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Covert Affairs (2010)
Very U.S. series, but still thrilling and entertaining
/refers to all Seasons and episodes in a sequence/
It is true that such series, particularly if from the U.S., include several scenes for "common viewer", ambiguous thrill or dubious solutions, but if the characters-performances and good and wrongdoers can not be discovered early, then it is still pleasant to follow. Here, in Covert Affairs, the inclusion of a blind CIA officer (heartily performed by Christopher Gorham) is definitely a move that provides this series memorable and humane dimensions. Most of other performances are equal to the task as well (although i have to admit that I liked supporting cast often than Piper Perabo´s accomplishments).
Well, as i faced up this Series from the beginning, it took me "some" time, plus realization that, eventually, you just wear yourself out being part of the same characters´ life and events, the plots would not necessarily become thinner or self-repeating, and new characters appearing are not necessarily less interesting. Perhaps the events around Henry Wilcox became over-sophisticated, but when the last season fetched up, I was not discontent. Thus, Covert Affairs is definitely a series worth watching, unless you have serious issues about intelligence, spying, and the U.S. role in the world politics.
The Little Drummer Girl (2018)
Stylish, with properly captured spirits and background, but somewhat "arid"
No, I had not read Le Carre´s novel and not seen the film (personally, as to thrillers, I tend not to compare but try to enjoy the course of events without knowing the next stages and solutions), but I was intrigued by the era, plot and some actors (Michael Shannon and Alexander Skarsgård). The two gentlemen were good as always, but the depiction seemed protracted (perhaps 4 episodes would have been enough?) and it lacked "succulence", with brickle transition points... Moreover, I was not too keen on Florence Pugh, she did not excite my interest to find out where else she has performed.
All in all, not a bad stuff, but I could mention dozens of BBC miniseries that are catchier for me. But admirers of the 1980ies, Shannon and Al. Skarsgård would not be disappointed.
The Capture (2019)
A lot is not it as it seems - in many aspects
BBC has produced a new intriguing series, with most actors not often seen in other series (inclusion of talented character actors Ron Perlman from the U.S. and Famke Janssen from the Netherlands in the supporting cast is extra plus). The thrill is maintained, there are catchy twists, and one can ponder on and over many elements related to the use of technology, ethics, intelligence, fair case management, etc., and realise that current world is less black-and-white than during comphensive warfare...
Some viewers have disliked the ending/solution, but I find that realistic, as it usually is in the event of the state vs. private person and if secrets and high-minded goals are pursued. The very ending let the doors open for another season, but no related information so far.
Orderly artisanship, but no wow! for me...
Yes, the script is equal to the task, there are several twists (but also predictable moments), performances are pleasant (Song Kang-ho as Kim and Cho Yeo-jeong as Choi), but apparently my expectations were too high after lots of awards and accolades. The title is ambiguous, and the course of events is as the Coen brothers would join forces with Tarantino...
The film in question won 4 Academy Awards and it is nice, but if I look back on The King´s Speech, Rain Man, or No Country for Old Men - also with 4 Oscars, then I have to admit I liked those more. My bad... :)
An oddly captivating series
From time to time, I try to widen my horizons apart from UK and Scandinavian crime/thriller series, and have come across several good Israeli ones as well... The Season 1 of HaMidrasha, began to my liking, but then I realised that the trainees are not sent to their separate real assignments and I even thought of breaking off (very unusual for me); but then, the relationships and parallel stories became interesting, and the final episode became a nicely creamy mess, paving the way for Season 2 which was more versatile and interesting... Well, I am unable to judge the credibility of the events and relations, but as Mossad is of the most efficient secret services in the world, it may well so that the principle "The end justifies the means" is used very often.
The role and depiction of characters, however, is rather uneven, and many members of course are not so memorable. To me, the most interesting were Yehuda Levi as Yonna, Hana Laszlo as Doris Levi, Tzachi Halevy as Liron Hariri - apart from distinct performances, the viewers obtain a picture of their past as well, and they tend to offer most twists in the plot.
