A few weeks back you may have read me talking about the entertainment package that Now TV were now offering alongside movies and sport accessible through their box or online that was £4.99 a month and gave you access to shows from HBO showing in the UK through Sky Atlantic. Unless you have been in outer space for the last month, you may have also heard a little buzz about some small show from HBO called True Detective. Well good news if you heeded my recommendations and invested in a subscription because the first episode of True Detective is now available on Now TV.

I don’t normally review single episodes of anything but I have watched the first episode of True Detective and feel like it should be mentioned, it could well be the best thing to come from television since Game of Thrones. True Detective is an eight part series starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson as two detectives in 1995 that are caught up in some kind of occult murder case. Right from the snazzy and evocative opening credits, it’s clear that this is going to be markedly different from The Killing and all manner of other weekly detective shows, although it has elements familiar from most of them. The story unfolds between the initial investigation in 1995 with Harrelson, the family man, and McConaughey, a nihilistic and haunted loner, recently paired together and also we get snippets of interviews taking place in the present day with substantially aged versions of the two detectives who have long since separated.

So far the first episode could best be described as solid with another stand out McConaughey performance firmly rooted in his career renaissance over the last couple of years. His character is fascinating and once dialogue heavy scene in particular in a car between him and Harrelson’s character is a stand out. The story is compelling enough to keep you coming back over the next 8 weeks and the hoopla on the internet informs me that by episode 4 this is essentially the best thing ever so it might well be time to put down a fiver a month unless you can wait a year for the blu-rays.

Aside from this the other things of note on your streaming services are as follows:


Fast & Furious 6 (2013)

Of all the franchises in existence I never thought that the Fast and Furious series would be the one forever tainted by tragedy. Sadly that is what happened with the passing of Paul Walker last November whilst working on the seventh in the series. So for now, Fast and Furious 6 is the last film in the series with a complete Walker performance with him working as part of the team.

It’s doubly sad because the ‘team’ and the theme of family has become something that kept people interested in these films along with the vehicular mayhem. The mixture of strong characters, racial diversity and good humour kept the team likeable and this sixth film essentially builds on the franchise reboot that was the fifth film. Number six doesn’t really do anything drastically different from the fifth, the stunts are amped up, The Rock is back again and it’s as ludicrous as ever.

The finale hints at an interesting seventh entry that ties back into the third film (time and space are so out of control in F&F) which may now be substantially different from what was originally planned.  You know the formula, you know it’s the best sort of guilty pleasure on the market, act accordingly.

Available on Now TV

Paul Walker hours

Hours (2013)

The second film with Paul Walker this week is one of his last to see a release (Brick Mansions is still on the way though) and this one proves that we didn’t just lose a pretty face, we lost a fairly underrated actor too. Walker’s performance in Hours is one that harkens back to his revelatory turn in Wayne Kramer’s Running Scared, a character of dubious morals thrust into a none more stressful situation which is literally life or death.

In Hours Walker plays a new father in a hospital whilst Hurricane Katrina ravages New Orleans outside, the power is down and his premature new baby’s life is dependent on a battery that he must wind up every two minutes. This drags on for two whole days and Walker must defend his baby’s life against looters and the weather as well as his own exhaustion.

For most of its run time, Hours is incredibly tense with a brilliant and heartfelt performance at its core, it really is a one man show here and Walker rises to the challenge perfectly. The main problem is that Hours feels like it’s too long for the story it’s trying to tell and after the point where it should have naturally ended you might find your attention wandering slightly. Hours raises some interesting questions in the viewer’s mind about how far you would go to protect the ones you love in the face of annihilation and for this alone it’s worth a watch.

Available on Now TV


Cherry (2012)

The blurb for Stephen Elliott’s film will have you thinking that this is a female Boogie Nights but despite the presence of Heather Graham, there is no similarity whatsoever. Cherry revolves around a present day 19 year old girl fleeing an unhappy home life and a drunken mother to move to San Francisco with Dev Patel where she slowly starts to be seduced into a life of porn.

Cherry as she becomes known, meets James Franco (an actor who seems unable to say no to a script) a sleazy drug addicted lawyer and Graham’s lesbian film director whose relationship is on the slide. The first half hour or so is promising with a pleasing indie film eye gliding over everything recalling the woozy atmosphere of Half Nelson. The problem is though the film makes no arguments for anything falling no side of any fence anywhere. It constantly threatens to be a portrait of why someone might choose porn or the psychology behind those that make it, but never actually does anything interesting at all.

Worst of all the film just kind of stops as it gets interesting leaving so many things unresolved. This could have been something but it feels too tame, too underwritten and too afraid to be anything more than an average pilot for a cable series that never went anywhere.

Available on Now TV


Intruders (2011)

Juan Carlos Fresnadillo’s film is one of those fascinating failures reminiscent of the recent Pascal Laugier film The Tall Man which once upon a time had a wonderful idea at its core that just got lost in the making of the film. The story revolves around a couple of kids separated by country that are visited by the same faceless entity.

Both story strands unfold simultaneously in both English and Spanish but it’s probably not a spoiler to say that this never pays off the way it feels like it should. For most of the time taken to unfold this tale though, Intruders is riveting with a great central performance from Clive Owen as a man who fears he is losing his grip.

