Ozark – TV Crime Drama on Netflix

Jason Bateman is best known for his comedy roles but there is nothing funny about his character, Marty Byrde, in the Netflix drama, Ozark.

It’s tense from episode one where it is revealed that Marty, a Chicago-based financial advisor, has connections to a drug cartel that go awry so he is forced to relocate his family to the Missouri Ozarks in an attempt to fix the problem (and escape death).

The series is well cast, with Laura Linney playing Marty’s wife, Wendy, who leaves her own mess behind in Chicago, and Julia Garner as the smart and fiery local, Ruth Langmore.

Ozark has been compared to the highly-awarded Breaking Bad (family man gets caught up in drug world and needs to keep his family safe) and whilst it’s not as groundbreaking, it is gripping and has just been renewed for a second season.

Watch the Ozark trailer.

 

Top of the Lake: China Girl, Starring Elisabeth Moss & Nicole Kidman

Top of the Lake: China Girl sees Detective Robin Griffin return to Sydney (after a lot bad stuff went down in New Zealand in season 1) and lead an investigation into a prostitute that was thrown over a cliff in a suitcase.

Uplifting, I know. It’s dark and seedy but intriguing and beautifully shot. Elisabeth Moss and Nicole Kidman are both excellent. Most of the male characters are sexist and repugnant and there is a particularly disturbing scene with a bunch of young guys on laptops in a cafe that will make your jaw drop.

It’s shot in Sydney and instead of seeing an idyllic city, which is usually how Sydney comes across on screen, we are shown a seedy underbelly. Jane Campion wrote and directed the series and fun fact: the character Mary (Alice Englert), who plays Nicole Kidman’s adopted daughter, is Jane Campion’s real life daughter.

Top of the Lake: China Girl airs on BBC First in Australia on 20 August or you can watch all episodes now with BBC iPlayer.

Watch the trailer.

Watch season 1 on iTunes or on ABC from 6 August.

 

War On Waste – A Shocking and Important Documentary

In Australia, waste is growing at double the rate of our population with 52 mega tonnes generated a year. Australia is ranked 5th highest for generating the most municipal waste in the world. In this three-part series ‘War on Waste‘, Craig Reucassel is on a mission to see if we, as a nation, can all do a little bit better. The scene with the ridiculous banana specifications imposed by supermarkets is sickening. It seems we’re all aware that we can be doing better but after seeing this shocking and eye-opening documentary, shame on us if we carry on with our ignorant ways. Watch the trailer. Watch the series on ABC iView (the three episodes around an hour each).

Aziz Ansari’s Master Of None Season Two on Netflix

The second season of Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang‘s Master of None kicks off the first two episodes with Dev (Ansari) undertaking an apprenticeship in a pasta shop in Modena, Italy, trying hard to make perfect pasta and hilariously overusing the word “Allora” because he just loves saying it. There’s a trip to the world’s second best restaurant, Osteria Francescana, a wedding in Tuscany and much pasta and cheese is consumed. Dev then returns home to New York in episode three to try and elevate his dating game and jump-start his acting career. He is, as always, warm, likable, silly at times and very funny. It’s worth watching the award-winning first season as this new season follows on from it. Fun fact: his parents are played by his real-life parents. Watch both seasons of Master of None on Netflix. If you like his style, Aziz Ansari also has some witty stand-up comedy shows on Netflix.

Seven Types of Ambiguity TV Series – A Gripping Psychological Thriller

Based on the critically acclaimed novel ‘Seven Types of Ambiguity’ by award-winning author Elliot Perlman, this six-part TV series is a gripping psychological thriller told from the shifting perspective of six characters following a complicated chain of events triggered when a child is taken and relationships are thrown into crisis. The Australian cast is impressive on paper and on screen with Hugo Weaving, Alex Dimitriades, Xavier Samuel, Leeanna Walsman, Andrea Demetriades, Anthony Hayes and Susie Porter. I read the book years ago when it came out (2005), loved it, and wondered how long before someone would adapt it for the screen. Read more about Seven Types of Ambiguity. See what SMH has to say about it. Watch the trailer. Watch the series on ABC iView (until 1st June) or on iTunes.

Fargo Season 3 – Crime/Drama/Thriller TV Series Starring Ewan McGregor

Fargo is a crime/drama/thriller anthology TV series that is inspired by the Coen brothers’ 1996 film of the same name. Set in 2010, the third season centres on “Emmit” (Ewan McGregor) and his brother “Ray Stussy” (also played by an almost unrecognisable McGregor). Emmit sees himself as an American success story, whereas Ray is more of a cautionary tale. Forever living in his more successful brother’s shadow, Ray has a huge chip on his shoulder about the hand he’s been dealt. He blames his brother and their sibling rivalry follows a twisted path. I’ve only seen the first episode and it’s excellent (and again, perfectly cast). You don’t need to have watched seasons 1 and 2 to enjoy this but they are worth seeing (available on iTunes). Watch the season 3 trailer. Fargo premieres in Australia on SBS 17 May or catch episode 1 on SBS On Demand from 10 May. It’s also currently airing on FX.

Broadchurch Season Three – Suspenseful and Hard Hitting TV Crime Drama

Broadchurch is a British TV crime drama that is currently airing season 3 and one episode away from the finale. Hardy (David Tennant) and Miller (Olivia Colman, who is also in the excellent Fleabag) are investigating a sexual assault that takes place in the small town of Broadchurch and the impact it has on everyone that is connected to the victim. Whilst the whodunit component of the show is intensely suspenseful, the more moving and hard hitting parts are when the show explores themes of consent, teens with technology and porn, misogyny and sexism. The key cast have been present for all seasons and whilst there are story links to the first two seasons, you could watch without having seen them and still be enthralled. Watch the series on iTunes or iView if you haven’t started yet.

Fleabag – A Dark, Hilarious and Heartbreaking Comedy TV Series

Fleabag is a six-part comedy series adapted from the award-winning play about a young woman trying to cope with life in London whilst coming to terms with a recent tragedy. Fleabag (the main character’s nickname who is played by Phoebe Waller-Bridge) describes herself pretty accurately in the first scene as having “a horrible feeling” she’s “a greedy, perverted, selfish, apathetic, cynical, depraved, morally bankrupt woman who can’t even call herself a feminist.” It is a comedy but it’s very dark, blunt, heartbreaking in parts and unlike any other comedy I’ve seen. Her godmother who she can’t stand (played by Olivia Colman) is hilarious. Season 2 begins filming this year. Watch some clips (start with the Obama one from episode one) and the trailer. Watch the series on Amazon Prime (7-day free trial) or BBC Three.

TV: American Crime Story Season 1 – The People v. O.J. Simpson

American Crime Story is a true crime anthology TV series in which the first season covers the trial of O.J. Simpson for the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. The show is based on Jeffrey Toobin‘s book The Run of His Life: The People v. O. J. SimpsonA behind-the-scenes retelling of the trial, it is a fascinating look at the implications of race, celebrity, media and the criminal justice system on this infamous case in America in the early 1990s. It is one of the best cast shows I’ve seen recently with Sarah Paulson as Marcia Clark a standout. Apart from the superb acting of all involved (including Cuba Gooding Jr., David Schwimmer, John Travolta and Courtney B. Vance), these re-creations of the real people they played are uncanny.  There are 10 episodes, all around an hour each. Watch the trailer. Watch the series on Netflix.

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