The Return of SPENSER FOR HIRE??? – Netflix Movie trailer+Poster

Spenser Confidential (2020)

 

There are a few shows I hold in very high reverence, as television at its finest. Stuff that stands and will stand the test of time. The 1980s SPENSER FOR HIRE is one of those shows.

Starring the great Robert Urich and Avery Brooks (as two very different, but equally imposing 6’1 guys, running around Boston putting people thru windows 🙂 ) and based on a long running series of novels by the prolific Robert B. Parker. The highest acclaim you can give the TV show, is the author hiimself acclaimed Avery Brooks Hawk as superior to the character in the novels.So I loved that 3 season Boston based series.

Now it is clear this Mark Wahlberg Netflix movie will have virtually nothing in common with that great 80s series, however it puts that series back in the limelight, and I call that a good thing. And even though the new Netflix movie seems… not very ‘Spenser’ like; despite that… the trailer looked fun and enjoyable. I’m a huge fan of Winston Duke from his work in PERSON OF INTEREST and BLACK PANTHER, so looking forward to checking out this new take on Spenser and Hawk.

It of course will not be the slightly elegaic brilliance of the 1980s series, but it doesn’t have to be. That series thankfully is now available on Dvd. If you have never seen it, it comes with the highest recommendation. It is an unjustly overlooked, often bittersweet and equally huanted and hopeful series, that stands as television at its finest.

Get Season 1 here!

Get all 3 Seasons here!

3 Best Marvel/MCU Villains 2008-2019

 

22 movies, Eleven years, hundreds of actors, dozens of bad guys, but only 3 stand as the very best Villains of kevin feige’s Marvel Cinematic Universe.

 

LOKI

 

The webpage will not show this image anonymously.

LOKI– In many ways the first AVENGERS movie stands as the most important of the MCU films, up there with the first IRON MAN movie. The IRON MAN movie proved these individual characters could work on the big screen, THE AVENGERS movie proved a super-hero team, wide screen Comic Book level action, could work for the masses; proved That this concept of long form story telling in film… could payoff, and should continue.

After 22 movies, THE AVENGERS is still the movie I saw the most in the theaters, a record three times (I almost never see a movie in a theater more than once), and the one I had the most fun with. And that is because Director Josh Whedon delivered the film of his career, the writing was brilliant, actors and effects phenomenal, and the characters… literally the stuff of Myth. And the most memorable scenes of a very memorable film revolve around Tom Hiddleston’s completely crowd pleasing performance as Loki, that sets up such memorable lines as ‘Mewling Quim’ and ‘Puny God’.

Like the best of all Villains, the two other names on this list; the Loki character while wrong, there is something compelling and seductive, and relateable in Loki’s mania. Driven by some hurt he seeks to fix, some reason that reason knows not of, that makes him more than a stock villain, but someone more complex, and someone that in moments… seen from some angle, is understandable, if not approvable.

There is a reason Hiddleston’s Loki ten years later remains… beloved. Because being more than a stock Villain, means at moments he resembles all of us, he is capable of good, as well as evil. And watching Loki navigate that line, grow as a character, makes him more than villain and more than hero… it makes him… interesting.

 

 

The webpage will not show this image anonymously.

 

 

KILLMONGER

 

The webpage will not show this image anonymously.

 

KILLMONGER – There were a lot of MCU villains prior to Michael B. Jordan’s acclaimed turn as KILLMONGER, in the brilliant and ground-breaking Ryan Coolger helmed BLACK PANTHER, but none of them, not Red Skull, not Ultron, not Winter Soldier, not even Loki, had me deep into the movie… unmoored about who was right and who was wrong.

To do that in a film, to bring the audience with you into a questionable grey area where there are no more heroes and no more villains, but just principles of better worlds that clash in blood, that is some deep and epic and personal filmmaking, and to accomplish that in a large scale blockbuster superhero movie, is the stuff that awards are designed to recognize.

Hats off to all involved, but particularly to the way Jordan chose to play KILLMONGER, just unique and disturbing and yet another memorable character, from an actor who has quickly become one of the best actors of his generation.

BLACK PANTHER is a film that I loved the action in, loved the fight scenes, loved the story, loved the scale, but what really sets it apart from every other MCU films before it (with the exception of THE WINTER SOLDIER, which did it in a smaller way) is the sophistication of how it is told. The murky grey areas where good and bad become… unsound. It’s a great film, that becomes stronger every time you watch it. Like leather curing in the sun.

