By BRUCE DENNILL
Title: Attack Of The Hollywood Cliches
Streams on: Netflix
Stars: Rob Lowe
Thoughts: With his tongue so firmly in his cheek it’s a wonder you can hear him speak, Rob Lowe cheerfully eviscerates the industry from which he and thousands of others have made their living – in terms, at least, of the superficiality of the creativity involved. If a formula works, it gets recycled, without necessarily getting refined, and as a result, popular films are riddled with tropes and a level of predictability that should make us as viewers turn up our noses in disdain, but which instead makes relatively few, relatively uninspired individuals in the industry astonishingly rich and powerful. All of this is explored through broad, blunt, un-PC humour and satire, with those tricks of the trade that have become little more than exercises in commercial cynicism getting the sort of treatment fans of subtlety and surprise will long have felt they deserve. And any sort of interest in the film industry, while it will add to your enjoyment, is unnecessary – this is just simply an hilarious hour of comedy.
Binge factor: 5/5 – it’s short, sharp, single sitting stuff.
Streams on: Showmax
Stars: Dwayne Johnson, John David Washington, Rob Corddry
Thoughts: Ridiculously flashy and over the top, Ballers is set in the mega-money world of the NFL in America. It reveals that, as with so much in the worlds of sport and entertainment, the driving force behind the entire set-up is the prodigious riches that can be accumulated via either being involved as a participant (an athlete, in this case) or as a manager of either people or their money. The sport is an add-on; just the webbing in a network of sex, drugs, alcohol and a lust for more money. As such, the glossiness of this scene, in which Johnson’s ex-player Spencer Strasmore attempts to make his name as a money manager and agent after his playing days, is just a screen for the mad scrambling necessary to maintain it. Nobody’s happy; they simply feel that they need to meet expectations. All of that is couched in endless glamour, Johnson’s silk-smooth charm and plenty of rude humour.
Binge factor: 4/5 – it’s a train crash, but the engine is painted gold and powered by whiskey.
Title: Deadwater Fell
Format: Limited series
Streams on: Britbox
Stars: David Tennant, Cush Jumbo, Matthew McNulty
Thoughts: A slow, considered, dark drama, this British series is built around a disaster that implicates a doctor (David Tennant) as the guilty party. The slow series of revelations that makes up the rest of the show is notable for the casual cruelty of the protagonist and how it impacts all of those around him. Everyone connected with him suffers, directly or indirectly, and it is the way these relationships are painstakingly unpacked that keeps viewers engaged.
Binge factor: 3/5 – not easy viewing, but darkly authentic.
Streams on: Netflix
Stars: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Woody Harrelson, Jun Kunimura
Thoughts: Upsides: this violent action flick introduces Mary Elizabeth Winstead as an actress completely capable of carrying a film, and is set in Japan, meaning that the locations in which the scores of people she eliminates from her path are fresh and exciting to the majority of the piece’s viewers. Downsides: Kate is derivative on a number of levels. A protagonist must complete a mission before a deadline (and their own life) expires. A woman succeeds as a top-level assassin because she is misjudged on the basis of her sex. There are others… Ultimately, it’s all well-made enough to make for a couple of hours of entertainment, but you’ll have been here before.
Binge factor: 3/5 – fast-paced and action-packed, but predicatable.
Title: The Flight Attendant
Streams on: Showmax
Stars: Kaley Cuoco, Michiel Huisman, Zosia Mamet
Thoughts: Starting with a scenario in which an air hostess (Kaley Cuoco) wakes up in bed next to a dead man, The Flight Attendant runs as a murder mystery that is at once manic in terms of the actions of its flaky protagonist and stunted in the way it builds up the elements of the plot. Cuoco is a gorgeous, funny presence when she wants to be, but her character here is selfish and annoying, making it difficult to care whether she is guilty or not, or whether there are consequences for her or not. And with the script leaping around all over the place to make an unlikely plot make sense, it soon becomes frustrating.
Binge factor: 2/5 – if you can put up with the production’s foibles.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_widget_sidebar sidebar_id=”default_sidebar”][/vc_column][/vc_row]