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Posted

Hanzawa Naoki - 2013 - 8/10

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Who’d have thought corporate banking shenanigans could be so entertaining?
Hanzawa and his loan section are nudged by higher ups to approve a shady loan totaling millions.
Before you can say something smells fishy, the account goes bankrupt, and execs throw all blame on Hanzawa.
One thing they don’t reckon with is his tenacity, his skills in following the money, and the dark vengeance that drives him.
Traps launch out of nowhere and enemies hateful and cunning circle like jackals.
Foes learn - screw with Hanzawa, and it’s double payback!
No killings - no shootings - no nudity.  Ratings smash across Asia.
Highly addicting.

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Posted

Liar Game: S01 - 2007 - 7/10
AKA: ???????

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Great little series about con-men, game playing, greed.
Young girl receives a case full of money and an invitation to participate in the Liar Game.
There are numerous players.  The object is to swindle other players out of their case of money.
The winner keeps all the money, losers must pay what they lost.  They will be financially ruined.
Straight away, the girl, a trusting, gullible innocent, seeks help from a cunning genius of schemes.
Temporary allegiances, snares, and of course, lies, more lies, and damned lies.
Honorable, upright souls, be warned to avoid this one.

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Posted

xxxHOLiC - 2013 - 7/10

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Inventive fantasy series based on anime based on manga.
Enroute from school, young student spies and is quickly whisked into the shop run by a dimensional witch.
What she runs is, plain and simple, a barter shop.  She can grant wishes - but - there is a price to pay.
In any exchange, there is always a price.

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He can see ghosts.  On the street, in school, everywhere.  He is miserable.
There series is only eight episodes, thirty minutes each.
One story involves a variation on the monkey’s paw.
Aside from the dimensional witch, there are ghosts (not the friendly sort, either), tainted blood, and a fetchingly cruel wasp spider.
The set design is spare yet elegant.  Costumes range from school uniforms to beautiful gowns to downright kinky.
This seems aimed for the young adult crowd, but anyone interested in Japanese folklore should appreciate.

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Posted

Biblia Koshodô no Jiken Techô - 2013 - 7/10

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Wonderful J-drama for people in love with reading, addicted to books - real books, especially used books.
Set in a cozy, golden hazed bookshop, Biblia Antiquarian Bookshop Case Files revels in ordinary, seemingly impossible mysteries that proprietress Shinokawa has an uncanny knack for deciphering.
Just as well, too, as the puzzles get harder and ofttimes deadlier with each week.
Many of the problems are affairs of the heart, others plunge into the obsessive realm of book collectors.
Therein might hint why this imaginative, clever series fared so poorly ratings wise.
Non-readers might have felt excluded, believing it was targeting a very limited audience.
Then again, a lot of people don’t like books and actually dislike reader types.
Shinokawa’s tall male assistant, Goura, acts as Watson to her Holmes, asking questions about the books referenced, and jumping to impulsive (invariably wrong) solutions to the mysteries.
Marvelous little series.  Perfect for wet nights.

If the females who sat on the sofa with me knew I only scored this a 7, they would pummel me.
To them, Biblia scored a 9 or 10.

Note: If you need subs, I just overhauled. 

http://addic7ed.com/show/4894[/CODE]

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Posted (edited)

Sign - 2011 - 5/10

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Exasperating K-drama that takes forever to find its groove, only to perform a cliff dive at the end.
I cannot decide whether to blame incompetent writing or wrong headed directing, probably a combination.
Episodic show occurring in and around the NFS (National Forensic Service).  Yes, the coroners.  Corpse cutters.
A new crime/mystery happens ever few weeks and wraps in a couple of episodes.  In each time, the examiners are summoned to determine what transpired.  Some are frightening, one poignant, others are mis-assumptions.
Weaving throughout the narrative is the murder of a beloved pop singer, the cover up, the destruction of evidence, the conspiracy, and the bullheaded doctor who probes remorselessly toward the truth.
The doctor is extraordinarily unlikeable, argumentative, with the manners of a pitbull.  No way, no matter how gifted, such an individual would be tolerated in any structured hierarchy.
The three assistants are complete and utter idiots.  Their main purpose seems little more than comic relief.  Any professional skills they may possess is dwarfed by their moronic behaviour.
After ten episodes, the characters (and writers) find their footing and the cartoon antics subside, the stories tighten.
Still ... viewers had to endure half the series before this locked into an intense thriller.
The final episode was moving - and preposterous.  The finale seemed rushed, contrived, and unbelievable.
There were well reported production problems, but the root cause seemed to point toward the writers who apparently had written themselves into a corner.