All in all, I liked it - Season 2 a bit more than 1 - almost equal to Bnei aruba and Fauda.
Jojo Rabbit (2019)
Talented combination of over-the-top and heartiness
Although its pace is versatile, depending on dialogues and scenes, I find it wise that the beginning is so "crazy" - it makes you eagerly follow what is going on and what would happen, enjoy the twists and changes in moods and wisenings even more... A real dramedy, with sad and tragic moments included.
The performances are excelling, particularly the 2 "leading boys" Jojo and Yorki, as well the supporting cast... Direction, production, music - everything in harmony, just where they need to be.
Well, evidently, such a film could not have been made in Germany, but still - good that we have it. Forget your prejudices, discomfort and one-sided stories about WWII and see comic elements in tragedy and vice versa!
Det som göms i snö (2018)
A distinct, unconventional series
Well, one can question the reality of some scenes and solutions, but on the other hand, the narration is based on true events, so it is not a fully constructed stuff. The characters are quaint, yet evolving, and their actions and ideas emanate from the (painful) past. The mood is well captured, enhances by flashbacks and environment, and apart from tragic/dramatic scenes, there are ones making your giggle... At last but not least - the roundup of the crime is neither regular nor desitive.
As to the performances, they are good/excellent, and unlike many Swedish crime series, the number "frequent participants" is smaller than usual (apart from Thomas W. Gabrielsson perhaps). Robert Gustafsson, usually a comedian, is a convincing detective here with complex past (he won the Swedish Kristallen Award for this), and many from the supporting cast are worth following (Ia Langhammer, Ville Virtanen, among others).
8.5 means 9 points here. Good work!
Smooth and dynamic depiction for an account of realistic events
As to war dramas, the war itself can be in the foreground (battles, campaigns) or in the background, where small units or individuals are meaningful and their minds and evolvement are dominated by war/military. 1917 is mainly about the latter, with war spinning around personal destinies. The events start running promptly and the journey of 2/1 soldiers is versatile, full of hope and misery, with distress all the time still.
All this is captured via talented directing, camerawork, and defined performances, both leading and supporting ones. There are several character actors performing small yet important roles, plus I am sure George MacKay (Lance Corporal William Schofield) will get more significant roles in the future. But, in my vexation, several "individual" scenes with Germans involved appeared not to be realistic, they were apparently meant for the twist paving the way for the next steps in the journey (in particular, I have in mind a certain stabbing, a certain shooting and a certain pursuit which "normally" could not have taken place). Thus, when rating this film, I should assert that the script includes almost only weaknesses here.
Distinct, but somewhat over-sophisticated
The concept and the modus of flashbacks are intriguing, but the pace is not duly maintained, and the person and motives of a certain shooter remain vague an unrealistic. So the ending scenes are rather trivial and may pave the way for Season 2, but not necessarily either.
The inclusion of DS Gabe Waters´s past undercover period does not provide a big value to the course of main events, and the mistakes he made dealing with it are at variance with his experience and skills. The character of the Informer is rather static, and even a pleasant actor like Nabhaan Rizwan is unable to forward it to a real leading role. Here, the catchiest is Bel Powley as DC Holly Morten.
So, bearing in mind that this is a BBC series, and in comparison with its counterparts, I would not rate it with more than 7 points - definitively above average, but not a must-see.
Eia jõulud Tondikakul (2018)
Pleasant nature-based non-religious December film
In spite of its mood, venue and timing, this film has no direct focus on Xmas, most of events take place after this and include New Year´s Eve... The events are realistic, contemporary, including some topics often depicted in (Estonian) media: intergenerational issues, nature preservation, forest economy and management...
The approach is educational, yet versatile and pleasant, through the eyes of an bright girl with her heart and mind in the right place... Performances and camerawork are good, beautiful landscape is clearly visible (hopefully nobody thinks that birds-animals were created using computer!) and at present, with no snow at all, it is pleasant to acknowledge that winters in Estonia tend to include lots of snow and whiteness.
