Bryan Cranston

Sneaky Pete S1 (Amazon Prime)

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I’m rather a fan of con and heist stories, so I confess that I was predisposed to like Sneaky Pete from the start. But this one is perhaps a little different from the kind of movies and TV shows from the genre that we’re used to.

These days the image we have from film and television of con men is a rather glamorous one – Brad Pitt and George Clooney striding through Las Vegas casinos on their way to scoring hundreds of millions of dollars in a daring heist, for example. Or there’s Adrian Lester, Marc Warren and Jamie Murray having impish fun on a small screen budget in Hustle. Then there’s Tim Hutton and his gang of latter day Merry Men (and women) using their grifter skills to right wrongs for others. Either way it all looks good fun, doesn’t it?

Of course the real world reality is a much grimmer and grimier affair. Grifters live in a darker, dirtier and altogether more dangerous world, surviving from hand to mouth and lucky to get away with stealing a few dollars and cents which they’ll gladly take from anyone gullible enough to fall for one of their cons. Usually they’re less than a day away from disaster – from being arrested if they’re lucky, or being beaten to a pulp by a deadly rival or a furious victim if they’re not. Read the rest of this entry »

From The Earth To The Moon (HBO) (1998) [DVD]

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earth-coverWhen HBO first launched in the early 1970s it mainly broadcast feature films and sporting events on a regional cable network in Pennsylvania. After expanding nationwide, it wasn’t until the 1990s that it really started augmenting that content with original programming such as The Larry Sanders Show and not until 1999 that the début of The Sopranos completely changed the nature of the company and made it the worldwide brand for cutting-edge, award-winning drama such as Game of Thrones that it is today.

The year before The Sopranos, HBO had a successful trial run with a 12-part mini-series covering the history of the Apollo moon missions, made in association with Imagine Entertainment which went on to produce 24. Based on Andrew Chaikin’s book A Man on the Moon, From The Earth To The Moon won three Emmys including the prestigious award for Outstanding Miniseries. It also picked up the equivalent Golden Globe Award for Best Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for TV. Without this timely critical success for HBO, maybe Tony Soprano would never have made it to air and the history of TV drama in the US (and the world) would have taken a very different turn indeed. Read the rest of this entry »