Available on Lovefilm

Summer Glau in Serenity

Serenity (2005)

Whilst people continue to want a sequel or some kind of Firefly revival, let us stop and take stock and consider what we already have. Serenity shouldn’t exist in any kind of normal industry, a failed TV series cancelled after 13 episodes does really well on DVD so Universal stump up 40 million and allow creator Joss Whedon to go off and create a film essentially continuing and maybe concluding the saga of a surrogate family on a frontier, except in space.

Serenity is an awesome film as well, full of action, comedy and really moving stuff for anyone who was on board when it was called Firefly. Sadly Serenity underperformed at the box office and so a sequel wasn’t forthcoming although it has recently been picked up again in comic form. Whedon would of course go on to change the course of the blockbuster with The Avengers seven years later but Serenity definitely feels like a dry run for that film with its ensemble cast and witty banter. For the uninitiated, my special lady friend had never (and still hasn’t) seen an episode of Firefly and she adores this film, so you’re in safe hands.

Available on Netflix

Land of the Dead

Land of the Dead (2005)

During the zombie resurgence that started well over ten years ago now, George Romero was seen as a kind of figure-head with everyone from Edgar Wright to Danny Boyle acknowledging the influence his films had on their work and the ageless brilliance of his Dawn of the Dead. It was perhaps inevitable that someone would throw a whole load of money at Romero to allow him to go off and make another zombie flick. That film was Land of the Dead which proved that even in the time of fast running blood spewing zombies, the slow folk still had a place.

Romero’s fourth film in his saga is miles better than the films Diary of the Dead and Survival of the Dead that would come later; it is still not without its flaws though. Simon Baker is a fairly wooden leading man and the evolution of the zombies that was hinted at in the last couple of films, is perhaps taken too far here and borders on silly. Still that satire is present and correct although less pronounced and the whole film has a pleasing B-movie aesthetic that makes it never less than gory fun times.

Available on Netflix

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)

Like much of Terry Gilliam’s work, this film adaptation was met with an indifferent critical response on release back in 1998 and is now roundly praised as one of his best. Hunter S Thompson’s gonzo journalism novel about the death of the sixties and his own refugee stance during the bleak Nixon era was one of those books filed under ‘unfilmable’ but the film Gilliam has made is remarkably faithful as well as being very recognizably a Gilliam movie.

If you have seen any real life footage of Thompson the man then you will know how spot on Johnny Depp’s performance of him is and Gilliam gets round the relative aimlessness of the last section of the book by mixing it up and messing with the linear nature of it so that it bleeds into the drug psychosis of the first section. This was derided at the time but the more you watch it the more it makes sense as the only way to go.

Some of the more on the nose message stuff from the book may have been lost but there are a couple of sequences which really move if you know anything about counter-culture, the message isn’t lost or misplaced it’s simply portrayed in a different way. Now that Gilliam is getting on and his films are fewer and fewer, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas stands out more than ever as an example of a true one-off working at the height of his powers.

Available on Netflix


Fletch (1985)

The original Fletch pulp novels revolving around journalist and master of disguise Irwin Fletcher are a well-known influence on Kevin Smith who was attached to a reboot of this franchise over ten years ago, as was Zach Braff, but so far nothing has come of it.

The essence of Gregory McDonalds smart mouthed character is present in this film but sadly this was a movie made in the 80s in the wake of the success of Beverley Hills Cop and so it’s REALLY 80s and despite an admirable amount of restraint and seriousness, Chevy Chase just can’t resist the pratfall which seems oddly out-of-place with the tone that director Michael Ritchie seems to be going for. The plot is enjoyably pulpy and overly complicated with a ludicrous series of reveals and although it hasn’t aged well at least it’s better than the sequel.

Available on Netflix

Pay Per View

Available this week on the pay once and stream for 24 hours services are the following:


Thor – The Dark World (2013)

For me, apart from Iron Man 2, the first Thor was the weakest in the films made during phase one of the Marvel cinematic universe. Now that all the cries of Best Marvel Film Ever that greet every new release are over, we can perhaps judge this film for what it is.

Word is that Game of Thrones director Alan Taylor has improved on the first film with a film that is darker and more epic than the first with stakes set very high now that it’s not just a stepping stone to the first Avengers film. Also has fan favourite Loki memorably played by Tom Hiddleston thrown back into the mix for something featuring dark elves and battles on an epic scale.

Available on EE/Film4OD/Virgin Movies/Blinkbox


Escape Plan (2013)

Whilst it’s not exactly De Niro meeting Pacino for a cup of coffee, the pairing of Sylvester Stallone with Arnold Schwarzenegger is a tantalising prospect for anyone who grew up with their films during their 80s heyday.

Sadly Escape Plan, which sees them both thrown in prison and an escape attempt, flopped mightily at the box office. Its natural home is probably in the home however where it will likely be better received and enjoyed as the fun escapism it’s meant to be.

Available on EE/Film4OD/Virgin Movies/Blinkbox


Drinking Buddies (2013)

Depending on what you think of the mumblecore movement, this will either be a divine experience or one you will loathe. For anyone not acquainted with the work of Joe Swanberg then this is probably a pretty good way in with the drama and comedy centring around a couple of friends who work at a brewery, their obvious chemistry and their separate love lives.

Only in mumblecore cinema could a bearded blue-collar no hoper type have to choose between Olivia Wilde and Anna Kendrick but anyway, the drama is solid, the performances likeable and there is a certain recognisable quality to much of this for anyone who has ever had friends in the workplace.

Available on EE /Film4OD/Virgin Movies/Blinkbox