• 2018

Year: 2018

Mr. Mercedes — “Bates Motel” meets “Mr. Robot”

Mr. Mercedes,  an Audience (DirecTV) mystery-thriller original series, is based on the Stephen King trilogy “Mr. Mercedes”, “Finders Keepers” and “End of Watch”.  The macabre master again conjures alarming boundary-breaking drama, this time in economically depressed Bridgton, Ohio. The opening scene is horrific: a Mercedes sedan mows down a crowd of job-seekers waiting late at night for the next morning’s job fair to open. A few of those waiting in line have babies. A massacre occurs, but the viewer does not know who the driver is or what motivates...

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“BlacKkKlansman”: Part of the American Fabric?

  A  Spike Lee film about white supremacy, BlacKkKlansman is based on Ron Stallworth’s 2006 memoir, which eviscerates the hideous social structures of racism in the US. In 1979 Stallworth (played by newcomer, John David Washington, son of Denzel Washington) becomes the first black detective in Colorado Springs’s police department. The police chief warns Stallworth:  “We’ve never had a black police officer. So you’ll be the Jackie Robinson of the Colorado Springs police department.” Assigned to be an undercover cop at a black power student rally, Stallworth is to gather intelligence...

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The Devil’s Backbone–Peter Pan meets “The Shape of Water”

The Devil’s Backbone (2001) (Spanish: El espinazo del diablo), directed and co-written by Guillermo del Toro, was independently produced by Pedro Almodóvar and foreshadows his Academy Award winning “The Shape of Water” (see my March 19, 2018 review). Set in 1939 during the final year of the Spanish Civil War, we see in the opening scene an orphanage in the middle of a solitary dessert. A deactivated bomb is standing in the courtyard. An unexpecting twelve- year-old, Carlos, is left by his guardian and almost immediately bullied by two other orphan boys. On a dare to sneak...

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“20 Feet From Stardom”–Stellar Performers

In the wake of the passing of Aretha Franklin, Queen of Soul, 20 Feet from Stardom will resonate more than ever. The mainly female backup singers featured in 20 Feet From Stardom are all daughters of preachers, as was Aretha Franklin, who fine-tuned their extraordinary singing voices in the church choir while very, very young. Director Morgan Neville connects Gospel, Blues, and Soul to these roots of Rock and Roll. You may not recognize the names or faces of Darlene Love, Lisa Fischer, and Merry Clayton, but you will surely recognize their unforgettable voices. Love has been elected to the...

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The Tunnel–Seasons 2 and 3

  The Tunnel Seasons 2 and 3 continue the tension from the first season, with a British and French detective partnership (Karl Roebuck and Elise Wasserman respectively) again working to solve a heinous series of crimes. (See my August 7, 2016 review of season 1: “The Tunnel–Turf War or Building Bridges”.) Both season 2 and 3 seamlessly continue the tension, though by different writers and directors. In Season 2 (“Sabotage”) the main plot is trying to figure out why a commercial airliner was hacked to override the autopilot, crashing in the ocean, killing everyone...

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Calibre–A Bullet Through the Heart

This bloodpressure-raising thriller opens with two best buddies, Vaughn Carter (Jack Lowden) and Marcus Trenton (Martin McCann), deciding to go on a guys’ weekend hunting trip to a remote village in the Scottish Highlands. Nothing could prepare them…or us… for what happens. Calibre tests the friends’ relationship and their moral character as Vaughan has to deal with his future as a father (with his expectant wife almost due to deliver) and his drug-addled best friend Marcus.   In its best moments, Calibre is part “Deliverance” and part “Dogville”....

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