3 Bills

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

A 2017 drama film written, co-produced, and directed by Martin McDonagh. It stars Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, and Sam Rockwell. McDormand plays a mother who rents three billboards to call attention to her daughter’s unsolved murder.

It’s easy to see why this film has critical appeal. It’s a dark and twisting tale of what happens when a bereaving  mother takes matters into her own hands. It may be labelled ‘black comedy’, but there isn’t anything to laugh at here. It’s more like a morality story.

As the 19 year of love interest of McDormand’s ex husband says.. Anger Begets Anger.

The film is currently at the Oscars for Best Picture, Lead Actress and Supporting Actor (Harrelson & Rockwell) and original screenplay.

ST:D 1.13

Star Trek Discovery 1.13 – What’s Past is Prologue

This is a big, explosive and exciting episode that feels like a season ending. But there are 15 episodes (2 to go) and now they are back in the ‘real’ world with an ex-emperor and a new Captain.

It’s nor clear why Burnham brought Georgiou back with her. What does this achieve ? She is not her friend.



I, Claudius (1934) is a novel by Robert Graves, written in the form of an autobiography of the Roman Emperor Claudius. It includes the history of the Julio-Claudian Dynasty and the Roman Empire, from Julius Caesar’s assassination in 44 BC to Caligula’s assassination in 41 AD.

It was followed by Claudius the God. The novels were popular when originally published, and gained literary recognition.

The two books were adapted for television in 1976 by Jack Pulman and it was a DVD of this I viewed.

There are notable actors playing parts:
Derek Jacobi – Claudius
George Baker – Tiberius
John Hurt – Caligula
Brian Blessed – Augustus
Patrick Stewart – Lucius Aelius Sejanus
Ian Ogilvy – Nero Claudius Drusus
John Rhys-Davies – Naevius Sutorius Macro
Stratford Johns – Gnaeus Calpurnius Piso
Peter Bowles – Caratacus
Bernard Hill – Gratus
Guy Siner – Palades

Unfortunately it’s all obviously done in the studio and has the feel of a play. The script and acting is rather stilted. In the end it comes off a a minor melodrama about a family, not the world influencing machinations of an empire in decline.

Adding to the problems  is someone’s decision to edit the entire series together as one 4 hour episode. Hence there is little variation in drama, and almost no action. In the end, rather boring.

Except for…..

Veep 5.9

Veep 5.9 – Kissing Your Sister

This episode is filmed in the style of and presented as a documentary, with Catherine providing the narration, direction and most cinematography (all of which is in character). The House votes on who will be president, but Jonah might not be there for it and the staff plans on firing Mike.



Jen Flood

Flood Rising
(Jenna Flood #1)
by Jeremy Robinson & Sean Ellis (2014)


Fifteen year old Jenna Flood’s discovery of a bomb—ticking down from sixty seconds—is the first in a series of explosive revelations that destroy her understanding of the world and her place in it.

Jenna believes she is an ordinary teenager, busy with schoolwork and helping her father run a Key West charter boat. But when a team of killers show up, intent on erasing her from existence, she learns the unbelievable truth: she is not who she thinks she is.

Alone and on the run, betrayed at every turn, Jenna’s path takes her from sun-drenched Key West to the alligator-infested Everglades, the streets of Miami and the Caribbean islands. Along the way, brutal criminals, deadly assassins and the forces of nature conspire to end her life, unless she can rise to embrace an impossible destiny and unleash her own lethal potential.

Everything Jenna has been told about herself is a lie, and the truth is a secret that may destroy the world…or save it.

Another cracking fast paced read from  Robinson. It’s a more conventional thriller and most of the story is an exciting chase between Jenna and the unknown forces trying to kill her. Around the half way mark, things slow down for some backstory and exposition before heading off in an unexpected direction.



Veep 5.8

Veep 5.8 – Camp David

Selina conducts negotiations with the Chinese president on a Christmas retreat intended to be family-only. Jonah inadvertently attracts the NRA as a supporter in the New Hampshire election.

Jeff: I can elect anyone in New Hampshire. I can elect a Muslim AIDS virus. A terrorist fucking AIDS virus in the tiniest suicide vest ever made, I could make it Governor of New Hampshire.

