Tag Archives: Netflix

How I Became a Star Trek Fan @startrekcbs #startrekdiscovery

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In this post, I wanna share how I became a dedicated Star Trek fan.

NOTE: this article originally came out in 2017

Ever since I heard that a new Star Trek series (Star Trek: Discovery) was definitely for real actually happening, to be released this year, I’ve been super hyped and also a bit scared — what if it doesn’t live up to my hopes?

As you can tell, I’m a massive Trekkie… Or Trekker… whatever, I don’t care, but that’s for another post. In this post, I wanna share how I became a dedicated Star Trek fan.

I was born in 1984. When I was a kid, back in the dark days when the UK only had four channels and we heard mythical stories about how in America they had FORTY, the replays of the original Trek were always on the telly at weekends. But I never paid attention. It was just another rubbishy show from the ’60s. It barely registered in my consciousness. I much preferred Land of the Giants(!)

Fast forward to age nine-ish. Star Trek: The Next Generation, the Trek reboot, had been running for several years and still I didn’t notice. And then one day, a season five episode came on: Cause and Effect. It involves the Starship Enterprise being stuck in a timeloop; the same catastrophe-tainted day keeps repeating itself. Think sci-fi horror version of Groundhog Day, or the film Triangle, but in space, and with dodgier make-up and production values. I was sold.

I won’t ruin the episode for you. Check it out on Netflix! But it marks the sort of intelligent, mind-bending stories that were par for the course in Trek. Every time a new mindbender or time-travel flick comes out, like Looper, I love it. But I always refer people to Trek.

If you’re new to Star Trek, here’s a few more episodes you might want to take a look at (all currently available on Netflix):

  • The Visitor (Deep Space Nine, series 4 episode 2): another great time-travel episode.
  • Hard Time (Deep Space Nine, series 4 episode 18): the psychology of guilt and suffering.
  • In The Pale Moonlight (Deep Space Nine, series 6 episode 19): the hardship of keeping your principles in war.
  • Trials and Tribble-ations (Deep Space Nine, series 5 episode 6): a good example of the lighter-hearted side of Trek, which pays homage to the original series with some neat special effects.

Sadly, no matter how I wax lyrical about the virtues of Trek, nobody’s buying it. The rubber ears, the dodgy acting, the huge number of episodes where, yes, nothing really happens. Sadly, TV has moved on. There is no Trek that fits modern conventions. For example, series are now limited to around ten episodes a season, there are no “one-off” episodes, and it’s all about moving the plot forward. The closest Trek came to this, and arguably it was instrumental in pre-empting the current trend, was the Dominion War story arc from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (my favourite incarnation of Trek, for what it’s worth).

But now with Star Trek: Discovery, I hope a new Trek for a new televisual era will be born, a Trek that captures the imagination of the young as much as the new Star Wars films have, as much as that episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation captured mine some twenty plus years ago.

© 2017, 2021 Bryan A. J. Parry

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Film Review: “The Woman in the Window” (2021) #150WordReview

A really good movie, albeit…

Agoraphobic divorcee Anna Fox (Amy Adams) is increasingly losing touch with reality, most of her days are spent staring out of her window and spying on her neighbours. But one day she witnesses her next door neighbour, and sole friend, Jane Russell (Julianne Moore) murdered in her own house. However, when the police check it out, it turns out that her neighbour is well and alive, but is not the woman that Anna knows (Jennifer Jason Leigh).

Is Anna crazy, or is there a cover-up afoot? The Woman in the Window is a thrilling mystery crime drama. Off-kilter performances and direction with several twists.

There is a vaguely Scream-esque aspect to the final reveal, but done straight-faced. That’s not necessarily a good thing. Other aspects of the film are slightly derivative. None-the-less, the movie was well acted, logically scripted, and compellingly directed.

A really good movie, albeit one which underuses its wonderful cast.

3/5

© 2021 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://www.aceshowbiz.com/images/still/woman-window-poster01.jpg

Series Review “Unorthodox” (2020) #NetflixReviews #100WordReview

Powerful

Unorthodox is the story of Esther (Shira Haas), a nineteen year old from a Hasidic Jewish community in New York, who tries to flee her arranged marriage and authoritarian community to build a new life for herself. But will her community, or her husband, let her escape?

