A New Year’s Resolution

It’s my hope to keep this blog going in 2015, despite a hectic writing schedule that has sadly left Can You Tell a Story at the bottom of my to do list. Still, I’m happy to announce, I’ve found a new home for Netflix reviews at Terra Magnum.

Can You Tell a Story

Here’s my latest review on Netflix’s The Killing.

If you haven’t watched it, do so now. It’s up among the greatest crime dramas, and I’m happy to have been late to this party so I could binge watch it, even if it meant this blog fell by the wayside…

Here’s a trailer of all four seasons for good measure:

I will keep you posted on those reviews as well as any news and reports about upcoming projects I’m excited about.

Cheers to 2015!

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What to watch TV: True Detective

For an actor I once dismissed because of ridiculous cookie-cutter rom-coms, Matthew McConaughey’s recent string of outstanding performances have not only turned me into a fan, but I’ll tune in to almost anything in which he is cast.  And since I’m currently obsessed with crime dramas, well, his new mini-series is now pre-recorded on my PVR. 

Two of my favourite actors, McConaughey and Woody Harrelson star in a new 8 part HBO miniseries True Detective about a 17 year hunt for a serial killer in Louisiana.

Has to be magic.

Grantland posted an early, rather critical, in-depth, review of the series and while I hope to disagree with Andy Greenwald’s opinion, though I’m sure I’ll relate to it, I was thankful to see the series’ two stars are worth watching:

“And it’s thrilling to see movie stars like McConaughey and Harrelson crackling in nearly every scene. They’re not slumming in TV, they’re soaring. Both are at the top of their game, though McConaughey in particular seems to be playing a different sport altogether: His True Detective turn comes smack in the middle of one of the more remarkable career resurrections in recent memory, immediately after a role that should get him an Oscar nomination (as unlikely activist Ron Woodroof in the excellent Dallas Buyers Club) and just before one that will likely break records at the box office (as the handpicked lead ofInterstellar, Christopher Nolan’s first movie after parking the Batmobile). Of course, Harrelson is no slouch, either: Between acts of grand theft cinema in smaller flicks likeSeven Psychopaths, he has kept busy collecting paychecks and a new generation of fans in the money-printing Hunger Games franchise. The two could have been anywhere else on earth during the long months it took to film True Detective, but they chose to be here, slipping in bayou mud and dodging crawfish shells. That desire is palpable in their performances.”

Creator: Nic Pizzolatto
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson and Michelle Monaghan.

Air date: Sunday, January 12th, 2014.

Get ready: Oldboy (2013)

oldboy2013

Back in January, I expressed my utter disappointment that Hollywood was remaking the South Korean Classic, Oldboy.  There is no way Hollywood could do justice to this art- house oeuvre…unless they found an incredible director…one who might be a little heavy handed with his politics but still creates imaginative films that sit on the periphery of Hollywood mainstream…someone who is internationally well-liked so as not to offend any Oldboy purists…someone like Spike Lee?  That’s right.  Spike Lee directs this horrific tale about a man desperate to understand why he was inexplicably imprisoned for 15 years.  The cast is pretty decent and the trailer is enough to make us understand that it’s different but the same.

Directed by: Spike Lee
Adapted by: Mark Protosevich whose credits at least include The Cell.
Starring: Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen, Samuel L. Jackson, Hannah Simone, James Ransone and Sharlto Copley.

Release date: November 27th, 2013 (USA)

The trailer is barely watchable.  First time I’ve ever seen the red screen.

It’s going on my watchlist.

Best Television Dramas: Honourable Mentions

Here are two shows that I feel have been somewhat undervalued this summer – kind of like indie films in the wake of Hollywood blockbusters.  They are gripping dramas that have kept me glued to my television long after bed time.  This is what you should turn to next if you’ve exhausted the top ten.