At the film’s heart it is a tale of fathers and sons, kings and commoners, and a question of whose vision of tomorrow… is most right. And that hinges on Jordan’s KILLMONGER, a lesser villain or a lesser performance, and we would be talking about a much less successful film. Which is the case with any film, a great film seldom does so, without a great antagonist; and Jordan’s KILLMONGER is one of the greats.

 

 

 

The webpage will not show this image anonymously.

 

THANOS

 

The webpage will not show this image anonymously.

And now we come to the 1000lb Gorilla in the room, (it is an idiom used to call attention to an overwhelming or obvious  idea, finally being recognized – for those of you who may not be familiar with the expression) THANOS.

A CGI character that has been the big bad we have been building to in these 22 films. It is an unprecedented build up, the likes of which we will likely never see again. But boy did it pay off. Josh Brolin (son of the legendary actor James Brolin) has in the last two decades started forging his own legend, in films from NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN to AMERICAN GANGSTER to TRUE GRIT to SICARIO (look forward to seeing him in the upcoming Villeneuve directed DUNE and Sean Penn helmed FLAG DAY) he has been solidly delivering the goods.

But I think it is safe to say his THANOS is likely to be the role he is remembered for above and beyond all others, just based on the cultural and historic imprint these 22 films have carved out. You have to go back to Universal Studios game changing monster movies of 1923 to 1955 to get a run as formative and impactful as this current run of MCU movies.

And THANOS is the looming shadow that haunts these films, and in INFINITY WAR and ENDGAME Brolin’s Thanos gets to come out of the shadows and take center stage.

Again as buildups go, you will likely never see, in your lifetime the like again, a 22 film novel for television, that stuck the landing.

Much has been written on the character of THANOS and the sophistication he was written and performed with. following in the wake of Jordan’s KILLMONGER, here too is another villain where, to a lesser degree, you see the mercy in his madness, the humanity in his horror. He does and is going to do horrible things, but toward ends that we must all, at the end of the day judge as… understandable.  And it is the achievement of all involved from performers to directors to special effects to camera to makeup to lighting to sound, that in not one moment of INFINITY WAR or ENDGAME, not one moment of a CGI Thanos interacting with the other actors, do I question the fiction crafted. The vision is solid.

It is a 2 film culmination of a 22 film, 11 year unequaled and un-thought of cinematic achievement, and it sticks the landing. And Thanos quite rightly gets catapulted into the conversation of most iconic cinematic villains of all time, up there with Darth Vader, Dracula, Dr. No, Dr. Mabuse, Khan, Hannibal Lecter, Joker.

 

The webpage will not show this image anonymously.

 

So that is it guys, the 3 best villains of 22 movies, and 11 years of cinematic gold!!!

 

And for Honarable Mentions:

  • Ultron
  • Red Skull
  • Winter Soldier
  • Klaw

 

Thanks for looking, feel free to comment with your favorite villain or villains, and if you enjoyed this post give some love to this installment’s sponsor:

 

Full-size item image

 

Purchase Here.

Streaming VOD Movie of the 2nd Week of 2020 : MANDY Shudder Amazon Prime

 

The webpage will not show this image anonymously.

MANDY (2018)– Finally catching this 2018 released film courtesy of SHUDDER. And I have to say… stunning. A lurid and at times lucid nightmarish primary color tinged, cosmic fueled descent into the Maelstrom; a revenge flick that goes to damnation and beyond. Panos Cosmatos has created a singular vision of the places that wait beyond our reason, places horrid , and awe-inspiring, and unrelenting. And all we must offer up… is everything.

A stunning film by Cosmatos, fueled by a great score by (I have just found out) the late and uber talented Johann Johannsson (composer of one of the best scores of recent memory, SICARIO… he will be missed), and powered by transformative performances by all; but particularly by Nicholas Cage, who takes us into the maelstrom with him, into hearts of darkness.

Nicolas Cage has really been taking some rough roles, brutal roles recently. That will take much out of any actor, and he does it again here, but going further than anyone should have to, into places dark and demanding. And it is so great to see the legendary Bill Duke in a film, he just raises the bar of everything he is in, and does so here. Panos Cosmatos (the son of George Cosmatos who directed one of my favorite films, TOMBSTONE, also an iconic film, with revenge, pushing the wrong man too far, at its core conceit)  with only his second film, the first the equally magical realism imbued BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW, has cemented himself for me, as a director to seek out, and to purchase his films when available.