Unorthodox is, I believe, the first Netflix series shot in Yiddish, which makes it notable. It’s an engrossing story which paints a powerful picture of a repressive community without ever getting into Judaism-bashing. The limited series was infused with realism.

Powerful.

4/5

© 2021 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://www.kveller.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/unorthodox.jpg

Film Review “The Motive” a.k.a. “El Autor” (2017) #150WordReview #NetflixReviews

Beautifully portrayed by sociopath-on-demand Javier Gutiérrez

Álvaro (Javier Gutiérrez) is a worn-out notary who harbours dreams of becoming a successful writer of high literature and is thoroughly tired of people constantly going on about his successful wife Amanda’s (María Leon) latest novel. “Writing about what you know” doesn’t yield great results when you’re a boring clerk, so Alvaro decides to cause conflict in his own life and the life of those around him in the hope that this will bring better results.

The Motive a.k.a. El Autor (‘The Author’) is a slow-moving, delicate yet thrilling character study. Beautifully portrayed by sociopath-on-demand Javier Gutiérrez (see The Occupant), we can see the cogs turning in Álvaro’s brain by the slightest pause or flicker of the eyes. Gutiérrez brings everything to this highly believable portrayal.

The script, based on Javier Cercas’ 1987 novella, is highly believable. But despite its strengths, this film will not to be everyone’s tastes. There isn’t a lot of “action”, but there is a lot of scheming. Nonetheless, a fantastic movie.

4/5

© 2020-2021 Bryan A. J. Parry

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Film Review “Retribution” a.k.a. ‘El Desconocido’ (2015) #100WordReview #NetflixReview

a 102 minute long white knuckle ride

When Carlos (Luis Tosar) decides to take his kids to school one morning, he imagines that the breakfast time argument with his wife Marta (Goya Toledo) is the worst thing that would happen to him. Little does he know that his car is rigged to a bomb which will explode when they leave the car. But who is this mystery stranger responsible, and what does he want?

Retribution a.k.a. El Desconocido (‘The Stranger’) is a 102 minute long white knuckle ride, a crime-action-thriller so tense that I found myself agitatedly yelling at the screen. Believable, and with good performances from our leads including the stranger (Javier Gutiérrez).

Taut.

4/5

© 2020-2021 Bryan A. J. Parry

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Film Review “Wildling” (2018) #NetflixReview

when her daddy is played by the mercurial Brad Dourif, you know things aren’t as straightforward as she has been led to believe.

Anna has spent her whole life locked in a cabin in the woods with her daddy, the last survivors of an apocalypse where the monstrous “wildlings” devoured all of mankind. Now blossoming into teenagehood, she finds herself seeing things in a way she hadn’t considered before. And anyway, when her daddy is played by the mercurial Brad Dourif, you know things aren’t as straightforward as she has been led to believe.

Wildling is a fantasy-horror which does not fit the mould. An unusual film, it not so much twists and turns, as it is surprises us as it wends its way. This film will not appeal to everyone. Why? Its very genre changes as the film goes on; we see the ground shift beneath us and suddenly things are different again. Therefore, being a bit of a genre-bending pic, it won’t be pure horror enough to satisfy some horror fans, nor fantastical enough for many of the fantasy crowd, and it just has too much everyday drama for the first two groups. None-the-less, this is an entertaining, original film which sucks you into its world.

There are great performances from the aforesaid Dourif and his fellow players. Especially good is Collin Kelly-Sordelet who gives a sensitive and believable performance as Ray, Ellen’s younger brother, a quirky outsider himself who is able to connect with Anna. These strong performances are the iron track that this quirky tale runs assuredly on.

Wildling was Fritz Böhm’s first feature length screenplay. He did so well that he’s obviously become a trusted quantity as he will be directing the upcoming Escape Room 2 (2021).

A wonderful tale that, while not everyone’s cup of tea, should be sampled by all.

3/5

© 2020-2021 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://image.tmdb.org/t/p/original/bp0ZDMa2e85nj5T9Maiv1U4qU0l.jpg

Film Review “Fragile” (2005) #NetflixReview #150WordReview

subpar

A nurse struggling to overcome a recent tragedy starts work at a rundown hospital where an evil presence menace the young wards under her charge.

Fragile features a measured and convincing performance from Calista Flockhart. Sadly, her co-stars don’t quite convince, especially Elena Anaya (nurse Helen) and mandatory mental kid Maggie, Yasmin Murphy.