This was one of the chilliest K-dramas I have ever watched.  Most of this was photographed in bleak winter.  It looked downright cold.  Definitely not the travel postcard for Korea tourism.
Three lead male characters boasted spiky haircuts.  Couldn’t tell if this is a fashion trend, but it was noticeable.

Edited by Vultural

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Posted

Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries: S02 - 2013 - 6/10

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Second round of episodes of Australia’s jazz baby sleuth.
As before, costumes are impeccable and the period set design full of details and eye candy.
Stories themselves more hit n miss than the first season.
First couple of shows approximate Murder She Wrote nonsense.
Plots are stale, characters awkward, direction is heavy handed.
Writing does improve and the episodes gradually return to the grace of season one, ending on a high point.
A third season has been announced, and I will watch though I hope it is stronger than S02.

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Posted

Kazokugari - 2014 - 7/10
AKA - Family Hunting

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Someone is slaughtering dysfunctional families.
Mass murder masquerading as suicide.
Overlooked series featuring a lot of guilty looking souls, and families with overwrought teens.
Especially good camera work here, casting one character after another as spooky or creepy.
Plot well constructed, as well, layering clues, trails, doubts and fear.
Ground remains slippery throughout as you hope, “maybe this person is a good one” ... “uh oh, maybe not.”
Absorbing, brief series.  Emotional outbursts and family drama may alienate disconnected types.

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Posted

The Victorians - Their Story In Pictures - 2009 - 8/10

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Four part documentary series on the Victorians as seen through the cinema of the day - paintings.
Pictures that not only reflected times and conditions of the era, but how the people wanted to view themselves.
Entertaining, informative, never dusty.  Plenty of details for genre fans yet accessible for casual trippers, as well.
Host Jeremy Paxman seems curious, skeptical, almost wistful at times.
Fairly chronological, going from early moralistic scenes to the Empire at its height to the melancholy themes of the Pre Raphaelites, the Aesthetic Movement, and beyond.

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This series aired a couple years ago, yet is readily available.
As always with Victorians, so much of their world echoes our own.

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Posted

Modern Times - The Vikings Are Coming - 2014 - 6/10

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What is wrong with British men?
Don’t ask me, ask British women.
Single women.  The ones who want children, but lack a boyfriend or husband.
They’re heading for the sperm bank.
Only they don’t want reliable British steel.  They want Danes.
Has to do with anonymous donors, which is the UK method.  Whereas Denmark males offer names, photos, brief stories.  English birds make more personal choices that way.
Rather shallow documentary skirts an issue of what happens when donor children appear at daddy’s door when they hit 18?
Also - the cuter Danes are very popular.  A couple have potentially sired over 100 offspring.
What happens if those children meet down the line ... and make their own children?