And Kudos to producers Elijah Wood and Daniel Noah for helping champion these criminally underused (and in one case, seemingly blacklisted) visionaries, and working with them to get their films out to a wider audience again. MANDY is very much a gift, from a filmmaker who we have not heard from since 2010. Also very much looking forward to their collaboration with Richard Stanley.

Final thoughts on MANDY… Hypnotic and an experience, that is… compellingly watchable and re-watchable. It is a rabbit hole, and will suck you in. Highly recommended!

The webpage will not show this image anonymously.

When you have viewed it courtesy of streaming, ‘tried before you buy’ so to speak, and are as impressed as I am, then I suggest buying on Bluray. However I would hold out until they release a steel-book or digi-book with special features to include commentary. The Bluray on the market now lacks any commentary or really notable special features, which I think is a big misstep, to release a bare-bones disc. These days I do not buy a disc, unless it is loaded with special feature to include a commentary track.

In the age of streaming you really need to step up your game with the special features to make the Bluray worth it. Here’s hoping a full fledged disk will be released soon, this film deserves it.

 

2019 Year in Review : Favorite TV Shows

2019 Year in review : Favorite TV Shows

I tried quite a few shows in 2019 UMBRELLA ACADEMY, LUCIFER, GOOD OMENS, THE WITCHER, BLACK MIRROR, GAME OF THRONES but my favorite TV shows, BY FAR, were the following:

 

THE TERROR 1st Season – One of the most grueling and terrifying and brilliant things I saw on TV in 2019

The webpage will not show this image anonymously.

BODYGUARD 1st and only season- One of the best action/spy shows I’ve seen since SPOOKS and the first season of JACK RYAN.

THE GRAND TOUR – One of the worst mistakes TOP GEAR made was pissing these guys off and forcing them out. TOP GEAR has become an un-watched joke, and THE GRAND TOUR … simply fun and brilliant.

The webpage will not show this image anonymously.

HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE Season 1- After THE TERROR, the 2nd most terrifying tv show I saw in 2019. And that one episode with the reveal of the hanging lady, is just horrible to think about. The more you think about that episode the more effed up it becomes, and the more you feel for that character. A brilliantly written show.

The webpage will not show this image anonymously.

LUKE CAGE Season 2- Speaking of a brilliantly written show, LUKE CAGE season 2 when you get past some cringe worthy scenes in the early episode ( I do not want to see Shades and Black Mariah kissing on each other, the less of that the better) but when you get past that bit of self indulgence, it really takes off and has a story that is more complex than people hitting each other. Which kinda is why I lost interest in the other Marvel/Netflix shows. It is the small moments where this series sings, like the scene of Cage and Rand just talking as they overlook Central Park. That is one of my favorite scenes, and not a punch in it, just people talking. And the Antagonists were so rich, no clear good, or clear evil, but people in varying degrees of pain. Add to that just the best ending/cliffhanger of any of the Marvel/Netflix shows. Really hope this comes to Bluray soon.

The webpage will not show this image anonymously.

MANDALORIAN Season 1 – Baby Yoda Rules! And the show is great, a nice back to basics western in space.

The webpage will not show this image anonymously.

THE BOYS Season 1 – Jaw Dropping, and one of the best examples of the adaptation being superior to the source material. Not a fan of THE BOYS comic, loved this show,

The webpage will not show this image anonymously.

THE EXPANSE (Seasons 1-3) – I’ve praised this show often. It is the best scifi show currently being aired.

The webpage will not show this image anonymously.

 

PENNYWORTH – Only saw 3 episodes, that was all that was available for free, but what a 3 episodes. Phenomenal and fun and gripping.

 

The webpage will not show this image anonymously.

WATCHMEN – Only saw the first episode, but what an episode. Had my doubts about this show, the first episode made me a believer.

The webpage will not show this image anonymously.

 

With an honorable mention to BABYLON 5 as a show I revisited in 2019. Currently on season 4. Holds up as one of the best shows of all time. Straczynski creating the first novel for TV.