The story was fairly generic, but none-the-less decently constructed. It’s just that this is something we’ve seen many times before. None-the-less, the “abandoned” part of the hospital has a believably thick and creepy atmosphere, highly believable, and this kept us watching (more-or-less).

Not bad stuff at all, but subpar and fairly forgettable. Better execution from all players and the special effects department is what Flockhart deserved for her performance.

2/5

© 2021 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://horrormovies.gr/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/fragile-2005.jpg

Netflix Film Reviews “Eye for an Eye” a.k.a. “Quien a Hierro Mata” (2019) #NetflixReviews

if you can suspend your disbelief … enjoy the ride

Mario (Luis Tosar), a nurse in an old folks’ home, and Antonio Padin (Xan Cejudo), a legendary drug lord now residing there, make an unlikely double act. But when they meet, they just seem to hit it off, almost as if they have a bond which runs deeper. Certainly, they’re bonded by suffering.

Mario looks forward to a bright new life with his heavily pregnant wife Julia (Maria Vazquez) whilst trying to push away demons from his past which just won’t lie. Meanwhile, our feared drug lord Antonio has interred himself in an old folks’ home and is just waiting the inevitable while his two sons, Kiko (Enric Auquer) and Tono (Ismael Martinez), busily ruin his empire.

Eye for an Eye a.k.a. Quien a Hierro Mata (‘Who Kills Iron’) is a story of pain and revenge, it has some truly shocking moments. For the most part, a believable film, but my only issue is that the entire second half hangs on a very James Bond Villain’s Speech which one character gives to another; without this speech, the film doesn’t crank up a gear, yet it was totally unbelievable that this particular character should launch into that monologue. But if you can suspend your disbelief, then you can enjoy the ride.

A great character study set against the background of a drugs deal gone awry.

4/5

© 2020-2021 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://pics.filmaffinity.com/quien_a_hierro_mata-621396350-large.jpg

Series Review “Age of Samurai: Battle for Japan” (2021) #200WordReview #AgeofSamurai #NetflixReview

Game of Thrones… set in Japan

1551. A brutal and bloody civil war has ravaged Japan for a hundred years, ferocious warlords have been locked in a death struggle for supremacy in the fractured land. Age of Samurai: Battle for Japan tells the tale of that era and how, through a painful birth, the modern Japan would be born.

Age of Samurai is a limited docuseries featuring the usual shtick: talking heads, narration, recreations with actors, and maps. So many juicy, juicy maps. However, it’s the way you tell ’em, and Age of Samurai has some wonderful acting, artfully but not distractingly shot talking heads, lush graphics, phenomenal editing, and a narrative structure that sucks us in. Forget anime and manga: this series is a gateway drug to Japanese culture. My only criticism is later important characters sometimes just pop up instead of being mentioned or having their importance artfully foreshadowed.

A kind of real life Game of Thrones… set in Japan, the twists and turns were riveting. I’ve never much been interested in Japanese history, but this has started a fever in my brain; let’s see where that fever leads.

Beautiful. Thrilling. Immersive. Inspiring.

4/5

© 2020-2021 Bryan A. J. Parry

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Film Review “Live Twice, Love Once” a.k.a. “Vivir Dos Veces” (2019) #150WordReview

a geriatric Road Trip

Live Twice, Love Once a.k.a. Vivir Dos Veces (‘Live Twice’) is the touching story of a retired university lecturer Emilio (Oscar Martinez) who, upon being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, decides to track down the one who got away. Think of it as a geriatric Road Trip, with a less severe neurodegenerative disorder.

Funny and heart-warming, all four of our leads convince and the characters win our hearts. Emilio, a passive-aggressive and sardonic old stick-in-the-mud; Julia (Inma Cuesta), his somewhat naggy but deeping caring daughter; Blanca (Mafalda Carbonell), the cheese to her grandfather’s chalk; and Julia’s online life coach husband Felipe (Nacho Lopez), more believable and less zany than you’d think.

The change in Emilio’s very personality is poignant, and the trip (literal and metaphorical) which our characters embark on is by turns funny and touching. However, I felt there was something lacking in the somewhat forced double climax to the movie.

A lovely picture.

3/5

© 2020-2021 Bryan A. J. Parry

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