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Posted

Modern Times - Welcome To Mayfair - 2014 - 8/10

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Quite an insidious little documentary this, about one of London's poshest neighborhoods.
The village Mayfair.
Rich residents, we only hear from one or two.
Not surprisingly, honest views come from pensioners who live in the old servant’s quarter.
What?  Affordable digs in Mayfair?  Apparently so.
Most of the chat, and the general drift of the narrative, flows from the tradesmen.
Estate agents, shopkeepers, florists, the couple that run the tiny cafe.
The realtors are doing spectacular business, properties selling for millions of quid - without ever getting listed.  Buyers range from nouveau riche to crusty money.  Arab princes, footballers, Russian billionaires.  Super rich.
Most are shadows who covet an address, yet could not care one jot about knowing neighbors or the neighborhood.
True casualties are the tiny shops.  The fabric that weave and nourish any village.
One by one, they are squeezed out.  Instead of the umbrella maker, a fashion boutique, custom shoemaker, the Chalet Restaurant, the global chains multiply - Bulgaria, Tiffany, Hermes, Chanel, Prada, Cartier, Armani.
Chains do not sell one of a kind, they peddle expensive bangles, mass produced in faraway factories.
Chain fronts mean sterilization.  New arrivals haven’t a clue what “exclusivity” was lost.
Such is the sweep of life, however.  Places alter, evolve, crumble.
The poor get displaced, the deluded middle class cannot keep pace once the cost of living soars out of reach.

This particular show pairs well with a couple other docs:
Christmas On Benefits (2013) - the unemployed try to navigate the season without funds.
Disappearing London (2006-2007) - hosted by Suggs (Madness frontman).  Ordinary places ... slipping away.

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Posted

Ripper Street: S02 - 2013 - 7/10

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Very much an extension of Season 01.
Narrative seems to have skipped a year or two.
One character now married, another’s wife has gone AWOL.
If anything, the tone is grimmer and darker than before.
Bucking the usual glossy, warming Victorian fare, the lives of all characters here spiral into misery for which there seems no exit.
Absorbing for viewers, but a dark, hard, brutish series.

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Posted

Beautiful Neighbor - 2011 - 7/10
AKA - Utsukushii Rinjin / 美しい隣人

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Stunning, mysterious female glides into the neighborhood.
Her husband is a foreigner (American) and forever abroad on business.
The woman next door is married to an overworked salaryman who is also gone most of the time.
Female bonding swiftly occurs.
Saki, the new arrival, is the beguiling spider, however.
Smiling softness cloaks the snares she lays for her friend, her friend’s husband, their child.
She is a destroyer.
Very much a “chick drama,” Yukie Nakama is mesmerizing as the duplicitous Saki.
One keeps watching to find out, if nothing else, what put the venom in her veins.
Beautiful photography, haunting music, though the plot seems to falter near the end.

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Posted

Hamish MacBeth:  Season 03 - 1997 - 7/10

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Quirky drama comedy set in remote Highlands village.
Robert Carlyle plays the local constable.
Fans of Beaton's books, read no further, as Carlyle will never substitute for the tall, red haired book original.  Indeed, the series bears next to no resemblance to the books.
This third - and final - season concludes a couple story arcs, and is also a little darker than seasons one and two.
Most of the episodes were written or directed by Danny Boyle.
Beautiful Scotland - severe, craggy, lush - give a good sense of place, though the time is harder to pin down.
Some stories drift into allegory or fairy tale.

To Addic7ed sub-meisters:  There were NO subtitles I could find.
A few conversations were difficult to translate, and subs would have been helpful.

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Posted

Soviet Storm: WWII In The East - 2011 - 7/10

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Eight part documentary of WWII Russian Front, told from Soviet point of view.
This aspect of the war is rarely covered in the West.  We believe it was all Patton, Monty and D-Day.
Far from it.  Nazis and Soviets smashed at each other, big time.  Massive fatalities.
Series made use of Soviet newsreel footage and limited CGI, along with the usual maps and arrows.
Beware:  Maps were all in Cyrillic, though narration was in BBC English.
Highlights include the Battle Of Kursk, where over 6000 tanks slugged it out.
Must for war buffs.

