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Newsroom HBO Election Coverage Aaron Sorkin, Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, John Gallagher, Jr., Alison Pill, Thomas Sadoski, Dev Patel, Olivia Munn, Sam Waterston, Hope Davis, Chris Chalk

The Newsroom (Season 1): a news team bring their show back to old-school and trustworthy coverage of the stories that really matter – which proves to be a controversial decision for the network and the viewers. The first thing you have to tune in to is writer Aaron Sorkin’s unrealistic ping-pong-ping-pong rapid fire dialogue. Sorkin feels like the Tarantino of scriptwriting, everything seems to make it to the screen unedited, and you can hear him through the lines, smugly asking you: “Can you hear just how smart this show is!? Did you catch that cultural reference!? Can you keep up OK? Are you impressed? Please admire me…” The show is split into two main areas – the elite production team that are trying to bring facts and ethics back into news broadcasting, and two personal love dramas between various employees. The news stuff/cable network politics is absolutely dynamite and I could watch it all day; it’s dramatic, informative, well-researched, well-written, eye-opening, and makes for some of the best acting, speeches, and #scenes I can remember watching. The love angles on the other hand completely torpedo the show: it’s old writers writing unrealistic dialogue for youths; actors struggling to play dated neurotic caricatures; stretched out sub-Dawson’s Creek relationship arcs. I hate fingering people out, but it child over-actor Alison Pill plays the most unlikable love-interest in history – a terrible actress/character combo. To top off the stupidity, there’s a throughline of abysmal slapstick moments like people walking in to doors, falling over objects, ‘hilariously’ struggling to put trousers on, and general ACME antics that would perfectly match this song. When one of the female characters gets splashed by a passing Sex and the City tour bus playing the show’s theme song, I wanted to chew my fists off – this potentially great show is jumping sharks in season 1.

Newsroom HBO Will Anchor Aaron Sorkin, Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, John Gallagher, Jr., Alison Pill, Thomas Sadoski, Dev Patel, Olivia Munn, Sam Waterston, Hope Davis, Chris Chalk

It’s ironic that a ‘highbrow’ concept about how stupid TV has become, decides to devote over half of its runtime to shitty, banal and moronic will-they/won’t-they love stories, aimed squarely at the very idiots it’s trying to scold. Worse still, this is clearly Sorkin’s idea as HBO doesn’t tend to shy away from serious, engaging, and intellectual television. More than anything else, it’s a shame that the scathing, and brutally honest critique of US mainstream culture (especially tabloid press & broadcasting) loses out to second-rate soap opera stories. I can’t remember any other TV show that is so brilliant at some things (news, drama, dialogue), and inept at others (relationships, interactions, dialogue). You’ll be fist-pumping the air one minute, then tensing up in maximum cringe mode at the next. It gives with one hand, then pisses all over both of your hands. I could watch Jeff Daniels and Sam Waterson all day – and there’s a phenomenal mini series praying to be edited out of this – but in the current form, The Newsroom is one of the most frustrating TV shows you’ll ever watch.

Score: 4/10

Newsroom Cast AMC Aaron Sorkin, Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, John Gallagher, Jr., Alison Pill, Thomas Sadoski, Dev Patel, Olivia Munn, Sam Waterston, Hope Davis, Chris Chalk

Newsroom Sexy Sloan Hot Aaron Sorkin, Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, John Gallagher, Jr., Alison Pill, Thomas Sadoski, Dev Patel, Olivia Munn, Sam Waterston, Hope Davis, Chris Chalk

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City Island: Centers ’round a prison guard correctional officer that secretly wants to become an actor, and many other secrets within his dysfunctional family. Despite being a family-based ‘comedy of errors’ (which should be boring by now) this totally works, mostly because of its brilliant little story, that remains interesting, and never loses the pace. It’s also funnier than a lot of all-out ‘comedies’, with a whole heap of scenes and jokes that range from observational to the absurd, to the cringey – peaking in a fantastic audition, and final 15 minutes. Although you usually watch actors trying play inexperienced actors through your fingers Garcia plays a total blinder here, going the full range and nailing every scene. Everyone else in the film is also great, nobody lets the side down. The only minor downer is the convenient-yet-convoluted plot – although the film needs it, and it does work itself out in the end. There’s also a bizarre feeder/BBW side story that isn’t 100% utilised or wrapped up. City Island will no doubt prove to be a sleeper DVD hit, as it’s an absolute stunner of an indie gem, that strikes a great balance between natural comedy and emotive moments.

Score: 8/10

Redbelt: (Blu Ray) Follows a badass martial artist – that goes around unintentionally making everyone else look rubbish – and his nagging wife as they end up in the world’s biggest cluster fuck. For the record, this one’s all story and no action, with what has to be the worst main ‘non-fight’ ever. There’s almost no fisticuffs throughout and what little action you do see is comprised of 1-2 second shots that doesn’t really flow like MMA should. This is made more annoying because the soundtrack really gets you pumped up for a big rumble several times. Fighting gripes aside the story’s a tour de force in every sense of the word, although it gets a bit unlikely towards the end. It’s masterfully told / directed and superbly acted; Ejiofor and Mortimer in particular standout despite all the distracting big-name athletes, actors and personalities that pop up throughout. The BD picture’s sharp, but there’s nothing eye-popping on show, the sound however is immense, crisp and feels very natural – a pretty impressive disc.  The judges score; marketing this as a ‘fighting’ film (Sony Fight Factory Label) is like branding The Blind Side an American Football movie, Borat an Educational one or Crank ‘good’… you do feel totally cheated; but what was on show is great.

Score: 5/10