Not a lot this week, but I’m also expecting a few to arrive later on so I’ll start with what I have so far. The best of the bunch is Better Call Saul: Season Four. I actually missed this season when it aired on TV so I’m glad it came my way. Like most people I was a huge Breaking Bad fan and the first 3 seasons of this spin-off were great as sort of standalone storytelling. Season 4 we finally get the “birth” of “Saul Goodman” the man we came to love in Breaking Bad. The death of Jimmy’s brother catapults Jimmy from the lovable screw up to Saul, the lawyer that works for bad guys. This puts his relationship with Kim at risk and any actual credibility Jimmy gained over the years is long gone. We get more of the beginnings of Mike and Gus Fring’s working relationship that we saw in Breaking Bad as well. Like its predecessor the writing and acting are fantastic and I’m curious to see how far this show goes to connect to the Breaking Bad world.
Next we have the documentary My Scientology Movie. Documentarian Louis Theroux can’t get anyone in Scientology to talk to him so he reaches out to former members and recreates events that happened according to them. Of course he rattles some cages and Scientologists start looking into him, following him and even recording him on camera. I won’t get into my own personal beliefs about this “religion” because seeing what they did to those involved with this film I’m all set dealing with them. Most people think of Tom Cruise when Scientology is mentioned, but this shows that there are members all over the world and they have places they keep hidden. Maybe it’s because I lived in Los Angeles and have worked in the movie industry in a few ways, but none of this is really eye opening to me. I’m not sure what the filmmakers were expecting because calling a “religion” with power and money a cult will certainly get you in their crosshairs. Sure it all comes across as crazy and members getting into non-members’ faces and all that is uber weird, but don’t we already know this stuff already? Its founder was a sci-fi writer and Tom Cruise jumped on Oprah’s couch so what exactly is new here? I guess if you aren’t familiar with Scientology, Leah Remini leaving it, its headquarters in Los Angeles or anything at all it might be surprising to you. It’s not badly made or anything like that so I guess I just already knew too much about it.
Third we have All About Lily Chou-Chou. I’m assuming it’s a coming of age story involving young people, music, finding yourself, getting into fights and everything in between. I say assuming because I’ll be honest, I really didn’t get the movie’s meaning. Wrapped around the story is music by the artist Lily Chou-Chou. I have no idea if this is a real musician and didn’t put any effort into researching to find out. There’s a chatroom that fans talk about the musician and one of the teens steals a CD. There is talk about the ether her music is in or something, again, no idea what this part of the movie represents. I’m not a big coming of age movie guy so between the story and the Lily Chou-Chou angle this movie didn’t do much for me, but it’s well made, well shot with some great camera movement and use of music (even if I didn’t like the actual music). If you know more about the artist maybe you’ll enjoy it.
Sticking with headscratchers, next is Never Ever. A filmmaker meets a young performer and starts to fall for her. She moves in to his reclusive home, but then (slight spoiler if you haven’t read the synopsis) he dies. She remains living in his home, but starts seeing or hearing something. Is it him? Is he a ghost? Is it her imagination because of the trauma? I have no idea and I watched the movie! Both leads are great and Mathieu Amalric played a similar role in Ismael’s Ghosts but Julia Roy steals the film as the love interest/artist. I may not have had a clue what was actually happening, but she’s pretty fantastic. She also adapted the film from a novel. Looking it up now it looks like the film came out overseas (it’s French) in 2016 and she’s done a few films since which is good because I thought she was quite good. I guess I would make a horrible existentialist.
1972’s The Grand Duel gets a special Blu-ray release this week. This spaghetti western stars one of its genre’s biggest names Lee Van Cleef as an ex-sheriff who helps out Phillip, a man wanted for murder. The ex-sheriff believes the man to be innocent and later on we find out why, but I won’t spoil that. It’s from Giancarlo Santi who was the assistant director to Sergio Leone on The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and Once Upon a Time in the West so the film looks fantastic and checkmarks what we want from a genre film. There are some great stunts, a couple of shoot-outs, long winding shots which are a staple of westerns and lots more. I know I’ve seen the movie before, but it’s been decades since so it was nice rewatching it. This new release looks and sounds great and comes with a boat load of bonus features including interviews, commentary and much more. Plus it takes a look at the two different versions, the original cut and the longer German cut. If are a fan of the film or the genre this is a must own.
Sticking with Westerns, Bonanza The Official Ninth Season Volumes 1 & 2 are out this week as well. This season has been digitally restored and hits DVD for the first time. The show is an all-time classic and is one of the longest running shows in history. To this day my parents still watch reruns. Season 9 saw the introduction of Candy Canaday who would be around for over 90 episodes. The show was really in its prime having developed a strong following at this point and still giving big episodes. I’m genuinely shocked these seasons haven’t been available to own before but they will get picked up quickly by fans who need to fill out their collection. You know whether or not you’re a fan and there are still quite a few fans out there. It looks great having been restored and comes with some surprisingly good bonus features as well.
No Offence Series 3 is out this week as well. I’ve enjoyed this quirky cop dramady since the beginning and this new season is no different. It has heavy storylines (or at least one heavy storyline that spans the season), but it has enough comedic relief to lighten the mood enough to enjoy. Makes sense coming from the creator of the UK version of Shameless. Series 3 opens with Viv and her team trying to protect a mayoral candidate. They stop an assassination attempt, but the gunman escapes and you find out the attempt was supposed to be on someone else. This becomes the overlapping storyline for the season along with dealing with the death of one of their own. At six episodes it’s a really easy binge especially with one continuing storyline.
Last we have Agatha Raisin Series 2. If you aren’t familiar with the show, Agatha was once in PR but settles in a small-town for quieter living. Except she turns into a sleuth solving odd mysteries about. Series 2 involves 3 full-length mysteries with Ashley Jensen being delightful in all three. The first involves the death of a hair stylist including secrets and blackmail. The second sees Agatha on vacation but is hired to look into whether or not a husband is having an affair. The third finds Agatha’s friend Sarah as the prime suspect in the murder of a new curate. Jensen is incredibly easy to watch and all 3 mysteries are easy to binge over a day or two.