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Posted

Bad Guys - 2014 - 7/10
AKA:  Nappeun Nyeoseokdeul or 나쁜 녀석들

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Hardboiled Korean actioner.  Oft told concept, but well executed.
Police commissioner offers special deal to three long term convicts:
“For every crime solved, five years will be knocked off the sentence."
The three include a professional assassin, a Gangpae strong arm enforcer, and a serial killer.
Overseeing them is a detective who had been suspended for excessive force.
Those expecting violence will be amply rewarded.
Beatings - stabbings - shootings.
Defying the usual K-drama cliches, there is limited romance, few tears.  Very plot driven, and it was apparent the writers had numerous ideas they wanted to explore.
For a couple episodes I worried the characters were going mushy, the sympathy route.  Did not happen.
Episodic by nature, yet there is an overall arc to the 11 episodes which gets progressively darker, concluding with an ass-kicking finale.

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Posted

Al Murray: The Only Way Is Epic - 2012 - 5/10

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Al Murray as pub landlord, live in Brighton.
Bit over an hour of hit n miss standup.
There simply were not enough good jokes.
The funny ones, he pounded like a dead horse.
Many times he seemed to be grinding gears.
Opening schtick of querying/baiting front row grew tedious.
Probably better if you are British.

I'll never understand the English weakness for sing-alongs.

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Posted

X-Files S02 - 1995 - 8/10

I enjoyed the first season, but I rarely return to it, save for an episode or two.
For many, the second year was when the series really began to flower.
The leads were no longer shrill or strident, the writing far more original, the narratives more layered.
New characters - adversaries or allies - followed their own agendas, morally indifferent.

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At this point, creative elements of the series were on fire.
Stories often played out over several episodes.
By turns harrowing, flat out funny, or achingly poetic.

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Planets and stars only stay in perfect alignment for so long.
The show went south for me after the location shifted to Los Angeles (closer to FOX money men perhaps?).
Much altered, not necessarily for the better.
Season 02 of X-Files remains spectacular, though.
I try not to rewatch too often, lest its magic go stale.

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Posted

Killer-K - 2011 - 7/10
AKA: Little Girl K

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Echoes of grindhouse. High voltage Korean actioner.
Young girl is in the wrong place, wrong time with friends, and all are slain.
Except her. She’s given the “join us or die” offer.
Next she is trained as a corporate assassin.
Story plays out over three episodes, each more violent than the last.
This aired late night in Korea, and had nudity and rivers of blood.
Episode three has the highest bullets - body count, but to my thinking, highlight was episode two.
She had discovered who had killed her friends and exacted revenge.
No firearms for that one. Her favored weapons were long knives.
Blood drenched action with machetes, knives, swords.

www.youtube.com/embed/EhjHRbnqfds

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Posted

Tokumei Tantei - S01 - 2012 - 7/10

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Terrific detective spoof, that also features solid mysteries.
Each episode is is a single story, so no narrative arc to follow. ( binging not necessary ).
Low rent private eye lives across from strip club, and trio of forever practicing lovelies.
No car, he pedals a pink girl’s bike.  That said, he is a coffee aficionado, and a damn smart dresser.
The clothes and look struck me as prime Disco era, which he wears with flair.
Each episode begins with a damsel in distress:  missing money, lost relative, stalker . . .
Because the detective truly lives on limited means, he does plenty of footwork and deduction.
The tone is lightweight, and Katsunori Takahashi oozes charisma.
Fun series - nine episodes.

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Posted

Pride & Prejudice - Having A Ball - 2013 - 7/10

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Irresistible documentary for hardcore Janeites and casual Austen fans alike.
This focuses on that key element of the Regency world for the young, the ball.
Dance steps were actually fiendishly complicated, and physically demanding.
Status could be seen in choice of candles, desserts served, as well as clothes.
Speaking of clothes, female knickers were crotchless.  Male clothing was very form fitting, to display . . . mmm . . . simply to display.
Casually mentioned was how increasingly modern, and wrong-headed, modern adaptions of P&P have become.
If you have reread Austen numerous times, if you have multiple film versions of P&P, S&S, as well as Emma, Mansfield Pk, and Persuasion, not to mention L In A (w/ Downtown intact), then this documentary is for you.
You know who you are.  If you are a Janeite, rate this much higher.

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