Ministerio del Tiempo: a Spanish TV series with a unique source of hilarity

El Ministerio del Tiempo, un secreto de Estado

El Ministerio del Tiempo (The Ministry of Time) from RTVE is an unexpected find on Netflix. It’s English-subtitled, no need to take Spanish lessons, although if you understand (some) Spanish, it’s even better value, and in any case it’s far better viewing than 90% of the rubbish series available on Netflix or Amazon.

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And now the cine-bad: the Unwatchable Films List

I created a new permanent page for Unwatchable Films. It’s a specific thing – not just bad films, but truly unviewable ones that have a similar effect to a general anaesthetic. They have their own criteria, and are nothing like the ’25 films so bad they’re unmissable’ lists you often see. I am talking cinema CRIMEs here. Please contribute.

Cinema, alive and well

Over the last few months, I have managed to squeeze in enough thought-provoking films to think that my favourite medium is still alive and well. We drown daily in a such a stultifying rain of nonsense and noise that it sometimes it seems that any sign of intelligence must be a mistake. Here are some rays of hope.

Melancholia (dir. Lars von Trier): ***
We need to talk about Kevin (dir. Lynne Ramsay) *****
The battle of Warsaw: 1920 (dir. Jerzy Hoffman) ***
Incendies **** (dir. Denis Villeneuve)
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy **** (dir. Tomas Alfredson)
The Skin I Live In **1/2 (dir. Pedro Almodovar)
The Debt ***1/2 (dir. John Madden).

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Film review – Animal Kingdom ****

This Australian film has much to recommend it. It maintains a dark, slow-burn tension for the duration, a by-product of characters who while being completely believable become less and less predictable as time goes on. In a way the film is a kind of trick: you are initially not sure if you are in for a gangster story (will there be a heist, or a gangland battle?), a psycho-drama, or a character study.

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Thor 3D (*1/2)

I saw a trailer for Thor at a screening of Source Code (a film that although well acted, seemed pointless and not worthy of review). It looked fairly atrocious, something of the Blade or other superhero variety. However, by chance I noticed later that a) it was directed by Kenneth Branagh – which promised good acting not visible in the trailer, b) Thor is played by until now unknown to me Aussie Chris Hemsworth, who reminded me in the trailer of Aussie Heath Ledger in the execrable but nevertheless watchable Knight’s Tale – a performance that made you think he might just be a real actor in the making and c) it had a long list of other notables, including Anthony Hopkins, Stelland Skarsgard, Idris Elba (the great Stringer Bell from The Wire), Ray Stevenson (Rome), Natalie Portman etc, and finally d) I have never seen a 3D movie before.

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