The webpage will not show this image anonymously.The webpage will not show this image anonymously.

 

If you dug this list then please like, subscribe, and give the below Bonanza store some love:

Shop here for Today’s Deals!

Must own Bluray/DVD in the age of Streaming : THE QUEEN OF SPADES (1949)

https://cdn.cinematerial.com/p/500x/cyas1p6h/the-queen-of-spades-movie-cover.jpg?v=1456685350

QUEEN OF SPADES

Thorold Dickinson made 13, by all accounts , WELL RECEIVED FEATURE films in his career, most dealing to some degree with guilt, and the horrible vagaries of the human heart. The queen of spades is by all reports his masterpiece.

I have not seen most of those other films (exception being 1940s GASLIGHT another phenomenal Gothic, horror tinged period piece) , but I have seen his 1949 THE QUEEN OF SPADES… it is by any standards… a masterpiece. A visual feast, with haunting use of sound, to tell a tale of an officer grasping for riches and status, at any cost.

Anton Walbrook, as that central figure, delivers one of the great performances in cinema, as a man scraped raw by his own desire for… more. It is truly a brilliant film, a florid drama/fable, made gothic and horrific by the stunning visual flourishes and cinematography. The feature rich Kino Lorber/Studio Canal Bluray looks phenomenal and is a must own.

I’ve seen this film three times now, once to listen to the Nick Pinkerton commentary, and while I don’t like the commentary (can get a little droning, monotone and bloated and chaotic) the film itself, simply just gets better everytime.

A highly recommended film and Bluray to own in the age of streaming. Highest Recommendation!  Grade:  A/A+.

 

Get it here!

Streaming TV Series of the 1st Week of 2020 : Amazon Prime’s THE EXPANSE 4th Season

THE EXPANSE – So the 4th season of THE EXPANSE has dropped on Amazon Prime, and I said in a recent post having tried the first episode of the new season, I wasn’t loving it. This coming from someone who raved about the first 3 seasons of THE EXPANSE.

However, getting into episode 2 and later episodes of season 4, and the breakneck pace, and engrossing storyline, I’ve come to love kicks in, and it becomes the addictive show I’ve grown to acclaim. It also reminds me that THE EXPANSE has always been a slow burn of a show. The 1st season took a long time to get good, not really hitting its stride till the 2nd and 3rd seasons. And the 4th season is that in a nutshell, slow start, strong finish.

It is dangerous, this continued weak start of THE EXPANSE. These days with so many demands for a viewers time, the first episode really needs to stick the landing, as the saying goes you seldom get a 2nd chance, to make a first impression.

Not everyone made it through the weak first season, to see the amazing show it became. And likewise I’m sure they lost people with that weak first episode of the 4th season. But I can tell you, if you power thru you will be rewarded with an addictive, compelling season. Though not the biggest fan of ending on a cliffhanger, particularly when another season is not definite.

Final verdict: Slow start and some annoying characters aside, it remains the best SciFi show since FARSCAPE. Not as emotionally riveting and likable as FARSCAPE, but far more imaginative and complex and sophisticated in its world building. A very good show. Grade: B+.

Streaming TV Series of the 1st Week of 2020 and Quite Possibly the Year : NetFlix’s DRACULA

https://occ-0-465-472.1.nflxso.net/dnm/api/v6/6AYY37jfdO6hpXcMjf9Yu5cnmO0/AAAABZBxBccr341eawj1UA0hf34zikLVwUqCiYVDJ5JNY5nU_E3gOjpHytmLrJOIHolYFumHmyBwrgP2ZvHGsduQVULc4Bi2.jpg?r=058

Netflix’s DRACULA – I have been looking forward to this series ever since i saw the first teaser trailer a month or so ago. The series has finally dropped on Netflix, and I have to say… the first episode exceeds my expectations.

Smart. Lavish, Biting, Charming and Ironic and irreverant when it needs to be, and above all dripping with gothic athmosphere and horror, this adaptation of Bram Stoker’s DRACULA is off to a phenomenal start.

I’ve been underwhelmed by most of the new shows recently, 2nd season of JACK RYAN, WITCHER, even the 4th season of THE EXPANSE… not really wowing me yet, but DRACULA… yeah, I’m on board. Looking forward to upcoming episodes, and to see if the 3 episode mini-series sticks the landing.

Grade: A/A+.