1.  RAY DONOVAN

raydonavon

My one complaint about this show is that Ray Donovan spends more time fixing his family than the Hollywood starlets that make up his bread and butter.  This show is smart, crass, violent, endearing, melodramatic and highly performance driven.  Jon Voigt will make your skin crawl and you’ll want to be Ray Donovan.

Rating:  Perfect show for bingeing.

Airs: Showtime, Sundays at 10pm.  Only three episodes left of season 1.

IMDb:  Unrated. ??    metacritic:  75%

2.  BROADCHURCH

broadchurch

This 8-part murder mystery is one of the best shows I’ve seen in awhile (and the most Tweeted about show in Britain when it aired this summer).   It is not only a highly suspenseful whodunnit but also a character-driven piece that is beautifully acted and emotionally resonant.  While the story may not be original (given the number of crime dramas readily available at the moment), the deftly handled direction creates an intimacy between the audience and this small town trying to cope with the murder of an 11 year old boy.  We watch in horror as friends and partners turn on each other, and with suspicion when the press gets involved.  The show is wonderfully crafted with exquisite performances from the two leads who, as mismatched partners, offer something new to an old trope.

Rating: Keep in mind, I have yet to watch The KIlling or Top of the Lake, but this show will feel new and different.  It will make you angry, make you laugh and break your heart.

IMDb:  8.2       metacritic: 91%

1. Breaking Bad

breaking bad

Of course it is.  No television drama has been talked about more this summer than Breaking Bad.  Since its August 11th premier, social media has been bombarded with references, quotes, images, theories, opinions and recaps of the show’s fifth and final season.  So much so, that it is the only drama on television that invites celebrities onto a panel to talk about episodes right after they air (Edit note – I was mistaken.  Apparently AMC does this for all their dramas).  From what I can understand, the craziest part of the frenzy is that it is well deserved, with each new episode topping the last and not a second of air time wasted in this crime thriller about a former chemistry teacher who starts a meth lab.  I’m not sure if I’m disappointed with myself that I stopped after the first season or if I’m excited that I have four seasons to catch up on and witness how great television is made.  Guaranteed this series will go down in history.

Rating:  Now it all makes sense.  No other television show has consistently improved over the course of its run.  In fact, most shows dip here and there and have a hard time living up to their first season.  Not so with Breaking Bad.  From its first season ranking of 74%, the drama has consistently climbed to 85%, 89%, 96% to this season’s whopping 99% ranking – nothing comes close on this list.

IMDb:  9.4     metacritic: Season 1, 74%

3. Dexter

dexter

Dexter is a show that I came across and started watching because I liked the premise: a television drama about a serial killer who is also the narrator, protagonist and quasi-hero. The narrative voice was literary, believable and astonishing.  The crimes were interesting, the characters wonderful.  I was obsessed with this show for two seasons.  How or why I stopped is beyond me, other than to say that the fall of the video store and the rise of streaming has reintroduced me to a lot of television I loved but let slide through my fingers.  Right now, in it’s 8th and final season everyone is not only back on board, they are talking about it; they are gearing up for Sunday nights rather than waiting to watch it online.  This is television at its best.

Ranking:  Dexter must be everyone’s guilty pleasure because the general Metacritic rating is in the high 70s (only seasons 2 and 7 are above 80%)  whereas IMDB ranks it at a 9.0. Season 6 has the lowest Metacritic rating on this list at 63%.  Keep in mind, however, that Dexter is also the longest running drama on this list and every show that goes the distance has one or two seasons that don’t measure up.

IMDb: 9.0     metacritic: Season 1, 77%

Trailers I Like: American Hustle

Yes, that’s Christian Bale with a comb-over.  May this man never stop acting.

 

Directed by: David O. Russell
Written by: Eric Singer and David O. Russell
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Robert De Niro, Michael Peña and Louis C.K.

Aside from reuniting the cast of Silver Linings Playbook, this is on my watch list.  It seems more tailored to David O. Russell’s style than his last. I’m also looking forward to seeing Amy Adams shed her good-girl image for a change.  Fingers crossed!

Release date: Christmas Day