Tina (2021) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Directors:  Daniel LindsayT.J. Martin. Cast: Angela BassettTina TurnerOprah Winfrey, Ike Turner, Erwin Bach, Kurt Lode.

A great Tina Turner fan may see this documentary differently probably wanting to see more or to hear more, but as a casual Turner listener and somebody who was obvious to most of what I’ve just seen this was almost the perfect biography. It gave me enough to understand her greatness, her achievements, her story and get inside her mind like very few of these types of film do. Right from the start when she announces that her life wasn’t a good life and that the “bad” outdid the “good” you just sit up and listen. This is as candid and insightful as some of the best documentaries can get and by the time the ending comes along and you’ve been on the full journey I have to confess I found the epilogue overwhelmingly emotional.This is a survival story. A celebration of a truly remarkable woman, from the time when she first appeared on TV, performed in Las Vegas, through a nightmare which never seemed to finish, to her amazing comeback as a middle-aged woman and ending with her performing to a massing crowd of 186,000 people in Rio: it’s Inspiring, moving, empowering.

The documentary has some great archive material and some really strong interviews with only the people who matter.At times it’s slightly repetitious and it could have done with a few trims, but the end point is so strong that I was able to forgive it all.

On Sky in the UK and HBO in the US.

The White Tiger

WHITE TIGER, ​Adarsh Gourav ​as ​Balram​, ​Priyanka Chopra ​as ​Pinky Madam ​in WHITE TIGER​. Cr. ​SINGH TEJINDER​/NETFLIX ​© ​2020

The White Tiger ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Director: Ramin Bahrani. Cast: Adarsh GouravRajkummar RaoPriyanka Chopra,

Adapted by the Man Booker Prize winner novel from 2008, this Oscar nominated film by Iraniana-American Ramin Bahrani is at its heart a rag-to-ritches story which turns to a trip to hell and then back again. It is also a gripping story about inequality, corruption, class war and contradictions of contemporary India seen through the incredibly expressive eyes of a driver working for a massively rich family.

There are similarities with Last year Oscar winner “Parasite” especially how it slowly turns something much sinister than one might think at the start and how it uses using crime and unexpected violence to expose the inequalities in modern India (in a similar way as “parasite” had done for South Korea).Adarsh Gourav is spectacularly good in the main role of Bahrani often doing so much with just a simple smile: he is sweet, naive, honest to start with, until rage and frustration born out of injustice will make him into something quite different (a white tiger, as the title suggests).

This is really not your typical Bollywood India film, nobody breaks out to dance (though somebody at some point does sing), there’s no love story and things are doing to turn pretty dark. Poverty is real, the inequalities are stark and no winning lottery will turn your life around (There’s even a very intentional poke at “Slumdog Millionaire”).

It is a slick, sharp, fast-paced satire, with an epic sweeping feel to it. I found utterly compelling and very entertaining.

On Netflix.

The X-Files (S1.Ep15) – “Lazarus”

The X-Files – Season 1 – Episode 15 “Lazarus” ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Director:David Nutter Writers: Chris CarterAlex GansaHoward Gordon Casa: David DuchovnyGillian AndersonChristopher Allport 

A potentially interesting (though rather unoriginal) premise about body-switching which could be straight our of a twilight zone episode. Unfortunately the writers don’t seem to know what to do with it beyond the intriguing beginning. Overall the episode is certainly not one of the best episodes, at least it its execution: not much tension or horror, or anything that makes the X-Files so compelling as a series. I blame the writers more than the director who I know can deliver something really solid when he wants to. The episode does however give the character of Scully a chance to experience the paranormal at its fullest, shaking her believes a little bit and even though It’ll take a few season until she comes around to “truly believe”, it is a step towards the right direction.

Hilariously “Entertainment Weekly” described this episode as “as exciting as Scully’s taste in men”… haha. I enjoyed it a bit more than they did.

The One and Only Ivan

The One and Only Ivan (2020) ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Director: Thea Sharrock. Cast: Sam RockwellBryan CranstonPhillipa Soo , Chaka Khan, Mike White, Angelina Jolie, Helen Mirren, Danny DeVito, Ramon Rodriguez.

A harmless and charming little film with some truly astonishing visual effects, which are so good that in fact you might not even notice they are actually effects: believe it or not, no animals were used in this film at all! “The One and Only Ivan” has quite rightly been nominated for its CGI work at the Oscars. It is so well done that somehow it makes even the animals talking to one another believable.

Taken from a children’s book with the same name, which was itself inspired by a real story (plenty of that in the credits), this is as gentle as any Disney-produced films I’ve seen in a long time. Hardly a baddie or a scene of peril throughout and even if it features some animals in cages to start with, there’s a happy ending around the corner and there’s no suffering in sight. Even its “captor” (Brian Cranston) is a good man at heart. A good solid cast rounds it all up: Sam Rockwell, Danny DeVito, Angelina Jolie (also producer of the film) and the slightly wasted Phillipa Soo, Chaka Khan and Helen Mirren.

It’s the perfect film for kids and families, full of life lessons, about both animals and humans, but if you are a bit of a cynic, you may find its slow pace, predictable storyline and lack of thrills a bit of a turn off.

On DisneyPlus

Also it’s probably a little bit too “by-the-number” to make any serious impact on its audience. No big laughs and big tears, at least not here, but we were all left with a smile on our faces.

The X-Files (S1.Ep14) – “Genderbender”

The X-Files – Season 1 – Episode 14 “Genderbender” ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Director: Rob Bowman. Writers: Chris CarterLarry BarberPaul Barber. Cast: David DuchovnyGillian AndersonBrent Hinkley, Michele Goodger, Nicholas Lea,

An X-Files with the Amish… or something like that.

This is an interesting one: it sets up an intriguing mystery and a premise which actually feels refreshingly original. Unfortunately it leaves too many questions unanswered and the ending, however striking and nicely realised, feels a bit of a lazy cheat and a much too abrupt. It’s one of those few times when I wished the episode had a sequel (something which will only happen later on in the series).

Having said that it manages to hold the tension and a sense of dread throughout, it’s atmospheric and there are couple of very creepy moments. All of which make this episode a lot more compelling that it probably should be.

Also, any X-Files aficionado will definitely notice Nicholas Lea who would later appear in

%d bloggers like this: