Bloodline (TV Review)

Bloodline (TV Review)

Netflix keeps churning out solid original programming as the on-demand company continues its quest to take over the world. Bloodline is the latest offering from Netflix, and it is a show that features a stellar cast and a story about a renowned family whose past its dragged up and ripped apart with the return of a prodigal son and the death of the patriarch.

The Rayburns rule the Florida Keys, and when their hotel is celebrating its 45th anniversary, older brother Danny, the clear black sheep of the family, returns to the Keys to see the rest of his siblings (another two brothers and a sister), things are really shaken up, and the dark secrets of the family slowly get exposed, focusing mainly on the long-ago drowning death of their other sister.

blood4The cast here is a definite strength of the show, led by the always strong Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights, The Wolf of Wall Street) and Linda Cardellini (Freaks and Geeks, ER). Chandler plays John, the good brother, who has grown up to become an important law man in the area. Cardellini is the lawyer sister, and Ben Mendelsohn plays the evil, yet kind of good, but definitely evil, Danny. Each of the actors in the show are able to create characters with depth and story to them, as the past is dug up and they need to face who their family really is, when memories and truth about the drowning of Rachel begin to come to light. The events of her drowning, and the aftermath, shook the family to the core, and now the adult children must deal with a past that was based around lies, manipulation, and the ostracizing of the bad seed: Danny. It is not only the central characters that are portrayed by strong actors, but there is an excellent supporting cast as well, filled with actors that are well known, or at least recognizable, bringing their roles to life.

The narrative of Bloodline is interesting, as it provides us with flashbacks to the younger days of the Rayburn children, as well as little hints of events to come. From the early episodes, we know everything is going to hit the fan with Danny, and that John is going to be playing a major role in the whole ordeal, but the show still manages to make it very interesting on how we are going to be getting to that final, culminating point. It makes for an interesting method of story telling, and for interesting TV.

blood3Bloodline isn’t a perfect show, and it actually moves quite slowly at some points, almost having too many good characters and secondary story lines to focus on. At times it feels like it is taking us away from the central plot, and there is no real reason why, but in the end, it does allows us to see a richer version of the characters had there not been the meandering secondary story lines. Aside from that, there is really a reason for everything, and all the minor events of the lives of the Rayburns that is exposed is for the greater good of the story. Even if an event feels minor, it plays a role in the complex construction of the family, and of the events that will befall them.

BloodlineSince the plot is far more character-driven, it does not lend itself to the traditional binge watching that Netflix is best known for. Bloodline is a show best taken in over a little bit more time. A couple of episodes here and there, instead of planting yourself on the couch until the whole adventure is over with (like something like House of Cards).

blood5My only complaint about the show would be the ending…literally the last line of the season. I get it that Bloodline deserves another season, as we really do want to see the continued fallout from the climactic event, but it created a bit too much of a random cliffhanger that kind of felt out of place in the scheme of the show. It is obvious how it will create havoc when Netflix decides to bring us Season 2, but I thought it could have been left for now, and brought up in the early episodes of the second go-round.

Even with that minor blip, Bloodline is a good, intense show, that gives us very layered and strong characters that we can easily cheer for or against as the episodes progress. Well worth a watch.

The Interview (Film Review)

The Interview (Film Review)

So much controversy, over so little.

When The Interview was set to be released to theaters, it created such a stir that North Korea was deeply offended, and there were threats of terrorist attacks if the film was shown in the local cinemas.

So Hollywood backed down, instead making The Interview nearly immediately available through other sources, like via download and on Netflix, ensuring that people would get to watch the film, and capture the buzz that was surrounding it.

interview3Well, when all is said and done, I can understand why the North Koreans would be upset about the film, as it does not portray them in a very flattering (or unrealistic, mind you) light. And the majority of the film is making fun of their leader. So I guess there’s that as well. But at the end of the day, The Interview is some harmless fun that has a couple of funny moments, while the rest of the film kind of falls in to exactly what you would expect it to be.

James Franco and Seth Rogen are TV people, the on-air talent and the producer, who have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to interview the reclusive Kim Jong Un, leader of North Korea, since he is a big fan of Franco’s TV entertainment news show. Since they will be closer to the man than anybody else, the CIA recruits them to try and assassinate the leader.

Seems easy enough, until Franco gets to know Kim, and begins to really like him- or at least the facade- of him.

Seth Rogen;James FrancoThe Interview is not really a hilarious comedy, although there are a couple of funny scenes. Franco and Rogen are always pretty good together, as we’ve seen in other films, stemming back from their days together on Freaks and Geeks, and Franco in particular plays (overplays) his part to some mild laughs. His first day spent with Kim is pretty funny, to be honest. Rogen plays his usual character, only with fewer great lines than he might be used to. He almost plays the straight man to Franco’s eccentric character.

As far as creating a message, there is nothing really new here. We know the way that things work in North Korea, and it is unfortunate the plight of the people there, living under a dictatorship full of lies and propaganda. The Interview provides us with no new insights or thoughts on how to deal with the questions in North Korea, it uses it more to poke fun at a country that we view as being backwards.

Through and through, The Interview is a 3/5 film. It has its moments of enjoyment, but there is really nothing special here. It gained popularity mostly from the controversy surrounding it, but like most films based on negative buzz, there isn’t much substance there once all is said and done. It is worth a casual watch, just to see what all the fuss is about, but not much more than that.