The biggest release of the week is Fifty Shades Freed. The final film in the trilogy, at this point in time you know whether or not you’re a fan. I am not. My sister on the other hand is. And isn’t that the point? The books had a target audience, the movies did as well. If the target audience enjoys them, who cares if I don’t? Dakota Johnson is very attractive, but even that doesn’t hold much weight in these films for me. They are badly written, cliched and honestly have no chemistry. Well at least in this third film the chemistry was a bit better. In this final chapter Christian and Anastasia are married and hoping to leave their other lives behind. But of course they don’t! The box office numbers drop with every new film and this one barely made $100 million in the US. If you watched the first two films you might as well watch this one to see how it ends. I’m sure this will do well on home video and will be enjoyed in book club type environments.
The latest Asian release is Paradox. A Chinese cop’s daughter is kidnapped in Thailand and he heads there to find her. When the local cops aren’t doing enough, he tries to track her down himself. It’s a story we’ve seen before, but with Louis Koo, Lam Ka Tung, Yue Wu and Tony Jaa, you get some great action sequences. Jaa has a smaller role but still lands a few flying knees. I enjoyed this quite a bit and can see Hollywood remaking it. There are dirty cops, dirty politicians, organ trafficking, and plenty of action. If you are a fan of any of the actors, definitely look this one up. It’s another solid Asian crime drama with a lot going on and plenty of fighting.
Third we have Ackley Bridge Series 1 out of England. A small Yorkshire town integrates white and Pakistani students and combine them into Ackley Bridge College. I liked this, but didn’t love it. My biggest issue is, it felt like a lot of similar storylines I’ve seen before. Some students don’t like being forced to be in a school with others. One is considered a racist immediately even though he’s going through some personal issues at home. Teachers are all up in each other’s business and beds. A white friend and Pakistani friend clash because the Pakistani girl doesn’t want other Pakistani girls to judge her. It’s nothing new or groundbreaking, but the acting is fine. I don’t know if I’d go out of my way to watch another season, but if it came my way I would.
Next is Midsomer Murders: County Case Files. This is a collection of 15 mysteries from seasons 16-18 including Midsomer’s 100th episode. I’ve grown a fondness for this quaint detective show. My favorite of the collection is A Vintage Murder when people start dying at a winery. The glasses have been laced and it’s a classic “whodunit” story. Other mysteries include a woman dying during a magic act, a body going missing the night of his death, death at an archaeology site, an owner of an airfield dropping to his death and much more. It’s simple storytelling, but it’s also classic storytelling. If you are a fan of the show, this is a nice purchase.
Sticking with TV, Dear White People Season 1 is next. Based off the movie of the same name, the show can be found on Netflix. The show is from the perspective of minorities in a predominantly white Ivy League college. I could not get into this. Maybe I’m too removed from my college days, but I couldn’t relate to it. Yes I am white, but I don’t think that was it. I just couldn’t relate to the college experience happening to these characters. It is satirical and shows how some people don’t get how they are being offensive (an early episode has a black-face party), but I had a hard time sitting down and wanting to get to the next episode. But it seems to be a decent hit for Netflix and Season 2 just hit the streaming service so it must have fans. So even if it’s not for me, there’s an audience who wants to see it.
Last we have Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In: The Complete Fourth Season. At this point you know I enjoy watching these releases. I’m too young to have seen them originally yet I still find them refreshing and timely. There were a lot of big guests in this collection and some staples like Goldie Hawn and Lily Tomlin. Some guests include: Art Carney, Johnny Carson, Wilt Chamberlain, Carol Channing, Tim Conway, Bing Crosby, Sammy Davis Jr., Phyllis Diller, Andy Griffith, Bob Newhart, Vincent Price, Carl Reiner, Debbie Reynolds, Don Rickles, Orson Welles, Flip Wilson and more. The stand-out to me is Orson Welles. Over the past few years I’ve started to appreciate his work. If like me you’ve enjoyed the previous collections, you’ll love this one as well.