Spooks: The Greater Good (2015)
Not bad, but why it was necessary?
Well, after the long duration of the Spooks series and "normal" closure in its last season...? Nothing was really left untold or open so that some sequel was required to clarify matters or to link loose ends. Peter Firth as Harry Pearce is still the pillar of the production, but the events-characters around are not so distinctive as terrorists-bombers were widely seen in the Series as well (sometimes too often, overlaps and replays).
The evident wish to include younger generation does not beat the target in full as the domination of "cute looks" over character acting is too big, plus the depiction of events may remain intricate to them not having seen the Spooks series. Thus, I can fully understand if their reviews are more critical than mine.
The Alienist (2018)
Intense narration with good performance team
In general, I am not into movies-series about serial killers with mental problems as I tend to watch "meaningful" crimes and violence where a wrongdoer has personal gain in mind. But having heard of favorable reviews and its past timing, I took my time to watch - and I liked it.
First, the venue, environment and background, language is well captured - at least based on my knowledge of that time. When slums were dominating and the gaps between the rich and the poor were more visible than now.
The story is also thrilling, the course of events and discussions enabling closing in on the finding and hunting down the killer. Dialogs are witty and instructive, the characters develop, plus we obtain information about the past which is important for comprehension. Perhaps the number of episodes could be a bit smaller (e.g. 8) and there could be more twists regarding the killer, but these are minor issues.
The cast, performances seem very realistic and are often bold as well. There is some sex and nudity (but not for their sake), and many (pre-)teens have parts to play that are very controversial based to standards and morals of today. Apart from versatile leading characters (to me, Daniel Brühl as Dr. Laszlo Kreizler excels here), there are some distinct supporting roles played by character actors (e.g. Ted Levine or Michael Ironside).
Thus, it is logical that I look forward to Season 2.
German "Mr. Robot" trying to be a spy in a clubbing environment
Well, so could be a bit twisted synopsis of this rather peculiar series, where the biggest strengths are thorough depiction of mood and different venues as well as distinct interchange of paces. All this creates a kind of troubling atmosphere where "odd" characters operate, creating confusions, seeking for truth and living double life...
The leading (male) characters are versatile and different, the City of Berlin is a "right" venue, and there are some nice twists and turns; well, the ending leaves somewhat to be desired, I would have hoped something with a twist, but still - Beat is a good series, although I am not sure whether contemporary Berlin includes such a violent crime in a broad daylight outside of "ghetto" areas...
Tõde ja õigus (2019)
A bright-line and versatile Estonian film
The novel behind the script is old and famous in Estonia, but most of depictions of these hard times in Estonian rural history have been traditional, like dramatic plays on screen. Tanel Toom, using his talent and know-how obtained from UK, has created a really Western film, with smart angles and frames, making all performers (regardless of their age, track record, etc.) act skilfully and convincingly. Unlike in most Estonian films, even tragic and sad events are not totally burdensome - they are part of life and life goes on / one has to move on, particularly if having a family....
This film was an Estonian candidate for Academy Award, but it did not reach Top5, alas. Nevertheless, it is a good film (having the biggest No. of viewers in Estonia last year), and many local foreigners who saw it told that now they understand Estonian "spirit" more than before. Besides, the film includes e.g. several Shakespearian motives and observations, so it is not very country-based, enabling to understand it by those without Estonian connections.
Den tid på året (2018)
An out-of-line Xmas story
There are too many cheesy films on Christmas out there... But I - (un)fortunately - tend to see the things that lie beneath, always when people with different generations/genders get together in a limited time and space, whether relatives or not, plus alcohol included... Den tid på året shows different attitudes and aspects in a witty and smooth manner, nothing is really over the top, perhaps all those elements do not occur within a day during one celebration.
