The Latest In Television, Movies and Documentaries
Whenever I stumble onto a great television show, movie or doc, I will post it to this page. When possible, I will provide links to the best add-ons for streaming the available content. Otherwise, I will suggest you add this to your trakt.tv account for future consideration. If you don’t already have a trakt.tv account, I highly recommend you get one. It’s the best way to save a suggestion from friends, family, co-workers or social media post. With one click you can add the television show, movie or doc to your collection and it will be there waiting for you to watch when you get home. If you find something you think I should check out or if you have any questions, please drop me a line via my fb page. You don’t have to like my page or follow me on Twitter, however, if you do like what you find on my site, please do me a favour and tell your friends. Last but not least, I would appreciate it if you would click on one of the banner ads to the right once in a while. You don’t have to buy or subscribe to anything. I make a few pennies from every click and it goes a long way to paying my hosting fees for this site. All the best!
How do you get ahead of crazy, if you don’t know how crazy thinks? It’s a question that gets to the heart of the new Netflix series Mindhunters. Set in the mid to late 70’s, Mindhunters is a series that looks into the evolution of the FBI to classify a new breed of criminal that would eventually become labelled as Serial Killers. While this type of crime was not new to modern society, understanding the behavioural science behind what drives a person to commit such acts of depravity was and changed the way the FBI recruited agents from that day forward. Mindhunters stars Jonathan Groff as agent Holden Ford and Holt McCallany as agent Bill Tench. Holden is your classic boy scout agent. He’s very straight-laced, not afraid to ask questions, sometimes naively so, and has spent most of his time in the Bureau teaching Hostage Negotiation to new recruits, often of the accountant or lawyer variety. As Bill later points out, Holden is eager to do good. Bill, on the other hand, is a seasoned vet who’s logged many hours in the field. Bill travels the country teaching FBI tactics to police forces around the US. He understands the conservative, unsophisticated approach to solving crimes by local law enforcement (and sometimes his colleagues), however, Bill is a deeper book than his cover suggests with a keen grasp of criminal behaviour. Bill strengths lie in his ability to read and understand his audience. He’s dedicated to his profession in spite of the toll it takes on his family life. This is a slow, methodical series, carefully crafting the story and revealing the characters bit by bit, one episode at a time. It’s not overly grotesque or shocking, however, It is graphic in its description of events, but the writers tend to telepath a gory event for the viewer so you can prep yourself before it happens. Written by Joe Penhall (The Road) and produced by David Fincher (Seven, Fight Club, Zodiac, House of Cards), Mindhunters is well written, has strength in its cast and actors, and perfect for binge-watching. For shits and giggles, watch the first three episodes, then look up Ed Kemper, the coed killer on YouTube.
Ken Burns: The Vietnam War
Ten years in the making, 10 parts, 18 hours in length, Ken Burns has called this “the most ambitious project” he has ever undertaken. It is perhaps, the most in-depth documentary regarding this period in American History I have ever seen. Going all the way back to 1851, The Vietnam War tries to make sense of it and the many factions involved. From the French involvement and their views towards colonising the country to the entry of the American in 1961 and their attempts to keep the South from falling into a communist rule (the domino effect). The documentary looks at the war from the eyes of the American GI’s and how their attitudes towards the war, their government and the country they were fighting to save evolved over the course of the war until their exit in 1972. It looks at the view from home, both the loyal supporters of the war to the growing anti-war movement that sprung from the college campuses across the U.S It looks at the war from the Vietnamese perspective, the North, the South and the Viet Cong, each side losing thousands of men, women and children to this war and what they perceived as the foreign invaders. Unless you were there, we can’t begin to understand how the war divided the country; What a “meat grinder” it was for the half a million GI’s sent overseas to fight, losing some 59,000 killed and thousands more wounded or missing in action. It sparked a movement at home that loosened conservative opinions and values amongst the youth that gradually trickled on up to the parents and eventually the lawmakers who could no longer justify the American involvement in the war. It is unlike any war we have ever witnessed, brought home each night to our living rooms. It is hoped, a war never repeated. Such a great doc, it’s a must watch!
When it comes to great television, HBO is the brand of excellence. Think about it. Thinks about all the great titles they’ve produced over the years, that you would watch time and time again. Then, ask yourself, did binge watching even exist before the Sopranos? If I had to consider who are some of the best creators of dramatic television, my first instinct would be the guys who created The Wire. They were also responsible for Homicide: Life on the Streets and Treme. If I could get those guys and the backing of HBO, I would think I would have a solid show on my hands. As luck would have it, sometimes wishes do come true. The Deuce is an HBO drama, featuring the Emmy Award-winning creative team of George Pelecanos and David Simon. Also, starring James Franco and Maggie Gyllenhaal, the show is set in New York City circa 1971. A time when New York was filled with corruption in the city government and crime was rampant on the streets. Brothers Vincent and Frankie Martino ( both played by James Franco ), run a little operation for the mob, with their home base being conveniently situated in Times Square. Candy ( played by Maggie Gyllenhaal ) is a street hustler, works alone and also calls Time Square her home base. But times they are a changing. With crime on the rise and drugs on every street corner, the pressure is on local officials to crack down on the criminal element and rid the streets of the drugs that fuel these crimes. What happens when you combine the mob with sex workers in New York in the 70’s? You get the rise of the porn industry, with no limits and a license to print money. You get HBO’s The Deuce. Series premiers Sept. 10.
