acid humor that i appreciate. always pro environment, situated in florida, always revealing the farce that is the state of things in the world in general, and in the usa in particular.
go read his books.
they should be made into movies much more imho. i only found one other, i think Hoot.
and the movie striptease totally stands up to the book, as pvsage said: "so rooted in reality that it doesn't call for a willing suspension of disbelief"
ok, i will pay much less attention to imdb's voting system from now on. 4.3 for striptease, pah.
Aug 15 2016
just watched Sicario, i think
recommended on this thread.
not the worst film i've ever seen.
every dramaturgic tool has been used to tell the viewer: as soon as you cross the border (into mexico), it's dangerous and bad and lawless and stinky and dirty and... erm. f***ing xenophobes.
the story is supposed to touch on this (the critical main character), but it all comes down to "Moral": are we allowed to kill innocents and break the law, in order to destroy greater evil?
gawd, i have the feeling i have seen this very story a dozen times wrapped in differently flavored coating.
is the NSA forcing movie plots on the film industry???
Aug 8 2016
a few years back i had a nicolas cage phase.
not that i was a fan, but he always has this basic nicolas cage character, and if you happen to like it, it's not unintelligent, and the rest is usually fairly good action and guaranteed, slightly weird and not too heavy entertainment... and some sort of - well, maybe not happy end, but resolution. something to sleep well.
just 2 days back i watched "Leaving Las Vegas" (1995), and all the signs
were there, but how treacherous! the end was absolutely horribly
disgusting, and in retrospect the story was pretty bad:
guy decides to drink himself to death in las vegas. he and prostitute fall in love, seriously. he still drinks himself to death, and on his deathbed she fucks him one last time.
seriously? is this medically even possible? i mean, i can imagine having sex and dying of heart failure, but actually dying of alcohol poisoning, and your last act is to ejaculate? i don't buy it.
Aug 4 2016
where did black humor go to in the third millenium?
"you offed yourself with a guitar?" - "iggy pop almost came to that gig"
special appearance by tom waits. figures.
Aug 4 2016
Ex Machina, 2015. A hipster robot researcher is messing with humanoid AIs and gets his ass handed to him because humanoid AIs do not like to be treated like pets. Who would've guessed.. Pretends to be deep but isn't.
indeed, on all points.
promising so much in a dystopian manner, yet it comes down to 2 guys being horny for the same girl in very different ways.
well no, it comes down to the girl having a different agenda altogether. whatever. not dystopian.
May 10 2016
the count of monte cristo (tv mini series from 1998)
and most of all, revenge!
it was absolutely fabulous, if you like that sort of thing.
Mar 10 2016
just rewatched Le Triplettes de
What a weird and funny movie. Definitely worth a second watching.
Feb 15 2016
Just watched Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (Terry Gilliam), for the first time(!). Johnny Deep and Benicio Del Toro at their strangest. Hilarious. And Tobey Maguire ...
I very much liked the movie, definitely has my recommendation (I'm very fond of movies where I can really relate to the story :D :D ). Watched it two times last week, and for sure I'll watch it a few more times.
Anyone else knows it? I feel that this movie has been shot at least ten years too late?! And I definitely watched it 18 years too late :)
oh yeah! mindboggling! sociocritical, yet humorous, yet quite authentic
i love everything about this movie, starting with the title.
donny jepp at its best.
[i]"There is no way of explaining the terrors I felt."
i think gilliam was never on time with his movies , but rather completely out of it.
Jan 28 2016
Have you seen: Lucy (2014 film).
hey, that was nice entertainment.
i'm always glad about european productions; they do seem to make things differently.
not that this was exceptionally sophisticated stuff, but different nevertheless.
and yes, visually it would have been nice to see it on a cinema screen... :o
Jan 19 2016
a bit like a Coen Brothers movie. touching love story.
the woman who trashes a yellow maserati a day.
the guy who has a constipated soul (she said: you have a big lump of petrified poop up your souls arsehole).
the movie poster sucks, imdb gave a superficial bs description.
Dec 27 2015
oh, terry gilliam films! nice.
i just watched dark
shadows - johnny
depp & tim burton, always a nice combination - i was surprised that
there was one i hadn't seen yet.
anyhow, nice movie. there's not much to say about tim burton movies, or johnny depp as a vampire a lá edward scissorhands, but this had some extra zest with the early 70s theme and the best witch ever.
Dec 24 2015
i just finished watching The Whistleblower.
recommend! it's based on reality, too.
it's just sad that these things get recognized only a decade after the fact...
Dec 12 2015
whatever my opinion about the quality of star wars movies, this demands
do you have kids or are around them?
star wars is everywhere - lunchboxes, clothing, shoes, toys, darth vader halloween costumes, not to mention video games...
...and then comes the "collaboration" stuff: LEGO (and again video games), Angry Birds,...
it boggles the mind.
so that is George Lucas' secret...
Nov 25 2015
The plot is simple.
Nov 12 2015
i never thought to dig in my mind for my favorite movies of all
i'd rather concentrate on sharing recent, non-obvious findings.
from the "all times" - just the other day i had a craving to watch the hitchhikers guide to the galaxy again, and loved it, again.
then there's the category of "important then, but no craving to re-watch"... like the lord of the rings.
when i saw the matrix for the first time 15years ago, i was
extremely impressed, which was partly because of the surroundings: it
was in a squatted house, and the guy who insisted on showing it to us
was known to dabble & deal in exotic drugs...
it's still brilliant (at least the first part), but much copied & imitated. too much.
Nov 7 2015
oh, i liked avatar.
there should be more friendly alien movies.
i always heard rumors of a sequel, but never happened?
Oct 24 2015
hhh's two-faced list of "good movies" and "guilty pleasures" immediately
makes me want to contribute.
because for me only the movies that fit in both categories are the really good ones.
Cloud Atlas. (*)
i'll think of more, but introducing my own list with such a strong statement, i suddenly feel very insecure.... guilty pleasures.... 8.(
some have been mentioned already, e.g. big lebowski and actually most of the coen brothers' oeuvre.