Hunted (Season 1): 1 year after a botched murder attempt secret agent Alex Kent must find out who betrayed her, whilst carrying out a new mission for her private contract company. The production values on this are through the roof – it always looks more like a film than TV series (Going for the Luther / HBO vibe). A few characters stand out as good, including the botoxed lead Melissa George, but the rest are all definitely TV standard. The writing’s solid, with the current mission dramatically unfolding, as well as several well-connected revenge storylines weave through the central drama. As the season progresses and the plot thickens the show really grabs you – but – like with almost every modern TV show the greedy prospect of a second season made the writers go for a disappointingly limp finale that fails to conclude the bigger mysteries in the story, and (more annoyingly) raises even more last-minute questions. It’s a sour ending to what’s otherwise a top spy/thriller/espionage thriller show.
Happy Endings (aka Winter Passing): when a struggling actress is offered some quick cash for her famous mother and father’s early love letters, she goes back home to weigh up her choices. First-off, this is Ms Deschanel being quirky and indie to the max: the movie opens with her singing at the 2 minute mark, and playing the piano within 15 mins so be prepared for full-on mopey, morose and tedious Zooey. It’s not just her though, every character is defined by their quirks and eccentricities, which makes them all memorable, but annoyingly the film ends up containing more randomness than a green flamingo in a roller-skate carrying a backpack full of iguana-flavoured blancmange. Don’t be fooled though, there’s some good moments of acting in here, particularly Ed Harris and Will Ferrel, who both go beyond their stereotyping and comfort zones. If you love a bit of shoe-gazing solemn quirkiness this will be right up your trendy street.
Cheer up goth!
Silver Linings Playbook: after a mental breakdown and bi-polar diagnosis, Pat Solitano strikes up a relationship with an equally challenged family friend. STOP PRESS! HOLD THE PHONE! Someone somewhere managed to find a very good performance in Robert De Niro, how the hell did they do it? Both leads are also way above what’s required and expected from ‘rom-com’ standards, and both deliver solid, believable, performances as afflicted people. The story’s engaging and interesting, right up until the final act where it runs through the entire checklist for clichéd movie endings. In saying that, you don’t really grudge the ending as the laugh-count in the first two-thirds of the film was ridiculously high (again) compared to what you usually get in a rom-com. The only thing that kept pinching me was that both leads are ridiculously good-looking Hollywood A-listers, centered around an interesting, unconventional relationship – those two roles could have been brilliant breakthrough fodder for unknowns, but in a way, they still are eye-opening performances, and you wouldn’t want to change the casting of Cooper or Lawrence. Silver Linings Playbook is a surprisingly funny and enjoyable quirky rom-com.
Win Win: A lawyer-cum-wrestling coach gets more than he bargained for when assuming custody of an elderly client. From the very first scene this is clearly an Indie Flick, but you can also tell straight away that it has more potential than most. The casting is very strong: Giamatti‘s looking a bit jowly but does his everyman thing; the main kid actor (Shaffer – first film role) is very watchable – great presence already; not-quite-Billy-Zane/Andy-Garcia (Cannavale) also plays a blinder with an amazingly dark undertone. Although it’s a textbook underdog / misunderstood intentions story it’s very watchable, and the family aspect in particular is compelling. More than anything else, Win Win is subtly funny, and enjoyable to watch.