I’m a fan of Elmore Leonard and if you’re at all familiar with the 1995 version of his novel Get Shorty, you will need to erase that from your mind. The only similarities between the movie version and this Epix television adaptation is minimized to a connected guy goes to Hollywood to make a movie. That’s it. The rest is completely different. But, you’re going to like it! Do you remember Chris O’Dowd? He was great in Bridesmaids as the cop who wins Kristen Wigs affections in the end. He plays Miles Daly, a hit man for a small cartel based out of Nevada. Miles is unhappy with his job; his marriage is on the rocks and a coworker, of sorts, has it in for him. Miles is desperate to win his wife back and be a family again with his 12 yr old daughter. For Mikes, the only way to do that is to go legit, Leave the hitman business behind. He’s tough, smart and determined to get his film made. Ray Romano plays Rick, a small-time Hollywood director. He makes mostly B movies. Straight to video sort of thing. He’s living in the shadow of his award-winning director father, and desperate to get out from under it. Ray is great in this role and his father is played by, of all people, Alan Arkin! I love the revamped take on this book and I think you will to. Check it out in your favourite Kodi add-on!
Based on real events, Manhunt: Unabomber is a drama following the FBI pursuit and capture of serial killer Ted Kaczynski, aka. The Unabomber. Ted Kaczynski terrorized Americans from 1978-1995, through a string of bombings sent via the American Postal service, targeting airlines, universities and computer companies. He was eventually captured in 1995 and plead guilty to 16 bombings in 1998, thanks in large part to FBI profiler James R. Fitzgerald. James, or “Fitz” as he is referred to in the show, was a former beat cop and at the time, recent graduate from the FBI academy. James is responsible for developing forensic linguist in the Behavioural Analysis Unit (BAU), and went on to work on many high profile cases during his time with the FBI. James is played by actor Sam Worthington, who does an excellent job of portraying James obsession and tenacity for tracking down Ted Kazinsky, played by Paul Bettany. The series moves back and forth from James’ introduction to the task force assigned to track down the UNABOMBER, to Ted’s capture. In spite of the mountain of forensic evidence the FBI had compiled in its case against Ted, they were determined to get Ted to confess to all the bombings. The tension between James and Ted is palpable, as Ted questions the evidence the FBI has collected and the validity of linguistic forensics. James uses a non guilty plea as a traitor to Teds own manifesto. With an IQ of 168. Ted had become opposed to modern technology and industrialisation, culminating in his mail bombing campaign and a social critique he published as his manifesto. This is an outstanding series that will leave you desperate for the next instalment at the end of each episode. Find this on your favourite add-on and enjoy!
What is the secret for a successful television show in this era of modern television, fragmented audiences and streaming? Dragon’s and zombies seem to help. Failing that, having a solid grasp of all things 80’s is your next best bet. Ladies and gentlemen I give you GLOW. This comedy from Netflix is 10 episodes of hilarity that transports me back to that era from the minute the opening credits start to roll. Everything from the music, the clothes, the hair, even the premise is so 80’s, I want to dust my mullet from my shoulders like a ghost limb! Speaking of premise, GLOW follows a group of women as they make their foray into the world of women’s wrestling and its television debut (The Gorgeous Women of Wrestling). This isn’t the modern version of wrestling that we see today, which looks more like porn without the nudity and sex. No, GLOW follows wrestling from that magical era of Hulk Hogan, The Nature Boy Rick Flair, The Iron Sheikh and Andre The Giant. Your classic match up of good vs evil. This was when wrestling was campy and fun! Both the writing, from creators Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch, and the acting are top shelf here. Alison Brie plays Ruth Wilder; a struggling actor who tends to overact and think her parts. She’s so painful to watch, which is why Brie is so good in this role. Betty Gilpin plays retired soap opera actress Debbie Eagan. Debbie is the star of the show, along with being a new mom and best friend to Ruth. Well, that is until she finds out Ruth has been having an affair with her husband. Lastly, leading the ladies to their wrestling television debut is down and out director Sam Sylvia, played by Marc Maron, who is absolutely hilarious as the insensitive asshole. The show is comedy gold and thankfully has been renewed for a second season. If you don’t have Netflix, you will no doubt find this show in one of your favourite add-ons.