And the cast is wonderful, incl. several of my favourite Danish performers (Gråbøl, Steen, Brygmann) who have really versatile characters to play. Additional point from me for the ending scenes where reality and common Xmas feeling (through weather, soundtrack) are astutely combined.
Definitely my 2nd favourite Xmas film - after Bad Santa.
Tõnis Mägi. Vaikus valguses (2019)
Profundity at the expense of extent
TM is a leading singer in Estonia, with wide specialisation, but this documentary depicts a small share of his talent. Family, home, nature and inner peace are his benchmarks - his local admirers know that - but I doubt that non-Estonian viewers would obtain a picture how diversified Tõnis Mägi really is. Moreover, his wife is a talented musician, but the interpretation of TM´s famous songs by their daughters leaves to be desired - due to the reasons unknown.
I watched this running narration, created using respect and liking, but who is supposed to form its target audience remains unclear to me. As mentioned, TM is not just a ballad singer, even if his recent concerts and CDs are prevailed by this style.
Võta või jäta (2018)
A rather tardy work where the performances excelling the script
Võta või jäta is supposed to be - and is - a household drama dealing with several pain spots in the society (single parents, parenthood/parenting, impacts of working abroad, generation gaps, etc.), but, evidently for the sake of reality, the film lacks scenes and twists enhancing catchiness. So the progression is rather arid, many good actors have static characters to play, with often too much focus on Erik´s development... True, Reimo Sagor performs well and convincingly, but sometimes it is not enough for creation a film you would like to see again. All in all, another more-than-average Estonian film - problably not speaking to many other nations. It was selected as the Estonian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 91st Academy Awards, but it was not nominated.
My opinion: 8 points for performances, 6 for script.
Entertaining depiction of pluses and minuses of team work
/refers to all Seasons in a sequence/
Although I have my hesitations regarding how realistic those events and characters are (well, organising such scams and cons in a country of multiple and high-level security organisations), the idea behind is good and the process well explained - whether during a con or later, using flashbacks. When at first, Timothy Hutton seemed to excel his counterparts, then as the episodes progressed, one could see more virtues in others as they appeared more often on screen than Hutton. True, there were moments when some recurring or supporting cast provided stronger and/or funnier elements (e.g. Skerritt, Stormare), but holistically, it made the Series more interesting and intense.
I can´t say that the seasons became weaker or so, but as modern technology enables to watch as much episodes as and when you wish, you seem to "become exhausted" as the main characters become part of your family and daily routines. Luckily, the creators knew when and how to stop - and the very final episode is interesting and resourceful.
Weaker vis-a-vis script, but still good performances
Comedies pointing out embarrassing moments and depicting failures are always a matter of taste and tend to gather more opponents than proponents. As we like to think that we are good, possess decent thoughts, have good inter-family relations, etc. Alas, real life is different and seeing this can be both embarrassing and painful...
As in No. 1 and No. 2, No. 3 shows again lots of distinct performances, with Ago Anderson spending most lengthy and intensive time on screen. The ending could have been more "explosive" as No. 3 is supposed to round up the trilogy. Nevertheless - more than 100,000 viewers (big percentage of Estonia´s population) mean than such approach and such rendering are needed.
Arctic Circle (2018)
A pleasant locality-based crime series from Finland (with German participation)
Well, officially it is Finnish-German production, but most of performers come from Finland and most events take place there as well (more precisely, in Lapland near the Artic Circle), so you get, above all, a picture how life in those harsh conditions go on and what potential dangers and risks can appear.
If/when some virus is included, then it is always "food for thought", but in the modern fast developing technology - you never know; what was unimaginable a decade ago, can be a reality now, etc. All in all, as "pure crime stuff" was included, I had nothing against this inclusion (usually I am not into non-human death inducers).
As for the cast, all main performers were unknown to me, but there was a strong and nice team-work, no character "shining" above or at the expense of others. It is more to my liking than the use of same actors-actresses in similar series, causing confusion or reducing the thrill if they tend to play similar roles as well.