Veep 5.7

Veep 5.7 – Congressional Ball

Selina uses the White House Holiday Party to win over congressmen, as she finds out that Tom has his own agenda; Dan preps Jonah for an upcoming debate; The staff obsesses over an article naming the “50 Hottest D.C. Staffers”.

In this episode Selina is more over with her application of power than ever before.

Jeff: Check out the tits in the third row. I could dribble those things like basketballs.

Mike: Ma’am, I’m getting a lot of press interest about Catherine and, y’know, her condition…
Selina: What? She’s a lesbian, Mike, she’s not a werewolf. Though either one would explain why she never shaves her legs.

Selina: There you go. And now you’re trying to fuck me tonight!
Tom James: No, I am fucking you tonight!
Selina: No, I’m gonna fuck you!
[After an awkward pause, they passionately kiss]


(Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi)
by Delilah S. Dawson (2017)


One of the most cunning and merciless officers of the First Order, Captain Phasma commands the favor of her superiors, the respect of her peers, and the terror of her enemies. But for all her renown, Phasma remains as virtually unknown as the impassive expression on her gleaming chrome helmet.

This novel covers the backstory of Phasma, from a young girl to the warrior seen in Star Wars – The Last Jedi. Despite knowing that she will survive, this is a compelling read. Mainly told in back-story from the point of view of a rebel spy caught by the First Order.

I would compare the writing to Timothy Zahn. It moves at a good pace, but pauses to explanations and character insights.

A recommended read for Star Wars fans.


ST:D 1.12

Star Trek Discovery 1.12 – Vaulting Ambition


Michael and Lorca arrive at the ISS Charon, the imperial flagship, and meet Emperor Georgiou. Lorca is imprisoned in an agony booth to suffer for life for his crimes, while Georgiou has dinner with Michael and confronts her revealing she is aware that the Mirror Michael betrayed her.

Meanwhile, Stamets works together with his Mirror counterpart, who is trapped inside the mycelial network, which is ravaged by a disease. He finds what seems to be a spore remnant of Culber, and after reconciling with losing him, wakes up in his own body.

Saru tries in vain to heal Tyler who is consumed by an internal struggle between his klingon and human personalities, and eventually persuades L’Rell who saves Tyler’s body by erasing Voq’s mind from him.

Major revelation here as Lorca is not what he appears to be. Yet again, Burnham takes an unexpected decision to reveal that she is from an alternative universe. Problem is, the Emperor appears to know that already. Things are taking an interesting turn.

What’s the bet that the Emperor appears to want to rule tow universes.  Michelle Yeoh looks to be enjoying herself as the ruler.





Hail Ceasar

Hail, Caesar! is a 2016 comedy film written, produced, edited, and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. The film stars Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes, Jonah Hill, Scarlett
Johansson, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, and Channing Tatum. It is a fictional story that follows the real-life “fixer” Eddie Mannix (Brolin) working in the Hollywood film industry in the 1950s, trying to discover what happened to a cast member who vanished during the filming of a biblical epic.

The last Coen rothers film I reacall liking was ‘Raising Arizona’ and that was back in 1987. It is memorable as being one of the last movies I recall with an intermission.

Despite the lavish production and big name stars, this film falls between genres. It’s a bit noir, but wanders between drama, comedy and satire. Comedy is a bit of a stretch as it fails the one laugh test.
It’s diffficult to understand the appeal of the film as it feels like a lot of sketches thrown together. It’s not that Coen Brothers can’t do good movies. Of those they have made, I have seen..

The Big Lebowski (A Rating)
O Brother, Where Art Thou ? (B)
Burn After Reading (F)
Bridge of Spies (B) .. but directed by Steven Speilberg

On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 86%.
Despite positive critical reception, audiences were mixed to negative about the film. Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of “C-” on an A+ to F scale. 52% of the opening day audience were males while 84% were over 25, with both demographics giving the film a “D+” grade, while those over 50 years old gave the film a grade of “D-

This I can understand. Those with investment in the film industry will probably like this more than the ordinary public.