Here’s one I’m really looking forward to! Ozark starring Jason Bateman and Laura Linney is about a seemingly upper middle class family living a normal life in the burbs of Chicago. Husband, wife, two teenage kids, white picket fence, the whole nine yards. It’s the American dream. Peel back a layer and we find Marty (Jason Bateman), is an investor working for a Mexican drug cartel. Shit goes sideways leaving Marty no choice but to uproot the family and go on the run. They hide out in the Missouri Ozarks where life is not as it was in Chicago and one eye constantly looking over their shoulder. This is a departure for Jason Bateman, whose comedy we are all well familiar with. I’m looking forward to seeing him play a more dramatic role and with Laura Linney in the mix, I’m expecting a strong performance. Writers Bill Dubuque and Mark Williams, responsible for The Accountant and The Judge, should give us a gripping story full of depth and suspense. Add this to your Trakt.tv watchlist for future viewing.
Back in the early 80’s, the CIA was involved in trafficking cocaine into the US from Latin America. It’s alleged, the drugs were used to help fund the Rebels fighting the Contra war in Nicaragua. The Reagan Administration, which was in power for those of you old enough to remember, admitted as much however, stopped short of acknowledging any real involvement citing, none of the operatives involved had any authorization to proceed in these dealings and did so unbeknown to their department heads and the United States government. It was the CIA’s involvement in cocaine trafficking that ultimately led to the crack cocaine epidemic. How?? There was too much cocaine on the streets at a time when the U.S was in a recession (Reaganomics). Drug dealers began cutting the cocaine with baking soda to crystallise it into rock form, which they could then sell for a much cheaper price. $10 for a rock of cocaine compared to $100 for a gram. Further, crack produced an addictive high that only lasted 10 min, followed by a crash that made your body crave the drug. This is the story Snowfall intends to tell, focusing on the origin/epicentre that was LA’s Compton district. The key players in this tale are CIA operative Teddy McDonald, ( played by Carter Hudson. ), whose introduction comes after he’s sent to clean up after another CIA operative OD’s. Mexican luchador Gustavo “El Oso” Zapata ( played by Sergio Peris-Mencheta ) and Lucia Villanueva ( played by Emily Rios ). Lucia is the daughter of a crime boss who recruits Gustavo for a job that goes wrong and their lives become intermingled. Lastly, there’s Franklin Saint, (played by Damson Idris ), a young street dealer with an entrepreneurial spirit. Franklin is introduced to Villanueva’s father by coincidence and takes a gamble on a key of cocaine. What a tangled web! I watched the pilot and thought it was pretty good. The story unquestionably has legs and I intend to hang in there to see how it develops. The soundtrack for this show is killer, featuring Donny Hathaway, Run DMC, Eric B. & Rakim and more from that era. The show is brought to you by FX, and rather daring from them I might add. You can stream this via Elysium, Specto and Exodus.
If you’re a fan of the film Spotlight or the Netflix series, Making a Murderer, then add The Keepers to your list of shows to binge watch. This 7 part documentary investigates the unsolved murder of Sister Cathy Cesnik, which took place in Baltimore Maryland in 1970. Sister Cathy Cesnik was a high school teacher at a prestigious all-girls school. Young, bright, caring, loved by her students and all who knew her, she represented the new guard of the catholic church. From the start, there’s more to Sister Cathy Cesnik’s disappearance and subsequent murder then what appears on the surface. This documentary series explores the corruption within the Catholic Church and the Baltimore Police department. Well told and absolutely riveting. If you don’t have a Netflix account, you can stream this series via Stream Hub, Specto and Exodus.
I’m Dying Up Here
I watched the first episode of I’m Dying Up Here and I have to say, I really enjoyed it! This new series from Showtime featuring Jim Carrey as an executive producer on the series, depicts the life of a group of comics trying to make a name for themselves in Hollywood California during the 70’s. It should be said, this is a golden age of comedy when making it onto Johnny Carson was considered the gold standard!! And not just making it onto the greatest late night talk show in history, but being invited by the man himself to come sit on the couch and chat for a bit. That extra nod would make your career, signalling to the rest of the country, you had arrived. Of note, some of this story is based loosely on Jim Carrey’s personal experiences while he was trying to make it in the business. The story is a combination of both drama and of course, comedy. The biggest name in the show would have to be Melissa Leo, whom some of you might recognize from Homicide: Life on the Streets, Treme, Wayward Pines and movies such as Snowden, Oblivion and The Fighter, to name a few. She is a terrific actress. Melissa plays Goldie Herschlag, the proprietor of a comedy club named after her in Hollywood and where all the big names and wanna be’s congregate. Goldie is ruthless with her comic hopefuls and believes she has to be to if these up and comers are to make it in this business. Other names you might recognize include Robert Forrester as Guy Appuzzo, Richard Kind as Marty Dansak, Dylan Baker as Johnny Carson and Clark Duke from Hot Tub Time Machine, as Ron Shack. Do yourself a favour and check this series out. If you don’t have Showtime, you can stream I’m Dying Up Here via Stream Hub, Specto