Based on the ending scenes, I am looking forward to the potential Season 2.
More than average, but not in the line of best Swedish series
As I have not read any Olav Svedelid´s books and see perhaps a couple of Hassel films, I do not have any special opinion or though how a series could or should be. But based on others works where Ola Rapace participated, e.g. Tusenbröder, Farang, I have noticed that he likes to dominate, often through intensive mindtwisting and violence - sometimes groundedly, but at times not, which is clearly visible in the series in question as well. So the logic of event would tarnish or create blah!/wtf! feelings (bearing in mind that it is Sweden, not a Latin-American or post-Socialist country where law is usually bendable), and the pseudo-political dimension becoming evident in last episodes is not too convincing.
On the other hand, this series is more UK- or US-like than most of Swedish ones, so the audience accustomed to them could "digest" it more easily and watch it less reluctantly than e.g. Beck or Wallander. But for me, it is not a series I would be definitely waiting for a sequel.
Pleasant and solid series from Norway - again
Compared to the Swedes and Danes, the Norwegians entered the world of distinct crime series somewhat later, this decade, but e.g. Øyevitne, Kodenavn Hunter, Frikjent were all catchy and worth watching. Now, Wisting has carried on in the field of international crime and related links, with FBI´s involvement, although the main venue is still Norway - with "tardy" people and beautiful landscape. Sven Nordin is really a good actor (I remembered him in Valkyrien, the concept of which was not so interesting), but the script here is skilfully prepared so that his character is always present/visible without unnecessary domination over supporting cast.
I wonder if other seasons are coming, but bearing in mind the present one´s big success, I would not be surprised. And I will be ready :)
Killing Eve (2018)
Far better I could imagine
/refers to Seasons 1 and 2/
Well, I had heard that I was worth watching, but was busy some other crime series (British and Scandinavian, above all), but now, after watching all available 16 episodes in succession, and WOW! for 1st season and wow! for the 2nd one... Stylish, distinct, although not always smooth script (yet witty and with frequent suprising wtf! moments), but what a cast - where even most small parts are performed by big actors and actresses! Some of them I knew and have always appreciated (Shaw, Haig, Bodnia), the others I knew less (Oh, Lloyd-Hughes), and the rest I did know at all... In particular, Jodie Comer is the one worth remembering for the future. And of course, I am looking forward to the Season 3.
Another good Swedish-Danish thriller series
As a fan of Scandinavian crime series, I try to watch them as much as possible (well, at some point I have acknowledged that I have watched faster than new ones appear :) ), thus it is natural that Advokaten caught my eye.
Well, its ad made be a bit cautious about potential relying on political correctness, but no - it was not an incumbrance here. The events were not always too smooth, but the logic of events was in place, there were some nice twists, and the cast was strong and distinct (Danes somehow better than Swedes, Thomas Bo Larsen in particular). The latter´s role was not too big, but when visible, he just outperformed the others - like in many other films and series with his participation.
True, it is not on the level of Bron/Broen, but for those fond of Scandinavian series - not a disappointment. Even e.g. Alex, coming to light about the same time, is somewhat weaker.
Distrito Salvaje (2018)
Apparently my first familiarisation with Colombian series - and I am pleased
Being an admirer of BBC and Scandinavian crime series, from time to time, I am eager to widen my horizons and see what is going on in other countries. Well, I have seen many Spanish-language ones, including from Latin America, but still - the countries there are different vis-a-vis history and current issues. In spite of the fact that I had no awareness of the approach and performers (incl. Juan Pablo Raba - I have not seen Narcos yet), the Series seemed catchy from almost the beginning, and the flashbacks provided necessary background to realise what whas going on and why some characters thought and acted as they did.
All the cast seemed appropriate and with mutual chemistry, and the ending let some things open, so a sequel might be envisaged. Anyway, I will be looking to watch the possible next season as well.